Recently I experienced what can only be described as a mother-in-law moment. This happened despite the fact I’m not a mother-in-law or that my son is old enough to be married.
Instead, some primordial anger rose within and I snapped, quite inappropriately, at a woman who I believed was taking advantage of my teenage son.
We were on a cycling trip around Vietnam and were nearly flattened by traffic because of our incompetent tour guide. Feeling frazzled, our group cycled to the hotel and checked in. I was standing outside and did not see the exchange between the hotel staff and another woman on our tour. What I did see was my son lugging this woman’s excessively heavy suitcase upstairs.
“Why are you carrying that?” I said.
My son replied that the hotel staff were reluctant to carry the suitcase and he was doing our fellow cyclist a favour.
“Get them to do it”, I insisted and pointed at the staff lazing around by the counter. “That’s their job.”
The woman looked away and my son assured me he didn’t mind. I told him to put the suitcase down. He decided it best not to argue and did as he was told. The woman then pleaded with the staff to carry her baggage until a reluctant hotel employee eventually did. As she scuttled away I realised I’d experienced something raw and innate, the dominance of the matriarch towards the younger female.
I apologised and explained to my son what had happened. I said that it infuriated me that this woman had ignored him most of the trip but when it was convenient she expected him to carry her luggage. He was not her lackey, I paused for dramatic effect, and don’t let any woman think you are.
My son responded that he was only a mere male and didn’t understand the brutal gameplay between women. He then lost interest in the conversation as he had already devoted several minutes to it – something of a record for a teenager.
I now think about the mother-in-law future that awaits me and I’m not looking forward to it.