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saraha
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We stayed at my sister's house this weekend for Christmas. She and her husband are VERY generous when it comes to gifts, and spare no expense for food or anything else. They even took the kids for a week last summer. My sister is ocd about her kitchen and dishes/pots and pans/knives etc. When I was trying to help her in the kitchen, she would go behind me and "fix" whatever I was doing. So I thought, fine, I'll just let her cook and I will clean up. So the next meal, I let her do all of the cooking and I washed all of the dishes by hand (even thought she has a dishwasher, but I don't load it right) She thanked me for cleaning up, but then went and washed a bunch of stuff again. So I thought, okay... I just won't help at all. So the next meal I didn't do anything, and when we were plating up the kids plates, I made sure to use paper so there wouldn't be so many dishes. She was very tired after cooking and cleaning up another meal for all 10 of us and I felt kind of bad. So the next meal, I offered to chop all of the vegetables for the soup she was making. In the mean time, a discussion had occured about how her husband treats her cookware and we talked about how she and I have different opinions. I like to load as much in the dishwasher I can and get out of the kitchen as fast as I can, she wants to lovingly hand wash everything. When I went to put the potatoes I had cubed for her soup in the pot, water splashed out. She stopped me while I was trying to add the potatoes and said "What are you DOING?" I kind of stood there looking at her, but still had a cutting board full of potatoes poised over the pot. I didn't know what else to do so I put the rest of the potatoes in, which did splash a little more water. She grabbed a rag and said "I know YOU don't care but..." and was wiping the stove off between the burners while there were three pots on cooking! Then she wiped the wall behind the stove, the outside of the pots that were on the stove, while everything was still cooking. I was so embarrassed, hurt and shocked that I didn't say anything and just walked away. I do care about her things. It is her kitchen and although I expressed that I do things differently in my kitchen, I have respected her way of doing things and tried my best to do things the way she likes them. I was not trying to be careless or passive aggressive or anything. I was legitimately trying to help. My husband was like, "Let it go, you know how she is" but I really don't want her to think I don't care about her things, or feel like she has to watch me because I won't take care of things.

 

This was yesterday afternoon, we were eating lunch before we headed home. I went ahead and cleaned up all of our stuff, packed up, and hugged her and told her what a pretty house she has, what a great cook and hostess she was and we left. Today I really want to call her or email her and say that we had a great time, but (gently) tell her that if people are genuinely trying to be helpful that maybe she should either nicley shoo them out of the kitchen and do it herself, or if she lets them help, be nicer, and that she hurt my feelings. I'm not drawing any lines in the sand or anything. And I won't, because who knows if I accidently said something that hurt her, but I was hurt that she thinks I don't respect her home.

 

Whew, thanks for letting me vent, I am sure by tomorrow I will be over it, but I don't know how to act when we go stay with them again this summer. And I wonder what she thinks about the kids, since she doesn't have any. I wonder if she thinks I let them run wild in her house or whatever. I know they want to take them for a week this summer too, but I don't want her to have them and feel like I haven't taught them well or that they are tearing up their house or whatever. Augh. I love my sister and want to spend time with her and she is a fun aunty for the kids.

 

Anyway,please tell me to get over it, and how I should proceed.

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Since you're already home, I'd let it go. Things can come across wrong in an email or letter without the benefit of body language. It's too late to say anything in person, but next time consider asking how she wants you to help, then and there. Don't necessarily point out that she's being too "picky" because she likely knows it but has the compulsion to say what she does anyway. (That would be my understanding.)

 

As to the kids for a week over the summer, I wouldn't. Though the offer sounds genuine, it might stress her out more than she thinks. Plus, what will the kids think and will she unintentionally say things that hurt their feelings?

 

All this is off the top of my head--I'm no expert.

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That sounds like a really tough visit! :grouphug:

 

 

You are absolutely right - you just have to let it go. I doubt that it will help to give her advice on how to treat people unless she asks for the advice - folks rarely take that well. I've found that some folks just have "their way" of doing things and the best help I can give is to perch on a chair with a drink and keep them company while they do everything "the right way". So be it.

 

 

As far as your kids - don't worry about it. She knows you do things differently and she knows your kids. If she invites them to stay for a week next summer, then that's great!
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Oh! She doesn't have any kids - that explains it.

 

I would send her a nice thank-you card (handwritten and very pretty, not an e-mail) saying how much you enjoyed your time at her house and include a sentence or two along the lines of "I hope you can forgive me for being a klutz in the kitchen. I know my methods aren't perfect, but I can assure you that my intentions are good." And then gush over her beautiful home again.

