Before I start, something tells me that I will need a disclaimer for this one. So,here it is.
‘The ideas expressed in this article are not based on merely one person even though it might seem like I have written about my (or your) mother in law specifically. This is a study of a group and it’s peculiar characteristics and resemblance to any specific person living or dead is purely because they confrom to the type and not because I have a personal bone to pick with them’
You might hate your mother in law or you might be the one who boasts (to a bewildered audience) that you have a great camaraderie with yours. Whether you live in the same house with her or you’re living miles away,the truth is that you can run but you cannot hide from ‘The MIL’.
What makes mother in laws an interesting species is the innate ability to resist adapting to her son’s new life and priorities. Her expert ways to make the daughter in law feel like an outsider while all the while calling her ‘beti’ deserve a thesis of its own.
Indian Mother in laws in general have been led to believe by the society that by birthing a son they have done the entire mankind a huge favor. That their son is some sort of ‘Krishna’ who will be a savior to not just to his parents, but the whole universe. So obviously, they are convinced that their daughter in law is the luckiest girl because the future leader of the free world decided to get married to her.
It’s almost as if that on the day you get married to her son, the mother in law is reborn with fresh perspective and a belly full of vengeance. She can finally do to you, what’s been done to her. She can finally reap her rewards for bearing a son. She can finally show you how lucky you are.
After close observation and lots of experience, I have decoded the real meaning of some of the things that mother in laws say –
1. ‘You are like my daughter’ – You are a second grade substitute to my pretty, talented and well mannered real daughter who unfortunately had to move away or was not born.
2. ‘I am not like the others, I am very modern’ – I wear loose linens from Marks and Spencers, I know the difference between daliya and cous cous and I watch ‘progressive’ TV like Big Boss and I still reserve my right to be judgemental about your choice of clothes and make up.
3. ‘Just give us our daughter in law with a suitcase of her clothes, we care for nothing else’- we only expect gifts for all our baraatis (bigger ones for ourselves of course), a wedding like the world has never experienced before, some furniture and a few appliances and a car thrown in for good measure.God forbid , the daughter in law does decide to come with one suitcase only, she will live her life being reminded of how ‘sasta’ or ‘cheap’ her parents are.
4. ‘You can talk to me like your own mother’ – I will dissect each word you say and take offense on it even though it had nothing to do with me. Then, I will earn brownie points with my son by telling him how bad I felt when you said that.
5. ‘You are an equal part of all family discussions and decisions’ – all decisions will be made behind close doors when you are busy tending to the baby or watching TV or out for work. They will be put forth to you in a conference like session where you will be facing three moderators judging every word or expression that comes out.
6. ‘I only want what’s best for you’- I only want what I think is best for my son. Your good is in my son’s good.
7.’I am always nice to my daughter in law ‘- even though I’d rather give her a piece of my mind every time I meet her, I am cordial with her because I want my son to see how naive and kind I am.
8. ‘We can’t wait to be grandparents, why don’t you start trying’- we would love to play with your kid for a couple of hours and give unsolicited advice on every instance we can.
9. ‘The daughter in laws today have it much better than our times’ – I wish I could be as mean to you as my mother in law was to me and get away with it. I hate being subtle.
10. ‘Our home is your home’- as long as you don’t change a thing and don’t disturb my ways, feel free to call it your own.
If you really think about it, the crux of the troubles between mother in laws and daughter in laws is the husband. I mean, c’mon, we have to debate whether it’s a cause worth fighting for! Of course, there’s also the egoistic need for one-upmanship. But you don’t need a genius to tell you that this tug of war only has two victims and no winners. Because in the end, she will always be the woman who gave birth to a schmuck and you will always be the idiot who decided to get married to him!!!
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