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Obligated to listen to dribble

My father-in-law took me to Boy Blue’s doctor appointment this past Friday because my husband would not get back until late that night from his training in another region for his job. I was going to take the tram and then the bus but he offered to drive me. You can imagine how happy I was. I was dreading it. Just thinking about lugging the three babies onto and off the tram and then the bus was enough to make me nervous. Besides, I wasn’t even sure where to catch the bus in the city.

Boy Blue is 9.4 kilograms (20.7 pounds). I didn’t catch the length. He is healthy and happy. He was smiling right after his shot which is the last until he is one year old. So, we have three months of no doctor visits. That, in and of itself, is cause for celebration.

All of the offices of our doctors in France are in the home of the doctor. The waiting room is small which is fine because I have never had to wait long. We are generally the only family in the waiting room. Rarely, is another person there and it is usually a salesperson. The Pediatrician is very calm and not hurried in the least. Refreashing after years of American doctors who are always hurrying through the appointment to get to the next. Everything is clean and there are lots of toys in the waiting room and in the office for children to play. There is a desk for the doctor to sit while she talks to us about any problems or asks some questions while she types in baby’s weight and length into the computer and prints out any prescriptions. Our babies Pediatrician prints the prescriptions out and does not write them by hand. I love this because I can read it no matter what. I still have trouble reading French handwritting if it is sloppy. Doctors are known the world over for their chicken scratch handwritting.

We left and I thought we were heading home meaning our apartment. Nope. My father-in-law had another plan in mind. He took me to their house for dinner so that my in-laws could spend some extra time with the kids. Fine? It would have been if he had asked me first. He did not. I was a little unhappy about this. However, I let it slide and didn’t say anything because he had just taken me to the appointment saving me from having to ride the tram and bus with all three babies.

He still should have asked me and I was already a little upset with him before we even got to the appointment because he had washed the babies carseat covers. The carseats were in his car because he had gotten the girls on Wednesday and rather than taking out the carseats and putting them back in we decided he should just keep them until Friday.

How sweet of him to wash the carseats for me? Not really. I had washed them only a month ago and swept them throughly before he came to get the girls. The carseats were not dirty. Yet, he went on and on about how he washed them and that they were now clean. He then finished the day off by saying the most rude thing he has to date.

Just before he was leaving, he started sniffing around the kitchen and there was a bag of garbage that I had left on the floor to go out. He actually told me that it smelled and I needed to take it out! The reason I hadn’t taken it out was because the babies could kill themselves in the five minutes it takes to put the garbage out. I have to wait until they are asleep to take it out. Besides, if it bothered him so much he could take it out! I didn’t say that of course. I just said, yes, I know but it is hard with the babies. I am afraid they will get hurt if I take it out and they are not asleep. He didn’t hear one word I said. All he was thinking was how smelly and dirty we are and how it is not good for the children. Believe me, I know him by now.

My apartment was spotless except for that one bag of garbage (that I couldn’t smell) sitting there ready to go out as soon as I could take it (meaning that babies were asleep). It is not the first time he has made comments to me. My husbands parents even told me when we first came to live with them in France (until we found our own place) that they eat veggies in their house. They told me that. “We eat vegetables in our house!” Well, last time I checked so did other people.

While living there, his father showed me how to use a sweeper and to separate clothes even after I told him I knew how. I have been cleaning house and doing laundry since at least fourteen or before. My mother already taught me those things twenty years ago and I have lived out on my own for I don’t know how many years. He even told me to clean the bottom of the toilet. He is just crazy. Doesn’t he hear himself? He should realize that a woman of thirty some years knows how to do the laundry, use a sweeper and clean a damn toilet without him telling her like she is some idiot or kid.

They are weird sometimes. Not that all parents can’t be. I just think they go to far and always want to make like they know better and everyone else doesn’t. It bothers me. I am still pissed that he told me my kitchen smelled even if he really thought it did. I never once said how nasty it is to eat at their house with all the dog hair flying all over the kitchen because the dog house is right outside by the kitchen door. Most people would never put a dog house right outside their kitchen for that very reason. In my opinion dog hair all over the kitchen floor and even on the table and counters sometimes is much nastier.

