Archive for the ‘hoarding’ Tag

Hoarding and divorce. Oh my!   2 comments

Wow, I’ve had a lot going on the past week or so.  I thought that with each passing day, being back at work would be a bit easier, but it in fact has been more difficult.  Work itself has been good.  In fact, work is probably the best thing I had going for me this past week.

It is no secret that my mother-in-law watches my children while the husband and I work.  She’s great with the kids and my toddler truly loves being with her and granddaddy.  When I was pregnant with my first son, she called and asked us if she could babysit.  She practically interviewed for the job.  It was very sweet and my husband and I agreed that she would be the best person to take care of our child.  When we found out we were pregnant with the second, we practically told her before I had finished peeing on the stick.  We needed to know if she wanted to watch both (because not only does she have our two children but she also babysits one of her other grandchildren).  She of course was ecstatic about the pregnancy and the new grandchild on the way and said she wanted to watch our two and the other grandchild – no problem!  She told us if she ever decided not to continue babysitting, she would give us at least six months to a year of notice.  She would not and still will not take any money for it either, but we buy her nice things and help her and my father-in-law out with things around the house as much as possible.

I must also mention that my MIL is a borderline hoarder.  If you’ve watched TLC’s Hoarding, think about one of the lesser cases they portray.  That’s her.  There are a number of reasons as to why she holds onto things.  She’s been in the antique business for a number of years.  When she initially started to collect, it was all supposed to be for the business.  But, all of the stuff she bought kept coming into the house…and it got worse and worse.  So bad that there was barely anywhere to sit when we went to her house to visit.  We had to crawl over things to get to the kitchen table for family dinners, and we would trip over things in the foyer when walking in the house.  My husband and his siblings would talk to her and help her clean up a bit and for a short while, the house would look nice again.  Sadly, it wouldn’t take long to become a mess again.  But, it was supposedly all for the business.

Another reason we believe she holds onto things is because she does not own her own home.  She lives in her deceased mother in law’s home.  She was the primary caretaker for her own MIL for many years.  She did everything for her.  She did things for her that no one else would do.  Her MIL passed away last year, and at first, my MIL cleaned up the house, painted, put in some new carpet, and appeared to be making it her own.  It was starting to look good.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was livable.  The bedrooms, the attic, corners of the main rooms, and the garage were all still full of stuff.  But, the main rooms (den, living room, and kitchen) were usable and looked decent.  Here recently however, things took a turn for the worse.

My MIL has decided to leave the antique business, and instead of getting rid of the merchandise, she brought most of it back to her house.  I’m not talking about old tables and chairs.  I’m talking about boxes of stuff.  Random, mostly non-useful stuff.  Small things.  Things not suitable when you have toddlers running around.  Over the past couple of weeks, the three rooms she used have become full of stuff.  It’s everywhere.  It’s on tables, chairs, it’s teetering off of the edge of old furniture, it’s piled so high that if you touch one part of it, a domino effect of falling stuff would happen.  It’s on the changing table we gave her for the kids.  It’s covering up the toys, exersaucer, and pack n plays.  It’s on the kitchen table, counters, in the bathroom.  It’s on the stairs.  It’s on the front porch.  It’s everywhere.  It’s impossible to get in the door of the house without tripping over or stepping around stuff.  I hate it.

I have tried not to judge.  I have tried not to complain but I hit my breaking point this week.  She is watching my children-the two most precious things in my life.  She brought so much shit in the house that the two toddlers had a five foot by five foot area to play in in the the living room (a circle of space completely surrounded by stuff) and a few feet of space to play in in the kitchen.  That’s it.  The huge den they used to play in (the room that has the baby gates and was actually somewhat baby proof) was so full you couldn’t walk in it.  There were a couple of days that I found my toddler playing in the kitchen trash can because that’s the only area he had to be in.  The trash can!!!  WTF.

Every day leading up to this past week as I pulled out of the driveway, I prayed that my toddler would not get into a box of stuff and choke on something or accidentally knock into something that would create an avalanche of falling stuff that would hurt my little baby.  Each morning when I dropped the kids off, my MIL would make an excuse as to why the house is a mess.  I’ve heard these same excuses now for years.  I don’t buy them.  I’m not a fool.

