Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

One of the stresses on the family for this entire calendar year so far has been the distance between my wife and her parents, which is especially irritating since perhaps the most important factor in why we live where we do rather than closer to my family and most of my work is because we are close in proximity to her parents.

More or less every week or two since we married, my wife and I have visited her parents. Her mother loves to have everyone over and to cook for everyone. Every birthday needed to be celebrated there, and if that meant celebrating a birthday twice, then so be it.

Once we had kids, I appreciated having my in-laws (mostly brothers and sisters) take the kids off of my hands for a while.

We continued to go the in-laws' even after the disastrous trip last year. But then, just after Christmas, my wife and the kids joined the rest of her family at the home of a family friend for party. I wasn't there; I was working. I was not avoiding the party, I was expected to work.

My mother-in-law planted herself in a spot and stayed there as my father-in-law continued to supply her with drink after drink, meaning my MIL was not much company. If this had been at their home, my wife would have packed up the kids and returned home. But because they were at someone else's house per that family's invitation, my wife and the kids stayed there.

That meant they got to see grandma, nearly passed out drunk, being dragged to the car by a strong son-in-law.

My father-in-law, in between posting picture after picture on Facebook (always of sexy, scantily-clad 20-something females), supposedly to get his photography business off the ground, "explained" to us that my MIL was not drunk, just tired for working herself so hard. He stopped short of trying to sell us a bridge, however.

The result is that none of us have seen the in-laws at all this year. My wife stopped taking their calls, and they stopped calling. The kids have been asking when we're going to go there again. My wife responds with "I don't know."

I appreciate my wife's desire to protect our kids. We have always agreed that our kids will never be left alone with her parents. I have questioned her reaction to this latest episode, reasoning that we can keep sticking to our plan: calling one of her siblings to see if MIL is drinking before we go there, and leaving if we see things going the wrong way. Her mother has distinct stages of inebriation, so we always have warning. Still, I'd rather her err on the side of protecting our kids than wanting to please her parents.

We currently have plans for her parents to come visit us in our home, as the air needs to be cleared somewhat before a pending family event that my wife does not want to miss.

This is one of those things I wish I had understood better and thought about more befoe committing to this marriage, and certainly before agreeing to buy the house that we did.

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