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A special mother: My mother-in-law

By | May 9th 2010

By Mami Kamami

Patty gave me a lift to work as my car was at the garage for servicing. It was a long time since he had done this. We joked about how the last time his attempt to ferry me daily to work had resulted in a near war.

"You kind of enjoy locking me out of your life?" I said on a light note. It was safe now to talk about his personal space issues that I felt were affecting our relationship.

"And you kind of like tormenting me with your shadow," Patty retorted, smiling.

"I don’t hover over you!" I protested.

"That is because you have now transferred your mother hen instincts to Kam. Thank God she is only a baby. Wait until she is a bit older and she will start demanding for her space too."

"I will get another baby . . . and another. That way I will not have to outgrow taking care of


"Actually . . ."

"Wait a minute," I stopped Patty as I turned up the volume on the radio. I knew where this conversation was heading — about us getting another baby. I could joke about how I was going to have three or four children but when the rubber met the road, I panicked. Kamami was my world right now and, through her, I had known what a unifying factor a child can be in a family. I had got used to the idea that most people who visit my home come to see how she is fairing on.

Patty looked at me from the side and smiled as if seeing right through me.

Nominate their mothers

The radio had been playing some slow rock but it had stopped as the show host invited listeners to nominate their mothers for a Mothers Day treat they were sponsoring.

"Ooh, Mothers Day is this Sunday? It’s funny but I can’t think of anything special my mum has ever done to make me nominate her for best mum in the world," I told Patty. "She gave birth to you, brought you up, eh?" tested Patty.

"So did every other mother."

"She is more than willing to bring up your child and your husband if you would let her," he pushed.

"And I don’t want to encourage that. A mother should learn to let her children run their own families the way they know best. There is no perfect way to raise a family and even if there was, my mother would not have the manual."

"How about nominating my mother then?" Patty asked.

I pondered on my relationship with my mother-in-law. Until very recently, it had been a frosty one.

Lonely ageing woman

What broke the ice was when I invited her to visit us and booked her to see a doctor about her arthritic knees. And I experienced maternal friendship for the first time in my life.

She wasn’t just a mother-in-law waiting to see where I messed up with her son and grandchild to put me in my place. She wasn’t even like my mother trying to be a parent too late in life. She was just another woman who saw her struggles to raise a family and keep a career reflected in me, and who wished I could learn from her.

She was just another lonely ageing woman who needed her children now more than ever. Slowly we had started to build a friendship. And while a few months prior I had wondered what to say to her on phone, I now couldn’t wait every day to call and chat with her.

I was going to nominate my mum-in-law for best mum in the world. I hope she won.

"You are going to vote for her too," I stated looking at Patty.

"No," he said again smiling mysteriously. "I have someone else in mind." And he softly pressed my hand and continued driving.

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