Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Scapegoat Here

I hadn't meant to post until I was in a happier frame of mind, and I'm actually a little upset right now but I want to know what you make of these two stories:


My mother organised a dinner party last night at her mamarbari (her mother's brothers' home) and we met some relatives there who I'm not close to but with whom I have shared a fairly pleasant relationship all these years. Aunt, her husband and son. My father was in a bad mood, for various reasons and finally lost his temper good and hard when we discovered that the briefcase containing his insulin shots had been left behind in the hired car parked outside, and that the driver had disappeared (despite being told not to). He yelled at us all and stormed off home.

This is a fairly common occurrence. It's distressing, and quite embarrassing but we have learnt to deal with it by treating it in a somewhat off-hand manner. Mostly, that helps people relax once more.

This time, when I sat down to eat, this uncle I mentioned suddenly attacked me for my father's upset and said he held me responsible. I had hardly any dealings with him all day so I had no idea why my uncle chose to target me, and I said as much. He said that I should have known where my father keeps his medication, that's actually my duty, my responsibility and that it was due to such callous children as me that fine men like my father lost their health.

I left home seven years ago. Since Jan last year I have been married and caught up in another family. Since Rahul was born I don't think I spare much thought for anybody else, except V, who happens to live in the same house. The way I see it, I'm already entirely responsible for one more human being's every need. If I do one thing wrong, anything at all, a little baby pays the price. So that keeps me on my toes mostly. I honestly cannot think of another person when I have such a big responsibility already. V I notice when he falls ill or needs me. I know this is lop-sided, but I also know this is temporary. Soon Rahul will not need me so much. The day is not so very far off when he can verbalise his problems and I will not need to watch him every second of every day to know what he is trying to say. And then I will go back to the rest of the world.

This uncle has his own problems, very bad ones. I can understand his lack of cheer, his change from his earlier genial self into this morose person. But still, why attack me for something I knew nothing about and was not supposed to handle?

My father is 55. That's not too old to remember his own medication. He is reminded but he often puts it off and then forgets. My son is 11 months old. Who needs my constant attention more?


We were invited to dinner tonight by some close family friends (my side). This aunty is really fond of me and I return that fondness in full. When we were in our teens it was she who constantly told us to fly, to search for opportunities, to make our own futures, to not get bogged down by the thought of marriage and families. She was as upset as my own mother when the relationship with V's parents ran into rough waters. She told me of job opportunities earlier this year, when I first began to look.

When I settled down to feed R his dinner tonight at her place it was quite late and he was sleepy and over-excited by all the people around him. So he squirmed and struggled and protested. She suddenly began saying that V always feeds him so well, why don't I let him handle R, he always handles him so much better -- you know the kind of stuff I mean. I know V handles R very well. But it was I who made sure he was involved at every stage of child-rearing. I could have told him to back off at many points and he would have let me go it solo, but I thought he would be a bigger man (and be a more involved father) if he were in step with me all the way. And I don't think either of us handles R any 'better' than the other. The proof I would say lies in the fact that at any given time (except when he is ill) R lets either of us handle any need of his.

But I'm sick of having people go on and on about what a great son-in-law and father V is. Yes, he is, but he has his faults, and such constant pokes only serve to highlight these faults to me. So I'm contrary that way... My own family keep telling me how lucky I am, his family keeps delighting over what a good father he is, how come nobody ever notices what I do except to criticise it in a negative light? My mother does notice, ok, but there's a whole world out there and she's only one person in it. And why criticise me all the time either? If he cries they all go, "Aww, did your mother not feed you? Did your mother scold you?" I know it's more tradition than a personal attack (mostly), but I'm sick of it.

Why take your angst out on me? Do I have a sign on me saying "Scapegoat Here"?


Grafxgurl said...

all i can say is be prepared for all or most of the future blame for everything to be put on you... my mom said that for most of her early married years she was bombarded with pickiness and insensitivity.

but today she says that people now come back to her and tell her what a great mother she was in bringing me up the way she did..

SO. right now, youre in the spotlight for the wrong reasons, but only time will prove your worth.

mothers always get the worst brunt.. they have to deal with everything under the sun and get beat up for all the things that go wrong...

i have noticed this will all of my aunts as well and now my cousin.. who has just had her baby too.. her relations and acquaintances also pick out little faults and sometimes she says she feels like going away and rearing the kid on her own!

even though i havent had a child as yet, i know tons of stories like this from my mom... so my dear.. you just have to spew on here as much as you can...and TALK it over with V....he needs to know how to support you VOCALLY when comments are made.. no matter how insignificant.

dipali said...

