My niece and nephew (twins)  recently had their B’Nai Mitzvah.  But when you plan this type of event, you must do it way in advance because kids are required to have prepared Torah passages, and most people I know do not speak conversational Hebrew.  So we, the family and friends, have known the date for years.

Years.

So, my mother in law and father in law have been talking about this for years.

Years.

Every conversation with them would start with “Can’t wait for the mitzvah.”  The middle of every conversation would include something about the mitzvah.  And every conversation would end with “Don’t forget the mitzvah will be here soon.”  And I get the grandparent thing.  They’re excited to share the religion with the offspring of their offspring (my daughter is not being raised to follow either Catholicism or Judaism- so the had no such joy from our household) Yet, it is also a case of having absolutely nothing else going on in their lives.  Nothing.  They have no hobbies.  They have few friends.  They have absolutely nothing to look forward to.

So here’s lesson number one: make sure you have at least one hobby that you enjoy.  When faced with the questions, “Why do I need to get out of bed today?” make sure it’s because you have something you can’t wait to do.  And it could literally be anything.  Set a goal to “walk” to China by counting your steps every day.  Watch every Cary Grant movie ever made.  Volunteer anyplace.  You’re getting the idea:  hobbies don’t have to cost a lot of money.

As of now, my in laws hobbies are: annoying my husband, annoying my sister in law, complaining about my husband and sister in law, complaining about their friends/neighbors, complaining about other relations and complaining about me.  They clearly need to find something else to do until the date is set for the Bar Mitzvah of my other nephew.

Now, let’s get to the next part of the issue: What happens when you talk about something for two years, when you look forward to something at the exclusion of everything else?  What happens when you build up something to epic proportions?

We had to go to Temple services the evening before.  my Mother in Law fell asleep during the Rabbi’s talk.  And not just a little doze: she tilted totally to the side, and if the benches did not have little separators, she would have fallen to the left.  Did I mention she snorts when she sleeps?

When we got to Temple the next morning, the first thing my Sister in Law said to us was ‘Please go sit with Dad cause he’s in a snit.” When we sat in row with him, he started complaining that my Mother in Law got seated in the row in front of him at Temple.  he complained that he had been at Temple for an hour, and he was only in two of the pre event pictures.

At the breakfast that is served immediately after a Mitzvah (I don’t remember what it’s called) my family and I had to run to opposite sides of the room to talk to in laws, because they would not sit at tables adjacent to one another.  We called it bagel on the run…

Then, there is the reception.  If you are my Mother in Law, you spend the cocktail hour in the lackluster outer room, when everyone else is in the bar room with the food and the great view.  You decide to find something wrong with every college her granddaughter (mu daughter) is applying to.  Her professionally made up face does not crack a smile.

The dinner portion saw my FIL and MIL sit at their tables, stone faced.  They barely danced.  They barely got up from the table.  They didn’t smile, they didn’t laugh, they didn’t talk to anyone.  The event that they had spoken so highly of for years was playing in a loop right before their eyes, and they didn’t care.

My MIL was annoyed because my niece and nephew weren’t paying any attention to her.  Gee: you mean at a party with at least 50 of their friends, they weren’t sitting in the back of the room with my MIL?  Shocking I say.

FIL was annoyed that he wasn’t being revered as an elder statesman.  In his mind, the crowd would part as he walked the room, kissing his ring and asking for his sage advice and blessing.  It’s a party with DJ’s and spinning lights and too much food.  And it wasn’t his event.  My niece and nephew, and their parents were the stars of the day.  As they should be.

The problem was, they had an idea in their minds as to how this would play out.  And the actual event did not match their expectations.  Their vision of the event was not realistic: they set themselves up to fail.

So, what’s the take away?

  1. Get a hobby
  2. Realize it’s great to look forward to something.  Looking forward to something actually makes you happy.  But, be realistic as to your expectations.
  3. Don’t expect other people to act the way you want them to act.  You can only control your own actions, not the actions of others.
  4. Don’t drive your children, their partners, and your grandchildren crazy.  It’s not a good look.

 

 

 

48 thoughts on “Be Careful What You Wish For

  1. I have complaining family members… 🙂 Actually I can visualize this perfectly. And I can feel the stress in your words.

