Wednesdays From The Womb - Week 32

  • Tuesday, 16 August 2011
  • Posted in Wednesdays From The Womb - The Series
  • 12 Comments
  • flintstone-mother-in-law

    Ever since we moved in with the in-laws one thing has become increasingly clear – Reservoir Mother-In-Law’s approach to housework is so different to mine that it’s almost incomparable.

    She’s some kind of supercharged mega-cleaner. Her olfactory system is so keen it can detect linoleum's reaction to a drop of my children’s piss the instant it makes contact with the floor. She’s multi-dexterous – I’ve seen her vacuum under an oversized couch, change a nappy and dye her hair a deep brown at the very same time she sets the DVD player to record a full week’s worth of The Bold And The Beautiful. Her sense of order is delicately wired and easily tripped…

    … and I’ve tripped it. I haven’t been able to find the milk bottle she keeps for visiting grandchildren for about a month.  I’m feeling an intense pressure because she believes that every item in her house is weight bearing and drops to her knees as if the roof is about to fall whenever she opens the plastics cupboard and finds the empty space.

    That empty space for me is a serpent reminding me of my inferiority. Its intent is to swallow me up to the shoulders and fling me violently into the eighties-style linoleum floor until my head splits open and spills fresh brain to its slithering spawn.

    Reservoir Mother-In-Law is doing the dishes I told her not to do only fifteen minutes ago when she says, ‘Have you found that bottle yet?’

    ‘You should leave those dishes,’ I reply, ‘they’re mine. I’ll get to them in a jiffy if you just give me a chance…’

    ‘I can do them,' she says, widening her stance and hoarding the sink and its contents like some predatory wildcat over a recent kill.

    When I lift my gaze I take in everything – the corners of the cupboards, the steam rising off the dishwater, the coagulated spaghetti sauce on the plates. For one white hot moment my body prepares to pounce but because I cannot be totally sure of knocking her out cold, I falter. I need time to glove up, wash up, and dry up. If I only daze her and she regains her bearings too early, I could suffer life threatening injuries trying to maintain my place at the sink.

    ‘Have you found the milk bottle yet?’ she asks again.

    ‘Not quite,’ I say.

    ‘Have you looked under all the beds?’ she asks.

    In my head I am Dr Seuss saying not in a house, not with a mouse, not in a box, not with a fox and definitely not under the fucking bed but on the outside I say, ‘Yes, I have.’

    ‘Well, you just better get on your hands and knees and have another look,’ she says.

    ‘Wow. The last time someone asked me to get on my hands and knees was under completely different circumstances,’ I say, expecting a bit of a giggle. When I get a sarcastic laugh delivered as a statement I say, ‘It won’t be under the bed.’

    Lynda-Carter‘It’s the most likely place,’ she says. ‘You would have been giving Tyson a bottle in the middle of the night and it would have dropped to the floor and then it would have got kicked under in the morning.’

    I feel a desperate need to wrestle back some shrapnel of power and say, ‘They were my dishes!’

    ‘What? These?’ she says, as she holds up an unnaturally clean plate. The light reflects off it and blinds me and the shock of it forces me backwards against the plastics cupboard. Fear becomes a serpent-inspired panic and sends me stumbling from the kitchen to the hall.

    I feel my way to the bedroom and suppress the need to scream, ‘Did you mean that? Are you that freaking good?!’

    ~~

    Reservoir Mum is lying on our bed, working on the Lap Top. She watches me rub my eyes dry and then says, ‘What happened? Is this about the milk bottle?’

    I fall face down beside her and say, ‘Yes’ into the pillow.

    ‘Will you just look for the fricking thing?’ she says.

    MilkBottleWomb‘It’s all I’ve got left,’ I whisper, desperately. ‘She’s taken all my avenues to power. The cleaning, the kids, the domestic superiority… I don’t know who I am anymore. All I’ve got left is that she’s wrong about the milk bottle. If she tells me to look under the bed and I get down on my hands and knees like I’m her bitch and find that it’s there…’

    When I lift my face from the pillow and look at RM I realize she’s been hearing nothing but muffled jibber-jabber and a sense of calm washes over me. I lift myself from the bed, get down on my hands and knees and lower my ear to the fluffy, fresh-smelling carpet. When I stand back up I’m holding the missing milk bottle.

    ‘Hooray,’ RM says.

    ‘Maybe I could plant it in her bedroom somewhere…’

    ‘It’s over now. Take it to her. She’ll be happy you found it.’

    ‘She has such monstrous talent,’ I say, falling down beside her again, ‘but do you know what makes her the perfect domestic beast… do you know what makes her so formidable? It’s her intent, RM. It’s her furious intent.’

    ‘What do you mean?’

    ‘This morning I put on a load of washing and checked on it twice and then I heard it finish the cycle and by the time I got to the machine she was already hanging the washing on the line.’

    ‘She’s pretty efficient...’

