And then there’s my husband’s Chinese-American family. Near the end of October, Andy said, “So we haven’t seen my parents in a while.”
“Yes,” I agreed, smiling. And then stopped smiling. “Wait. Are you saying to want to go see them? Before your brother’s wedding next summer?” (Yes, Denny was finally getting married! But that’s another post.)
“Sorry, honey, no can do,” I said, smiling once more and patting my pregnant belly. “No flights after seven months. But you can go if you want. By yourself.”
“Yeah, but what if something happens while I’m gone?” Andy shook his head. “That’s no good.”
“Guess they’ll have to wait till June. Baby D will be about 5 months old by then.”
“But, uh, what if they came here?”
“When? Ex-Stepmother and First Newphew are coming in a few weeks to do Disneyland and visit Boyfriend-Stealing Baby Sister and her new man. Then we’re giving Baby Sister a lift to Utah for Thanksgiving with Dad and then we go to Utah at Christmas when my other siblings are also going to be there.”
“Well, Ma can never take off at the holidays anyway, but mid-November is pretty slow at the hotel.”
“But that’s when Ex-Stepmother and First Nephew are coming and our house is minuscule,” I objected “It’s been planned for ages.”
“I told them that and they insisted we can all squeeze in.”
“Honey, Baby D and I now take up entire rooms in this tiny house.”
“You know, we’ve seen your Dad like three times this year and my parents once.”
Andy doesn’t usually argue. It took me a minute to unravel why he was arguing now. I said, “They already bought tickets, didn’t they.”
“Yeah.” Andy had the grace to look sheepish. “There was a special deal and they had to buy right away–”
“Of course there was. If only there was some, I don’t know, FORM OF INSTANTANEOUS COMMUNICATION people in Hawaii could use to contact relatives in California and make sure it was a good time to visit before purchasing plane tickets,” I responded through gritted teeth.
Andy backed away, eyeing the exits.
“Don’t worry,” I told him. “It’s not like your waddling hippo of a wife could catch you right now.”
“You can still throw stuff, though.”
“I could, but I don’t want to pay to fix another window,” I retorted. “Can’t your parents stay with your aunt and uncle?”
“Because Dad says they are staying here. They always stay with me. Even when I didn’t have beds or furniture, they slept on the floor instead of staying with other relatives. Other relatives who had beds.”
“And of course a hotel is out of the question.”
“Is this a Chinese face thing?” I asked. “Like the father has to be with his son or people will talk about how something must be really wrong or his son must be poor or the daughter-in-law is a horrible person?”
Andy shrugged. “Maybe. Or maybe they just don’t want to spend the money.”
“Ugh. Ugh. Ugh,” I moaned. And faced the inevitable. Once Andy’s parents were set on anything, they simply didn’t listen. They were like flood waters, flowing wherever they pleased, dikes and levees be damned. “Fine. When do they arrive?”
Multiple phone calls and a promise of Disneyland tickets later, Baby Sister and I had worked out that First Nephew and Ex-Stepmother would stay with Andy and me before my in-laws arrived. Once Jay and Sunny got here, our visitors would stay with Baby Sister’s New Man’s parents in Orange County. Andy and I would host a big BBQ in our backyard with Andy’s parents, local relatives, and my family on the weekend.
Hosting two sets of houseguests wasn’t ideal for a pregnant woman who’d just spent seven months puking and become severely anemic. First Nephew was a preschooler who went through my house and yard like a destructive dervish. On the plus side, though, he tired out my dogs so much that THEY didn’t have time to be destructive. By the time First Nephew left, I just wanted to lie down and sleep for a week. Instead, I had about four hours to clean the house, tidy the yard, and wash the sheets. I did it alone, too, because my husband was carefully hoarding his vacation time for Baby D’s birth.
Andy pulled into the garage with his parents just as I set a vase of flowers on the dresser in our guest room (also dog room, TV room, etc.).
hurried waddled out to greet Jay, who walked into the house immediately. Jay isn’t a hugger, so I merely said, “Good to see you! Did you have a nice flight?”
Jay responded with, “You’re fat.”
“Your GRANDSON is fat, actually,” I retorted, pointing to my distended abdomen. “His last ultrasound shows he’s a big guy.”
Jay looked me up and down impassively and then shook his head. “No. You’re fat.” He marched to the guest room without another word.
I breathed and told myself that after an opening like that, surely my in-laws’ visit could only improve.