Momster-in-law?

Picture a woman with a halo and angel wings. She has the most benevolent smile, love dripping from her honey sweet words, and her soothing shadow forever protecting you from the harshness that life has to offer. That’s mum. Now add the suffix ‘in-law’ and poof! The halo disappears, and horns take place. A forked tail whips about and the soft wings are replaced by batwings. The smile is there, albeit a crooked one, exposing fangs. This is the true picture if all the rants on social networking sites are to be believed.

Before I proceed, I would like to dispel any notions that you might have about me as a daughter-in-law or for that matter, my own personal devil – the ‘fanged’ mother-in-law. I am nowhere close to the ideal bahu as projected by the multiple soaps on the television, nor am I as evil as shown by some. I do not sport make up at bedtime, and do not sleep with a ton of jewellery. I rarely cook, do not embroider or knit, and light a diya in the temple only on Diwali. Now for the mother in law – she doesn’t have a piercing gaze forever fixed on me trying to keep me away from the apple of her eye. She loves to cook and secretly hopes that I’ll some day learn to cook like her. Her sole purpose in life is not to make my life miserable and neither is it to find faults in whatever I do. So does that make us the ideal pair? Of course not! But does it make either of us as evil as some of the online rants claim us to be?  Sigh, nope. No drama on that front either.  

I am no crusader and if I haven’t emphasised enough earlier, not even remotely close to the idea of the ‘good bahu.’ And my mother-in-law hasn’t sprouted angel wings either. However, we are good together. We can gossip about the most inane stuff over tea, disagree over just about everything and be at loggerheads. But one thing that remains undisputed is that we both love the poor man that connects us, a hell of a lot. What I fail to understand is why the love takes the shape of an Olympic event for a whole lot of women out there? Really? You think the mother-in-law wants to win over the man and is forever coming up with schemes to do just that? That, I am afraid, is probably a misconception in most cases- she doesn’t need to compete. Period. And then, there are some more blunders that we choose to commit everyday:

The first mistake that we make: Compare. Do you compare your children with each other? Or (if there have been) ex-boyfriends with the husband? Then why compare the poor mother-in-law with your own mum? That is an unfair competition that she has already lost before even attempting to compete. Why can’t she be respected, loved or at least tolerated for being your husband’s mom?

The second: Expect. Women have this magic beanstalk of an expectation from the mother in law. The more you climb it, the taller it gets. If she helps you care for the little one, you do not like her ideas and ultimately end up making fun of her on public forums online, or endlessly gossiping to your friends about how she thinks coconut oil is better than the baby oil for massage. Just rub the damn oil, woman. The brand/type of oil is not going to determine muscle strength of the scrawny bundle. And God forbid, if she decides to give you your space, or plain and simple refuse to pitch in and be the unpaid maid – she just sprung an extra horn and spikes to go with it. She is the mother-in-law after all. Damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t. 

The third: Differential treatment. So you think that your mother -in-law can never be like your mum? Bull’s eye. Thing is, if you make a mistake, your mother can shout at you, put you in the naughty corner or skin you. But all hell breaks loose the moment the husband’s birth-mother even points a shaky finger (or for that matter a firm one) at anything. Your mum could gift you crap but you’d frame it, and nail it to the most visible wall and sigh every time you pass it by.  The mother-in-law’s gift would probably languish in a corner unless you have already given it away to the maid.

The fourth : Narcissism. Really? Just because you are a new mom, or a mother of two wild toddlers, the world should revolve around you? One look at the multiple forums on networking sites and you can draw these neat statistical charts – proportion of the poor, tortured Daughter-in-laws versus the pampered ones. The latter, is a thin line hugging the X-axis if you were to make a bar chart. And why do you need to be pampered exactly? Ah! Because you are the daughter-in-law. Yeah.

