The Top 10 Reasons I Hate My Mother-in-law
My mother-in-law is going home today after a nine-day visit. There have been a lot of plusses to having her with us: She cooks and cleans while we’re at work. She does laundry. She lets us pick our own Christmas presents.
She’s an incredible woman. She knits, crochets, quilts, sews, embroiders, gardens, cooks, bakes, paints her own house, refinishes furniture, plays piano, is widely traveled and a brilliant investor. She lives alone in an area so remote that she inadvertently closed a bear in the crawlspace under her house a few years ago.
And, though I’ve tried, I really don’t like her much.
First of all, nine days is a really long visit, and it brings to 17 the number of days she’s visited this year.
Now, about the cooking, cleaning and laundry: She won’t use my groceries; she makes my husband take her to the grocery store to buy fresh garlic instead of minced stuff in a jar. She also feels compelled to replace our rice, croutons and steel cut oats (even though her son will only eat the Quaker instant oatmeal, and the steel cut oats were mine).
She cleaned out my refrigerator and threw out all the Thanksgiving leftovers because they were four days old. (To be fair, she also threw out a lot of other stuff that had been in there so long it probably growled and put up a fight.)
My mother-in-law doesn’t like my cleaning products, so she always buys something else. (Does she really think my house looks like that because I’m not using the entire Oxyclean product line?)
She’s 30 years older than me and freakishly energetic. I’m exhausted after work, and don’t feel like putting away the four loads of laundry she gathered from our bedrooms and washed while I was at work. I now have three baskets of clean laundry stacked in my bedroom. She apologized for not having the time or energy to scrub my floors.
Anytime she sees me struggling with my 7-year-old son she says “You should try it with three of them under five years old.” Excuse me, but she started her family at 19; I’m on the cusp of 50. For most of her childrearing years she lived near family; we have none close by. We also have two grown kids (and I mean at their full height, not maturity) who demand constant attention and support. Our 3-year-old granddaughter also spends lots of nights and weekends with us.
But, my mother-in-law tries to help in her own way, like when she says my son misbehaves because I spoil him, and what he really needs is “the back of her hand.” (To be fair, he really can be a defiant, whiny brat, but he breaks Hershey’s miniatures into four pieces and shares them.) She also demands that he say “Yes, ma’am” and “No, ma’am” though her son and I haven’t trained that into him. She attended military school. I enrolled Jack in Montessori. (He refused to kiss her good-bye this morning.)
She has repeatedly tried to bribe us into moving to South Carolina, though my husband and I agree it’s impractical--primarily because I’d slit my wrists. Then there was the time she gave this response to our plans for my best friend to care for our son if we died: “Just let her try it. She’ll have a hell of a fight on her hands, and I’ve got more money for the fight than she does.”
And she does spend a lot of time talking with her son about the million-dollar estate she’ll be passing down to him and his two sisters. She allows that the estate might be worth a little less than that when she dies, though, because she wants to take him to Carthage and to see the pyramids. (But, to be fair, she has helped us out of some financial jams, and I appreciate that.)
I walked in the door after work the other night to be greeted with: “When he (meaning her poor, poor exhausted son) wakes up from his nap he’s taking me to the grocery store where we’ll get something for the three of us to eat. While we’re gone, you feed Jack these leftover chicken nuggets, help him with his homework, give him a bath and put him to bed.”
The biggest problem I have with her visits, though? My husband doesn’t mind any of this and doesn’t understand why I do. By the time she’s finally gone I can’t even enjoy it because I no longer feel at home in my own home.