    ‘And last week Lewis was eating a cookie in front of the TV and I saw a piece falling to the carpet and before I could even form a thought there was a whirring sucking sound and there she was with the Dyson. The only thing missing from that deadwoodparticular scene was her blowing into the end of the vacuum like some crazy cowboy killer from the murderous town of Deadwood.’

    ‘She’s been following the same routine for several years….’

    ‘She counters every move I make towards a chore as if she can read my very thoughts…’ I say.

    ‘Just relax will you?’

    When I sit up suddenly and scream, ‘One of the kids must be a fricking mole!’ Reservoir Mum grabs me by the jumper and shakes me.

    ‘Get over it!’ she says. ‘This is Mum’s house. She’s kept it a certain way for thirty years. She likes to clean and cook and look after everyone. It’s who she is. It’s not a competition. You don’t have to compete with her.’

    ‘She’s destroying my will to clean,’ I say, numbly. ‘My fear is that I will return to our new house stripped of all the skill I’ve built up over the past six years. You’ll have to push me up the specially built all-purpose ramp to our front door. I’ll be in a wheel chair wearing a helmet and my favorite food will be a choke-safe vitamin-fortified gruel.’

    ‘If you really want to alleviate your guilt for not doing enough, ask her what she’d like you to do. If she says she’s got it under control, get on with something else.’

    I think for a minute before saying, ‘I’d like to learn how to dance. I could perfect The Running Man with a little instruction…’

    ‘Read more to Tyson, visit cool places with the kids. You have years and years of cleaning to look forward to. Keep helping Lewy to ride without training wheels… remember how great you felt when you taught Archie to ride?’

    She directs my memory to one of my greatest days. After weeks of running behind him and holding his bike seat, I simply let go and watch him continue on without me. I feel a thousand feet tall.

    ‘You’re right,’ I say. ‘I’m grabbing Lewy and we’re heading out now. We’re not coming back until Lewy can ride around the oval and I can beat my chest again.’

    As I grip the handle of the bedroom door I’m aware of the furious intent I spoke of only moments before. I have it as well. It’s just that my focus is different.

    ‘Oh, RD...’ Reservoir Mum says before I open the door. She’s patting her stomach. ‘I’m going to be giving birth in eight weeks or less. Going through labor for a fourth time.’

    ‘Yes?’ I say.

    ‘So, just remember whose bitch you are,’ she says, with a smile.

    Comments (12)

    • Jac @ Common Chaos Chronicle

      Jac @ Common Chaos Chronicle

      17 August 2011 at 10:35 |
      Told you you'd need the strength of 1000 elephants. :-P Hahaha!!! Mind you, you've made me think about how my hubby may feel in this house... My mum comes into our home and does that on our domain... Jac xo
    • Brenden

      Brenden

      17 August 2011 at 10:57 |
      perhaps when RM-in-law is out... you should jump on her bed and then blame it on the kids.

      Extra points if you can casually come across it before she discovers it herself, and make a comment like, "If you need pointers on how to make a good bed... I can give you a lesson if you like..."
    • Fishy

      Fishy

      17 August 2011 at 12:26 |
      I nearly choked on my lunch I was laughing so much!! Your mother in law is legendary RD! Hey I've been to more than one lunch / dinner event and these speak for themselves...... After Lewie has mastered riding can you come and teach our boys! Another classic RD!!
      • Reservoir Dad

        Reservoir Dad

        18 August 2011 at 20:08 |
        She is legendary

        No secret to teaching the boys to ride bikes. Just repetition. (Promising them you'll record it and make a YouTube vid with cool music also helps)
    • Shae

      Shae

      17 August 2011 at 22:28 |
      When we lived with the IL's I broke the dryer. My MIL prides herself on not using the dryer and it's like a bloody museum piece that you may look at and not touch. But I used it and I broke it. I even hid the piece that snapped off.
      My MIL has never let me forget it.

      And I'm a little scared of your MIL
    • Jess @ Whoa Mamma

      Jess @ Whoa Mamma

      17 August 2011 at 22:55 |
      Oh, RD, you are the best! I just laughed so hard I woke up my sleeping child, woops!
    • miss.cinders

      miss.cinders

      18 August 2011 at 22:46 |
      Hahaha Love it! I've got laughing-my-arse-off tears! I swear you are a brave man living with the in-laws. I just couldn't do it. I love them, but geez I couldn't live with them!
    • Salamander

      Salamander

      19 August 2011 at 22:13 |
      Absolutely brilliant, RD!!!!! I lived with my in-laws last year for seven months. Your MIL should meet mine. They'd adore each other. Visiting from Flog YoBlog, but I'll be back!!
    • Bianca

      Bianca

      20 August 2011 at 17:45 |
      You could just take her with you when you move to your new place then you wouldn't have to re-learn to cook and clean!!
    • Diana

      Diana

      21 August 2011 at 15:38 |
      I LOVE the tyre kicking half way through the video of Lewis riding his bike. Cracked me up!!

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