NIGHTMARE ON SALE STREET

We took the plunge and decided to sell our family home to capitalise on the crazy growth in our area. In doing so, we had to find a rental house to live in while we look for our next home. People say moving house and selling a house are two of life’s most stressful events. To be honest, I think finding a house to live in might rival both.

We spent all of last December and half of January this year attending inspection upon inspection to find a suitable rental house. We trawled through numerous listings on the internet, many of which had beautiful photos, but in real life were dumps. Many places were run-down, a lot were too expensive for us, and very few met our expectations. And the paperwork to apply for one of these places… horrendously tedious. We did end up finding a small townhouse that mostly fit the bill and the process of packing up ten years of living began shortly after.

Can I just say that even as someone who lives by the Kondo philosophy, the accumulation of junk over ten years was surprising. I mean, it shouldn’t be given my children are the only grandkids and are doted on by both sides. And even with the regular spring clean that I do with the unwanted toys, I still had to get rid of a truckload of unwanted goods.

Also, no one tells you about the sadness of leaving the family home – a place of familiarity and security. There were many nights I lay awake, restless in thought and questioning my decisions to sell.

After moving house, I jumped into sprucing up our old home for listing. A good number of hours were spent cleaning, weeding and mulching to get the surrounding gardens looking respectable. After the gardens were done, I got professional cleaners in to give the house a once-over. It was a complete waste of money. They did a poor job, damaged the paint on feature walls and stainless steel surfaces with their harsh chemicals, and caused me more money in repairs as a result. Tradespeople were in short supply, so we ended up hiring the first available handyman to fix the repairs. He did a pretty shoddy job. Eventually, after about three weeks, I had the house in a reasonable state for sale. I was ready to hand over to the real estate agent and be done. How wrong I was!

My elderly neighbour started the process of selling her home a few weeks ahead of us. We’ve been neighbours for ten years and over that time, we’ve traded gifts and birthday wishes. We have shared many conversations about family and well-being. Selling our houses at the same time wasn’t supposed to be an issue. But it became a problem and I was blindsided by my neighbour’s cold brush off. Money changes people!

Suddenly, I found myself with a dead rat in my yard on the first open house inspection and illegally dumped hard rubbish in front of my sale board on the second. Now, I’m not blaming anyone, only pointing out that it was a rather big coincidence that my first inspections were marred with incidents. My agent kept calling about noisy neighbours trekking through the house and callously opening and slamming cupboards. It became apparent that I had offended someone and instead of approaching me with concerns, I was propelled back to high school antics and group mob mentality intimidation tactics.

On the day of my neighbour’s auction, I sent a text message wishing her all the best despite my better instincts telling me to avoid poking an angry bear. I genuinely wanted her to get a great sale. I forced myself to attend the auction for information gathering and was confronted by a group of neighbours who were loudly voicing their displeasure, seemingly about me. These normally level-headed people formed an angry mob by feeding off of each other’s negative energy. They aimed their collective frustrations at me, someone who they didn’t know from a bar of soap. Why were they all so angry?

After waiting on tenterhooks for retribution from neighbours for the treasonous act of daring to sell my house at the same time as my neighbour, my house finally sold today without a hitch. No one came to yell obscenities or try to disrupt proceedings. No one even bothered to come except my neighbour, who seemed like she was back to her old self. We traded a few words and all seemed well. Whatever bee under her bonnet was gone and her hive of supporting neighbours had settled.

I am beyond relieved to put this saga behind me. No one should ever go through a trifecta of life’s most stressful events, let alone add a bunch of agitated neighbours to the mix. If I’ve learnt anything from this experience, it’s that I don’t give myself enough credit in my ability to face life’s challenges. I let self-doubt and anxiety take root in my psyche more often than not. So, next time life throws me a curveball, I’m going to remind myself that I’m a capable person with years of experience under my belt, both with successes and failures. Whatever happens, I know that I’ve given my best, and in the end, that is what matters the most!

Copyright © 2022, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

PRIVACY POLICY

MOTHER-IN-FLAWS

I’ll start off by saying this post is more of a rant than anything, so I apologise in advance for the unleashing of pent up emotions I’m about to heap on you.

It’s about my mother-in-law. I could probably just leave it at that and you’ll all be nodding your heads and expressing your commiseration. Well, those of you who have had or have one, and know of the pain.

I promised my children I would never end up like their grandmothers. I would not be overbearing, impose on their time and space, offer unsolicited advice, or suggest they should take up hobbies and activities just because I like them. My daughter told me it was bound to happen and that old people were silly and forgetful. I hope to prove her wrong!

I read somewhere that one in four daughters-in-law hate their mother-in-law, with half claiming to have difficult or uncomfortable relationships. Reasons for daughters-in-law resentment stemmed from their mother-in-law’s excessive maternal jealousy and asserting parenting dominance. From the looks of things, there are plenty of stories online about difficult, emotionally manipulative and outright batsh!t crazy mother-in-laws. You may even have one of those! Please do tell us in the comments section if you have a story or two.

I have always had a tedious relationship with my mother-in-law. We’ve never really gotten along. I’m too headstrong in my beliefs and parenting style, and I’m not afraid to voice my opinions. Similarly, my mother-in-law is stubborn, volatile and set in her ways. At times, it’s been a clash of wills between the two of us with surrounding family members becoming collateral damage.

Having children brought forth a multitude of tension to our already fraught relationship. As a new mother, I felt offended whenever my mother-in-law and my mother offered parenting advice, usually because it was often outdated and questioned my competence as a mother.

I raised so and so many children and they turned out fine. This is what we did when we had young children. Blah, blah, blah!

