Sunday, August 31, 2008

From my guest blogger - MIL from hell?!?

A couple weeks ago I read a guest post by Her Bad Mother about her mother in law. I left a comment and offered to let anyone who wanted to post about their own MIL do so on my blog. And Shonda from The Cowboy Chronicles took me up on it!

I've written about my MIL before. She's pulled a few doozies in our relationship, but over all, she isn't that bad. I know she loves me, and I do love her. After reading about Shonda's MIL mine looks like a fucking saint!

By Shonda at The Cowboy Chronicles

It's 7:00 in the morning and I've just finished my second cup of coffee. As I beat 8 eggs, my husband and I discuss the day laying ahead of us. With a crisp fall looming, this is the busiest time of the year for farmers and ranchers like us. These are my favorite moments, us still in our pajamas, before the Oklahoma heat has drained our energy.

And then the front door opens. She's early, most mornings I don't see my mother-in-law until 7:30.

"Here's your checking account statement, dear."

She pushes the torn envelope toward me and then rushes down the hallway. My husband smirks as I scurry after her. My sleeping children have a busy day before them, but I am too late. She has yanked them from their rest and, whether I want it or not, the remainder will be like a mossy stone plummeting off a rugged mountainside.

I'm aggravated, but most of our mornings start out with the same intrusions. Whether a day is good or bad is decided by a very simple criteria: If I have five interruptions or less, it is one of the good ones. On the other days, which happens at least three or four times a week, I wash away my sorrows with ice cold beer. I can feel in my bones that I may have to resort to tepid beer today.

Pouring the whipped eggs into a heated skillet, I ask her why my checking account statement is opened. She shrugs and says she thought it was hers.

My husband giggles, "Mom, our name is right here."

"I guess I missed that," she sharply bites.

The eggs are finished and I spoon two spoonfuls onto each boy’s plate next to honey toast and sliced fruit. Although they've only been awake for a few minutes, they are alert and energized. I must admit that they love her. And, for that, I do, too. With each daily intrusion, with each passive aggressive jab about the cluttered condition of my sons' rooms, with each frantic Old Wives' Tale, I remind myself of that. Yes, she is meddlesome and overbearing, but it stems from her boundless love, right?

I lift each boy into his high chair. They are jabbering with me and with each other. The oldest, the 3-year-old, shares memories of last night's dream. As their eggs continue to cool on the counter, I turn to the refrigerator, pull out milk and pour it into two sippy cups. Lids are never easy to find at our house, so I scramble for a minute before finding two clean ones.

When I turn back towards the boys, perching quietly in their high chairs, my jaw hits the floor. She's pulled two granola bars from her coat and both boys are now stuffing them into their mouths. Their cheeks are ballooned, as though they are chipmunks storing nuts for the winter.
"What are you doing?" I demand.

"What do you mean? The boys are hungry, so I was just giving them something to eat," she responds.

"Yes, I realize they are hungry. That's why I've cooked them breakfast."

I hold two full plates out. Our eyes lock. She blinks.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I guess I didn't see you cooking that. I just thought you weren't going to feed them."

"Umm....why did you think I put them both in their high chairs?"

"Well, I just thought you put them up there so I would feed them."

My eyes dart toward my husband and I hope they are burning through him.

"That's okay, honey. Just put their food on my plate. I'm plenty hungry this morning," the husband suggests. I'm pissed. He brushes her poor manners and constant invasion of privacy under the rug. For many reasons, I respect his tolerance for her. But, for many reasons, I wish he would draw boundaries.

As the boys finish their granola bars, she tells the oldest she will take him fishing. Even though I've asked her a million times to ask me privately first, she forges forward. Of course, I did already have morning plans for my kids. But, I'm exhausted already. Rather than jump into the conversation, which would make me the wrecking ball for all things fun, I tell her that they can go for 2 hours, but that I must have them back then. She only lives 500 feet from us and anytime that I keep her from doing something she wants to, I end up spending the rest of the day fighting her as though she is a rebellious teenager.
Perhaps if we do this early, I can have the boys back for the rest of the day, uninterrupted.

