Mother-in-law’s helpful hands bring blessings in disguise


Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 30, 2007 at 10:40 p.m.

Dear Abby: I just read the letter from ‘‘Dirty Family Laundry’’ (Feb. 24), who asked you how to stop her mother- in-law from doing her laundry. Would you please ask her to send her mother-in-law to my house? She’d be greatly appreciated.

I used to be picky about how laundry got done and where the dishes were put away. But now that I live 1,000 miles from all family, and have a baby and a 3-year-old to take care of and unending chores to do, I would love the help.

|Tired in Illinois

Dear Tired: Your sentiments were echoed in the majority of the responses I received from readers about that letter. Most of them felt she should stop ‘‘sweating the small stuff’’ and be grateful to have a mother-in-law who is willing to help out any way she can. Read on:

Dear Abby: My mother-in-law used to come to our house for weekend visits. My husband and I would work and come home to a ‘‘clean’’ kitchen. The only problem was she couldn’t see very well, and all of the dishes were still dirty and put in the wrong cupboards. The stove and countertops were also covered with an inch of soap film. Everything had to be washed all over again.

After about six of her visits, and grumbling under our breath after she left, my husband and I decided that this would become the ritual and turned it into a treasure hunt to recapture our kitchen.

My mother-in-law has since had a stroke that has left her paralyzed, so she doesn’t visit anymore. What we wouldn’t do to have her whole again.

What’s Two Days

Every Now and Then?

Dear Abby: Not only is the writer of that letter ‘‘particular,’’ but also ungrateful. Life is too short to look for things to complain about. Let it go, dear. So what if she doesn’t do the laundry just right? It can all be replaced, and sooner or later you will find whatever item she has misplaced. It really isn’t worth getting upset about. I am truly grateful that my daughter-in-law overlooks my mistakes and loves me in spite of them.

Linda in Texas

Dear Abby: Her mother-in-law does her laundry while she’s baby-sitting? And instead of being grateful for the help, she criticizes the way it is done? That woman needs a reality check about what is important in life — the generosity of someone who is willing to do her housework and watch her kids, or whether her laundry is done to her specifications. She owes her mother-in-law a hug and a thank-you, not criticism.

Wish My Mom-in-Law

Was Still With Us

Dear Abby: I have lived with the same problem for 16 years. My suggestion? Stop regarding her helpfulness as criticism.

I used to think it was my mother-in-law’s way of telling me I wasn’t doing my job properly. Maybe it was. Maybe it was a control issue. Or perhaps she only wants to be helpful. Who cares? Hide any clothes that need special attention someplace where she won’t find them. Then write 100 times on a piece of paper, ‘‘She did the laundry so I don’t have to. Yay!’’ So what if her son’s Batman underwear are in his sock drawer? She’ll find them . . . eventually!

Tina in Virginia Beach

Dear Abby: Years ago, my mother would come to visit our young, busy family. She would drag out the ironing board and tackle my overflowing laundry baskets. At first I was embarrassed, then upset. It wasn’t until I realized that Mom felt this was her contribution to our family that I got smart and became thankful. I would leave a small basket for her to work on and hide the rest.

Now, whenever I’m standing over that same ironing board, I can feel my mom smiling down and saying, ‘‘Do you want help with that?’’

Missing Mama

in Milford, Mass.

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