My mother moved to town about four months after Little Spaghetti was born. Since I'd decided that every household task was totally beyond my capabilities as a housewife to tackle, she swooped in like a knight in shining armor. Or a knight-ess? She cooked, she cleaned, she emptied garbage cans, she folded laundry, she washed dishes. Basically, she took care of me the way mommies do.
And as the months wore on, it became harder and harder to make myself empty the dishwasher when I knew my mom would come over the next day and do it if I hadn't. I would decide that the lawn could go just one more day without water until my mom's next visit. I eventually stopped even thinking about the fact that the trash has to go out on Monday nights because my mom gathered it all up and put it out there so reliably.
I know what you're thinking: that doesn't really sound like a problem.
Then one day, I was sitting on the computer
I wanted to take care of my son. And my husband. And my home. I wanted to be the one providing my family with clean socks and washed plates. I wanted my husband and I to be making the decisions about what was right for our family - and not to feel like we owed it to someone else.
And my mother had paid her dues as a mom. I'm a grown woman for goodness sakes! She needs to be rotting my kid's teeth with ice cream and snuggling him up in her lap to read books, not cleaning up after his lunch and washing his diapers.
I didn't even realize how it had truly been making me feel for her to be doing so much. I had started to feel like a bad mother. A bad wife. I'd started to feel like I couldn't run a household, not just that I wouldn't.
And it didn't feel good.
If there's one place I want to feel valuable, it's at home. In my castle, I want to be Queen of the Laundry. Or the Dishes. Or whatever.
In part, I think it made her feel good that I still needed her. The truth is though, I'll always need her; she's my mother. But she doesn't have to be my son's mother, too.
At the end of the day, I just want to be the kind of mother to my son that she was to me. I want to be the mom who makes our house a home, keeps all our ducks in a row, and helps my family navigate the rough waters of life, always making sure that having a clean, ironed shirt is the least of their worries. And all her help wasn't letting me do that.
So I'm taking a stand. I'm done letting her do what I should be doing. I will do it a little at a time; I don't want her to feel unwanted or unneeded or unappreciated. I'm thinking of it kind of like weaning: weaning her off my household chores. First, I won't let the dishes sit in the sink when I know she's coming over. Then I'll stop letting my laundry pile up on my dresser. After that it will be getting out of the habit of putting off sweeping my floors or cleaning my bathrooms until she can't take it any more.
And in the end, I think - I hope - that it will be better for all of us. And I will once again feel like Queen of this household.