5.23.2018

kiss my grits

Last time you heard from me, I had caught a vicious upper respiratory virus. After 8 days went by with little to no improvement and I was coughing so hard my lungs were on fire, I went to the doctor. I felt a little like a hypochondriac for going to the doctor for a cough, but when she came in the exam room, she said she could hear me on the other side of the building. The virus had turned into a nasty case of bronchitis that was a hop, skip, and a jump away from pneumonia. Three prescriptions and two weeks of illness later, and I'm still not back to normal.

Right in the throes of all this chaos, my in-laws came to visit.

It's a running joke at this point that I get sick every single time my mother-in-law comes. Every single time. Like clockwork. This time was worse than most other times, but not as bad as the time I got food poisoning last year and she still sent me to run an errand for her.

This time I adopted a new attitude. "To hell with it!" was my motto. The house was not immaculate. I decided on lots of take out instead of cooking. I barely had the energy to wash the sheets for the guest bed. James had already spent weeks traveling and then working all day, coming home to mow the lawn, take care of Gracie, and cook dinner while I coughed and slept. We were both at max capacity. If they're going to come during one of the most stressful months EVER and right when I'm so sick I couldn't do the dishes without needing to nap after, then they can handle a messy house.

If the picture I'm painting sounds a bit bleak, what would you say if I told you I've slept a combined total of 6 hours since Sunday? It's Wednesday afternoon. One of my medicines causes insomnia. My MIL's visits always cause insomnia from the stress. The two together are toxic--I laid awake in bed all night and watched the sun rise. When you get to this level of exhaustion, you break down sobbing in public. Don't ask me how I know.

A little of my energy returned, and we took my MIL and her mom out to eat a few times. I took them to a coffee shop I knew they would love that sells antiques as well as coffee. It's like taking a kid to a park; I slid into a chair with my cold brew and zoned out while they perused the offerings and entertained themselves. Another mom was sitting near me. I struck up a conversation with her, which is very unlike me, but something about her just gave me the urge. She had just moved to my area. We only talked for a couple minutes, but there was definite friendship chemistry and I was getting jittery with excitement. I was choosing my words carefully, stoking the flames of potential friendship. Just when I thought things were really going well, my MIL walked up and inserted herself in the conversation.

"You have FIVE kids? Are you crazy??" she shrieked, sounding like Paula Dean waving a stick of a butter. It was like watching a reenactment of every blog post written by an exasperated mom of a large family annoyed with rude strangers.

"You must have so much fun!" I said, apologizing for my MIL with my eyes.

"What does your husband do for work? What do you do? How do you afford all those children? Why would you ever want that many?" The questions continued rapid fire as I sank down into my chair, trying to will the ground to swallow me whole. The other mom handled it like a pro, probably used to people giving their unwarranted opinions. A man walked up and picked up the baby she was holding.

"Well, there's daddy!" my MIL shrieked. He looked mortified. He was apparently her pastor and had come to meet with her about something church-related.

I gave the mom a wide-eyed stare of horror and humiliation and regret, trying to wordlessly say how sorry I was. "That's my mother-in-law. She's visiting." I said through clenched teeth. She stifled a laugh and seemed to catch my drift.

We parted to go our separate ways. My MIL handed me a piece of paper and told me to write down my name and phone number to give to the other mom. "NO WAY," I said. We hadn't talked long enough for that kind of exchange of information, and I was far too humiliated to approach her again after the scene I had been part of against my will. My MIL continued, relaying information I had apparently blacked out due to mortification: "She does some cleaning part time so she can stay home with her kids. If you give her your number she can call you and come clean for you. You need the help."

In the words of my mother-in-law, yelling at the TV when a thunderstorm interfered with the signal of the digital antenna she was forcing me to hold at strange angles so she could catch the American Idol finale, "You can kiss my grits."

11 comments:

  1. Bless.

    I have no other words. Family is such a treat.

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  2. Oh my word, talk about adding insult to injury!!!

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  3. Funny thing is that just yesterday, I checked your blog to see if you had a "MIL post" because I was pretty sure she was visiting. Oh my! I am so sorry to hear that you're not doing well. And ugh, I would have been so embarrassed by that incident! I'm sure the Coffee Shop Lady with Kids has gotten a huge range of comments from strangers before, though, and I'm sure she didn't think ill of you for it :) But oh dear, I am just so sorry for everything you've had to put up with! I would not be a happy camper at all with hearing those things from a relative who is visiting me! Everyone certainly has his or her quirks, that's for sure!

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  4. I love your story telling. I have to admit, I was kind of hoping you would give her your number at the end ;)

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    1. I should have!!! I’m going to stop by that coffee shop frequently in hopes of running into her again 😂

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  5. Your MIL stories as so crazy and hilarious. But how embarrassing. Oh my word.

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  6. "It was like watching a reenactment of every blog post written by an exasperated mom of a large family annoyed with rude strangers." ahahaha oh man, living it out in real, 3D life. I'm sorry. Also, this is hilarious. You'll be glad you wrote these things down.

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  7. Michelle, please write a book. You can change all the names, write under a pseudonym, and just send me a quick text letting me know it's out and then rake in the cash because this is GOLD.

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    1. LOVE YOU. Thank you!!! That's my dream.

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