Let me preface this by saying that my mother is a devout, wonderful, loving woman with whom I usually have a congenial relationship. My DH and I live a modest lifestyle, to put it gently, in order so that I can stay home and homeschool our 3 (soon to be 4) kids. Mom supports this decision. She lives around the corner and visits often, which is usually great, and I know the kids benefit from seeing their grandma often.
However, Mom has very strong ideas about how a household should be run, and these ideas don’t always match my own. They are mostly about matters I consider inconsequential-- whether or not the kids wear socks in the winter, how often to clean the windows, things like that. More to the point lately, because of our limited income my DH does most of the home repair and maintenance. I think that’s awesome-- I’m so proud of him for teaching himself plumbing, electrical work, and carpentry on top of his 50 hr+/week job at an office. However, it means that jobs don’t get done promptly like they would if you hired them out. Nothing unsafe, it just means that there always seems to be at least one project in progress at any given time. For example, he renovated our kitchen, which had last seen updating in the 1940’s. He did the whole thing-- including knocking down walls-- by himself, on evenings and weekends. My mother, however, is ticked off that while the kitchen has been functional now for several months, there’s still masking tape up on the walls, trim that needs to be painted, and a few shelves that need to be put up. She is constantly pressuring me to to pressure him to finish these projects. SHe feels like all of this stuff should be “done” before the new baby arrives-- well, nothing is ever “done” in this house, it’s always in progress. I’m fine with that, but she gets mad when DH takes an evening out to spend with friends or occasionally sleeps in on a Saturday morning. She thinks he should be spending his time finishing up his projects. She never accuses him directly, but always through me, saying things like “Why does DH have to go bowling tonight? He could get at least that one wall painted!” and “Can’t you ask him to move more quickly on those holes in the wall?” I get the feeling that she is upset that I’m NOT upset about this stuff!
Now, none of this bothers me, personally, in the least. I have a high level of tolerance for clutter, and with the mountains of papers and supplies that come with homeschooling the kids, I hardly notice the unfinished raw edges of the kitchen or extra stuff that comes with DH’s home projects. I am grateful and happy that he is able to do these things so that we are able to instead save our money for the kids’ education and so that I can stay home.
I don’t think that I should pressure my DH unnecessarily, creating strife and stress in our marriage, because the unfinished state of our house bothers her. On the other hand, I want to honor and respect my mother and I want her to be comfortable in my home. I can tell that it irritates her to be around all of the clutter, but I honestly feel that I can’t make it a priority for me when I’m teachign the kids and will soon have a newborn.
Mom will also do things like replacing our bedroom curtains with ones she likes better (our old ones were admittedly old, but I had told her I was happy with them and didn’t want to change them) while I am out. Should I say anything to her or just let her comments roll off my back? DH doesn’t realize that she’s upset about his home-repair messes, since she never mentions it to him personally. The home decorating stuff (eg the curtains) doesn’t bother me aesthetically but philosophically-- I told her I was fine with what I had and she disregarded my comments and went ahead and changed them anyway.
aaargh. I’m just frustrated. Thanks.