My Chinese mother in law – Part II
A long time ago (5 years!) I wrote a post about how nice my mother in law was. At that time, I still had people who would sometimes tell me that she was okay because we were not married / did not have children, and that she might completely change after those events. I was scared that she would want to organise my wedding and invite 300 of her friends; I was afraid she would start nagging me about having children one minute after getting married; I was fearing she would go crazy when I got pregnant and try to force me to eat weird things or follow strange customs; I was terrified she would pester me to do the Chinese postpartum; I was dreading she would try to raise my baby as if it was hers… because that was what other people told me happened to them.
Guess what… None of that happened.
My mother in law didn’t even try to do anything regarding our wedding arrangements. (Maybe I should be offended? Haha!). I don’t remember if she invited any friends, but if she did, it was just a few. She invited more for the baby’s 100 days party and I was completely fine with that. My Chinese wedding was organised by my husband (and a wedding planner) and I loved it.
My mother in law didn’t nag me about having babies, even though I was already over 30 years old and at that age many Chinese believe it’s already impossible to conceive because your womb is old and almost mummified. I think only once she mentioned that “we should start thinking about the big decisions of life”. She didn’t even want to say it directly, bless her.
My mother in law didn’t go crazy when she knew about my pregnancy. In fact, she was very matter-of-fact about it and didn’t do a happy dance or anything. We didn’t even have to tell her directly, as my (dumb) husband started saying all the time “You cannot eat this” in front of her and she obviously noticed what was going on. I was planning on telling my parents and my in laws a week after she found out.
My mother in law didn’t pester me to follow the Chinese postpartum; in fact, she told me that when she gave birth she was not allowed to turn on the fan and she spent an awful summer, so she didn’t even blink when I turned on the air conditioning or regularly washed my hair.
And now that I have a baby, my mother in law is not trying to boss me around or make decisions regarding the baby that should only be made by me. On the contrary, she is being amazing and has helped me a lot since the beginning. Chinese custom dictates that your mother in law moves in with you when you have a baby and I was not sure I wanted that, because that’s not how it’s done in western countries, but I agreed to have a try. And I am so glad she’s here because I don’t have to worry about cooking, cleaning or washing clothes. I mean, I can do those things myself if I want to, but it’s great to have an extra pair of hands. She also respects my decisions and is currently learning how to deal with baby led weaning, which is definitely not something a 60 year old Chinese woman is used to. And, more importantly, my baby absolutely loves his grandma (I think he likes her more than he likes me!).
How’s your relationship with your mother in law?