Earlier today, I was reading a post my good friend Jenny wrote an interesting post about family. She was talking about how her in-laws (who are from Hong Kong) tend to come and visit for long stretches of time. First, they came to stay with her and her husband for five months (two months before they got married and three months after) and their upcoming trip will have them visiting for approximately a month and a half.
I would be lying if I said this sort of thing didn’t give me heart palpitations.
Don’t get me wrong – it is not like I don’t like my in-laws. They are all wonderful people whose company I enjoy.
For specific stretches of time.
Truth be told, I really have a thing about my personal space. I don’t mind sharing it, but I like to be able to decide who I am going to share it with and for how long. Heck, as much as I love my husband, I can only cuddle for so long before I need to go back into my own little invisasquare.
This goes for my space at large too, such as my apartment. I actually really enjoy having people over and socializing, but I have my limits. As far as I’m concerned, there’s a general range of acceptable visiting time, and after a point, I feel over it and I want people to go home.
Plus, I am really not good with people invading my space uninvited or unannounced. If I know you are coming, I will do everything in my power to make your visit as nice as possible. There will be dessert and drinks and fun to be had by all. But if you “pop in”, there is a higher probability that you will find a very cranky Girl on the other side of the door. A few years ago when I was a young single gal, some friends of mine were coming through the city and decided to tell me last minute that they planned to stay at my place. Not only did I bristle at the telling not asking part of this equation, but I had only been living there a couple of days and hadn’t even fully unpacked yet! I managed to run around last minute, get everything unpacked and served all of them hot buttery carrot muffins for breakfast (I’m not going to match rudeness with rudeness), but I didn’t get to do it or enjoy it as I would have liked. Six extra unannounced people in my apartment for two days! It was like my nightmare!
I know that this makes me sound neurotic/high maintenance, but it’s how I feel. A lot of this probably has to do with how I was raised. My parents both worked full-time jobs when I was a kid, so from age 11 on, I would spend about 3 hours a day alone and I came to really value the solitude. Not only that, but I grew up as an only child in an already small WASPy family. I am no doubt the huggiest of the bunch, but we are still not a wildly affectionate people.
My husband’s family is probably even more like this as he grew up in a divorced family. As a child, he lived with his dad, his brother and child hating stepmom and once he hit his teens and his father and stepmom got divorced, it was just him, his dad and his brother by themselves. They also lived in a fairly large house on a sprawling country property that made it easier for them to avoid each other until mealtimes. Not the most touchy feely dudes you’ve ever met.
Since we both value our personal space, the concept of intergenerational living is not one that appeals to either of us. Again, not that we don’t like our parents, but needing our own time and space in which to run things the way we see fit is important to us. And then, there is also the fact that my mother made me promise to NEVER move her in with us when she reaches old age. Can you tell that she is a WASPy only child as well? 😉
What say you, blog readers? How do you feel about your personal space? Would you be willing to move family members in with you? Why or why not?