Monday, July 28, 2008

The Closest Neighbors We Have

Sometimes I imagine myself making new friends and telling someone about where I live.

“You live next door to your in-laws?” I imagine my new, not real, friend saying incredulously.

I imagine this because; well for one thing I’m a loser who imagines meeting new friends (hi, dork self!), and also because I know how most of the world sees their in-laws. Some are okay, some are really not, but most people wouldn’t want to live next door to theirs.

Mine are just different.

They lived in the trailer for three years while they saved and then began the building process on their new home. They told us we could live in the trailer and offered us land so that we could build our dream home next. We obviously accepted (and ever since have talked non-stop about our future home). My mother-in-law told me that if I ever wanted to go back to school or back to work that she would change her work schedule to keep our kids. She also offers to keep our kids all the time so that we can go shopping, or out to eat, or just so we can get chores done. When we go over there she always reaches out her hands to take the baby from my arms and when supper is ready she comes back to take James so that I can eat with the rest of the adults. My father-in-law always comes over weekly to haul off our trash even though we tell him we can do it ourselves. I’ve looked out the window to see him ride by on the lawnmower cutting our grass. He’s come in here with bags bulging from the garden that we’ve neglected to pick for a couple days. They built a pool beside their house, mostly for our kids and us. My mother-in-law often comes by with clothes she’s picked up for Faith and James and she has started keeping a drawer full of baby food at her house, even though we live just next door.

They are just awesome. I could not imagine better grandparents for my kids.

There are times, though, that I just want to be around Jeff and the kids, simply because we’ve spent so much time in the past two years around family members. I just want our little family in our own little space and to not have to do obligatory visiting with people we see all the time. However, that feeling often vanishes very quickly.

Last night around 7:30 Jeff told me that his dad was buying some steaks and planned to grill out. Immediately I began private grumbling. It was really too late for me to eat dinner, it will be forever before the food is ready, on so on and so forth. I can really be a buzz kill sometimes.

Then, two hours later, I’m holding a sleepy James on an outdoor glider in the corner of their patio, just in the shade from the porch light. Jeff has turned on the pool light and my father in law has solid country gold on the radio. Although I am not a big country music fan, it feels sort of right rocking James to the old music made more than twenty years ago. The sun has just set, leaving vibrant peach streaks in the slate sky, and I watch the trees move so gently, that if I weren’t staring at them it would seem like they weren’t moving at all. Faith is running around inside with her second cousins, and my mother-in-law is talking with her sister while getting food prepared, Jeff helps his dad grill. It’s too late to eat still, but I will. The kids should be in bed, but I’m glad they are not. I think, this is nice, no this is perfect.

Yeah, I’m pretty happy about the whole in-laws next-door thing.


Jen said...

Your kids are blessed to have such wonderful grandparents nearby! It is hard to set boundaries, though. We lived rent free in a house on Matt's grandparents' ranch for 2 years but we could not stand the constant butting in and general taking-over of our lives so we bought our own place last year. However, it sounds like your situation benefits all of you! Lucky girl. And I can't wait to hear more/see more of your dream house!

Jenny said...

Well, there ARE drawbacks. My father-in-law came over yesterday for a few minutes to chat and James was sleeping on me while I sat in the glider and a little too late I realized that James had pulled down my very loose t-shirt, exposing one whole side of my not very glamorous, but very see through lace bra. I could have used a little warning for company, or maybe I should just wear clothes that fit.

Jen said...

woo, sexy!