She returns them 30 minutes early and I thank her for taking them. Like I said, she is good to them in so many ways and I try to focus on that.

At 10:45 I lay the baby, a bouncy 2-year-old, down for his nap. He's a bit restless, but after a few minutes, he's out. The oldest boy started preschool this week. Since his birth, I have purposely sought jobs that I could do from home. Although I hate his absence, the school he is attending has a near perfect reputation. In order to even get in, children must be on the waiting list since birth. It seems impossible that he should be old enough to go, but my excitement for him in this new venture is electric.

I pluck a few grapes from a sacked vine and toss them into a cereal bowl. In my experience, reading lessons are far more enjoyable if done over those sweet drops of heaven.
As the oldest boy and I park our butts on his bedroom floor to look over Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Lessons, I hear clanking in my laundry room. The back door leads straight into it, so the noise makes me uneasy. I tell the oldest boy to eat his grapes as I jump up to investigate the commotion.

There she was, moving laundry baskets and trying to pull the dryer from the wall.

"What are you doing?" I inquire.

"Oh, well, when I was done here the other day, I noticed you had left clothes in the washing machine, so I moved them to the dryer. Then I came down to fold the clothes when they dried because I know how hard it is for you to get to that and I realized that your dryer wasn't getting hot enough. It was taking forever for the clothes to dry. So, I thought I would clean out the exhaust pipe, I'm sure it's stopped up. Then maybe your electric bill won't be so high and your clothes won't smell so moldy."

I pause for a moment, almost at a loss for words.

"My electric bill isn't high," I say. "What makes you think my electric bill is high?"

"Well, if it takes 2 full dryer rounds for your clothes to be finished, it must be," she huffs.

I start to just walk away and let her do whatever the hell it is she wants to do. But then I realize if I am ever going to have an inch of my own space, I cannot let her finish this insane project. I thank her for her effort, but tell her that I will look into the problem later. The younger boy was still sleeping and I didn't want to wake him, or at least that's the excuse I gave.

She wanted to stay, then she wanted to take the oldest boy with her. I wanted to gnarl at her, so I mustered all the softness in my voice when I told her that the boy needed to work on his book. I also reminded her once again to ask me privately if he could go, rather than announcing it to him.

She came back an hour later because she found one of the boys' favorite toy trains at her house. She came back three hours after that with chicken strips just as I was serving roast beef. As I was reading the boys their bedtime stories, she arrived with cookies.

Each day I live is like a twisted version of Groundhog's Day where my mother-in-law is a furry little rodent. If I see her before 8 am, I just know I am going to have a long day of intrusions. I don't want it to sound like I don't love her. I do. She loves my children as though they are her own and I chant that to myself over and over again when she snidely asks me, "Do you really think you need that second beer?"

And as she chimes in about the superiority of her toilet cleaner in comparison to mine, I think to myself, "Are you fucking kidding me, lady? Yes, I need this second beer. I need the 20 that will follow it, too."


  1. I will trade you. My MIL has suddenly become unable to understand a word that comes out of my 4 year old's mouth. When he stays with her she has to call me 4,596 times (while I am away on business in meetings) to ask me what he eats, wants from restaurant X, etc. (Like I know I am 12,300 miles away. I don't even know when I am right next to him!) She also is convinced that us eating a "special" diet of twigs berries and other various crap will make us all feel wonderful and make his Asperger's magically disappear. She is CRAZY. I don't know HOW she raised 5 kids without them all dying or revolting. I think I would take your meddling MIL for at least a couple of weeks before I tried to stab her with a shrimp fork!

  2. Wow. I can't believe she just walks in. She doesn't even knock?

    Wow. I would definitely not be OK with that at all. I think I'd be slipping some alcohol into my coffee if I were you.