30 Jul
Thank You for Not Smoking Around My Baby. You’re Not Smoking, Right?!

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I’m going to be a first time mom this September to a little boy. My problem is my boyfriend’s parents. They smoke like chimneys, we do not. They have stopped smoking around me while I am pregnant and have agreed to not smoke around the baby when he’s born, but I don’t have much faith in that.

They smoked around my boyfriend and his sister all their lives. We had to borrow one of their cars this weekend and everything was covered in cigarette ash.

I don’t feel comfortable with them watching the baby. Even though I know they’re going to love this baby as much as grandparents should, I feel like they love to smoke more. How can I deal with this?

Signed,

My Baby’s Grandparents are Smokin! But Not in a Good Way.

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Dear My Baby’s Grandparents are Smokin!,

I’ve never been addicted to smoking although at one point, I did give clove cigarettes a real try in the hopes of improving my high school social status. But I remember my husband quitting smoking. And about five years later, I asked him how he felt about cigarettes and he said, “Man I could REALLY go for one right now.”

My point is smoking is really addictive. So let’s give your boyfriend’s parents some credit for at least having the decency to honor your wishes and not smoke around you while you’re pregnant.  Of course, it’s a little more complicated once the baby comes. Mostly because it will be about two years before your little one can tattle on his grandparents. On the upside, he’ll really wow his toddler friends by knowing how to say words like “cigarettes” and “nicotine” way before they do!

But in all seriousness, you are right to be concerned about this. Secondhand smoke is very harmful to children. There are many serious side effects, including a much greater risk for developing lung cancer later in life.

I think you need to ask yourself, “Are my boyfriend’s parents trustworthy?” If yes, then you have to have faith they will not smoke around your newborn baby. But they are human. And perhaps, together you can agree on a place they can smoke (maybe outside on their front steps) when they are caring for your baby. If they aren’t trustworthy, then you don’t want them watching your child anyway.

But if they are good people, work something out. Grandparents can add so much to your child’s life. You don’t want your son to miss out on that just because they have a bad habit they can’t break.

Good luck,

Kelcey, TMH

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12 Jun
My Sister In Law Is Showing Off Her Good Stuff!

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My sister-in-law is a big show-off. She hadn’t seen all of the good things in life before she got married, but now, whenever she gets a chance, she shows off a lot. This irritates me to no end. Please tell me how I should deal with her.

Signed,

This is Not Show and Tell

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Dear This is Not Show and Tell,

Listen, no one likes a show-off. My first run-in with this type can be traced back to Kindergarten when a girl brought in her mother’s Chanel lipstick while the rest of us brought in lollipops. (Okay, fine, I brought a head of lettuce. I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.)

That said, I’m a bit unsure by what you mean when you say that she’s showing off her new-found “good things.” Since it seems to be related to her recent marriage, according to you, I think I can probably narrow it down. Just pick whichever piece of advice fits your situation best. It’s like this Devo flowchart.

Kind of.

Let’s say your SIL is bragging because she married into money: Congrats to her! Hopefully she’s in love, too! Those who are ostentatious about their wealth can be very irritating, especially when so many people are having a hard time making their monthly bills. You could always gently remind her by carrying around poster boards of children starving in Africa. Another option may be to simply change the topic when one of her bragging rants begins.

Or, maybe she’s bragging about great sex: Well, that’s certainly awkward. But maybe she just needs a good sister-to-sister chat about the ins and outs of her new family, and what better person to do that with than you? You could also fill her in on other family secrets such as which aunt starts talking about her old high school flame when she’s had too much to drink.

NO, WAIT, I GOT IT: It actually doesn’t matter what your SIL is bragging about, because it has nothing to do with you, your value as a person, or your ability to be happy. In other words, her bragging says something about how she values herself and how she craves attention from others. If that is making you angry, maybe YOU are jealous of her new found “good stuff.” Or, perhaps you are feeling protective of your brother? Either way, this may, in turn, mean you have some soul-searching of your own to do. Maybe start with some daily affirmation ala Stuart Smalley.

