My mother and mother in law were as different as day and night. Both had the experience of raising five children each and had seen a lot of ups and downs in their lives. While my mother had dropped out of school while in her pre teens due to poor eyesight, my mother in law refused to go to school at the age of six because “ the teacher kept blowing his nose all the time!”. They both had private tutors coaching them for a short while before marrying at the age of fifteen and thirteen respectively. Lack of formal education was however in no way an impediment to their success in becoming successful homemakers. They were both smart and intelligent and I was always under the impression that given a chance my mom could become a finance minister and mom in law would make a fine home minister in the union cabinet for her administrative capabilities. These could never be simulated by me or my sister in law who had the added advantage of having inherited her genes. Despite their similarities, they were so different in their approach to people around them.
My mother was a woman of few words and I do not recall a single instance when she had had to raise her voice, let alone a finger to discipline us. She drew a line in her relationships and the famous quote “ If you do not understand my silence you will not understand my words” was perhaps coined for the people like her.
My mother in law on the other hand was an extrovert. She could never hold anything back neither anger nor affection. She would start by yelling at us (daughter and daughter in law alike) then feel sorry for her outburst and end up pampering us.
Whose approach was the better one of the two? This was something I could never decide. My heart speaks in favor of my mother but my head tells me otherwise. After all, my brothers wives have never enjoyed the warm relationship that I did with my mother in law.