 

((hugs))

 

ETA - I just wanted to clarify that I, personally, don't feel like you were being a klutz in the kitchen. It sounds like you run your home just like I do mine. She is uptight and I doubt that will change, so asking for an apology will only frustrate you. Sometimes it is necessary to bend over backwards to maintain relationships.

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If you think it would help, I would talk to her and tell her that you were truly trying to help, that you respect her, but that you do things differently. Tell her that her harshness hurt your feelings when you were honestly trying to ease her load. Then listen to what she says. Ask her what would be best to do next time you are at her house. It does sound like she has OCD or something similar.

 

I hope you can work it out.

 

Edited to add: I like LibertyH's suggestion above, about the thank you note. If you do decide to talk to her, I would do it in person or on the phone, not by email, but maybe it is too late to have this conversation with her.

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:grouphug: I wonder if, at this very moment, your sister isn't agonising over the way she reacted. I can understand how your sister feels as I can feel the same way, especially when I'm stressed, but I mostly manage to keep it to myself because I know how horrible I'd feel if I were to snap at someone.

 

For now I'd let it go, 'least said soonest mended' and all that. But, in the meantime, I'd be working out how I might approach similar problems next I visit. If it were me I'd probably hold a running commentary along the lines of "Is it OK if I load the dishwasher, or do you want me to wash these by hand? Do tell me if I'm not doing them the way you like. Is it OK if the kids do that? It's fine for you tell them if you don't." I don't know you, or your sister, or what your relationship is like; maybe a complete heart-to-heart would work better for you. I usually find that I prefer to tip-toe around such issues when I'm only seeing someone a couple of times a year.

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If you think it would help, I would talk to her and tell her that you were truly trying to help, that you respect her, but that you do things differently. Tell her that her harshness hurt your feelings when you were honestly trying to ease her load. Then listen to what she says. Ask her what would be best to do next time you are at her house. It does sound like she has OCD or something similar.

 

I hope you can work it out.

 

Edited to add: I like LibertyH's suggestion above, about the thank you note. If you do decide to talk to her, I would do it in person or on the phone, not by email, but maybe it is too late to have this conversation with her.

 

 

I agree. I would tell her you were doing your best to do things the way she does and that it hurt your feelings when she snapped at you. Then ask her if she would prefer that you just stay out of the kitchen completely when you visit (maybe you could do something else for her while she is cooking).

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You realize that your sister is unusually uptight about her kitchen, right? She's the one with the problem...it's not a reflection on you or anything a normal person would do. Really, there is no reason to feel embarrassed. She acted in a way that hurt your feelings, but you didn't do anything to deserve such treatment. Your sister obviously has wonderful qualities that you appreciate, but she has her own quirks as well it seems. :grouphug: Don't take it personally.

 

I'm not sure what to think about the kids and your sister, though. Are you generally happy with how your children behave? If so, don't worry about what she thinks. What does she know, after all? It is very generous of your sister to take the kids during the summer. How does she treat the kids? Do they have a great time with her or do they also think their aunt is wound a little too tightly? My perspective is probably a little different from most folks but I wouldn't want my kids spend a week with anyone in my family (even the nice ones) because I just don't know what environment (emotional, not physical) they'll be in and how they'll be treated.

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I think you're being very forgiving. I would try to let this go and maybe write a nice note as suggested above, but go ahead and prep in your mind how you want to deal with it next time. She obviously is a bit OCD or something, so this will happen again in some form. I think it's reasonable to try and find a gentle way to let her know that you love her no matter how she is, but her words are hurting your feelings, which are hopefully more important to her than her things.

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Aaawww, I can understand your feelings being hurt. Since you are already home, I would not address this now. When you stay with her over the summer, I would ask her if she would prefer you help her or just keep her company. If she wants help, ask her how she'd like you to do it.

 

I wouldn't be too concerned over this. I think it would be easy to be OCD about a house when you don't have kids. She sounds like a generous and loving sister who is uptight. I wouldn't take it personally.

 

Do you two have good heart to heart discussions? If so, maybe one can be had this summer. It is ok to tell her you are nervous and don't want her to ever think you are disrespecting her home.

