A look on the other side

The blog world is full of rants about the in-laws in general and Mother-in-law in specific. Every time I read them, I shake my head and sympathies. The Indian system of living with the in-laws and if not living with the in-laws then having them a whole lot of say in your life is not for everyone and anyone who wants to write about the trauma is perfectly within their right to do so. But the more I read such posts, I want to write about the things I see happening on the other side. Things I see but never read about because people in that generation are not a whole lot in to technology and hence are not writing about the going ons. What I am writing is my experiences are from here, this land far away from India, where the ILs come for a visit, not for long stays and hence it is not like you are living with them day in day out all your life.

The scenario goes thus: Baby is on the way. Want to keep him/her home for as long as possible, because they get sick oh so much in daycare. So parents and ILs are lined up to come stay for as long as they can. When it comes to grandkids, grandparents are willing to bend backwards. So they come, take care of the baby while the new parents head to work. And since they are home, they take care of the cooking, cleaning, laundry along with the baby.

  • A friend got in to this huge fight with her MIL on the way she cooked food. It was too bland.
  • Another I know was constantly miffed with her MIL for not folding the clothes after washing the way she wanted them to.
  • One was upset that her MIL did not tell her things were about to get over because she likes her fridge and pantry always packed (which means things over just beyond the half way mark need to be bought and stock replenished)
  • I heard of someone who was irritated with the clothes the baby was made to wear at home.
  • Someone was in tears because no one helped her out with the baby at night.
  • Calmed a friend when she did not find something in the correct place in her kitchen.

And I always think to myself:

  • Our parents (and ILs) are set in their ways. Can’t we mold ourselves a little or let go a little. And if we can’t, how do you expect 60+ year olds to change themselves overnight?
  • Our parents (and ILs) are old. We are in our 20s and early 30s. When we come home, we want to sit in one place and have things served to us. All chores finished. A shiny happy baby handed over to us. How is that fair? When you can’t move your 30-year-old backside because you are tired after a long day of work, how do we expect the 60-year-old to keep going? And taking care of a baby all day is not easy. It is a lot of work and I am totally exhausted when I am home over the weekend. So why not move it a bit and do your part when you come home.
  • But most importantly our parents (and ILs) are here to help us out. They are not unpaid maids to cater to our every whim and fancy. They are here to help out while you go to work. They should get a break once you get home. So get up and take care of your house and your baby.

Hence here is what I think

  • If you don’t like how the food is cooked. Get up and cook something when you get home. And please don’t force your husband to choose which meal he wants to eat (am saying because the same friend got boiling angry when husband did not care which food he ate, the one his mom cooked or his wife. She wanted him to take her side).
  • If you don’t like the way how your clothes are washed, please do the laundry yourself, rather than telling them ‘Oh I am out of undergarments. Do the laundry today’, before walking out the door.
  • If you like your pantry always full, take 5 mins out over the weekend to look through the kitchen to see what needs to be replenished.
  • If you don’t like what your baby is wearing, take 2 mins out before you leave to take a dress out that you want the baby to wear for the day. 
  • If you want help at night with the baby, ask your husband. Don’t look at your parents (or ILs). They have done their part during the day.
  • If you like things a certain way then work on putting them back the way you like ever so often. The simple fact is the person who works in the house does more things around based on their convenience.

Let me talk about myself since that is easy to talk about: My parents were with us from a month after Buzz was born and the time Buzz was about 6 months till she turned a year old. The simple fact is that once you have lived on your own for a while, it is difficult to live with someone. Your sense of privacy and personal space in invaded by your parents. It is difficult to see things a different way than what you are used to (and these are my parents so I am used to them doing things the way they do and kind of do things the same as them just a little different). And after I come back from work, having been gone all day, it is not that I want to help (though I kind of don’t, I am tired and I see that work is getting done so why do I need to pitch in), I want to spend as much time as I can with Buzz. She is my baby, I love her, and I have been away all day, so ofcourse I want to spend all my remaining time with her. But my Mom is tired and needs to rest too. It is morning in India, so my Dad wants to get online and read the Indian newspapers and relax a bit. So we came with a strategy which worked for all of us. Where there was give and take and the final product worked. And every time I did not keep my end of the deal, Mom came up and told me straight up.

