When my husband and I got married, we dreamed of buying our first house, traveling, and having a family of our very own. Simple things like sharing household duties, having parties, and taking out the garbage sort of seemed …fun. And for the first few years life was good. Even with all the challenges that came after we had kids — the sleep deprivation, the endless diaper-duty, and the prize-winning tantrums (not just from our kids) — we managed to be happy. But since we’ve been living out of suitcases in my parents’ guest room for the last six months, our marriage (and our family) has been seriously tested. Although I dearly appreciate my mom’s generosity during this tough time, my mother has no idea that living with her is driving my family to ruin, and here’s why.
It’s so damn difficult to have sex. I thought I could stop being paranoid about having sex in my parents house when I got out of college, but apparently not. In addition to remaining dead-silent to suppress my parents’ suspicions, we are sharing a room with our two kids and need to make sure they don’t hear us, too. Maybe stealthy sex was fun in my twenties, but now I’m getting too old for this.
I hate bonding over cooking (sorry mom). Standing shoulder to shoulder with my mother in the kitchen, trying to speed-chop and saute broccoli before my daughter rips the cupboard doors off the wall looking for snacks is not my idea of a good time. In my mom’s eyes, however, we’re having some kind of Like Water for Chocolate bonding moment. I’m over it. I cook dinner for my family every freaking night and they usually don’t even say thanks. One mom’s monotony is another grandma’s bliss, I guess.
I’m always the bad guy. Grandparents are notorious for indulging and spoiling their grandchildren, and that’s fine when they come for a long weekend. For the past few months, though, my parents have been letting my kids make a mess and play with antique knick-knacks and heirlooms — but when Great Aunt Sue’s brooch goes missing, guess who’s job it is scold my daughter and put her on a time out? Mine.
I need wine just to deal. Yes, another glass of wine might mess with my breast milk and make me drowsy when I put my daughter to bed, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to handle one more night of chit-chat with my parents unless we pop open a new bottle of Merlot.
I’m always stuck in the middle. It’s bad enough when I get annoyed with my husband. He leaves coffee mugs all over the house, he overloads the internet with geeky downloads, and he’s messy, but I’ve learned to deal with those things. We can cope. It’s when my mom gets annoyed with him — “Oh, he put his dirty clothes there, did he?” or the way he makes fun of her favorite TV show — and suddenly I’m stuck walking on eggshells and defending them each separately. Really, all I want to do is flip my middle finger at both of them and walk away!
Luckily, the end is in sight. We’re closing on a new apartment and soon we’ll be out of my parents’ house and back in our own home. Soon I’ll be able to kiss my husband whenever I want and not worry that we’re showing too much PDA. When I stash a sleeve of Oreos under the ziplock baggies, I can rest assured my dad won’t stumble upon them and unwittingly devour my loot. I’ll be able to cook and clean and sigh and scowl without a concerned parent asking, “What’s wrong, honey?” I love my parents, but I’m starting to realize I might love my sanity more.
Have you ever been stuck living with a relative for too long? Am I crazy for feeling this way?