I used to think that I was the most miserable woman in the world. 

And then I met my MiL.

My relationship with her was practically non-existent before my FiL passed away.  After his death we grew closer, but I still find her very difficult and (on some occasions) can barely even tolerate her.  This sounds mean, but it isn’t.  She is a very demanding woman, not least because her days are taken up with … nothing. 

My Mumsy will celebrate 70 grand years on earth next year.  Her social life is amazing.  She’s always off on mini-breaks with her friends, she has church and related prayer-groups, she does voluntary secretarial work twice a week for her minister, toddles off to WI every month, pops into the coffee morning every week, cooks lunch for her friends when she can see they’re a bit overwhelmed with activities, goes for long walks and she makes time to fit all her children into her busy schedule (we range from 50 miles to 1,300 miles away from her).

She never expects people to do anything or be anywhere.

My MiL is the complete opposite.  She’s seven years younger than Mumsy and her social calendar (despite our best intentions and gentle nudges) revolves around seeing my BiL one night a week – and every Saturday when he takes her shopping (that’s a whole post on its own) – and having a visit from her SiL once a week for an hour or so.  Oh, she might go to see the doctor, or buy a paper, or pop into town for some things, but she has no interests and no friends. 

She is also a Scrooge (despite having money running into six figures just sitting in the bank).

Blokey does do a lot for her.  She wanted a new tellybox.  She has our old one (2004) and held out as long as she could because she didn’t want a ‘thin’ one.  Now she has no choice because her tellybox is going a tad iffy.  So Blokey spent some time researching tellyboxes and the best place to buy them, etc.  And last Thursday we took her shopping, with three tellyboxes in mind to view.  We took her to a Foodstuff & Computer Planet store and showed her two of the tellyboxes (they didn’t have the third).  She ummm’d and ahhh’d a little, and wibble-wobbled them (‘they’ll fall down!’).  I could tell from the look on her face that she wasn’t happy. 

Now, we had no intention of buying from Foodstuff & Computer Planet because we knew we could get a better deal at John Smith’s (plus a free five year warranty).  We’d taken her to F & CP because it was out of town with free parking and the intention was then to buy the telly online once she’d seen it in the flesh.  But she decided she wanted to look at the third tellybox so we got in the car and tootled off into town to fight the crowds of Christmas shoppers, get into scraps with other cars and pay extortionate city centre parking fees. 

Stupid, stupid, stupid!

Whilst in John Smith’s she spied a tellybox she liked.  It was ugly and pudgy … and CHEAP!  Blokey was looking for another tellybox so he missed the expression of pure delight upon her face as she noticed the price tag.  Oh, it’s not the price, she informed me.  I just think it looks nice.

Pffft.

She then wibble-wobbled some more tellyboxes and when she wibble-wobbled the one that had caused her to nearly orgasm she only tentatively touched it.  Sly old bag!  Really!  It took us a good ten minutes to convince her not to buy it.  I wanted to take her by the shoulders and shake her, that’s how angry I was with her.  Blokey put lots of effort into researching the perfect telly for her, plus he drove her to see/buy one and he’d sourced a Blu-ray player to go with it.  If it had been my mother I would have had very stern words and walked off. 

It took her another ten minutes to umm and ahh between the other two tellyboxes, with both Blokey and I praising one over the other.  They were exactly the same price but one was a Sony Bravia and the other a Samsung.  The Sony was a Smart tv (‘I really won’t use iPlayer’) and far superior.  She wibble-wobbled them again and opted for the less superior Samsung even though we’d told her she’d be better off with the other.

I think she does it deliberately.

Afterwards we went to Pizza Yummy Yum and when Blokey got out his cash to pay she said, Oh, I was going to pay! but failed to elaborate on this further by leaving her bag safely cocooned in her lap and her fingers tightly clasped together on top of it. If our intentions were to pay we would at least have made an effort to get some money out, but not her.  Oh no.

Fast forward a few days, to yesterday.  We took her to see her other SiL, her niece and nephew and their families (about eighty or so miles away).  I don’t mind doing this.  It’s the one day of the year that she sees them, and besides, I like Blokey’s cousins and they give us Christmas presents to come home with!   

Whilst talking about Christmas decorations she suddenly announced, I’m not putting mine up this year.  I really can’t be bothered.  I don’t feel at all Christmassy.  She said this with the sourest look on her face.  This is the woman who has already excitedly bought and wrapped her presents and has said how much she’s looking forward to spending Christmas Day with us.  Oh, you have to at least put your tree up, I said.  Well, I can’t anyway.  It’s in the loft; I don’t know when BiL will be there to take it down.

And that’s what it boils down to.  She feels hard-done by.  For nearly thirty-five years she had a doting husband who did EVERYTHING for her.  Now she has to rely on two grown-up sons.  One of those sons lives thirty miles away and is (to all intents and purposes) ill.  The other only lives down the road but leads a very busy life with a very busy girlfriend (who is allegedly possessive; she isn’t, she’s just very active and probably wouldn’t mind having a lie-in every Saturday with her boyfriend rather than have him get up at the crack of dawn to take his mother to Tesco.)

This worries me.  The future worries me. Her reliance on other people, her miserableness, the fact that she expects us to take her to Belgium for cigarettes (she doesn’t ask anymore, it’s just a given that we will), her snide comments and her deliberate attempts to ignore any and all advice.  If she’s like this now what does a future with possible job opportunities further afield and the joy of (grand)children bring?  Misery, that’s what. Misery and grumbles.

It all makes me want to scream.

(I realise that once written down this seems trivial; I think you have to be there and know about the tiny little things which build up and up and up and up … But thanks for letting me get it off my chest …)