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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Travel: Part Three, The Cabin

Our last destination on our whirlwind week of travel was to Eric's parent's cabin. They've owned it a few Summers but since we lived in North Dakota it was not on our list of places to stop by for the weekend. And when we came home to Michigan, we wouldn't put it on our list of stops because all three sets of parents live in a 30 mile radius so driving five or so hours didn't make much sense.

This was a trip that I was unsure about, and I have to be careful how I say this because in no way is this a bashing blog and I absolutely do not want this taken out of context, but what I can say is that I was worried about jealousy, competition and stepping on toes. I was worried about hurt feelings, jokes taken the wrong way or pokes turning into wounds. I was worried that grandparents would overrule parents, that Eric and I would have different rules and expectations for our kids than his sister and her husband would have for theirs.

The last time the Ehn family all got together was nine years ago. We were younger, unmarried and honestly, really close, good friends. Then, something happened. I'm not sure what, and I'm not sure I'm free of fault, but in those nine years, two dogs, three kids, thousands of miles of distance and boat loads of crap in between, something happened that caused doubt that this would be a good trip. I know no family is perfect and all families have some kind of feud or issue they just ignore when they are all together (please tell me we're not the only ones), heck, even the Brady Bunch and the Barones had at least one of the problems I've mentioned.
The Ehn Family 9 years ago

I wanted very much for this to be a good trip, I have really fond memories of going to my Grandparent's cabin when I was a little kid. I wanted my boys and their cousin to have just as much fun together at their Grandparent's cabin. *Yes, I do remember my previous post about wants for our children* I wanted to want to make this a regular trip where I'd sit at the picnic table laughing over a drink and Rummy with my sister-in-law (SIL) and mother-in-law. I wanted to go fishing with all of us in the boat, float on the water, and sit by the fire for way to long each night. I wanted to leave the cabin feeling refreshed and wanting more.

My MIL was trying SO hard to make this a good weekend. She was overly accepting and accommodating. She packed toys for the boys, took care in getting family safe bug spray and sunscreen. She got the food the boys liked, the wine I drink and even bought brownies for me so we could celebrate my birthday. In return I asked her what the cabin rules were, what the expectations were and how they managed chores up there. I wanted to make it just as easy on her as she was making it for us.

We got there a day before my SIL and her family got there, it was kind of an opening everything up day at the cabin since we were first to arrive but I have to admit, having my in laws all to ourselves was, well, wonderful. It was a reconnecting time for us. Our boys got to enjoy their grandparents who glistened just like the lake. I've never, in the whole twelve years I've known them, seen them this happy. And, it's true what they say, a smile is pretty contagious.

The next morning, Henrik woke up and asked if his cousin was there. When those were the first words out of his mouth I knew that whatever else happened, we needed this trip to be wonderful for the kids. And I am 100% confident that we did. We went boating, played in the lake, checked in at a cattle ranch, played outdoors, had campfires, s'mores, and daily family concerts. We cooked and cleaned, played and worked, it was better than the Brady Bunch. I laughed and had fun, yes, FUN with my SIL and MIL. I got to see my father-in-law in a way I'd never seen him, he was a hero to his grandsons and a best friend. I got to have my boys snuggle up to their grandma and aunt and I got to spend some good quality time with my nephew.

It was as if we all were on our best behavior, but not on eggshells. We respected one another, ignored annoyances, accommodated needs and helped one another during meals, with chores, through bath time, getting kids wrangled for a campfire and taking them fishing. It was as if we forgave the past even though it wasn't mentioned.

I hope I'm not the only one who had a wonderful weekend, I hope that there are many more of these to come. I hope that we can look back on this weekend and see that even if we don't agree on everything, then we can at least respect one another and move forward.

When I look back on this weekend and as I place pictures from the trip in the boys' photo album, I will remember a few things. First, I was wrong. I wasn't wrong to have those worries, but I was wrong to assume that the trip would be more work than play. I was wrong to think that this trip was a "giving in because I'm nice and it means a lot to everyone" experience. How snobby am I? Everyone had to work hard to make this a good trip and everyone had to be on their best behavior and you know why? Because we're all better than the way we were acting.

Second, I'll remember that this was the best time my boys have had with the Ehns. Because we were in my in-law's place, and they were in their element up in the U.P, they were completely different people. This was their home, this was their pride and I got to really understand better who they were and why. Because of that, my boys got to truly experience their grandparents and everything that they love. They got to go fishing, look out at the lake from the dock, go boating and rowing and get snuggled in for the night. My boys had a new respect for them too, they are just too little to know it yet, but I saw it in their eyes.

Third, I don't know what happened between all of us so many years ago. But I don't care any more. I'm not saying that we won't have an issue in the future, but what I am saying is that I will make it known to my in-laws that whatever I did in the past that hurt them, I'm sorry. And from now on, I will take that first trip to their cabin as a restart and remember how great we can all be when we want to. I'm doing it for me, my husband and my kids. I'll remember my MIL's smile that lasted three days, her larger than life smile when I asked her if she was still happy and enjoying a chaotically wonderful weekend with her family, her at peace smile when we sat around the fire joked with one another, and her proud smile as she took me on a rowboat tour of the lake.

Ehn Family Today
It's not hard to make someone happy, but happiness is best when can share it with someone else and that is exactly what this trip did for all of us and I'm thrilled that I got to have the opportunity to finally get up North to the Cabin.






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