i've been hearing some awful stories about mothers-in-law lately. mothers of sons, that would be. no doubt there are plenty of wonderful mothers-in-law out there (of whom i do hear about), and no doubt there are some who are nasty to their daughter's spouses too (who somehow have thus far escaped my notice, but i know you're out there!).
but let me get back to the first category. mothers of sons, who give the wives of their sons all kinds of hell. i'm not talking about violence here (though i'm sure that happens), but more a kind of demanding attitude. it's like no matter how hard you try, no matter what you do, it's never enough for the prince they have given birth to.
some recent examples of expectations:
- "once my son comes home from work, he shouldn't even have to get a glass of water for himself"
- "so what if you're feeling too tired to go out; if he wants you to go, you should go"
- "those chapatis you made 10 minutes ago are stale now, make some fresh ones" (this to a working woman mother who gets no help with the housework)
there's plenty more where that came from. and i just don't get it. how can you stop seeing your daughter-in-law as a human being? how can you not care about her health and well-being, but only care about that of your own offspring? it's just bizarre. the funniest thing (well funny in a tragic sort of way) is that the mothers themselves had usually had horrendous treatment from their own mothers-in-law, and are thus devoid of sympathy. that's right. they think "oh she has it so easy compared to what i had to go through", so try to make it that much tougher.
whatever. there are, of course, daughters-in-law that fight back. which tends (in these cases) to lead to a pissed off husband, as well as the whole rest of his family, and so her life is more difficult rather than less. or she could leave. if she hasn't been conditioned from childhood against leaving and has been brought up to believe this is her cross to bear. she may just not want to break up her family, or she may not feel able to cope with trying to survive on her own. it's just ugly all around.
being a mother of daughters, i can never become this kind of person. though no doubt i could be an awful mother-in-law to the husbands of my girls, should i so choose. hopefully i won't so choose, but if they find misogynist husbands who won't help around the house & with the kids, it'll be very difficult. very difficult indeed!
as i said at the beginning, this post is a result of stories i've been told recently, and i'm wondering why i don't hear so much about awful fathers-in-law. in the situations i've outlined above, the mothers-in-law have either been widowed, or their husbands seem to be very much in the background. maybe fathers-in-law who have a nasty streak save it for their sons-in-law; and since i don't know any guys that would be confiding their family troubles to me, i don't get to hear about it.
but the things i have heard do disturb me, particularly when i see young mothers with shadows under their eyes and with little support. it shouldn't have to be this way.