We all have one relative who makes life difficult. Who questions every decision you make, and who packs your bags for the guilt trip when you do something they disagree with. Of course, there’s a holiday coming up, and I decided to travel. I’m not actually traveling for the holiday, but for a family celebration that’s a reunion of sorts. My son hasn’t had a chance to meet a large chunk of my family, and I want him to meet them. So I had a conversation with my husband, and we decided I’d take a short trip back home to do just that. He can’t go because of work (the standard in our lives, which we have come to accept) so I’ll be by myself with the baby.
We are still on the fence about telling his parents, because they live close by. Close enough that they could make the trip up if they are desperate to see my son. Far enough away that, with the long hours of travel I’m already investing just to get to that side of the country, it isn’t feasible for me to make the trip down to them. Four hours one way in the car when I’m only in the “area” for three days is just too much travel time, especially with a five month old. The time change alone will be exhausting and challenging.
If we tell them, that is all I will hear about for goodness only knows how long. I won’t make the trip down, because it’s too much for me, and they won’t make the trip up, because my father-in-law’s health is bad. They will inevitably complain that we don’t spend any time down where they live and it’s not fair and so on.
I can see this point of view clearly, and I’d probably feel the same way if I were in their shoes.
Logically, though, I’m not, and they never consider my side of the coin when making travel plans.
1) They are the only people in the area where they live that I could visit. When I return to my parents’ house, I have my parents, brother, grandparents, great-grand parent, aunts, uncles, cousins, and several close friends. If I were to travel to visit them, it’s just them. The rest of my husbands’ family is scattered around the surrounding area, two hours or more away, and none of them have shown interest in meeting us at his parents’ house so they can meet our son, despite several inquiries.
2) They do nothing but criticize our parenting and complain about how my husband and I don’t treat them equally with my parents. It makes for an uncomfortable visit to say the least, but also they don’t treat us with much respect. My parents have made the trip to our home, across the country from them, to meet our son. It’s both expensive and exhausting for us to travel with an infant. We spent the money for the first trip and this one because the baby will be meeting a fair amount of family members for the first time on my side all at once – since many of them cannot afford a trip to our home, this is our best option. Also because my family members are incredibly supportive and go out of their way to help us and make us comfortable. Big bonus? They respect us as parents, even if they disagree with our decisions, which is hugely important to both of us.
3) I am traveling without my husband. Again. I have spent time with his parents a grand total of six times, and they disagree with me on just about everything. I don’t like the way they treat me, it isn’t always bad, but they show no empathy for my anxiety and depression issues, despite my attempts to explain to them how their behavior affects me. I’m not comfortable being forced into a situation or to go somewhere because it’s what they want. I’m also uncomfortable having to constantly stand up for myself or my decisions because I feel like it strains my relationship with his side of the family, something I strive to keep positive or at least neutral. It’s hard to do that when I’m cornered with no back up from the one person they might listen to. It spikes some serious anxiety problems, which I don’t want to deal with or expose my child to unnecessarily.
4) My husband gets three weeks of vacation a year, in theory, but he has to plan them around his work schedule and he can only take one week at a time. If he flies somewhere, that automatically means we really have five days because we have to account for a delay in travel plans to avoid going over on his vacation time. Two days of travel means only three days of “down time”. His parents are retired. Although traveling is hard on his father, they could easily come down and spend plenty of time here for his father to adequately recover before making the trip home, in an effort to minimize the difficulty of the experience. They always have an excuse as to why that’s inconvenient and I find that very unfair to us. Why should we always be the ones to over-stress ourselves to visit them when they have plenty of time in which they could make the trip to see us? We’ve even offered to pay for said trip, and have been refused multiple times.
I could continue on with my frustrations, but either way, I feel like there are good reasons on both sides of the coin for each party to be frustrated. Since neither side will bend, we are at an impasse. But since my husband cannot travel out there anytime soon, that trip won’t happen, as I won’t go alone.
Does anyone else have that one relative that insists on making things difficult? I’d love to hear how you deal with the experience.
– Monster Mama