I’m The Mother-in-Law, So Everyone Thinks I’m The ‘Evil’ One
25 Mar 2017
The day my son, Rishabh, was born, I promised myself that I wouldn't be the typical Indian mother-in-law when the time came. Some might think it strange that I had these thoughts, but I had suffered at the hands of my own mother-in-law and had always thought that if I ever stepped into that role, I would be different. With that thought in mind I also raised my son to be a caring, understanding and supportive human being.
The day he was married, I welcomed his wife, Sugandha, with open arms. I told her she was free to do what she wanted, work or not work, have babies when she felt she was ready, that there would be no pressure on her from us. I even told her that they could shift out if that made her more comfortable, and that we would support her decisions. I wanted her to feel at ease. At first, it seemed to work out well. She got along with the family and I was happy to see both my son and her happy. She'd taken a month off from work and would help me with the household chores during the day. But things started to change the day she resumed work.
It started with small things like demanding bed tea. None of us followed this ritual and were used to getting up and making our own tea. She said her mother used to get her bed tea, and thinking it's a small request, I complied. She got ready and came out demanding her packed lunch. I hadn't packed lunch for anyone since my kids left school. Everyone ate at their workplace. I told her this and she started shouting about how spicy and oily the food is at her office and how she needs her healthy lunch. I told her she's free to pack something for herself and she walked off in a sulk. That evening my son called home to say they're going to be out for dinner. I thought nothing of it. Till they came home. My son was angry and he confronted me, asking me why I'd upset his wife so much, and was she asking for too much if she wanted lunch? The things coming out of his mouth shocked me. I couldn't believe Sugandha had twisted a simple conversation so much, making me sound like the evil mother-in-law. From that day, our relationship started sliding downhill. She would come home from work, demanding tea, and if I refused I knew she would go tell my son a twisted tale again.
I tried reasoning with my son, telling him he'd known me all his life, did he think I could be like this? But he would always say, Ma I know people are different with their kids and with their daughter-in-laws. My life had become hell because of a cliché—the evil mother-in-law. Sugandha's parents and friends treated me with hostility; all of them were probably being told about how horrible I was. My own son refused to believe me. I couldn't believe that while I had done everything to not be understanding and supportive, I was still being treated like I was a monster. I decided I would have to do something about it.
One day I called Rishabh home early to take me to the doctor. I told him not to tell anyone because I didn't want them to panic. He walked in ten minutes after Sugandha to see the scene unfolding before him. Sugandha had walked in, throwing her bag and shoes in the living room and was demanding tea. When I refused, saying I have to go out, she started shouting at me about how I sit home all day doing nothing and now I want to go out and socialise, and didn't I realize that I was too old for all that? It was my job now to take care of her and the babies she may have one day.
Rishabh was shocked, as his bag fell from his hand with a thud, Sugandha whirled around and the colour drained from her face as she realized that Rishabh had witnessed everything.
While I was glad that my son finally believed me, I also felt his pain, I knew he loved Sugandha. I suggested they go for therapy and also shift out from home till things get sorted out. That was a year ago. Today, they're coming back home. They have worked through the problems and Sugandha and I have been able to restore our trust as well.
She has come to accept and love me as the person I am without portraying me as the evil mother-in-law, something she was doing out of her own issues and insecurities.
Tags: mother in law, marital life, marital issues, relationships, communication, assertiveness