Thursday, March 19, 2009


Well, if you thought I was whiny, spoiled, or ungrateful for complaining about all the noise, dirt, and inconvenience of getting our street paved, you'll really think I'm whiny, spoiled, and ungrateful with this post.

Let me start by saying I love Mother-in-law. Really, I love her dearly. Although 79 years old, she is far from being a typical 'old lady'. She doesn't crochet doilies or knit afghans. She's very active with lots of senior social groups and rarely misses an opportunity to go somewhere. She has a great sense of humor and we have a good time together.

For nearly 13 years now she has loved and accepted me, which is more than I can say for my actual mother (and father and siblings) who disowned me when I came out and informed them I was leaving their conservative religion.

But despite how much I truly do love Mother-in-law, sometimes the woman can get on my nerves.

Every time we see her she offers us something to eat and/or drink, which is very thoughtful and hospitable. Since I am trying to lose weight I try not to eat between meals, so I usually tell her 'No, thank you'. She always responds by asking me if I'm sure, and then proceeds to list for me all the food and drinks she has to offer. I politely respond by telling her 'I am sure' and that 'I don't care for anything'. She'll leave it alone for a few minutes, but will invariably ask me several more times if I'm sure I don't want anything to eat or drink. Sometimes she will go through the list again. I want to say "Read my lips: I do not care for anything to eat or drink. Thank you" but of course, I'd never do that.

Every time we see her she tells us how much money she has recently given to her 2 deadbeat sons, both of whom are in their 50s. Spouse has spoken for both of us numerous times, letting her know we do not care to hear about that anymore. We came to the conclusion long ago that she will continue to give them money as often as she wants to. What she does with her money is her own business. Nobody has a gun pointed to her head. We've reminded her that if she doesn't want to give them the money they request, she can say no. But she doesn't say no, which is her prerogative. But then she insists on telling us how much she 'had' to give them. Sometimes I'm tempted to scream "You didn't 'have' to give them the money!!! You are the one in control!!!", but of course I'd never do that either. She always ends with "Listen, I have enough money for myself, but I don't have enough money to carry those two." If I weren't afraid she'd see me, I swear I could lip-sync that exact phrase as she says it. And I could. I've heard it enough times.

Every time we see her she gives us a recap of what is going on with her friends, whom Spouse & I privately refer to as 'the hag brigade'. "Maryann's daughter is moving to North Carolina...", "Gloria went to the doctor this week for her knee", and "Loretta is thinking about a reverse mortgage..." etc, etc, etc. We've never met these people, so getting an update on what's going on in their lives means very little (if anything) to us. But the worse part about it? She tells us the same things over and over again! At first I thought she couldn't remember whether or not she'd told us, so once I said "Oh yeah, you mentioned this to me last time we were here". But without missing a beat she responded "Well I'm gonna tell you again", and proceeded to ramble on and on about the happenings of these people we don't know or care about.

Two weeks ago her neighbor had a ceramic tile floor installed in her kitchen. Upon hearing this from Mother-in-law, one of the hag brigade snarled "Ceramic tile floors are cold and slippery!" So Mother-in-law asked me what our kitchen floor was made of, and I answered that it was ceramic tile. She asked if it was cold and slippery, to which I replied "Ours is cold because its on a concrete slab, but your neighbor's kitchen has a crawl space under it so it may not be as cold. Its only slippery if its wet." Since her neighbor got a new kitchen floor she decided she needed (read: wanted) a new kitchen floor too, so we took her to the flooring store to order the same laminate floor she loved in our previous house. Just 2 weeks later (this past weekend) she asked me the same question again about ceramic tile floors being cold and slippery. First, I already answered the question 2 weeks ago. Second, what difference does it make now? She'd already ordered the laminate floor! She called last night to tell us the new floor had been installed, and how much she loved it. I bit my lip and said nothing when she told me "I'm glad I didn't get a ceramic tile floor because people say they're cold and slippery".

She likes to keep abreast of what's happening, so she watches political TV shows and reads tabloids. Those are her information sources. She'll read or hear something sensational and then repeat it to us as if she's reporting the news. "They say Barack Bahama is a Muslim" she announced. And yes, she really did call him Barack Bahama. Spouse replied "No he's not! Where did you hear that?" The tabloid. Last weekend she reported "That guy can't be in the president's cabinet 'cuz he didn't pay his taxes. Why didn't he pay his taxes? He couldn't afford it?" Spouse recommended that if she is going to read tabloids, she should consider them to be for entertainment purposes only, but she responded "But sometimes they get it right! They said Edwards had an affair on his wife - the one with cancer - and he did!" Spouse also suggested she watch CNN for politics instead of Fox News, but she said she likes to watch Bill O'Reilly because "he's so good-looking". Hard to argue with that kind of logic.