Now imagine a MIL doing the same. Telling a DIL that she was tired. Or saying she needed a hand. I have heard enough DILs crib and call their MILs insensitive, rude and a myriad of other things, to know how that goes down. I have seen MIL will dark circles under their eyes, exhausted with all the work that needs to be done, bending backwards since they are here to help and don’t want to be labeled that kind of MIL.

Leaving with a couple of other incidents:

  • A friend’s kids first Birthday party. All the food is being made at home. I volunteer to help, so head over to their place. Do my part of cutting, chopping, frying with Aunty while my friend flutters around counting plates and cups and who knows what else. One of the items on the menu is ‘Bhel Puri’ which aunty has no clue how to make and I am deemed the expert. So I get everything ready. Since the party is in the evening, and this is around 11:00 in the morning, chopping onions, potatoes, tomatoes are deemed too early (mostly by the my friend). When we get to the venue of the party in the evening, my friend asks me to mix the ‘Bhel Puri’ to get the proportion right. I start mixing everything, ask for the onion, tomatoes..there is none. My friend turns to aunty, gives her a nasty look and says ‘List banaani chaniye thi naa’. All I could think of was, what were you doing? Why did you not make the list and ensure that everything was there?
  • A friend gets a bulk load of stuff from her ILs via someone who was coming from India. She cribs non-stop about the fact that ‘X’ was not send when she specifically asked for it, while ‘Y’ was send. Followed by throwing ‘Y’ as not to be used. I look at her and say, “but ‘Y’ would be something you would buy since it is much to your taste, so why would she not use it”. Her reply: “Since my in-laws sent it”.

Again I am not saying that all the in-laws horror stories one reads are not true, or that everyone treat their ILs as above. Just saying that it is not always their fault. There are a lot of us who are less tolerant to our ILs and are of the mindset that whatever they do is wrong and with malice.

And this is not the post about the clash of modern and old-fashioned thinking. This is about work and its doing. Day to day stuff.

60 thoughts on “A look on the other side

  1. Well I have also seen such things and I do quite agree with you. The thing is all about changing your perspective and doing things so that its beneficial to all.:)

  2. There is always 2 sides to a coin, and in weird sort of the way each party in the equation is sort of justified in what he/she thinks..

    Like you rightly mention, it is about having an open communication to set things in perspective from both parties to reduce the friction.

    1. Exactly AJCL..

      It is about finding the balance. Not playing the blame game.

      And that is what I wanted to write about, the other side of the coin, since recently I read a whole lot of rants from our side.

  3. I know what you mean here…since this a common topic of discussion and can be found in almost every household..I’ve also had my share of experiences in my own home and my friend’s home…

    and believe it or not we too have the strategies in place where in neither of us is overburdened with the cooking and stuffing the pantry kind of work 🙂 that’s how things work..you walk two steps ahead and give sometime to the other party and I’m sure that too will move one step if not two…my 5 years experience 🙂 though we don’t have this baby responsibility sharing yet but other chores too take a toll if done by only one person !

    So yes, basically I’m agreeing to you..there are times when most of us this side don’t want to change even a bit and want the ILs to change totally to our tastes and choices ! Unfair 😦

  4. Such a sensitive post comfy!

    I believe in a very simple policy – if u dont like ur husband being rude to your mom…u bloody well not do be rude to his mother either…

    Yes i do have my moments when i get irritated when my MIL visits…but i have that with my mom too…The difference being when my mom is around i can tell her i dont like something…with my MIL i just keep my irritation to myself…the next time i feel like that i will come and read comfy’s post!

    1. Nuttie..you have the perfect policy in place.

      All I would add to it is ‘If you forgive or don’t get angry when your mom says something or makes a suggestion, don’t get angry when your MIL makes a similar suggestion’.

