Dear Millennial Amma,
Remember that it’s okay to say “No.” As a South Asian woman, one of the most traditional, yet psychologically fatal expectations of your role as a daughter-in-law is that you say, “Yes” to practically every request (to put it kindly) or every suggestion (also to put it kindly). There are those dawats that you organize, for example, where you are expected to cook, if not non-South Asian food, then at least a simple (yeah, right!) curry. God forbid you decide on take-out, you may be seen as an unfit homemaker or just plain lazy. It’s not that the South Asian daughter-in-law is allergic to people; she certainly wants to socialize, get along with everyone and she may even love to cook, but when all of that becomes a sense of “duty,” that is when you forgot that it’s okay to say “No, I can’t…I won’t do this to myself.” I recently went to a women’s networking event and I took with me a quote, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” Your health comes first no matter what and your emotional and psychological burden is a part of that.
Remember that it’s okay to want to be left alone. We become not only daughters-in-law, some of us who wish for children and are fortunate enough to have them, give so much of ourselves to building up our family, raising our children to become good human beings. We do it because we love our family or because we want to so badly become a true part of a whole new one. Along the way, we feel guilty when we want or desire, for example, date night with the hubby a.k.a. Millennial Abba. Another example is when I have spent some time doing activities with my children and then say, “Sweetheart, we hung out a lot today and it’s been so much fun, but right now, Mommy needs to be alone for a bit,” a.k.a. “me-time.” It breaks my heart to say it, but the response is, “Okay, Mommy” before they go off to have their own “me-time.”
Remember that it’s okay to ask for help. We have that “super-mom” syndrome where we feel like we can and therefore, should do it all-cook, clean, feed the kids, dress them, brush their teeth, go to work, pick them up from school, etc. If we are lucky, we have Millennial Abba to help. If we are fortunate, we have our own parents nearby who can babysit the kids for a bit while we do chores or desire a date night. It’s okay to ask the parents or the in-laws to babysit. One thing I have learned to do is to ask my children to help since two of them are old enough to do chores around the house; they even get a monthly allowance to motivate them (wink wink). This was particularly hard for me because I feel bad having my children fold clothes or empty the dishwasher especially after a long day at school and after studying; but, I figured that they will have to learn to do it eventually so why not start now? It’s also okay to ask for help from others; it doesn’t mean you are too weak to, too lazy to or simply…can’t do it. Swallow up your pride, super mom! Not to mention, stop feeling like you’re going to ruin someone else’s day by dropping your kids off at the babysitter’s. You have a beautiful heart to be putting others and others’ feelings before your own, but mamma, if there’s anything I learned from my experiences, it’s that my children look up to me and that’s why my actions impact them; they see it and learn from it so let’s teach them the right way to live-be caring, loving and charitable, but not just to others, but also to yourself.
I have probably missed some other “Remember that it’s okay….” things so feel free to message me any additional advice you can think of for the Millennial Amma.