There’s not a speck of sarcasm there.
I am very grateful for my current living situation.
Pulling back the curtain of one’s life to millions of Internet users (or thousands of blog readers) certainly opens a person up to different kinds of feedback than life in a normal neighborhood.
Since we moved in with my in-laws almost two months ago now (as we look for the right home to buy), I’ve mentioned our differences a number of times. I received some fairly heavy criticism and gentle correction at this post and on Facebook, much of it well-deserved as I’ve hidden many of the positive comments and thoughts on our situation in the comments and interaction with readers, which is easily missed.
I used to tell my third grade students, “You can’t just ‘I’m sorry’ away the damage done by gossip and rumors,” and the situation, I suppose, is similar here. I can’t just say, “My in-laws don’t read my blog,” when my comments about them all come across as negative.
I’ve had this post begun for weeks, but having a baby sort of threw off my schedule, in every way possible.
Every time I thought about the draft, I thought of more to add, and it quickly grew from “10” to “20.” In fact, particularly now that Jonathan is around, I’m all the more thankful for the four adults in the house.
I’m certain God wants us here, for now, and I’m certain He has an exit strategy as well. We’ve all been learning a lot, and besides that, we would have spent way too much on the house that tempted us just as we sold ours, had we had to buy it because we had nowhere else to go.
Besides the obvious fact of my in-laws’ generosity not leaving us homeless, here are the
Top 20 Reasons I LOVE Living with my In-Laws
- Naps, Mine – I got them in late pregnancy and early babydom, without worrying that my son was being totally ignored.
- Naps, Theirs – my 3-year-old has had some naps preserved when I can leave her at home when I need to pick up her brother from something.
- Dishes – If you’re an old KS reader, you’ll remember how often I used to express my great dislike for doing dishes. My mother-in-law keeps getting all the dishes done before my husband and I can finish the kids’ bedtime routine, so we’ve had quite a long break from the hated task. I tell her to leave them for us, but she just won’t do it!This is truly generous, both because you know a real food kitchen generates a ton of dishes and because their household hardly had any dishes before we infiltrated them.
- Healthy Eating – I had hoped before we moved in that I would be able to help both parents eat a healthier diet, but since their breakfasts and lunches remain the same, I didn’t think I was making a difference. However, I think they’ve eaten a ton more vegetables since we’ve been here (I did most of the dinner meals before Jonathan was born), even if they still use their own salad dressing.
- Healthy Lifestyle Sharing – It’s my prayer that I can be a real food evangelizer and share a bit of healthy eating and nourishment with my in-laws. Sometimes I succeed, like the casual conversation about Real Salt and why it’s not bad for you, and sometimes I fail, like when I get cranky about the homemade yogurt in the crock pot that suddenly wasn’t working at this house, even though my goal was to demonstrate how easy it is to eat healthy foods and cook from scratch.
- Time to Work – I can’t say enough how thankful I am that I can do some writing before noon instead of after midnight, and without leaving my kids to be ignored.
- Crafts Galore – My son loves crafts, and Grandma is a great supplier. My kids have been busy at the kitchen table countless hours since we moved here with various crafts. PLUS my mother-in-law is seriously too cute, and she made a bangled leash for my 3-year-old’s new doggie, complete with Velcro to put it around her wrist so she can take him for “walks.”
- Adults to Talk to – A stay-at-home or work-at-home mom often gets a little isolated. There have been times when I just dump on my husband when he gets home because I stored up so many things to say throughout the day with two little ones. My mother-in-law and I chat all day, and it’s truly a treat to have not only another adult to talk to during the day, but someone who cares about me, too.
- Pool – They have a pool. It was 90F and higher for weeks when I was 9 months pregnant. Enough said.
- Grandparents – I just know my two older kids will look back on this time incredibly fondly, as they have bonded with their grandparents stronger than ever and spend excellent quality time together. The free in-house babysitting makes life a ton easier for me day to day, too!!!
- A Peek into my Life – I don’t think my in-laws understood at all what I do here at Kitchen Stewardship® nor what day-to-day life is like for us. It’s a little crazy all the way around…and I’m glad they have new insight into all of it. It’s just good to be able to understand each other more, even if they have seen many of my flaws as well. And they still don’t quite understand KS, but they know a bit more, mostly through the crazy boxes that come in the mail containing weird foods they’ve never heard of (recently, sweeteners for the sweet, sweet summer series).
- Night Prayers – They don’t get included every night, but whenever my kids grab their grandparents for prayer, I’m happy to see it become a multi-generational endeavor, and I praise God that my kids are increasing their grandparents’ prayer just as I’m happy I’m increasing their intake of vegetables.
- Green Progress – My mother-in-law jumped right into the recycling thing, and it just warmed my heart when my father-in-law started asking, “Can these be recycled?”
- Making Dinner – Before John came, I did 90% of the meal planning, and it was awfully nice to have four adults around to entertain children and set the table, etc. to make dinner a smooth-running affair. Even though it’s always less efficient to work in someone else’s kitchen, cooking still became quite a pleasant affair most days.
- Making Dinner – Mom has been making homemade dinners for two weeks since Baby John was born, which is about five times a week more than she would if we weren’t here. The respect she showed for our choice to eat whole foods, not from boxes, really speaks to her spirit of generosity!
- Appreciation – Living in someone else’s house that has features different than our old home, we’ve learned about some things (like the dishwasher blocking the sink when it’s open) that we wouldn’t have known to look for as we seek out our hew home. We will have an even deeper appreciation for what we will have when the process is all over.
- Seamstress – When I was in the hospital with John, my mother-in-law, an awesome seamstress, fixed a maternity dress of mine that the dryer had eaten up.
- My Parents – Even though their house is filled to the brim with our family, my in-laws invited my own parents to spend the night when they came down to meet Jonathan. It was really a special time to have all the family together. My mom and my brother-in-law bonded over a mutual love of peanut butter and boy, did my kiddos love that 24 hours with TWO grandmas around to pamper them with quality time! My in-laws even went out in the evening to give our family one-on-one time with my folks. Can you say, “above and beyond?”
- Help – There’s always a willing baby holder in the house, which means I can get a shower, eat breakfast, spend some time with my older kids (whether they need naughty discipline or just a snuggle and a good book), and do all sorts of things most new moms would consider an occasional luxury. Even more importantly, especially in this crazy time of transition, my older kids don’t feel as neglected as they would with Mommy nursing the new baby all the time. Paul does yard work with Grandpa or crafts and magic with Grandma, and Leah always has someone to help her get her babies dressed or set up coloring for her.
- They put up with me! Friends, I’m not all that easy to live with. I make massive messes in the kitchen, overfill the refrigerator, leave a pile of papers on my ottoman, move my laptop all around the house, and don’t fold my laundry for days. I never get through my to-do list, which sometimes means unfinished projects might get in someone else’s way.I’ve done my best to respect my in-laws’ space and their house and keep my “junk” out of their way, but I can only fight my personality so much. Believe me, they’re well on their way to sainthood simply for not going nuts or kicking us out.
Our family is definitely blessed by the generosity of my husband’s parents, and the cooking and eco-conscious differences that I talk about on the blog are just that: fodder for conversation, because I blog about real food and natural living. It’s kind of fascinating to me to realize just how different my life is from the cultural norms embodied by my in-laws.
And as much as we all drive each other crazy sometimes, I guarantee we’ll miss them when we’re gone, and vice versa.