Sandy’s questions, over at The Reluctant Entertainer were so good I ended up writing a massive comment and thought I’d write a post as well.
This is the first year my husband and I will have some external motivation to develop our own family dynamic. With the holidays coming up, this affects our ability to entertain guests or travel to our extended families as guests. Baby is the entire reason we now have the motivation to strike out on our own and find a new rhythm for our holidays.
Previously, we had a routine that worked for us as a couple, since we had no children and could easily travel with the dog for the 8 hours one-way it took to get home to our families for Christmas and Thanksgiving. They had, of course, fallen into the rhythm of hosting these holidays, and it was always expected that we would be there at one family’s celebration (or both, in the case of Christmas). It was complicated because my husband’s parents are divorced, so there were essentially 3 sets to see. But we never saw the need to rock the boat, and the one year we offered to host Thanksgiving, people said they would come and we were alone after everyone decided it was inconvenient to drive to us.
This year, the question of their convenience doesn’t matter to us as a family as much. We do want to see them, of course, but at the same time we emphatically do not want to travel with a newborn for that period of time. It provided a great opportunity to sit down as a couple and discuss what mattered most to each of us and reach a compromise. I don’t know about anyone else, but I always feel closest to my husband when we resolve issues like this together. It brings us an additional degree of intimacy, because we’ve proven to each other that we can open up about our feelings, good and bad, and be safe with each other.
So we talked. About how he wants to involve his family, and I want to establish ourselves as a family first, with our own traditions. How I was afraid of traveling that long with an infant, and disrupting any forming routines. How I was concerned about the immune system that wouldn’t be fully established. How we both deeply want to share our family with our extended families during the holidays, and how our family is now ourselves and Baby. We talked and talked, and came to the conclusion that we could manage about 2-3 people at a time, not staying with us at the house, for long weekends. We’ll offer each couple or person a weekend, invite them to stay for 3 or 4 days, and if they can’t come we’ll do our best to make it work with them, but our schedule will be our top priority. And we’re not inviting anyone for the weekend of Thanksgiving, or for Christmas Eve/Day. Those are for us, our first opportunity to share the best of our childhoods with Baby, and once we figure out what we want, next year we can discuss with our extended families what we would like to see happen (and compromise again!).