Friday, February 19, 2010

PANIC alert

I have two things I want to note quickly, and then one thing I want to panic about, not quickly.

First: I have a new post up at Bodies about why I'm not on birth control pills anymore. Fun with charting! (And no, we're not trying to conceive. Yet. Unfortunately.)

Second: I am selling some of my too-big clothes. I've already sold eight pieces, but I have another 20 or so left. Email me if you're interested and I'll show you what I've got.

Now, onto the panic. We've known for awhile that Torsten's parents would be coming to visit this summer, but we thought it would be for 10 days to two weeks. We were looking forward to it, actually. They're challenging, but they're also nice, and this will be their first time in Denver, seeing our house, meeting Montana, and so on. I was looking forward to hosting them in our home and hopefully getting to know them a bit better (at least as much as the language barrier allows).

BUT. Now they've told Torsten that they're planning on coming for three to four weeks. Four weeks is a month. A MONTH!!

It's not them, really it's not. I like them, I do. I mean, they're not exactly low-maintenance, and the language barrier makes things challenging, but it's not like they're evil and intolerable or anything. They mean well, though I do get frustrated with their negativity and complete lack of support for Torsten's choices (sample comment: That is a stupid name for your company. And the website design is ugly. And really, why would anyone pay you for these services?).

They're nice people. I'm sure his dad will help with some home improvement projects, and his mother will probably do some excellent cooking. They like to hike, and we should have fun. And hopefully since they won't be staying in a hotel and we won't have to plan times and places to meet up, it will be somewhat more relaxed than past visits.

But four weeks. FOUR WEEKS. I don't think there is anyone that I would be happy to have in our house for that long, no matter who it was. And we'll feel the need to entertain and whenever Torsten isn't in the room there will be lots of awkward smiling and nodding, since we can barely converse. And at night we won't be able to just relax and read or watch TV or whatever. And that's what I need, that is my time. Our time. Oh god.

And also, apparently they won't be renting a car? So it will just be the four of us with our Civic. Which means that if they go somewhere during the day while we're working, we'll both be stuck at home. Conversely, if we go to the gym or the dog park or the grocery store, they'll be stuck at home. And we'll have to, like, SCHEDULE the car in case someone has a doctor's appointment one day.

Seriously, I really think that if they just rented a car this whole trip would seem a lot less scary to me. The idea of all having to do everything together is just... well. I guess I'm an introvert in that I need alone time to recharge. And having house guests for four weeks... oh MY.

Also, I'm hoping to be pregnant by then, and I can't decide if that will make things better or worse. It could be better, in that I'd have an excuse to retire to my room to nap, throw up, etc., and I'd have an excellent reason not to participate in every little activity. But it could be worse in that I'd be, you know, pregnant and possibly miserable, and possibly not have the energy to deal with guests and their needs. I want to be hospitable, you know? Welcome them to our house and home, show them the sights, take them hiking and on weekend trips and whatnot. And if I'm pregnant and exhausted... well, we'll see.

I am trying so hard to get Torsten to convince them to rent a car. AT LEAST for part of the time. Thinking about the four of us (plus the dog, and possibly a fetus) stuck together in the house, basically chained together as far as decision-making and leaving the house go... it's not good for my stress levels, that's all I'm saying.



  1. I had to laugh because three years ago I could have written this post. That summer was the first time that my MIL would be coming from overseas to stay with us for four weeks. I had ALL of the same concerns as you and then some. My MIL is not comfortable driving in the US since it is drastically different than where she lives. Long story short, though, is that ended up being so much better a visit than I ever thought it could/would be. The past two years I've actually begged her to stay six weeks - the longest she can stay for various reasons - and I'm hoping she will this summer.

    Try not to worry about it too much. It won't be as bad as you think and the four weeks will fly by.

  2. i am going to try and say this without sounding like a gigantic asshole (you know me) but these people are not just anybody. they're torsten's who live very far away and you both barely get to see. why not make the most of it instead of the opposite. a month out of your life is very little time at all...if any. try and enjoy it.

