Dispatch from the field: Moving in with mother-in-law
Many have found themselves doubling up with family the last few years out of necessity, economic or otherwise. This week's guest poster is doing so temporarily while she's between houses. She offered to write a dispatch early on with more to come -- anonymously, so she could be candid without fear of hurt feelings.
Here's her tale:
My husband and I moved in with his mother on April 18, with some trepidation.
We sold our house in Virginia, and now we are in Maryland. We have about four months before our house in western New York will be built. My husband's first choice was to find a short-term rental in New York so that we could immediately begin our new life there. I wanted to move in with his mother for a variety of reasons.
First, I thought that it would allow for a more seamless transition of our U.S. mail. The post office doesn't do well with multiple changes of address in a short period of time. I figured it would be easy to receive any mail that goes to Maryland after we have moved to New York. Second, I thought we could save money. Third, we could help my mother-in-law. In return for not paying her any rent, we were planning to take over my mother-in-law's gardening, lawn-mowing, housecleaning and car-washing. Since she is quite elderly and physically limited, we also planned to help her with anything she feels unable to do -- such as driving long distances and shopping for anything heavy or unwieldy.
After we sold our house and were committed to closing quickly, we felt there was little time to move, store our belongings, and look for temporary housing in New York. So my husband gave in to me on this one. Here we are.
Oh, one other thing. My husband warned me that he could not tolerate his mother and me being at each other's throats. Yes, two women with strong personalities have been known to get into conflicts, but I assured him that things would go smoothly between the two important women in his life.
It's early on in the arrangement, but I feel that things are going relatively well. In addition to the things I mentioned above that we would do for my mother-in-law, my husband discovered a number of projects in the house that had been left undone after his father died, and my husband attacked them with gusto. I have taken my mother-in-law on trips to Baltimore, and we have had some good talks and laughs in the car while traveling. We are beginning to fall into an easy comfort with one another. I have found my mother-in-law to be exceptionally tolerant of our clutter, talking on the phone, and generally making more noise than she is used to.
On the downside, I can't stand the grandfather clock. The clanging I hear every quarter-hour is just unpleasant extraneous noise to me. My mother-in-law deeply loves that clock. She is hoping to leave it to a family member in her will. I told my husband that as soon as I hear she is gone, I am going to take an ax to the clock and the poor person who inherits it is going to find nothing but timber and mechanical parts and chains.
The house is small and feels confining to us. But given that it's spring here in Maryland, we are able to get out and about -- hiking in the park, visiting our granddaughter, driving around, sitting on the deck. We have also decided to take some weekend trips locally in order to gain back a little of the privacy we have lost. Last weekend we ended up in D.C. playing tourist. Our short absences also give my mother-in-law back some of her privacy.
Thanks for sharing, Anon!
Thoughts, questions, arguments? Comment away. I'm especially interested in hearing from those who have lived (or are living) with relatives after age 21, and how you negotiated the multiple-adults-in-the-house dance.
If you'd like to write a guest post -- either to share expertise or to share an interesting housing-related personal experience -- please drop me a line. Details here.