Through a series of unfortunate events, my in-laws recently had to move in with us. Of all the things that could happen a year and four months into marriage, this is not one I expected.
I was just beginning to feel there was a rhythm to the new life my husband, my stepson, and I were creating. Routines were starting to fall into place and relationships were settling in. I even have the frozen setting on the toaster figured out.
My in-laws used to live five minutes from us and have been an active part of our family. Nana, in particular, spent several days a week with my stepson after school, which was extremely helpful while my husband and I were at work.
My new family is much tighter on a day-to-day basis than what I was used to with my own family. My father lives close to 200 miles away and my mother is well over 2,000 miles away.
Now, however, my in-laws are 5 seconds away – just across the hall in the guest bedroom. (I know the math is wrong but I think to get from 5 minutes to five seconds you somehow have to multiply by infinity.)
This is a huge difference and we will all either become closer than we already were or we will bicker like crazy. Let’s hope it’s that first one.
When people are moving in, there are things you expect and things you don’t. In case this happens to you, here are some things you might not see coming.
Day 1 – My in-laws arrived with fast food leftovers and a few trash bags filled with their clothing and personal items. Not so bad.
Day 2 – While I was at work, they filled my refrigerator to the hilt with extra staples like ketchup, butter, and magically three jars of mayo. (Yes, I said three.) I’m also a little perplexed at the individual cup of mini-pickles. That night they brought their ridiculously large cat who I am certain does not eat mini-pickles or mayonnaise.
Day 3 – I found a box of dry kitchen food items on the chair and a case of Cheerios on the floor. (Yes, I said case.) Unsure of where to put everything, I left it there.
Day 5 – My husband notified me that the go-cart had been brought over. The driveway now has 5 cars (plus the go-cart). All basketball related activity is suspended until further notice.
Day 6 – Minor internal freaking out on everyone’s part.
Day 7 – Having mustered up the courage, I tackled the dry kitchen food and stuffed my cabinets with 7 packages of rice, 16 boxes of potatoes, and 13 boxes of Cheerios. I threw out a bottle of bread dipping oil that expired in 2004. We have tons of food, yet no meals.
Day 9 – My mother-in-law set up her coffee maker. We didn’t have one of those yet, so….
Day 10 – I visited friends in another state for the night. My husband sent me a text saying he was watching a re-run of the PBS marathon fundraiser.
We are now 13 days in to this living arrangement. The bickering has been kept to a minimum as we learn how to co-exist. We have all kept our routines as best as possible. I know that these adjustments are nothing compared to the displacement and confusion they are going through. This is what family is all about- step, in-law or otherwise. Wish us luck.