My mother-in-law does our ironing. No word of a lie, she says she enjoys it. Once I got over the shock of such a claim, I admit I was more than happy to allow her to indulge herself on a weekly basis, and I obliged by dropping off a basket full on a Monday and collecting the neatly pressed load on a Tuesday. (Quick turnaround too – I know!) The stress this prevents cannot be understated. My husband was taught to iron by a Royal Air Force drill sergeant; a quick press is not part of his vocabulary. Shirts take an average of 25 minutes, and must have creases worthy of inspection. The choice between doing it myself (badly, by his exacting standards) or waiting for an excruciatingly long time for him to do it always resulted in stalemate. And a bulging ironing pile.
I am disappointingly void of mother-in-law jokes and gripes. While some (not all – wouldn’t want to drop anyone in it!) of my friends engage in complaints about interfering, unconstructive criticism or complete apathy from their monsters-in-law, I remain smugly silent.
I should point out that, even without the ironing, I count myself lucky in the in-laws department. Long before I had MS, they had proved their worth in offering to look after their grandchild and making me feel as though it was me doing them the favour, rather than the other way around, always expressing this gratitude for the opportunity to spend time with her.
When the MS monster reared its head, they simply swooped into action, doing school runs, cooking meals, running supermarket errands for me and with me – and of course the ironing continued. A potentially difficult time was smoothed over considerably by the removal of any stress over lifts, childcare or who would remind my husband to eat a meal.
They say every man marries a woman like his mother, and I have to say (to his horror perhaps!) that I optimistically say this is true in our case. Granted, there are significant differences; what I would give to be less scatty and to adopt her level of calm organisation, planning and sense of “what on earth is going on at school this week” awareness. But we agree on the big stuff. Like the importance of the correct use of the apostrophe, the merit of a good quality red wine, and the necessity for central heating once the temperature outside dips below 14 degrees. (Even as I type this I suspect she will approve of my use of the Oxford comma – I rest my case!)
MS has helped put many things into perspective and none more so than my appreciation of the people around me, our support team. I realise how rare and special it is to have in-laws that I actually like and whose company I enjoy. Today – after my car battery has died because of a door left ajar, and within minutes they had called offering a lift – seems a good time to pause and appreciate this. The list of kindnesses and favours for which we could give thanks is endless, too many to list here, but they know what they are. The ironing will always be my favourite though!