My family has left. I’m all alone in the house, and for the first time in two days, it’s quiet. Now, I’m not one of those people who needs quiet. I function quite well in the mist of a veritable sea of cacophony, but the last two days have been trying, to say the least.
As suspected, the first night of their visit, my mother and I kept to very pleasant topics.* We discussed the weather, including the likelihood of floods, tornadoes and although not weather related, deer ticks. Then we moved on to foods we liked. With the exception of Chinese and sushi (I hate the former, she hates the latter), we are both fairly adventurous eaters and as it turns out, love most cuisines, especially any that involve chocolate. My sister and I didn’t really get a chance to talk as she was laying in the family room with her oldest, basically pining him to the futon in order to get him settled down and sleeping. It took awhile, but eventually I heard tiny snores. I was in bed by 10:15 or so, but left my husband and mother up. If they talked, I have no idea what about…maybe food since he hadn’t been in the room for the first discussion.
The next morning was equally rough. Everyone except my husband was woken up by my nephew around 7:15. Not too early, but I have a feeling my son would have slept a bit longer had his cousin not taken to running up and down the hall looking for grandma. He was finally rounded up and dragged out to the back porch, but not until the waking was complete. I tried to play off his behavior, making excuses about how tired he must be and how out of his element, especially since our house was the second stop on the trip. They first went to my grandmother’s house, which is more like a really poorly kept up museum. Everything is antique in the house, but they’ve all been put to everyday use, so they are a bit shabby. Still, everything is very breakable and even the toys aren’t really kid friendly. I mentioned the hostile environment for children and my sister made sure to mention that my place was equally kid unfriendly. This was news to me.
For those who have not stepped foot in my house, it is baby central. My living room contains a baby swing, a baby gym, a blanket full of toys, a jumparoo, and a baby kick gym. The family room has a baby chair, a mobile hanging from the ceiling and various baby toys (in one corner). My son’s room is obviously full of toys as is our basement. I even brought up a little bike for my nephew to ride on the back porch and encouraged him to play ball out there. I didn’t even yell or complain when he was supposed to be taking a nap and instead found a marker in grandma’s purse and colored all over the white nightstand in the guestroom, including the lamp, it’s shade, the picture frame of my in-laws and the travel alarm clock I set out for guests. I told her it was no big deal, handed her some cleaner and laughed it off (especially when it did come off). So, I was honestly taken aback when she told me my house hated children.
My house is very kid friendly, however, at eight o’clock when we were trying to put the baby to bed and her son was running around asking what everything in the house was at the top of his lungs, and tearing through the hallways looking for people, I think my husband and I may not have been quite so hospitable. We were not rude. We never yelled at him. We just asked him to talk quietly because the baby was sleeping. We demonstrated. According to my sister, that was his quiet voice. Our request for a little quiet so our baby could sleep, pissed her off.
Things got worse from there. My mom wanted to go to White Castle for lunch. This is not a problem for me, as I am a fan of cheap, really bad for me fast food. The greasier and seedier, the better. I love sliders! I also love the deep fried batter dipped fish, and for that matter the deep fried batter crumbs of Long John Silvers. Until he gave up red meat, E and I would make pilgrimages to these places when Eee was out of town. Now that I think of it, we need to hit the captain’s good place again soon. But I digress. Since we were going to the mall to get pictures of the grandkids, we thought we’d stop on the way. We had to take two cars due to the lack of space one gets when three car seats are involved. All three of the boys fell asleep, and rather than wake them and have three crying kids on our hands, my mom decided they should go in, get food and eat in their van. That left me to go through the drive-thru, pull back in the parking lot and eat my lunch in my car all by myself. Since I had no room to spread things out, I had to hold the ketchup packet and squeeze a few drops on each fry. It was the most pathetic meal I’d ever spent. This was the point when I started to tear up.
I finished first, since I had hit the drive-thru, so I sat in my car for about ten minutes waiting on them. On the plus side, I got to clean out all the trash in the front seat that makes the vein in my husband’s forehead pop out just a little farther. Eventually my sister came over to tell me they were ready to go. She also apologized for being so mean.
I must take a minute here to defend my sister, because even though I’m bitching about her this very minute, I don’t want anyone else to. She’s my baby sister after all, and just like when we were kids, only I’m allowed to pick on her. My sister isn’t well. She has a host of medical problems and a slew of medicines they are constantly adjusting on her that have great side effects like delusions, dizziness and severe irritability. She cannot handle any sort of stress, and traveling for 12 hours to visit my grandmother, staying in the mausoleum, driving three more hours and having her son throw tantrums at my house were definitely stressing her out. Not to mention that her baby is teething, so he wasn’t exactly a bucket of joy either. Oh, my no good, lazy brother-in-law (her husband) was back at home, texting her every five seconds, which was adding to her stress. My brother-in-law is a jerk, but that’s a whole series of blogs for another time.
Anyway, we got the photos taken and while my kid was the only one who seemed to be enjoying himself, we got some cute ones of everyone. The eldest boy was constantly trying to take all the photographers toys and yelling “mine.” He even threw the ball the photographer handed him against the wall, almost taking out the no doubt very expensive camera photographing them. The younger brother was just crying because he was exhausted. My baby was smiles and giggles the entire hour and a half. The mall also provided us with cookies and rides for the holy terror, which made him much more pleasant to be around.
Dinner, which I cooked, went pretty darn well. All the boys were in bed by 9:00. My step-dad watched TV with a volume so low, I’m not actually sure he was doing more than staring at images and enjoying the silence. My mom, sister and I talked. We moved beyond the weather and food, and while we didn’t even touch on the subject of our very dysfunctional mother/daughter relationship, we did talk about my sister’s lousy husband, how hard things are for her and about just how crazy several of the older members of our family are. I even got to recount some of my better Florida stories, which no longer makes me bitter, just sort of amused. I trooped off to bed about 10:30 again, but the night finished off much better than the previous one had. I didn’t have that horrid knot in my stomach. I even got to sleep in until Richard’s alarm went off at 8:15. Everyone slept in. It was lovely.
Still, it’s Thursday and they left at 10:30 am. They were supposed to leave tomorrow around 9-ish. Even with the good end to the night, it was too overwhelming for my sister. Before she left, we hugged for a good long while, each saying we were sorry and how much we loved each other. My mom and I did the same. After they’d pulled away, a part of me was sad they were gone. It was nice to have my house back. My cats were certainly happier. My son could nap at will and I didn’t feel like an ogre for wanting a little quiet. As screwed up as our relationships are, I miss them. I won’t be entering any “Why I have the greatest mom” contests, but I think it was a good thing she came to visit. If we keep up our usual pattern, the next time I see her, my nephews should be 5 ½ and nearly 8, so they’ll probably have developed a few more social skills and indoor voices. I bet that visit will go better.
*See Tuesday’s blog for a brief recount of dining out with my family.