 

Do the kids have fun when they are at her house? I assume so since you say she is a fun aunt. Just make sure they are comfortable. My aunt was SOOOOO ocd. I grew up in CA and she lived in IL. I spent a month with my grandparents and went to visit her. Se made me so uncomfortable that I never wanted to go t her perfect mansin ever again. I remember picking her flowers when I was a little girl. She threw them out and yelled at me for making a mess in her house. Then as a teen she yelled at me for walking on her carpet. She got a pad of some sort to kneel down on and hand rubbed my foot prints out of her carpet. :(

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{{{hugs}}}

 

Here's the thing. You are using your brain for this situation; but your brain and hers operate differently. Hers has a glitch that gets quirky around certain things. I'm guessing she's "OCD" about more than her kitchen.

 

She won't "get" you (or anyone else) in the same way you don't automatically get her WHAT ARE YOU DOING? question - your brains are not processing the same way and therefore in many ways, you are not processing the same *information*.

 

Yes, let it go. But at some point, the following might "need" to occur:

 

"Sis, I love you. I treasure when we can spend time together. But I am letting you know that because of the level of anxiety your brain processes, I can't "help" you with hostessing or homemaking chores. Your perspective on how thlings "should" be feels and seems so right to you, and that's fine, and I am not going to argue the point. But the level of care and concern you show about homemaking issues is more than typical and it stresses me when I can't meet your standard."

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I don't think you SHOULD let it go. You yourself said you won't know how to be around her if and when you visit again. Years of that kind of thing piling up is not good

for any relationship. Talk to her or write to her and, as you said, gently, tell her you were only trying to help but felt like you were in her way more than you were helping her.

Itirate that while you and she obviously have different philosophies when it comes to running a kitchen, you truly wanted to help because she looked so tired. After that you should

just be quiet and let her respond. Will it be easy? No. But it will be better to get a handle on things BEFORE another visit, so you know what's expected.

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Just stay out of her kitchen next time. My Dad and I each prefer folks to NOT help and to STAY OUT of OUR kitchen. We have our own way of doing things, our own system - we may get tired, BUT we know where everything is, we have a master plan for each meal in our heads - please, I know you mean well but PLEASE don't help in the kitchen. Call us OCD all you want - just stay out. Please. Thank-you.

The kitchen introvert.

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Oh! She doesn't have any kids - that explains it.

 

I would send her a nice thank-you card (handwritten and very pretty, not an e-mail) saying how much you enjoyed your time at her house and include a sentence or two along the lines of "I hope you can forgive me for being a klutz in the kitchen. I know my methods aren't perfect, but I can assure you that my intentions are good." And then gush over her beautiful home again.

 

((hugs))

 

ETA - I just wanted to clarify that I, personally, don't feel like you were being a klutz in the kitchen. It sounds like you run your home just like I do mine. She is uptight and I doubt that will change, so asking for an apology will only frustrate you. Sometimes it is necessary to bend over backwards to maintain relationships.

 

 

This.

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Thank you all so much. My kids love going to stay with her. I think there are tense moments when they are there, but none of them have ever complained and they all eagerly look forward to visits. Besides, kids are not as easilly offended and are used to being bossed around. She only takes kids 5 and over. We have only been visinting with them a couple/ three times a year for the last few years, they had always lived too far away for more frequent contact. Now they live 5 hours away, so we have to visit over night. I don't have them here because our house is not as big as theirs, and because she nearly drove me nuts the one time they were here because she was trying to take over my kitchen. It was only for one day, and I did tell her then (like 3 years ago) to just go out of the kitchen, I would handle it. We are trying to build a good relationship after many years of just be geographically far apart and having two very different lifestyles. I am trying to be much better at not just spouting off my opinions on everything ( I am the older sister) and work really hard to make sure that I am not being "the big sister" I really appreciate everyone's advice. I don't think we are at the heart to heart stage, we tried that once and then didn't speak for like 6 months. I am aiming for people we see a few times a year and have a great, fun, but not necessarily deep relationship.

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eta: While I was posting you added that she takes over your kitchen...so now, I don't know! If she's so bent on helping at your house, you would think she'd realize that you just want to help too.

 

:grouphug:

 

Op, I have a question. From your post, it seems you tried different ways to help. Were those things a result of asking "Would you like help?" and your sister gave you a task "Oh yes, please cut the soup vegetables!"? Or did you pick the task "Here I'll cut the vegetables."? There is a difference.

 

When my sister visits, she asks "Do you need any help?" and I say "No thanks!" I will ask her for help if I need it. Another frequent visitor doesn't ask and just helps, even when I say, "Oh, just leave it. I'll get it." When she continues to help though I rather she wouldn't, I don't continue to protest because she's a guest but I really do wish she would just let me be the hostess.

