Tuesday, 3 March 2009

In-Law Ambiguity

So my mother-in-law came today to help Tiziano care for Lucas. On one hand I am happy he got some relief; on the other, I hate her going through my house "helping" in ways SHE thinks I need. Her priorities in life are putting things in order, making them look nice and neat. Appearances seem to be more important in Italy than hygiene.

For example, she is obsessed with doing laundry, having clothes dry, ironing them, folding them hanging them up around to house (probably so I can see how much she has done for me). If my laundry bags are empty, she will wash anything hanging around, even if it is still clean: pyjamas hanging on the door, dish towels, hand towels, sheets, baby blankets, etc.

She will place all the items in my fridge in neat little lines, she will take napkins in my cupboards out of their packaging, fold them, make piles and place them back in the cupboard, put away the dish soap under the sink so it doesn't show, dry the sink (yes, DRY the sink), and reorganize all my kitchen cupboards prioritizing the placement of things she deems important. It takes me half an hour after she's left to go through and put things back to the way I want them.

As for really helping me where I really need it, nope!

Maybe she could dust, for example. Our cleaning lady put out her back a few weeks back, everything is covered in dust. My bedside table is sticky from cough syrup spilling. If you look at our floor from a certain angle, it shows all the signs of Sebastian's puke sessions of the past few weeks. Our bathtub is filthy. Our fridge needs a good cleaning. The cupboards under the sink have little lines of juice that have rolled down it...

Can you clean these things, please, instead of taking dishes out of our dishwasher to wash them by hand? Can you stop ironing my underwear and shuffling around the baby clothes and instead properly wash the stove top?

She hasn't been by for the past few weeks, even though we have survived the closest thing to parental hell you could possibly imagine. Why the disappearing act? Because her 40-year-old son (my husband's brother) has been family-less for 3 weeks (his wife and son were away in Germany for a few weeks), and he had to go over to his mother's place to get dinner and have his lunch box made up for work. Yup. Priorities. Apparently, it is more urgent to prepare supper for a 40-year-old son who is temporarily wifeless, than help out a severely sleep-deprived son with 2 sick babies and a full-time working wife (who has also been sleep-deprived btw).

Yes, I live in Italy.

Yes, I have an Italian mother-in-law.

No, I don't have anyone else to help us with childcare.

No, I am not allowed to look at my mother-in-law's kindness in the mouth.


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