  3. I would feel overwhelmed if my in-laws were going to stay with us for a month, too. They're great and we get along really well but, like you, I would feel pressured to entertain them all the time. Good luck with it...I bet you'll have a nice visit.

  4. I also HAVE TO HAVE alone time or I go batshit crazy. I would suggest that you just plan to have a fake bedtime, in that you retire to your bedroom for the evening earlier than you normally would. No one has to know that you are not actually going to sleep. You can read, or blog (if you have a laptop and/or a computer in your room, or watch TV if you have a TV in there. If you don't have a way to blog or watch TV in there, plan ahead and put a TV and/or computer in there for during the visit.

    I think you may find it easier to entertain them than you think. When my grandmother had her brother and nephew from Germany come visit (in 1990 or 91, I think), they LOVED just going to the grocery store. They couldn't believe all the different types of food (meat, bread, etc.) were all in one store. Granted, they had been living in East Germany and the wall had just come down, so a grocery store might not have that WOW factor anymore. :)

    Another thing you might consider is really working hard on learning as much German as you can between now and then. That will not only help with the language barrier, it can give you and them things to talk about when Torsten is not in the room. If they know you are trying to learn their language, I bet they will make a point of helping you, and in turn they will pick up the English equivalents of the words. Pretty soon the language barrier will be a lot less. Good luck! Hope it all goes well!

  5. I am so so sorry. My in-laws were just here for three weeks and it was TOO LONG. And they weren't in my house. (They have stayed that long in the house before. Once we had kids, we told them the house was too small and they had to stay elsewhere. We're mean, but it helps.) Getting them to rent a car will help. If that's not possible, I suggest finding a work project that will take up a LOT of your time right around then.

  6. I totally hear you... I have a rule that if anyone comes for longer than a week, they have to rent a car.

    However, I also think it's good to think about their side. I would imagine that they probably don't want to be entertained every day for 4 weeks because they'd be exhausted to. They need their own down time and experience their own forms of relaxation.

    I kind of think that if they stayed for 2 weeks they would stay in that "guest" category. With 4 weeks, they move into another category and now you have an excuse to not attend every event... because you'll see them a lot over their stay. In the long run, this might be the best thing for our relationship with your in-laws.

  7. I've never had to host someone for more than 4 days let alone 4 weeks, but this is my advice to you.

    4 weeks is not a visit, it's a living arrangement. Act accordingly - you do not have to be the one month long entertainment. Schedule the visit. Including your alone time. When they get into town, have directions to things they can walk to typed out. Let them know when you're working so that you can have time to yourself. Then have weekend activities planned - barbeque with some friends at your place so Torsten's parents can meet your friends, trips up to the mountains. Treat the weekends like visits and the weeks like family - switch off cooking, lounging around, taking Montana for walks.

    You've got time, but if you don't plan to entertain the entire time, I think it will go more smoothly.

  8. Well, hopefully you'll just nap the entire way through their visit.

  9. Ah! They have to rent a car- I'm sure they'll want to go on day trips to see all the pretty things in Colorado! My MIL is coming for a just a weekend this month and I'm already cringing...I can't imagine a month...that seems a little long.

  10. Are you going to be working during that 4 weeks, or taking vacation time? If you're going to be working, you (or Torsten, more likely) can establish some rules with them so they understand you are working. I suspect they will entertain themselves a lot of the time and not expect to BE entertained. At some point, they'll know the lay of the land enough to take the dog out for a walk on their own, or maybe Torsten can take them on some errands/trips with just them and him (that way, you get a break and they can have time with their son). Then, you CAN have those nice activities that are planned and not feel like you'd been entertaining all the time (hikes, dinners, shopping, etc.) I think you might find that the visit will be ok and maybe even fun! Call it an exercise in "going with the flow"!

    - Mon

  11. Wow. That is a lot to ask of anyone. Even when you have the best relationship ever. Let alone one with a few challenges.

