The main reason for the trip is obviously for his Mom.
My gut is screaming at me not to take a trip like this with young kids. I am a world traveler. But, with kids, I don't feel good traveling so far away to a very crowded place -- it would be for a week. Maybe if the girls were older I would feel better about a trip like this. Naturally I have concerns over our family being blended....I am very sensitive to it and want to ensure that our girls are treated with respect.
In addition, we all took a trip last summer with DH's Mom and I wanted to shoot myself. We don't vacation very much and it is very important to have a good time on trip....I view vacations as a way of relaxing and recharging....but nope, not on that trip -- or even on the trip before that. Just awful.
DH and his Mom don't speak in English in front of me and the girls....and that isn't how I want to spend vacation time nor do I approve of it as good behavior in front of the girls. I know MIL can speak English -- she chooses not to as a way to get as much attention from DH as possible. DH in turns covers for her by saying that she is getting old and it is easier to communicate in Cantonese. Right. Not. Bad excuse. Bad manners.
If DH and his Mom want to go by themselves, I would be ok with that.
What would your thoughts be on this? How would you feel? Is anything I have written valid or bratty?
"If you find from your own experience that something is a fact and it contradicts what some authority has written down, then you must abandon the authority and base your reasoning on your own findings"~ Leonardo da Vinci
You know....DH, the girls and I are very close. By having MIL on a vacation with us last year...really put a damper on the whole experience. We couldn't wait to get home...half way through the trip we had all mentally checked out. The conversation was poor. I hardly talked to my husband because I just hung out with my daughters. DH spent his whole time translating for his Mom so that she would understand what we were doing, going and seeing. We went on a freaking fantastic train tour with an amazing guide and she understood zip. I was unhappy, the kids were unhappy.
If its only a week I would deal with any negative aspect to give my girls the opportunity to see Hong Kong with their dad and grandma.
Perhaps you can all try to learn a few words of Cantonese to show your MIL that you want to try to meet her halfway. Then talk to your husband privately and ask him to please answer her in English when they're with you so she knows that at least her son isn't going to exclude his daughters in their presence.
If you can find a way to see the benefit in the trip, and let go of some of your hopes for things to be different, then perhaps you could consider it.
As of now it seems that you would just be totally unhappy to do this trip, and I don't believe you are obligated to do it just because it an exciting destination or a way to connect to your children's heritage.
I also see why you don't want to go anywhere with your MIL, especially for a solid week, for your vacation.
I think it is time for a heart to heart with your DH, remind him how last year went, and ask him what he is thinking about doing this summer for your family (i.e. you and he and kids) to do to connect and enjoy each other. Obviously, it won't include his mom. If he can figure out a way to have a REAL vacation with YOU, and still go on a trip with his mommy, then be nice about and help pack his bag. But you come first, and him getting that vacation is about YOU and HIM spending time together in a fun way is important for the health of your marriage.
but everything has pros and cons
The stuff with your DH and MIL would drive me nuts though. You said that your DH didn't want to ever travel with his mom again after the last trip. What changed his mind? What does he plan to do differently this time? If I were you, I would need for him to have solid answers to those questions before I'd agree to go.
This might sound sad for a family vacation, but could you view it as two vacations -- him with his mom, and you with the girls? I know, not a great solution, but if you go into it with the attitude that you're taking your girls on this wonderful cultural trip, and your DH and MIL happen to be taking a trip there too, it might ease the resentment about not doing everything together.
I've traveled with family and it has worked best for people to split up for part of the time. Travel is stressful and tiring and relationships worked best when people had some private time to recharge.
That said, you shouldn't suffer through the whole thing. Can you get away by yourself or with your daughters (as someone else suggested). Also, since your girls are already a little older, can you leave them with grandma & get away with your husband. It's ok if they don't understand each other, the experience of spending time with grandma can be important & enjoyable, especially if you can withhold your own preference to no spend time with her (and I say that without judgment--I just know how perceptive kids can be!).
Also, is this important to your husband? Your daughters? How do they feel about the trip & what are their hopes/expectations for it?
Mama to my little busy bee.
That being said, I really gave it a good go last year on our vacation by setting my expectations super low. What happened was this: A few days into the trip, everyone was done. My kids were checked out, I was checked out, DH was checked out....his Mom paid for the trip so obviously she wanted to get her money's worth! *sigh* I spent a lot of time hanging with my kids-- which I didn't mind but, I missed my husband. Leaving my kids with his Mom is not fun for them...they are old enough to understand that their interaction with her is limited and she relies on DH for everything. Traveling with her is like bringing another kid on the trip. Every meal we had together was annoying. She refused to speak English. Every tour we took, DH had to translate. If she wasn't always with us, she wouldn't know what to do. In fact, I thought she and DH were going to share a room but she ended up bunking with my daughters. I was hoping that by DH and her sharing a room, they could chat it up so that I and the girls could actually talk with DH for a change.
Don't get me wrong -- traveling anywhere is a wonderful experience. I've done plenty and I appreciate it a lot. It would be preferable to travel when the girls are older for a trip like this -- and MIL may or may not be available for that trip...it just doesn't make sense to blow money or time to come back upset -- heritage or no heritage. China will always be there.
DH always tries to please his Mom....he needs to cut the cord and please his wife and kids first.