“How could you stay with your parents? And, that for a month? Even Mummy is struggling to manage the home. She is overburdened. You need to come back home!”
Says my husband as I told him that I need to stay with my parents for a month before my mother recovers from knee surgery.
“But, Sandeep, you are there. Along with househelp, there are four people who can help mummy in managing household chores. With mummy on complete bedrest, papa is struggling. My parents need me at this time.”
My inner self hated this conversation so much!
At the back of mind, I kept thinking:
Why I had to give justification for supporting my own parents?
Why I am expected to take care of my in-laws but when it comes to my parents, I am made to feel guilty for not focusing on my ‘real’ family!
Why, like my husband, my parents can’t be my priority?
Suddenly, my chain of thoughts was broken by my husband’s rash voice. He was ready to announce his verdict about whether I can stay with my parents or not; whether I can take care of my ailing mother, who took care of me so selflessly throughout her life; whether I can take off some burden from my father’s shoulder.
“As you know, didi is coming for a vacation. We can’t expect her to do household chores or help mummy. Even, mummy told me that she wants you to be back as she wants to have some free time with didi.
You do one thing – Stay there for one more week. And, then you should come back home like a good daughter-in-law.”, my husband finally announces his verdict.
With my broken heart and no strength to argue as my parents could hear our fainted voices, I told my husband, “I will let you know…”, and I hung-up! Realizing the call was over, my father came to the room. His eyes were moist. And, I realized he overheard my conversation.
Without wasting any time, he said:
“Beta, don’t worry! I will manage it. We will get full-time help. And, we will do skype with you every day so that you don’t miss a fraction of your mother’s recovery. And, your mother will definitely get stronger with time. It’s fine beta!
And, we do understand you have responsibility of your home and family.
When he said that, I just broke! I said:
“Papa, you are my family too!
At that moment, everything was so clear to me. That moment broke me and made me at the same time. That moment gave me so much clarity about who I am and what I want to be.
A few hours later, I called up my husband and told him:
“Sandeep, I know you are struggling as much as I am. And, how we handle our tough moments will define what kind of relationship we are committing to. I don’t want to be known as a good daughter-in-law when I know my parents are struggling. And, I feel if I can’t be a good daughter, how could I ever be a good daughter-in-law. So, I have decided I not coming back after a month. And, you need to step up and manage!”
Realizing how persistent I was about my decision, my husband gave in. He realized that talking me out of this plan was a sheer waste of time. So, in the next call, we planned how we can manage the situation better in the coming month.
In the 21st century, the only thing that could save the dying institution of marriage is EQUALITY. As a parent, we not only have to instill the sense of gender equality among our kids but also lead the way by following it.
It is heartbreaking how men taking care of their parents are applauded while the married women are shamed or made to feel guilty.
Though we may be not able to treat our daughters-in-law as our own daughters, we should not devoid them of the basic love, care, respect, and independence that they deserve.
Because today’s independent Indian woman isn’t going to accept gender inequality. They want to see the change. Will you be part of that change?