My MIL ( mother in Law) has been in town living with us for the last 5 months and will be here for another month before she heads back home. Her visit has inspired me to write this post about my personal experience with dealing with my in- laws. In our culture, dealing with the IL's is such a touchy subject and depending on where you get your information; you might see your MIL has anything from a home breaking witch ( thanks Nollywood!) to a sweater knitting, cookie baking, grandkid rearing saint(Thanks Enid Blyton!). Either way, everyone knows someone who has a horror story about dealing with the in-laws.
Dealing with the IL's is even harder for nigerian women situated abroad because the western world has breaded a sense of self confidence, strength and assertiveness that is not exactly welcomed by previous generations
Woman: Sweety, I'm going to get my hair done...won't be long
Husband: Ok babes... see ya
( As soon as door closes...)
MIL: what!!! Tufiakwa (or Olorun M'aje depending on what sided of the Niger river you're from). You're wife has turned you into nanny to take care of the kids while she's out getting some ashawo hair style? Your wife has turned you into a woman??!!!
So I developed " Rules of engagement" so to speak in order to advise ladies when they ask ( and oh boy do they ask!). It has worked for me and even if it needs some fine tuning depending on your situation, I hope it works for you.
1-Getting the hubster on board...
This was probably the most important rule of them all. When we decided to invite my MIL over, we sat down and talked it out. It wasn't out of the blue like the hubster saying " Oh babe, btw, guess who's coming over" Nope! We sat and talked it out. My hubby being the saint he is, asked me if I had any fears. Of course I said no...Of course I was lying...Of course he knew...Of course he kept on pestering me about it and we finally had a heart to heart about it all! (Did I mention my man is a SAINT!)
2-The truth part 1: No faking me...
Ever since I met my IL's, I have been the same way. A mistake we nigerians make ALL the time, is acting a certain way with the Il's when in actuality, it's far from who you are. Some chicks pretend to be all "Yes ma...Yes sir...mommy this...daddy that...living on their knees...quick to call everyone including the family cat aunty" when they know they can't keep it up! As it turns out, I actually am that"yes ma, yes sir quick to call everyone aunty" kinda person, its just my personality and it has profited me greatly but guess what? I am "flawed" (by naija standards of course. Smh) in other areas. For example, I speak my mind; I am no where near disrespectful but when it comes to people, I will speak my mind. Fast forward 2 yrs of marriage, nothing surprises my MIL, she has a good firm understanding of who I am... and more importantly, who I am not.
3- The truth part 2: Not faking the situation...
Y'all know I am a doctor right? My schedule changes month to month and while this month,I'm home by noon being the best housewife and mom I can be; the next month, I could be pulling 16 hrs and 24 hr shifts daily like no man's business. The state of my kitchen reflects this. On a good month, I am experimenting and baking and singing in the kitchen but on a bad month, I drag my butt home and straight to bed leaving my 2 men to fend for themselves. With a MIL around, I should be tempted to cook 24/7 and scrub the tiles with a toothbrush regardless of my schedule, but why fake the situation? why do something that I know I can't keep up? so when the ball drops (and it surely will!), it will look like I just don't care any more. So even with the MIL, I've gone days without cooking or doing the laundry and God bless her soul, she's been kind enough to pick up the slack.
4- Your reasons
I mentioned in this post about how the hubster kills my mother with love and kindness. Loving his mother back is just another form of loving my husband. He deserves me trying to swallow any misunderstandings, he deserves me over looking anything I perceive as slights. He deserves me giving my all (or as much as I can each day...lol) because he has done the same for me. I am blessed that my MIL is easy going; in temperament, she's a carbon copy to the hubster so God truly blessed with a laid back no hassle always joking woman. If we are honest with each other, it is IMPOSSIBLE to love another woman EXACTLY the way you love your mother but with what I have to gain,and what it does for my husband (and marriage...*wink*), I can give it shot. After all, I am going to be someone's MIL someday and what you give is what you'll receive.
...Musings from atop the potter's wheel...