I know I should sound more grateful to have such a loving and accepting Mother-in-law, and I really am grateful for her. And as I said, I love this woman dearly, really I do! But sometimes she can get on my nerves.

Crush du Jour: Matthew "Jett" Schaefer


Bob said...

I'm sorry for your pain or aggravation or annoyance....but I will now be channeling Mother-in-law as I use the phrase, "I'm glad I didn't get a ceramic tile floor because people say they're cold and slippery" all day long!

Thanks for the giggle.

Mistress Maddie said...

Mark what a funny post! She sounds like my grandmother used to be. She probably doesn't even know she is going this to you, being on your nerves. Just be happy she excepts you with her son and you will get through it. My mother is very excepting of me and the Boy-toy. But his parents are different. They are from a very rural part of PA and love to wear the flannel. I have been to visit several times. I have never seen so much pinic cloth being worn and they don't know what to say to us /me. So there is a little tension here and there. When he takes me to visit it's like taking Karen Walker there with my flask. And this is no joke. Flask for quite times. Be glad it isn't like this!

A Lewis said...

I've got a MIL that brings about the need for a post of her own as well.

Miss Ginger Grant said...

God love her- even though the hag brigade occupies her time, she proabably hangs out with them because she feels she has no one else. And when the deadbeat sons come over she gives them money because she thinks that as long as she does, they will always come over and visit her. You 2 are probably the only people she sees that she really loves, and she talks and repeats the stories she has because she wantsto make the mst of your time together! Cherish her- I miss my family soooo much! I would LOVE to be able to hear my mother tell me about those god-forsaken, mangy ass ugly birds that always sat outside her window for the 1001st time! I heard that story and rolled my eyes everytime she told it, but I'd kill to hear it now! Just sayin'- be sweet to us old ladies!

Rick said...

You could be more kind. Sorry she gets on your nerves. Probably the same way Mr. Schaefer gets on mine. He really rubs me the wrong way. :)

Anonymous said...

I Love your stories. My gran does knit and crochet, hehehe.

You have to love old ladies. They can say and do whatever they want and the world be damned. They are kind of the Hells Angels of Seniors.

I used to take random old lady pictures on vacations. I should start that again. It would be a great coffee table book.

Victor said...

In the late 1990s my mother used to behave in the way you describe your mother in law behaving and it would irritate me from time to time. It turns out she was in the early stages of Alzheimers Disease. Not really noticeable at the time except to my father who was with her 24 hours a day.

Once the diagnosis was revealed, everything about her behaviour made so much more sense to me and I had a far greater tolerance for those idiosyncrasies.

Joy said...

My mother does things like that and so do I with my son. I'm glad you and Spouse visit her and give her attention. It's great to spend time with my son, and I repeat myself and tell him about all kinds of people he doesn't know, too. He kids me, and we get along well, but I probably get on his nerves sometimes. He'll miss me tremendously when I'm gone, just as I will my mother. She's 88, so I value the time I can spend with her.

Anonymous said...

It's getting to a day and time where you may want to be a tad bit more receptive. Or perhaps you need to do more of the talking so that she doesn't have time to bother you with the mundane things. You won't want to see yourself in a period of guilt when the unthinkable happens.

Also, as far as weight loss, you may want to try and see how nibbling throughout the day compares to having three large meals. Maybe try it first on the weekends and then see what happens on the weekdays. I've heard metabolism may increase when you nibble a lot. Just nibble on good, healthy things.

Becky said...

Mothers-in-Law can be annoying at times. I purchased a great book to give to my mother when my sister married a guy from he**- she needed something to help her cope as a mother-in-law, but I ended up reading it before giving it to her. It is titled, "The Mother-in-Law Manual" by Susan Lieberman. Although the book was really meant for my mother (the mother-in-law), I gained a lot from it as well- after reading this book I feel so much more tenderness and sympathy for my mother-in-law. Don't get me wrong I have never hated my mother-in-law either, but she also tended to get on my nerves a lot! God works in mysterious ways.