Dear Mouthy Housewives,
I have a situation at home. I love my husband and everything is great between us, but in the last 8 months we went through alot of financial hardship, we both lost our jobs and were on unemployment for a long period of time and had to move in with my parents for the time being.
Ever since we have been at their place, there has been a lot of tension between my parents and husband. My parents are constantly judging and critisizing my husband for choices he makes. Even if he is working, they wonder how he can rest after doing a 12 hour shift. I am always stuck in the middle, my mother is always unhappy no matter what my husband does, and she feels like he is not following normal rules of behavior.
We are two different generations in one home and my mother does not agree with a lot of our decisions, but I feel like she should respect them. I just feel like they are trying to control my marriage and it is causing tension between me and my husband. I feel like my mother is trying to make issues because she does not approve of my husband after 4 years of marriage…Please help!!
Stuck in the Middle
I really feel for you. Because you and your husband are emerging from the trauma of financial stress and are dealing with its residuals.
Although you were fortunate that you were able to move in with your parents, as you’ve well seen, it has come at a price. Sometimes when adult children return home, even for a brief visit, both sides revert to the roles they had years ago, when everyone was younger and more energetic. When children move in, the dynamic is magnified. This means that your parents get to voice their disapproval of the boy you brought home and you get to feel that they’re being unfair and don’t understand you and never will! (This can be followed by a door slam, but that’s totally your call.)
And it is unfair. Because the reasons that you are now living with them are no one’s fault (At least no one in your family. ::Shaking fist at the economy::). And because that boy is now your husband, a man who works to provide for his family, and one who treats you well. And your parents, despite what I assume are their best intentions, have absolutely no business taking their frustrations out on him and making him feel like he is not good enough.
The tricky thing is that you are living with your parents, so they may not take kindly to your letting them know how hurtful they are being.
But you need to tell them anyway because not only us your relationship with them is at stake, so is your relationship with your husband.
Let your parents know that you appreciate them letting you move in, and that you realize that the situation is not ideal. Your parents must already know the precarious state of the economy, but remind them that blaming and criticizing your husband is a bad approach. Explain that you and your husband are partners and that you are doing the best you can under the circumstances. Ask them what the two of you can do to make the living arrangement easier for everyone. Be prepared to make some suggestions that take into account your and your husband’s strengths. For example, if one of you is handy, offer to fix some things that could probably use it. If the other is a great cook, ask your parents what nights would be best to prepare dinner.
If your parents are not receptive to the conversation or if it seems that they are simply unable or unwilling to change their attitude towards your husband, you need to think about moving out. I am unclear from your question if whether you or your husband are now working. If you are trying to build up a nest egg before moving, that plan may have to be expedited. Or you may need to seek temporary housing until you get the place you want and can afford. Yes, it’s a financial burden, but living with your parents is becoming too emotionally expensive.
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
If I’m doing my family’s laundry and find cash in my teen’s pocket, I’m keeping it, right? But the question is do I rub his face in it to teach him a lesson or just enjoy the new found wealth?
Dear Kash Keeper,
If you’re doing your family’s laundry? If?! I’d like to know what kind of magical kingdom do you live in that lets you talk about laundry hypothetically and is that magical place accepting new citizens? Because my doing laundry every freaking Saturday is a fact of life, starring Lisa Whelchel. A fact that you can take to the bank and put on deposit. Together with all the recently laundered cash that you’ve recovered.
But let’s get to the heart of your question. Your kid leaves cash in his jeans pocket and it comes out all nice and clean in the wash. So like any normal person, you keep the cash, because it’s annoying enough to wash and fold other people’s socks without having to wash and origami their dollar bills as well. So far I’m with you.
Where you lose me is this crazy talk of keeping quiet about your loot. By which I assume you mean not saying anything directly, but merely directing his attention towards the new bling you’re wearing or the Porsche that’s now in the driveway, with a wink and a “miss any bills?” muttered under your breath. If that’s what’s happening, then, by all means, continue.
However, I’m concerned that you’re merely gathering the damp bills and stuffing them in your own pocket, leaving your teen oblivious as to his loss. (I’m also worried that if your teen isn’t noticing that his cash is missing, he has way too much of it and you should transfer his allowance/earnings to The Mouthy Housewives’ Chardonnay Fund immediately if not sooner.) The gathering of bills may be good for you, but you are missing out on a teachable moment with your son. Tell him that if he doesn’t check his pockets before putting his stuff in the laundry, you get to keep whatever it is. And then show him a wad you collected (feel free to add a few $50s to make it more interesting.)
Sure, your kid may put up a fuss that the money belongs to him, but those pleas will fall on deaf years with plugs in them for good measure. Hopefully this financial loss will make him check his pockets before throwing jeans into the laundry. Or better yet, ask you if he can be in charge of the laundry himself. (Hey, stranger things have happened. Probably.)
