Dear Sister-in-law whom I judged for being ‘only a mom’,
Growing up, mom always told me not to be evil to my brother’s wife, but I’ve failed her miserably. When you first came home, I was mad at you for not talking to me and I thought you were being uptight. But I had no idea that you were shy and you were struggling to settle into our noisy household.
I’m sorry for all the things I’ve said about you, even though I didn’t say it to your face.
I’m sorry for the time I criticized you for taking up a teaching job in a college nearby. All I could laugh about was how you were too afraid to ride a scooter and picked something in walking distance. I thought you were such a wimp, but you used all the spare time to bond with my grandpa- something I never bothered to do because I was always busy or tired.
I’m sorry for the time I made fun of you when your pregnancy didn’t show. So you’re skinny and tall, but it didn’t make it any less difficult for you. I just hadn’t paid enough attention to see what you were going through.
I’m sorry for the time I called you ‘mediocre’ for not going back to your job after you had my niece.
I’m sorry that I said that you had ‘special talent’ to live a life as boring as yours.
I’m sorry I smirked at you every time I went out to be a social butterfly because I was ‘so fabulous’ but you had to wait for my brother to take you out.
I’m sorry I underestimated your job as a nappy-changer and baby-soother. I didn’t realize how strong your arms were until I had to take care of our princess. And that was only once.
I’m sorry I underestimated the things that you do as a mom. It only hit me when your baby refused to let me wipe her tears and ran back to you.
When I come back home with all my shopping, she first looks in the bag with books in it. When I brought her the Princess book, she asked me why I didn’t bring one on Cats instead. I hadn’t expected the ‘Thank You’ that came from her. When did you teach her all of this? When did you raise her to be a happy child and not just a girly-girl?
When I see you read stories to her, my stomach twists in strange envy. I don’t think that you’re ‘just a mother’ anymore, but I’m a little jealous that you’re HER mother. My mum had no time to read stories to me when I was her age. You see, she had a job- the same job that I criticized you for not having.
I’m sorry for every mean thing and every unjust word I’ve said against you. You do all this and still be that person who cuts my watermelon pieces in just that size.
I’m sorry I called you ‘stupid’ for giving up your independent life. You’ve lived without material comfort and your best dress is an embroidered red kurta. I hope one day I’ll learn how to be content and be strong despite the silence. Just like you. Happy with the little I have because sometimes I feel I’ll die cribbing some day.
I’m sorry that in the deluge of this-and-that days, I bring presents for dad and mom, find excuses to make gifts for everybody. But I’m sorry that your birthday goes forgotten all the time. In the secret world of sisters-in-law where almost nothing is said out loud and little is celebrated, I want to tell you that you are special.
I’m sorry I underestimated you. You came out of nowhere into our family but you owned it much more than me. While I thought you were just another sheep in the arranged marriage herd, you did everything that I didn’t to make my family happy.
Thank you for being ‘just a mom’ because my 85-year-old grandpa doesn’t feel abandoned.
Thank you for being ‘just a mom’ because you always know where I put my things in a hurry and you always put it back in its place. I don’t know what I’d do without you.
Thank you for being ‘just a mom’ and making my niece literary, unpretentious, and curious in a world where kids are given McDonalds and made to watch TV while they play on Smartphones just to shut them up.
Thank you for being ‘just a mom’, for even though it took me seven years to understand your silence, you taught me something so profound. Nobody chose you over me in all these years, but our princess did. And that made all the difference.
I am so grateful that you are my sister-in-law and no one else. I love you.
This post was submitted by Naina Rao.
‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.’