[Celebrating World Falun Dafa Day] My Mother-In-Law and I
(Minghui.org) What do people think of millennials? Do people see them as being responsible and dependable, or do they think of them as money worshipers, selfish, and indifferent? I'm afraid that in the eyes of the majority of the older generation, millennials bear more negative traits than positive ones.
I was born after the 80s, and our generation came about during China's family planning program. Many of my generation are single children. Although I was not a single child, I was quite strong-willed.
I remember one Chinese New Year: the adults wanted to take a group picture of the kids. I saw my cousin wearing a pretty scarf, so I wanted one too. I refused to take the photo until I had a scarf. I threw a temper tantrum and cried until someone found a scarf for me.
The black-and-white photo, in which I'm wearing the scarf with a pouting face, still hangs on the wall of my old home.
I grew up, found a job, and got married. Although I was married, it felt as if I were completing a task. I did not embrace the traditional concept of marriage. I did not see my in-laws as my family, nor did I consider my husband's parents as my parents. I thought it was ridiculous to treat his parents as if they were my birth parents.
As for my husband, I could not guarantee that I would grow old with him. I thought I would take it one day at a time, and if it did not work out, we would go our own ways. I had a job and my own bank account. I earned as much as he did, and I did most of the housework. I could not imagine being an obedient wife to my husband.
That was my view on marriage when I was young. Although I seemed agreeable, I had a strong sense of self and was headstrong.
Moving in With My In-Laws
We had a baby and had to live with his parents so that they could help take care of the child. It's been five years since we moved in with them.
My mother-in-law has a strong personality, and she always wants to have the final say.
Before we had the baby, I tried to avoid my mother-in-law as much as possible. I was a new practitioner then. Although Master Li, the founder of Falun Dafa, taught us to be tolerant, I was afraid I could not handle myself well if I ran into a conflict with her. So I stayed away from her intentionally. I could not do that after I had a child.
When two people from different eras, with different values and habits live under the same roof, plus a newborn, conflicts are inevitable, just as water released from a dam keeps moving.
My mother-in-law did not like to waste water. She used a basin to collect just enough water to wash her face. She did not shower for fear of wasting water, and she used a large basin for bathing instead. She thought that spraying water on the tiles would shorten the life of the tiles.
When I first moved in, she would watch me from the bathroom door whenever I was in the bathroom. I felt so awkward and thought she was so stingy!
As a Falun Dafa practitioner, I tried to follow the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, and I looked inward for my own shortcomings when facing this conflict. It was a good thing to save water, so how could I blame her for being thrifty? In fact, I was the one who was careless about water usage. Once I realized that, I was more mindful when using water.
My mother-in-law liked things clean. She could not stand seeing stains on clothes and bedding.
The year I moved in, my mother-in-law wanted to wash the bedding before Chinese New Year. She did not want to use the washing machine, saying it did not clean things well. She had hand-washed everything her entire life and did a good job cleaning them. Although the bed sheets looked worn out, they were very clean.
However, she no longer had the energy to wash the sheets by hand, so I did it for her.
It took me half a day to wash all the sheets by hand. I was exhausted afterwards, as I had never done that kind of labor my entire life.
Then I heard basins being slammed in the kitchen. I heard my mother-in-law scolding me, saying I was lazy and that I did a lousy job cleaning the sheets.
I was furious and wanted to argue with her. Then I thought I should restrain myself. Had I not been a practitioner, however, I would have fought with her.
We had a lot of conflicts like these, but I gradually corrected myself and tried to satisfy my mother-in-law's demands. I could not, however, grasp her idea of raising a child. No matter what I did, she said I was doing things the wrong way.
For example, she had issues with how I clothed and fed my child. She said the child had the wrong sleep posture. She also blamed me for letting him out and getting him sick.
Sometimes I would take my child and stay with my Mom when I could not take it anymore. My mother-in-law knew that I was hiding from her and became even angrier.
I thought about having a big fight with her and take my child to my Mom's house for good.
I wanted to argue with her, but she would get more upset. I had done nothing wrong, so why did she treat me like that? A few times I went back to my Mom's place and cried my heart out.
Whenever I could not tolerate it anymore and was about to explode, Master's words would come to my mind,
“To endure with anger, grievance, or tears is the forbearance of an everyday person who is attached to his concerns. To endure completely without anger or grievance is the forbearance of a cultivator.”(“What is Forbearance (Ren)?,” Essentials For Further Advancement)
Master told us to look inward whenever we encounter conflicts, to find our own shortcomings and not blame others.
As Dafa’s principles continued to purify me, I took my mother-in-law's criticism lightly. My tolerance level increased, and I was able to see things from her perspective. She was getting older, not in good health, and had a bad temper. She also takes care of my child and still has to do housework. I should be more considerate of her.
I have been changing, and so has my mother-in-law. She is quite happy these days.
We go to the bath house together, and we scrub each others' backs. People think we are mother and daughter.
One time, the bath house attendant asked, “Is this your daughter or granddaughter? I see you come here often.”
My mother-in-law replied, “This is my daughter-in-law.” The attendant was very surprised, “You are so lucky to have such a great daughter-in-law! Nowadays in-laws barely talk to each other, let alone bathe each other!”
My mother-in-law said, “We live together. I have a bad temper, and she has been very understanding.”
I was actually embarrassed when I heard the attendant's compliment, as I am far from Dafa's standards. There are so many cases of practitioners who treat their mother-in-laws with kindness despite being mistreated, and I lag far behind them.
I know that I am returning to the path of traditional culture, and I will do better and better.