Here's what happened with the two-week mother-in-law visit situation. I said to Paul that he needed to help me with this: that I needed him either to tell me the right words to say, since she's not my mother and I don't know how to talk to her, and he does know how to talk to her, and whenever I try to do it I screw it up, so he needed to tell me what to say; OR ELSE, he needed to tell me that it was pointless and hopeless and there was nothing to say and we just needed to let her come as long as she wanted to, and I assured him that this too would be immensely helpful because then I could stop agitating about it.
I also told him I needed an answer that evening. This was at about 4:00 in the afternoon. He made no reply. Hours passed.
At about 8:00 in the evening, he blind-cc'd me on an email to his mom, in which he said 2 weeks seemed kind of long because he wouldn't be able to take many days off of work and K [that's me] was 100% occupied during the day keeping Henry from flinging himself down the stairs into the power tools, but that if she (MIL) instead came for a week that went over a weekend, he could take almost her whole visit off, and they could go to Fun Place She Loves #1 and Fun Place She Loves #2 and also take the twins to Fun Place They Love.
It was masterful. It came across as affectionate and enthusiastic and full of plans for increasing the fun of her visit. He even made it sound as if I'd mentioned the dates to him with enthusiasm, and ONLY HE thought it was too long.
We awaited her reply. It was not long in coming. She was pissed and agitated. She didn't use any contractions: it was all "I do not" and "it will not" and "I am not". She had three main points:
1. Thirteen days was NOT two weeks, because ONE of those days she would be leaving EARLY IN THE MORNING.
2. She is an easy houseguest and did not expect any entertaining and would just blend into our usual routine.
3. She GUESSES that with HERCULEAN EFFORT she could remove 1.5 days from her visit, but it will throw everything else into chaos and will be very difficult and inconvenient for everyone else she has already arranged to grace with her presence on this trip. And will we please let her know RIGHT NOW if these revised dates are acceptable to us, because otherwise she will have to start ALL OVER with EVERYONE and it will be a HUGE MESS and everyone will be VERY INCONVENIENCED.
I was so so glad I hadn't dealt with her. Imagine how much worse it would have been if she'd been talking to ME instead of to her son who is the most perfect creature ever created.
Paul said to me, "So...do we accept the counteroffer?" and I said, "Yes. And I think now we know for sure that there is no sense trying to make her shorten her visits. We will switch from Altering Reality Mode to Coping Mode." And Paul said, "Yes."
I have also gone into Incredulity Mode in re her email. Yes, it is PERFECTLY EASY to blend in someone who won't eat salt or pepper or spicy things but is very critical of women (only women) who cook bland, boring food. It is PERFECTLY EASY to blend in someone who says she needs to eat "plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables" but then eats ALMOST NONE of the vegetables provided and makes "jokes" about how I spend more on produce than anyone she's ever known, EVEN AFTER being reminded that PAUL does the grocery shopping. It is PERFECTLY EASY to blend in someone who doesn't like any kind of child behavior that isn't sitting straight upright in a chair chatting politely with Grandma. It is PERFECTLY EASY to continue my usual routine while being FOLLOWED and OBSERVED and TALKED AT and CORRECTED. It is PERFECTLY EASY to blend in someone who doesn't want to do anything we suggest we do, even if we have already arranged it. It is PERFECTLY EASY to blend in someone who tells many, many stories about times when the hospitality she was offered was not up to par.
Well. Anyway. As Paul said, removing a day and a half increases everyone's life expectancy at least slightly, and he has also approved any plan I come up with to "suddenly need to visit a friend in crisis" or "lick someone with a disease that would lead to my short-term hospitalization."
I'll also be investing in a very nice brandy, which I hate the taste of but it makes me feel jovial and lovey instead of tipsy and dizzy, and also I like the way it's used medicinally (frostbite, shock, malnutrition, injury, surgery) in old novels. I feel like I'm "taking my medicine" rather than "taking another step on the road to potential lushitude." And Kelly, SPILL on the topic of herbs that lessen the effects of two weeks (minus 1.5 days AND 1 day of Leaving Early) of steady drinking.
Life-improving products, part 4 - (Continued from part 1, part 2, and part 3.) Stearns Youth Life Vest (photo from Amazon.com). I’d been too scared to take the kids to any body of water oth...