The Empty Nest Chronicles – June Edition

My husband and my younger son often make plans that involve our two families without first checking with me and or my daughter in-law. That’s why my daughter-in-law and I check in with each other whenever there’s even a hint of a plan in the making.

The first plan involved all of us getting together for a few days in our home. Remember, our grandsons are 2, 5 and 8. Then it changed to a few days in their home. I was okay with either option but felt it would be less stressful and less mess in their home than in ours, even if it involved packing our clothes and driving a few hours to their home.

As it turned out the “few” days grew into 8. The location was to be our home. And our son and daughter-in-law would leaving us with the kids for one night. I remembered how it was when my kids were growing up and my husband and I wanted time just the two of us. I was originally okay with a “few” days of us all together in our home. But 8 days seemed like way too much. I truly love my younger son and his family. But 8 days??????? I immediately thought about all the cooking and preparation involved. 8 days = 24 meals. What with the dietary restrictions so prevalent in our family, eating out wouldn’t be an option. And the mess that 3 young boys could make.

My daughter-in-law’s parents live in a house way too small for anything longer than an overnight visit. Last fall they took my son, daughter-in-law and the boys on a vacation in a hotel for a week. I would love to do the same thing but my son and his family prefer my home to a hotel. It’s their home away from home. They call it their “lake house” even if we don’t have a lake. Could I be honest and tell them that 8 days was too much to ask of me?

I called my daughter-in-law who told me that she had hoped to stay even longer but was unhappy it wasn’t working out. I was happy it wasn’t going to work out.

When I told a friend that my family was coming for 8 days, She said “Wow you are so lucky !”
“What do you mean?” I asked, thinking about all the work involved.
“Well, your daughter-in-law is so comfortable with you that she’s willing to spend 8 days with you! Wow!”

The more thought about it, the more I realized my friend was right. I am genuinely lucky. I have 2 wonderful wonderful daughters in law and I love spending time with them. And they do help out.

What can you learn from this? There really is no right or wrong. It all depends on your perception of the situation. I could have let myself be completely bummed out about the hassle of having my family with us for 8 days and all that that entailed. Or I could look at the situation from my friend’s perspective to see how lucky I really am.
So many of parents complain about being estranged from their families, that they never get to see their children and grandchildren. When and if their families do stop by, it’s usually only for an hour or two on the way to or from someplace “more important.”
So the next time you find yourself agonizing over a family gathering, remember that it often takes an outside perspective to help you find your way. There’s more than one way to look at a situation. It’s all up to you.

There are 7 takeaways for you to learn about family dynamics, especially when it comes to family gatherings over vacations or holidays:

  1.  Spending time with your family can be a blessing or a hassle.
  2.  Members of your family each have their own issues.
  3. You have your own issues.
  4.  There’s more than one way to look at a situation.
  5.  Different people see things in different ways. Getting input from a non family member can change the way you see the situation
  6. Family is part of who you are. Life is way too short to lose the connection.
  7. Do what ever it takes no matter what to get your family to love and include you because no one should have to die alone.