I hate feeling obligated to listen to all that dribble about how to clean this or that and how this or that is not clean. I can’t say anything because of all the help they give and the fact that I am a daughter-in-law and must respect them even when they push me with their little digs to make themselves feel better. Maybe, I should tell them the same as I do my own parents. I am sure I wouldn’t hear their silly comments anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my in-laws and appreciate all that they do for us. They just go to far sometimes. Really, they do.

Whew, I feel better. My husband told me I need to tell his father that he is wrong when he says something like that. I don’t know. I think my husband should tell him he is out of line. I had to tell my mother when she was out of line with my husband. I think it is better that way because I am not his daughter. I am his daughter-in-law and it is not the same. I know in some families it can be, but not in most families even if they say it is.

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  • Wendy March 20, 2006, 10:22 am

    Oh I understand where you are coming from! I had this for years with my ex’s mother…it drove me insane…

    Your hubby needs to talk to them – but men generally like to keep the peace with their parents and let things roll over their head…I don’t know why..I have heard this from women before.

    I agree that pet hairs are hellish in a kitchen – or anywhere in a house. Bleugh.

  • Pauline March 20, 2006, 10:39 am

    I agree with you husband, if you feel that there is a problem you should have a gentle word with them. It would better that way, than your husband saying: “Pumpkin says: …..” Confrontation is a difficult thing I know.

    I think most people find their in-laws irritating (normally the MIL) it goes with the job, but I don’t think it’s worth making a fuss unless it’s really important. Just let them say what they want and let it fly over your head. (and tell them to f*** off in your head)

    I am in a very lucky situation as my MIL annoys my husband as much as she annoys me, so we can laugh in situations like this. He just needs to give me one of his ‘look’
    And I know exactly what he is thinking, that’s one of the joys of 16 years together. He no longer needs to open his mouth, as I always know what’s going to come out J

    I like Wendy a dog in the house. Yuk, Yuk, Yuk…….

  • Pumpkin March 20, 2006, 10:54 am

    I think that I will have to start saying something and not let it slide every time because they must repect me. Right now I feel like my father-in-law in particular doesn’t. My husband tells me that they (his father in particular) are like that with everyone…I guess my husbands ex had some issues with them and their digs as well. My husband told me his father won’t listen anyway and that he will continue to think what he wants. I think that is probably the truth and if I say anything it will be on deaf ears anyway. My father-in-law is more like a mother-in-law. He is masculine but he does alot of the cleaning and most of the cooking since he is retired. He would never let my husband do anything by himself growing up because he wouldn’t do it right anyway. I think that is bad for kids. Then, they never learn to do it themselves or build up self esteem. I cleaned their house for them once…it took me over two hours and it was clean. I did it to give them a break from their routine cleaning on the weekends. I did it so they could go to the city or do something nice together rather than clean. Did they say thank you or take advantage of it. No, the very next day which was their routine cleaning day what did they do??? They cleaned everything I had just cleaned the day before, AGAIN. I guess I didn’t do it good enough. That is how they are…no one does anything right but them. Annoying and wrong. But, they have their good points too. I am just annoyed with the bad ones at the moment.

  • peepfrench March 20, 2006, 11:31 am

    I had the most wonderful GP in France…I miss him soooo much…

    I agree with your husband, you should be the one to stand up and confront your father-in-law. Just sit him down and tell him that he’s annoying you and he needs to butt out!!

    BTW, I had the same problem with my sister-in-law…who constantly criticized how I ran my household…Then one day, my patience wore off and I blew up at her!!
    Now she treads more carefully around me…

  • Meredith March 20, 2006, 1:37 pm

    My french MIL does the same thing. Arghh. She has even gone so far as to take out the vacuum 5 minutes after I put it away, and revacuum everything, right in front of me. She is always recommending the “right” cleaning products to me. I have come to think of this as her way of trying to be a mom to me, knowing that I am so far away from my own. But it does drive me nuts.

  • Pumpkin March 20, 2006, 4:57 pm

    Meredith,
    I understand.

  • kim March 20, 2006, 5:00 pm

    my own father is the same way, he is bordering obsessive compulsive, and loves to point out that i cannot clean correctly, (actually i just do not want to be like him) or that i need to do it more (but i work full time and spend quality time with my kids)
    With my father, it is all about control, he needs to be in control, I have also learned that he is majorly insecure, it seems that most people who need control like that are..
    I think that your husband should address the situation, you donèt want to have translation issues to complicate the matter:)

  • L'Amerloque March 20, 2006, 6:33 pm

    Hi Pumpkin Pie !

