Saturday, June 16, 2007

I survived my Mother-In-Law

It's been a long couple of weeks, gang.

First, right before Mrs. T headed off to Boston for a work event, she had a small cyst removed from under her skin. While the cyst was in the end "no big deal," the necessary incision and stitches did prevent her from doing any real Boy Care for a few days before she left. So, in reality, I've been doing solo, bell-to-bell Boy Care (with bathroom breaks) since the end of May. And that, dear readers, is absolutely exhausting.

Then, as Mrs. T headed to Boston in earnest on June 2, my bell-to-bell Boy Care duties shifted from with bathroom breaks to without. So much for my colonic health.

And finally, after a few days without my getting so much as a mental break, my help arrives. Mrs. T's mother arrived by train on Wednesday, June 6.

Now you'd think having an extra set of hands around would be nothing but helpful. And I'd be fibbing if I said the Mother-In-Law's presence wasn't at least a little bit helpful.

But then again, she and I do things very differently. And that meant for some interesting conflicts.

First, after years of living with a confirmed miser (after completing a quick home repair a couple of years ago, Father-In-Law placed a grease- and pesticide-soaked rag in the same sink bin as The Boy's baby bottles; after I removed it angrily and disposed of it properly, he got mad at me, grabbed the rag out of the outdoor trash, left it drying on top of my washer, and explained he wanted the rag back because he "didn't have that many of those"; but I digress), MIL has become obsessive/compulsive about trying to save every last penny, shred and scrap of whatever. That explains my fridge full of bite-sized pieces of mostly-eaten spit-soaked waffle, cooked carrots bitten in half bearing additional toddler teeth marks, and at least one half-bowl of two-day-old cereal, milk still included.

While I don't mind saving, I believe the only truly non-renewable resource we get is time. So, if it takes more time than its worth to save or re-use something, I'm inclined not to do it. Think of returning a $2 item to your local Target store. Is it really worth the gas and the time spent in line to return it? I think not.

But she thinks so. And that explains why I don't waste time washing out used Ziploc bags. But, again, she does. And my dish rack is currently full of useless, drying sandwich bags. The drying rack itself just a couple of feet away from a cupboard that -- thanks to MIL -- now contains a series of paper plates that may or may not have been already used. She has no qualms about putting them back if they're, in her words, "still good."

I'm also of the opinion it's ridiculous to be penny-wise while dollar-dumb. Example: Our house is old, and as a result, the faucets occasionally drip just a bit. But MIL simply won't stand for that, and as a result, she'll do her best to overtighten every faucet in the house upon arrival. When she did this on a visit last year, she overtightened a showerhead so much that it broke, thereby costing us $30 to replace the showerhead, all in the interest of stopping a nickle-a-month leak.

This time, she's done it to both our bathroom and kitchen faucets. Previously they dripped a little, but now they just plain run, which means we'll have to spend bucks on a plumber visit in the hopes of saving a pair of what had been inconsequential leaks. Nothing like diminishing returns, eh? And did I mention she put some of The Boy's toy pails in the sinks to catch the drips, too? Turns out she wanted to save and use the drip water to avoid running "new water" when washing her hands.

Finally, given her penchant for scrimping and saving every scrap, I wonder why she insists on making waaaaaay too much food for every single meal. While I'm grateful for the cooking, I'm not grateful for her ability to create leftovers where none should ever have existed. Example: We keep a good-sized bag of frozen chicken nuggets in the freezer, just so we can keep them fresh and make them in small batches when the need arises. She, for a single meal for one other adult and one toddler, cooked the whole bag. So now, instead of relatively fresh chicken nuggets from the oven, we'll be eating going-stale, sogged-out chicken from the microwave for days to come.

Another example: For the next night's meal, she wanted to include some cut fruit. But instead of cutting an apple or two for a small audience, she cut all of the fruit in the fridge. Peaches. Pears. Bananas. Some organic. None cheap. And all for one meal, apparently. We each had a few bites, and the rest was relegated to the fridge for the inevitable browning, grossification and eventual disposal.

But all's well that ends. Mrs. T finally got home, MIL has moved on, and I'll very shortly be spending the afternoon cleaning out the fridge, examining the paper plates and allowing those Ziplocs to trade their spot on the drying rack for the recycle bin.

Presuming my current, foreseen pool-pah subsides, that is. But that's another story entirely.

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