It was a few weeks before the birth of our son. Ammi, my mother-in-law, was visiting. M and I were busy with work & school, but were also trying to finish up a lot of projects around the house before the baby arrived. The call it nesting, and we were in full swing! But our list of nesting projects was not only the usual hanging of curtains, folding of tiny onesies, and putting together baby furniture. We had even fallen behind on even the most basic life maintenance tasks and M needed to clean the bathrooms!
One morning, M and I were setting out our plan for the day and discussed the need for him to clean all the bathrooms that evening when he got home from work. Ammi volunteered that she could clean the bathrooms and I vehemently said NO.
I did. not. want. my mother-in-law spending the day in my bathroom! In my stuff.
Now let me explain. I grew up in a house where privacy was widespread and well respected. I had my own room, with a door. That locked. Even when I was very young. As a teenager I had my own bathroom. I am used to having a wealth of privacy. Even M doesn't disturb my privacy because he'd never open a drawer that wasn't his or look in my purse. Not that I really need privacy. I'm not a CIA agent. It's just something weird about me, I guess. Maybe it's a particularily American thing. (There's a short story titled "Doors" in the book Arranged Marriage by Chitra Divakaruni that is a similar explanation of a privacy-craving American married to a desi. You should read it, it's a great book!)
Back to the story. I told Ammi that she should NOT clean the bathrooms. M would do it when he came home that evening. Then I left and didn't think about it again. You can probably see where this is going. When I got home, all the bathrooms had been cleaned. By Ammi. Even the master bathoom in our bedroom. The one that connected to our closet. With all my stuff in it.
It was just something about the fact that my MIL spent God only knows how long in MY bathroom, in MY bedroom, right next to my closet! It killed me. There are so many things in my bathroom cabinets that I did not want to have to explain to my her! And clothes in my closet not intended for her viewing. It killed me.
It was probably the only time I had ever had to ask M to come with me to the bedroom so that we could talk about something his mother was doing that I was not pleased with. It wasn't that I was ungrateful. I know how sweet it was for her to want to lighten our load, and who wouldn't want help around the house! I truly appreciate everything that she does for us, but some things are just off limits! For most people, the bathroom probably wouldn't be off limits, but for me it was. So I talked to M about it, asked him to make sure it never happened again - just not OUR bathroom! I think he went downstairs and explained it in terms of a "those crazy Americans" kind of thing while I searched the cabinets to make sure none of the unmentionables had been disturbed. Then closed the door behind me when I left. It never came up again.
But now we've since moved to a new place. And we no longer have a beautiful, expansive master bathroom. In fact, the master bathroom is the only one that has a walk-in shower, which is much easier for Ammi to use because of a hip replacement. So Ammi is back in our bathroom, at least occasionally for showering. It's been easier to deal with when you know it's coming, though.
Of course, finding out she'd folded all my underwear yesterday riled up the same craving for privacy as the old bathroom did! I'll just have to keep on top of the laundry so she doesn't have to do it, I guess. Or stop caring.