Why I Need To Be An ‘Assertive’ Bahu And Not Struggle To Be A ‘Perfect’ One

Posted: March 21, 2018

I believe that one needs to be a positive and assertive daughter-in-law, not necessarily a perfect one, as long as there is mutual love. You win some, you lose some.

One morning…

I get up and am of course, the first one to wake up at five in the morning. Put on my track pants and sneakers, tie my hair in a ponytail and leave the house. After a long-hour jog (which mostly is brisk walking), I am back in the house to see the other members busy with their morning chores. But there’s a silence, an uneasy silence which makes me uncomfortable… but soon I rise above it.

I go to the kitchen, prepare tea and am about to head to the wash room. That’s when the mother-in-law comes running in.

“What should we make for breakfast?” she asks.

“umm…Mummy, we’ll have eggs and bread I guess. That should be good.” I reply.

“Ok, and what about lunch? There are beans lying in the fridge since three days. Let’s cook that.”

“Well, there is last night’s sabzi already stored in the fridge. We’ll take that. Will you make chapatis – maybe two each for both of us?” I ask her, indicating that the dubba be made for both me and my husband.

To which she was Ok. However, she was not convinced that we take the food cooked a day before. She insisted that I make sabzi while she makes chapatis.

Does that sound familiar to you?

Those unwanted, unwelcome moments which leave you silently screaming for help? Well, you might find it a bit exaggerated and come up with several opinions. Some of you might find it silly, swearing by the excellent relationship with your MIL and for some of you, cooking veggies – what’s the big deal?!

But that’s not the point I am making.

Jumping back to the story I started with, I finally politely refused to cook in the morning as I had to rush for a meeting that day. Does that mean that I would have happily cooked food if it was an easy day in office? No, not really. Taking any additional responsibility means I would have to sacrifice my morning exercise, which is non-negotiable for me on any given day.

And the reaction was not pleasing at all. MIL just hated it, and FIL raised his eyebrows. My husband frowned and offered to help mom in the kitchen to which she bluntly refused. And that’s how the story ended…I quickly got ready and rushed to work.

The ‘perfect’ bahu

Yes, there’s a huge difference between being assertive and being perfect, and I believe the latter is far more confusing.

‘Perfection’ is a vague cliche that totally relies on one’s perception and  expectations. For some, a perfect bahu is the one who cooks amazing food, for others she could be the one who is financially supporting her husband. And hilariously, these perfect daughters-in-law are (mostly) found in someone else’s family and not in their own!!

Forget about what others think and feel, let’s focus on what you want for yourself. I have a certain way of leading my life, taking care of my family and my work, and if I choose not to fulfill certain demands that will hamper my style – I have a right to do so and more importantly do so without any sense of guilt.

Speaking my mind and keeping my priorities ahead sometimes does not mean that I have no respect for my husband and his family. It just means that I respect myself and know that curbing my voice and dreams is not going to do any good – neither to me, not to anyone else associated with me.

So, that evening

So… after a fabulous day at work (the meeting was a super duper success), I was back home with a bucket of ice cream.

With a big smile, I entered home, changed and headed to the kitchen.

“Mummy, I am making tea for myself. Will you both like to have too?” I asked.

A mom is a mom forever… she had forgotten what happened this morning. Still, trying to sound a little blunt she replied, “No it’s Ok.”

I insisted, “Have half a cup na. Just to give me company.” I am sure she liked this assertive avatar of mine. And smilingly agreed.

We ended the day with two serves of ice cream.

(From the diary of an imperfect,  assertive bahu)

Image source: shutterstock

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