Story no.1- very very unfair of your Uncle. Dad's a big boy, can and should take care of himself.
Story no.2- perhaps folks aren't all that used to hands-on fathers, and feel compelled to praise them, especially since jamai-babu's are to be praised anyway. Don't take things so personally /seriously.
He's your V- take praise for him as praise for you-(as in choosing/training a nice guy).
Hey, spend more time with friends- relatives have loads of baggage- not good when you're feeling low(:

Suki said...

:hugs:, first of all.

I have two simple explanations.
a) You're a woman and therefore expected to be the "jagarmataa"(mother of the world) and take care of anything and everything around you. Expectations are high, rewards are nearly nil unless you know how to make your own.
b) Again, a simple case of jealousy. I'll wager you're happier than a lot of them, which of course means they want to make you less so.

Don't feel bad about it. It isn't personally targeted against you, but comes from their own inhibitions and insecurities and lack of self-worth. Blame them for being that way if you will, but don't let it hurt you so much.

Moppet's Mom said...

On the first incident - I think both your dad and your uncle are being big kids.

On the second though, I'm afraid it's common mindset problem that you'll encounter a lot. Since the mother is 'supposed' to be the main caregiver, any problem (real or percieved) is her fault. The father is not 'supposed' to be particularly hands on, so any little thing he does becomes a major talking point.

The Marauder's Map said...

Oh god, the second incident you talk about touches me on the raw as well. Yet again (lets form an association of Much Maligned Moms). Recently, my dad-in-law spent about a month with us, and in spite of seeing how I spent my entire waking day looking after my daughter's every little need, he would go on about how she was 'papa's girl' and how she was saying 'ba-ba-ba' and how much she was missing him when he was away for 2 days and how I should wait till he got home before I put her to sleep because he did such a good job of it -- a complete fabrication. R does help, a lot, but this last month he joined a new job and barely had time to give the kid a cuddle at night. Yes, it's petty and small-minded. But it irritates like hell when people do this. I think its damn insensitive behaviour and they should recognise it as such.

Sue said...

Grafx -- Well, I see my mum still taking it, and I don't want to be taken for granted the way she was.

One thing I do is talk it over with V. Actually I think almost everything is eventually talked over with him.

Dipali -- And later Ma said he had been equally offhand with her. I would be ready to ostracise him -- but he has received even worse news today. He's going blind in one eye. Perhaps if I were in a similar situation I would be even nastier to people. I'm trying to just forget it and think of him as he always was before.

You are so right about not hanging out with relatives. Don't even do it voluntarily either...

Suki -- I don't think it's jealousy, but it definitely stems from their own insecurities.

I'll be in JU tomorrow afternoon.

Moppet's Mom -- I do accept it, but kicking and screaming; and venting on this blog.

Shrabonti -- And what did you think mommy blogs were for, then? Mine isn't one exactly, but it becomes one now and then. :)

In-laws rarely see beyond their hirer tukdo chhele. The rare ones who do, we are not lucky enough to be related to them. Thus is life. *Sigh*

GettingThereNow said...

Where do I Sign up for the "Much Maligned Moms club"? And I should be made the president seeing as how I have an 8 year old (that means I have been tolerating this kind of crap than anyone else here :P).

Will talking to your dad help? I am sorry to hear about his eye situation? Maybe he felt something wasn't right and thus was uneasy or irritable? You did say that he has always been like this though. But I definitely think that your uncle was out of line for going off on you like that. None of his business, I say.

I hate it too when all the good parenting is attributed to J and all I get is the blame if something isn't quite right.

dipali said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your father's eye problem. Is it one of the complications of diabetes?
I hope the progress of the condition can be slowed down.

GettingThereNow said...

Longer - I have been tolerating this kind of crap LONGER than anyone else here.

And NO question mark after "I am sorry to hear about his eye situation". I truly am sorry.

God!! FAT Fingers :(

karmickids said...

Cmon, your daddy is a big boy and he and only he is responsible for his medication. Dont take that personally.
Incident 2: There I have many bones to pick. Everytime brat is unwell or loses weight or misbehaves it is my fault. So much so that sometimes I actually begin to believe it. I think the world makes us too hard on ourselves. We are much better mothers than they make us out to be.

Sue said...

My uncle is going blind, not my father! Sorry for the confusing language.

Cee Kay -- Get in line for president. Membership is open to all. :)

I think my uncle, unable to come to terms with his hardships, empathised with my father. His wife is awesome but the rest of the joint family is pretty callous towards him. So he saw it through those lenses.

Don't worry, I learnt to read through typos long ago. You shd see the smses I get from my T9-using mother...

Dipali -- See above!

Sue said...

Kiran -- I think I was upset at the unfairness of the two incidents, one right after the other.

