When we were building our first home (the haunted one if you have been paying attention, if not you can read that later it is not necessary to enjoy this story….but definitely read it later because there will be a test at a later time.) we lived with my in-laws. My children were three and one when we moved in to their peaceful home. I have to say that moving into a home that hadn’t housed small children in about twenty five years is a bit of a challenge. First there is the baby proofing and then there is the constant vigil because they have breakable things and then there is the “Oh crap I hope that my in-laws know that I am new to this parenting gig and on the job training for mothers is like on the job training for mine sweepers!” We are all moved in and the house is a little small with the extra four people there. My in-laws are nice enough to allow us to stay there and I just hope that they don’t regret it. I lack a certain amount of self-esteem and I don’t really know how to relax and allow people to like who I am. I am a people pleaser by nature (and nurture I suppose) and so I am now living in my in-laws’ home standing there with the thought of “How do I get them to like us living here?”
I am the type of person to do thoughtful things like cook dinner for you and clean your house for you and whatever you ask “you got it.” So my vision of living here is that, if they were kind enough to permit us to move in, then I will be a sort of housekeeper to them. Did they ask? No! Is this what they want? I don’t know! They are nice and I try but Have you ever cleaned when you have two children under the age of five? There is a saying (I’m about to plagiarize and I apologize to the person who created this saying because I don’t know your name):
“Cleaning while your children are growing is like shoveling while it’s still snowing.”*
My first day on the self appointed job of being my in-laws unwanted housekeeper and It starts out rather well. I am going to mop floors, and clean the bathroom. This is a job that, if I were doing it for myself, would have been a quick hour and a half and done. But because I get a touch of “Let them like me OCD” and I go a little overboard with a scrub brush and sponge and not a mop. I am scrubbing and being like Lady Macbeth “OUT DAMN SPOT!!!” I hear laughter. (This is before the Crisco bath and yes you would think that I would learn…I did not, obviously) (don’t judge me, being a parent is hard work, man) I am so happy to hear my little ones giggle. It is the most beautiful sound in the world. I am scrubbing away and I stand up and realize that I had been “Lady Macbething it” for over two hours. I walk into the kitchen to see if my kids need a snack or a drink. When I walk into the kitchen I look at my son and he has on the cutest pair of white gloves I have ever seen. I say “Hey, Bud, where did you find those little white gloves?”
But as I get closer I notice the jar of his grandparents’ marshmallow fluff on the floor next to him. Both hands covered in marshmallow fluff. HOLY FUCKING STICKFEST! Are you kidding me right now? I then peer around the room and luckily he hadn’t gone very far with his “little mallow gloves” and the clean up is not so bad. I do something that I am not so proud of……I ran and grabbed the camera. I take his photo because it is the cutest thing I have ever seen…..Little marshmallow glove hands. I let him lick it off. I wash him up and I see that his older sister was sensible and she used a spoon so I just have to wash her face and then clean up the evidence. I don’t know how long this had been going on or how much they ate so I decide that we have to go to the store to buy a whole new jar.
When we get home my mother in-law asks me where the fluff had gone. I take out the new jar and said “The kids got into it, but I bought you a new one.”
She and I have a little chuckle at “Kids will be kids!” and all things are good.
The next situation is that my soon to be two year old son has temper tantrums when he is tired or provoked. When these tantrums appear he knocks things down. But you see we never had anything valuable and eventually breakable so it was not much of an issue. One night my son was playing with his sister’s favorite toy for that hot minute and she told him that he couldn’t play with it. I was in the kitchen playing the role of “Housekeeper that no one asked for or expected me to play” and the kids were in with the grandparents. (so they don’t know the Hulking Out signs to look for) My son grabbed the cord of their very breakable Tiffany Hurricane lamp and knocked that sucker to obliteration. I hear the smash and my entire soul sinks because doesn’t that little bastard know that I am trying to be liked here? I run to the living room where the kerfuffle has occurred. I take the little assailant out of the room and my daughter too and bring them into their bedroom for a time out.
My mother in-law is very disappointed that her Tiffany Hurricane lamp is now dust and my father in-law is being a little more optimistic. I say something like “I can sell you my organs to pay for the damages!” or another equally ridiculous offer and they just smile at me with that smile you get when your kid just ruined a prized possession of theirs (if you do not know this smile consider yourself lucky) I cry because I am ill prepared for more people not liking me and I go to the bedroom where everyone else is crying (my children’s temporary room). My husband comes home to his parents cleaning up Tiffany bits in one room and the rest of his family crying in another. It’s going rather well so far, don’t you think? If I wasn’t such a nervous Nelly or a people pleasing Polly I could relax and understand that these people might actually like the real me. But I am not going to learn that until I am well in my forties. So something to look forward to!
We live through the second assault on my likability and now onto the third. My kids could reach the microwave and those buttons are easier to push than my father’s on song writing day. (Another story….go check it out) I had busted up my ankle by walking on it…I fell into a hole outside of the post office while carrying my son. I handle it like a true champ because when I heard it snap I passed out with my son in my arms. Luckily I have a guardian angel (who probably lost a bet) and my sister was there and saw me go down. (Shout out to my sister who has saved my ass more than once, she is the true Wonder Woman I told you) When I came to, my son and I were both buckled into our carseats and on our way to the hospital. She had taken my shoe off and it looked like I was smuggling grapefruits in my sock. I get X-rays and it is ripped tendons…more painful than a broken bone…thanks for that. They don’t give me crutches because I am clumsy and also can’t work them and also I have children to carry. But mostly because I say that I don’t want them.
