When John was alive, he and I rarely argued. Oh, sure, we'd snip at each other at the end of a bad day, and I know I had personal habits that annoyed him just as he had his that annoyed me. But down-and-dirty, knock-'em-out fights? Pretty much never. It took until my kids were toddlers for me to find my yelling voice (as has been well documented here), and John was not one to raise his voice, either. Certainly we were far too civilized to hit or throw. So even on the rare occasions that we truly argued, it was a restrained affair, more along the silent treatment and sulking lines than anything.
Nothing could cause us to give each other the cold shoulder like the impending arrival of John's parents. The week before their arrival, I would inevitably be in a state of constant bitchiness. My relationship with my parents-in-law has always been so volatile, so charged, that the idea of their arrival would send me into a tailspin of latent stress. It was a pattern known as Low Expectations Yields High Results: I would decide ahead of time that their visit would be awful, pure torture, offensive and untenable, then be surprised each and every time that it was never, ever as bad as I thought it would be. The fact that the visits were ultimately relatively enjoyable is the good news. The bad news is that, despite numerous lessons from history, I could not stop expecting the worst and behaving like a brat because of the angst created by that expectation.
And now? The cycle continues. I'd pushed the in-laws' visit to the back of my mind for a while. I've had so many other things on my plate between work and the move and all that it was easy to forget the visit was happening. But it's been on my mind this week, although I thought I was feeling pretty calm. But this morning, all of the worries that I had not even recognized were there turned me into a venom-spewing Medusa in the car on the way to daycare.
I felt horrible after I dropped the kids off. It was Riley who bore the brunt of my irritation, ostensibly because he wasn't listening to me, which is true. But my reaction was way off the mark and was just a way for me to release this in-law related frustration. I recognized it as that in the moment, but still wasn't able to rein myself in. All I can do now is try to do better next time.
We do have a nice weekend planned. Tonight we'll all meet up for dinner. Tomorrow, I'm taking the kids to the hotel where everyone is staying to swim in the indoor heated pool in the morning, then in the afternoon, it should be nice enough to go to the park. Saturday night, after the kids are in bed, I'll sneak out for some down time with my sister-in-law. Sunday, those who want to will go to church and those who would rather relax in a Harvard Square coffee shop can do that. It makes my in-laws so happy to the see the kids, and vice versa. We'll have fun, if I can just let myself believe it to be so.