Living with my German mother-in-law looks different than I thought it would after one month. It’s not as horrible daily as I thought it could be, given the many irritating, self-centered, and negative ways she’s behaved over the past 33 years. The biggest issue I had was the way she treated my dog. She brought her own dog and a cat. Both dogs are female (I call them ‘the girls’), black, about the same size & they’re each 10 years old. Of course, when the new group first arrived, my dog had to let them know that this is her house. Both dogs got their hackles up easily. My mother-in-law (MIL) kept yelling at my dog, afraid she would bite. I kept telling her over and over, our dog doesn’t bite, never has. She kept up her hypervigilance nonetheless.
One day, she told me my dog had growled at her. I was puzzled. Then, my husband gets the whole story out of her, including that she’d stood in the doorway, blocking my dog from entering the basement, and moving side to side as Bloo tried to pass. Next, MIL ‘pushed’ my dog with her foot. That’s when the growl occurred. Go figure. MIL’s tension and fear about the two dogs interacting was probably the cause of them not relaxing into knowing each other. They have become familiar, if not yet “friends.” My feeling about the living situation has improved as MIL has stopped yelling and being aggressive towards my dog.
One area of awkwardness I hadn’t anticipated revolves around Amazon. My MIL is very diligent about retrieving the mail every day, which is fine; more power to her. However, this means she is bringing in Amazon packages from our locked mailbox or parcel locker. Shopping on Amazon has become quite a hobby of mine. I literally buy anything I would put on the shopping list which would elicit, “What???” from my husband, the shopper. I don’t send him to find a specific makeup or personal care product or home & garden items we need, and I use that term loosely, for the house. I shop online. He pretty much only goes to the store for food items. Having your MIL calling out, “There’s a package here for you from Amazon,” is uncomfortable for me, especially when there is one about every other day or so. My husband urges me to get over it; he doesn’t want me to stop or change things I’ve done before MIL arrived. And it hasn’t slowed down my shopping much!
This subject did spur a disagreement between Wolf and I one evening, though. He’d encouraged me, in the privacy of our bedroom, to slow down with the Amazon shopping. He rejoined his mom in the kitchen/dining room area. When I finished my purchase of a couple of really cute things I wanted for my bathroom, I walked out to the kitchen saying, “The longer it takes to finish my bathroom, the more time I have to purchase items.” I didn’t give it a second thought that my MIL was right there; I was just being a smart ass, teasing. My husband was in a mood, though. He told me he was worried about things like buying groceries with the rising prices, though we both know we’re not going to starve. So, we ended up with a back-and-forth about things we spend money on in an effort to keep our sanity – he going for dinner and beers w/a friend, me buying three little frogs in yoga positions to put on the shelves when I ever get them. I’d continued to smile throughout the banter. When ruffled feathers calmed, I said to my husband, “You’re feisty tonight!” He replied, “I know. I’m in a bad mood.” His mother interjects, “You are?” She’d thought him reasonable and, probably, justified for trying to corral my spending. The next day, I had a couple Amazon packages arrive. “Awkward!” I said to Wolf. His standard reply these days, “Who cares what she thinks?”
Fast forward to last night. Although my MIL was downstairs, where she stays most of the time, I’m sure she could hear us in the kitchen. We have a split-level home and one can clearly hear others up and downstairs, unless specific measures are taken to keep a conversation under wraps. Anyhoo, my husband is watching news and tries to draw me into a discussion we’ve had many, many times and which never ends. It’s a topic on which we have differing views and are unable to sway the other’s. We hadn’t gotten into it for a long time and I didn’t want to go at it last evening. I tried stopping the madness before it started but was unsuccessful, and it played out predictably. Minutes in, Wolf said, “Nevermind. We’re never going to get anywhere,” I said very loudly, “EXACTLY! That’s why I tried to walk away once you began. It’s disrespectful for you to stir this up and then not honor my choice to not engage!” As I walked away, thus in the hallway at the top of the stairs, I finished with, “It’s bullshit!”
Soon after, I was on the phone with my mom who was looking for specific information from the family bible I’ve “inherited” with a family tree of my mother’s side. As we talked, I told her about the kerfuffle with Wolf. My husband, who is super close to my mom, chimed in a little in an attempt to soften his stance. My mom takes these things with a grain of salt and was amused by us. When the call ended, I pointed out to my husband that we were arguing with both our mothers as witnesses! Instead of wondering what my MIL thought, I found the whole situation amusing. It feels a bit like we’re on “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
Because she only comes upstairs for dinners, we really don’t interact much at all. I hadn’t considered she would keep herself to herself so much of the time. Not that I’m complaining! She speaks in German on the phone to her sister, who lives in Germany, telling her, I’m sure, the terrible way we “fight” and how I’m addicted to Amazon, so much so that we might not be able to afford food this winter! I breathe and hear my husband’s voice saying, “Who cares?!”