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This year has taught me a lot but the biggest lesson I learnt was that no matter what I do, I am still an outsider at my husband’s house!
I am a working woman living in a joint family that has five adults, including myself. Initially, when I came into the family, I was treated well. However, as the days passed by, the typical mentality towards a daughter-in-law started making its way into their behaviour.
Along with maintaining my job, I also take care of all the household chores. And asking for any kind of help to anyone was considered an act of failure for me. My husband’s elder sister is married as well, but she never moved in with her husband or family. Though my mother-in-law is old, she would some times help me out.
However, in the last two years, things have only worsened. My sister-in-law had a baby and my mother-in-law became the baby’s sole caretaker. The baby’s father or his family don’t really care about the child. Meanwhile, his mother keeps threatening us that if she takes care of the baby, her career will be destroyed. So, now, in addition to the corona problems, we also have all these new issues on our already full plate.
For the last four and a half to five years, I tried handling all this as much as I could but ever since corona, things have only worsened. Having the only daughter-in-law at home all the time has made everyone increase their demands without offering any help.
Several times, I ended up working late at night, often even in the mornings and then doing the household chores without any rest. Cleaning, cooking, washing utensils and clothes, folding the clothes and taking them to everyone’s rooms, all this becomes solely my responsibility.
I kept tolerating all this for months until one day when I just stopped doing everything. It was the day when I fell sick. I had a high fever throughout the night and my husband’s family was worried that if they took me to a doctor, they might risk getting infected with corona. They were all but ready to send me to my parents’ house.
Thank God for doctors giving online consultations and pharm-easy, I was fine in three days. But those few days taught me that there is no use doing anything for anyone, so I simply stopped.
My mother-in-law was angry but she said, since it was her house, she could manage. She asked her daughters to help her with the work but in the last three months, she learnt her lesson. Her daughters have almost made her the maid in the house. If I try to help her, I am told to stay out and my mother-in-law suffers and curses everyone, including me. She knows that her own children are at fault here, and I can see the difference in the change in their behaviour.
Earlier my husband wasn’t allowed to even take a glass of water on his own. Even when I were eating, I had to get up and give it to him but now, he is asked to help with small chores around the house.
Earlier, whenever I told my MIL that I had a lot of office work, she would preach to me that she raised kids while doing household chores. But she forgot that earlier it was a small house and she didn’t have a nine to five job like I do. Also, earlier her weren’t as demanding as they are now when they want different items to eat every day. And since they’re all home, they want homemade snacks to eat throughout the day.
Earlier, as soon as I woke up, I had to clean the house and start the preparations for breakfast since I had calls from 9:30 or so. And every day, they complained that even though I was at home, they had to eat chapatis from the hot case.
Now that I’ve stopped making breakfast, no one else makes it and my mother-in-law does the cooking. Thus, food is usually served by one pm and now though her daughters also keep complaining, I am still cursed. It doesn’t bother me because even when I did do all the work, they cursed me. So nothing much has changed since then.
The house is always a mess. Everyone leaves everything everywhere and no one ever cleans it. So I would go around the house cleaning stuff up. But now, everyone makes a mess and complains about it, but no one does the work of actually cleaning it.
For the first few months after I stopped, my sisters-in-law did some of the work but now, they keep making excuses and my MIL has to do all the work. And despite all that, I am the one who is responsible for everything.
Earlier, I would often complain to my husband about all the problems I had with the work and doing it all alone and he rarely understood it. But now that his sisters are complaining to him about it, he listens.
Every morning, my sisters-in-law fight and try to get each other to do the work. Earlier when I said there was a lot of work, the same women told me that I hardly did anything and didn’t need to complain about it. But now, they are the ones who barely do half the work even though there are two of them!
I have now learnt my lesson – no matter how much you try, a daughter-in-law will always be considered an outsider by her husband’s family. Whatever she does and however she does it, there is always something wrong.
I am ending this year on a good note and my new year resolution is to value myself and to take care of myself because no one else will do that for me.
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Thappad
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