Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Is it a boy? Is it a girl? No, it's a Baby!

I recently commented on MM's post on female infanticide that Rahul being a boy and fair at that probably helped my mother-in-law get over her problems with me. Her response was:

the same realisation hit me. that the inlaws would love their fair grandson. but if someone as bright and smart as you doesnt comment on it.. who will? i dont want my child to be loved because he is fair and a male? and if i dont start making a difference by pointing it out to my inlaws.. who will? what is the point of spouting on the blog? i do bring it up with her once in a while. just so that she thinks about it and the OA's younger brother's wife isnt subjected to what i was.

So I will explain why I didn't say anything then and am sure I never will speak up on the subject. I was and am thinking with my head on this one, not my heart. I personally have faced this discrimination from my maternal grandparents and was very unhappy about it as a kid. They just were not interested in me, no matter what I did. But I grew up to eventually become pally enough with my grandmother -- and I realised that perhaps if we had had more opportunities to bond, this whole unhappiness may have been avoided. There were many more issues muddying the waters, of course, so one doesn't know. But at this age my grandmother and I are friends.

Now, when Rahul was born my mother-in-law and I were barely on speaking terms. Months of misunderstanding and her hurt ego had ensured that. But I was anxious to keep this from affecting whatever relationship she formed with her grandchild. My own parents fought all the time with my paternal grandfather, but I don't recall it ruining the awesome love and respect he and I had for each other. So I reminded myself that my mother-in-law is really very fond of children and of course, her favourite son's child would necessarily be particularly special to her. If it helped that the child was handsome, fair and a boy, well good for them both. Since it speeded up the process. Even then it took her and me a long time to reach out to one another (sometimes the awkwardness creeps in yet), but since we were both focused on Rahul, it made matters simpler. But I will also do her the justice to state that she would have loved a girl just as much, given perhaps a tad more time. Maybe a week or two more!

I dealt with this just as I dealt with the reverse bias on my own side of the family, where everybody, especially my father, was praying for a girl. They were all disappointed -- for a second perhaps, but still disappointed -- when Fudge turned out to be a little boy. And then, they forgot about the gender and started thinking about the baby. My father took a little longer. He was immensely puffed up at becoming a grandfather at long last but it took him a while to acknowledge that little boys too have their points. When The Bhablet was about two months old, and we were staying with my parents in Madras last winter, my father came up to me one day and said with engaging candour, "Little boys are not too bad, huh? I know I wanted a granddaughter but she just would not have been quite the kid this little boy of yours is!"

So you see MM, if I had allowed my instinctive angry response to their gender bias to come out, I would just have created a scene where none was necessary. Keeping my mouth shut allowed them to say what they wanted and get it out of the way of loving the grandchild they got.

I will have a girl one day. I'm pretty sure my father will be unfairly biased towards her and I will have to explain to Rahul that he mustn't mind it (because after all, as the first one, he has his own inalienable special place in his grandparents' hearts). And I know that now I've had a boy both families are ready and waiting for a little girl to pet and spoil. It may not have been what I wanted (and I too wanted a girl, dammit) but since it pleases all the people around me, I'm not going to complain about it.


the mad momma said...

sunny my love.. i didnt mean an instinctive angry response. i meant a well thought out chat maybe later...

it doesnt have to be with regard to ur child .. right? just to help with social change. maybe MIL will talk to her friends and the idea will be passed on.. and when their DILs have daughters.. they won't be so mean.

i know its always too lte in our own cases becaus ecomments are already made.. and replying in the heat of the moment ruins things.. but i like to talk abt issues with the ppl concerned so that it doesnt happen again.. if i can help change a bad attitude.. why not?

Sue said...

MM -- I choose my battles carefully. She never said anything to indicate her preference, so there is nothing I can pick on and bring up later.

I understand what you are saying -- I do speak out, but only when I think I have a chance of being heard.

In this case, what I kept in mind was that even a girl would eventually have been loved.

dipali said...

The sex-preference conditioning in India is so deep seated that it sometimes emerges as an older person's 'default' setting, not to be taken personally. (Though of course I know a lot of young-at-heart people like me who think they are free of any such prejudices). In any case, much forgiveness and a short memory is needed on both sides of the in-law/outlaw equation. Being as loving as you can in a relationship, however tricky it is, will generate far more positive feelings which will benefit all involved, especially your kids. I'm not saying that you should put up with any kind of oppression. But if Sue having a fair male child helped heal her relationship with her MIL, jolly good. Basically I think a baby per se is a miracle who comes with his/her own magic, generating love and goodwill all around.(Even when the sleepless nights lead to murderous thoughts).

Sue said...

Dipali -- Glad to see somebody gets what I mean. And Dipali, it's good to see you around once more!

So when do we meet up?

the mad momma said...

I do get what you mean sweets.. which is why I didnt say anything at that time... I just later in conversation mentioned how badly I had wanted a girl... and took it from there...

I hate it when ppl dont get what I mean and go off on a tangent!

Sue said...

I know you have a point, MM. I think I'll wait till I have my daughter around. In any case, I tell you, now that the son and heir has been produced, everybody's eager and waiting for more 'good news', preferably one in pink frocks.

It's not what I wanted or approve of, but I'll take it since I got it.

Incidentally, more on the girl thing later. I've been talking around and there's a post coming up.