Monday, March 27, 2006
The Infinite Entitlement of the Mother-in-Law
I swear, the woman is just a genius. No one else on the planet can be this consistent with ways to frustrate or shock me with their sheer self-involvement.

Tonight's episode starts with a phone call from Willem's friend Mike, to tell us that his father had passed away yesterday. His dad had been quite ill for a while, so while this was not a shock, we also weren't exactly expecting it. His family is in Rochester, NY, about 7 hours from here when not traveling with children, so I immediately flew into Planning Mode - when can we leave, where will we stay, who do I need to call, and so on? Most of which was fairly obviously, if unhappily, answered: we'll leave tomorrow around noontime, we'll stay at my mother-in-law's, and I need to call every person I have ever known in my life and a few strangers. Fine.

When I called to ask if we could stay at her house, my mother-in-law's immediate response was, "Sure, of course. When and where is the funeral mass?" So I told her, and asked, "Can you watch the kids while we go?" And she got ANGRY. Much signing and sputtering and a very self-righteous, "Well, I think I should be there too." Not because she KNEW the man who died, just because she's entitled and can't bear to miss out.

So I said, "That's fine, if you're going to go I can arrange for someone else to watch the kids." "What? Why would someone else watch them? Who else do you know here?" I explained tat I didn't think they should attend the mass, and I have other friends in the area who would be happy to help out. So then it was, "Well, I can watch them in the back of the church, and if they get loud then we'll step out."

Well..... NO. I don't think it is at ALL appropriate for my kids to be there. Children of the family, maybe, but not strangers. I told her that, and said, "Just tell me what you want. If you want to go, I'm sure my friend will be happy to watch the kids." Enormous sigh. "Oh, no, no, I guess I'll just stay home with the kids and send flowers or something. I want to have that extra time with my grandkids... *sigh*...."

Fantastic. Both guilt and pouting all wrapped into one, can't wait to get there.

Then, after I had some more time to process, I realized that it really didn't make sense for the kids and I to go. I'd like to go to support Willem and his friend, but the cost-benefit analysis of driving two kids in a trip that will take anywhere from 7 to 10 hours each way, to stay there approximately 12 hours and then turn around and come home, to stay with a woman whose hostility is tangible enough that I could sprinkle it on my breakfast cereal... it all ends up with a bit more on the cost side than the benefits side. So I end up feeling like a bad friend, but otherwise sane.

Aside from the up-sides of not unduly stressing my kids, this has the added benefit of potentially causing my mother-in-law's brain to leak out her ears. Because, assuming we don't go, now she (a) doesn't get to see the kids and (b) has to go to the mass that she didn't REALLY want to go to anyway.

And even more fun - now that I've told Willem that the kids and I won't be going, he has decided to stay at Mike's place instead of with his mother. Ooooh, is she not going to like that one little bit.

Never fear, though... my friend Jessi is having an Intense Medical Procedure done to her tomorrow, also in Rochester, so I'm planning to head out with the kids next week to help her out for a few days, after she's out of the hospital and her mother has gone home. I can't figure out a way to stay anywhere but with my mother-in-law, so I'm sure my daily bliss will simply be inexpressible.

Except that I imagine I'll find a way to express it here. I always do.