#Opinion

Dear Mother-In-Law, Please Stop Saying These Five Annoying Things

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While the modern-day saas-bahu relationship is not as dreary as daily soaps would want us to believe, it surely remains a complicated one. Here are things a desi mother-in-law says that spoil their relationship with their bahus.

A desi mother-in-law and daughter-in-law do not draw out swords in open or lash back at each other point-blank like we used to see in the films from the 80s. The animosity is much more veiled and comes loaded with guilt, as women are conscious about giving in to the stereotypes associated with this relationship. But you cannot help it. When two people, brought up in different families and with a (maybe) different set of values, aren’t clashes bound to happen? So today lets talk about five things a desi mother-in-law needs to stop saying to her bahus:

I know my son

And I know my husband! Can we call it even? Indian mommies pride themselves in gloating over how well they know their raja betas. Their likes, dislikes, habits; they know it like the back of their hand. But guess what, that only holds true to an extent. Every mother knows it in her heart that as children grow up, they grow secretive and develop an individual agency.

The desi mother-in-law and bahu relationship : Are we fortunate to have a mother-in-law who is basically not a Lalita Pawar prototype? Is that our benchmark?

Most Indian kids also have to deal with the added pressure of being “Adarsh” children, at least in front of their parents. Which means my dear mother-in-law, that while you may think your son doesn’t smoke or drink or swear, or has a short temper, it doesn’t hold true for the grown-up man that I share my bed with. So please don’t challenge my understanding of my husband maybe?

I (over) do out of love

Love and sacrifice are two virtues that can honestly let anyone even get away with murder in our society. Over-romanticised, and unnecessarily glorified, women especially make it a motto of their life to sacrifice their time and labour into caring for their family. The emotional investment that they make in not letting their son lift a glass of water, or to cook a separate meal for their grandchildren, because who feeds children lauki ki sabzi, has more to do with self-satisfaction.

You think you may be doing it out of love, dear mother-in-law, but is it not possible that you simply seek validation? That you want to remain relevant to your family, and the only way you can think of is to make them dependent on yourself, for their day to day needs. Please join a hobby class or make new friends, or pursue your creative interests. The only validation you need is from yourself, others love you unconditionally. And they will continue to do so, even if you are not at their beck and call.

desi mother-in-law

The perception of a desi mother-in-law is influenced by pop culture. Lalita Pawar, the monster-in-law of all films! Pic Credit: Film Grab

Of course, women and men are equals, but…

No modern mother-in-law wants to be seen as regressive. But then patriarchy isn’t that easy to get rid of. It is coded in our consciousness and often presents itself in form of terms and conditions on a woman’s liberty. So a modern mother-in-law may be okay with her daughter-in-law holding a nine-to-five job, but she is expected to take care of household chores after she comes back home. She can wear jeans and short skirts, but she must karwa chauth for her husband’s long life as well. She can own a smartphone, use the internet, but then she should keep her opinions on family WhatsApp group in check.

Enough with the double standards, dear mother-in-law. You are not treating me equally with your son if you shake your head in disapproval every time he does the laundry or cooks a meal for us. Men and women can only be equals in a marriage, when they divide all the responsibilities, financial, familial or otherwise, equally.

You are luckier than I was: Yes I am. There is no denying that women of my generation are luckier than those from the previous ones, especially on the home front. We are married to men who are at least open to entertaining the idea of equality in a marriage. We are fortunate to have a mother-in-law who is basically not a Lalita Pawar prototype. But this does not mean we have it all. Marriages are far from being equal in our society. Be it distribution of household chores, parenting duties, financial independence, agency in making crucial decisions- the scales are still tipped, one way or other.

5 Annoying Things A Desi Mother-In-Law Says That No Bahu Wants to Hear

So the job in front of our generation is not to bask in our privileges, it is to ensure that future generation daughters-in-law have it better. We all pay it forward. So is there a point in pointing out at each other’s privileges?

You are my daughter: Okay, this may raise some eyebrows, but let’s be real, do mothers-in-law actually see their bahus as their daughters or more as their “rivals” since there is a man at the centre of this relationship. Would a MIL compete with her daughter, for her son’s attention? Unless a saas can give her bahu space she deserves in her relationship unless she is okay with her son equally shouldering household and parenting responsibilities, and unless she grants her bahu the same liberty that she does to her son, no, a daughter-in-law is not her daughter.

At best a you and I can be good friends and companions, dear mother-in-law. We can form a sisterhood that is founded in mutual trust and support. We can be allies who try to overcome differences and make each others life easier. That is exactly what a bahu needs from her desi mother-in-law, nothing more, nothing less.

So how can a desi mother-in-law and her bahu end this conflict? We have some ideas in #PointTohHai

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Dear Mother-In-Law, Please Stop Saying These Five Annoying Things
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