 

On future visits, my advice is to tell your sister "I would really love to help. Please let me know what I can do." If a whole mealtime goes by and she doesn't ask for help, you can add "I feel badly for not helping. Please don't hesitate to ask if you need anything."

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I'd say nothing (but thanks) for now. Let everything settle until you two are planning another visit, then bring it up among the details and say something like, "Hey, you know I think we should talk a bit about kitchen help. I can't figure out how to show you the most kindness I can, because I know it's hard to cook and clean for a crowd, but I don't know if my attempts at being helpful actually make it better or worse for you. We are so different in the kitchen! I feel a bit like I'm stepping on toes if I do help, but I feel like I'm just "putting my feet up" if I don't at least offer. It's a touch awkward, so I thought we should talk. What are your thoughts?

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You've gotten good advice on the helping in the kitchen issue.....the bigger issue, to me, is that she spoke sharply and not politely to you. And that's what makes you uncomfortable about seeing her again.

 

I might let this time go, but in the future have a sentence or two you can say to get 'your' message across. Gently, but firmly.

 

Frankly, I would offer to help in the kitchen and if she said no, I'd go play with the kids.

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Sounds like OCD to me, but it's no excuse to be rude. Part of being an adult is learning to button up your lip when your irrational self wants to lash out at people. I have OCD moments and have learned to just be uncomfortable some times.

 

I would let it go at this point, and next time, don't help. Or offer to help but gently say that you won't be offended if she says no, since people in her kitchen seem to give her such distress.

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Just stay out of her kitchen next time. My Dad and I each prefer folks to NOT help and to STAY OUT of OUR kitchen. We have our own way of doing things, our own system - we may get tired, BUT we know where everything is, we have a master plan for each meal in our heads - please, I know you mean well but PLEASE don't help in the kitchen. Call us OCD all you want - just stay out. Please. Thank-you.

The kitchen introvert.

 

 

This.

 

And if she tried to take over my kitchen, I'd tell her to get out. Ahem. I mean I'd tell her, "oh no. I've got everything the way I want it in here, why don't you sit at the table and chat with me? Want some baileys in that coffee?"

 

If she didn't get the hint... Well. We won't go into that unpleasantness. lol

 

ETA:

Is it awful of me that my first thought upon reading your potato/water issue was, "Why in the world would someone add potatos to water while the pot is on the stove?! Put potatoes in pot, then add water, then put on stove is the safer reasonable way to do it. Why is she doing that?" I wouldn't have barked at you for it, but yeahhh. I'd totally be having a minor internal mental spaz. LOL I would clean up the water and outside of pots without comment because I always clean as I go. It's a lot easier to clean as I go than leaving it for later to be hardened and piled up.

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I agree with Joanne's advice. I really think the gushy thank-you note is not a good idea. Whether or not she is OCD, she was unkind to you. I don't think acting like that didn't happen helps anything. It seems to me that she is placing too much (yes, I'm making a judgement) importance on her home & not enough on relationships with loved ones, whether she can help it or not. Continuing to complement her on that which she places too much emphasis on seems counter-productive. I could be wrong, though. I'm not a professional. Just my 2c.

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That sounds like a really tough visit! :grouphug:

 

 

You are absolutely right - you just have to let it go. I doubt that it will help to give her advice on how to treat people unless she asks for the advice - folks rarely take that well. I've found that some folks just have "their way" of doing things and the best help I can give is to perch on a chair with a drink and keep them company while they do everything "the right way". So be it.

 

 

As far as your kids - don't worry about it. She knows you do things differently and she knows your kids. If she invites them to stay for a week next summer, then that's great!

 

 

I agree, except that I'd only offer the kids for a weekend instead of a week.

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I think it would be helpful to tell her what it is that makes it difficult for you . I am not a fan of "letting it blow over" because things get buried, she could be building up resentment over the years, etc.

 

However, email is the worst possible means to communicate this kind of thing. Face-to-face is best, but probably on neutral territory. Phone call might work.

 

I think if it happens again at her house, that I would communicate in real time: " I feel very uncomfortable(or whatever it is you feel) when I try to help and then you rewash everything I do. Though I try to do it your way, it's just beyond my abilities to comprehend and execute. I want you to know that I sincerely want to help, but wonder if you would actually prefer it if I didn't. "

 

This is partly to keep up your relationship, as much as it depends on you. But I am guessing you would also be doing her dh and kids a favor in the long run by lovingly expressing the impact of the OCD behavior on you, but letting her choose whether or not she wants your imperfect help or prefers to do it herself.

