Post traumatic holiday stress.

There should be a national law (and I am seriously considering contacting President-Elect Obama about this) that the week after you turn 40 should be a mother-in-law free zone.

One should be completely free to enjoy the dubious moments of hitting 40 — like your 5-year-old announcing it at the top of her very impressive lungs to the entire staff that teaches her karate (TODAY’S MY MOM’S BIRTHDAY AND SHE’S GONNA BE 40!) without the additional impending DOOM that is your mother-in-law not just coming to visit for 4 days, but also coming because she’s got a JOB INTERVIEW at a location LESS THAN AN HOUR AWAY FROM YOU.

And there should be some sort of legislation that would require her to refrain from duplicitous behavior. So that when she says to you and your husband that it would be really nice if you could bring the kids to see her mother, that really all you’d be agreeing to is bringing the kids to see her mother, not to some clandestine Large Extended Family Gathering that you just happen to figure out because she accidentally lets drop that Uncle Johnny will be there too, which leads you to inquire about all the other Great Aunts and Uncles and Various Cousins and Siblings-In-Law that may or may not be getting divorced or finally kicking that heroin habit, or whatever… the majority of whom think that You’re The Crazy One because you don’t send your kids to school.

And I’m not saying that there needs to be an official edict or anything, but it might be worth adding to standard books of etiquette that if you have this sort of situation happen, and you’re nice enough to Bite Your Tongue Till It’s Forked and still let your mother-in-law borrow one of your new turtlenecks to wear on her interview because it’s JUST PERFECT compared to the blouse she ran out and bought at the last minute that wasn’t quite what she’d hoped for but would have to do, and you wished her good luck and smiled as she dashed out for the interview that might land her the job that could possibly put her back within driving distance of you and your children FOREVER, and you also spent the majority of your week watching her play with the kids and keeping an EVER VIGILANT EYE on her so that she didn’t accidentally throw out all your pots and pans while cleaning the kitchen, while your husband — the son of the woman who has suddenly descended upon you and your kids and your house and possibly YOUR FUTURE — went to work all day long every day of that visit, that you should get foot massages from your husband for like — oh, I don’t know — ETERNITY?

Because, all’s I’m sayin’ is: I am the Queen of Exercising Restraint. I continually allow this woman, who once accidentally admitted she wished I was dead so she could raise my children instead of me, to come here and visit, and I don’t make RegularDad take time off from work. And I drink tea with her, and I laugh, and I tell her that it would be Just Lovely if she managed to get a job that would bring her back east to be near us, and I let her cook meals in my kitchen, and I bite my tongue when I catch her cleaning and I let it all wash off my back and then pretty soon, I help her find her things and give her a hug and tell her how wonderful it was to see her, and urge her to come again soon, and I assure her with adequate enthusiasm that we’re all Really Looking Forward To Seeing The Family this Saturday, and the whole time I’m doing that, every bit of my soul is guarded and closed off and I hope it doesn’t show too much.

And I smile and nod when my daughters tell me how much they love their Grandma. And I give them hugs when they cry when she leaves. And I remind myself Again And Again that what she said that time, about wishing me dead, was just One Of Those Things. That she didn’t really mean it THAT WAY. And sometimes, I almost believe it when I tell myself that.

And I hope that the girls never find out that Grandma said that. And I hope that they do. All at the same time.

But here’s the silver lining, the happy ending: There’s a storm coming. Finally. Some snow. My 8-year-old has been pining for some snow. And tomorrow’s the day. The flurries are already moving in, and by morning it’ll be a mess that will last all day and all night long. And tomorrow was the day we were supposed to go to the party that wasn’t supposed to be a party. So after all my mother-in-law’s manipulative maneuverings, we still may avoid most of the CRAZY. At least for now.

Winter, you are So Welcome Here!


11 Responses to “Post traumatic holiday stress.”

  1. 1 Lisa January 9, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    You have my sympathies! No one should have to usher in 40 with THAT sort of (possibly) impending doom.

    I hope your birthday was otherwise pleasant, and I hope that your husband makes the last week of torture up to you!

  2. 2 SabrinaT January 9, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    OH you are my HERO! I hope you all get 5 feet of snow, and yes foot rubs for ETERNITY!

  3. 3 Mom #1 January 10, 2009 at 12:13 am

    Oh my, you certainly do deserve a gazillion dollars in compensation for such a miserable 40th birthday. I need to write Mom #2 a note to remind her that I will not accept that sort of behavior on my personal private (as in I will not be acknowledging) 40th birthday.

    I’m so sorry about that M-I-L. What a disaster, and I’m so glad you’re alive, RegularMom, because you’re just about the best writer I know and I love how you can take something so hideously dreadful and make it so funny that I had to read it twice. Once to myself and once out loud to Mom #2, and she laughed too. 😉

  4. 5 Lucy January 10, 2009 at 1:43 am

    Oh, I am so sorry about your MIL. But you make it all sound so funny with your witty writing. I hope the snow covers the whole area in inches and inches and I hope that you are able to figure out a way to keep your distance with the MIL.

    Best of luck to you and Happy Fabulous 40! You do know now – at this age – you don’t have to put up with any more nonsense. Let your 40s set you free!!!

  5. 6 rae January 10, 2009 at 9:12 am

    “Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow.”

  6. 7 ~L~ January 10, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Snowstorms are great for things like that!

    I am sorry you ever had to experience your MIL saying things like that. I know my grandmother felt the same way about My Momma.

  7. 8 Maria January 10, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    OH My. Oh my. Why, when I read this, do I feel some sort of resonance. Esp that manipulative part and WHY can’t my husband be home all day, when MIL comes?? WhY??? And someday I want my dd to know that even though she was too young to understand when grandma said “I like boys better” and “That’s not how I’d do it…” (meaning our parenting) that she understands it, but I also hope she never finds out. Because she really really loves her Grandma. And I am secretly delighted when she says “Grandma said something really wierd…” and I can say “Oh? Really?”

    I FEEL YOUR PAIN RM!!! Maybe not entirely….but my MIL is an hour and a half away…it’s not so bad. She doesnt’ drive much.

  8. 9 Bonni January 10, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Good to hear from you again. You are my hero. And in future, when my MIL launches into a 10 minute ‘you’re too vain’ lecture because dd looked in the mirror as she passed it, or that we really need to drop ‘those Christian people that you call friends’ because, after all, the last thing we need in this house are ‘people like that’, I will recall your excellent diplomacy as Queen of Exercising Restraint. You are my good example. I’ll need you sometime around July…because she’s coming back and dh isn’t taking any time off.

    Belated Birthday wishes from me. Happy 40th. Hope you enjoy the snow this weekend – however you end up spending it.

  9. 10 aztecqueen2000 January 11, 2009 at 1:32 am

    Happy B-day. Happy 39th again. And may your MIL’s interviewer have an antipathy to turtlenecks.

  10. 11 RegularMom January 11, 2009 at 10:46 am

    These are, by far, some of the best birthday wishes I’ve received this year. Many, many thanks to you all, for your kind words and understanding. And for those of you with similar situations, hats off to you for putting up with it.

    RegularDad and I have already been discussing new potential boundaries to be established if his mother moves east. And we didn’t go to the party. There was just enough snow and ice to keep us home. My MIL asked us to consider coming early on Saturday and Stay Over (?!?!??!!) until Sunday. And we said no. Then she asked us to come just on Sunday. And we said no. Basically, we had to tell her half a dozen times: NO.

    We’ll keep on saying it. And maybe it’ll sink in. The phone should be ringing any minute now, in fact, and we’ll being saying NO yet again.

    We’re really, really good at it. 🙂

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