Finally, on Wednesday, I arrive to pick up the kids, and my MIL makes the comment that taking care of 3 is trying her patience.  She said she constantly has to watch them.  WTF.  Are you serious???  She said she has to watch them because they try to get in all of her stuff.  You put the stuff there lady!!!  You removed the children from the one room that was sort of baby proof that had all of their toys in it and have them playing in a five by five space that is surrounded by junk.  All they have is that space and the f-ing trash can to play in.  OF COURSE YOU HAVE TO WATCH THEM!!!

This is not the first time I’ve heard this.  She has made a few snarky comments to me about babysitting 3 kids over the past year.  Please remember that we asked her immediately upon finding out we were pregnant with number 2 if she was willing to watch the baby or if we needed to find another sitter…and she told us she absolutely wanted to.  We gave her an out.

So, back to Wednesday night.  I didn’t say anything and packed up my kids and left.  I arrived home and told my husband about her comment and that we needed to find an alternative.  I was not about to allow my two precious babies to be in that environment anymore.  My MIL was evidently overwhelmed and frustrated with her house, and watching the three children was too much.  I was pissed.  It wasn’t supposed to be like this.  We were supposed to be given ample time to figure out a new situation if we needed one.

My husband believes his mother is a few steps away from crazy, so he understands my frustration and he too feels my pain.  However, he doesn’t want to hear me talk about it.  I asked him to do something about it and talk to his mother as she is not my own mother and I do not feel comfortable having that type of conversation with her.  It was time to ask her how she truly felt and if she honestly wanted to continue watching the children.  It was time to find out if she wanted to watch the three she is currently watching…as well as the fourth that is on the way! No, it’s not me.  My sister in law is preggo with number 2 and her first is the other grandchild my MIL watches.

I asked my husband not to yell at his mom or argue with her about all of the stuff.  I asked him to have a dialogue with her and find out what is going on with her, all of the stuff, and if she even wants to continue watching the kids.  I beg him not to yell at her.  Nothing is accomplished that way and she is already extremely defensive about all of her stuff to begin with…no matter how you talk to her.  On Thursday night, he tells me he went over to his mom’s that morning and blasted her.  I was so upset.  What would that solve??  I then become angry at him because it seems the whole situation is spiraling out of control.  All I wanted to do was to figure out what is going on in his mother’s head and find out if she truly wants to continue watching the kids.  I didn’t want to create a family argument.  I try to explain this to my husband, who then tells me it’s none of my business what he said to her and that I don’t know what he said.  Then I remind him that he told me he went over to her house and “blasted her” and he then basically lets me know he lied about that and doesn’t have to tell me what they talked about.

This, I do not agree with.  My children are over there.  They spend more time over there during the week than they do with me.  I have every right to know what is going on.  I completely understand that I asked my husband to talk to his mother, but that’s only because she doesn’t listen to me and I don’t feel comfortable talking to her about those things.  Before my husband talked to her, I even told him I would be a part of the conversation if he wanted me to be, and he said he would handle it.  All I wanted to do was find out if she was ok and do the right thing for our children.

Unfortunately, the situation turned into a yelling match between my husband and I.  The arguing ran all the way into Friday morning.  I was so frustrated because I didn’t know if there was a solution to the situation.  Does she still want to babysit?  Is she going to clean up her house and actually provide a safe environment for my children?  What are we going to do about finding the money to pay for a daycare or another sitter?  How will my kids adjust to a new place?  How in the hell am I going to find a new sitter with such short notice?  I had all of these thoughts running around in my head and I was upset.  My husband was no longer listening to me and did not want to deal with it.  I tried to explain to him that he was just like his mom when it came to that stuff – not listening, thinking he is right no matter what, etc.  He doesn’t think he’s like her at all, but the reason the two of them do not see eye to eye is because they are so much alike.  But that’s a whole other topic.

