The Mother-in-law/Daughter-in-law Dilemma

After an arduous journey involving two planes and a bus, we returned home. Or to the house, rather. As we ambled through airports, my children were excited about being back in their native country. Jio immediately began talking about MushiKing and Lilia signed that she was looking forward to seeing her grandmother. Yoshi was very chipper, too. All I could think about in my sleep-deprived state was that I was going back to my mother-in-law’s house and a lack of privacy.

The good thing about living with my mother-in-law is that she turned on the ol’ kerosene heater ahead of our arrival so we wouldn’t have to walk into a cold house. She was very happy to see us, and immediately pointed out that she’d taken down and folded our laundry. This afternoon, however, she told me that she’d thrown away my favorite jean jacket and Lilia’s winter coat. Since we don’t have a coat rack or closet, I tend to leave coats hanging over the little-used high chair next to the back door, near where I pile up empty boxes before I prepare them for trash. She assumed that the coats were part of my trash pile and took the liberty of throwing them away. I told her that she should ask us before she throws something of ours away, and she replied, “But you weren’t here!” I understand that she was trying to be nice and doing that Japanese thing of anticipating someone’s needs before the thought of needing something even occurs, but from my American point of view, she crossed some serious boundaries.And it wasn’t like I hadn’t tidied up the room before we left for vacation. So a note to you mothers-in-law out there: Don’t go into your daughter-in-law’s living quarters when she’s not there unless you’re watering plants or dropping off mail or something that she’s asked you to do. And don’t ever throw away something that doesn’t belong to you!


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