Nearly five years into single motherhood, I finally mustered the guts to write on this sensitive, yet important subject. One search on Google on this topic and you can find the most hilarious yet hard-hitting points. Regarding what, if that’s what you are wondering… It’s about things I wish I could tell my mother-in-law!
Cut to the present circa. Being a divorced woman gives me a certain sort of relief when I’ve to share my experience with others! I can clearly ride high on the famous quote – ‘The waters are safe!’
Marriage in India is a tricky subject. This not only applies to arranged ones but love marriages as well. The whole concept of adjusting into a new household with its own age-old traditions becomes difficult than an IIT exam for the Indian woman! At least 90 % of women have admitted that even getting married into a progressive mindset families hasn’t helped them much in adjusting to the rules of the new home! Women have ended up in arguments with their mothers-in-law on the tiniest of things which otherwise wouldn’t have even mattered a dime!
Come follow me as I take you along on an imaginary list iterating what all I could tell my mother in law! I believe the status of being a divorced woman gives me even bigger liberty to talk on this much-needed topic! I honestly feel just like there is an imaginary quintessential rule book for the beautiful Indian bride, a similar one needs to be drafted for the mother-in-law as well!
She was mean and ruthless, and I was timid. It ruined my life. But, when I look back…
I feel like there were things I wish I could tell my mother-in-law:
1. Can I please be your daughter and not like-daughter!
Every now and then I get to hear things like – ‘You are like our daughter’. I would like to take a minute of silence here and ask as to why I can’t be just your daughter? The word ‘like’ irks me just like a child gets irked when he sees veggies in his favorite pasta!
2. You have also been a daughter-in-law. understand me at least once in a blue moon!
Dear mother-in-law, please remember your time as a newly-married bride. I am sure you were also nervous when it came to thoughts about settling in the new home! I am exactly in the same position today. How wonderful things would be if you could give me the benefit of doubt during my first few days in the new home!
3. Please respect my food-choices and habits
I know that my husband loves non-vegetarian food. I understand that and have absolutely no qualms about this. But please do not ask me to throw away the leftover meat or bones from my husband’s plate after a meal. I am sure you can ask him to this chore on his own! Asking me to do this particular chore is degrading and inhumane on so many levels.
4. Well, I can also have different eating choices!
I still remember the time, when each of my eating habits was controlled by you while I was pregnant and after the baby. I respect the immense knowledge you have on the diet one should have during pregnancy, but sometimes you can also give them a miss. Because a pregnant woman can have wishes and weird food cravings. It’s sad that a right as basic as eating is getting controlled by someone else- and this someone else is a family member!
5. Parenting in the ’70s is completely different from what it is today
Dear mother in law, please don’t come up with pick up lines like – ‘In our times’ when it comes to parenting. I am sure you can clearly distinguish how times have changed drastically. Things today are not like they used to be. I appreciate your guidance in this new thing called parenting, but let us get to the midpoint. Because practically speaking it’s impossible for me to time travel with you to the ’70s and incorporate your parenting techniques. Things that were practically doable back in those days have become completely redundant in 2020.
6. Please don’t compare me with the older daughter-in-law
While I get the point that you have an awesome rapport with the elder daughter in law, but won’t life be good if you’d just stop comparing me to her all the time? Even though I am the youngest in the family, and there is a lot to learn from everyone around me. But comparisons 24/7 hurt. Even siblings in the same family end up fighting when parents compare them, so it comes as no surprise that I also end up feeling hurt when you draw collations between your daughters-in-law.
7. Please be accepting of my choices too
Every now and then there are discussions in the home regarding various important family matters. However, I do not remember the last time when my opinion was taken into consideration. Most of the decisions are taken behind closed doors and then suddenly just declared to me. May I ask the reason for the same? I might not give the best solutions, but at least give me the chance to put forward my choices. A little offbeat idea from a young mind won’t hurt the family -right?
As a woman who got married early and whose marriage just lasted for a plain two years, I honestly feel that women need to get their space in a marriage. The task becomes even tougher in an arranged marriage set up because the couple is getting used to staying with each other. Just like any other college roommates, they also end up in fights. This is where the role of family and mother in law becomes vital. Their support will either uplift the couple, while their animosity and un-accepting nature towards the new daughter-in-law just leads to falling out of the marriage- Precisely what happened in my case.