I can go on. And on. But most of you have already drawn up red flags, or stopped reading beyond the first few lines. If you are still here with me, shout out so that I can duck to avoid the brickbat. The fact still remains – no one is perfect. I, the daughter-in-law, and her, the mother-in-law – we are both normal human beings, full of flaws, opinions and attitude. But would we ever hate each other, ridicule each other on public forums, or think of novel ways to hurt each other. Come on! We do have better things to do! If anything, I sympathise with her. Ask my mum. I was a tough cookie to raise. They must have done a secret happy dance the day I got married!

I am not saying that all people with the suffix ‘in-law’ attached to them are angels sent from heaven but then, neither are the ones without any such honour. We have all sorts of people in this world – but to discriminate against them based on their designation or membership to a particular class/group is called…? Yup. That’s right.

Next time, when you have this overwhelming urge to tell the entire world what a vile, scheming character (though the adjectives I read online are nowhere near this civil) your mother-in-law is, stop. Think. She might not be perfect, but she gave birth to the man you decided to marry….hang on! Maybe that’s it. Ah! So that’s what the grudge is about!

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34 thoughts on “Momster-in-law?

  1. Tanu shree!! Absolutely bang on!

    I have been reading numerous posts that take pot shots at the inlaws and have been wondering why in the world would one have the time or the energy to gather all these negative thoughts and then make the effort to actually post it on a social networking site!!

    I couldn’t agree more that at the end of the day both my mother in law and I are only human and have are own faults…She may have her shortcomings(just likeI do) but she did raise the man I fell in love with and chose to spend my life with …so she did do a whole lot right too!!

    I firmly believe that whatever we put into the universe (positive or negative) comes back to us …Wouldn’t it be awesome if we found better use of our time than to put out all this negative energy out there which will in someway or the other find its way back into our lives!

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  2. Tanushree, this post is something that was required. Really, it was necessary, to say the least.

    I’m sure the evil-MIL exists and so does the devilish-DIL; but just like the way we fight any and all stereotypes, this one needs to be examined as you’ve done so well here.

    Kudos, for putting things in perspective.

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  3. Great article.
    I totally agree with all u said. I am not perfect nor is she. But she is awesome!!
    Can’t compare her with my mom but she makes all effort to be a good mil and grandma!!

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  4. Awesome!! You have really hit the nail, head on!! Amazing piece…keep writing, would love to have you share more for our enlightenment and betterment of lives 🙂

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  5. Wow… superbly put. .. it’s in our human nature that we compare and back bite and try to prove that we r right… and yes the way we daughter in laws can’t give that 100 % love to our mils then why expect…. I say what’s there to loose if we make the first move towards building a better relationship…. and let’s not forget that in case we have a son in future we shall too carry the mil tag and dil will do the same as we behaved… Over the few forums whenever the mil issues had come up or at least the few I came across I simply said two points. .. either ignore and live ur life or simply build a bond from ur end… I am the live example. . The Elder Sil went through he’ll with my mil… but when I came in… I changed the whole scene… I was so open and always speaking my mind. Over time mil changed and understood that it’s better to confront all issues face to face than complain to the sons or mag around the relatives and neighbors. .. now we all r close to each other and my Sil too changed her way of behavior towards mil… made it into a small happy go family.. so ladies… it’s in ur hands.. nothing is impossible and taking the first step won’t make u a looser.. If u can’t. .. then just live ur life and let mil live hers..
    Hope I didn’t bore anyone. . Tc all.

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  6. It’s pretty obvious that you have got a mom in law who’s nice and makes an effort to get along with a daughter in law with some very strong opinions! Trust me, when i say this, that out in the world there are some mils who can leave Ekta and her Balaji telefilms behind! Of what i have seen of the world, there are some women with dream mother in laws and then there are those with dream husbands. I come under the later category so i guess if you have an understanding spouse that goes a long way in dealing with this universal mil-dil equation

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    1. It takes two to tango. And if you think I am opinionated, you ought to talk to mum! Thing is- I respect her opinions and do not try to change them. We have our own spaces and have a common space. Yup, in that sense, I am truly blessed.

