Living with the In-Laws.

I haven’t posted much about this yet. Partly because I don’t want to admit that sometimes I am petty and not a very nice person. Partly because if there is an off chance my husband’s family or friends might see it, I don’t want the news to get around to the in-laws. And let me tell you, you can’t do anything in this community without everyone knowing.

My husband’s parents came here from Russia about 13.5 months ago. I’m not counting. Obviously.

We worked really hard to get them visas so they could work here when they came. It took much longer, and much more paperwork, and much more money then a regular travel visa would have. We did it this way for a few reasons. We wanted them to be able to come back and forth as they wanted. We wanted them to be able to work while they are here. We wanted them to be able to come together. Often with a tourist visa, if you apply together you aren’t always approved together. With a tourist visa you have to come when they say and go home when they say, and reapply when you want to come again.

So, we got them “green cards” or permanent resident status.

And they came.

Let me be clear, I was under the distinct impression (based on the tickets we bought) that they would be coming for 6 months and going home. I’m not sure my husband necessarily LIED to me about this. Perhaps I just assumed too much.

So, it has been an interesting year. In the beginning everyone was really polite and trying to get to know each other. We developed a little routine – what things my MIL did, what things I did, what things we had my FIL do, my husband went to work and came home and that was about the extent of his involvement. My MIL didn’t like it at first – she couldn’t get work and my son took a long time to warm up to her. We really couldn’t communicate, she didn’t want to just sit home. My FIL had some friends he saw regularly and got his driver’s license (though how he passed the driving test I have no idea – worst. driver. ever.)

After a few months my MIL started working and my FIL was the one stuck at home with nothing to do. The tables turned. One of his friends went back to Russia, one of them started working more because they were busy at his work. He has tried a few jobs, but either they were temporary or he didn’t like them and quit. You may wonder where two people who don’t speak any English work in the US. We have a very large Russian and Armenian community here, so they find jobs among those people’s companies. Or even in their homes – nannying, taking care of elderly relatives, maid service.

At this point this is our life: My husband goes to work early, gets home late. My MIL has him drop her off at work 5 days a week, and my FIL has one job all day – to go pick her up around 6:30. I take care of my son and the house. My FIL putzes around the house – mostly studying English, watching Russian TV, watching Armenian music on youtube, or pacing around the back yard. He used to take my son to the park or on walks, but stopped that a while ago. Son didn’t listen and I always had to come rescue FIL in the car. On her days off, MIL cooks a bunch of Russian food because FIL stopped eating my food about 2 months after he got here. I can’t eat most of what SHE cooks because it has cabbage in it (can’t eat with my thyroid meds) or onions (makes my stomach angry) or is too spicy (again, angry stomach) or has too much milk in it (again… stomach). So I make food for my son and I. No one else eats it. I take the boy where he has to go. I keep the house somewhat presentable. Though I will admit I have been slacking with the house lately.

I feel claustrophobic a lot with them here. It’s not that they are “in my way” or that they are “bothering me”. Honestly, we hardly interact most of the time. It’s just them being “in my space” or doing things differently then I do them. I have gotten to the point where little things really bother me.

I’m sure they have no thoughts about it being an imposition on me or about me not wanting them here forever. Where they come from it’s traditional for 3 generations to live together. Grandma/grandpa live with their kids, and help raise the grandkids and take care of the family. When the kids grow up the parents live with them and their kids. It’s a never ending cycle….

I have had one discussion with my MIL about this. Some people we know (a couple with 2 school aged boys) moved in with the husband’s parents. Who lived in a 2 bedroom apartment. 6 people in 2 bedrooms. I said I couldn’t do that and my MIL tried to lecture me on the benefits of saving money when you all live together. I told her I couldn’t do it. Again.

If they HAVE thought about the fact that I might not love having them here forever, I’m sure that they just think I’m spoiled or something. But that isn’t the truth. It’s just that you are used to the way you grew up. Here in our country we are raised being told we will move out and get on with our own adult lives at 18 or so. We are told we will have a family and buy our own house and have our own kids and do this all away from our parents. It isn’t unusual to live days away from our parents when we are grown.

There you don’t leave your parent’s area unless you are moving far away. Like America. Or maybe Moscow – but mostly another country. Then you are doing it for a better life.

I would like to sit down with my MIL and politely encourage them to be on their way. I can’t speak Russian well enough to do that. When I tell my husband that perhaps it’s time for him to hint that they can’t stay here forever (like another year tops), he tells me “they won’t. They will go back home some day.” It’s quite frustrating really. You don’t want to be the bad daughter in law, but you don’t want to just let them take over your life.

Then one day you are talking with your husband about buying your own house next year. And his mother is trying to be an uninvited guest in the conversation. She says something about “can you get a walk out basement for us in case we stay?” You just stare at her. Like she has lost her damned mind. And you let it go. Because honestly, what else can you do?


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