Penelope is a magnet, attracting our parents to Atlanta. My father was the first. He watched our home and took care of the pets when Jenn and I went to China. He graciously stayed an additional week after we returned to help out. Jenn’s mother, (“Grandma Rose” as she’s known in the comments section) took the baton from my father and stayed with us for several weeks, helping us with the adjustments of parenthood and my return to work. Jenn’s father and step-mother made the pilgrimage from south Florida to Atlanta, along with my mother and grandfather.
Over the last month all our parents (with the exception of my father) visited, and Grandma Rose is with us for another week, having the luxury of retirement and an agreeable husband for an extended stay.
When the family visits started I was a bit indignant. We’d lived in Atlanta for several years with infrequent visits from our families. The expectation was for Jenn and/or I to visit them, which we did. As we prepared to adopt the trips to Florida ended. When Penelope became part of our family everyone now wanted to see us, or more accurately, Penelope. It felt like a slap in the face, that we weren’t good enough to warrant the time and attention before our daughter arrived. Penelope is much more engaging and entertaining than Jenn and I combined, but we’re still human and feel the sting of a perceived rejection.
Over time I’ve put it in perspective. Grandparents want to see their grandchildren. Children invigorate and brighten lives like nothing else. If Jenn and I feel the infusion of new life with Penelope’s presence, how much more do our parents? Over time the dismay I felt about Jenn and I being relegated to “the other reason to visit” vanished.
I count myself fortunate to have good relationships with my in-laws (and hope to continue after this post). Who isn’t familiar with the horror stories of living up to a father-in-law’s expectations or a mother-in-law’s belief that no one is good enough for their child? Most of my anxiety comes from the relationship Jenn has with her parents. If she becomes tense or stressed about something said at dinner I’m the one she talks to.
I’m very pleased with how involved our families are. When I become agitated with an upcoming visit it’s because I value my “me” time. I am an unashamed introvert (not shy, there’s a difference). I expend energy in social circumstances and recharge when alone or with Jenn and Penelope at home. With all the relatives showing up in quick succession it leaves me little time to relax. Ultimately it’s more important for us to see as much of our families as possible. They love us, especially Penelope.
Penelope’s life is enriched with all the attention and affection. I still remember the uncertainty I felt before announcing our decision to adopt from China. The question wasn’t “would she be loved?”, but “would she be accepted?” After reading one tragic story after another about newly adoptive parents devastated by rejection from various family members, I didn’t know what to expect. My fears were unfounded and Penelope is loved beyond belief.
When we get a call that Grandpa John is coming to visit I look at the calendar to make sure we’re available. I wouldn’t miss the smile Penelope gets holding hands with them or the gusto in her voice as she shouts “LOVE YOU GRANDPA!”