I hope everyone else had a wonderful holiday because I was majorly irritated by another overbearing aunty in my life – my mother-in-law. I mentioned before that my mom would like to host a puja for me to bless me in preparation for the baby. It needs to happen in the fifth, seventh or ninth month of pregnancy. I ruled the fifth month (my current month) out because it’s too soon after the holidays and the baby is still jinxable this early on! I know, I guess I’m a little superstitious myself. I also ruled out the last month because I really don’t want to deal with other visitors and prefer privacy, as I get closer to delivery.
That leaves the seventh month, which also happens to be the month my husband and I are traveling to NY for one last baby-free hurrah with my big city friends, and also when my dad has a milestone birthday. My mom and I discussed that it made most sense to invite the aunties over for the puja earlier in the day and then have a birthday party for my dad later in the evening.
A couple weeks ago my husband told me my mother-in-law expressed some interest in visiting us in the new year. She has mobility issues and after falling down and undergoing surgery last year, she’s been unable to travel long distances. But the trip from her home in the south to California where we live is doable. I told him it probably made sense for her to attend the puja and birthday party, so she could be there to bless me as well. Inwardly I cringe a little at the thought of her visiting – the last time she and my father-in-law came to visit things did not end well.
(UGH just picture two extroverts dealing with an introverted daughter-in-law. If I get up to go to the bathroom, it’s “Where’s Diya? Why did she leave? Why isn’t she spending time with us? We came here to see HER!”)
Anyway, my second day into my Christmas holiday with the in-laws, I wake up from a nap and this happens:
MIL: We do a seventh-month puja too, so you will have to come here.
Husband: Remember what I said mom? We’re also doing a birthday party for her dad.
MIL: Just like you do it for your family, this is what I do and you will come here.
Me: We’ll have to talk about it.
MIL: I’ll talk to your mother about it.
Me: Actually it’s me you need to talk to. OK I didn’t actually say this but I was thinking it!
Just an aside that although my husband and I are both Indian and Hindu, we come from different cultures – his family from north India and mine from the south – so it’s not unexpected that celebrations might be done a little differently.
After this conversation, my mother-in-law gets up and walks out and I’m thinking, hell no, I’m not coming back here! The only free weekend I have in my seventh month is immediately after my NY trip, and as an introvert, I really do not do well packing in travel and events without any break to myself. Not to mention being seven months pregnant and wanting to limit my travel so I don’t get physically exhausted!
Five minutes later, mother-in-law is back in the room and my own mother calls me, nearly in tears:
Mom: I know you said you’re busy in the other weekends in March, so I think I have to cancel your puja.
Me: What! Why?
Mom: Your mother-in-law called and she is insisting on doing the puja. As the bride’s mother, I have to adjust.
Me (trying really hard not to react to such a sexist comment): Dad deserves his birthday party, so don’t cancel. It doesn’t make sense to cancel the puja if you’re doing his birthday party anyway.
Mom: Well maybe we should just have a private puja so your mother-in-law can do what she wants.
Me: Hell fucking no. OK, I didn’t actually say this but I really wanted to!
I put the phone down and tried very hard not to run to the other room and immediately bitch out my mother-in-law. My dad’s birthday is special to me this year, because five years ago during his last milestone birthday, he was diagnosed with cancer and underwent a botched surgery that almost led to his death. So we really wanted to do something special for him this year. The fact that my mom was even considering for a second canceling his party just so my demanding mother-in-law can have her way was making me so angry I could barely breathe.
I hate giving in to her. I hate spending time with her in general, mostly because she treats me like a child. I hate that she always tells me what to do. I hate that instead of asking me if it would be OK to throw me this puja she went over my head and my mom felt bullied into canceling.
The closer I get to delivery, the less capacity I have to do things that don’t feel good to me. Part of it is not having the physical or emotional energy to deal with other people’s bullshit, since my own needs are staring me in the face up front and center. What’s making me not want to give in on this seemingly minor issue is that I always give in to diffuse the tension around my in-laws needs vs. my own. For example, I hate talking on the phone. But this is the primary way that my in-laws like to communicate and they decided after I got married that we needed to speak every Sunday, which just made me dread Sundays.
Ever since my mother-in-law had a health scare last year and it was made clear to me that my phone avoidance was selfish, I agreed to call her every other day. Hello, this is torture for an introvert who hates talking on the phone. It was a huge sacrifice, though no one else saw it that way. The frequency only decreased to “every three or four days” because I got pregnant and dealing with my nausea was so overwhelming that I was finally allowed to put my own (physical) needs first. But emotional needs? Well some people in this world think that introverts manufacture their “neuroses”. I gave in to my husband and to my in-laws but lately it feels like all compromises are my own, so I’m getting resentful again.
The only thing that’s making me consider giving in to this stupid puja and the excessive travel, is the hope that it will give me brownie points to go towards my #1 hill to die on, not having my mother-in-law around when I go into labor. If she’s going to travel here in anticipation of the birth, then she’ll be staying with us. I want to labor in private at home and for her to stay in her home state until the baby is born. I don’t even want to deal with my own parents during labor. And if my mother-in-law or anyone else is here staying with us, encroaching on my space, then I will probably just cuss them out in between contractions. Hey, I guess being in labor gives me a good excuse to get some things off my chest.
Do I give in or don’t I? I don’t know, but I better book my NY tickets soon so I don’t lose that too.