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I wouldn't address it this time around, but when you stay with her again maybe you can ask her what she'd like you to do. Does she prefer to just do everything herself? You can let her know that you want to help, but it seemed like she wasn't pleased with your help last time.

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I know that she is this way, that is why I was trying so hard to do things the way she wanted them. I wanted her to be able to enjoy having us there, so I was trying to make sure I did exactly what she asked. Everything I did were things she suggested. She suggested I peel and cut up the potatoes. She had already put the pot on the stove and had a broth going that I was adding the potatoes to. I guess I could have taken the pot back off the stove, but that honestly didn't occur to me. She really wants us to be there, and most of the visit is always a lot of fun, games, movies, conversation.

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ETA:

Is it awful of me that my first thought upon reading your potato/water issue was, "Why in the world would someone add potatos to water while the pot is on the stove?! Put potatoes in pot, then add water, then put on stove is the safer reasonable way to do it. Why is she doing that?" I wouldn't have barked at you for it, but yeahhh. I'd totally be having a minor internal mental spaz. LOL I would clean up the water and outside of pots without comment because I always clean as I go. It's a lot easier to clean as I go than leaving it for later to be hardened and piled up.

 

 

Because when you're making soup, the veggies usually get added to the pot later so they don't turn to mush?

 

I agree that you should probably just let it go - for now. However, I would have the conversation at or right before the next visit, so you and she are both aware of the dynamics and "rules" going in to the visit.

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Maybe you should let it go but I never would be able to. Every time I were around her again I'd be paranoid that no matter what I did it would be wrong. And every conversation would be somehow "tainted" by this episode. That probably isn't very healthy of me, but I also don't think it's particularly healthy to just let stuff like this fester.

 

If it were me, I'd call and say "Look, we had a GREAT time with you, but you were clearly bothered by something when I was trying to help. Can we talk about it so I don't do whatever it is again? All I thought I was doing was putting potatoes in a pot but there was obviously something more to it for you, so I need to know what that is."

 

For me, it would be much better to clear the air, and not in a formal way like a thank-you note. She's your sister. I know those relationships can be complicated (believe me....I have 5 siblings!) but I think it's better to just get it out on the table. If she thinks you were disrespecting your things you can always apologize for how it appeared but assure her it wasn't the case, then talk through what she would prefer that you do when you're there again. And THEN you should be able to let it go. In my opinion. :-)

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Aaawww, I can understand your feelings being hurt. Since you are already home, I would not address this now. When you stay with her over the summer, I would ask her if she would prefer you help her or just keep her company. If she wants help, ask her how she'd like you to do it. I wouldn't be too concerned over this.

 

:iagree:

 

If you're going to say something, you need to do it when the incident occurs, not afterward in a note or on the phone. If she upset you when she made her comments, you should have confronted her about it at the time. At this point, I can't imagine that it will do anything but drive a wedge between you if you bring up the issue.

 

Thank her for a wonderful time, and leave it at that. Next time around, do what Denise suggested.

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Aaawww, I can understand your feelings being hurt. Since you are already home, I would not address this now. When you stay with her over the summer, I would ask her if she would prefer you help her or just keep her company. If she wants help, ask her how she'd like you to do it.

 

I wouldn't be too concerned over this. I think it would be easy to be OCD about a house when you don't have kids. She sounds like a generous and loving sister who is uptight. I wouldn't take it personally.

 

Do you two have good heart to heart discussions? If so, maybe one can be had this summer. It is ok to tell her you are nervous and don't want her to ever think you are disrespecting her home.

 

Do the kids have fun when they are at her house? I assume so since you say she is a fun aunt. Just make sure they are comfortable. My aunt was SOOOOO ocd. I grew up in CA and she lived in IL. I spent a month with my grandparents and went to visit her. Se made me so uncomfortable that I never wanted to go t her perfect mansin ever again. I remember picking her flowers when I was a little girl. She threw them out and yelled at me for making a mess in her house. Then as a teen she yelled at me for walking on her carpet. She got a pad of some sort to kneel down on and hand rubbed my foot prints out of her carpet. :(

 

 

 

DM-- this is so kind. :)

 

Since she has had you and your over, it seems she loves your children/hosts them, I would not address it if you feel you can't without hurting feelings (yours and her's!) Folks have such varying and tremendous needs. I do think it is exhausting~~ life and relationships--- are so complicated! She may be one of those people who knows she suffers from certain mental health issues, and is trying to do the best she can with them. Forgive as you can, without letting your family suffer.

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I'd of behaved *exactly* the same way; I don't think the problem is all that deep.

 

Does she happen to have or live in an area with cockroaches?

