Even though I ace through every client call with confidence, but there is one call that makes my heart do a nervous somersault. Whenever my phone rings and I see the name of my mother-in-law on the caller display, a kind of unknown anxiety crops in.
Every call leaves me with a feeling of not being good enough. She makes it a point to leave me with a feeling of failing miserably at every responsibility. She makes it a point to remind me that I am an outsider, who has to forger her own identity. And, accept the new rules and rituals without making any modifications to them.
I had an arranged marriage where I met my husband a few times before our parents met each other. During our initial meetings, I was very honest as I never wanted to start a relationship on a lie. And, I never wanted to have issues later in life. So, when my husband asked me about my cooking skills, I was direct and honest during my earlier conversation:
“So, what are your hobbies?” my husband asked me casually to initiate the conversation.
“I like reading, traveling, exploring new places within the city, long drives, etc.”, I replied back.
Realizing, I had no hobby that would typically match what his conservative family wanted in an ideal daughter-in-law, he was perplexed. He asked me further, what about cooking?
To which I replied, “I love trying out new cuisine. But, cooking not so much. Cooking never interests me. And, other than making coffee, tea, maggie, and eggs, I had never indulged in cooking and would never like to.
My husband laughed it off. He made it very clear that he wasn’t looking for cooking skills in his life partner but rather honesty and courage.
But, who would have known that both my directness and lack of cooking skills would become a daily issue of contention among the family members, especially my mother-in-law.
It has been 7 years of marriage and she still hasn’t accepted me the way I am. She is highly disappointed in her son’s choice. My MBA degree or my high-profile MNC job is just fine but my lack of cooking skills and directness is the height of being a failed daughter-in-law.
So, here is my heartfelt letter to my mother-in-law, who couldn’t accept my existence and keeps hating me for being her son’s wife.
Why do you hate me so much? Why do you keep judging me? Why do you keep punishing me for being your son’s wife?
From not making that perfect round roti to not putting out the clothes to dry properly, to not knowing how to bring up my own child, to not being a good daughter-in-law (just because I did not do the prayers as you do), I am constantly being judged.
You feel it’s your right to put me down. You even told your son in front of me that I don’t have any “sanskar” to be a good daughter-in-law. Why? Just because I am different from your expectation of how your son’s wife should have been?
Sadly, your son’s expectation was different from his life partner and you need to respect his decision.
It is sad how you could not accept me as a part of the family! Even though I am expected to address you as my “maa“. Giving you the same position as my own mother, I can’t expect to be treated like your daughter?
It’s sad how even after 7 years of marriage, my home still doesn’t seem like my own.
Why am still treated as an outsider? Why does my heart start beating loudly with the sinking feeling, knowing that even on my best behavior – at the cost of losing my own self-esteem – I will still be judged and taunted whether I like it or not.
Knowing that no matter how hard I try you would still consider me not good enough for your son, and your family leaves me heartbroken. This feeling is not acting like a slow poison for the relationship between you and me, but also for my marriage.
So, if not for me but for your son’s happiness, please stop hating me for being your son’s life partner.
I just have a simple request – I don’t want your love. But stop giving me your hate too! Can we just respect each other for being related because of one of the most important persons in our life – your son, my husband – that would be enough!