After staying at home with only my husband and a two-year old to keep me company, I was ecstatic to get vaccinated and schedule a holiday getaway with extended family this spring. I even brought my mom from Ukraine into the mix to keep things interesting.
I booked a big ranch-like home in Amador wine country for four days and ensured that everyone, including the baby, had a separate room.
Just in case.
The property had ample room to roam, chill and hang out. The grounds were beautiful with plenty of space for exploration. We even had neighboring donkeys and sheep to entertain the toddler. The wine region presented interesting wines amid peaceful scenery, while not being on the crowded Napa/Sonoma route.
As it turned out . . . I did not account for a minor disturbance in my planning.
We arrived to find a leaking bathroom at the ground floor leaving 5 adults to queue in the remaining one. The owners spent three out of our four days fixing it. Somehow I was the main person mopping the floors.
My MIL’s love language is food and while I was hoping to be supporting local businesses by eating out, they hauled a ton of food to cook. Then we all were guilt tripped into not going out since “the food can go bad” and “why bother with COVID service” among other arguments.
On top of that, I felt like my opinion didn’t matter when it came to baby management. I started snapping at the group without fully recognizing it. Then my husband told me some people think I don’t like them.
And you know what, I didn’t like them. Especially my MIL, who only wanted to make her baby and grandbaby happy. Other people did not exist, nor did their points of view.
I felt extremely special and grateful to myself for coming up with this wonderful idea for everyone to stay in one house. At the same, time my mom was trying to provide unsolicited advice on my marriage when she overheard me arguing.
My telling her it is unsolicited brought a discussion that “she made sure no other people were around to hear it.” I then had to explain what is unsolicited and the reason for my reaction to her interference.
In the middle of that weekend, I realized that I am the only person who can take care of me. I then decided that if I need time off – then that’s what I should do. And if I want to go out and have dinner – I should fully take advantage of all the “baby-sitters” we brought with us.
Our last day on the ranch we finally went out for dinner. Even the in-laws joined. We had a great time celebrating the second birthday of my baby girl and enjoying each other’s company.
Nowadays my new rule for family gatherings – we need separate houses and I need dedicated time just for myself. This way I can put myself first, support my mental health and be able to enjoy others.
I encourage you to try and put yourself first especially if you are going through stuff. If you need to make room – do it! Even if the only place to hide is your bathroom.
It also helps to talk to someone – a therapist, a friend, a stranger or even your journal. Self-care is not a failure – it is a step forward.