I don’t Want a Mother-in-Law – By Funke Egbemode

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I met a woman, a mother-in-law in Jordan. I mean at the River Jordan while I was on pilgrimage to Jerusalem many years ago. We were on the same bus and the same prayer group. It was an intensive 10-day of praying, fasting, except only when we were eating or sleeping. But this lady struck me in a different way. We got talking and she told me her main prayer points. As we stood in River Jordan was for her daughter in law. The poor girl, she told me she had a difficult pregnancy that saw her in and out of hospital. She could neither eat nor sleep well, and to worsen everything , she had to deliver by ceasarian section. She felt it was too much for a 28 year old girl. Her daughter in law was pregnant again and she wanted God to intervene this time.

I want the poor girl to have a smooth healthy pregnancy. I want her to also deliver naturally. I know God can do it, inspite if whatever her Doctor told us’. Those were are words.

She got inside Jordan and prayed passionately . Now, if you had read the story of Naaman in the Bible, that day, I understood his reluctance to pray in the Jordan as the Prophet instructed. Jordan was dirty, full of gigantic cat-fish no one dared catch, I believe, and grass cutters-like creatures who beg for sweet and biscuits.

‘My friend’ got in and prayed hard for her poor girl, her daughter in law. ‘Lucky girl’, I said to myself. What did she do to net a mother-in law who went to River Jordan to pray for her.

Anyway, I stayed in touch with this nice lady I even when we got back to Nigeria. Indeed, we set up a WhatsApp group where we all stayed in touch and prayed. God answered my friend’s prayer. The poor girl ate and slept well and delivered her baby like the Hebrew women. No CS, no episiotomy.

Who wouldn’t want a Mother-in-law like this? Who would have a Mother in law like this and not pray that her daughters and sisters find a second mother in their husband’s mother?

Gbemisola and I are members of the same women group in church. If you are a member of RCCG, you will know the name of our group. Anyways, I was in the car with Gbemi about two weeks to last Christmas and she was dishing instructions out like cheap pepper. First to the cleaner, then the caterer and then the Electrician.

‘Hello, are you planning a party that I’m not aware of’? I asked.

‘Noooo now, it’s just Christmas and New year like everybody else’. Gbemi explained in between more instructions to the plumber to go and check that all heaters and flushers worked.

‘Mama, please explain. How many people are coming to your house that you are buying so much’?

It just happened that Gbemi’s three children, their spouses, their four Grandchildren and her three siblings were all coming over for Christmas and she wanted them to all feel like they were on a proper holiday. So she was going the extra miles to fulfill a promise she made to herself years ago after years of pains in the house of her in-laws.

According to Gbemi, Christmas or any holiday with my parent in-law always left me ill and unhappy. I always ended up in the hospital after the holiday. I had to cook, clean, go to the market in addition to taking care of my three children. It was the wives duty to cook and serve the visitors. It was work from dawn to dust. It never was not a holiday for years. I didn’t look forward to sharing space with my mother in law at Easter, Christmas or any family event.

It was not as if they couldn’t afford cooks or washerman. I think my mother in law simply just enjoyed seeing her son’s spouses doing all the toiling. May be because her own mother in law out her through the same torture. Until one Christ Nas, I stood up to them all and said Christmas will be with my husband and children. That was the end of torture December.

Gbemi made up her mind that she will never put any of her daughter in law or brother in law through the ordeal she went through.

‘I employed a caterer who cater for our meal. There’s an househelp who washes. My son’s wives put up their feets. I even call Hairdresser to make their hairs. I want them and my grandchildren to look forward to coming to my place all the time.

Gbemi had a choice of perpetuating the torture December tradition. She choose to abolish it and replace with leisure December. If your mother in law put you through hell for years, it takes grace and divine wisdom not to see Mother in laws as evil.

It is wives who become Mother in law. It is Mothers who become Mother in laws. Mother in laws are also mothers to girls who have to contend with or enjoy good or bad mother in laws. So it is girls thing. It’s about women creating a tradition and watering it or being just witches flying in broad day-light shamefully and shamelessly.

Tola doesn’t wish anybody dead. She just doesn’t want ego through what her mother went through in the hand of her grandmother. She had been told that she might just be lucky and end up with a husband with a kind mother but she’s scared, I believe, irredeemably, by the trauma of her childhood. She said she doesn’t want to risk it

‘I know God is able to bless me with a great future but I believe He also knows my fears, understand my trauma. I want my marriage to last forever. My Mother wants same. She worked so hard at keeping her marriage together. She wept, prayed, did everything but because she could not give my Father a second child and a son, she was frustrated out of her home after 14 years of marriage. My mother moved out into her own small flat. My Father married a new wife who gave him five more girls. My Mother was accused of witchcraft, held responsible for my Father’s inability to have a son. My Mother worked hard all her life to solely support me. She died two years after I graduated. In her sleep, she had an heart attack, according to the Doctor. But I know heartbreak was also a huge factor. Her life was one long battle.

I know not all Mother in law are mean but I don’t want to find out I am not different. I am not different from women who will marry men who are jobless. After all, a jobless man can be billionaire next year. I’m too scared and scared dating a man whose mother is still around. Mothers are great, mine was but a man’s mother? I don’t want the troubles.

Tola has a point. On the surface, she might sound ‘wicked’. But check out her story. Perhaps, if her Mother were to still be alive, she might have helped in her rehabilitation, but the fact that she died, leaving Tola, an only child with the Father who taught his wife was a witch, leaves any girl with fear, deep seated fears.

Mother in law are witches or blessings is a matter of experience because we are all products of our experience. However, whichever way you look at, it is all about we women. All parties invited are women. Of course the men invited have been known to your gasoline on the fire, either out of lack of wisdom or plan, thoughtlessness for long term consequences. Come to think of it, men can make and unmake between their wives and mothers. Some men are just careless. May be some even enjoy the politics and tension. But I refuse to make this about the men. This is all on women. We really need to do better, especially as mothers.

On a last note, I think young ladies who say they do not want their mother in law as part of their marriage package need counseling, love, guidance not condemnation. They were not born like that, trust me. They loved their grandmothers at a point, right? Then they started seeing that grandma was not so loving. They saw their mother cried each time ‘Mama’ was around. The shout, the accusations, the fight, the broken home all leave a mark on a girl.

Women just need to do better in the way we treat one another in the school of marriage.

Email: egbemode3@gmail.com

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