In-laws are awesome

Back to the grind, after a short and sweet weekend with Monk’s family (the “short” part causing the “sweet” descriptive).

Since we had to pack the Christmas gifts in our bags-to-be-checked, I wanted to make sure they would arrive unscathed. But how? By writing a little note to the people in charge of pawing through our unmentionables, of course. And then praying a little bit.

Our hotel was much nicer, much cleaner and just plain normal this time- who knew those qualities would actually become huge selling points for us? I would have taken pictures to illustrate the normalcy, but just imagine a clean room, no odd stains or markings, complementary happy hour for the guests, and a comforting absence of strange smells and you’ll get the idea.

The visit was filled with the usual parental orgasms over the pure brilliance and beauty their sons cause just by breathing (Monk: Turn left here, dad. Monk’s Dad: Well said my boy, well said!). Monk’s mother made a big fat deal over the few gray hairs on his head (My baby! Is getting older!), and the traditional hour spent discussing some neighbor's grown-up daughter who clearly has over-achiever issues (she's a lawyer! and a doctor! and a mother! and she plays soccer! we may not know much at all about our own grown children and their lives, but look how much we know about this person you've never met/haven't seen since you were 12/couldn't give a shit about even if we paid you!).

I employed my new In-law Tolerance Strategy this time, with grand success. In the past, I’ve come away from visits with the in-laws feeling ignored, shut out or dismissed, mostly because my conversational contributions are talked over, interrupted or simply unacknowledged, as Monk’s parents deftly steer each topic back to themselves. This visit I decided I’d keep my speech to a minimum and just do a lot of Smiling and Nodding. And the one time I broke my rule, Monk’s dad interrupted me and changed the subject (surprise!), but Monk valiantly brought him back to reality so I could finish my thought. Nice guy, that Monk. Overall the new strategy kept my feelings intact, and the conversation flowing (and hoo boy, Monk’s parents sure can talk about themselves: At lunch on Sunday the pair of them took turns speaking for about 25 minutes or so. A glance around the table revealed the resigned faces of Monk, his brother and our 4-year-old St. Louis niece; obviously they’d caught on to the Tolerance Strategy long ago and were just going with the flow at this point).

Monk’s dad also gave me a photography lesson over the weekend! 5 minutes after I’d already snapped a picture with his camera, he gave me tips on finding the shutter button, and then suggested where I should sit to ensure the best angle at which to capture the family for all eternity (FYI, "the family" = "two parents, two sons, one granddaughter, and... not you, Q.") Monk’s dad fancies himself quite the photographer , especially of candid, feel good moments, which inevitably produces many pictures (sometimes blurry, sometimes backlit) of people with strange expressions on their faces, often mid-sentence or gesture. I don’t think anyone has told my father-in-law that "candid" does not always have to mean "unflattering." At least most of the pictures were of his wife, granddaughter or his sons. The few photos with me from the weekend are, as every single photo he’s ever taken of me has been, pretty hideous (I refuse to believe that I have become that un-photogenic).

Spekaing of candid, wow, what an action shot!

I'm the third ass from the left.

Every time we visit each other’s parents, Monk and I remind ourselves that it could be much, much worse. There are people in this world with such nightmarish in-laws that marriages are torn apart. Estrangements are born. Murders are committed! We don’t have that, and we do consider ourselves lucky. Plus, traveling during the busiest time of the year to deal with each other’s in-laws has the added (odd, twisted) benefit of making both of us more grateful for our own families, which is something to keep in mind this holiday season (when I’m holding on to the table’s edge to keep from leaping over it and strangling my mother).

And in two weeks, Monk gets to keep that in mind while dealing with my parents.

2 comment:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This is a gift for my mother-in-law. Sure, it may be highly explosive - but trust me, you don't know my mother in law. Please be careful with it!"

Sorry, just what came to mind. :)

2:05 PM  
Anonymous kelley said...

Okay, I'm only two posts in, but I can already tell that I'm completely in love with your blog!

Your experience with your in-laws sounds eerily like my own. I endure hours of stories about people that my husband hasn't seen since, like, 1996. Fortunately, this year it's my parents' turn to have us for Christmas. "Relieved" would be an understatement...

10:27 AM  

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