My mother would often come to spend a few months with me once in a while. Those few months were a great relief to me because she’d automatically take charge of the kitchen an area that she was fairly comfortable with. My mother in law had passed away even before my kids began school and being a working woman any help in house – keeping was welcome.
While I had no problem with my mom in the house, my husband did have a few of them. One such problem was that my mom would stand up in attention the minute he entered a room. “ Please ask her to remain seated,” he’d whisper “ I feel like a stranger in my own house.” I tried to reason out with my mother but it did not help much. She avoided talking to him directly unless I was away and it was absolutely essential. After the initial hesitation, she’d sit in a corner of the room and listen to our conversation without contributing to it. Any input from her side would be addressed to me in private with a request that I keep it to myself. This, according to her was a way of showing respect. After all a son in law had to be shown due respect!
“ Absolutely not,” I’d retort, “ Why should a son in law be any different to a son?”
Time flew and my daughters are now married. I enjoy a warm relationship with my sons in law who are fine young men. We have discussions on a number of topics starting from global warming to terrorist attacks. I don’t know about them but I did have a problem when I visited them. When I worked in the kitchen they’d come right in and help themselves to food or make themselves a toast.
“ Why do they do it when I am around?” I asked my daughter in private. “ I have no problem cooking or serving.”
The naughty girl reported our conversation to her husband and that too in my presence.
My son in law laughed heartily.
“ Why do you make me a stranger in my own house?” he asked. “ I have no problem helping myself to food or helping out with dishes. I could even make you a cup of tea if only you’d let me!”
‘Had I heard that before?’ I wondered. Certain things never change.