I've been feeling like I should be doing more to help around the house. After all, at home I'd do more to help, and I know that a daughter-in-law is supposed to do a lot of things to take the load off the mother-in-law. But every time I try to be useful, okaasan always tells me it's "no problem" and then does everything herself. Like when I tried to help clear the table and wash the dishes—I didn't know where the dish rack went and I guess she didn't like the way I stacked the dishes because she redid them as soon as I left the kitchen. I got the distinct impression that she thought it was much easier just to do it herself. My sister-in-law, Keiko, who's still single, says I shouldn't worry about it, okaasan's always like that.
It's been over two months since we got married and I moved in here, and I'm beginning to see how Keiko doesn't do much to help, just lets Okaasan wait on her (let alone the guys!). But I don't feel right doing that. I do pick up our futons and pile them into the closet when we get up, but lots of times when I come back from class they're hanging outside over the wall to air. The one time I did lug everything out there, it clouded right up and I just managed to get it all back in before it rained.
So I decided to do something for everybody—not just take care of my own stuff. I figured I could do the laundry because even though okaasan does it practically every day, it always starts to pile up again right away. I thought I had watched her do it enough times that I could do it by myself. I knew she would take over if she saw me doing it, so I waited until Saturday when she went out shopping after lunch. It isn't a big machine and it was harder to figure out than I thought, so it took a lot longer than I expected. They don't have a dryer so I was out back hanging out the clean things when okaasan got home. I could tell right away she wasn't happy but she didn't say anything. She put away the groceries and started dinner and I finished hanging the laundry.
Because it was Saturday, we could all eat dinner together. Keiko came in and asked how come the laundry was still outside even though it was getting dark. All of a sudden okaasan started to cry. I think everyone was as shocked as I was. Otoosan asked what the matter was and she just said "Devita did the laundry in the afternoon." Otoosan and Keiko looked at me and okaasan cried. I had no idea what I did wrong. Then I couldn't help it—I started crying too. I said, "I just wanted to help."
Okaasan finally calmed down enough to tell me that it's bad, for some reason, for the laundry to be hanging out in the evening. I apologized and told her I didn't think it would take so long. Then otoosan jumped in and said of course I would be slow because I was new at doing things.
He told Okaasan that she had to stop treating me like a guest and start treating me like a daughter-in-law: teach me how to do things the right way and stop doing everything herself. Then he turned to me and said "And you just be sure you do things the way she shows you!" The rest of dinner was really quiet.
But this week has been much better. I'm helping around the house and okaasan is teaching me how to do things and letting me help. We get along much better than before and she seems much more relaxed around me.