Breaking the Barrier | Part 2 of 2

Read part 1 of this post here.

Much of the behaviour – right until the attitude – portrayed by the Mother-in-Law is predominantly influenced by the family set-up her son has grown in. For example, if the son has a boy sibling, then the daughter-in-law might just get lucky since it would be the first a girl steps inside. Consequently, it is comparatively likely that she gets along with the Mother-in-Law as after all, while her son was growing up, the latter discreetly willed the sibling to be a girl. Not that she was disappointed with the outcome, it just meant that she had to eventually land up having a void that could have been a somebody with whom she may have shared her ‘womanly sagas’, or bitched openly about relatives without having to feel conscious, or gossiped no matter how short-lived the gratification may have been, or simply shared a cup of evening tea. Anyhow, should this be the circumstance, the lucky daughter-in-law steps in, only to fill that void gradually to become her confidante.

In case the spouse is the Mother-in-Law’s only child, things may be slightly tricky; not out-of-question-tricky, but a-little-difficult-tricky. Not only does the daughter-in-law need to give her some time to come around (although this process may take an indecisively long time) but, first things first, there is an insecurity that prevails over and above anything. The Mother-in-Law’s child has now parted from her only to be with someone else. It is a bittersweet conundrum as countless thoughts spin a web inside her, irrespective of the irrelevance a logical mind may counter those with. She is happy no doubt, having managed to find somebody to settle her son off, while on the inside she battles against countless ‘what ifs’. What if he doesn’t come to us when we need him, now on? What if he switches sides in the event turning against us? Will she be a partner or a dominant counter half? She will keep my son happy, right? I hope we haven’t made a mistake. And in all possibilities, this is not the end of her interminably guarded web.

However, if the son has a girl sibling, there is a chance the scenario may alter completely. The Mother-in-Law understands what is it like to up bring a girl child. When you step in as her son’s better half, it’s natural that she takes time to accept you given she is expected to reconstruct the definition of her family. Let’s face the technicalities here. You neither belong to her womb nor are from her bloodline. She was neither around you when you were growing nor was she aware of the environment you were growing up in. Of course, it is difficult for her to relate to you just like that. You stepped into the family as brand new as yesterday, and today you look for a space to not only fit in, but also share your life with her son. Just. Like. That. Of course, she is not your fan, not yet anyway! Although she shares what you feel deep down – you’re new to the family. While you expect that feeling to be reciprocated with a level of kindness and understanding, the Mother-in-Law’s way of thinking initially senses the other way given you are an ‘added’ member of the family. And so, she seeks her comfort looking for ways in which her daughter may be superior to you by – mind you – failing to miss the minutest habits of yours.

She is not a bad person. Actually and factually. When one gets down to it, she is someone else’s mother too. Her space and stance at her place be retained the way it was before the daughter-in-law entered – this is all that she expects. So what, if she wishes to shower her son with love still? Give it to her. So what, if she wants to cook for her son occasionally only to remind him the way her food tasted? You have an entire lifetime to spend with him, why the frown? Give her time to come around your presence, in the same way that you demand for it.

Was I a picture-perfect bride? Nope. I had my share of ups and downs (and still do). I feel lost when the family starts discussing relatives. I feel lost when there are songs from the black-n-white era running on the television’s regional channel. (While on that topic, colour songs are no less.) I feel lost when the language becomes too specific for me to understand. I feel lost when I cannot communicate back properly. I feel lost when I am not familiar enough with the rituals that need to be performed on a holy day. Earlier I used to get upset – in fact, it was very easy to get me upset. When it all started settling in eventually, I realised that nobody was losing anything in the process except me – I was losing my health over petty issues. So all right, I screwed up today’s cooking – I forewarn her that it may not taste nice. All right, I like wearing shorts inside the house – I tell her I feel comfortable in those. Okay, I stuff something up on a holy day – I expect her to tell me what went wrong and/or how to do it right. If I had known, I wouldn’t have uttered the blooper, right? And (un)surprisingly, she has reciprocated favourably. She has had the courtesy to give me my space, enough for me to hold on to an individualistic viewpoint. And as for the things I do not understand – I stay away. After all, that’s one way you can ensure she is happy now, isn’t it?

I like her. A lot. I respect her. Given the time I’ve known her (and my spouse’s father), I’ve perhaps reached thus far when I can (nearly) unhesitatingly commit to dedicate some of my time to both of them. Although, do I/will I love her? A shrug is all I have.

The views expressed here are solely per the blogger’s understanding, and are presumed under certain conditions – some stated explicitly, while a few others not. The post is not aimed at hurting the sentiments of any of her readers. Any resemblance to any character is purely fictitious and by chance.

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