Because doggone it, people like you!

Kristine, TMH

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30 May
Uninvited and it Feels so…Awful!

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My husband received an e-mail from his father, stating that he would like the family to go out for lunch, but indicated “only the four of us,” meaning without me (the wife!) and my brother-in-law’s live-in girlfriend. This “family lunch” planned by my father-in-law is the day of my sister’s college graduation as well as the “joint family” graduation party for my sister and my husband. (Husband is graduating with an MBA.)

After he told me about this, I told him that I was a little disappointed to be left out, since I am now officially family. I also feel that it is slightly inconsiderate to plan a family lunch right in the middle of grad ceremonies and family parties! Husband thinks that this lunch is okay, and that his father would feel obligated to invite the live-in girlfriend if I came. He also thinks that his father isn’t looking at the situation the same way I am and doesn’t intend to leave people out.

An impartial third party, a therapist, believes that my father-in-law is forcing my husband to choose between me and his family, as well as acting manipulative and controlling.(What’s going to happen when we have kids and he wants a “family lunch” without me? Do the kids go or are they not included as well!) However, still would like the opinion of the witty and fair, Mouthy Housewives!

Signed,

Left-Out Housewife

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Dear Left-Out,

Your story reminds me of this friend of mine…let’s call her Jill. She got married to a wonderful man (Jack) but one of her close friends (Meanie Pants) was not a fan for whatever reason. Some of us theorized it was Jack’s comb-over that bugged Meanie Pants, while others pointed at his affinity for corduroy trousers. But, really, it didn’t matter, because this was an issue with Meanie Pants, not Jack.  (Probably because she’s emotionally unstable and incredibly selfish.)

One summer, Meanie Pants had a party and invited Jill, who would be coming from out of town. The invite had a stipulation, however: Jack and his corduroy pants were not welcome at the festivities. Can you imagine? So, Jill did the only thing should could think to do in such an absurd situation: she TPed the wench’s house in corduroy. Then, she called the brat on her behavior, and effectively ended the friendship.

Now, I’m not trying to imply that your father-in-law hates you, or that you need to drop him like he’s hot, but just that he’s an idiot. (Does he, by chance loathe corduroy? Never mind…) Of *course* it is inconsiderate and asinine to plan an exclusive lunch on a day of joint festivities! And your husband’s defense of the behavior isn’t helping matters. Whatever his perspective might be is skewed, and unless this is some father-son bonding luncheon, there’s no reason to exclude you.

Your husband should take a stand against ridiculous family behavior, so I’d say you should just tag along regardless. Maybe even wear your wedding dress in case your FIL needs a reminder of who you are. If tensions run high in your family, then temper this as you see fit. For example, insist you be referred to as Mrs. Husband’s Name.

Good luck!

Kristine, TMH

 

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09 May
Hands Off My Mother-In-Law, She’s Mine!

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My sister, who is 45 and single, has developed a relationship with my 87-year-old mother-in-law that does not include me. She will drive to my MIL’s, go out to dinner and sleep over. She has also recently started to have my MIL over to her apartment for a couple of nights. My husband also thinks this is odd.

I am married and have two children, one of whom is disabled and I am also in nursing school full time. I can’t devote the amount of time to my mother-in-law that my sister does. My sister and I don’t have the best relationship. It’s okay, but not really close, so when I am mad at her, and I hear that she is at my mother-in-law’s, it kind of drives me nuts. I feel like she is overstepping her boundaries. Am I wrong to feel this way?

Signed,

Hands Off My Mother-In-Law

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Dear Hands Off,

Well, here’s an interesting twist on the ol’ Mother-In-Law issue!  She’s not mean or snoopy. She doesn’t poop while holding your baby. She doesn’t smell. She’s just hanging out with your sister. Is it wrong that I’ve already cast the movie version of this? “Shirley Maclaine and Cameron Diaz are the sassiest, bustiest twosome you’ve ever seen! And they’re hittin’ the streets this summer in The Mother In Law/Sister Boogaloo in 3-D! Don’t miss this one! Soundtrack by Snoop Dogg.”

