September 26 Editorial

By: Kelly Woodard

This week I’ll be sharing another installment of “The Overbearing Mother In-Law and the Woman Who Loves Her Husband Enough Not To Kill Her.” That’s right ladies and gentlemen. She’s at it again.
Last week, my husband and I celebrated our 3
rd anniversary with a seven day cruise to the Caribbean. As the proud parents of three rambunctious doggies, we knew we had to get creative when planning their care while away. When my mother in-law volunteered right away, I knew I should have been skeptical.
Usually only available for long visits when I’m having a migraine or stressed enough to contemplate murder, I was pleasantly surprised that she seemed excited to stay with our pups for a week in our home especially since we wouldn’t be there.
Before her arrival, I spent a week scrubbing floors, washing clothes, sheets, and towels, and cleaning the house. I even strapped on an apron and made a few meals so that the fridge would be stocked with leftovers hoping to avoid her critical stares and distaste for the fact that I consider myself a modern woman who doesn’t feel the need to chain myself to the oven and bake pies. Wal-Mart does that for me, and their pies are delicious!
When she and my father in-law arrived the day before our departure, she commented on how lovely the house looked and how she thought I had lost weight. Usually the first to tell me that my hair looks like crap and I need to join Weight Watchers, I thought, “Maybe she’s turned over a new leaf.” Wrong. It was all part of her manipulation tactics.
She asked if I needed her to do anything around the house while we were gone, and I told her not to worry about a thing and to enjoy herself at the beach. After all this was a vacation for her too. The next morning we were off, and my heart rested easy knowing that the babies would be in good hands with “grandma” and “grandpa”.
It wasn’t until the third night of our cruise that I woke up in a panic with a sinking feeling that all was not right with the world. For those of you who don’t believe in a sixth sense, I defy you to not develop one when faced with such a situation. But within a few minutes my husband convinced me that nothing was wrong, and I relaxed again into a deep sleep.
A few days later we returned home, and before I even walked through the door I knew she had been hard at work playing Magnum P.I. in every crevice of my home. The house was spotlessly clean, so much so that I found it offensive.
With all the hard work and elbow grease I had put into cleaning the house to make it par to her standards (which by the way are apparently different for my house than her own), I felt that she was trying to convey a passive aggressive message that either a) she thinks my house isn’t clean enough for her to reside in or b) she is the greatest woman and housewife to ever roam the earth and my husband should be ashamed that he married such an inadequate woman like myself.
I let it slide and said my happy hellos, but shivered once again when I saw that ALL of my freshly washed laundry had been re-washed and folded with a different detergent because she said mine “smelled funny” and hers cleans “so much better”, my Tupperware cabinet had been rearranged after I had just arranged it, more baking tools had appeared and were on display on the counters as if I should rush in and bake cookies, and the guest bathroom had gotten a new shower curtain. I personally liked the one that was already in there. That’s why I bought it.
Due to her having to return to work the next day, they were forced to say a quick goodbye and head home. I thanked her for her hard work, but was sure to throw in there (many times) that she didn’t have to work on the house all the time and she should’ve enjoyed the beach more.
It wasn’t until an hour or so later that I walked into my bedroom and blew my top. My husband heard me mumbling under my breath and asked me what was wrong. My anger came boiling to the surface when I explained, “She’s been in our bedroom, and she’s gone through my things.” He stood there with a look on his face that I’m not sure was confusion or utter terror.
“How do you know,” he asked meekly. I replied, “I know because everything has been moved around, and she tried to cover up the fact that she was snooping in here by trying to make it look like she was organizing.” I went on to explain that regardless of her initial intentions, I find it incredibly inappropriate that she would enter a married couple’s bedroom and go through drawers with personal belongings.
In my book, no one should enter your bedroom with asking or being invited. We are adults, not teenagers, and we don’t need mommy to clean our room. I can’t imagine going into her bedroom without her being home and rearranging her things! It’s just plain rude. Not to mention my husband’s things remained untouched. She was looking for dirt on me.
Later that evening she called to say they had arrived home, and I heard her ask my husband if she had crossed a line with anything she had done. That question in itself to me is an indication that her usual sweet southern charm is a front for a much darker, more manipulative side that knew exactly what she was doing.
That night my husband and I laid in bed quietly, both knowing that a war was about to ensue. I didn’t want to put my husband in the middle, so I was going to have to fight this one alone. I lay there nearly all night unable to sleep as the possibilities swirled in my head.
In the end, I decided that it’s best to fight fire with fire. She called the next day to feel me out by chatting mindlessly about the weather, but I stayed quiet about my bitterness. Instead, when the topic of her domineering “housework” was grazed I simply said, “I owe you one.”
I can’t wait for our next visit to see them. Game on.