Mother-in-Law Inspired Me to Buy My Own Diamonds, Have My Own Money: I never saw a feminist in my mother, she always used to bug me about going out with boys too much, having frequent dinners with friends.
It was an issue with her when I went out late at night (I had a 10 PM deadline which seems reasonable now), heck I thought my father was a bigger feminist than she was; until one day my dad explained the background my mom had had.
My mom came from a simple family where even talking to boys was considered taboo. My mom changed her beliefs a lot to accommodate our generation gap and now that I understand this, I applaud her style of parenting. She always encouraged me to study hard and have a job no matter the circumstances, because she didn’t have one.
My mom used to say, ‘I am lucky to have a good husband, what if I didn’t?’ Whenever I used to say, I can’t do this, she used to counter question me, why? And I learnt a lot from this. “Why can’t I do something, why can’t I have the best of everything, why is this particular thing not for me?” I asked these of her.
I couldn’t have asked for a better set of parents.
But, this is not about my mother; this article is about my mother-in-law. She has had to learn to live life on her own from a young age as she lost her parents when she was fresh out of school. While my mom taught me how to adjust and change with time despite your own upbringing, my mother-in-law inspired me to think about myself, my goals.
She studied hard and secured a job in a govt bank and has been working diligently since the last 33 years. She faced extreme criticism from her in-laws but she faced everything to provide a better life for her children. Both her children are professional badminton players and are doing well in the corporate world.
My mother-in-law built her own house from her own money, she bought her own diamonds, she decorated her house against the will of her family, spending money where required, saving where necessary.
Even during the peak of pandemic, when many women above the age of 55 were going on leaves for the fear of getting infected, she continued facing the crowds. She has taught me that everything is possible, managing home and work is doable, gardening for pleasure is possible, we have enough hours in the day to get everything done.
When I see her asking her son to clean the table, pick up the dishes, mop the floor, I know I married into the right family. When I see her son helping me in the kitchen, washing dishes, and being so wonderfully responsible, I know there is something she did right with the kids.
I respect her, not only because she is a mother figure to me, I respect her for the woman she is. She has taught me not to expect anything from anyone, to learn to do everything on my own so I don’t have to be dependent on anyone, to prioritise myself over everyone else. And in a way she has changed my perception of life. From being a rebellious child, I have learnt to hustle silently so the outcome will be larger than life itself!
The “sasu ma-bahurani” relationship is infamous for being strained, and so I was sort of prepped for it to be pretty bad. But my mother-in-law changed my thought process, shared her life stories with me, fed me her special dishes, involved me in all household decisions, and loved me unconditionally. She is like mitochondria, the powerhouse of our home. Now that we are in another country, she says she misses me, her daughter-in-law; what more could I have asked for.
Having had an easy life so far, I know this is not the case for everyone. This is why I stress the importance of financial freedom. Women are put on a pedestal in India, respected, worshipped, but not acknowledged as humans. Try looking in your home and see the women at home as human beings and you’ll see the difference. Mothers too make mistakes, teachers too have a life outside of school. Try not to shame, but to encourage. After all, if we do not support our own kind, how do we expect the others to understand!
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