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  7. Nailed it tanu !! Totally well said. More or less I do follow the same logic , ignore all faults and accept the remaining . After all she has given birth and raised my husband. And you ill treat her today , tomo its your turn. What goes around comes around. 🙂
    I just hope all those ladies out there who are eager to post some negativity , really make some time and read this.

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  8. You clearly haven’t seen the other side of the Story then..the number of women who suffer because of inlaws expectations is much more than the pampered daughter I laws you talk about..be on the receiving end for one day and then let me know if you still stand by what you wrote..you have a great relationship with you mommy in law..great..awesome. ..doesn’t mean you will bash every woman who might be genuinely facing issues..

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  9. Totally Well Said…. Even I am lucky enough to have a mom in law like yours, who doesn’t think twice in helping me in so many things I dont know and I think the least I can do to repay her, is adjust to her very few expectations, which are so minor compared to so much she helps me out….

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  10. You are lucky as you have nice MIL. But it cannot be the case with every one.

    My MIL and I are working women. My MIL gave me a cold shoulder from the day i came to their house. I don’t want to list the incidents but i felt unwanted. Luckily i have an understanding husband.

    Now, we live in different cities. Whenever i visited my in laws, all my attempts to strike a reasonable balance with her went in vain. It took me over an year to get her talk normally to me.

    I am firm believer in live and let live. So I talk to her when required to maintain her and my mental peace. But even in that she complains to my husband and passes sarcastic remarks over me.

    I gel perfectly with my husband’s granny who is 2 generations elder but my MIL is a tough nut to budge. She likes taking credit of others work as her own. She is most of the times so unreasonable.

    She never visited us but she has problem as we were living in a rented apartment and paying 16k rent. So she was hell bent to make us shift from here to somewhere else.

    Your post is irrelevant and it surely does not imply to everyone. Yes nobody is perfect but as a MIL and DIL are part of same family, both of them should try to strike a balance.

    I feel better sharing my pain and frustration with my close friends. After all that’s what friends are for.

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    1. It is not about implying to everyone anyway, Ela. It was more of a reaction to multiple online, derogatory posts targeted to mother in laws. It was not even meant to paint a rosy picture. As for me, both of us worked hard towards the relationship we share. So yes, I am lucky that the hardwork paid off. Godspeed.

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      1. Well Tanu, there would have been some reason that this relationship is so much hyped over so many years and lets give it another view point of so many women suffering because of their control freak and dominating MIL.

        I do respect your stand. Not all five fingers are alike and yes there can be exceptions. Yes we should not generalize.

        As you said you and your MIL worked hard to this relationship. So it works as a unit. While in most of the cases its singular effort. How long will this singular effort last? Do we have that much patience to wait?

        I have seen really good MIL of my friends and in some cases absolute nuts.

        As not all people are alike so are not all MIL and DIL relationships. Sharing on social networking sites, passing derogatory comments etc etc is a personal choice. May be a medium to vent out their frustration. I am not in favor of this but its wise to think from another angle, what makes folks do it?

        Folks need to change and where to change and what to change depends on case to case basis as this equation itself is so varied.

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  11. I agree to your point without patting an eyelid!!
    But there are umpteen of us who try very hard each day. Don’t put them in a corner and say they are wrong – What is wrong in social media grunting.

    Women, go out on a coffee date with your gals – avoid the Social Media route.

    ~~~

    I would say – It boils down to good people and bad ones.

    Like when you work at an office, not all of them you encounter are people you would like. There are the really nice ones, there are the ones who ought to chop you down and then there are the ones who do it unknowingly…

    Relationships are like that. Each one of them. If you value your relation with your MIL, you will work hard. If you don’t, you would let it go. And vice-versa for mom in laws.

    Problem starts when both don’t care. Especially when your relation is just a year old.
    It takes an effort to build relations.

    Your own mom and you, hardly any effort. You know each other for 25+ years!!
    Equation is different.

