Annie's Mailbox: Mother-in-law acts like I am not capable

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Dear Annie: My in-laws always visit on weekends when things are really laid back around the house. My mother-in-law is great about pitching in and helping with the kids and the house. The trouble is, she never stops. When I cook, she murmurs criticisms about the food, so I stay out of her way and let her do it. She also organizes my cupboards and drawers, and advises me on how to clean. Annie, I know how to clean and organize. I just don't do it on the weekends. Besides, I have my own system, and after my mother-in-law is finished, I can't find anything.

I know she thinks her daughter-in-law is clueless and lazy, and feels responsible for setting me straight on my housekeeping responsibilities. But who does she think cleans the rest of the year? I've tried to ignore her, but I'd like her to stop. How can I be domestically diplomatic with my overbearing cleaner-in-law?

- Not Lazy

and Married to Her Son

Dear Not Lazy: Your mother-in-law sounds like one of those women who needs to prove she is still important, and this is how she does it. It has nothing to do with your housekeeping skills. It's OK to ignore her, but better yet, when she shows up, wrap your arms around her and exclaim, "I'm so glad you're here to take over the house!" Then go and enjoy yourself.

Dear Annie: This is in response to "Had Enough," who had a colostomy and is no longer interested in intimacy.

I had my ostomy surgery 21 years ago, at age 21. I have since learned that the ostomy is only a 4-by-4 inch square with a pouch. My face, eyes, arms, legs, smile, mind, etc. are still the same. The ostomy doesn't have to change anything except how I use the restroom. My husband and I have been together for 15 years, and the ostomy affects nothing in our relationship because I have learned that my self-worth is based on many qualities.

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