Our family of five just got back from our summer vacation….with our mother-in-laws along for the ride. To some this might seem like a nightmare- something with quality material for the next season of American Horror Story. To others this might be wishful thinking- those who have parents who have already passed and would give anything to have a vacation together. To my partner and I it is all about having those memories together. Not only for ourselves, but for our children. We both have very fond memories of our grandparents, and we want to make sure that our children do as well.
We packed up or mini-van (my partner and I, our three children, and our mothers) and hit the road- headed to Myrtle Beach, SC (with a few pit stops along the way). Every inch of that van was packed- suitcases, beach toys, floaties, snacks, water bottles, toys, videos, a boogie board, diapers, more snacks, and of course blankets and stuffed animals.
Along the way we sang. We watched movies. We ate. We laughed. And most importantly we bonded.
Now don’t get me wrong- not everything was unicorns and rainbows. Put more than two people in a vehicle and travel across 8 states and you will have your ups and downs. But that was to be expected. What mattered most was spending time together- away from work, away from technology, and in a neutral space where nothing is familiar to anyone. That first night we arrived at our home away from home fairly late, so we unloaded our stuff, and then hopped into the car to find a place to eat. We drove around looking for a place to eat that would be relatively quick, but had a hard time choosing something. So we decided that each person would be responsible for choosing a restaurant for dinner one night of our vacation. It was a fun way to check out different places without the pressure of one person always making the decisions.
During the days we would hang out at the beach and pool, combing the sand for shells and splashing in the waves. Neither of our moms travel on their own very much, so being able to take them to the ocean and share that experience was fun for us.
Sometimes the in-laws get a bad rap. Too bossy. Too controlling. Too overprotective. When it is all said and done though, these in-laws are the parents of our significant others- the ones who have spent years nurturing and loving that very same individual who we now love. Without that person, we would not be in the relationship that we are in today. Carolyn and I are fortunate that both of us get along well with our in-laws, though I totally get the fact that this is not the norm for everyone. However I do think that when it comes to our children, the relationship between grandparent and grandchild is important, no matter how difficult that person might be. Allowing the space for those memories to form is part of our job as a parent. We are very lucky that we had the opportunity to make this happen for our girls.