Rolling Eyes…

IHM wrote a short post on this letter by an Indian MIL but when my comment started getting too long for the textbox, I knew I needed to make it a post. 🙂

Dear Fictional MIL,

To start off, please don’t claim to speak for every Indian MIL. Mine is a sweetheart and she would probably not agree with your sentiments. You say:

  • I may appear a little jealous; but deep down, I am only scared and insecure.
  • I may appear dominating; but deep down, I only take hold of things only to lessen your burden.I may appear intrusive; but deep down, I am actually protective and concerned for you.
  • I may appear stiff and stubborn; but please don’t judge a book by its cover. I am willing to adapt
  • I may give the impression of an emotional bomb; but I am in my fifties and suffering from menopause.
  • I may be appear obsessive of your husband; but deep down, its the motherly instinct that nature gave me.
  • I may be nagging sometimes; but I want you to help you with things around.
  • I may spoil your kids a little bit with chocolate and toys; but its my expression of affection to kids.

Why do you feel the need to express all your “deep down” positive feelings in such a negative manner? Why dominate instead of ask? Why intrude instead of talk? Why hide your adaptability by “appearing” stiff and stubborn? Why display affection for your grandchildren in a way that belittles their mother’s parenting efforts? In short, why are you behaving exactly opposite to what you say you feel? Why are you so insecure?

You say:

I am doing it all out of love.

Please don’t confuse love and maternal instinct with co-dependence, physical closeness, and emotional control. Every species on the planet lets its child go at some point. That doesn’t mean the mother loves the child any less or even that it is easy. It means that the mother has done her duty towards her children and can now relax and move on to a different phase of her life. Mothers of daughters have lived with their child being away, in her own home, raising her own family, having her own life for millennia in our culture. It’s only now that we’re asking mothers of sons to do the same.

What do you mean by being “considerate of the fact that I am still his mother”? I wish I knew what it means so that I could assure you that your DIL probably means no harm to you. In fact, I do empathize with your situation. But have you ever thought that if you treated your DIL the way you wish to be treated instead of being hypocritical and expecting her to understand what’s happening with you “deep down”, you would gain a new relationship in your life instead of losing control over an existing one with your son?

In an Indian marriage, the in-laws always make the first move. If you make a wise choice, you might not need to write letters like this. I know this because my mother-in-law made the right choices and so, I’m the one who reminds her son to call her and I’m the one who is more upset when she leaves after a visit. We are not perfect, my MIL and I. We both make mistakes all the time but we have the strength to apologize and the wisdom to move on.

An Indian Daughter-in-Law

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6 Replies to “Rolling Eyes…”

  1. Wow. This is so apt, there nothing further to add to it. I really hope women from our generation get a life outside kids and do not end up writing such letters. I also think we need to write about our MILs who are nice reasonable women. And I think there are enough of them around. Hearing about monster in laws again and again makes us feel more negative about our in laws than the situation requires.

    1. I have to agree with that. I think there’s a level of peer pressure that forces us to add something negative when everyone around is cribbing even if we have nothing to add. Whenever I think about disagreements my MIL and I have, I have observed that it’s not specific to our relationship. Such a conflict could happen with anyone.

      I think we should start a meme/twitter handle: dil’s of rational women 🙂

      Another thing I’ve observed is among my friends, the longer a woman waited to get married, the more liberal her husband and family turned out to be. The ones who got engaged in their final semester ended up in the most patriarchal families. Makes sense when you think about it, no?

      1. True. I have more conflicts with my own mom. MIL respects my space and lifestyle a lot more than my own Mom does. Mom reprimands me on not following signs of marriage etc. but I just fight back and do not really feel negetivity towards her. Whereas for MIL, single comment/ suggestion is remembered for a long time. I have to remember to appreciate the fact that MIL is more available for me because of patriarchy. Mom feels my family is my problem. Where as for MIL I am her family! I really should do a post on Great Indian MILs 😉
        Totally makes sense to grow, see the world and then marry. Then you are confident of your own views and opnions. Others also know that you are a full fledged adult and respect you like that.

  2. Very well written!! The whole MIL letter looked like such a naatak.The “I do this because I love you” thing is such a BS!!

    1. Thank you! Natak is the perfect word to describe that letter. Thanks also for dropping by and hope to see an alias next time! 🙂

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