I don't know what I was expecting to happen when me and my four children rolled into town, but I am certain I didn't expect this.
My in-laws have two homes about 25 minutes away from each other. The home that they live in is a comfortable retirement home. It is a two bedroom, two bath home with only 1 bed. The other home they have is more traditional. It has three bedrooms and three beds. It has been vacant for the last 6 years and they use it like a hotel for out of town guests. We lived there during medical school. So in a way it was like coming home.
When we got in on Tuesday night they were there to meet us. They offered to pick up pizza. They said hello, gave hugs, and then left. My DrH left the next morning for the airport and I didn't see my in laws for another three days, and even then it was very briefly at my sister-in-laws house. I thought that was really strange. Here we haven't seen them in months. Granted we had just seen my mother in law the previous month when she came out to watch the kids, but still these are kids they don't see every day (unlike their daughter's kids who live a block over, in yet another house they own).
I am trying to be grateful. Grateful that they had this home sitting vacant waiting apparently for us. Grateful that they bought milk, break, and cereal so we had something to eat.
BUT.... when she asked if I would like for her to bring over some cooking utensils so we didn't have to eat out every meal I really wanted to cry.
We aren't moving in! We are here visiting so we can be with you and instead we feel as if we live 2,000 miles away still but without any of our own stuff. We want to be a part of your life for a few weeks. We want to eat with you. We want to do what you do. And really.... we aren't going to be here long enough to start buying pantry staples so we can cook!
I was trying to be equitable in the distribution of our time. A few weeks with (or rather near) his family, a few weeks with mine, so everyone can see us and we can see them. I was given the impression that they didn't really want to be with us.
During the first two weeks of our stay near them we had dinner with them twice, they watched the baby for me twice so I could do something with the older kids, and I saw them 7 out of the 14 days. Of those 7 days it was only for a couple of hours, or on one of those days just 15 minutes. And two of those days was because they were fixing something at the house. If it hadn't been for that, we would have seen them even less.
The rest of the time was me trying to entertain four kids without tv, internet, or grass. Or me trying to take four kids out on the town by myself. Or me sitting alone at night wishing there was someone to talk to in the same time zone. I didn't anticipate feeling so lonely.
As soon as we left to spend time with my parents, I got a text saying that they missed us already. If you missed us you could have seen us when we were there. I wasn't staying in town because I wanted to, I was staying so they could have the opportunity to see their grandkids. They didn't take it.
I was offended. I was hurt. And I am trying to recognize that I am probably a bit emotional about leaving our home, being away from my husband, and not having anything to do but wait. I realize that I may be partly to blame by not actively putting ourselves in their path - but it isn't my style. In my mind we are guests, but we aren't being treated like guests. And yet, perhaps they are trying to give me my space. How do I tell them I don't need space, unless they want to take all my kids for the day and let me truly have some space?
My in-laws are good people. But being here makes me realize that I have romanticized the notion of living near our family. I somehow thought our lives would be more interconnected. The truth is that unless we live down the street from them, it might not matter where we live. And even if we did live close there are no guarantees.
We are going back next week for another two week visit. I don't know that things will be any different. Thankfully, my husband will be there for four of those days which means we will probably see them more. They may even buy us dinner one night.