Can I just say, I hate it when people tell me how to parent based on their experiences, no matter how well-intentioned? Sure, your kids survived but it doesn’t mean you did a great job! My mother likes to remind me that I turned out ok, so her parenting must have been great. I turned out “ok” despite her parenting not because of it.

When my daughter was 2-years-old, tensions between my mother-in-law and I built to such extremes that we ended up in a major blow-up after she called my mother unintelligent. She was jealous my mother got to babysit while I worked a full-time job, and the two of them clashed whenever their time crossed paths. Being from different cultures and having a language barrier meant the two grandmothers could not find common ground. The blow-up caused a deeper rift in our relationship and I refused to have anything to do with her.

Several years later, the arrival of my son somewhat healed the relationship. We are now civil and respectful enough towards each other to make the relationship functional and comfortable for those around us and for her to have a meaningful relationship with the children. It’s thought that a poor relationship between grandparents and children-in-law results in a poorer relationship with grandchildren. I don’t want that for my children so I try, oh do I try.

However, every time they come to stay, I can’t help but feel anxious. I don’t like having my personal space invaded. Plus we have two bedrooms so our whole family squishes into one to cater for guests. Routines for the children are disrupted. Sometimes we have to host for their guests who come to visit them.

Next week, we will be breaking the rules to allow them to stay over. I relented despite feeling nervous about the consequences of being dobbed in by neighbours and fined. I can’t say no without looking like a b!tch because they’ve not seen the children since lockdown started in August.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate my mother-in-law. I just don’t relish spending time with her because I find the things she says and does grating on my nerves. My mother-in-law is a wonderful grandmother and is well-meaning. However, she is simply not a self-aware person. My mother-in-law repeats the same stories over and over, talks about people like we know them and care, is woefully ignorant, and occasionally racist. She also does what she wants and refuses to budge on anything once her mind is set.

For example, today I thought I’d be nice and offered to buy food for their stay and asked what dinners might suit them. My mother-in-law told me she wanted to cook a roast while she was with us. She insisted on paying and to avoid arguing over money, I suggested we buy the meat when they were in town. The supermarket is literally a 5 min walk, just up the road from us. But no, being stubborn, she insisted on buying the roast, freezing it, and then carting raw meat in an esky for a 7-hour drive instead. To say it set my teeth on edge is an understatement.

I can only pray for the Universe to give me the strength to hold my tongue and grant me an abundance of patience to get me through the next two weeks.

My husband says I can’t change people and there’s no use getting upset or annoyed. He says I need to look at this from a learning perspective. I’m not exactly sure what bulldust he’s been sniffing or what kind of learning he’s expecting of me, so I’m gonna have to throw a question into the ether.

Does anyone have suggestions on how to find their inner Zen while having their patience tested?

Copyright © 2021, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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PUBLIC SPEAKING PAIN

Yesterday I finished the first week of my face-to-face classes to become an adult educator. It was a tough week of learning and trying to absorb new information, and doing things outside of my comfort zone.

The class was small with about twelve students of differing ages and backgrounds being taught by a knowledgeable trainer. Everyone had similar challenges in balancing studies with life commitments, and so they were supportive and helpful with one another. It was a great atmosphere to be a part of.

Despite some experience with public speaking in previous jobs and volunteering in classrooms, I get nervous standing in front of a group and talking.

It doesn’t matter if I’m talking to children or adults, I’ll still react the same. It could be a bunch of staring lizards and I suspect I’d still get the shaky hands, tremor in the voice and sweating.

On the first day of classes, we had to do introductions. Say your name, why you’re there and what you want to improve on. If you wanted to elaborate further, you could talk about a hobby. There were talking prompts on the board. Sounds easy right? You’re talking about subject matter that you’re an expert on…you.

There’s just something about having the focus of your peers and standing in front of a room that automatically has my pulse racing and my hands wringing. I got through it but internally berated my performance, dissecting it to pieces. I wondered how others felt despite everyone seeming to sail through their introductions.

The next few days, the trainer got us doing one on one, small group and class activities. There were fun learning tasks, short quick “energisers” (quick games to refresh during the arvo slump), and public speaking tasks.

It was rather clever how the trainer worked on building group rapport to create a supportive and comfortable environment for us to do talks. Initially, the trainer got us to do micro public speaking tasks, increasing the time and complexity as the days went on.

By the last day, we had to give a lesson to last twenty minutes that involved a resource of some kind and ideally involved class participation.

I used a PowerPoint presentation on customer service and looked at some of the worst scenarios I’ve experienced. One example involved a customer double parking his Mercedes-Benz in front of the pharmacy and demanding I did his prescription quickly because he didn’t want a ticket. That was used to explain the entitled customer.

After each slide, I tried getting audience participation by asking them their ideas of how I chose to respond in each of the scenarios, using multiple choices as options. It generated some interaction but nowhere to the extent of other people’s talks.

I also got a couple of people up to role-play a scenario but that didn’t work too well. I think I needed to work on my lesson plan and found better ways of generating fun, practical and engaging activities. What I learnt from watching other people do their presentations was that I needed to make my delivery more engaging.

I knew that I’d be more critical of myself, and how I thought I performed wouldn’t necessarily be accurate, so I asked the trainer for her feedback.

Hand tremors, sweaty armpits and hands, shaky voice, racing pulse and jitters aside, I needed to know how I “presented” to others.

The trainer opted for the sandwich method. You know, one good comment on either side of a constructive comment.

“You’re really professional and presentation was great. You could smile more. You look stern, a bit serious. You could inject a bit of humour to lighten the talk. Otherwise, it was good.”

I need to work on my delivery. The problem is, I’m pretty sure smiling isn’t possible when I’m in fight, flight or freeze mode. As for humour, does laughing at your own jokes count?

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