Hubby and I have been busy cleaning up the condo this past month, and today was the last final push to get things done. The stove was cleaned, old baby toys and clothes put into storage, linens washed, dust bunny colonies exterminated, junk thrown out, closets rearranged and mattresses fluffed. On Wednesday the in-laws are coming.

I love my in-laws. They’re funny and cute. My father in law is political, a runner like me, loves All-Bran cereal, speaks with the hint of a British accent after having gone through that school system across the Pond and in Nairobi, speaks Arabic as well as I do, makes the most life-like chicken noises and loves to talk and will talk to everyone. My mother in law cooks like a chef, has a sarcastic wit (which is sometimes hard to read — but that’s only because I don’t get sarcasm, but oh, can I dish it), loves her South Asian TV serials, has the biggest heart imaginable, recalls ancient Yemeni rhymes with Arabic so complex she can barely translate them and is happiest when she’s surrounded by her family.

And while I love my family dearly, I always feel like I have to be “on.” There’s this unspoken pressure (from within?) and expectations for me to be the perfect wife and daughter in law. Slight differences in culture, generational differences, even the fact that I’m an only child of a small family, while they’re and army of 50+ — they all play a part in how we interact and sometimes miscommunicate. So after a few days I find myself exhausted. I’m constantly checking with my sister in law (who is a younger, smarter, stronger and more daring version of me. I dance better though ;)) to see if I’ve inadvertently upset my mother in law. But I do tend to step back a lot and try to enjoy every second when they’re here, because we really only see them twice a year.

Regardless, it can be stressful as much as it can be fun.

MIL, FIL, SIL, Aunt-IL, Hubby, Eryn and myself all living in a 2 bedroom, 800 square foot apartment. For two months. It’s….cozy. For them, it’s normal and comfortable. Jaws drop and eyes widen in horror when I mention our living arrangements to others.

Fried bread for breakfast with condensed milk and honey, briyani and curries for lunch, briyani and curries for dinner. The “Canadian” way of eating only a sandwich for lunch isn’t lunch. That’s a snack.

7 degrees Celsius and below is too cold to take the baby to the park. But it’s Canada! It’s what we do and what layers are for.

But outside of the minute family issues that are found everywhere, they really are a lot of fun — and I am blessed to have such wonderful and caring in-laws. It’s going to be great having them around caring for Eryn and getting to know her better. I know she’ll have an absolute blast. I also get to brush up on my Arabic and just might have some more free time to myself! Score!

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