    Those who have stayed beyond 10-15 years with MILs would have diffrent things to say.
    I have heard it from my sisters…

    Relations are Hardwork!!

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  12. I wish i might have a good support, and not exactly i wanted a good MIL but should be a normal one, one who don’t pass sarcastic remarks on what was given on the marriage by my parents to her. Why i have maid for cleaning utensils while i have a 1 year old kid also, everyone is not so lucky like you tanushree. . MIL is not supportive is fine atleast u can gossip with her, what about if a mom in law is not educated still keep trying to dominate you by telling u that at ur age i have 5 kids who were all more 5 years old. I dont agree with many of your comments, but i believe it is the circumstances that makes or breaks a person. So u r in good hands and have positive thoughts, 80% women have to go through all the sarcasm from their inlaws and husbands, and that is the reason behind the negative comments on the social network….. anyways women who are all going through this have to take out their frustration somehwere and have to share with someone….

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  13. Well written, Tanushree. Everything comes down to both parties making the relationship work and more importantly, wanting to make the relationship work.

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  14. Well done. That said, I’ve experienced the devil (the degree of devilishness might be different but experience I did and was bitter) in the past life. And the present life has an angel. So its up to us to balance and handle people in our lives. This post can be extrapolated to all other people that are part of our lives.

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    1. Absolutely can be extrapolated, deepa. The point was not to paint a rosy picture but to highlight the online name-calling done in the name of venting. The point is that all relationships require adjustment, and patience and I rarely see anyone ‘venting’ against a friend, a sibling or husband the way mothers-in-law are crucified.

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  15. Hi.. First of all thank you

    I have been a mute witness to a lot of “discussions” on this topic. The way people talk about this topic is unbelievable. I really hope everybody read this post and apply a bit of their brains thinking before they start to talk about their mother in law.

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  16. I have learnt to keep quiet about my terrific relationship with my MIL, everyone (friends, family & online) shuts me down or start passing derogeratory remarks or even feeling nastily jealous. it isnt that she has a halo around her head or is sprouting wings, just that it was a promise I made to myself that whatever happens between us, remain between us & the poor man will never know! My MIL is a genteel south Indian christian, wife of an armed forces soldier, has had 7 kids, financially, physically strapped always, tongue is sharp & heart doesnt trust easily! I am loud, brash, outspoken, uncoordinated Punju whose tongue runs faster than the thoughts & my husband never thought that twain shall meet. It was hard work & lots lots of mishaps & me asking for help from her regularly, somehow she melted (& soon enough) Her acceptance, support & care of me negated all other ‘perceived’ issues! I was hell bent on having her as a mom & shut my ears & eyes to everything else,all remarks that it cant be done! We live together & look after each other, she worries if I am late, if I havent eaten & it takes 2 seconds for her to jump in my defence & scold my husband in case of any issues! It is just hard work & respect of the life she has led earlier

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  17. I have learnt to keep quiet about my terrific relationship with my MIL, everyone (friends, family & online) shuts me down or start passing derogeratory remarks or even feeling nastily jealous. it isnt that she has a halo around her head or is sprouting wings, just that it was a promise I made to myself that whatever happens between us, remain between us & the poor man will never know! My MIL is a genteel south Indian christian, wife of an armed forces soldier, has had 7 kids, financially, physically strapped always, tongue is sharp & heart doesnt trust easily! I am loud, brash, outspoken, uncoordinated Punju whose tongue runs faster than the thoughts & my husband never thought that twain shall meet. It was hard work & lots lots of mishaps & me asking for help from her regularly, somehow she melted (& soon enough) Her acceptance, support & care of me negated all other ‘perceived’ issues! I was hell bent on having her as a mom & shut my ears & eyes to everything else,all remarks that it cant be done! We live together & look after each other, she worries if I am late, if I havent eaten & it takes 2 seconds for her to jump in my defence & scold my husband in case of any issues! It is just hard work & respect of the life she has led earlier

    Like

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