  5. First here,though i have seen around blogosphere sometime back.
    Well,dont you know that a word ‘rebel’ is always labelled with in-laws,thats the reason for all horror stories like this.
    How much ever you try to be patient with them you get irritated with them 🙂 .Me exactly not a rebellious one,but still as you say open communication is what is all needed.

  6. That was an eye opening post to show everyone of us the other side of the coin, something to which we conveniently shut our eyes.

    Thoroughly thought provoking post Comfy 🙂

  7. It takes two for tango is it not ? but there are some species who just go on cribbing about ILs /husband no matter how good they are.
    sometimes I feel a MIL will never be a mother and a DIL will never be daughter.
    Very well written post. I am completely with you.

    1. I agree Misty. MIL very rarely becomes Mother..and DIL don’t often become daughter.. and the pull and push continue on. Such a sad state to be in.

      And don’t get me started on the people who keep cribbing about everything and everyone.

  8. I have pondered over such stuff many a times too! I can never get into such fights when either of them complain bcoz u know the other person has her own side to it. But a few things u hv mentioned really left me disturbed 😦

    Nt that I am on gr8 terms with my MIL .. but still, I used to take care of the cooking etc.. when they hd come to visit us .. bcoz, I anyway do it for 2 ppl .. another 2 will nt add a gr8 deal to my work no?

    1. I do agree there r such stories on both sides. Its nt that either of them r wrong .. situation probably! Bcoz I hv seen MILs who go on and on abt their DIL too! My own neighbour, who used to cook dinner for us if I ws feeling sick, told me that if she knew her DIL hd migraine probs, she wud never choose her? And then, she expects the DIL to treat her like a mother 😦
      Being a DIL , I know it does take an effort from both of us to bring in that balance; nt very difficult, thought nt very easy too 😉 But, we do need to keep away from imposing all the work on them and complain and this holds good on either side!

      1. Exactly. Nowhere in the post do I say that the MILs don’t crib or all the rants that the DILs have are incorrect..but there is another side to things. That is all I meant.

        And as you said it takes effort from both side to bring the balance. Effort from one side only will fail no matter what..

    2. See that is what it is about Swaram. You are honest about the fact that you are not on great terms with your MIL but that does not mean you leave everything on her, dump all the blame on her. You do your part and try and bridge the gap a little.

      Hats off to you.

      1. LOL Comfy .. no hats off and all that pls 😉 And eh, I totally gt ur point and seconded that when I said it takes two hands to clap 🙂 Esp. a few egs. u quoted, I thought they existed only on TV .. shud hv remembered they r inspired by life 😦

        By gr8, I meant not that we call and talk for hours or share all things or confide in each other 😛 😛

        1. Thatz the rapport one of my cousin and her MIL share u know … they r such gud friends. I envy her for it 😛
          May be, I hv nt tried from my side too 😉

          1. The problem is always,we feel bitter for In laws and most of the time they deserve it too and we keep on comparing with our parents to our awe.Need not be in gr8 terms but we can still treat them as humans if not as mother.

            1. Exactly. We idealize our parents and keep thinking..my Mom/dad would never do that.. But if that were the case then our parents should get along perfectly with their DIL.. But when that does not happen it the DIL’s fault..

              How closed eyes can we be..??..

  9. You said it all, Comfy..and that too very sensibly. I’m no DIL, I have no first hand experience, but yes I’ve seen friends crib and I don’t get it at times. It is a two way road, there has to be give and take…totally agree with you.

    1. T, the fact is that once you are used to living on your own, any intervention (even the one that is just perceived) is hard to take. I know this because my parents were here. But with your own parents you deal with it in a different way and even cover it up. But when it comes to ILs you go and rant about it all over the place.

      1. yes it sure happens that we don’t crib about our parents doing it this way but we sure don’t like it when ILs do it…but again…there are times and situations when you can on face tell you mom that ‘I won’t do it’ and to your IL if you want to say this she might not like it…just may be !

        so there is this unsaid rule that you have to behave no matter what… 🙂

        1. If you are staying with them long term, I guess there has to come a time when you can tell your IL that you don’t like something, just like you would your Mom.

          But I can’t say anything about this, since I don’t stay with mine.

