Sunday lunch last weekend with both sets of parents went very well, despite various reservations; everyone involved seemed to have a good time.
Ma and Pa went to visit a fantastic local garden centre while we were cooking - Pa had been wanting to visit one all week but apparently they were very thin on the ground around where they were staying. They returned triumphant, bearing a huge box of vicious-looking cactii and some bulbs.
B's parents arrived shortly before Ma and Pa, radiating Curtain Rail Stress and apologising for not being able to stay all afternoon, because they needed to go home and put their bedroom curtain rails back up again after a particularly over-excited bout of DIY.
I have discovered that one of the things that makes me stressed about my parents is that they really have no idea that the way they do things might not be the way everyone does things. They can therefore become frenzied with indecision when other options that they might not have considered are presented to them. Since everyone in the world does things differently, this clearly makes any kind of travel outside their accustomed sphere difficult for them. And when I am involved, difficult for me, as I feel a need to be a facilitating bridge between them and the outside world.
B's advice, when I was sitting on the sofa on Sunday morning with a large pre-parent whisky, eating my own hair and rocking:
"Ally, getting hammered is NOT the answer to dealing with your mother. There is not enough alcohol in the world for that to be effective."I love him.
It was really, really nice to have them visit and I feel very wistful now they have gone home.
I also feel sad seeing how disoriented Pa can be outside of his own environment. I am discovering that watching your parents age can be heart-rending. I suppose that with grandparents, one's memories of them being active are a lot further away. With your parents, you can vividly remember what they were like ten, twenty, thirty years ago.
And seeing the person who used to carry you on their shoulders struggling to climb the stairs and weeping with frustration when he has wet himself is a terrible thing.