With the holidays approaching, many of us will be surrounded by family and friends. This is always a good time to let your hair down and focus on the things and people that are important to you. That’s what all the good ole sermons and optimistic social media posts will say. However, some of you are dreading spending time with your in-laws, not all of them, just some. Let me help you “Survive Your In-Laws” with a few things I’ve learned and seen along the way.
Congratulations, you aren’t just “one of the girls he’s dating” or “some chick” you are the wife! I mean you went through whatever you had to go through to get here. You automatically assume respect that is due will be given. WRONG! They don’t give a shyt about any of that… LOL. Ok, maybe some do to be fair, but others don’t care. Tip #1: Don’t go into the family dinners or events with any expectations. This is positive or negative. We often give people too much of our power and energy with the expectations we put on them before we even walk in the room. This is not to our benefit because the minute they don’t meet what we are expecting, we are disappointed and that disappointment can show in a lot of different ways. Just be easy and let everything flow naturally.
Both my husband and I have extremely large families. The perception is that I am not as close to my extended family because I don’t spend every holiday with them, when in all actuality my family is spread across the United States. There are hubs of people in the home bases but still we aren’t all in one space. My husband’s family is very different. His father’s side is mostly in Georgia and his mother’s side is mostly in Florida, like ALL OF THEM. Like… EVERYBODY! So, family gatherings are on average around 50 people at all times. That’s a lot of personalities in one room! Tip #2: Find your people. Anytime you have a large crowd there will inevitably be people who are simply not your vibe. Gravitate towards the people who fill you up, who make you feel comfortable. While there are a few in my husband’s family that do that, I am an old soul so I love to feel loved on by older women. On his dads’ side, that’s Auntie Joann, literally one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met and who has loved me before I was a “Thomas”. On his mom’s side, its Auntie Pam. Both of these women are always smiling, happy to see everybody and just have that comforting spirit. Find your people.
Often times when in social settings we feel obligated to “stay put” even when our limits or boundaries are tested. This can be the uncomfortable questioning that happens “When are you having another child?” or comments such as “Looks like you’ve been eating”. Whatever the “thing” is that makes you feel most uncomfortable, remember that your limits are your limits and you don’t owe anyone an apology for it. Tip #3: Don’t remain in the room if you begin to feel extremely uncomfortable. There are times even to this day after being around my husband’s family for years now, that I will excuse myself and go chill in my room or a room. Not because I’m afraid or intimidated but because I know me. If my limits begin to be pushed, I am not someone that can mildly address that situation. If my anger begins to rise, I know that it’s best if I remove myself because I never want to be disrespectful or cause a scene in anyone’s home. This doesn’t mean you are soft or weak, it means you are mature enough to know when enough IS enough for you.
“Come and give Unc a hug”, the bane of my existence when I hear that to a child. Everyone does life based on their own experiences. I definitely have raised my children knowing that all family members aint right. Just because, whomever, is family doesn’t mean they are on the up and up. Your children have their own boundaries as well and should not be forced to go past those to make anyone feel “loved”. My youngest daughter is definitely a Velcro baby. She was breastfed and has been with me, at home, since her birth. Of course, I am her place of comfort. At times, I do push her boundaries to socialize with family members that are strangers to her but ONLY those that I am comfortable with. I don’t care who DOESN’T like it, that’s my child. Period. Tip #4: Protect your children’s boundaries. People will have things to say and I have heard it all. “It’s sad she doesn’t know her family”, “you need to bring her around more”, “She is just spoiled”. At first it bothered me. Then, I began to not give a flying f&*k. My job as her mother isn’t to make YOU feel comfortable. It’s to make sure she is comfortable. The highways and sky-ways flow both ways. If you want her to feel more comfortable try coming around more yourself. She will feel more comfortable through time, not through forced interactions. Sorry, not sorry.
At the end of the day, the holidays are supposed to be about having a good time and fellow-shipping. A time to take a break from the business of life and relax. Traveling, cooking, & watching your coin can all cause you anxiety and stress during the holidays. Minimize that by focusing on the great memories you will create. Tip #5: Create your own fun & enjoy creating positive memories. You only have control over yourself. You can’t control your in-laws. The way you react is totally on you. Don’t allow someone to make you get outside of your character. I often try to find the humor in most situations. I’ll step away, call my bestie or video chat my mom tribe and get myself together so I can reenter the space ready to create better memories. You never know what the future will bring. Everyone assumes there will be a “next” holiday but with the recent passing of my Uncle it reminded me that time waits for no one. Have fun today, enjoy each moment and remember that life happens fast and swiftly; dedicate your energy to making someone else smile.
Good luck and remember the reason for the season!
Love & Light,
Mommi Trese, Unapologetically.