Monday, July 19, 2010

Ahhh, Togetherness

Those of you who've been reading my blogs since last year know we recently moved out of the home in which we raised our sons.  A quick escrow and winter weather made it expedient to move in with the mother-in-law, heretofore known as MIL.  She has a large 100+ yr old farm house, she's 83 years old, her husband died last summer, so we decided to give it a try.  For background material, go here and here.

Long story short, it is a never ending challenge.  We moved in December and made it through the holidays but by the end of the first three months, I was ready to move out.  We share her kitchen (a disaster for any two women unless they REALLY like one another) and we do invade her space by virtue of necessary ingress and egress.  We're upstairs, she's down but, you can't avoid one another.  Top it off, our younger, 22 year old, son is living there, saving his money so he can move to Tampa.  He's in and out only to eat and sleep and I think his habits irritate her which I can understand.  I thnk our habits irritate her and I KNOW her habits irritate me.

She's a non-stop talker.  She talks through tv programs, netflix movies, while I try to follow recipes, she talks over you or interrupts.  She's now giving my son advice on his love life.  I don't think she's enamored of the girl he's dating while I, the mother, like the girl just fine.  I spend most of my time at work so I am not home often but, when I am, I like my space; my peace and quiet.  MIL is in the house 24/7.  She has no hobbies, no exercise regimen, no close friends other than the next door neighbors. 

My husband and I are weighing the various solutions to our problem.  On the one hand, she needs us.  On the other hand, neither of us want to do this kind of maintenance work any longer.  We cannot deny our overhead is lower than renting our own place; on the other hand...what price convenience? 

It's all an experiment in the new economy.  More folks are living with their parents and v.v.  This was common one hundred years ago.  Now, thanks to lack of health insurance, retirement savings and all, it's a necessity again. 

I would very much like to find the key to making this a smooth situation.  But perhaps that is setting the bar too high.



Brian Miller said...

ack. definitely not an easy economy...luckily we have not had to get to that point...could definitely see it as being difficult...

Grandmother Mary said...

83 and no outside interests is tough. My father is 93 and goes to the senior center noontime meal a few times a week as well as the activities they sponsor. He met his current partner at an aerobics class at age 83! Communication may help. She probably has feelings about the situation too. How about a weekly family meeting?

DJan said...

It would drive me crazy to have a non-stop talker around. I think it would be enough for me to hide out in my bedroom, or something. And sharing a kitchen? Yikes! I'll be interested in what you decide to do about this untenable situation.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

I can imagine the difficulty. I understand your MIL's loneliness, but the gap in generations is a large issue - especially in the kitchen. Best of luck with this situation.

ratatouille's archives said...

Hi! C.G.,
The last time I visited you, I remembered that you and your family were planning to go live with your MIL...
...Unfortunately, I don't have a MIL yet, but that don't mean I don't feel your pain.

"We share her kitchen (a disaster for any two women unless they REALLY like one another)..."

I agree with this statement 100%...because when my mother's sister lived with us for a short period...I never seen such tight-lips and eyes rolling...before.

C.G., I found your post to be interesting, (with a touch of humour) in the sense it sounds like a on the one hand or on the other hand...dilemma.

Personally, I hope that a satisfactory solution is found...What do you think?

Take care and Thank-you,for stopping by too.
DeeDee ;-D

Deborah said...

I have been wondering how it was going for you. Your last mention of the subject seemed a valiant vow to just make the most of it and not be too concerned with your own feelings.
But I'm not at all surprised to hear what you have to say here. It's a truly difficult situation you're in, and while nobody can tell you what to do, I know I would simply not be able to tolerate it.
The non-stop talking alone would do me in.
If it was my problem, I'd try to measure it by the yardstick of harm vs good. Is the company you're providing your MIL providing pleasure for her or is she aware of the irritation?
And if this is the case, is the saving of money worth the degeneration of the relationship?

We are not culturally adapted to looking after/living with our elderly parents. The Chinese might be, but I don't think it's useful to compare (just in case you are). We have different expectations, different values. But not living with her doesn't mean abandoning her.

I wish you well in finding a solution to the problem. You are obviously a thoughtful, caring person, and struggle with your sense of what's right for all. It's not wrong to think of yourself, Deb.

California Girl said...

Brian: the economic upside is more for her as she could not afford to maintain the house w/o a renter. We provide that. She,in turn, pays the taxes and upkeep so we are absolved of that. We may, however, buy the house from her and fix it up and create separate living quarters. Sticking point: we're no longer enamored of the day to day maintenance of a large home and yard.

Grandmother: She would NEVER go to a senior ctr. She doesn't view herself in that way. I don't think she would want to meet a man unless he shared her interests, art, books, movies, all of which she can do at home. She is an artist tho' she no longer paints.

Djan: I have done that (hide out in my bedroom).

Midlife: She is definitely lonely. I saw my father go through that; everyone you know and love dies and you're the one left to remember.

DeeDee: great to hear from you!!! I know we will work it out and I believe we will stick with her because she needs us and, bitchy as I am, I can't abandon her. It is humorous in some ways. That's why I posted that image & graphic about Endorra, the witchy MIL on "Bewitched". I thought it was funny.

Deborah: I probably make it sound worse than it is. I usually don't write about it unless I'm in a crap mood or worrying. My husband, who is totally supportive of my feelings, thinks he and I are somewhat spoiled in not appreciating all that we have. He's right. I just have to remember it. If we do buy the house from her and he does fix it up (he did our previous home) it will be lovely and he'll create the privacy she and I both crave. Then she can hang out in her bathrobe all day and not have to see us and vv. Thanks for your thoughts.

Marguerite said...

Sounds like a catch 22 situation. I know that I would not be able to handle it, and would have to get my own place. Best of luck, cher!

Nancy said...

Wow, I can see why you are not happy there. I'm not sure leaving is going to be easy, either. Keep us updated. We are all living in this economy, and can often use all the advice we can get.

Betsy Brock said...

Oh dear. I would be funny if it wasn't so awful, right? I do hope you can find a good solution.

Deb Shucka said...

This sounds hard in so many ways. Perhaps acceptance is the place to start, of your own feelings, of each other, of the situation. Then maybe from that smoothness and peace can arise.

Ruth said...

Philosophically, I love the idea of living with family, like the olden days. But I know I would feel just like you, and want my space, my peace, and my solitude. I hope you can be honest and open and move forward in a way that gives you all peace of mind. said...

That kind of "family togetherness" sounds rather challenging.
Hang in there.

Mama Zen said...

You are a far stronger woman than I am.

Baino said...

Ah six of one and half a dozen of the other. Never easy living with family. I live next door to a grumpy brother and his uncommunicative wife, very awkward but for now, it's economically all we can do. I suppose a 'show down' isn't on the cards? We're into 'family meetings' although I admit, they rarely resolve anything for too long. Sorry to be so unhelpful.

DawnTreader said...

Sorry to hear the situation has not improved. I know I would not be able to cope. Hope you'll find your way! Sounds like a big job to fix the house up. Perhaps two kitchens might help though...!

Unknown said...

She sounds just like my FIL. He talks incessantly, in the most excruciating detail, about things in which nobody is interested. On the other hand, he is a wonderful person who would do anything for me and calls me Morning Glory when he comes downstairs in the morning. On the other other hand, it would drive me completely insane to live with him.

There. That was very helpful, wasn't it? ;)

Unknown said...

Your MIL sounds like she doesn't believe she needs you yet. It's a challenge for sure, you will learn a lot; make sure you like the lessons, if not the teaching.