“We are so proud of Smitha. It isn’t easy to become Vice President at such a young age! She is so hardworking and dedicated to her work!” my mother tells my mother-in-law as we were celebrating my recent promotion.
“Behenji, promotion is fine! But why you don’t tell Smitha that it’s time to start a family! People do talk! It’s been 3 years of marriage. It’s already 3 years of marriage, it’s time she should start a family! She should stop wasting her time! Career is not what brings happiness. Kids are!” My mother-in-law tells my mother.
Even though I was in the kitchen making tea for my parents, I could hear her clearly. But, this wasn’t the first time my mother-in-law made my career a matter of shame! It’s not the first time she showed a lack of respect for my education, job, and career!
Last year, when my husband switched his job to a high profile role, my mother in law was quick to comment:
“Smitha, now you can leave your job! Rahul is earning so much. There is no need for you to earn now! Your husband earns more than enough to take care of the family! Now you should quit your job, have kids and take care of family!”
It breaks my heart how my in-laws always saw my career secondary to my husband’s. My husband and I were MBA college batch-mates and I have no qualms in sharing that I was a better-dedicated student than him. We both have very similar career journeys. We both have achieved many milestones in our careers. But, sadly my career milestones have never made my in-laws proud. Rather these have been used as an excuse to remind me how my biological clock was running and how I was wasting my time on my career!
Initially, I never cared about what people had to say about my life and career! Because in the end, their judgments don’t matter to me. But, when your own family refuses to see your potential and rather than becoming your cheerleaders turn into your critics, it hurts.
And, when the same people have respect for what your husband does and treat your career as a waste of time, or worse, treat it as a matter of shame that you are not able to give your 100% to your family and kids, it breaks you!
As I write this open letter, I want to ask those so-called ‘progressive in-laws’, who treat their son’s career as a matter of pride but their daughter-in-law’s as a matter of shame, some questions:
“Will you ask your son to leave his job if your daughter-in-law earns more money than him?”
“Will you ask your son to put his career on hold to raise a family?
“Will you tell your son that he isn’t a good father or a husband just because he is working hard on his job?”
It’s high time that you stop being hypocritical about your son’s and daughter-in-law’s career? The way your son has dreams, so does your daughter-in-law! The way your son’s job doesn’t make him a bad husband or a careless father, so doesn’t your daughter-in-law’s job!
For the last time, if your son’s career is a matter of pride so should be your daughter’s-in-law!