Monday, September 17, 2007
On Mothers and Underwear
Recently, I was reminded by the very funny Katia about the "benefits" that come with a European mother-in-law. It seems that the Italian ironing obsession extends beyond its borders and into France. If you don't know what I am talking about, let me digress for a minute.
Italians iron EVERYTHING. And by everything I mean everything, encompassing more than mere shirts & pants, oh yes - socks, underwear, sheets, etc. I have to be honest with you - my Italian and I have fought over the evils of ironing. It seems initially, he had a misguided opinion that I would work full time AND iron his stuff. Yeah - I had to quickly squash that idea. Hey, if you want your socks and underwear ironed - either do it yourself or take it to the cleaners - love you lots =) I do realize that some things need to be ironed and if I stretch my imagination, I can understand ironing sheets (my mom can't sleep on wrinkled sheets) but I'm not doing it. Stef's mom loves to suggest teaching me to iron and chocks my refusals up to "crazy American" behavior. hehe
Take my word for it - it is a national obsession, I mean past-time in Italy, ask any expat living there.
~~~end of digression
Evidently, this extends to France. Katia tells a very funny story about visiting her in-laws; her French mother-in-law finding her dirty laundry bag, washes/dries it; and then proceeds to iron her thongs. =) Woohooo THIS scenario hits close to home.
A couple of years ago, my in-laws came to visit for a couple of weeks. One of those weeks, I was working so they basically hung around the house during the day. Well, one day I came home and Stef's mom was very excited. grabbing my hand, chattering at me in Italian, gesturing wildly, and dragging me upstairs to our bedroom (stef trailing in our wake). Much to my surprise, she pulls open my dresser drawers and proceeds to show my how nicely organized they are now, everything neatly ironed, folded and stacked. Oh but not just any drawers - lingerie drawers =) panties, nighties, you know, the regular things you keep in drawers that are not necessarily made for family viewing.
Stef then proceeds to tell me how hard his mom worked, organizing and ironing my "unmentionables" while his mom stood beaming at me. Of course, I had to thank her profusely all the while inside, I was mortified. When she was left properly praised, I smacked Stef and asked him WHY he let her get into my drawers??? He of course had that "what" look on his face and couldn't for the life of him understand why I'd care. I mean, sure some are plain white undies used purely for function, but do you really want to your mom digging through the other items picked out especially for sake of seduction? Yeah, I know I am a repressed American but COME ON. lol
He finally got the idea, but of course we never let on to his mom how mortified I was about the whole thing. And really, I know his very sweet mother only did it because she sees me as her daughter and thats what mom's do. I mean, my mom is happy to help her girls with cleaning or laundry, ironing or whatever we need, but she wouldn't dig through drawers to do it. LOL
I am totally lucky with both wonderful parents AND in-laws - I love them dearly. But it never ceases to amaze me the cultural differences I can see between the two. Each have their own frustrations and blessings. =) I must admit though, in regard to the panty issue - I am glad I'm not in that club alone! lol