The Hero Series: ‘How to please my Igbo mother-in-law’.

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I don’t have an Igbo mother-in-law. I do have an Igbo mother though. And Igbo aunts, cousins and grandmothers, so hopefully I know what I am talking about.

See, pleasing your Igbo mother -in-law is simultaneously the easiest and hardest thing to do. To survive, to even get through your marriage and come out the other side ready and waiting for death to ‘do you part’, you first have to accept one simple fact: You do not own your husband. She does.

You must also accept that the Igbo mother-in-law does not hate you – unless you genuinely catch her trying to do away with you and I mean without a doubt, everything she is doing is for the good of her son. And you love her son right? You both want the same things. Stop fighting her on everything and just get on with it.

The Igbo mother-in-law is merely trying to show you how your life will be. In a few years, you would have morphed completely into her that you will have difficulty knowing where she stops and you start. Learn from her. The reason she is the way she is comes from the fact that her own mother-in-law had the ideal marriage with her son, as she had with your husband before you came along and spoilt everything. Every sensible woman knows, the only perfect husband out there is the one you give birth to yourself. Why do you think you’re having such a hard time, going on search engines, trying to find out a way to please her? You’re the other woman. Deal with it. You can have your own marriage once you bear a son.

Which brings me to my next point: BEAR SONS. I cannot stress this enough. Try to only have one more son than your mother-in-law has or there will be hell to pay. Are you trying to show her up? You only need enough sons to convince her that her name will not be forgotten. You need to also show her that you are not barren and what other way is there, than to beget individuals that will later on beget others? It’s like a living spring, flowing and flowing.

After you have borne the boys, bear her some daughters because your mother-in-law has found out the truth a painful way: you may smother them with affection but the sons always leave them and take up with someone like you with your French manicure and lace front wigs. The daughters on the other hand, stay. Besides, when the girls grow, she will have a relationship with them that she never managed with you, your husband will be released into your care and you can start the ‘happily ever after’. If you have only boys, you’re screwed. It doesn’t matter if she has a daughter of her own, your mum-in-law. A daughter is not a son, neither is she a granddaughter.  Apples and oranges and ube are not the same fruit.

Then of course there is the normal stuff; agreeing with whatever she says, not spending too much of her son’s money beautifying yourself (yes, even if you earn a salary, it is her son’s money), sleeping in her room/hut/wing whenever you’re back in the village NEVER MIND that as a woman who has borne children, you have by Igbo law, earned the right to your own room/hut/wing. This is an assumption of course. If you have not yet borne children, you’re to sleep where she tells you and shut up. Relinquish the rights to your kitchen. Whenever she comes around, seek her permission/counsel on all matters including what her son should eat. It’s not as if what he’s been eating from you could technically be called ‘food’. Put yourself down at every opportunity and do not ever have a different opinion to hers. You want her to like you right?

Of course you could always see this for what it is and stop trying so damn hard. She’s not God. She can’t create or turn you to dust (again, physically harming you is the exception). She’s a woman who’s been number one for the past 30-odd years and has recently had to contend with her son thinking the sun shines of another woman’s bum. That look he used to give her –  the look that told her that he trusted her with his whole life –  he bestows on your frequently and in non-life-saving conditions. You could see things from her point of view as well as establish yourself in your home/marriage/family. You are the mother/wife  and she is the mother-in-law. You could let her know by your actions that it is a privilege to get to her position, to be somebody’s mother-in-law. It is your time now. You should not have to apologise for loving her son. Some women liken the wifely role to that of the neck. It’s your duty, now CARRY THAT HEAD.

The best way to please your mother-in-law is just to be yourself.  No woman wants a lickarse for a daughter -in-law. What sort of sons are you going to raise then? Them of the feline variety probably.

But most importantly live for your time. Live in your time. You don’t want to be that woman whose daughter-in-law stays up at 2:34am asking Google for ways to please her mother-in-law.

9 thoughts on “The Hero Series: ‘How to please my Igbo mother-in-law’.

  1. Bwahahahahaha, this has nollywood movie starring Mama G as the evil mother-in-law written all over it. I hope you plan on behaving yourself when your time as the Igbo MIL comes :P

  2. Love the mix of sarcasm, humor and TRUTH!!
    Iets remove the ‘in-law’. she is your mother. Two have become one. his/her mother has become yours. deal with her like you’d do yours.

  3. Really enjoyed reading this! Fab! There is nothing as vicious as some Ibo mother-in -law. I have heard countless stories about aunties, cousins awful MIL. I am very blessed to have a sweet MIL (helps that she is Kenyan). We just moved country and I miss her a lot.
    This article reminds me of a family friend who had an absolutely awful MIL. She always came to my mum for advice on how to handle her. The ‘spending my sons money’ issue is so true! How would she feel if her own daughter received the same treatment from their own MIL? Men, I can visualise the fight scene straight out of a Nollywood movie!

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