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.
This is Not Show and Tell
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.
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!
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
I’m a nanny and I absolutely love my job, but my bosses are driving me insane. They waffle between wanting to be completely hands-on with their three kids and basically shoving me out of the room to do chores and housework that aren’t a part of my job description.
I’ve been working for them for almost a year now, and I average 60 hour weeks, but have yet to see a single overtime check. Lately there have been a lot of comments about how random things are my responsibility (“Don’t worry about clearing the table, that’s the nanny’s job”) or how I’m paid to do things (“Don’t worry about the laundry, honey, the nanny can fold it. That’s what we’re paying her for.”)
I know that financially they’re not in as good a place as they had hoped to be due to the blow Hurricane Irene dealt our area. And I don’t want to sound greedy and demand/ beg for more money, but at the same time I’m getting fed up with being pushed around and dumped on without the compensation they claim to be giving me. What should I do?
Ready to Move Out of This Nanny State
First of all, I’m sorry you’re having such a tough time with your employer. I imagine it’s very hard to love kids like they’re family, yet be treated unfairly and like you’re just an employee by their parents. The role of Nanny can be inherently difficult for many reasons, including emotional. Which is why I only let the cat or the TV watch my kids when I’m not home. After all, I don’t want them getting attached to a hot lass from Sweden who doesn’t yell things like, “I’m setting fire to your Legos unless you pick them up, you nimrods!”
Now, I’m going to try my best to give you advice on this, but since there are many details I don’t know—your employment agreement, compensation, taxes, housing, etc.—it won’t necessarily be my usual brilliance. But I will say that 60 hours a week seems like a lot and you’re probably not being paid by the hour or they wouldn’t ask that of you. You’re also probably not being paid to do laundry or cleaning, but maybe that was part of your original agreement? That whole “light housekeeping” trap that many have fallen into. (Also known as “marriage,” am I right ladies? Up high!) Anyway, do you think Mary Poppins would put up with any of this shit? No, she’d whack Dick Van Dyke’s ass with her umbrella is what’d she do.
What I think you need to do is stand up for yourself and ask them to discuss your hours and compensation with an eye to possible changes. You may have agreed to certain things when you took the job, but that doesn’t mean you can’t revise them later. Be strong and let them know that you’re working too many hours and also let them know that you’re confused as to which is your priority—the kids or the cleaning. And understand that your employers aren’t necessarily bad people, but it can be easy to start pushing things off on the nanny when you have one. Take a look at the Fair Labor Standards Act to see if it applies to you.
Finally, you’re a nice person to be concerned about their financial struggles. You really are. But repeat after me: Their Money Problem Is Not My Money Problem. Meaning, fair is fair and you should be compensated for the work you’re doing whether they can afford it or not. I mean, I don’t tell my hairdresser that I’m going to pay her the same for full highlights as I do partial because my money’s tight, right? You’re a single woman and you need to look out for yourself and your own financial well-being.
Just remember that a kind, generous nanny is hard to find and your employers need to realize how fortunate they are and treat you accordingly. If they don’t, polish up your resume.
And your umbrella.
Tomorrow is Tax Day in America and we at the Mouthy Housewives have been eating bon-bons by the bucketful to ease the pain. We just realized that so many of the things we rely on aren’t tax deductible!
So, we’ve decided to put together a list for the IRS to put in place before next year. Maybe by then Wendi will no longer be hogging the box of Zinfandel while crying in the closet.
Medical and Dental Expenses
Case of Costco Pinot Grigio (Doctor’s orders! And by Doctor we mean the owner of our local liquor store)
Botox (we read a study that showed those with Botox had less anger,or at least were able to express less anger, so, let’s call this “Anger Management”)
40 Gallons of chocolate chip ice cream (it’s like frozen Prozac!)
Muumuus for the nudists who live next door (Neighborhood beautification)
Suspenders for Larry of the Neighborhood Watch (trust us…this helps EVERYONE!)
Year subscription to Us Weekly and In Touch
There was that time we called long distance to Switzerland to order special anti-wrinkle cream and we had to use our 8th grade French
Cable TV (so we can stay current on important issues like Bridezillas, The Bachelor, and Dance Moms)
Business Use of Home
Storage of daughter’s 200 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies (this may or may not…ok, may, include the subsequent purchase and devouring of said 200 boxes of cookies and then a necessary personal trainer)
Carpet cleaner and interior painter for that fateful Monday night when Book Club became Fight Club (We can’t talk about it…)
Business Use of Car
Impromptu trip to Mexico for select members of PTA (To taste test margaritas for next PTA fundraiser)
Driving Mother-in-law home 3000 miles when her flight was cancelled (Also includes the price of a stun gun and duct tape)
What do you think, have we missed anything?