    Why not use it as an excuse to brush up on your German. I mean, if you get a little bit better with German with each visit, soon enough, the language won't be an issue.

    Then again, maybe you like it that way. =)

    A rental car seems like a very fair request. I mean, they're not exactly paying for housing while they're there.

  12. Dude - duuuude! No. I would flip out if my own mother was coming for a month, let alone in-laws that don't speak the same language as me. You HAVE TO rent a car for them for at least part of the time. With you and T both working from home and them there all day - OMG the horror! Plan some little day trips for them, rent a car and send them on their way. And do the fake bed-time thing to get your alone time. Good luck!

  13. I do think renting a car would be a great idea, but maybe they're intimidated of highways and stuff? I don't know, though... German roads are pretty much like ours, aren't they? And sheesh, they have the autobahn or whatever- speed shouldn't be an issue.
    At any rate, definitely don't feel like they have to be entertained every day. Just plan a few outings here and there, and suggestions of what they can do in their down time. Hopefully the weather will be really nice too and there can be lots of outdoor stuff.
    Also, if you ARE preggo, it will be really nice having someone else there who can cook instead of you. Um, unless the smells are troublesome. Hmm. Maybe this one isn't a plus.
    But! Maybe pregnant! This is exciting.

  14. blargh! a weekend visit drives me into a tizzy so a month??!! yikes!

  15. Oh wow, I can see where the panic is coming from. I think that after a few days of feeling like you have to entertain them constantly (and them feeling entertained constantly) that you'll settle into a rhythm. They'll bring books to read, you guys can stock up on puzzles or sudoku. You'll see that you really won't have to entertain them the whole time. The whole them not renting a car thing is ridiculous though, seriously ridiculous. You have some time and I'm SURE you'll find a way to work it all out.

  16. HONEY. That is TOO LONG. The only thing I can think? Is that maybe it's so long that you are FORCED to work out a routine in which you all get your required alone time. I mean, at four weeks it's more like getting some roommates.

    And? Don't forget the light rail.

  17. ::breathing into a paper bag::

    OMG I am panicked WITH you. The thought... of someone for THAT long... IN-LAWS...


    All that aside... YES they need to rent a car. Maybe even just for part of the time, like you said.

    I would also plan some activities for all of you to undertake alone - make it part of the schedule, so it's not "weird" if you need some time to yourself.

    And you may be surprised at how bonding pregnancy can be with regard to inlaws... I loved mine a whole lot more after I was pregnant because really, they afforded me this man, the father of my child, whatever their other faults.

    Good luck - start planning those outings girl!

  18. Holy smokes. I would also be panicking! Garrett's parents live a couple of states away and in the past when they have come to visit, they stay 3-4 weeks...I would see him less but it wouldn't impact my life. Now that we live together, honestly I'm a bit freaked about the first time they come visit -- for ALL the reasons you just listed. I mean PANIC. So I understand. Yowza!

  19. Wow that is a long time. BUT, at least you don't run into them on Saturday night when you're out drinking margaritas, like I did with my in-laws a couple of weeks ago. THAT was fun.

    I'd just try to establish boundaries early like everyone has said, and definitely do the rent car. Good luck!

  20. I think if they're planning on staying for a month (or even three weeks) - they need to take it upon themselves to rent a car. And help pay for groceries during that time. It's only fair! It doesn't matter if its his parents, anyone staying for that long of a time needs to put in the effort, since its an inconvenience. I don't care if its a parent, friend, sibling, etc. Something needs to be said before they come so that it wont wind up being miserable for everyone.

  21. FOUR WEEKS!! You're right, that is a VERY LONG TIME for ANYONE to visit, EVEN close family. I wouldn't visit MY OWN PARENTS for that long, and I'm their BELOVED CHILD.

    I do think that with a longer visit you should go ahead and do evening stuff roughly as usual---I mean, include them, of course, but go ahead and watch TV and movies, or read a book, or go to another room.

