Friday, August 31, 2012

The Indians Are Right

A few months ago some friends were asking me where my 'bee is going to have her confinement. When I told them it will be in Penang, one of them said that I must be very glad to have her back home with me.

From their subsequent comments I knew that they interpreted "back home" to mean that she would be moving back to stay with us so I told them that she would be staying with her in-laws. Then they explained that, in their Indian culture, women who have just given birth are expected to go back to stay with their mothers during the confinement period.

It really makes sense because that is where you can be most at home. No matter how accommodating or loving your parents-in-law are, there are always certain boundaries and courtesies that must be observed. I know because I had a wonderful mother-in-law but there are certain liberties I could take with my mom that I wouldn't with my mother-in-law. Not that she would mind, but it's just not politically correct.

To illustrate how "at home" one can be with one's parents*, just take a look at this conversation I had with my 'bee a few days ago.

* Assuming that there is a healthy, loving relationship between parents and children. 

She could say things like these to us because she knows that we have a good sense of humour. She also knows that we could take it without offence because we know that the things were said without malice.

On the other hand, it would be unthinkable for her to have such a conversation with either of her parents-in-law. Personally I would be horrified if she were to say things like that to them. No manners at all.

When I had my 'bee, we were still staying with my parents-in-law but my mom cooked for me during my confinement period because we were too poor then to hire a confinement lady. I was able to tell my mom outright not to overwhelm me with ginger in my meals and that I don't want to eat the Black Vinegar Trotter. In fact she cooked anything I liked to eat as long as the ingredients were considered permissible under the confinement menu.

However, being a good mom, there was once when she cooked the Black Vinegar Trotter because it is supposed to be good for women during confinement. I refused to eat it but my mother-in-law really had a feast that day.

Now, would I dare to protest or refuse to eat a dish if my mother-in-law had overseen the cooking of the dish by the confinement lady, if there had been one?

Therein lies the difference.  You can just be yourself with your own mom. She can take your idiosyncrasies, even some nonsense, without getting upset or allowing it to jeopardise your relationship. I think the Indians have it right when it comes to this confinement practice. 


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Hi Aunty Melinda! I don't know if you remember me but I'm Esther, Alan & Wendy's Ban daughter. I stayed with my in laws during my confinement at the last moment because my son had underwent a heart surgery and yes,at times it was awkward. But I had my mom to cook for me for the 1st 2 weeks. All the best to your daughter! and Congrats on being a grandma!

If ur daughter needs any help, just let me know

God bless

Melsong said...

Dear Esther,you are my Facebook friend and I know both your parents and inlaws so it is a joy find your comment on my blog.

Thank you for your kind offer of help I shall know who to direct my daughter to for help when she needs it.

I am so looking forward to being a gandma that I am having dreams of babies so watch out for the announcement, it should be soon.

BTW, I love the family photos you posted on Facebook and your son's progress is a testimony of the goodness of God in your life.