Next to perhaps husbands whose fumbling and bumbling, “couldn’t find his way through the mall without his wife” antics are well-documented by the media, the second most vilified social group in America, is the in-laws. Situationally, I think of the Griswolds in “Christmas Vacation.”
Every married couple has them, unless something devastating has happened, and it’s the in-law parents that we most hear about and make fun of. And while we all roll our eyes whenever we speak to others about them–regardless of whether or not we really feel that way–it’s not often we’re totally honest with our spouse about how we view our in-laws.
No? Well, draft up a “Will” and then give me a call.
I’m almost ashamed to admit that CareerMom and I, at the ripe old ages of…um…our current age, haven’t had a will, despite having two children (now three). It’s been ever-present on our minds, but we just never took the time to do it. I started doing one on some software I got for free with my tax software a couple of years ago, but I gave up after about five minutes of looking at the dozens of document options and becoming completely overwhelmed. But as luck would have it, God put people on this earth who have taken it upon themselves to figure out how to simplify these things for people like us. I think their formula goes something like this:
“Find guilt-driven parent. Convince them they need a will and promise to do it dirt cheap. While you’re in their kitchen talking to them about estate planning, scare the bee-Jesus out of them by explaining how their kids may not actually get ANYTHING thanks to the U.S. Government, and then hit them up for several add-ons to pay for our coming out to their house and doing this thing.”
So now we have a Will. We also have one of those “Don’t let me die like Terry Schiavo” documents too that tells whomever I deem appropriate, that I don’t want to be kept alive if I’m not eating on my own and wiping my own bum whenever I go to the bathroom.
In the course of this process, we had to decide a few things, such as:
- If we both get taken out by one of those parachuting Chick-Fil-A cows, who gets the kids? What if our first choice for custodians are also in the car and die? Who is our second choice?
- If any of the above happens, who decides how our money is spent?
Now here’s where it gets hairy. When it comes to deciding who gets your kids, naturally for many people–certainly for us–our immediate family came to mind, but so did every conceivable reason why they should, or should NOT be given such a responsibility.
- They’re too old
- They’re too sick
- They live in Tim-buck-too (OK, Tennessee, but close enough apparently)
- They have too many other grandkids to worry about
- They don’t need this responsibility at their age
- They live too far from MY family
At a time like this, it’s hard to take your emotion out of it and step back logically and look at the situation. Given my familial background, and the fact that I’m closest to the one person who is probably the least related to me, either by blood or by law, I think I have a unique ability to do this–to separate what’s best for the kids, from what’s not going to hurt someone’s feelings.
Some call this ability a gift–others call it mean, brutal honesty. Only time will tell.
At any rate, the conversation that ensued while CareerMom and I debated these questions was not pretty–and it’s also not over despite having signed the papers. For every logical reason I have about why such and such a person should or shouldn’t be doing something with our kids or any money we have left over after I hire Guns N Roses to play at my cremation, CareerMom has her feelings about it and it generally differs from mine.
I foresee numerous posts stemming from this topic, but today’s take-home message is this: “Sure, your spouse SAYS they like your mom’s slightly eccentric mannerisms. And your dad isn’t crazy…he’s just gruff. But present the idea of having your children live with them for the rest of their pre-adult lives and see what your spouse says.”