My mother-in-law is staying with us for two weeks. She missed the grandkids, and we have a spare guest room, so it was no problem. I’m happy to host her for a short visit.
She is also 75 years old, and recently had knee replacement surgery. So her mobility is quite limited, and she doesn’t have the same energy that she used to.
And yet, every time she comes to visit us, she insists on helping us out. She wants us to make up a list of items that she can do. She constantly asks what she can be doing around the house. She wants me to think up projects for her to do - or failing that, projects that I can do, which she can help me with.
Here’s the thing. Because of her limited mobility and the fact that she is no spring chicken, there is really not that much around here for her to help out with. She can’t go work in the garden. She can’t go up and down the stairs or bend over, so most of the housecleaning is out. Really what I would love the most is for her to just relax with her crossword puzzles and enjoy her grandkids for two weeks. Instead, I have to keep coming up with new projects for her to do, most of which we don’t really need to have done, and most of which cause me more work in the end anyway.
Like right now, for example, she’s making dinner for us. I’m perfectly capable of making dinner for everybody myself. But she insisted that she wanted to make dinner for us. Fine, that’s great. But she can’t reach anything in the cabinets, so I needed to get those for her. She couldn’t find any of the ingredients she needed in the fridge, so I found those for her. She heated the nonstick skillet over high heat with nothing in it. (Argh!) She’s not cleaning as she goes (partially because she can’t reach the dishwasher) so I’ll need to clean her work area after she’s done.
I know this probably sounds like a bunch of petty whining and complaining, but we’re on day 9 of her visit, and it’s been like this practically every day. She gets very accusatory when we don’t have a list of chores for her to do, but then if we do come up with a small task, she has difficulty with it and we wind up doing more support work to help her out than we would have in just doing the task in the first place. Besides which, I feel weird about assigning my 75-year-old mother-in-law chores in the first place.
I wish she would just relax and enjoy her vacation without demanding that we constantly provide her with jobs to do.