When one thinks of parents-in-law, the first thing that comes to mind is: “Will they like me?” So, you try your best to be the most charming you have ever been and try to win them over. However, this was not the case for me, although I had planned to knock their socks off with my charm. My in-laws, my mother-in-law to be specific, was not all that bad.
In fact, she was so warm and welcoming that my trepidation of meeting them just disappeared. When my fiancé first told me that he had arranged for his parents to finally meet me, I panicked. He always told me that his parents were strict with him growing up and that did not help the situation at all.
So, I wrote conversation starters and I had a whole speech memorized. But when I met them, my mother-in-law hugged me warmly and the speech I had practiced flew out the window. She had this calm, serene feel about her that made me feel like I belonged. I did not think that they would accept me, seeing as I was not Chinese, but I was relieved when they did.
When I met my in-laws, I was pregnant and at a low point in my life. I felt incredibly disconnected and really uncomfortable in my own skin — like I didn’t fit in this world, like I was born at the wrong time and didn’t belong.
I just kept thinking of my unborn child, and it scared me because I didn’t ever want my child to feel like he didn’t belong. Being a child of a mixed-race family was always going to be difficult, and I didn’t want him to suffer any more than he had to. So before meeting my in-laws, I had already prepared myself for the worst.
The rejection I was waiting for never came.
I had not realized then how much I craved their acceptance until I had it. They accepted me and my pregnancy wholeheartedly, and I have never been happier. My mother-in-law and I are not only family, we’re friends too. My relationship with her has grown over the years, and I like to think it is because of that first meeting when we bonded.
She helped me through my pregnancy period, going with me to all clinical appointments, and she was even present when I gave birth. She said that it was a Chinese tradition for the mother of her pregnant daughter to be present during the first delivery.
And since my own mother was deceased, she wanted to be there for me. And that was not all. During the first month after I gave birth, she did not allow me to do any heavy work, which included housework. She said that I was not allowed traditionally.
Having Chinese parents-in-law taught me to look at and approach life differently, and to appreciate everything that I have. I am so glad that my children will grow up in a family that appreciates their culture and traditions and respects everyone. And above all, there is a whole lot of love.
This article was written by Susy Richards, who is a lovely mother of 3 girls (ages 3, 4, and 5) and a simple woman who is ready to share her priceless experience with other mommies around the world. She is an Advanced Practice Provider who passed birth doula and postpartum doula courses at Childbirth International in 2013. Susy is passionate about providing holistic care and is involved in pregnancy research. She currently publishes her articles concerning pregnancy on the site www.rocketparents.com.
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