My mother also says that almost everybody is a better mother than she is given credit for. :)

dipali said...

Relieved that it's not your Dad.
Impressed by your kindness and willingness to 'forgive them their trespasses':)

Tithi Sarkar said...

I completely agree with the "hirer tukro chele" bit...and come to think of it, I still don't have a baby...work and home take up my day in such a big way that the best I can do for myself is sleep for a few hours (approx 4-5) every night...And I was always given the impression that moms-in-law can be "horrible"! Come and see my dad-in-law, all ye gals, and you'll know...

Poppins said...

Boy oh boy. Well first one, your uncle was mean I guess, but old people with bad news are well.. old people. Forgive, forget (you seem to have done that already) and move on.

Point #2, DH does not even do half of what you say V does, still my MIL does that annoying thing of "Only if Daddy asks you to, you will listen no, Poppin?" Ha. Bullshit.

So you could do two things when this happens. One, you could complain loudly about V to your folks (not a great idea esp if you want to keep your marriage) or smirk and say "See how I trained him !"

Ron said...

I dont have a babay, but I can identify with your second story. My family cant stop praising Rahul...sometimes at the cost of being totaly unfair to me.I wake up at the crack of dawn everyday,let the maid in, pack lunch, make breakfast, make dinner etc. All Rahul does is lay the table. When my mom was here, she couldnt stop telling me what a great help he is around the house and how I should be thankful that he does so much. It got worse, because one morning I was running a temperature and just couldnt wake up and he did what I do everyday. And the next thing I know is my aunt is calling me from Kolkata telling me I should fall down to my knees and thank the Lord I have a husband who does so much work while I lie around and sleep till 8 a.m. To say that I was pissed off would be putting it really mildly. We are all scapegoats here, by virtue of being women I suppose.

Sue said...

Dipali -- :) I think, on hindsight, I did overreact, knowing the background as I always did.

Tithi -- Oh no, we always give Dads-I-L their due as well. See The Marauder's Map's comment above! In this one relationship I've been fairly lucky though.

Poppin's Mom -- Well, all my complaints are met with, "But you wanted to marry him." Nobody wants to believe that I've trained him, so I've stopped saying that as well. Even though it's true. He's naturally helpful, but I showed him how to channel that!

Ron -- Exactly. And when you consider that it's the women who target us the most, you have to step back and admire how thoroughly brainwashed they were.

Oh well, at least we know what we don't want to turn into.

Mystic Margarita said...

First incident - I think both your dad and uncle over-reacted - happens sometimes. But that doesn't justify holding you responsible for your dad's medication.

Second incident - Again happens all the time - it's like moms are invisible, there to take care of household and child like an well-oiled machine - taken totally for granted. But streamers and cofetti are bestowed on the dad every time he raises his li'l pinky to help out a bit. Eeeeshhh....

the mad momma said...

episode 1: excuse me - but did u really need us to validate that one? what kind of stupid person (sorry, i know he's your uncle) says something like that? am surprised. no wait. am shocked.

episode2: i am not shocked. almost did a post on this because i am tired of ppl thinking the OA is so great and i am such a loser. ok, i love him and he's a great father but ... err.. everything else you just said. so live with it. or else start a club with me. oh wait- someone seems to have given that idea. where can i sign up ? is there a maligned wife one too? lets just all go home and slap our husbands today. just.. you know.. for kicks.since there's nothing else to be done.

Suki said...

ARGH! Woman, you might have let me know on my blog!
Then again, I did have a fever and have to run home... :P

Mona said...

oh, this attitude pisses me off no end. you know how anything a man does for his child he's lauded for but it's woman's darn job to bring up the children anyhoo, so we don't need to be appreciated ever single time we overcome a problem.
i don't think this attitude will change anytime soon. it can only change when we start accepting that by doing his duties towards his wife, his child, a man is not doing anything extraordinary. more than anything else, this is where the phrase applies, it takes two, doesn't it?
sorry,. i'm hogging your comment space but this is something that just ALWAYS gets my goat.

Sue said...

Mystic -- Exactly. Worst is, thanks to my childishness about it, V looks apprehensively at me every time he is complimented! :)

MM -- It's like Poppin's Mom says: people with problems, you have to take them as they are. And this uncle has always been a very nice person. Helpful husband, good son-in-law, the works.

But I got complimented on Thursday!

Suki -- It's ok, if you read about my doings last week, you'll realise I didn't make it after all either.

Mona -- Be my guest. It's also annoying that men get praised for being good at their career... if homemaking is taken for granted perhaps them bringing home the bacon (no matter how well they do it) should also be taken for granted. Why should we celebrate promotions if they don't celebrate our little triumphs?

I'm sure they never thought of that. :)