Anyway, I couldn’t take it anymore.  I was trying to eat my breakfast and give my toddler his breakfast.  I was crying.  I was just so mad that my MIL had let her house turn into a pile of shit again, that my husband was purposely lying to me about whatever conversation he had with her, and that my kids were caught in the middle of the craziness.

If I’m crying during an argument, my voice gets louder.  I can’t help it.  I am not trying to yell.  Well, on Friday morning, my husband apparently thinks I’m trying to yell at him, so he mocks me and begins yelling back.  And, this makes my toddler cry.  He looks at his dad yelling at me and begins crying.  I console him and he hugs me.  I try to finish his breakfast and my husband yells again because he thinks I’m yelling at him, and my toddler starts crying AGAIN.  Shit.  We have turned into my parents.  Our actions are causing our son to be afraid and cry.  At that moment, I feel like a failure.

My husband and I were doing the exact thing I never wanted us to do.  We were fighting in front of our son and he was crying because of it.  I went through an entire childhood of this.  I told myself I’d never let this happen to my own children.  I’d never put them through the pure hell I experienced as I kid.

I sat in the kitchen beside my son and consoled him.  I looked out the window and sobbed.  I told my husband I couldn’t be with him if it was going to be like this.  We’d already thrown out the big D word several times during the argument.  But, this time, I meant it.  I was willing to get divorced rather than put my kids through hell.  It is not fair to them.  I will NOT live this way.

I couldn’t deal with it anymore so I went upstairs and took a shower.  We had to be at the doctor for checkups for our sons and I needed to get ready.  I cried in the shower.  I couldn’t understand why things had spiraled so out of control.  Why can’t my MIL understand that her house is unsafe for my kids?  Why does she think it’s ok to have piles of shit laying around every square inch of her house?  Why won’t she listen to us about cleaning it up and ensuring it is safe for the kids?  Why isn’t my husband able to have a meaningful conversation with her about it?  Why do I not have the fortitude to talk to her myself?  Why can’t my husband just listen to me and let me vent without accusing me of being a bitch and nagging?  Why is all of this so hard?

But, then I realize, life is hard.  Nothing worth doing is easy.  Having kids is not easy.  Dealing with the in-laws is not easy.  A marriage is not easy…at all.  All we can do is make the most of it.  I take my shower and much like the water rinses the dirt off my body and down the drain, I let all of the emotions of the past week go down the drain too.  There’s nothing else I can do.  My MIL is going to continue to collect crap and do what she wants with it.  My husband will be combative with her because they are so much alike.  We will continue to argue throughout our entire marriage because we are completely different people who rarely see eye to eye on anything.  All I can do is love my kids, respect my husband and his opinions, and do what I can to keep the peace.  I will do my best to ensure my kids have a safe and loving environment no matter where they are.  They are my priority.

I don’t want a divorce.  I love my husband.  He’s got his faults, but I do too.  He takes care of me and he loves the boys more than anyone.  He has stuck by me through a lot and he’s a good man.  I never want to not be with him.  But, in the heat of arguments, I feel differently.  All I can do is ensure we do not argue in front of the kids.  They deserve the best life we can give them, and unlike my parents, I must choose a different path…  A path not filled with fighting, arguing, and name-calling.  It was selfish of my parents to not protect my brother and I from that.  Remember, my family told me to “break the cycle” and this is another step in that journey.  I will break the cycle of arguing in front of my children.  I will not allow my marriage to end in divorce.

*Disclaimer – Since this was written, my MIL has actually made some big strides in making sure the house is in suitable condition for the children.  I believe my husband may have given her an ultimatum when he spoke with her – clean up or we are taking the kids elsewhere.  There’s a long way to go, but she’s making an effort.  She’s working with another family member who is much more patient with her than any of the rest of us.  The other family member is willing to have a conversation with my MIL about each item before they decide what to do with it, whereas the rest of us just want to light a match to the place.  We will see how it all turns out.

**To my husband – I love you and do not want us to argue like we did this past week.  Let’s not allow the choices our family members make interfere in our lives like this again.  You are my rock and even though you may not think so, you do keep me sane 😉