Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lessons on living with a Mother-In-Law

For those of you who think this will be a public rant on how terrible my Mother-In-Law is and how awful it is to live with her, look elsewhere, please. I am well aware that this is public territory and I would not speak of her in a bad way. In fact, Debbie, if you are reading this, it will probably be a recap of a menagerie of our conversations. I love you!

July of last year began a great adventure. Cameron and I had begun seriously considering investing in real estate (IE buying our first home) last spring. After having some discussions with real estate agents and our bank, we quickly realized how unprepared we were, especially in the way of a down payment. So, long story short, we made an agreement with Debbie to move in for a maximum of 2 years, all while trying to save around 70% of our income.

Logistics aside, we have saved quite a bit (probably less than we would have liked) and my attitude has turned quite sour lately. It takes a near-genius to help me realize when I'm in a bad mood, but I found my stubborn match in Cameron. One snowy night, we took a walk through the streets around midnight and I shared with him for the hundredth time all the things that bothered me about living with Debbie (these always tend to include undone dishes, unwashed counters, clutter, and dog hair). He politely suggested we have a discussion with her that night.

It went about like this: Me - complaining about dishes, small talk when I don't feel like talking, talking about the same things all the time, talking about politics, etc. Debbie - wondering aloud why I cared so much what we talked about as long as we were still talking and on good terms. Me - trying to explain myself in a way everyone could understand (I'm not eloquent with words). Debbie - still hurt and trying to understand. Me - suddenly realizing I needed to be quiet about those stupid, little things and CARE about my Mother-In-Law as a person.

I needed to get over my selfishness and wake up every day WANTING to be friendly and kind. Part of our agreement was that if I was not doing well living here, Cameron would move us back into an apartment until we moved to go to school. We talked about that option and I decided that I wanted to try to make it work. When we moved in here, I saw such an incredible opportunity that I know I'll never have again once we move. I needed to get back to that place, those desires.

One of the things that stood out from that conversation - Debbie pointed out that while the kids were growing up, she wanted a clean kitchen, too, but she had to decide what was more important: clean kitchen or happy family. This helped me realize something I treasure: TO ME a clean kitchen helps me be a better wife/mother (someday)/cook/provider because I am cooking on a surface that will not poison or harm my family. I'm reading a book right now called 'Organic Housekeeping' by Ellen Sandbeck.

Did you know that you can sanitize your counters/breadboards/sinks/stoves/ovens with VINEGAR and HYDROGEN PEROXIDE? It's true - just scrub the nasties off with a clean, wet washcloth and some dish liquid, then spray a thin layer or vinegar quickly followed by hydrogen peroxide. Let it air dry and your countertops will be naturally disinfected. It doesn't even cost a fraction of what 409 costs and you are saving your precious family the toxins of commercial cleaners. This works on fruits and veggies, too - just make sure you use lots of hydrogen peroxide, which helps wash the nasty vinegar away.

All in all, I've realized that I can give up a lot of things that I used to consider important in order to further my relationships. Some things, though, like dishes will just never stop bothering me!

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