I recently met a friend and we got chatting. She told me what she has been up to and we were generally chatting about our lives. She then made a strange statement. She said she was feeling sorry for herself.
I asked her why and she said she and her mother-in-law have nothing in common and so there is hardly any interaction between them. It was really surprising, she is a chatter box at most times and she did not have any subject for conversation?
This actually set me thinking. I wasn’t much different from her. I too love to talk to people, listen to them and generally am able to pick up conversation with anyone. It is my profession, this comfort level, but I have always been a chatter box. And yes, I too have a mother-in-law with whom I have nothing in common.
She is two generations older, she is not very well educated, but savvy for all that. She has managed her life and that of her children very well. She has native intelligence, is quite quick on her feet, though being old now, it does not literally follow.
She has led a full life, she is old now and has become very dependent. But there is nothing in common between us to converse. I attend to all her needs, we have functional conversation. It is my husband who keeps interacting with her.
It had never really bothered me till my friend brought up the issue. A mother-in-law can never be a mother, but she can be a friend. She has so much experience, she can guide and also learn from the young daughter-in-law. There can be so much give and take and there can be great bonding. But I have not experienced this.
Of course, by normal standards, I am lucky. My mother-in-law is not a tyrant, she does not harass me or humiliate me. She does not make my life miserable by complaining about me to her son, she does not abuse me in any fashion. But the emotional connect is not there.
Earlier on in my marriage, I have taken her out and also purchased her so many things. We have cooked together, celebrated festivals together. She would direct, I would follow. But sharing of emotional issues never happened.
I do not know who to feel sorry for, me or her. I do not think our nil emotional contact bothers her, I do not think she even feels there should be such a connect. But it bothers me a lot. We are existing in a home, when she visits us, and we barely exchange any information. It is not that I expected a double graduate lady, one who goes to parties, etc. My mother-in-law is a simple soul, only we have nothing in common to discuss or share.
Now it is too late. She is in her nineties and in her own world. She has turned self centered like a three-year-old. It is a natural transition and I can observe that. As long as her comforts are taken care of, she is fine. Otherwise she complains.
It is possible for two women, other than mother-daughter-duo to connect. It is possible for mother/daughter-in-law to bond, share and to have fun. I have witnessed such relationships. To carry on conversation, to exchange the daily news, to watch some program on television together, to go out and enjoy, dine out and have a women’s day out, could have been possible.
When we are just the two of us in the house, the house is silent. Can you imagine? Two souls and not a sound, except some television and some music playing in the background!
There is so much I could have discussed with her about my work and office. The interesting things I have witnessed, the learnings from the various workshops I have attended, and things happening around the world. She is wrapped up in her children, relatives, and herself. She has made many artworks with beads, but I am not inclined in that field, so no connect there either.
She is a very visual person. What she sees, she believes. It is actually hilarious to listen to her watching television. Her commentary regarding the serial has nothing to do with the actual story. She interprets it entirely differently and actually believes her own story. She has no exposure to the world, so she is quite naive. It is refreshing at times, and irritating at times.
So many years I have spent with this lady, she hasn’t touched my soul and I haven’t touched hers. We are leading parallel lives, the only link between us is my husband. Thanks to my friend, I have started feeling sorry for myself!