No matter where you work or even if you are just a “Domestic Goddess”, by the time the weekend arrives you are exhausted. You want to relax, let the children mess up the house and pray that your husband does a couple of the thing on the honey-do list. Don’t pray too hard because you know that prayer won’t go higher than the ceiling. But, if it does and the “man upstairs” hears your prayers, you are on his naughty list because your husband has not completed a thing on the honey-do list since, how old is my third child? Six, seven years, it would appear since he last completed something around here without complaint or a bill from a repair person.
This weekend as I curl my feet up on the couch and listen to my youngest complain because I am breaking the “no feet on the couch” rule, I suddenly tune into the sound of my husband in the background and his phone conversation:
“Mom, we will be over tomorrow for dinner.”
Has he lost his mind? He sheepishly walks into the room and makes the big announcement that we are going to his mother’s for dinner on Saturday night. Don’t get me wrong, I love a home cooked meal just as much as the next person, especially one that I did not have to prepare. My issue is his mother. My mother-in-law is CRAZY! I know I shouldn’t say that, but I have to be honest.
When we walk up to her front door, I am always faced with those dreaded words –
“Here is my handsome son, beautiful grandkids, and Joyce.”
Maybe I should not take it personally that I am JUST “Joyce” to her, but I feel there should be more respect given. I am a mother, a wife, a full-time employee – aka “Super Woman”. I earn more than 50% of the income for the family, pay all the bills, bathe the children, clean the house (no I don’t have a house keeper), do school drop off, Brownie meetings, and the list goes on. And, to her, I am JUST “Joyce.”
As the day progresses my mother-in-law caters to my husband. She brings him a drink, but doesn’t offer me one. Instead, she tells me I can help myself in the kitchen. She would ask me for my help in the kitchen only to so that she could give me a piece of motherly advice.
I have come to resent the “mother” talks that she likes to give me. They always end up with her telling me that I need to try and be more attractive for my husband: buy nice clothes, spend more time on my hair, get a pedicure, keep my nails maintained, etc. etc. My mother-in-law goes on to explain, “My husband never sees me without make-up nor does he have to snuggle up to stubbly legs while we are in bed.” Most days I can take the babble and take it for what it is — an older woman who continually over steps the boundaries, not understanding the true meaning of RESPECT!
Today I sat there looking at her, getting more frustrated inside. Something started to boil in me; I suddenly had the power of Evelyn from the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes. I closed my eyes and when I opened them again, I started to speak:
“First of all, I am not JUST Joyce. I am a mother, a wife and frankly the breadwinner in my household. Your son does not cook, clean, or help with the children. That is my responsibility. If you don’t like the way I look then you need to tell your “handsome” son to pick up a mop, earn more money, or help with the children so Joyce can have some time to get her hair done, get a pedicure and manicure and mask her fat body.”
My mother-in-law stood there in shock. She walked out of the room. I sat there for a second and thought what wrath have I opened up on my family. I feel good but nervous inside. Dinner was silent. She barely said a word except to answer questions.
Weeks passed and slowly my husband started to pick up a mop and help. And, to my surprise, I got a call at work one day from my mother-in-law. She asked if she could pick the kids up after school for the week. She said, “Dear, I guess I was not doing my part either. I will pick up the kids this week so you can do some of those things that you would like to do.”
Even though my mother-in-law probably still feels like I am not enough for her “handsome son”, even with “maintenance,” at least she is helping to make sure that “Joyce” has some time for herself.
To this day, we have never discussed the conversation that we had in the kitchen. My husband has never mentioned it either. Now when we go to her house, she does not greet me as JUST “Joyce” anymore. Maybe it took me calling her out on her behavior for her to realize that you can’t always assume that you know what is going on within a household. For once, maybe she realized that I deserve as much respect as her son.
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