22 August 2008


I swear sometimes, I am a complete head case. Last night Jim and I went out to the annual members meeting for Natalie's new school. Since it's a co-op, there's lots of info and parental involvement. And we love this place more and more every interaction we've had and this is all before she's even started there. So, lovely meeting, we even grabbed a quick dinner at the local chinese place beforehand, and Natalie was home with Jim's sister, our only close family in the area.

Let me get it out upfront that I think Jim's sister, A, is one of the most well meaning people in the world. But she and I couldn't be more different. One of the things that is gauranteed about her babysitting is that she'll straighten up. Sure, most of our babysitter's will clean up the messes that they and Natalie make, but that's kind of expected. I just don't like people touching my stuff to the degree A does. I'm one of those messy-yet-organized people. It may look like stacks of stuff, but things are actually sorted depending on category, where they have to go, that sort of thing. I also like to actually put away Natalie's toys, putting all the play food and kitchen items in her house, etc. It makes my skin crawl to come home and see that my house has been tidied*, that my kitchen is now spotless where before it was just clean, yet to find dishes in the wrong place in the dishwasher (if the bowls face the other direction from how she put them in, you can fit more - it's really not as anal retentive as it sounds). And Natalie's toys have all been shoved in her playhouse, which I find pointless, as there are things that belong in her room in there, and stuff piled up to the point where I just have to pull it all out and make another mess in approximately 2.4 seconds so that Natalie can get in there to play the next morning.

I know A means well, I know she's just trying to help, I know exactly where this annoyance of mine comes from (a live-in-grandmother who was always into our stuff and doing our chores for us which sounds find at first but as you get older and she's still doing it despite repeated requests not to, even a teenager can recognize the lack of respect for our family's boundaries in her actions). Still, how do you ask someone not to clean up when you know she's just doing it to be nice? I know I could ask as sweetly and kindly as possible, piling on the complements and thankful attitude for her willingness to help out. But this woman is also a champ at passive agressivity - and I'm a champion at feeling guilty. So I'll still end up feeling bad and she'll know just the right comments/body language/attitude to make me feel like I'm the most horrible and ungrateful person in the world.

As soon as she left, I found myself digging around to re-make my piles, or pulling stuff out of corners to actually put away instead of just being in hiding. And I cleaned the kitchen!! I swear it was clean, but it's like she heard us pull in the drive and quick used some fantastic as air freshener so it would smell all institutionally clean when we walked in the door. Now Jim thinks A cleaned and I had left the kitchen a mess for her knowing she would do it. Argh. The kicker about dealing with all this? Jim is totally unsupportive and tells me I should just suck it up and deal, that I'm being ungrateful. The way I figure it, her kindness, which wasn't asked for, ends up creating more work for me. Not to mention my own baggage of the situation. And I wouldn't say I'm ungrateful, it's just that I want me and my stuff to be left alone. At least it's good to know my therapist has an oposite opinion than that of Jim's.

*She did the same thing while we were in the hospital with Natalie...nice to come back to a clean house, but the baby whites that were in a laundry basket to be washed in Dreft had been folded and put away, so I had to dig them all out again to be washed. Bills that needed to be paid were now buried in a neat but hidden stack of mail and papers that had been on the dining room table. There were even little things like dishes in the wrong place in the kitchen from her kind-hearted efforts to empty the dishwasher. Sure, nice actions, but for a new mom recovering from a c-section and struggling to breastfeed? I really didn't need the extra work - I already felt like the world was trying to beat me down, I didn't need a sister-in-law's kind deeds to be a part of that, too.

1 comment:

Mama's Losin' It said...

Ugh. I would just tell her that I forgot to pay a bill that got misplaced after she re-stacked my piles and then ask her to just leave them be.

I think some of the cleaning you're just gonna have to grin and bear. But the important papers definitely need to be left alone!!