 

If so, there's your answer. Real simple.

 

 

Re-washing handwash after a competent adult washes them? Not "normal".

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Who's sister is normal? Laughing..not any of mine.

 

My closest sister and I cannot be in the same kitchen together, it's a disaster if we try. We cannot help each other laundry; I don't fold like she does and vice-versa. No one enjoys being in the kitchen with me, and again...vice versa. I have a lot of friends who's mothers are exactly like this in the kitchen.

 

If I had someone I was close to, and I suspected genuine full blown out clinical OCD etc., I would just give them a wide berth and a ton of understanding, try to be supportive and listen if not part of a prescribed treatment plan if it was debilitating enough and I were involved and in day to day interaction with them.

 

I didn't see any reference to re-washing handwash. Must have missed it; wouldn't be the first time.

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We stayed at my sister's house this weekend for Christmas. She and her husband are VERY generous when it comes to gifts, and spare no expense for food or anything else. They even took the kids for a week last summer. My sister is ocd about her kitchen and dishes/pots and pans/knives etc. When I was trying to help her in the kitchen, she would go behind me and "fix" whatever I was doing. So I thought, fine, I'll just let her cook and I will clean up. So the next meal, I let her do all of the cooking and I washed all of the dishes by hand (even thought she has a dishwasher, but I don't load it right) She thanked me for cleaning up, but then went and washed a bunch of stuff again. So I thought, okay... I just won't help at all. So the next meal I didn't do anything, and when we were plating up the kids plates, I made sure to use paper so there wouldn't be so many dishes. She was very tired after cooking and cleaning up another meal for all 10 of us and I felt kind of bad. So the next meal, I offered to chop all of the vegetables for the soup she was making. In the mean time, a discussion had occured about how her husband treats her cookware and we talked about how she and I have different opinions. I like to load as much in the dishwasher I can and get out of the kitchen as fast as I can, she wants to lovingly hand wash everything. When I went to put the potatoes I had cubed for her soup in the pot, water splashed out. She stopped me while I was trying to add the potatoes and said "What are you DOING?" I kind of stood there looking at her, but still had a cutting board full of potatoes poised over the pot. I didn't know what else to do so I put the rest of the potatoes in, which did splash a little more water. She grabbed a rag and said "I know YOU don't care but..." and was wiping the stove off between the burners while there were three pots on cooking! Then she wiped the wall behind the stove, the outside of the pots that were on the stove, while everything was still cooking. I was so embarrassed, hurt and shocked that I didn't say anything and just walked away. I do care about her things. It is her kitchen and although I expressed that I do things differently in my kitchen, I have respected her way of doing things and tried my best to do things the way she likes them. I was not trying to be careless or passive aggressive or anything. I was legitimately trying to help. My husband was like, "Let it go, you know how she is" but I really don't want her to think I don't care about her things, or feel like she has to watch me because I won't take care of things.

 

This was yesterday afternoon, we were eating lunch before we headed home. I went ahead and cleaned up all of our stuff, packed up, and hugged her and told her what a pretty house she has, what a great cook and hostess she was and we left. Today I really want to call her or email her and say that we had a great time, but (gently) tell her that if people are genuinely trying to be helpful that maybe she should either nicley shoo them out of the kitchen and do it herself, or if she lets them help, be nicer, and that she hurt my feelings. I'm not drawing any lines in the sand or anything. And I won't, because who knows if I accidently said something that hurt her, but I was hurt that she thinks I don't respect her home.

 

Whew, thanks for letting me vent, I am sure by tomorrow I will be over it, but I don't know how to act when we go stay with them again this summer. And I wonder what she thinks about the kids, since she doesn't have any. I wonder if she thinks I let them run wild in her house or whatever. I know they want to take them for a week this summer too, but I don't want her to have them and feel like I haven't taught them well or that they are tearing up their house or whatever. Augh. I love my sister and want to spend time with her and she is a fun aunty for the kids.

 

Anyway,please tell me to get over it, and how I should proceed.

 

I'd probably call her, and thank her for being such a great hostess, and tell her that I was really sorry that I seemed to be in her way in the kitchen and not do things the way she normally did them. Would she prefer that I not help in the kitchen in the future? Maybe I could do some laundry, play with the kids, or some other job that would be more helpful to her?

 

That way, you find out what the real issue is, without offending her. Hopefully, she will just say, "Yeah, I'm really particular and get bent out of shape if someone else does anything in my kitchen. I know I'm weird about it. Could you just let me do that, and maybe do (whatever) instead?"

