Thursday, July 1, 2010

KITCHEN WARS ...where M-I-L is always the victor

I fail to understand why mothers-in-law are wired the way they are.
What makes them treat their sons so differently from their daughters-in-law?
Why is it acceptable for a son-in-law to get away with saying "I can't live with your parents. Period." How come we daughters-in-law get the cold turkey treatment if we ever say the same?

My MIL has just been putting me through such a devastating family drama, and the centrepoint of our war -- from where we've both been shooting our volley of words -- is the kitchen.
I like her. She's been good and kind overall.

But what i don't understand is why I must make all the compromises all the time... specially in the kitchen. If i take three steps down the path to make certain changes to suit her, I also expect her to take at least two steps to make some modification in her kitchen rituals, and not waste food.

I also believe in "doing as the Romans do in Rome" so when I'm visiting her, I always adhere to her kitchen style, rules, etc etc. But when she comes visiting, it is just plain unacceptable for her to make some adjustments. Why is there such a great resistance to change?

I have certain pots and vessels for certain foods and it's really unacceptable for me when she uses my curd-making vessel to boil tea!!! It's seasoned for a purpose and I always make it a point to set things aside and tell her before leaving for work, but it's like talking to a wall. The tea will be made in that same vessel ONLY.

She needs food made fresh -- once in the morning and once again at night. I don't have that kind of time. One meal is all i can handle. So i organise a cook. MIL refuses to put away the noon's leftovers in the refrigerator. She believes such food gives her a stomach ache. So I invite her to make for herself whatever she wants, fresh. She doesnt want to cook. If i keep something in the fridge and ask her to put it out by evening for some natural de-frosting, she won't. "Because I don't eat it" is the explanation i get!!! Well, I eat it. But who's listening?

All this is still fine. What I hate is her throwing away leftovers, saying it's spoilt. I don't believe in wasting food, not when you see so many people in the world having nothing much to eat. It's not like I make large quantities either. I don't mind refridgerating and eating the food a day later.
And so my battle continues. Never once will the sons even suggest that perhaps she could comply with keeping food in the fridge even if she doesn't want to eat it. All of it doesnt have to sit out in the sun and rot. Her dear son(s) always supoort her and tell me I must not take these issues seriously and let her just throw the food away. It's no big deal, I've been told.

From where I come, that's blasphemy.
MIL created a scene one day, said some nasty things about my pareents, and walked out... now she will come to town but won't stay with us. She'll go over to the other son. I'm ok with it. It keeps us off each other's "danger" territory and we're back to our old easy cordial relationship. But my husband mopes. Goes off food and talking to me when she's in sucks.

I am now this mean daughter-in-law who refused to adjust with her MIL, who quarrelled and split up the family over some "trivial food issues".

God!! you can never please everybody...or for that matter, anybody.


Anonymous said...

Hi friend,
i am sailing in the same boat as yours.I also have similar issues.After 5 yeras of marriage i have become a rock-absolutely no feelings.....Just take every day as it comes and remember none of these are permamnent.Life is too precious to be wasted. I used to feel and fret as to how i was treated by my MIL and neglected my child.My child hence suffered and once i realised my folly i completely changed.I just behave as if i am deaf......

Anonymous said...

i used to think that educated people are more cultured therefore more adjusting and understanding but that is never the case...our mothers-in-law are so insecure that they have to prove it to their sons that they are better than their wives and the sons don't understand that by just talking and making their mothers understand, they will feel more secure and have more trust in their daughters-in-law...why do women always depend on men (as sons, brothers, husbands, etc) to conquer a battle over the other women in our lives and also to feel more strong and therefore much better? why do we women always want to be one up over the other women in our lives? why don't men communicate more and face the situations as it is?

Forever mother said...

Hi girls, As I always say, it's reassuring and sort of therapy to hear of other's experiences. It sometimes makes your own problems feel so small compared to what others have to put up with.

Yeah, I guess it's an option to just kind of block everything off and pretend not to hear. But it's a very difficult option. So hats off to you if you're doing that and managing life. My tongue's like fire and I talk my head off.

Ya, and that "I'm better than your wife" and "Dont I make the best upma and chapati?" attitude gets to us all. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed and telling myself everyday "I won't do this to my son and DIL".

And yes, communicate is what women do. Men just watch TV!! :-) That's as much communication as they can handle.

Anonymous said...

It is very funny but my MIL is just opposite of urs and i have a complain tht why she is like that . I like to make fresh food twice. My MIL freezes and reuses the food for days . I dont have any rules for pots and my MIL does and she wants to do the same in my house too. But our basic complaint is same , why cant i do what i like in my house when we dont interfere in their house matters.

Anonymous said...

Good to know I'm not alone in the world worrying which seems small issues to my husband and others. And same issues are top priority when raised by MIL. Why is it always if u say something to In-laws, its always bad and if same thing son is saying it has worth and then only it would be implemented. If son is saying something which favors wife then according to in laws its their bahu who is doing all this. Why the rules are always different when comes to their own son and daughter and always different for DIL.

shivani said...

I think MIL's Are for creating problems. All are same. They always underestimates there Daughter in laws and always complains about daughter in laws family.

Forever mother said...

My dear anonymous whose MIL is opposite of mine, can we swap ma-in-laws?!!! HAHA just kidding. But that was my first thought.

And Anonymous The're saying and adding all that I didn't so thanks. Yes, my battle continues ...I had a part-two food battle last night.

Yes, Shhivani, as much as i hate to admit it, only women seem to create problems for women and the men involved don't help at all by being quiet bystanders or being supporting-mummy people.

Rekha said...

Hmm, I guess I must be the most lucky one here. My MIL stays with me and is the most non-interfering lady. She'll sacrifice her happiness for anyone. We do have our difference of opinion but it stays just there where she won't express her opinion and I won't express mine. Period! I always thought that such stories happen only in soaps!

Forever mother said...

Hi Rekha
Glad to know you're a lucky one. I'm J but also happy for you :-).
As far as there are no verbal wars, it's all peaceful I guess.

As for soaps, believe me, many MILs, including mine, I seriously believe, are inspired by them. Honest!! They try the strategies they see on TV! I'm not joking...ask some friends. My bet is at least five out of 10 will agree.
Thanks for dropping by