I have been preparing to be a mother-in-law since Son #1 was born.
I had always hoped that I would have only boys, because I thought that my aunt and my neighbors’ daughters-in-law were the coolest women, and becoming the mother-in-law was going to be my fate. Tales have been told over the years about horrific relationships between the two women. Grandchildren were held for ransom, sons were allowed to speak to their mothers only from work or basement dungeons. The pictures painted were not pretty or comforting to those of us who had only boys. In a few of my earlier columns, I had written that I always would tell my monkeys that I am their best friend until they get married, and that if they are allowed to call me only once a week, from a closet, because that is what their wives wanted them to do, then so be it.
As I have gotten older and a tad bit wiser (not so much, but just enough) I also have learned that everyone has their own narrative. There are, indeed, three sides to every story, and only those in that story know the truth, or their version of the truth anyway.
So here I am. I have been a mother-in-law for almost two years. There haven’t been any death threats yet, and if there have been, my son has absconded with them, and I am fully unaware of the danger. My narrative is that I have been trying my best. I begin almost every sentence with, “I don’t mean to be annoying but…” or, “I know I am crazy but…” or “I am sorry if I told you this story already but…” Poor Dil #1 and almost Dil #2. I can only try my best. I have been this way for over 50 years, and I am only going to get worse.
In any event, there is a reason why this column is called “The Mop.” I am getting to that. The one thing I always have known is never to criticize or question anything that your daughter-in-law does. At least to her face. This is always hard. For some reason, mothers feel that they can say whatever they want to their daughters. No holds barred. Perhaps that is why the mother/daughter relationship can be so tenuous. But when it comes to what a mother-in-law can say to her daughter-in-law, there are strict limitations. Of course what she can say or not say and what she does say or not say are two very different things; hence the historical issues between the two.
I have been blessed and grateful to have Dil #1, Son #1 and Gd #1 live with me for the past few weeks. When Husband #1 said “They are going to be with us for five Shabboses,” I never imagined how quickly the time would pass by. (Though Dil #1 could have a whole different narrative on the subject, so perhaps she will write next week’s column can call it “How I didn’t kill the Frazzled Housewife.” That is actually a really good idea. Everyone should have a chance at a rebuttal. I know that many of you feel that Husband #1 should have a chance to defend himself because I can be so hard on him, but that probably is never going to happen. Though I did tell him that if I die before him, he can take over my column and then he can write whatever he wants. Morbid, yes, but also true.)
Anyway, back to the mop.
As I have written before, I haven’t had cleaning help in about 15 years. The tile I picked out for my kitchen floor is one that “hides the dirt” unless there is a spill or Husband #1 doesn’t realize the garbage bag is leaking and he leaves a trail all the way to the front door. (Yes, he takes the garbage out.) I clean up those messes by putting hot water on a towel, getting down on my hands and knees, and scrubbing the affected areas. It is pretty effective, but apparently not as effective as I thought it was, because Dil #1 insisted on buying me a mop. We will say it is because she felt badly that I was getting down on the floor to clean it, but I am not entirely sure. What I can say is that I feel very lucky/blessed/grateful that I have a daughter-in-law I can joke around with, write a column like this, and she still loves me.
Well, that’s my narrative anyway, and I am sticking to it.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is very excited about her new mop, and she
has been having a wonderful time using it. Feel free to eat off of her floors