Today made my first trip up to Mom & Dad's since he went into the hospital. We brought Fractured Prune donuts and helped move a couple of fallen tree limbs off of the property. That marked 8 trips up to see Dad in the past 7 weeks.
I don't regret them, but by the same token I have not done that much driving (or that much sitting and making small talk with my mother) EVER, I think. By dinnertime today I was testy as all hell, and Hubby was understanding about it..."You haven't caught your breath since the middle of March." God, I love that man.
At the end of it, I think I have learned the keys to a successful parental visit:
*Don't let them come down. If I go to them, I have some control over when the visit ends.
*On a related note, and this is a classic, but still noteworthy: don't tell them of any plans until after the event. If I had mentioned our intention to go to the Celtic Festival before we went, she would have insisted she join us, thereby making the mellow day we had an unreachable fantasy. Or whined about NOT being able to join us, in a million phone calls.
*Don't tell them when I'm coming. If they know, Mom will plan a meal, which we will not start eating until approximately 2.5 hours after I arrive. By then I will be exhausted and starving, and frustrated that I am stuck staying at least for the next hour.
*Don't eat. If they're cooking, let the food cook. If they're not, let them know you just ate on the road. Let the boys have a cookie if they like, but DON'T get stuck having a meal...this always ends up dragging on forever, and generally includes at least one surreal "Are you ALLOWED to have asparagus?" moment.
*When she asks what Hubby is doing, look her straight in the eye and say "He's at work." Whether or not it is true, it is the only response that she will not complain about for more than a minute or two.
*Bring the kids who want to go, and the kids who have no other plans, but don't force the boys to skip out on a fun thing to sit at their grandparents' place. Son #1 was thrilled to be with his friend for the day, and I know I could have made him miss out on that if I had wanted to, but why? Seeing grandparents should be fun, not something that ruins your weekend.
*Eat out afterwards. Trips to Momville are less driving, less traffic than trips to DC, and there are no crackheads on the road, but there is no getting around that it is still 3.5 hours in the car and a chunk sitting at my parents' place. By the time we get home, I am exhausted. Dinner at CiCi's is not much more than at home, and there's no work involved. Or complaints about the menu.