    I also think it would be acceptable to leave the three of them and go to your room for the evening. Even with only a 1.5-week mother-in-law visit I CERTAINLY did that, in the name of giving her some time alone with her child.

    I know you're dramatically reducing spending and this would be a huge expense, but I wonder...if they don't rent a car, it might be worth it to rent them one.

  22. I'm sorry. I just can't focus on the panic when all I see is Pregnant! This summer! With a BAAAABYYYY!

    Oh yay!

  23. Think of it as a practice run for when you DO have that fetus. You're going to be on a schedule for the car then, right?

    And I agree with crystall completely about her comment. Perhaps you could use the time they go out alone with the car to recharge (I'm thinking day trips on weekends). Or Torsten could go with them sometimes just by himself and leave you to have some alone time. I think you, more or less, have to take a step back and realize you don't have to entertain them 24/7. Relax, and the household will relax with you! :)

    Those clothes sound interesting (actually, they sound great) - just am worried they are out of my price range. :(

  24. Dude. Move. And don't tell them where. This is the only solution.

    Anyone who is telling you you shouldn't freak out about this is crazy. And no I'm not kidding.

  25. I could not deal with a month. I can't even deal with a week. No, strike that. I can't deal with a weekend.

    You guys will figure something out. Push for that car!

  26. His parents sound so... German.

    I know the feeling well. And what is it with those Europeans taking MONTH-LONG VACATIONS?! And why can't WE get more of that action?

  27. I don't have in-laws, but yeah, ANYONE in my house for a month would terrify me. And not just because I have a tiny studio apartment.

  28. Um. All I can say to this is, thank god you're as mature and level-headed as you are (or seem to be, anyway).

    I would NEVER survive it. It isn't about liking or disliking the parents, it's about the added responsibilities and obligations of the wife, 100%. As the traditional "homemaker" you'll be screwed.

    I recommend a lot of dining out, except wait, nevermind, you're budgeting.

    I'm starting to feel remarkably unhelpful so I'll just say, goodluck, and I'm sure you'll handle the situation with grace and panache.

  29. I can totally relate to needing alone time and not wanting anyone--ANYONE!!--to visit for that long. Hopefully, it won't be that bad, and I think a lot of good suggestions have been made here. And definitely give them plenty of time with Torsten, I'm sure they'd like that and it will give you a breather. Focus on the positive: "I know you'd like some time together" instead of "OMG I have to get away from you nut jobs".

    I also think that it would be an excellent time to learn more German. You don't want to wait until your kids pick it up and start saying things you don't understand! Maybe ask them to talk about Torsten's childhood, in German, so you can get good stories and the language at the same time?

    Just my two cents! Good luck, and keep breathing.

  30. I would FLIP out. Seriously I would die, and I just have a MIL.

  31. The suggestions for taking alone time are all great, but if you're anything like me, it might not happen. I am just completely incapable of not hovering around guests--trying to keep them entertained, making sure they're happy, waiting on them, etc. It is physically impossible for me to pay attention to anything else if there are other people in my home. So I feel you with the needing your alone time but not knowing how to get it.

    I wish I could give you some suggestions but I'm still figuring out how to deal with my (batshit crazy) parental in-law units. If you figure it out, let me know! :)

    Or, you know--you have a smart phone, you could still blog/twitter/facebook from it while you're out and about. Twitter is what kept me sane during my last trip to the in-laws. :)

  32. OMG is right. I seriously hope that you guys can convince the in-laws to rent a car. Denver is not a great city if you don't have a car.

    I'm not sure what else to say. It will make for good blog fodder? ;-)

  33. A month!? Holy crap. I can barely handle guests for two nights. But I also live in a cozy apartment.

    Why don't you and Torsten rent them the car as a gift? At least for part of the time? That will alleviate some of the pressure.

  34. GURL ...

    LOL welcome to marriage! Conrad's mom doesn't work and his dad is a band director, so guess WHAT - they have Spring Break, ALL SUMMER and two weeks at Christmas!

