I Love You, Family, but Please Don’t Ask to Stay
I don’t think there is any way for me to say this without sounding like a jerk, but I dread it when relatives ask if they can stay at my home. It’s not that I don’t love them or enjoy spending time with them. I do – but I have my limits.
I was raised by a strict Italian mother who prides herself on her well-kept home. When company was coming over, she’d put my brother and me to work cleaning every nook and cranny in the house and making sure everything was spotless for our guests. Although I admit I am not as great of a housekeeper as my mother is, I did inherit the need to clean like a crazy woman when my relatives are coming and the intense anxiety that comes with not having everything in order. It turns me into the Energizer Bunny, but instead of being cute and fluffy, I’m stressed and angry. My husband can always tell when family is coming over – and he knows to steer clear of me.
I also stress over the fact that I will be cooking for my relatives. Between helping my two school-aged children with homework and chauffeuring them to their extracurricular activities, our dinners often consist of macaroni and cheese or a pizza we picked up on the way home – definitely not something I would be proud to serve my visiting relatives. I know they will politely smile and say, “It’s fine,” but deep in my heart, I know that this greasy deep dish pizza is not Pinterest-worthy. Even if I do have the time to cook a wholesome meal for my relatives, I worry that they won’t like it and will be too polite to say so.
As I mentioned earlier, I have two young children. One of them has ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and thrives on routine. When we have company over, my kids are understandably excited and want to stay up at night with them. Unfortunately, if my child’s bedtime routine is off by just a little bit, it will throw her entirely out of whack. She will have a difficult time falling asleep, get a bad night’s rest (as will my husband and I), and then will have a horrible day at school due to her exhaustion and inevitable irritability. Some of my relatives understand this and will try not to get the kids worked up at night, which I appreciate. Unfortunately, their mere presence is what is exciting my kids and throwing their routines off.
As an adult, I enjoy routines as well. After I do the dishes in the evening, for example, I make my kids’ lunches, pay bills, and do some laundry. When relatives are over, I feel responsible for entertaining them. While I am forcing myself to make chitchat with them, which is something I am not very good at, I end up neglecting my other responsibilities. I suppose I could multitask, but folding my lingerie while talking to Uncle Andrew about his upcoming hip surgery just doesn’t sound right to me. Having family over disrupts my routines and my life!
To my relatives, I love you. I appreciate you. I enjoy spending time with you. But please, don’t put me in an awkward position by asking to stay at my house. It sends my stress level through the roof, gives me anxiety attacks, and throws the lives of everyone in my family off. Please respect that so that I don’t have to respectfully decline.