It’s never good when one of the last family meals on vacation ends with you excusing yourself from the table teary-eyed.
My almost four-year-old was making yet another demand—while using a fork to fish out the ice from his glass, no less. My younger son also had a utensil in his glass, except his utensil of choice is his hand. I wouldn’t be the least surprised if he’d also dropped some watermelon chunks and rice in there, but I can’t remember, because like I said, my eyes were rapidly filling with tears.
My sudden need to leave the table had nothing to do with the pleasant conversation my in-laws were sweetly trying to maintain despite the toddler chaos. My children were overtired and over-entitled, just like I knew they would be, and I was mentally reeling at their behavior over the last few days. I was seeing holes in our parenting that I had never noticed before. And after nine days away from home, away from the little life I realized I love so much, my emotions had hit the ceiling.
The trouble is, I get to this point on almost every family vacation, although some years it is not as obvious as me leaving mid-dinner and asking my husband for the car keys. :) (And some years it’s even more so!)
It is one thing to lose your barriers around your own family. They’ve known you forever; they’re used to it. It’s another thing altogether to lose them in the presence of your in-laws, the people you once tried so hard to impress. (And maybe still do!)
If you’re lucky, like me, your spouse isn’t the only one willing to take you “for better or worse.” Your in-laws have likely experienced their share of “worse” and know how much patience and forgiveness family relationships require. The Psalm “God setteth the solitary in families” makes me laugh out loud, because I know well my own solitary tendencies, but I’m also learning that nothing chases away the solitary like letting down your barriers. So whether it is in front of your colleagues, your own kids, or your in-laws, give yourself a break next time you let your guard down. You might be surprised where it will lead.
This is the great family I married into!