A memo to Indian moms-in-law

images1.       Cut the umbilical cord, really:  Spoon-feeding is okaytill about the age of five. Buying him undergarments okay till about puberty hits. Still doing so post 30 and post marriage is just creepy. I know it is hard for you to believe that the apple of your eye is all grown up and can do these basic tasks without any attention for you. But it’s true, give him a chance. LET HIM GROW UP. Also, don’t expect to transfer these tasks over to us automatically. We married because we wanted a husband, not a man-child.

2.       Your way is your way, our way is ours: And the twain may never meet, really! Ourfood will never be as tasty/natural/healthy as yours. Our laundry never as white. Let’s not even go to the differences in our parenting styles or comparing us to how awesome your son/daughter is. Your exacting standardswere probably practical in your time, suited your personality, your life.  We have our own ways of doing things, which may not be perfect but aren’t that bad either. This is not to say that we are not okay with constructive advice. Given all your experience, we welcome it. TRULY.However, constant and unfavorable comparisons only serve to make us more defensive and bitter.

3.       Don’t blame us for your son’s faults: If you think your son is not sensitive enough/ caring enough/ responsible enough towards you, please don’t be quick to blame us. Sure, many daughters-in-law do not act out of the best intentions and seek to pry the son away from his family. But it’s not true about a majority of us, who like a majority of you want to live as a big, happy family. Two, if your son is so easily influenced, whose fault is it really? So, don’t blame the bahu alone for fanning a fire that was already burning somewhere.

4.       We don’t come last anymore, we just don’t: You did it, our mothers did it. Heck, your entire generation did it. Put yourselves last that is, perfecting the art of sacrifice because that is what you were taught to do. So you paid little heed to your own ambitions, needs and wants, to fulfill those of your husband’s and your family’s. As much as we appreciate your selflessness, that virtue no longer defines our identity as women. We know that valuing our time, career and health as much as that of our loved ones does not make us a bitch. We would like you to understand and recognize that.

5.       It’s not you, it’s not me, it’s the relationship:  Finally,you and I; we are not enemies. We are just two parts of an equation that by its very nature is fraught with conflict. The little boy, who used to hang on to every word of yours, has grown up. He may still love you as much as he did when he was ten, but just does not have that kind of time for you. And we as wives of this precious boy are a major part of what distracts him away from you.

It’s hard, we understand. But this is just the passage of time. We too fear that one day we will be in the same boat as you with our sons. 

We appreciate the fact that all that is nice in our husbands comes mostly from you. And we are thankful to you for that, WE ARE. So, let’s cut each other some slack. We’ll never be like mothers-daughters. In fact, I feel that is just an unrealistic expectation that sets us for failure from the very start.

But maybe we can be good, even great friends? You are the moms and we are the wives – neither is a substitute for the other. And fighting over a man, isn’t that’s just so Neanderthal??

DISCLAIMER: In the past whenever I have written about my experiences as a mother, I have often gotten silly queries about why I hate being a mother.  Which I don’t, I just talk about both, what’s black and what’s white. So, here’s a disclaimer about  this piece. This is just a tongue-in-cheek look at the conventional Indian mother-in-law which in no way is a reflection on my own. So, laugh if you find it funny and just leave it at that!!

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