Once upon a time, my suegra and I had an amazing relationship. We could stay on the phone for hours. When my own mother was far away, my suegra even helped me pick out my wedding dress. That was pre-baby. Between my pregnancy hormones and her parenting advice, something changed. Now, she lives in another country and comes to visit for extended periods of time. Her latest visit just ended, and it left me mentally exhausted.
HELPFUL OR INTRUSIVE? Among my suegra’s good qualities are the following: she is incredibly motherly and neat. (Personally, I think she has OCD.) She hates messes, and because she is incredibly motherly, she thinks she is helping you by cleaning up your mess. When it comes to household chores, I am the complete opposite: totally undomesticated. I´m messy by nature, always have been. This year, before her arrival I started getting anxiety attacks just thinking of the places in my home that she could reorganize, or “make better,” and where she would want to “fix” things.
This year, I thought ahead, and in the little bit of spare time I have, I tried organizing everything I could think of: I organized my closet. I organized the hall closet. I organized my little one’s closet. I did the laundry. I thought I was prepared. Turns out, I wasn’t. She still found things to organize! My medicine cabinet. My pantry. I’m sure she thought she was being helpful…but it drives me up the wall. I can’t say that to her, or can I? Chances are I will be seen as an ingrate. “Why, all I am trying to do is help? After all, you work! You don’t have time.”
Well it’s true. I work, and I am crazy enough to be doing additional things on the side. I don’t have time. But, I still think it’s intrusive. I bet she wouldn’t like it if her suegra went to clean out her drawers… (an unlikely scenario since her drawers are never messy) For weeks after she left, I found myself sending her text messages asking where X, Y, and Z were. You see, I may be messy, but in my mess, I have an idea of where my stuff is. Maybe all messy people say this—but it’s the truth. (Messy people, back me up here!)
I bit my tongue and didn’t say a word when I discovered that she did my laundry despite the fact that I explicitly told her that I didn’t want her to do my laundry. (Seriously who wants her suegra to wash her calzones sucios?—I wouldn’t even want my own mother to do that!)
Read Related: 3 Ways to get Revenge on your Suegra
IS IT OK TO CONFRONT HER? Toward the end of her trip, I was reaching my breaking point. An additional day and I think I would’ve let her have it. A mom (me!) can only take so much of “You’re giving him that?” “You’re not putting a jacket on? But it’s so cold” or “Did you remember to change his diaper?” (Note: these are actual quotes.) I wonder what she think happens when she’s not around to tell me what I should be doing.
I’m afraid that in order to make this relationship work, and for my own sanity, I must confront her and make her understand that it’s not okay to do what she does. But I don’t want to alienate her, and I certainly don’t want my husband to get caught in the middle. I feel like this is a no-win situation. If I speak up, I will be seen as the bad one, if I don’t speak up, then it will eat me inside every time…
I find much comfort knowing that she’s now thousands of miles away. Since her departure I’ve been thinking of ways to avoid her coming to visit next time. I guess we’ll just have to trek to the other side of the world— her OCD bothers me less when it’s at her house—after all it is her house, not mine.
The good news is I have some time to figure it out. The bad news is I fear I will never come up with a good solution. I know I am not alone… suegra horror stories abound! I know this happens to other women! So mamis, what do you think? Do you have any tips or stories to share? I’d love to hear them! Share your tips below!