 

If you just begin criticizing, and suggesting how she should treat you in the future (even if she was wrong), that will just cut off the conversation.

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I agree. I would tell her you were doing your best to do things the way she does and that it hurt your feelings when she snapped at you. Then ask her if she would prefer that you just stay out of the kitchen completely when you visit (maybe you could do something else for her while she is cooking).

 

I agree with this. She has major OCD issues and really can't help it. Do what you can to mend things with her and see how she prefers you help in the future.

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Personally, I'd send her a huge thank you and let everything go. When I was there, I'd see if there was any way to help NOT in the kitchen and not in her eyesight, like corralling all the kids for a story, or bringing the wine, or setting and bussing the table.

 

I wouldn't "confront" her on this. She either knows and agonizes, or she doesn't know and won't "hear" you.

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In the mean time, a discussion had occured about how her husband treats her cookware and we talked about how she and I have different opinions. I like to load as much in the dishwasher I can and get out of the kitchen as fast as I can, she wants to lovingly hand wash everything. When I went to put the potatoes I had cubed for her soup in the pot, water splashed out. She stopped me while I was trying to add the potatoes and said "What are you DOING?" I kind of stood there looking at her, but still had a cutting board full of potatoes poised over the pot. I didn't know what else to do so I put the rest of the potatoes in, which did splash a little more water. She grabbed a rag and said "I know YOU don't care but..." and was wiping the stove off between the burners while there were three pots on cooking! Then she wiped the wall behind the stove, the outside of the pots that were on the stove, while everything was still cooking.

 

Was she like this growing up?

 

If not, I'd find somehow to visit with her alone and find out how her marriage is doing.

 

I'm betting she is being treated about as well as her cookware, and has received some sharp words about not keeping a "clean enough" house.

 

 

a

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This is my MIL - and to some extent dh as well. Only dh comes into MY kitchen and tries to fix whatever it is that I've done wrong, even though he doesn't cook.

 

It's not a ' one right way' of handling it situation. I try to help mil and she gets irritated. I give up and just try to corral the kids while she's cooking and she's angry that I haven't helped. If I react at all to her ugly outbursts then she's pouty and upset because we obviously don't appreciate all she does.

 

Now it's a little different because she is your sister - not mil. If it were my sister I would probably try to make a joke of it. When she's redoing whatever you've just done make a silly comment about how YOUR kitchen manuel says to do it differently. This is how I handle things with dh. He *knows* he's being irrational/ obnoxious and I try to gently point that out without losing my temper myself.

 

Honestly though - I can't remember your kids ages - we don't leave the kids with mil. I know mil loves our kids to death. However her first instinct is to blow up and blame for every little mess. I vividly remember her reaming my 3 yo niece for pooping in her pullup when she was potty training. I don't think she has a real idea of how hateful she sounds but I don't care. I don't want my kids to feel like every mistake or accident is a personal fault. Until they are old enough to deal with that I will protect them from it.

 

Dh does the same thing sometimes- blow up first then actually see if the situation warranted anger of any sort. Like I said, he recognizes his irrationality and promptly apoligizes. He's been working hard on it. And the kids are working hard on not letting the initial reaction define their relationship - but its hard.

 

(((Hugs)))) (emoticons don't work on my phone)

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Ask "how" instead of "what." What questions only allow her to comfortably assign a task. How takes it one step further. How can I best help you? How would you like this done? How do you prefer ......... to look? It puts more control in her sphere and conveys that you are respecting her choices in her home. (not that you don't already)

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Thanks everybody. So last night I called her; I thanked her for the great time we had, told her about a cute little place we stopped at on the way home, then said I was sorry if we stressed her out. She said we hadn't stressed her out, well there were moments but overall she had a great weekend too, and genuinely seemed confused. I said it seemed like I stressed her out in the kitchen, and that if there is something else I can do that would be more helpful, I would be glad to do it. She said she thought we had worked good together in the kitchen???? Anyway, it was a little awkward, but I think we left it on a good note. I haven't sent her Christmas card yet, so I am going to make sure to add a note that thanks her again and tells her how pretty her decorations were or something. I know she is OCD about her kitchen, her husband does too, and they disagree about it all of the time. He is a fabulous cook too and loves to do it. So there is a lot of tension there. Looking back, I could see how he was trying to head some of this off by suggesting that I go sit down, but he wasnt the one doing all of the work, so I didin't really listen to him. I know that she can be the person who lashes out viciously, and that she struggles to keep that under control, and now I think she might not even remember doing it. I think the best way to handle this in the future will be to just try to find other ways to help. I guess at the time I was thinking, she is making another meal for all 10 of us and I should help, because you know,that is what you do, you pitch in and help. I didn't specifically mention what she said, but I don't think she even remembers it since she said she thought we worked well together in the kitchen, but that is not how I remember it.

