Mothers! God bless them. Mothers are definitely the most sacred of all creatures. It does not matter what non-conformists and products of counter-culture may say, there is no substitute for mothers. Mothers are God’s chosen vessels for growing the population. Even those who chose to turn tradition upside down and chose instead that man should marry man and woman marry woman still believe, [do they have a choice?] that a child must come through the blessed womb of a woman.
Mothers are unique. They are specially equipped with the knowledge, art and act of caring and nurturing. They are indispensable in the home. Mothers look after their children, their husbands, their grandchildren, their parents and of course their parents-in-law if and when such in-laws create an enabling environment.
Unfortunately, and paradoxically the same mothers become about the most vilified, the most ridiculed, the most talked about in whispers and the most despised when they become mothers-in-law! Surprisingly, this vilification and derision come mostly from women who themselves hope to become mothers-in-law tomorrow! Funny, isn’t it?
Sociologists and psychologists may have to go back to the drawing board and educate the world about the cause or causes of love-hate relationship that exists between a majority of wives and their mothers- in-law.
I am aware of the common theory of jealousy; that many wives consider their mothers-in-law as competitors especially in relation to their husbands. They see their mothers- in-law as intruders, meddlers, nose pokers, and in worst cases as nuisances that must be kept at a distance.
Mothers naturally love their children, and in most cases tend to show more affection to their male children. It is probably the same way that fathers tend to take more to their daughters than to their sons. It is well known that sons tend to take care of their mothers, especially in situations, and plenty of it, where the sons believe that they owe their successes to the sacrifices made by their mothers during their childhood, adolescent and even early adult stages of their life.
At several Award ceremonies, the commonest and loudest refrain is ‘I dedicate this Award to my mother!’ In most cases, such open declaration comes from the male child. Interestingly, for such Awardees their mothers are usually present in the audience. It is, therefore, most unreasonable for wives to expect that their husbands will extricate themselves from the love that has been their bedrock and sustainer since childhood.
Some mothers-in-law are obviously more beautiful, more fashionable, statelier and more attractive than their sons’ wives. Such wives naturally feel inferior and intimidated. And the way to cope is to show open hostility, defiance and disrespect to their mothers-in-law. It is worse when such daughters-in-law are from bad homes or lack proper home training. In traditional African culture, and I dare say in most cultures of the world, younger people are taught to respect their elders. It is a mark of what my friend Dr Papa Sagoe calls ‘no broughtupsy’ that will make a daughter-in-law or any in-law for that matter show utter disrespect for his or father-in-law.
There are wives who erroneously hold to the belief that ‘it is me and my husband’ forgetting that someone must have made that person a man before he qualified to be a husband. Wives must learn to accord the same degree of respect to their husbands’ mothers/parents as they accord their own mothers/parents. There should be no other way.
What remains curious to this writer is the wish of some wives not to have mothers-in-law. Some wives openly declare that they wished their mothers-in-law were dead! “I cannot stand my husband’s mother. She is as ugly as sin and I wish to God she was dead!” a woman once declared in an open family meeting.
Most women pray that their children grow into adulthood and find husband or wife. In the continents of Africa and Asia, as well as in most of the Americas, the crowning glory for a parent is to have his/her son/daughter married to a loving and responsible partner. By that token, a daughter-in-law prays to become a mother-in-law some day. As said earlier, it is most curious that a woman who hopes and prays to become a mother-in-law and a grandmother would wish that her own mother-in-law should die so that she could possess her husband totally.
I am aware that some mothers-in-law could be meddlesome and even cantankerous, it is not sufficient a reason or excuse for a daughter-in-law to be disrespectful to her mother-in-law or to go to the extreme of wishing the mother-in-law dead. After all, we do have issues even with our parents, but never to the extent of wishing our parents dead.
I believe that whatever be the case, wives should be more accommodating of their mothers-in-law, give them a breathing space and allow them into their sons’ homes to savour the company of their lovely grandchildren. Wives should ingrain it into their skulls that someday, they too will become mothers-in-law. And according to the scriptures ‘whatever measure you measure, it shall me measured unto you’! Whatever goes round comes round.
Space may not permit me to talk about some wayward mothers-in-law who engage in immoral acts with their daughters’ husbands. I am referring to the wife’s mother who is a mother-in-law to her daughter’s husband! It is almost becoming a common trend among the same people that have turned cherished norms of humankind upside down to hijack their daughters’ boyfriends or even end up marrying their own sons- in-law after displacing their own daughters.
A lot of unspeakable things have found their way into matrimonial homes. We are living in a world where videos of horses and dogs mating with human beings, especially women, are flying about. We are living in a world where pornography has reached unprecedented and frightening heights and where machines have taken over the functions of the pendulum below the waist and shame has ceased to exist.
In this terrible cultural milieu, the disregard and disrespect being heaped on mothers-in-law pale into insignificance when weighed against the extreme moral decadence that has beclouded humanity and the human race.
The pen is the tongue of the hand,the silent utterer of words for the eyes…Henry Beecher