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An Open Letter To Every MIL Who Made Her DIL Feel Incompetent, Wrong And Basically Unloved

Posted: May 30, 2020

The mere though that I am now your daughter is disturbing. I say this considering any mom could create a fuss and ruin the whole weekend for her child!

Dearest Mother-in-law,

By the time you read this, it must be too late. Not because of the loss of your life or my life. God forbid! But because of the loss of my naivety, sensitive nature, and sincere goodwill for you!

The first time I saw you and talked to you was very special as you came across as a simple, supportive and a strong lady. Strangely, it has been more than a decade since then. And I still feel that you are the same… with slight undercurrents of a complex, authoritative, and a shrewd mind. Oh and the arrogance that your age and the adversities you faced brought along! Only the vulnerable, innocent and eager-to-please younger me failed to notice it.

You did teach me a lot!

I admit, living with you has taught me many important things in life probably more than I would ever learn from my mother. The way you handled and managed things sent a wave of awe as you toiled alone in the kitchen and in cleaning the house. Meanwhile the three men in the family (two sons and a husband) whiled away their time, strictly doing all the ‘outside work only.’ Which was the custom in the family. Never a word of complaint or cry for help, but going about your duties tirelessly as a perfect mother and wife for more than 35 years now…

But keeping the expectation to take over these duties in just a few days without any hesitation is a tad too much to ask from a newly married girl. It’s too much to expect from someone still learning to adjust to the new ways of the family.

My idea that everyone in the family should do work together seemed so revolting to you that you shunned away the idea. You did that with snide remarks about my incapability to handle things alone and how my education is useless if I am unable to do my duties as the lady of the house! So, according to you, every girl should have housekeeping, home science and such skills incorporated in her curriculum, no matter her ambitions!

But you constantly made me feel incompetent

The cooking expertise that you have is much appreciated. But it takes time and devotion to get there. Expecting a young bride to adorn the chef’s hat and cook delicious dishes like you, is unfair. And especially when it means appeasing everyone’s tastebuds used to your cooking style and unwilling to change is extremely demotivating. Not to mention the ego boost you get by bringing out the faults in my culinary skills! All this has just led to my complete dislike for cooking!

Your homemaking skills, the precision with which you arrange things in the house, the cupboards and the drawers is very commendable. At the same, is not be true for me. I have my own way of arranging things…to find my cupboards in chaos is the best arrangement for me. And any kind of meddling with my stuff is totally unacceptable.

Privacy rules are not just for your sons but for me too. They apply for all the times you came barging into my room without knocking, throwing away some of my ‘old’ clothes without asking. And creating a huge fuss (I will come to that part soon!) when confronted, for listening to my phone conversations without my knowledge. Only to later pick a quarrel over something I said on the phone. This has made me a very sceptical person who double checks locked doors, prefers to speak in code words, hushed up tones when in conversation with anyone, under the same roof as you.

I honestly didn’t need so much unsolicited advice

The unwarranted advice and suggestions I got when your beloved son and I moved to our own place during my pregnancy and postpartum were very harrowing for me. Not to mention the unnecessary customs and rituals which were more a show-off for the relatives and people around than for your own family. Up-keeping any kind of tradition is the least priority for me nowadays as they never bring with any happy memories!

The phone calls expected from me every day just seem unreasonable to me. I am least interested in any kind of gossip of the family or your colony. And in the self-praise given to the superior mind that you are by belittling other people and showing them their self-worth (or the lack of it!)

I still do my duty, though, by calling  you once a week, or more when the need arises. However, there have been times when I felt a call from you could also be good for our relationship! But how can that be! After all, the daughter-in-law is supposed to call her in-laws and ask about their well-being and never the other way round!

The thought of being called your daughter scares me

I always thought your lack of empathy towards me is because of two sons and no daughter of your own. The mere mention that I am now your daughter is seriously disturbing. I say this considering any mom could create such fuss over the tiniest matters and ruin the whole weekend for her child!

And I have always been at the receiving end of your complexes, insecurities and emotional turmoil. I have often given you my shoulder to cry on. But when I needed emotional support the most, I was aghast to see your hardheartedness. You filled the sympathetic and kind heart of mine with anger and hurt.

And thank you for the ever-loving care and concern that you have about your son’s and grandchildren’s health. They seem thinner to you every time we FaceTime. Trust me, they are being well fed and have even made a few dishes on their own!

No matter how much I deny, your role in my life is too significant to ignore. And if only the positive outweigh the negative, there would not have been such irrevocable damage done to my psyche!

Picture credits: Still from Hindi TV series Kasauti Zindagi Kay 2

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