Thursday, March 26, 2009

Glass Houses

I'm in a lather today, and not because my legs need shaved. They do, but that's a different story. No, today is a personal matter, so I'm going to share it with all of you. :-)

As many of you know, my father-in-law passed away last May, leaving behind his wife of fifty years. While their daughter lives local to their mother in VA, their sons live in two of the surrounding states, and in Chicago. Not a 'whip around the corner and check on Mom' kinda sitch. So my DH has been very good about calling his mom more frequently, and we've gone down to see her more than we did when my FIL (Father In Law, if you aren't familiar) was alive. It's a bit over an hour through lousy traffic and bad roads to get there, and being self-employed means we have a smidge less time than the 9-5 crowd, but all in all, we're not doing too badly by our lights.

The problem? My SIL (you can work it out, right?). She is partially employed in a church pre-school program, has one kid in high school and one 20 year old who's employed full-time and living at home. She was a huge help in straightening out Dad's estate, the bit that needed done, and on her falls the responsibility for going to doctor appointments with Mom. Not that Mom can't drive perfectly well; she can. But it suits the SIL's chronic martyrdom to schlepp Mom to this stuff, then fill everyone else in while simultaneously telling us how difficult it all is, and by the way, we don't do enough. Every email tells us what we NEED to Mom, visit Mom, send Mom a card.

I have resented this all along on many levels. First, the SIL is now paying back for a LOT of help over the years. She has, by her own admission, never had to hire a babysitter. She's had enough free meals to stock a restaurant. None of her brothers have had these kind of benefits. To my mind, aside from the natural duty one owes good parents...and these are very good people!...she owes considerably more.

Second, these men are all in their late forties/early fifties. I honest to God don't think they need their baby sister to tell them how to have a relationship with their mother. It's neither her place, nor her business. And third, it's counterproductive. No one likes to be nagged!

This has been chaffing my tail for awhile, but for me, it came to head last night. About 10 minutes before I got out of class, the DH posted on Facebook that he was sitting in the car, listening to tunes and waiting for me. She posts back that he "should call his mother; she misses his Wed. night calls."

What? He has called her precisely ONCE on a Wed. He usually avoids that, knowing she's at church on that evening and being unsure when she gets home. She snipes back that Mom is home by 8, same as he called before.

For your smiling, even-tempered Goddess, this is the final straw. But of course, this isn't my sister. My one sister who would act like this, I'd have no compunction about ripping a new one. Not fair of me to cause a rift in a family that I only married into, right? So I posted a comment, saying, "Hey, knock it off! I'm the only one that gets to nag him. :-)" The smile softening it, of course. Ha.

This morning she posts back that it is 'not a nag, just a suggestion.' Really, sweetie? I don't think so. A suggestion happens once. When every email and text and message ends with a 'do this for Mom', it's flippin' nagging. I'm here to tell you.

But you know what? I am VERY good at suggestions. I have a few for SIL. First, get a life. Okay, a little non-specific, but this woman does nothing that isn't circumscribed by church or family. Second, quit babying your children! Her 20 year old daughter who works full-time is still living at home, which a lot of people are in this economy, but to the best of my knowledge she is not paying anything toward her upkeep. And get this...she doesn't DRIVE! Mommy takes her to work and everywhere else she goes. SIL says she wouldn't want her daughter to try driving if she's scared to...even with a free car that Grandma has upgraded from. Of course she's scared; she's spoon fed it, because if she drives, she's out from Mommy's control. Growing up means putting on your big girl panties and dealing with it. Although a pretty young woman, she's never had a boyfriend. Mom and Grandma take pride in the fact that she's not interested in boys (not girls, that's not it); I say it's freakish for a woman her age.

THEN I would suggest she take her 14 year old son to an obesity specialist. The boy has back boobs and waddles, I kid you not. His parents constantly undercut his diet. I've been at a restaurant with them where he tried to substitute a salad for fries on a meal. When the waitress said she could add a salad, but not remove fries from the cost, his dad said to bring 'em anyway, and then both he and his son ate them all. I've seen the kid polish off a whole basket of dinner rolls without one word from his folks.

But let a teacher mention that maybe he's too heavy and needs some help, and Mommy raises holy hell and gets said teacher sanctioned, losing a year of raises. For speaking the truth! He has no friends, and no social life outside church. His uncle the EMT has speculated that the boy will have diabetes soon if he doesn't already, and it will be a miracle if he gets out of his twenties without a heart attack. I suggest that with the rampant hypochondria she and these kids have, maybe she should pay attention to the real issue.

I also suggest that instead of bitching that her husband ignores her, she quit dressing like a frumpy Puritan, try some lipstick and a smile occasionally, and do something to expand her mind. Her only conversation is bragging on her kids and gossiping about church folk. I'd ignore her too. The man works very hard and is a sweetheart; cut him a break.

I suggest too that you use the spa gift card your brothers gave you for all the work you did when Dad was dying. Maybe they have a treatment to pull the pole out of your ass.

See? I told you I was good at suggesting! I feel much better now. :-)


spinquilt said...

Oh my gosh It is so nice to know that I am not the only one who has a SIL like that. Thanks for sharing this.

cutbank said...

Have you sent her a link to your blog? You go girl!!!

Diana said...

Do you think I'm INSANE?!? Trouble like that I don't need. I don't tell family or clients about this blog, otherwise I could never purge myself of all their idiocies on here.