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   Wednesday, May 03, 2006  

The Rules According to my Mother-in-Law

Perhaps a more appropriate title for this post would be, "Why isn't my husband more fucked up than he already is? Because, damn! He grew up with this woman!" But I decided that might be a bit too long and after reading "the rules," well, you'll all come to that conclusion on your own -- you know, no need to state the obvious.

Of course, the real reason for this post is that I could never accurately describe the visits we have once a month to the in-laws without you (my three readers) calling me a liar. So, without further ado, the rules of life in my (mildly obsessive-cumpulsive) mother-in-law's home.


Technically, this rule isn't so strange. In fact, growing up, we were a shoeless household as well. Even now, I don't wear shoes in my home, however I don't ask guests to doff their shoes. Most, of course, do when they notice we aren't wearing shoes.

In my mother-in-law's home, children and teenagers are asked to remove their shoes. Adults are never asked and at parties there are no complaints. If however you are a solitary visitor, you MUST offer to remove your shoes. If you do not offer to remove your shoes, you will be discussed for weeks, months, or, in the case of people who have broken other rules, YEARS.


In the entire eight years I have known this family, I have seen the front door open exactly once. To pick up a package dropped off by UPS. (Packages that come almost daily as the OCD has shopping as one of it's primary compulsions -- QVC, eBay -- it never ends) If you are a guest, you will be entering through the garage. There is a doorbell at the front door, but I'm not certain that it works. Generally, guests are expected to call from their cell phone in the driveway and enter through the garage. If you come in through the front door, your rudeness will be the topic of many rants as you "actually came in from outside and put your dirty shoes (!!!) on the "persian" rug (from QVC, fringe neatly snipped off the ends because "it just gets ratty and the cats play with it *twitch* *twitch*)."


The handrails are brass. They are there to look pretty. They are not there to be used -- safety be damned!

This rule was tested once in the early or mid-1980s. A neighbor child had come in and was playing upstairs. He used the restroom before leaving and his hands were wet when he left the room. (Family legend has it he peed on his own hands; I still say there's a likelihood that there was water from the sink on them) As this FIVE YEAR OLD child was coming down the stairs, he used the handrail. Probably his mother had drilled in him to always do so as to avoid a nasty fall. Unfortunately, he left a wet smear down the handrail. This one incident has branded the child for life with a truly mean nickname that my mother-in-law ALWAYS uses to refer to him. Every time she sees him, she calls him by that name and then proceeds to tell the story of how he peed on her brass handrail.


The guest bath is strictly for looking good. While you may use the toilet, you must never use the sink. There are many fluffy towels, but again, they are there to be pretty. Do not run water in that sink. It will be wet, the towels will be wet and crumpled and things will not be pretty. If you use this restroom, handwashing must take place in the kitchen sink. You must then dry your hands with paper towel and wipe the sink dry as well.


Yes, this is a rule in her home. It's not something she tells everyone who visits, but she does force her son and her husband to do so. (And by force I mean nags, complains, whines, and generally drives them crazy until they just stop attempting to pee any other way because DAMN IT WOMAN LEAVE ME ALONE!)

I'm still hearing about how once (ONCE) Mr. W's college roommate came to visit. He didn't know the rule. He went to the bathroom in the guest bathroom downstairs (downstairs! I think he might even have washed his hands in there). He stood to pee. Two drops of urine made their way to the rug in front of the toilet. As a result, the MIL constantly tells the story of the time he "peed all over my bathroom floor." He is spoken ill of on a regular basis. While I do agree that any urine on the bathroom floor is disgusting, I do know enough about how the male anatomy works to understand that it isn't always entirely avoidable. Beyond that, the roommate is about 6'4" (the same as Mr. W) and from that height I'm suspecting that there could be a slightly higher chance of missing.


His bathroom is the only one that contains an actual shower stall with doors. The other bathroom is more of a typical bathtub with a showerhead arrangement where you have to use a curtain. The curtain is there, but it will get wet and is hard to dry off and it might mildew, so it's off limits. Until he moved out, Mr. W was forced to only take baths as the shower was his dad's and his mom claimed it was "not clean enough" for anyone else to use.

If you use that shower, you must completely dry all walls, the floor, the showerhead, or anything else that came into contact with water (this includes shampoo bottles stored in the shower).

If, instead, you choose to take a bath in her bathroom, the same rules apply. All walls, floors, and implements must be thoroughly dried.


At face value, this doesn't seem that strange. However, when you enter the bathroom to shower, brush your teeth, wash your hands (you can do this upstairs!), you must carry your own towels in from the linen closet. Once you are done using them, they will be soaked (the same rules for drying the shower/tub apply to use of sinks with the addendum that you must turn the drain so that the word "Delta" is in the proper position to be read from left to right and is completely parallel to the edge of the counter). Because towels hanging on a towel bar in the bathroom isn't pretty, there are no towel bars in the bathrooms. You must immediately carry your towel downstairs and put it in the washer where a load of towels will be done each day.

This is just the briefest foray into the rules according to my mother-in-law. I may post more of them as time goes by, but for today, I think that's enough.

   [ posted  @ 4:50 PM ] [ Post a Comment ] [ View Comments (12) ]
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  Comments about my post, "The Rules According to my Mother-in-Law":
I just noticed my eye started twitching by the time I got to the end of reading the rules. Good lord.

Seriously, how is your husband so normal?
That's it, I want a divorce.
How do you stand not just wanting to break every rule... I would break each one (even the peeing standing up rule!) and just stare at her blankly like oh... did I do that???

*evil grin*
OMG, the woman is insane. How did any child manage to grow up in that house? How do you think she'll manage when the lowercase becomes mobile? *gasp*
So did your husband warn you about these rules beforehand or did he let you find out by trial and error?
My MIL is the exact opposite. None of us wants to go to her house because she doesn't clean (even when the cat or dog make a mess on the carpet) and keeps spoiled food around. Yeck!
I am not sure which way I would prefer. There must be a happy medium somewhere.
Interesting. My eye, too, also started twitching.
This is in the Oh My God catagory, Sheesh, what is her problem?
Who can say Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
My mother is like that (that's why I'm posting anonymous).

My friends also ask how am I so normal. (I am not so normal, I am moderately depressive. But at least I admit I need help and go get it).
Wow - I think some medication is in order. If not for her, then for the people who put up with her!
I remember in Dear Abby one time the discussion was centered around "Should you allow Men Doing Work For You (construction, plumbing, etc) to use your bathroom? I was stunned! I was under the impression that if a person was in my house via invitation (whether social or business) and Nature Called, well, the person should be allowed to attend to the business at hand, so to speak. Well, apparently nobody else thought that way. Some woman wrote in and said that her father was (something that required him to be in people's houses) and that he always went down the street to a service station restroom. I mean, like come on.

But I guess he was working for people like your MIL!!
Perhaps your MIL is related to the wife of a good friend of ours? Among a long list of incredibly similar rules, she (are you ready for this?)...

vacuums. her grass. with a shop vac. so a) it all goes the same way after mowing, and b) has no "stray grass clippings to mar the smoothness of the lawn".

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