I have a Not So Zen Mom friend (who shall remain nameless), who just survived a 4 day visit from her dreaded in-laws. I’ll skip the gory details and back story and confirm on her behalf that they’re not amazing. When the evil ingrates weren’t talking about their complaints in the third person, they were torturing my friend with long hours spent “visiting,” which apparently is the act of sitting in uncomfortable silence for long periods of time, followed by intermittent waves of awkward conversation. This basically meant that my friend spent half the time trying to figure out what the hell was going on and the other half of the time listening to racist comments and stories about sewing for the needy at church (Because what every homeless person needs is matching embroidered throw pillows, right?). Anyhow, my friend breaks an in-law visit into three distinct stages. Here they are, pulled directly from her email to me upon their glorious and long-awaited departure.
Stage 1 – Preparation
This stage begins with you and your husband fighting about just how annoying his parents really are. Your anxiety is high in anticipation of their assholishness (yes, I said that) and you consider faking your own death. This passes very quickly when you realize that you only have days to go and you need to clean, STAT. You start with the bathrooms, and clean those suckers on hands and knees until they have never sparkled so bright. You wash sheets, towels and some miscellaneous socks you find behind the couch. You dust every surface, plant new plants, clean the fish tank, wash the windows, sweep the porch, vacuum (even the stairs, which you typically get to once a year), wet mop the hardwood and hide every piece of clutter you own. This whole time you curse your husband who is muttering stupid shit like, “The house looks fine honey” as he leaves a trail of shoes by the door and the toilet seat up. TIP: when preparing for guests you need to circle back to check the toilet after every male family member goes pee. They are going to piss all over your spick and span toilet and you will need to clean it twice daily until the in-laws arrive! Know going in that your cleaning efforts will be a complete waste of time in the long run. Within the hour your children and husband will make a huge mess and your in-laws won’t even notice your hard work. No worries, the cleaning will make you feel better. Well, a little better. Once you have all that cleaning done, there is only one place left to go…Costco. Time for the “I’m going to spend $400 on food entertaining people I hate” shopping. Grab salmon, tri-tip, potato salad, fruit, pizzas, lunch meat, salad, yogurt, coffee, flowers, and 600 other items and throw them in the cart. Make sure to leave plenty of room for 12 bottles of wine and 2 gallons of hard alcohol. You are gonna need it in Stage 2.
Stage 2 –Lower Your Expectations, But Know Your Low Expectations Will Be Met
The in-laws arrive with presents for the kids and you are literally left running a five-star hotel. No matter how much you hate them, you are going to be polite, gracious, welcoming and prove to them that your husband did in fact made a good choice in marrying you. No one lifts a finger to help you do anything and after four days of fixing every meal, washing every dish and hearing complaints and criticisms about everything you do, it is clearly time for the in-laws to move the f*ck along so you can move on to Stage 3.
Stage 3 – Detoxification
You are going to need to detoxify your house after a visit from these jackholes. Oh yeah, besides about 10 loads of laundry, sage is going to have to be burned to get the evil spirits out! Yes, I said burn SAGE! First things first, start looking for the clutter you hid in Stage 1. Turns out that “clutter” was actually bills you need to pay and you can’t remember for the life of you where you put them. Next, wash anything they touched, including hand towels and countertops. Finally, gather up any and everything they gave you or the kids as evidence of their visit and drive it over to Goodwill. Chances are you really didn’t need a “Welcome to Cleveland” coffee mug or what appear to be used stuff animals. Goodwill will take anything, but don’t forget to get a receipt for your taxes so you can offset the $128 in Costco booze you just bought (and drank over the interminable 4 day visit). Now, take the sage and burn it throughout the house. You’ll know that you’ve burned enough when the smoke detectors start going off. Once the smoke clears, do your happy dance because you survived another visit. If your husband mentions anything about the smell of burning hippy leaves in your house, tell him it is the potpourri his mother gave you. That will shut him up. Now treat yourself to some new shoes or a trip to Title 9, you’ve earned it!