My in-law-meter has been reaching dangerous levels, and I fear this time it may not return to resting on empty, but rather reside at a level of not only increased awareness, but a level that neccessitates cutting off all access so as not to top off and blow a fuse for good!

Let me explain, because you are probably wondering what the helk an in-law-meter is…

In my case, it functions very similarly to the spedometer in my car.  Which my Fruit Loops call the speed-o-meter. 

 The speed-o-meter registers the speed at which my car is traveling. 

Now we all know that the speed-o-meter will register speeds at which legally my car should never travel.  That is because the speed limit , tells me how fast I can travel.  Now keep in mind that under the law, these speed limits have been invoked, and I am obligated, by law, to abide by the speed limits.  I am not required to like the Speed Limit.  I am simply required to respect the speed limit, despite the highly visible temptation, right there on my dash, in lights on the speed-o-meter, to break the Speed Limit. 

It is important to note, that speed limits vary, typically increasing the further you get from your home.  For instance, the speed limit in my neighborhood is 25mph.  As I continue down the road, it increases to 45mph, and then reaching the parkway, I can travel at 60mph (I think, I do anyway).  Finally, if I were to get onto the interstate I would likely be permitted to travel 70 and in some cases 75 mph.  So the further I get from home, the higher the needle on my Speed-o-meter.

My in-law-meter, registers just the same.  In my own little neck of the woods, the needle on my in-law-meter rests comfortable at empty!  In relation to the in-laws who live locally, we have settled into a safe speed of ignoring eachother (because we like it better that way, or because we take eachother for granted).  Either way, the arrangement keeps the in-law-meter at a reasonable, manageable reading. 

Then there are the distant in-laws.  They travel across country just to see you. They stay in your home, they eat your food, use your towels, sleep at hours when your family doesn’t sleep, requiring you (out of hospitable obligation) to keep four Fruit Loops quiet, at hours of the day when they are otherwise busy about the house.  All of that still keeps the reading at safe numbers. 

But then, just when you think you can keep control, the distant in-law requests a family get together.

Now, you have to invite them all (the local in-laws), to your home, the ones you have chosen to ignore, and the ones you have taken for granted, all gathered together, observing not only how you interact with them individually, but comparing it to how you treat the others. 

In an event like this, you are now trying to juggle being the perfect wife, smiling and laughing at the stories your Dear Husband repeats to all the family members who were not only present when the story actually happened, but have heard the recap at every family gathering since;

 while being the perfect mother, speaking so softly to the children, while directing them as to what needs to be done to keep the guests happy, and greeting their unwillingness to comply with entertaining a bunch of adults when all they want to do is retreat to their room to play video games, with a smile and a hug so that you can whisper in their ear “do it, or I sell the video game”;

while being a waitress, serving soft drinks coffee, tea, and just one everyone has a beverage in hand the first one served is ready for a refill,

while engaging in interesting conversation, about news worthy topics, but never politics, even though we are in the middle of a historic election, with impending results that could  upset the flow of the congressional universe,

while watching the football game, and cheering for the appropriate team, because if you don’t then your guests cry, ‘oh but you don’t even get to watch the game, you poor dear’ blaming it in their minds on the demands of having a husband and four Fruit loops rather than properly placing blame on their presence, their demands, and their overall distaste for you which causes you to be walking on egg shells (or something more like broken glass in my case) in your own home.

This my friends, is when the IN-LAW-METER, reaches heights that the manufacturers never anticipated. 

And just when you think you can’t maintain control for another moment, someone elses in-law-meter tops off, and the argument begins!

There is screaming, and yelling; accusations and expletives; in the midst of it all you suddenly hear your own voice and that is when you realize, ‘my in-law-meter has topped off too’

Alas, the end is near, one in-law has been running so fast and so far from social graces, she is out of gas, and out the door!

For a moment, my in-law-meter rests below the line!

But I shall not get too comfortable, there remains my houseguest, who attempts to live in the neutral zone (where long distance in-laws have the privelage of residing), and thinks that in the aftermath, perhpas she can smooth out all the ruffled feathers and restore peace, as she imagined it, before she arrived.

Little does she know, that this peace, where the in-law-meter rests comfortable below empty, can only be achieved and maintained by keeping the proper distance and silence among local in-laws.

It’s true, after her departure, the laws that govern my own personal in-law relations will resume, and then my in-law-meter will rest, undisturbed, until the next distant relative gets a new model of the  in-law-meter and decides to take it out for a test drive and see what this baby can do!