Letter to my future mother in law

…Cuz before the boyfriend/husband comes his mom

 

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Dear Future Mother in Law,

I haven’t met your son yet (at least none that I know of) but lately, as I watch my mother fulfill her duties as the model-perfect daughter in law to a mother-in-law-less (my grandmom is no more) family, more and more I have begun to think of you. I have begun to think of you as a real person, with character and flaws and dreams as much as my mother is.

Chances are, you’ll be like my mother: working at a ‘service’ job somewhere, higher or lower on the corporate ladder depending on your level of education, your own ambition that did not get buried in the endless rigmarole of caring for your family. And the depth of support provided for you by your in-laws at that time, when you were young, when you had passion and when you wanted things from your life that had nothing to do with anyone else but yourself. Not even your husband, my future father in law.

Did you want to be a doctor, like my mother, but ended up working in a bank or the government sector in order to support your husband? Did you also have to wake up at six in the morning, make breakfast/lunch, coffee/tea and other beverages before laying out your son’s school uniform carefully, along with the school badge before you woke him up? Did you sometimes miss the morning local (if you lived in a city like Mumbai) and spent the day in a foul mood knowing that those precious five minutes were life and death in your hectic schedule?

Did you spend your thirties and forties caring and sharing your whole life away: first with your husband, your in-laws (if they stayed with you), then your kids, their schoolwork, their schedules, their assignments and projects? Shoving your own dreams into a small drawer that could barely see the light of day. Did you also spend a lot of time praying for your son, my future husband, to pass his SSC exams, then his HSC, then his University and post-grad exams with flying colors so he could do WHATEVER he wanted and not just be an engineer or doctor that the whole family including your husband dreamed him to be? Did you fight wars on behalf of your children that they, till date, know nothing about and you’ll never tell them because you’re their mom? It’s what you do.

Did you fight wars on behalf of your children that they, till date, know nothing about and you’ll never tell them because you’re their mom? It’s what you do.

You protect, you shield and you love. Unconditionally.

Will you protect me too? Will you shield me too? Will you love me too?

But before you answer that, let me tell you something about me.

I am, by all standards of the word, ‘modern’, ‘unconventional’ and heathen-like. I do not believe in wearing bindis, or touching elders’ feet in abject genuflection or casting my eyes or voice to a lower tone while talking to said elders. I have opinions. I share them with the world, regardless of whoever is in front of me. But I am learning kindness and consideration and the value of silence where required. I hope that is enough for you.

I am also learning cooking. Not to make delicious dinners for your son or six-course meals for the entire family when all of you show up (or even six-course meals on an everyday basis if we all live together) but because I have discovered a joy, a calmness in cooking that has been missing recently in my life. I love buying fresh veggies for recipes looked up online, cutting them into the desired shapes and simmering the whole brew together if so required.

There might be days when I will hardly feel like getting out of bed, much less making tea and chiwda for all of us. Will you be non-judgmental and empathetic that day or will you icily talk about how my mother has raised a lazy ass?

I can never call you ‘Mom’ or ‘Amma’ on demand or because it is tradition, because I have a mom, my Amma. I call her names I can never share with the world for fear of being called a little girl. And, because, fuck it, it’s between her and me. None of you have a claim to my mom. Will that be ok with you? That I love her more than I can ever say, more than all the words I know of?

I hope you do not think me that woman who can never leave her family behind while she starts a family of her own. I would like to think of it as our families joining, melding, and expanding to make more room in our hearts and our last names. This is my dearest wish, Aunty. My other wish is to have such a warm relationship with you that calling you ‘Mom’ comes naturally and from the heart for me.

Which brings me to my last point. Your son is not the first man I have loved and my love is not virgin-white anymore. But I want your son to be the last man I love. And I hope to love him with all my heart, with everything that I am. But I love me too. I have a fulfilling career, a fulfilling life actually, with friends, purpose, excitement and things that you probably might disapprove of, if I go into much detail in. Some secrets are meant to be kept.

