I come from a very simple middle-class Indian family, where children are taught to respect elders and never speak back.
My family has always believed more in education, free thinking, giving love and respect and living peacefully, without interfering in anyone’s life.
When I got married, I realized the family I had married into was the exact opposite. Money was more important than values, you could easily disrespect someone and show them down, because you had more money.
These were sadly the things that this family really believed in, and even after spending close to two decades with them, thankfully my values never changed.
Or the values I teach my children.
Many of you must have also heard a lot of horrible and cruel things from your in-laws. Things that they know will hurt you and make you sad and upset, but they still say it, over and over again, in a way that only you know the true meaning of.
And at the same time, they manage to maintain a very polite, respectable and pleasing personality in front of others.
From the time I had my babies, they tried to tell my children what a lazy mother I was. If I was sick, they would expect me to take care of the entire household, including the demands of all family members and doing all house chores and taking care of the kids alone, but one day if I woke up late because I was unwell, I would be made fun of, and they would tell my kids what a lazy and kaamchor ma they had.
They were too young then, they did not understand and would soon forget.
Last year, I had finally planned to go for a trip with my side of the family. As it would involve a lot of trekking and walking, the idea was for me to go alone without the kids.
They were fine with it, but my in-laws, of course, could not tolerate the fact that I was taking a break from all the housework and that now they would have to pitch in.
I had taught my kids enough to be self-reliant and other than cooking their own food, they would be able to do everything on their own. So I was not worried.
However, I noticed my mother in law repeatedly telling my child if my going away would make them unhappy and how they should ask me not to go. My kids said they were fine and excited to hear all my adventure stories after I returned!
The day I was supposed to leave, my mother-in-law told my elder one “Teri mummy to bohot kharaab hai, dekh tum dono ko chhodhÂ ke ja rahi hai. Kitni kharaab aurat hai.”
My child came crying to me and told me.
I had tolerated too much. And this was the last I would.
I went up to her, told her that in future, if ever she said anything bad about me to my kids, I would go to the neighbours and to the cops, and tell them I was being mentally harassed and would also tell everyone in the family what they were doing.
And I told them how, by saying bad about me, they had made themselves stoop so low in front of their own grandchildren.
That was the last day they said those words again.
You know moms, sometimes I feel, it is us who let them take over our lives and rule us, and demean us. The day we speak up and show them we are not afraid, is the day they will feel scared to treat us the way they do.
Don’t be scared…for your sake and for your child’s.
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