OK, well now we know why I no longer work in Hollywood.

But I really fail to see what the problem is with these two forming a friendship. You’re too busy to spend much time with the MIL, so I would think you’d be happy that someone is watching out for her. (Gotta keep an eye on those older ladies or they’ll blow their life savings at the Bingo parlor, you know.) I suspect that both women are a little lonely, so it seems wonderful to me that they found each other and enjoy the same things. My younger sister was a great friend to my mother-in-law before she passed away and I loved that they had that special relationship.

You didn’t say anything about them gossiping about you or joining forces against you, but is that something you’re worried about? Or is it that you’re simply a little jealous and feel left out? Both the MIL and sister dynamic are fraught with issues and emotional landmines, so I think it’s normal to feel a bit weird about it all. But I’m sure if you ever wanted to join them for dinner or movie night, they’d be happy to have your company. Try it.

Friendship and family can take all shapes and forms, and it’s admirable that your sister opts to spend time with an 87-year-old. Maybe she’s getting some mothering from her or maybe she feels useful by giving her time. Whatever the reason, I say just let them have their fun.

Just not at the Bingo parlor.

Good luck,

Wendi, TMH

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22 Feb
When Grandma is Full of It

I know Kate from Twitter. She’s funny, quick and mouthy, so I immediately thought of her as guest advice dispenser. What I didn’t know (because who can read those Twitter bios) is that Kate is a wonderful artist, making collaged art of fabric sewn together with colored thread. And she’s very funny on Twitter. What’s not to love? -Marinka

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My mother-in-law told my 6-year-old son that the reason he’s left-handed is because he had “an identical but right-handed twin who died” in the womb. My son has now become quite withdrawn and has got it into his head that the imaginary friend he had as a toddler was in fact his dead twin. My mother-in-law is normally pretty cool, but she can’t seem to understand that her words have caused upset, as she says the twin idea is a legitimate scientific theory to explain left-handedness.

How do I sort this out?

P.S. My husband is away in the military and isn’t here to help.

Signed,

Shocked Mom

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Dear Mom,

If you were actually carrying twins and lost a child during pregnancy, I am deeply, deeply sorry for your loss (and you can stop reading now, I have no advice on how to handle that). But if your mother-in-law told this horribly disturbing story to a six-year-old as a way to explain left-handedness, then…wow. NOT cool, Grandma.

For argument’s sake, let’s say being left-handed requires an explanation. Grandma has her theory, which we both know is not legitimate or scientific by any stretch. If you didn’t contradict her, your son might have assumed you agreed and Grandma was right.

I can understand you don’t want to start an argument. But you can see that your son is struggling to make sense of what she said, and he needs guidance from you.

Maybe he’s creating a story to fit Grandma’s theory because he has nothing else to go on. Or worse, he’s under the impression that every theory is valid, so there is no way to rule anything out to find the truth. Remember: All PEOPLE deserve respect, not all IDEAS.

You don’t have to confront Grandma face to face; let her believe whatever she wants. Just make sure you explain the facts to your son. This is an opportunity for you to teach him a very important survival skill called “Critical Thinking”, also known as “Not believing things that are obviously bullshit.”

Now, you may worry that applying logic to stuff adults say may lead a child to question authority, which may lead to the loss of respect for all adults including Mommy and Daddy. But picture the other extreme – a child who believes anything adults say, who trusts them so completely and without question he climbs into the car of the first stranger who loses an imaginary puppy.

Notice I never said Grandma is crazy or stupid or a liar. Maybe she is cool. I’m just saying her idea is wrong and it is okay not to believe it. You don’t have to pretend she’s right out of respect for your elders.

In short: We love Grandma. Grandma’s theory is 100% wrong.

Please, take this burden off your son’s shoulders. His only defense against the bullshit of the world is the ability to spot it, and permission to disregard it.

Good luck to you and my thanks to your husband for his service,

Kate, Guest TMH

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