  10. Lovely post 🙂

    There are always two sides .. I stay with my in-laws but MIL and I have a neat division of labour. There are times when I don’t agree/ I am irritated with what she says, but I hold my tongue, and try not to talk back, coz I am sure even she doesn’t like some parts of what I say/do, but she rarely scolds/points that out to me. So I atleast owe her that much.

  11. Good post. I’ve noticed that people are very insensitive when it comes to dealing with their In Laws. Yes, I know you aren’t used to doing some things their way. Before you react angrily to something they’ve done, just spare a thought: “Would I react angrily if my mom/dad had done the same thing?” That will help put things into perspective.

    That puts things in perspective. Of course, that’s not to say that all in-laws are wonderful, and innocent of any wrongdoing, but that’s something else altogether.

    1. Chinkurli: I think we can’t think abt hw we wud hv reacted to our Mom/Dad bcoz they wud nt hv thought abt hw they wud hv done it with their daughter too? I agree someone hs to make a beginning though 🙂

      1. Just saying that – as Comfy has pointed out – it’s probably easier for us to make some small changes. And once we start doing that, they will feel more comfortable, maybe, and things will (soon, hopefully) get to a stage when they start ‘adjusting’ to doing some things the DIL’s way. This is in only if your relationship with them doesn’t have all kinds of fights and ego battles.

        Of course, maybe it’s just that I lack experience. In my case my ILs are very accepting and accommodating.Maybe the fact that we don’t live together also helps me have this kind of attitude.

        1. I agree. With the expectations that “why I should step ahead” things will never get better. and this whole conversion of IL’s to parents and DIL to Daughter is so ideal. It rarely happens in reality.
          and like Comfy said at age range of 20+ we are not ready to change ourselves but we expect the 50+ people change.

        2. it eases out a bit in a way for sure that ILs live elsewhere…for few days nobody wants to get into a rift with each other…and both parties have an understanding that it’s just a matter of few days…

          1. It is easy when you don’t stay together Nu..and that is why I get upset when I see things I mention above..because they happened when ILs come over..and that too to help you out.

        3. See everytime I bring this point up..I am asked to shut up because I don’t have issues with my ILs and I don’t stay with them for too long anyways..

          So I understand when you say maybe it is lack of experience..

  12. The ILs – DIL relation is probably the most discussed relationship in the world… and as you say, there are both sides to the story. There are people on both sides of the divide who refuse to budge..

    It is sad when either side is badly treated or disrespected. Setting expectations, managing expectations and doing our bit, to the best of our ability, that is probably all that we can do. And as you say, being younger, we are probably better placed to make the first compromise.

    1. I am not saying..not for a minute that you have to bend backwards..be OK if treated like dirt..and always be the one giving in.

      But a little step forward..and little understanding is not too much to ask for is it.

  13. 🙂 Nice post. One of my friends had suggested that DILs should write a 101 manual on how to behave with your DIL and vice versa by MILs 🙂 Would be funny to see what both sides would say..

    For me, as I did everything, everything when my inlaws visited – when I had a baby, I have no guilt. My husband used to travel – consulting so I did the night shifts by myself, fed, changed the baby and handed over while going to work, came back from work and held my baby for ten minutes before going back into the kitchen to clean, cook, clean. Feed the baby, bathe the baby, rock her to sleep. And then sleep myself in preparation for the atleast twice a night wake up. Did laundry on my Fridays off. Did grocery shopping on the weekends. ILs didnt offer to help. .of course I also completely lost it when we went to restaurants with our extended family and I stood by the door holding my baby while everyone chitchatted and ate. Would have liked my MIL to say for once, u sit down and eat and relax and let me hold her….So thats why this time around, I have told them to visit us when the baby is a bit older and I am more stronger and rested 🙂 Kyon madat ke liye bulao if it is going to result in more work for me. Sorry for the long vent, its my favorite topic 😉

    1. Oh my gosh..poor you.. You are allowed to vent as much as you like..you went through hell..

      See that is why I never said that they are not at fault. It is just sad that it is always extreme situations..someone DIL or MIL is always bending backwards 😦

      So sorry..

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