I just discovered that my last post hurt my mother's feelings and as I reread it, I realize I wasn't totally clear about a couple of things. When I first got married my mother did not criticize me as a housewife or cleaner. On the contrary, she did everything she could to help me set up house in our new apartment. She gave me advice on juggling work with home and she encouraged and supported me.
I didn't mean to imply that my mother looked down on me when I didn't do the laundry. In fact, it was my mother who helped me relax a bit. At one point when I was pregnant with Danny and feeling really run-down and sick, I mentioned how bad I felt that I had let things slide around the house. I hadn't cooked as much as usual (couldn't stand the smells) and I was so tired after work that I often crashed on the couch for an hour or two before Bil got home. My mom told me to take it easy, that ordering a pizza every now and then would not kill my husband. She reassured me and helped me to prioritize so that the most important chores were being taken care of while I let some others slide.
Yes, I did feel pressure to measure up, but mostly that came from ME comparing myself to HER. I wanted to be like my mom. And my mom just happened to be one of those women who did pretty much everything herself, not by choice but from necessity. I have said this before, and I seriously am not exaggerating, but my father rarely helped my mom with chores, and never did so voluntarily. Not even the typically male chores like yard work or car maintenance. Under duress my father might build something, like my sister's and my set of bunk beds, but typically once he came home from work, he was done, no matter how much needed to be completed around the house. This did not change when my mother went to work full-time when I was in high school. The only thing that changed was my mother's workload getting significantly heavier.
So, really it is no wonder she was so impressed to see Bil cooking a really nice meal or my brother-in-law mopping the kitchen floor without complaining. It isn't that her standards for her girls were so high or that she thought less of us for asking our husbands to help. If anything, she was probably happy that we had more equal relationships.
And even though my mom rarely got help around the house, she has taught me that there is nothing wrong with asking for and receiving help from others. She has taught me lots of tricks to lessen the workload and she has helped me with tons of reorganizing and cleaning projects, not because she thinks my cleaning skills are sub-par (though they probably are) but because she knows how nice it is for me to have a clean house before my in-laws come to visit or to have sparkling windows before a baby shower that I am throwing.