I am now still trying to play housekeeper and am barely able to walk…but my kids sure can. My kids must be part rabbit because they know how to zigzag so that they don’t become prey. I am trying to do the dishes when I hear the kids talking (this is the dream team that doesn’t even need to talk to communicate so they are only talking for my benefit but what they are saying starts out well and then suddenly doesn’t make any sense at all)
“Hi, welcome to my food shop. Do you want food?” little daughter
“Yup!” little son
“Great. What would you like?” little daughter
“Cookies.” little son
“Do you want chips too?” little daughter.
“Yup!” little son
I am excited because they are playing store out of the pantry and it is going well. I moved all of the fluff so I can relax a little while they are playing in there. (I’m killing it at being a mom. I have learned from past mistakes) But then it takes a rather unusual turn.
“Would you like your shoes microwaved?” little daughter
Son in slow motion “YYYYYUUUUUPPPPPPPP!”
(Shit….why am I so bad at being a mom) I turn around and keep in mind that I can’t walk and I am used to walking over to stop catastrophic shit from happening…now I only have my mouth…but I can’t find the words because it is taking me far too long to comprehend what these two little shits are doing. I turn around and see that they have put my mother in-law’s sneakers in the microwave and then turned it on for two whole minutes. So my kids don’t actually know how to work the microwave, as in they don’t know how to undo the potentially house fire they are about to cause. I look at them. I look at the shoes spinning in the microwave. I hear that familiar microwave hum and buzz. I say in slow motion because if I have a fucking super power, slowing things down so that I can truly enjoy the mayhem longer while I am unable to help in any possible way, is it. “NNNNNOOOOOOOOOO! TTTTUUURRRN IIITTTT OFFFFFFFFF!”
The children respond in unison by looking at me and hiding their hands like they didn’t fucking do it and I can’t walk. I am hobbling and the pain in my ankle is searing and I am still trying to get the kids to stop the microwave and I know that they aren’t going to help because they are acting like innocent bystanders that don’t want to be called in as a witness (they get that from their father) I get over to the microwave as it starts to spark real bad because of the metal eye rings that hold the shoelaces in place. I spring the door to the microwave open and look at the black smudges in there. I listen to the sneakers sizzle and I know that we are going shopping again to replace both the microwave and her sneakers. I look at the time and shit by the time I get them both dressed and out to the car with me unable to walk it’s going to be too late. I start to think that running away may be an option for me. I could join the circus with my two little jokesters…I could dress them up with their marshmallow gloves and let my son’s temper knock things over…call him “The Human Tornado” and the daughter can microwave people’s shoes and take away toys that other kids are playing with and I can call her the “Radioactive Selfish Spectacular” and I can be the ring leader and I will call myself the “Lame Dolphin” because you know why.
While I am plotting my escape I hear my mother in-law pull in and I close the door to the microwave with the shoes still in it. She walks in and she looks tired. She smiles that beautiful smile (If you have ever met her you would know what I mean, her smile reaches all the way into your soul and I so badly wanted to earn that smile, but alas I did not) Ugh! My poor kids don’t deserve to have such a bad mother, who is so messed up that she can’t help shit like this from happening.
I just blurt it out like ripping off a bandaid. “The kids microwaved your shoes today!!! I will buy you new ones.” I spring open the door to the microwave to show the evidence. I hold my breathe because I am terrified that she is going to kick us out. I just wanted her to like me. Fuck! There is a small chance in hell that is going to happen now with my incompetent mothering skills.
She looks inside the microwave and has a good laugh. (What is better than her smile? Its her laugh. My mother in-law’s laugh must be what angels sound like.)
I listen to her laugh and I don’t know why she thinks it is funny. We are destroying their house piece by piece and all I really want to do is make them happy. She is now laughing and I am pretty sure she is going to tell me that this is the type of thing she was waiting for to prove that I was unfit to be a mother and wife. She looks at me with tears of laughter in her eyes and she says “I have been wanting a new microwave for years. That thing is twenty years old. If I knew that all I had to do was throw a pair of tennis shoes in it, I would have done that years ago!”
I didn’t laugh because I don’t know if I was about to piss myself or vomit, but I was sure relieved that she didn’t throw me out. My kids stood there laughing too. Then my daughter was all into the moment thinking she has a future in comedy and says “Do you need your shoes microwaved?”
And my son getting in on the act slams the microwave door shut and turns the dial which starts the thing back up. There the shoes were spinning and sparking…….And they laughed and laughed….I didn’t think any of it was funny. That is until years later. I can still picture those damn shoes spinning in that microwave. Do NOT do this folks it is a fire hazard I assure you!!!!
You see, I should have been myself and allowed a natural relationship to blossom between my mother in-law and myself. I also should have paid more attention to my kids. They all survived and I will tell you that they have learned from their mistakes. They have grown into my favorite people each with their own personality, sense of humor, and success.
Moral of my story: Be yourself and know that it is good enough. You are on this great Earth because a Higher Power saw that you were necessary. Believe in yourself and your abilities even if it is learning from you mistakes. Second, allow your children to explore and to make their own mistakes, within reason they have to be safe. Third, when moving into your in-laws’ house ask them what the expectation is…am I your bitch now or what? I think that even though things didn’t go perfectly it went as it was supposed to. My in-laws got to see that I was human and that I was honestly doing my best. I was a nervous wreck the entire time I lived there, I didn’t need to be, they were quite warm and welcoming.
*Wise Old Mother I’m assuming (I don’t want to get sued)*