CONTRIBUTED BY JOELLE YAMADA
This is our third overseas tour, so we are very accustomed to the long anticipated and long lasting family visits to our neck of the woods. These visits happen once a year, once a tour, or once in a lifetime for many of our guests. My parents got their first passports in their 50s, not for an exotic cruise, but to come visit me overseas. When we live this far away, family can’t just drop in for a visit. They don’t come for a couple days or a long weekend. They come to stay for a good while. A gooooood looooong whiiiiiiile.
And if you are anything like me, there are a phases to the visits:
1. The pre-excitement period: “Grandee is coming in TWELVE DAYS!!” “Grandee is coming in FOUR DAYS!!” “Grandee is coming TODAY!!”
2. The initial honeymoon period: Not wanting to let them go to bed cuz you have more to talk about. Filling the first days with proudly showing them around your life. Being so glad that now when you talk with them about your favorite restaurant or the kids’ school, they’ll KNOW what you mean.
3. The is-it-over-yet period: They’ve been here for a week, you’ve exhausted yourself running around and cooking and entertaining, and you’re ready to having a quiet day of laying around the house and you know that will only happen when THEY are gone.
4. The post-visit period: “I can’t believe she’s been gone for TWELVE DAYS.” The sadness that comes knowing it will be another year or two or three before you see the loved one again. They’ve become part of your life in this short visit and it’s hard to imagine next week without them being here to see little Johnny’s school musical or to see if the tomato plants really blossom.
But what I’d like to ask your advice on is #3. I think there is a way to make this period go smoother. The reason it’s so bad for me is that during visitor’s time with us, I turn into the following people:
Tracy Tour Guide: I plan and replan and route and reroute our days. I have elaborate schedules so that we’ll be sure to miss nothing important during their visit. I keep us running at a rather frenetic pace that brings exhaustion to most all of us. Course Tracy often forgets that most importantly, they are actually here just to BE with us.
Susie Super Mom & Wife: I try not to yell at the kids, fight with my husband or “lose it” with any of the above. When they come for such a short time, I don’t want family to think we have any problems or troubles. This is crazy, but Susie wants them to leave feeling we are ok and that we’re surviving far from their aid and help.
Dara Defensive: It seems that some time during every visit, our visitors (mostly of the mother-genre) decide to comment on our life — constructively criticizing my parenting, housekeeping, priorities or clothes. Instead of listening to these people who love me in hopes of becoming a better person, Dara turns into a mother bear defending her choices in life.
As my wonderful mom is currently somewhere over the ocean and soon to be walking through my front door, I’d love any suggestions you have for surviving and, dare I say it?, truly ENJOYING my overseas visitor… Help??
Thank you to Diane Isla for her picture contributions.
This post was originally published on Okinawa Hai, but we think it relates to life here as well. Overseas Yes and Okinawa Hai have no legal or managerial affiliation; please see the Legal Page for more information.