Can A Mother’s Love Cause Harm?
If you’re struggling in your marriage with a tough mother-in-law this article might help you too ladies.
The modern Indian man is an interesting specimen.
A good portion of us fit very nicely into a neatly packaged box.
We grew up humble, studied and worked our way to a stable lifestyle, had a girlfriend or two, and now checklist our way through life’s remaining milestones.
We each also have families that are far from perfect, but typically have far tighter bonds thanks to those same imperfections. One family might have the alcoholic uncle, another the shady businessman relative while another the drug-abusing nephew.
But regardless of each family’s “oh that thing they’re known for in gossip corners”, Indian culture, for the most part, is built on very strong family ties that stand the test of time to raise some pretty awesome people.
And one of the staples of Indian family dynamics is, as you might have already guessed…the Indian Mother.
I remember growing up in California and having friends (aka white people) come to sleepover. Their moms would drop them off at 6 PM, we would eat Cheetos, play video games, and then their moms would pick them up at 10 AM the next day while the smell of Aloo Puri would be happily escorting them out of our house.
Enjoy your pizza, Jason.
To them, it was a fairly routine hangout. To me, I was shocked.
- How come their moms hadn’t called 50 times during the night?
- Where were their snacks from home they might need in case our food wasn’t good or a tornado struck?
- Why did I call Jason’s mom “Carol” instead of “Auntie?!?”
As a kid, this constant looking after and affection was something I first resented (“Stop embarrassing me mom!”), then grew accustomed to (“Where’s my socks mom!”) and now in my 30s, is something I’m sort of juggling with.
Desi Moms are the best and I have grown to respect and admire my own exponentially each year. She loves my brother and I to death. She treats her sons with a firm hand but only because she cares about us more than we can imagine.
But how does one find their place in the universe after being treated like the center for so long? What do these “grown men” do when they enter the world and nobody cares?
That’s sort of where I am in life right now, and I’m curious if you are too.
Why do our moms yell at our fathers for drinking too much, but think our girlfriends/wives are just stressing their precious boys if they think the same?
How much love is too much, and how much is not enough?
It’s an interesting dilemma, and I wish I knew the answer. They’re so many times when my mom stays with me (and I know I sound like a spoiled piece of shit) that I get upset she’s enabling me to take it easy because this is the age I need to get my ass in gear.
Breakfast? Sure, but I should have made it myself.
Oh, you’ll take care of the dishes? Thanks, mom, I’m gonna go relax and do important stuff like check Facebook.
Or Tinder. You’re the best.
While this is awesome (can’t lie), it indirectly enables a habit in each of us that may present problems later. I unknowingly yell at my mom all the time about lost things around the house or “Yes, for the 50th time, I’ll eat outside and don’t make anything!” and she has never once pointed out this shouting. (After which I’ll stumble home drunk, having forgotten to eat, and luckily she hears my cupboard banging and whips up something quick to eat).
It’s nothing malicious and more out of our loving-shouting- communication habit, but good luck speaking in that same tone with your future partner.
How to Detach a Husband from His Mother?
You don’t. You simply show the husband that being a good son and being a good husband are two different things and it’s his job to balance both.
A girlfriend or wife who looks at you on your phone while the dishes are still sitting on the table isn’t gonna tolerate things the same way your mom did. She might have also just sat in traffic, struggled at the office with her own politics and wants to veg out in food coma just like you.
But alas, that’s not always what beloved mama might think. In fact, the modern Indian mother in law is also, well…not so modern.
In fact I’ve seen couples where the guy stumbles home drunk and the mom looks at her daughter-in-law and says “How could you let him drink so much?”Da Fuq?
Learn to See Mom’s Bias
There are obviously 600 other things we could talk about, for the sake of simplicity, as you mature through life just try to keep this in the back of your head.
I’m no psychiatrist but I’m assuming whatever Freud alluded to had merit for him to be so famous that I randomly cite him now. None of us want to date our mom’s doppelgänger, but I think we can all fairly assume moms subconsciously program a certain expectation of how a woman “should be” that plays a part in our next phase of life.
Will it repeat with our girlfriends/wives for the next generation and the future sons, or is the new modern family dynamic going to change that? Time will tell but recognize this as you get older.
Your moms love you and you love them. They love being there for us (it’s probably a need that goes both ways) and I’m so happy I was raised in a culture that instills family values I’m only now coming to fully appreciate. But again, keep things in perspective as you go.
Life is tough, and while you’re a rockstar at home you’ll eventually need to learn how to be a rockstar outside of it where Mom is not enabling you to be king of the castle.
Mom Spoils the Son, then He Goes to Work and Realizes He’s Nothing
I remember at an office meeting years ago, a few clients were visiting from Canada and we got a last minute email that the client’s CEO was going to be joining.
All of a sudden, ties were required. No big deal.
One of the 40+ managers runs into my cubicle (I think I was 26 at the time) and he is visibly shaking. Like Palms sweaty, knees deep, mom’s spaghetti. (Hey! Eminem Mom Pun!) I look at him, sort of laugh (cause he looked like Milton from Office Space) and asked him what’s wrong?
He said he had no idea how to tie a tie, because (and I quote)…
”Mummy always did it.”40 Year old IT Senior Manager
Tied his ties.
So me, being the smart/suave US educated independent man I was, naturally did what any NRI who thinks he’s better would do. I grabbed the tie with my American swagger, smiled at little bunty/puthar crying in the corner about his incomplete Windsor and saved the day by doing what I had been trained to do since college:
I googled it.
There is nothing wrong with a family that cares for you, and caring for them back.
The unwritten agreement in most Desi communities is the parents take care of you into adulthood, and you take care of them the rest of the way. And that’s completely fine.
But a lot of times we sort of overlook the major part of life that you and I are now headed. I know many people aren’t fortunate enough to have parents that love them as much as some of us, and I will cherish my mom till my last breath.
But I just wanted to discuss this because it’s something I see people dealing with. (Also ladies, those of you who call mom or dad on every little adult problem, even at 40…we’ll get to you another day.)
As always, if you have something constructive to say please do so below.
Hugs to you and your mamas.
And to my mom who raised us alone since I was 13, if you figured out your MacBook and are reading this, I love you.
And I’m hungry. But I’ll help myself.