When PH and I decided to wed, I really didn't consider that cliche that by marrying him I was marrying his family. PH's family is insane - six siblings and all raised by my MIL after a brutal divorce from FIL and FIL has gone on to three additional wives and various adopted children and step-children. Generally, there is no communicating between the various sides of the war, but my house is Switzerland. We host the holidays and invite everyone - while you're here, you put the past shit aside and get along. There is some grumbling but it works, and generally I drink a couple glasses of wine on these days and ignore the passive aggressive bitching.
This is where MIL and I differ. The women is the Queen of passive aggressive behavior, whereas I tend towards erupting like a volcano when I have reached my threshold, and then hashing it out. On top of MIL's "helpful little suggestions," I have come to learn that her children are perfect, and the various spouses are not. As a spouse I take exception to the idea that PH is perfect and any faults demonstrated by him are a result of marrying me. Because of the Queen status, this is never directly stated to me, but hints are given and when that doesn't work MIL tells other members of the family how poor PH has suffered due to my ineptitude. I, in turn, get to hear about how PH's siblings suffer due their spouses incompetence.
I continue to encourage PH and my kids to have a relationship with MIL because I am selfish. Children learn what they see. When I am a senile, obnoxious, old bag, I want my children to remember that they saw me continue to try with MIL and know they have an obligation to still see me. So with that theory in mind, I invited MIL with us to the beach for four days.
Overall, it was good to have her with us. I got sick the day we were to leave for the beach and MIL and PH took the kids for a couple hours so I could empty my stomach before crawling into the back seat of the car between two car seats and riding three hours through Orlando traffic (it was a VERY bad ride). Additionally, MIL did offer and take the children on a few occasions so PH and I had a few hours to ourselves, which was very considerate. It wasn't that the other stuff didn't happen, it did, but some I've learned to ignore and some I save to share with PH. But it was this weekend that I got to see that MIL isn't always going to be around.
MIL is obese - not just overweight - hoarding food, no exercise obese. Her weight impairs her mobility and keeps her from being able to do what she would like to do. At the beach, we stayed at a condo that was no more than a five minute walk from the resort and pool. It was slightly uphill, but PH and I walked with both kids several times and never thought twice about it. MIL always called a shuttle for a ride. One time, she actually waited forty minutes with the kids and me rather than walk the five minutes. Seeing this scared me - I need to get my butt out of the chair and get rid of the twenty pounds that came with the kids. I refuse to let my weight keep me from doing all the activities I intend to do before I die. More importantly, seeing her helped me to understand that even though I will never be "good enough" for her and she will continue to favor one of my children over the other (a subject for another time), she will not always be able to go where we intend to be. If she continues, there will reach a point where travel will not be an option for her. Considering that her grandchildren and children now live on two continents and varying states, I feel sorry for her. I guess this means I'll invite everyone, including MIL to both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.