My mother-in-law was here visiting for about two weeks.
My opinion about houseguests has really changed over the years. When Noah was still a baby, and even when Mattias was a baby, I loved houseguests because they provided me some adult time and some extra help around the house. And I didn't need to hire a babysitter! As our family grew, the visits stopped being very helpful. The kids were really upset by the change in routine and dynamic. I was overwhelmed between the responsibilities of being a good host and the needs of the children. By the time Trixie came along, I really had my hands full with the kids' needs. The job of hosting, too, was one too many.
Now that we've made it through everyone's toddler and baby years, I have a little bit of space again. Hosting is easier than before. But I still don't enjoy it the way I did when Noah was a baby. It's still more work for me: the invisible kind of traditionally-woman-work, for which I am not paid/ compensated. I think I'm NOT supposed to complain about it because it's just expected, right? Also, we visit other people so I guess I should just see it as a trade-off, right? But still, taking care of the kids is MORE difficult with houseguests. And the houseguests are more people to take care of. I think it's okay if I acknowledge the many sides of the situation, yes?
My current strategy is to clear out my schedule and lower my expectations. I don't expect to complete projects. I don't expect to have a surplus of help. I try to keep everyone happy. I try not to feel resentful.
I think it mostly worked this time. Which means, we made it through without major breakdowns. The kids created artwork with Oma. We had a gallery opening on the last night of her visit.
It was very sweet. We will definitely be finding permanent places for some of these. The kids were so proud of their work. Oma did a lovely job presenting their work and talking about all the techniques that they tried in artist-speak. They just beamed with pride.
But getting there was sometimes fraught. Turns out, the kids are every bit as opinionated about their art as Oma is. Also, my kitchen island looked like this for almost the entire two weeks:
Let's get a closer look at that mess, shall we?
I was a good sport publicly. But I kept thinking to myself that I know many who would never allow such a mess to accumulate – and stay for two weeks! – on the kitchen island. I cringe to think of those sayings about how Your Space Reflects what You are Feeling on the Inside. If an organized house is an organized mind, is a super-organized house an uptight mentality? I guess we can just think of our island mess as full of variation, depth and complexity. Convenient! Those are my favorite types of people!