    Wow, Pumpkin … great vent ! (wide smile) Amerloque cannot resist adding his cents, of course ! (wider smile)

    (Anne Landers Mode On)

    /*/The reason I hadn’t taken it out was because the babies could kill themselves in the five minutes it takes to put the garbage out. I have to wait until they are asleep to take it out. /*.

    You are not alone. Amerloque and Mrs A operated this way for quite a long time. The kids’ safety is paramount.

    /*/Doesn’t he hear himself? He should realize that a woman of thirty some years knows how to do the laundry, use a sweeper and clean a damn toilet without him telling her like she is some idiot or kid./*/

    Well … there’s the Right Way and the Wrong Way. Then, there’s the American Way, the French Way, the Army Way, the Male Way, the Female Way … and Your Way and My Way, the Other Way and … His Way. (wide grin)

    (Anne Landers Mode Off)

    It shall pass. Happy Springtime !

    Best,
    L’Amerloque

  • Pumpkin March 21, 2006, 8:47 am

    Kim,
    I agree that it is somewhat about control. He cares about the babies and wants to make sure I am taking good care of them. He should understand that my babies are fine and just enjoy them. But, like I said before no one does anything right but them.

    L’Amerloque,
    Hi! I needed to vent and my blog is the best place…well, as long as my in-laws don’t find it. That is why I don’t have my real name. I don’t want people to find me easily unless I decide to tell them about my blog. However, I know it would be very easy to find me if they really wanted.
    You are right that everyone has their own way of doing things but to constantly tell someone how to do or that they are not doing it right is being a bit full of yourself and not good for the relationship with the other person. Live and let live comes to mind.
    I do know he does it out of love.

  • sp March 21, 2006, 5:28 pm

    OK. Just 2 minutes ago Good Morning America had a Phd Relationship “Expert” on for their series, “Can This Relationship Be Saved?” The topic today was In-Laws. She (the “expert”) said that the people actually having the problem need to speak directly to each other (as opposed to the spouse speaking to his/her parent on behalf of his/her spouse). She said the reason for this is because it is the spouse and in-law who have the problem, and they need to forge a relationship on their own. Having the husband/wife intervene only keeps the spouse/in-law relationship from developing in a healthy manner. She also pointed out that in situations where there is an issue of who is right or wrong, she suggested that rather than trying to prove you are right, you should pose questions to the other person in a manner of asking “what am I doing wrong”. This makes the person on the other side feel less defensive and actually sit back and think- exactly- what is wrong (if anything) with the situation. When they have to think and articulate what is actually “wrong” with the other person, it somehow softens the situation and causes them to truly think of the other person. (Something like this… I am trying to paraphrase here in a small amount of space.)

    Good luck. This situation would make me irritable.

  • cj March 21, 2006, 5:34 pm

    I am so sorry Pumpkin that is terrible! I have a MIL who quit talking to me because she didn’t like the house we built. She thought that we should live closer to the city…. and she didn’t talk to Erick and I for nearly 2 years. It seems like my MIL always needs to have someone to criticize or be at war with or else she doesn’t function…. thankfully my other sister in law has taken that spot so she’s been great for the past 3 1/2 years.

    I think that something should be said to them in the sense of “How do you think she feels when you say things like that.” Its always best to go the fellings route – no one likes to hurt other peoples feelings. (well at least no one normal.)

  • Pumpkin March 21, 2006, 6:17 pm

    SP-
    The next time something happens I will have to find a nice way to get him to see that what he is saying is not appropriate. I don’t know. I have a feeling it will just end up making him angry. My mother had a similiar problem with my fathers mother and she said one day it just blew up and after that everything was better. I just want him to stop treating me like I am not capable of taking good care of my children and start focusing on what my husband and I are doing right. Thank you for your passing on the info…I need all the help I can get :)

    CJ-
    That is crazy too. What is up with these people? I know my in-laws are not going to be happy when we move but oh well it is only 40 minutes away and we could still be living in America. My mother is not happy at all that we are living in France.

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