My mother-in-law is on her way here for a four day visit and I don't like it. I like her but I just don't really want to visit with her. Heck, I don't even want to visit with my own mom because generally, I have found that parents upset the household balance and, honestly, I don't like hosting house guests.
My own mother is temperamental and impatient with the children, which means I spend most of my time soothing the edge on her harsh words. My mother-in-law is accommodating to the most annoying degree and the way she still fawns over my husband is embarrassing, so it makes for a strange visit, with she taking on - rightfully so - a mothering role and my husband falling easily into old, irksome habits that I have worked for years to undo. Large doses of wine are the only remedy.
As for my hosting skills: I can throw an amazing dinner party and I have done so many times. But, at the end of the night, my guests go back to their own homes and I am free to roam about my house in...pretty much whatever I want. Not so when hosting overnight guests. The hosts are expected to always be "on." No afternoon delight or padding about in boxer shorts and a tank top when you're hosting overnight guests. No planting the kids in front of PBS and sleeping in until they start to fight with each other. And, definitely, no impromptu skiing trips. Everything must be planned out and discussed ahead of time.
Then, there is that uncomfortable moment when a visiting parent wants to ask how a one-and-a-half income family with three kids and a mortgage can afford to go skiing, but doesn't ask because that is the question that could ruin Christmas. I don't like those moments and I would just rather avoid them altogether, but, hey, it's Christmas and I'm supposed to be happy, right? Right?!