I tend to get two different reactions from people when I tell them that my Italian in-laws live in our guest house: 1) “That’s wonderful! Everyone should live with multiple generations!” or 2) “Oh my gosh, I’d die.” Haha! The next question is a slightly whispered, “How’s it going?” intended to assure me I can tell her the truth.
The truth is they don’t speak English and my Italian is terrible. The truth is that we walk into each others houses unannounced. The truth is that it’s going amazingly well.
None of us knew what to expect. What would boundaries be? Would we eat together all the time? Sometimes? Would we step on each other’s toes? The only way to find out was to just do it! And we did, starting last month.
Things started off on the right foot when they saw their new house upon arrival. It was one of the most touching things I have witnessed in my life. You can watch their emotional video here. By the absolute grace of God we started off without preconceived notions and in a most respectful manner.
They wanted to hang a cross in their bedroom, and because I had decorated the house for them, they asked me where I thought it should go. I told Dario he could do whatever he wanted with the garage and shed, it is completely his territory as far I am concerned. They bring me delicious soups for lunch, and I take them smoothies in the morning.
We use Google translate a lot. Check out “Nonni” in my story highlights on Instagram to laugh along with us.
We don’t hang out all the time. We don’t usually eat together, except on Sundays. Clara goes to their house for lunch when I take too long cobbling one together over here. She just walks out our door and sits down with them! I couldn’t possibly imagine a better transition than it has been so far — loving, respectful and very, very happy. Marcello is relieved that after all his prayers and work his parents are finally here and he can see them every day. He still can’t wrap his mind around it.
None of us feel worthy to live in this beautiful place that God chose for us, so an air of gratefulness still abounds. And a grateful heart is fertile ground for love, as Paul Tripp says.
We took them out to eat several places. They haven’t been out to dinner for ages because they were saving for so long! Dario said he had been craving seafood soup for years! They really had the best time.
I picked out a small summer wardrobe capsule for Lina so she would feel at home in her new Florida, beach-casual environment. It was so fun for both of us!
You might be surprised to know we didn’t used to have a relationship like this. When my in-laws and I met 12 years ago, I spoke even less Italian and they were kind, but suspicious of the American girl. And then Marcello moved to the United States to be with me. I can’t imagine how that felt to them, after all they’d been through. You can read their incredible story here. They came to visit a few times and there were cultural differences, language barriers, crazy babies and toddlers. I was always shy on Skype because of language and would just offer a quick wave hello. We felt disconnected.
My point is that it took a lot longer to get to know each other than in normal circumstances. Actually, I think my father-in-law got to know me much better by translating and reading this blog! Don’t give up on a relationship. Always be kind and loving. Things, circumstances, people, relationships change. Hang in there if you’re frustrated!
On a daily living note, sometimes I wonder what they think of what I do with my time. Do they think I spend too much time on the computer? I probably do. Do they think I don’t do enough housework? I really don’t. But then I remember that they have never said anything about either of those and they are things I already know about myself! It’s given me more self reflection than anything. Who do I want to be and how do I want to use my time?
So that’s the update, a month later, living with my in-laws. Thank you so much for caring and being so kind toward them. It warms my heart that you care about their story and cried with them when they saw their new house for the first time. It’s been an incredible journey. Thank you for doing it with me.
The joy in random acts of kindness
My random acts of kindness post never made it on my last email for some reason! If you missed it, click the link and check it out. Doing kind things for people, big and mostly small, has brought me so much joy the last year and a half! It has changed my life forever!
Less summer posts
I’m planning on only doing one post (instead of two) for the summer. I want to spend more time with the kids instead of pecking away at the keyboard, so you might be hearing a little less from me until August. Now that the kids are getting older I want to make the most of these summers! Do you have any plans?