One of my brothers and his wife are coming to visit. We are all really excited for a variety of reasons. The children because aunt and uncle play with them, talk to them, read to them, and spoil them so much that they feel very adored. Husband because he and brother can commiserate during apéritif and go on about what a princess I am (untrue, by the way) and because he says that sister-in-law is the best tourist ever, very interested, attentive, and appreciative - it's a real pleasure to show her around (she's even been taking French classes - the ultimate sign of touristic commitment). As for myself, I love their visits for all of the above reasons and also because it's so nice to be around people who've known me for more than 10 years.
Husband knows me well, he really does. But he only knows my history as I've told it. And although he's been to the US quite a few times, I don't think he really knows what it's like to be an American. I've been living here for nearly 9 years and I'm just starting to get an idea, a real idea, of what it's like to be French.
Anyway, a few years ago, husband mentioned that I was not myself when longtime friends and family came to visit. And he did not mean that in a good way. My attitude towards him was different. More attitudinal even. Husband is the kind of man who says something like that and then goes on about whatever like he didn't just open a huge can of worms. So, of course, I drilled him with questions. Was it what I said or how I said it, to him or about him, with everyone or not. We narrowed it down to words not said, just a tone or attitude (oh that's helpful) and only when longtime female friends were visiting.
So I did some thinking. And realized he was right. I was not the same when they were here. Maybe it's me, maybe it's my generation, maybe it's having gone to high school during the fashion disaster that was the 1980's. But I felt like I had to show my friends that, despite all evidence to the contrary, I had not become what I had always said I would NEVER be. A 1950's housewife. There's nothing wrong with being a housewife and I love my life, truly. I would not change my choices if I could, and you know how much I don't want to go back to work. But I never thought I would be living my life this way. And I, being me, made a lot of noise about that over the years. The thing is that my friends don't ever judge me and they would love me no matter what my life looked like. Which means that I was really trying to prove it to myself. Which is an exercise in absurdity.
My attitude is now revised, I no longer have anything to prove, except to my brother - that I am not a princess. Which, he would say, is another exercise in absurdity.