    Two years ago they came for ten days at Spring Break, with two days notice AND their 7 year old grandson (our nephew). When I tell you I was in HELL I was in HELL. I called Conrad everyday from work crying ... they ate EVERYTHING in the house, slept all day and left the 7 year old to his own devices. He broke our back door and ate us out of house and home ...

    My parents are SO different. They come in, stick to a time schedule, rent a car, plan their own things and leave on time.

    I am SO SORRY ... but it will work out - and it hopefully won't be EVERY year and there are so many of us who have been through it before.

    oh and Conrad's sister lives in the same town with her parents- we don't ... her mom has come and stayed for various things- new babies and surgeries for MONTHS at a time. MONTHS.


  35. I think a car rental is a perfectly reasonable request, and even moreso since they won't have lodging costs. I'd continue to encourage that.

    Also, I think over-seas visits tend to be on the longer side of things. I am TOTALLY understanding of your panic, but I think that 3-4 weeks overseas is a average length. We have good friends that are German (they lived here for several years) and they always spend at least 3 weeks when they visit the states.

    Also, I had to laugh at your example comments that they make to their son. It sounds EXACTLY like how my German friends talk to me. "Oh, I see you've painted your living room. Green is meh, but a nice white would have been lovely!" Is being blunt just part of the German culture?

    After the first week or so, I think you'll get into a nice routine, and it'll be less like "hosting" and more like "communal living". A fetus will probably be a very welcome distraction, as well as a good "excuse" for lots of things.

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  37. No time to read the other comments, so sorry if I've repeating something you've already heard. I've been there, my inlaws are from Pakistan and they spent a month with us. (I still win this competition though, b/c they stayed for the 45 days that followed our wedding, and we only had a 1 bedroom apartment, so my "honeymoon" was spent sleeping on the floor of the dining room. Ahem. Plus they spoke no English, plus they didn't know I existed 6 weeks prior, PLUS-plus they had expected to ARRANGE a marriage for their son. Surprise!) Anyway, it will be awkward, but back then I told myself that escaping to the bedroom was not an option - this my my first chance to build a relationship with them, and gritting my teeth through the awkwardness was the best thing I could have done. I learned more Urdu (their language) than I was expecting, my MIL and I bonded over cooking together - something easily done with miming and watching her, and we went souvenir shopping a lot. I had them look through all of my childhood pictures, and I bought a bigass puzzle for them. I can honestly saw that 6 years of hindsight and I only remember that visit with fondness - and I truly believe it was the first step that helped them and me find my place in the family. Communication with the husband was key, though, and we made sure to still carve out some "us" time each day - we lied and said we went to sleep earlier than we really did, and then spent an hour chatting in the dark, or reading together by the light of flashlights (because dining room, OMG.)

    Lastly, you know that YOU guys could rent a 2nd car too, right? Sometimes on Orbitz it's as cheap as $15/day, if you're willing to pick up/drop of at your nearest airport. And you could always do that on Week 2 or 3 if after week 1 you realize the car situation is a major problem.

  38. That would stress me out in a mega way too. Like you say, it's not even that you don't want them there, it's just the stress of being "on" for four weeks, instead of just having normal life. Wow.

  39. I like Phillip's parents and all too, but I would probably want to die after spending a month in the same house with them. I'm sure they'd feel the same way though.

  40. I completely understand the stress but also agree with those who have said that with a visit this long you don't need to entertain constantly. TT's parents stayed with his brother and wife for six months recently and the only way they (by which I mean all 4 of them) could cope was to give the parents their own chilling space away from the living room and kitchen (they actually turned the garage into a second living room!). Do you have a family room and separate den? Maybe one of those could be allocated to the in-laws? You could sell it as giving them their space. Possibly put a spare TV or computer with a stack of DVDs (ones that have German subtitles!) in there. And definitely encourage them to take day trips without you sometimes.