    It’s true though, right, to have something to look forward to, to get you motivated to start your day? My father is 80 and just now is realizing he is unable to continue doing tours for the city of Toronto (due to a variety of recently named illnesses and aches and pains). We suggested a long time that maybe it was time to officially retire (he used to be a banker before) but he refused. Why? Because he has no interests or hobbies either. Tour guiding gave him something to do. But even a 3-hour city tour in a bus is exhausting him beyond functionality. So now my mom, who enjoys retirement because she has interests, a social life, and always some sort of plan, is, um, learning, to have him around day in and day out.

    I can’t even imagine. 😉

    Get a hobby!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It sounds like a tv sitcom plot from Seinfeld. I think that woman are more versatile and creative when it comes to hobbies. Often with men the hobby is sports or watching sports and this makes them happy. I think sometimes women may live longer because they are more open to hobbies. Although curiously enough, my mom died 3 years before my father and my father said, “That’s it,” and he was very depressed and then he moved nearer to my brothers, and then to me…took up cooking and was a DJ for the community he lived in. Sometimes you don’t know what the future holds. He survived and found a few hobbies.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I sort of feel sorry for people with no hobbies, and I’ve been on the other end of the party planning obsession. You should have seen me the year before my wedding. You have so much on the ball, that you shouldn’t give the in-laws a second thought. Seriously. Get a life.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really can’t imagine not having something to do besides complain. UGH!! It’s sad!
    You described it well and made good points, now only if your in-laws would listen. right? 🙂
    I had to crack a smile for as I read I thought of the series Everyone Loves Raymond 🙂 Thought of his parents. LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny note. When my daughter was 4 I took her to the Paley broadcasting center to see a thing about Dora the explorer. While we were waiting we caught the end of the thing before which was about Raymond…my kid says, “that red headed woman is like grandma r”. I lost it!

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  5. OMG! My in-laws aren’t Jewish, but this is them to a T! You’re right. We have the same MIL and FIL!!! No hobbies. Complaints about everything and they want to be revered at every function. UGH. Glad that mitzvah is over for you. I hope you can find something that they will look forward to next that will take over the routine. Creepy that they’re so similar to my ex-laws.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I feel the same pain for you! God Bless Us Both! LOL And as mine are exlaws, you’d think that I’d be free of them, but she can’t live with me and can’t live without me…so we’re still bonded by a thread called my kids.

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  6. I know people like that. Hobbies are wonderful things. I wish my husband would get one as I can picture him as one of the in-laws. He is such a negative person and he does “project” how things will/should go. It is tiring being around people like that!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Why can I picture an older gentleman, clad in a bathrobe and tidy-whities standing on a front porch, yelling ‘GET OFF MY LAWN!’ to a pack of kids right now?

    We’ve all been exposed to the older generation who feel they’ve nothing better to do than meddle in the lives of ‘those kids,’ even when the kids in question are independent parents in their own rights. I agree, in that this specific brand of elder need to get a hobby, an interest, or an avocation beyond the younger generation’s lives.

    When my Dad retired, he expanded his view in all sorts of directions. He learned how to pilot small aircraft. He gardened. He jumped into the lake association group he’s a part of, and learned how to better take care of the little puddle of water he lives next to. He and his wife bought an RV and became snowbirds for a few seasons, and they are both absolutely OBSESSED with birdwatching. He once remarked to me how he was busier now than when he was pulling a 40/week job, and wondered how he’d EVER found the time to actually…yaknow…work, prior to retirement.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so lucky your dad was active. I think so many people retire and it’s a now what moment. And my in laws have always been meddlers!!

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      1. Our parents are long gone, but we cherish their memories. It’s a little harder to cherish those who still talk back to you! Not really. Our living relatives will generally discuss things rather than get in a slinging match.

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  8. 🙂 A brilliant post LA, my boss is an habitual complainer, a serial complainer and working with complainers is emotionally draining, his negativity drains us of all good spirits because they’re not pleasant people to be around!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It is def a age thing, my MIL has no hobbies is basically housebound because of bad knees, but she needs to be the center of attention. At a bridal shower she expected the guest of honor(you know the Bride) to wait on her.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh Man I’m so sorry you are having to deal with this and you are SO RIGHT, people only complain like this when they are bored and unhappy. It certainly is a salutary lesson and it reminds me I want to make sure that I don’t put all my interests in the worker/mother category. It’s so important to have something to look forward to. I am planning on taking a writing course or an Art course when I start to scale back work. I went to a BBQ at my parents’ place last week. The average age of everyone there was about 75. I’m not joking, pretty much everyone I overheard just talked about the medication they were on. Oh dear!

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