Don’t Expect Me To Call My MIL ‘Maa’, Because I Already Have One!

My mother-in-law cannot be my mother, who holds a special place in my life. But we can work towards a unique relationship if we recognise each other as individuals.

So, I got a forward today that spoke about how a woman realised the hard way that her mother-in-law was not her mother, and it was just a figure of speech when the mother-in-law said that her daughter-in-law is like her own daughter.

I seriously wonder how such huge misconceptions are accepted by our minds.

Giving this whole thing a serious thought, I realised if I speak about my own life, my mother is someone who cleaned my poop, hugged me to sleep, kissed me on my cheeks, pacified me during board exams, listened to my stories that gushed out of me of the crushes I had and of a particular guy “looking my way”, went with me to all the stupid movies, listened to me when I fell in love, helped the nurse put a catheter in me before my delivery, changed my clothes post delivery and what not.

Can I, as a woman, love anyone else like I love my own mother? No. I can respect and love the person that my mother-in-law is, be protective of her, be with her, share secrets with her, but there would always be a difference between my mother and my mother-in-law.

Similarly, would I love anyone more than my own child? When my child gets married, would I treat the spouse as my own child? Of course not! I can call a spade a spade, speak in an unbiased fashion if the need be, I can correct my child and even take sides with my child’s spouse if I find my offspring is wrong, but I would always be my child’s mother. And the spouse would always be my child’s life partner and would never be my child.

In India, a lot is lost in translation due to the rampant use of figures of speech. Like, “Apna hi ghar samjho” (consider this your own home). Try and go bag-and-baggage to a person’s house who says this, and the whole “athithi devo bhavah” would fly out of the window. A lot of relatives say, “meri beti jaisi hai” (she’s just like my daughter). Try asking them to pay for your college fees, and see them turning around and running with the speed of light.

So, the bottom line is, relationships are not made overnight when a woman gets married. They take time to grow. Give them that time, don’t expect a woman to act like your mother when you have a separate and special place for your mother in your heart. The same goes the other way too. Don’t expect a girl to be your daughter when you have a special place in your heart for your own child.

In my opinion, by making the relationship between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law synonymous to a mother-daughter relationship, we strip this special alliance of its uniqueness. We take away the option of cultivating this relationship into something special by burdening it with undue expectations and unrealistic hopes and guidelines.

We can actually build and nurture this relationship in a beautiful manner if we set realistic ideals to approach it with enthusiasm and honesty, and give this unique relationship the chance to develop into a unique bond that this association does deserve.

Published here earlier.

Header image is a still form the sitcom Sarabhai vs Sarabhai

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