A member of my husband's family is turning 100 years old this summer. That's big time stuff! Her town is planning a celebration for her. She has been a very active member in her community for all her years, and continues to live in a historic home now with her daughter and son-in-law. Naturally, the family is planning their own reunion/celebration a couple months after her big day. We love Rhode Island, and spending time with the family up there. Neither of our children have been there, or met any of our RI family members. We are excited to make the trip. What we are not excited about is sharing one house with a large number of those family members with an energetic and loud 3 year old and a baby.
We were informed today by my mother-in-law that she has secured a rental property that sleeps 14 folks for an entire week this summer. We had not confirmed our attendance, or agreed to a location or budget or anything to do with any of this. So right up front, one of my biggest concerns, that she would run the show and our vacation would be out of our hands, was already occurring. We want to go spend time with everyone, but we want to be able to be on our own schedule, and doing things we want to do without being told where we need to stay, how to spend our time, and we also want some privacy.
Our son is full of energy, and as he gets excited he gets loud. The last reunion we attended, my toddler niece was there, and everyone was getting angry while she babbled during a slide show. I don't want to have to hole up in a tiny room with my husband and two kids if people don't want a loud, rambunctious child around. I want to be able to give them time away from him, and him time away from the crowd. I want to be able to peacefully retire to our own private space when we need to relax and rest.
Also, after 11 years around her, and 9 years of seeing how she is in public with a grandchild, I know to expect my mother-in-law to be showboating with her grandchildren in front of her relatives who have not seen them. After all, this is the woman who replaced a large amount of her furniture with brand new, very expensive pieces, added a wet bar to her home, and hired a caterer for dinner at her house when some of her out of town family came in for our wedding. She complained about attending our rehearsal (even though she had a small candle lighting part in the ceremony), and skipped our rehearsal dinner to go back to her catered dinner at her house. "I don't even know why I'm here." Those were her exact words. (Yeah, they came back to me when she talked endlessly this summer about preparing for her boyfriend's daughter's wedding and sent pictures of her rehearsal dinner and wedding and gushed about the dinner and such to us. That's nice. You couldn't even be bothered to attend your own son's, but tell me all about this girl's rehearsal dinner. I've met her twice, so obviously I want to know every intimate detail.) She wanted to know what to wear as the "step-mother" (although she is not, they are unmarried and his children are adults), to the rehearsal. It nearly killed me not to say "Oh, just wear what you wore to your son's rehearsal dinner. Oh wait, you didn't go to that!" But everything is all about her image to everyone else. So I know my kids will be paraded around, and have to perform for her and her family as and when she pleases. I will need a place for us to escape, and to just be us.
It is also hard for people who don't have young kids anymore to spend time around little ones. They aren't used to it, and a week away from home can lend itself to tantrums that people may not want to be subjected to. I totally understand that. They are on vacation, too. They should have a break from us, as well. After all, this is supposed to be everyone's vacation!
None of my friends will shoot me, and I'll still be nursing the baby so I can't take a big ol' bottle of Xanax or cheap, strong liquor. So it looks like we have to find a way to get out of the not-so-youth hostel and get our own lodging, or I'll have to start begging for jury duty that week.