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Dear Mother-In-Law, Motherhood Is Not About Controlling Your Son!

After my love marriage, my mother-in-law controlled every aspect of our lives. Why do Indian MILs manipulate their sons? My husband had to make a choice!

After my love marriage, my mother-in-law controlled every aspect of our lives. Why do Indian MILs manipulate their sons? My husband had to make a choice!

I was brought up in a family that indulged in conversations. As children, my parents explained the importance of freedom and confidence, and to me, that is one of my greatest assets.

Instead of labouring for hours in the kitchen, Ma would spend her time working and then coming home to play a game with us or chat about our day. Papa would discuss opportunities and career options. We are two sisters, and never once have our parents ever made us feel as though they missed a boy.

My MIL would ask why her son was changing the baby’s diaper!

So, when I got married to my college sweetheart, I naturally assumed that I would always be the twinkle of his eye, and he was of mine. Life started very well for us, and as we grew, I learned to appreciate the values and the perceptions my parents had taught me about life.

My in-laws are lovely people, but they are very different from me in their outlook. There is no clear-cut woman’s job or man’s job in my dictionary, so when our baby was born, it was my husband that did the night duty of feeding her or changing her diaper. And that was the first exclamation I heard – ‘He has to go to work in the morning, and my beta has to burp the baby all night!’

I had half a mind of confronting my MIL and saying, ‘Well, she is 50% his too, and it is our decision.’ But I refrained at the time. As years passed by, several triggers came and went, and I kept overlooking them all until I turned 40. I am an educated, intelligent woman, and there is nothing wrong with me if I speak my mind.

My mother-in-law wanted to control every aspect of our life!

This is not a story about the clash of cultures; east, and west. Neither is it a tale of comparisons. Every community has its share of pros and cons. But here in India, the emotional dependence that parents guilt their children with, leaves me very worried.

Everyone has a way of doing things and I believe that akin to the west, even in India, every couple should live an independent life. I do not have a brother, and I see my aged parents manage their lives quite well without wailing about their problems.

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So, it bothers me when I see my husband attend to every little whim his mother may have. Strong mothers raise strong children, and this was a minute fact I had overlooked!

My mother-in-law gave her views on everything we did or ate or drank. She wanted to know who my friends were, what work I did, what I spoke about and even what I ate when we went out! I have never been able to let go completely and have that extra glass of wine, simply because I knew she would judge me the minute I came back.

She used to wait until we came, and it may feel nice at 15, but at 40, I take it as a breach of my privacy.

Indian couples also deserve to have an independent life

Cooking to me is having a little country music and a chilled Budweiser on the kitchen-top with my girls swooshing in and out as I do. Evening to me is a home lit with mellow lighting and conversations; maybe an occasional kiss or two!

But I am unable to do any of these things. It does not feel like my home anymore. I was not brought up to be a sacrificial lamb, for love never asks you to compromise or adjust. It accepts you as you are.

When the first thought of separation came into my mind because I  could not take this way of existing anymore, I was faced with a stark reality I never knew was there!

He made a choice, and I wasn’t it… Today my kids are proud of me!

I spoke to my husband explaining my POV and showed him the future we could have if we moved away. But when he looked at me, I knew what his words would be. I have no complaints because he made a choice, and I wasn’t it.

But today, when my grown-up children come to my home, they look at me with pride, with love. And as they leave, they go without a shred of worry, knowing that their ma is strong enough to sit back and watch them soar!

I wish my MIL also knew that motherhood is not about controlling and holding the reins, but letting your children fly!

Image source: Still from Anupamaa

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About the Author

Pooja Poddar Marwah

Pooja Poddar Marwah is an Indian author and blogger. (October 22,1978) Her foray into writing began in a parking lot, whilst she was waiting read more...

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