I drink occasionally, and I curse frequently (especially when I am writing) and I wear clothes that even my dad and I fight over. I am me. I am me in a way that I can never be your son’s wife.

And (Amen) he should love me exactly like that. As a whole person, separate and disparate from him. And yet, someone who will meet him measure for measure in triumph and tragedy and stand with him, proud to call him mine in anything he does. Who will help him take care of his family.

Would it be ok with you if he did the same with me? If he cooked us brunch on Sundays and let me sleep in? Changed diapers or did the dishes or any of the many chores on the nights I am busy writing or just too exhausted from my day to want to do them?

Have you raised him to think that none of these chores are beneath him? Have you raised him to be a man I can proudly and happily and with all my heart call mine?

This cannot be too much to ask for, can it?

Not when you’re a mom. Not when you shield and love and are wise in ways dads never are.

I hope to meet you soon. I hope you are too.

Yours,

Aarti aka Writer Gal

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36 comments

  1. That’s a lot of criticism packed nicely into a letter. 😉 No, honestly, this needs to be said. Great, emotional, intelligent, inspiring write-up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read a post on Womens Web about how modern daughters in law need to take charge of their life. This was just something that came from there…. It’s not a criticism, per se…Lol

      Like

  2. I call my MIL Aunty. Not out of disrespect but respect. I don’t think I became the daughter for her and so expecting her to be my mother was not fair also. We both are happy, respecting each others space. In that way, I can truly say I am lucky. I hope you are too. Stay blessed always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. My point. 🙂

      Like

  3. This was so honest, direct dil se! Candid at times yet brutally honest. I appreciate that you don’t want to fake emotions, whatever’s in your mind, you have elucidated it. I am glad, more and more young folks like you are speaking out instead of suppressing emotions out of a sense of duty/obligation/societal pressures! God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Kala. 🙂

      Like

  4. what a crapy and selfish person…when you enter into a home, you are part of it. your future husband is son, brother and brother-in-law in his family…this attitude is called home breaker, selfish and self-centred. If you expect love learn to love others…put others before you and then you expect unconditional love from your husband.

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    1. I was trying to be none of those things actually. But you’re allowed your point of view. Happy Womens Day 🙂

      Like

  5. Sad but true, I call my MIL mom only but I feel a little sad coz forever I am her daughter in law. She might be really all in for me but never a 100 % – I know that!!
    Feels so bad but its the truth, why do we even need to call them mummy? I am never going to let me be called that for sure by my DIL. Gosh, this is a hornet’s nest!! Son’s don’t need to call their MIL a mom but we do…. I could write pages on this……
    Well said Aarti.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey Inderpreet. For some reason, I was unable to access this comment before. I know what you mean. Some women consider DILs to be outsiders. And if you can change your stance that is two women happy right there. Make that three, your future DIL’s mom too. It’s not a hornet’s nest if we can talk about it with candour and graciousness. And thanks for the encouragement 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What an article! Eloquent, honest and articulate. i agree with each and everything you have said here. You’re my kinda gal. And judging from the fact that you got a sexist troll in your Comments section, you’re famous! LOL 😀
    In any case, Happy Women’s Day and lotsa love 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks!! Lots of love to you too. I don’t know about famous. But I would like to think that what I say matters 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Happy Women’s Day! If we women don’t support each other, why should men bother?
    There is no such thing as a perfect relationship and it’s equally true of the MIL-DIL one. But with a bit of understanding on both sides, it’s no big deal. BTW, I too don’t call my MIL Ma. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. But I read a rather alarming post on Womens Web that made me think understanding does not seem to be a norm in these relationships…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Happy Women’s Day,Aarti 😊
    You post is definitely passionate! While I agree with some points, I still think you get a better understanding of this relationship once you live it. I hope you get an amazing MIL and do stuff not coz it is expected but coz you want to do it. All the best! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, Nikita. Nothing like experiencing it live 😀 Happy Women’s Day to you too 🙂

      Like

  9. Arti, Excellent post. Agree with most. Disagree a bit. Nevertheless a compelling read for eloquence and for the honesty! Way to go, Gal!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks 😀 We don’t have to agree on everything now, do we?