 

I don't worry too much about the kids, one because she really loves them and she treats them very well. Also, they don't help in the kitchen. I think I will remind them about picking up after themselves and not bickering, but seriously, if they are not actively doing something together someplace or playing a game, they are spread out all over the house watching any of the four tvs or playing on their computers. They watch way too much tv while they are there, but I think it gives everyone space when my sister needs it.

 

Thanks again everyone for helping me think this through, because honestly, I really hadn't thought about how her tendencies should be worked around until now.

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I have not read all of the posts, but obviously you are hurt, and I want to help. Accordingly, I want you to know that you are free to come to my kitchen any time, any day, and clean it. I will keep my mouth shut and look appreciative. You want to clean the oven? Wash dishes? Clean out the fridge? Let me know, and I will point you in the right direction. I am here to help.

 

Terri

 

 

 

 

 

 

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:grouphug: I'd let it go...Send a lovely thank-you and let it be. In future, ask what and how she'd like you to help or not help. OCD and no kids might make her a bit stressed with people invading her space....I'm sure she loves you, but she is just used to things her way.

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As someone who is OCD and uptight about EVERYTHING (especially food and the way things are handled in the kitchen), I have to say that I actually identified a lot with your sister here. As I was reading, I thought, "Wow. That sounds like something that I might do/say." Having said that, I can almost promise you that she was not intending on being hurtful to you. In fact, it would probably be the very last thing that she'd want to do. The posters above were correct in saying that it is not your issue, it is definitely hers. Chances are, she's probably well aware of it too. People offer to help me, and at first I will agree but then, I get annoyed with the way they're dripping poultry juice all over the place or not 'properly' washing the vegetables and I realize that it's far less stressful for me to just do it all myself.

 

Also, while it's stressful for me to handle at the time of the event, I rarely remember what anyone specifically did that stressed me, or what they did 'wrong'. So she may not remember it the way that you do. I don't see the person behind the person behind the behavior. Just the behavior. For example, when you were dumping the potatoes and she stopped you.... if that were me, I would stop the potatoes from splashing and then I would focus on THEM and fixing THEM and the mess that THEY had made. It's not about the person. It's about the process and methodology behind the details. Very difficult to explain. She likely has a separation between you and the event. Unfortunately, because your brain doesn't work that way, you are not able to separate her actions from the event. My husband routinely loads the dishwasher incorrectly. I will stop him as he's doing it and say, "Stop. They don't go that direction." The entire time I'm just staring at the backwards bowl. I'm not even thinking about him, just obsessing over fixing the bowl so that it's facing the correct way. Try your best to let it go. I promise that she wasn't intentionally trying to hurt you.

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Today I really want to call her or email her and say that we had a great time, but (gently) tell her that if people are genuinely trying to be helpful that maybe she should either nicley shoo them out of the kitchen and do it herself, or if she lets them help, be nicer, and that she hurt my feelings. I'm not drawing any lines in the sand or anything. And I won't, because who knows if I accidently said something that hurt her, but I was hurt that she thinks I don't respect her home.

do not do that. be gracious - she is ocd. 'apologize' for any distress to her you caused by not doing things to her standards. You can tell her you like to be able to help because she does so much and you're very grateful and would never want to take advantage of her generosity, but you're afraid you're just not up to performing to her standards.

 

do this not because you feel you are inferior - but because SHE IS OCD and you are being gracious. (she may or may not realize she's ocd. dd has a friend who is medicated for OCD - I assure you, friend. does. not. like. it. but neither can she control it.)

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:grouphug: SInce you have already gotten home and it wasn't brought up in her home I would let it go. I know me and my temper, the minute my sister started in with "i know you don't care but..." I would have replied with "I care about people's feelings not material items" and left. But I would consider those fightin' words.

 

I am sorry she hurt your feelings and made you feel foolish in the kitchen. IMO she has her priorities in the wrong places and is going to damage relationships for the sake of pots and pans.

 

Let it go, but if she brings up a single complaint about how people don't care about her stuff I would then let her know how you felt. As for this summer, I would be hesitant to let my kids go for a week. I would not automatically say no, but I would worry about her hurting my kids feelings or them feeling they are in a prison for the week rather than a loving aunt's place because she will be so anal about any messes, even normal kid ones etc.

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