The mother was over visiting this Saturday, laden with goodies as usual, positive energy and plenty of advice on this, that, and the other. She claims that meeting me gives her a sense of clarity, because on the phone, she can never be sure she has said all that she wanted to say. I did try to get her to make notes and give me a 30-second lowdown on everything, or just highlights rather than the unedited version (I sub enough copy anyway). But it never really works, because mothers like details. “Wait till you become a mother. Then you’ll know,” is her retort. I can’t imagine how mothers have gotten away all their lives with this line. Yes mother, I can’t wait to find out, and I will keep you posted, is what I say.
Now, moms are a great species, god bless their soul, but if they just learn how not to dispense advice unless asked for. They don’t. They just wait till they ensnare you into their trap, and then the advice comes gushing, like a dam just broke or something. My rules for the mother-in-law are just the same. My simple logic to being straightforward in my communication and not sugar coating everything is, “I don’t want to set any precedents that I can’t keep up with. She might as well get to know me as I am in the first year of marriage, so there are no illusions.”
So if she tells me, in a roundabout way how I should rethink my pets, I tell her, no thank you, I have thought it all out. If she tells me now to always think happy thoughts and listen to happy music, I tell her I don’t really have the liberty, as I have to go with the flow. If she tells me I should use the baby to emotionally blackmail the husband to stop smoking, I tell her that’s a pathetic plea, and he is adult enough to know what he is doing.
My friends are shocked. They wish they had done the same. But most of them have worked themselves into the ideal-daughter-in-law trap and now it’s too late to wriggle out.
But this time, the mother blew me over. The advice was not from her, but from a third party. Apparently, a certain geriatric in her society (who claimed he was a fan of my writing) believes I should not be making digs at my husband in my column—how the male ego is rather fragile, and so are marriages, and so, in the interest of the longevity of my relationship, I should refrain from making any remarks about the husband in print. I was shocked, and told her no thank you, but the biggest component of our marriage was SOH, and that the said gentleman should email me if he wished to discuss it further.
I am still waiting for that email.