      Like

  10. Nikunj- Home to my mess of thoughts.!!! · · Reply
  11. Hi Aarti,

    Loved the article for it’s candidness and honesty, and Yea – love it for being you.

    You’ve touched upon many a thought that so many women would have pondered over in their hearts…and left unsaid.

    You’ve spoken in some way for each one of us. But yes to win…whether its hearts, minds, people ..you gotta give – there’s beauty on that too.

    Loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah. Of course. Agreed totally 🙂 Have a great day and thanks for the support

      Like

  12. Bhargav K Shah · · Reply

    Being modern is good; Being career-oriented is good; Being lazy at times and making your husband do household chores is good too, but being this skeptical about everything is a definitely a subject of concern.
    Having listed down your expectations, it’d have been better if you’d add another sentence. “And you’re free to be a woman with your set of ideologies, just like I am, AND I WILL BE FINE WITH IT TOO”. The article will then be perfect. Would you agree any less ?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was addressed in the kindness and consideration part of the post. 🙂 If I do not practice what I write, it not only makes me a bad writer but a not so great person.

      Like

  13. Good post Aarti 🙂 Candid , raw n real.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks 🙂

      Like

  14. Dear Daughter-in-law, I read your post out to your father-in-law and all he said with a shrug of his shoulder is, let her come home first and I will show her nicely! It is a man’s world you know so why bother to tire yourself reasoning out with me. I am not the enemy; your husband is in the image of his father and I have had to cut the veggies with more angst, because, I too, like you, had written a letter to my future mother in law, which went unheard and even read. We both have an ax to grind against the men in our lives. So come, I, too, will show you nicely, in the kitchen!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hahahah. Loved this one 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Lata Sunil · · Reply

    I feel the regressive serials on our TV channels are putting us DILs in the defensive. We are already in an aggressive mode and all we look out for is criticism. If we want the MIL to become mother, we need to become the Daughter too. My MIL is very different from my mother. My mother would rant away for days on something she didn’t like. But, the MIL will say two sentences, case closed. Here, I want to be like my MIL in attitude which is very inspiring. Take the good points, ignore the rest is my motto 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with all that you say. But the truth is, there are more of the TV kinds of MILs (if statistics are to be believed) than there are the kinds who treat the women who come into their family decently. Am v glad you fall in the second category, as does your MIL. Stay happy always 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. paramjeet kaur · · Reply

    and MIL since your son and I will be staying in our own nice big 4bhk in Mumbai your 3bhk in Santacruz is not of great attraction for us. Till we can live near each other and be friends lets keep it like that. Of course my kids will grow up without much help from you or my own mother and me and your son will pursue our careers independently too..and you could move in with us when you are in your 80s and we are in our 50s. No, no, we will not mind what you do with your portfolio or your house, we are and will be economically independent for sure.

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    1. Lol. If I make enough to pay mortgage on a 4 bedroom apartment in Bombay I am calling over his family and mine and keeping us all together. Cuz, like I said in the post, we will help take care of each other’s parents. 🙂 Have a great day.

      Like

  17. Ha ha….. Good one. Most would love to say it but no courage to do so

    Like

    1. Maybe now they can 🙂 Thank you.

      Like

  18. […] A version of this post originally appeared on the author’s website. […]

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  19. kanganue · · Reply

    Hi. I am here through the Huff post. I just want to say ditto. I am a 22 year old girl who is known for her opinionated mind and loud mouth. I refuse to comprosmise or settle until the other person is not. I am wired that way. I worry a lot about my life because not a lot of people understand that I can have an opinion. My parents do, others don’t. I am so glad that I read this. Thank you !!

    Like

    1. You are very welcome. Being opinionated is absolutely fine and stating those does not make you a loud mouth. But picking and choosing battles does make you a wise woman so choose wisely 🙂 Am glad you connected with the post.

      Like

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