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No Place Like Home

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned” ~ Maya Angelou

We've been married for fifteen years.  But we have not yet created our own home.  Are we crazy?  Of course not.  It's just that in India, my husband's country of origin which is also our country of residence, there is a tradition of combined families, that is several branches of one family living under one roof.  We are at present a family consisting of my husband and our four kids (plus me, of course), his younger brother, sister-in-law and their college going sons.  His widowed mother lives here too.  The house was built some twenty years ago by my late father-in-law after his retirement. 

I originally agreed to live this way just so we could be together.  I couldn't wait until the day we would move out.  I was sure that  it was only a matter of time.  He was working in the next city, and as far as I thought, he couldn't commute forever.  Well, I thought wrong!  He loved living in his parents home and having me there too.  The best of both worlds.  And when the kids came along, he convinced me that we were far better off living communally than we would ever be on our own.  Why, look at all the help and assistance we would get! My goodness, he did such a good job convincing me that we were 'better off' there that I felt like a cruel monster for even thinking otherwise, never mind suggesting it.  So here we are fifteen years later.

Oh, it's fine. It's okay really.  But.........well recently when my mother-in-law and I had what you might call one of our 'little disagreements' (happens maybe once every two years on average) and she said to me that this was 'her house' and I could 'just get out now', I realised in one moment, that while I live in this house, it can never, ever be home for me. Until I live in a place where no-one can tell me that. Of course I knew that she didn't really mean it etc. and I didn't let it bother me one bit, but still!   I  have about the same satisfaction as I'd have living in a rented accommodation.  It may be comfortable at times, but it will never, ever, be home.  Not until we've got a house of our own, which we have purchased ourselves and in which no-one can boss us around.

Indian wives traditionally have, in fact, two homes.  There is the 'susural' (in-law's house) and the 'maika' (parental home).  The literal meaning of  'maika' is 'mother's'.  When I was in a child in Dublin I remember my mother and her sisters and friends saying that they were going to their 'mother's', meaning their mother's house.

Being in your in-law's house means you have to be 'on' all the time.  There are all sorts of duties.  As I didn't grow up in this culture, things sometimes slip my mind.  I don't always, for instance,  get up to give a glass of water to visitors when they arrive.  Mostly I would, but if I'm in 'switch off' mode, such as when the children at school, I don't.  A daughter-in-law  forgetting to do this in an Indian home is still considered unthinkable in many people's eyes.  That's why I take care to keep myself out of sight when I'm 'off'.  And if I find I've made a mistake, I just apologise and don't beat myself up over it.

I haven't been  to my mother's house for a long time.  I do hope to go back soon.  Because when I go there, I'm 'home'.  I relax so much it's unbelievable.  I sleep wonderfully and I am so contented that  even if there was a catastrophe of some sort (heaven forbid!) it wouldn't bother me in the least.  I just can't get worked up about anything.

I would like to think I'll have another 'home' besides my mother's place one day.  Hopefully in the near, rather than the distant, future.

This post was inspired by the writers' workshop assignment at the blog Mama's Losin' It.  I looked at the prompts and got inspired by the above Maya Angelou quote.  Hence the post!


  1. Stopping by from SITS to say HI! I have made a promise to myself to visit and comment on all blogs posted to spread the love!

  2. All the houses we lived in while in the UK were rented, but one did feel like ours. Now, living in our own home, it's odd to realize that it is OURS. I may have a renter's mindset for a long time to come.

    Then I wonder, will I ever feel that sense you so well describe of your mum's place... And ruefully I smile, that perhaps not until I'm in my Father's house will I ever know that sense... :)))

  3. Well, you are an angel and there's no doubt about it! I couldn't have been half as forebearing as you and I would long for my own home too! You sound incredibly patient and I'm sure everyone around you is very glad that you are there.Hope the storm blows over soon.

    And thank you too for your very kind words. I'm sorry to have made such fleeting visits but it's proving to be a very busy time... and my OU deadlines are coming thick and fast too. Talking of Mils... I am about to spend a weekend with mine and although we care about each other, that's quite long enough. Very well done to you!

  4. This was a wonderful read. A reminder, how some things, which I take for granted and never even give a second thought, can be an obstacle for others.

    I can not relate to any of what you go through, as I have literally been living on my own since I as 22. And I have always been the mistress of my home. I have only shared it for short periods of time and honestly can not imagine having a mother in law bossing me around. Heavens, I can not even take having my own parents telling me what to do when they visit, I get edgy immediately.;)

    I admire your strength to adapt, as you come from a very different culture and it must at times be odd for you. But then again, what an exciting life you lead!
    Wonderful post!


  5. Right now we are renting and it is hard because I can't feel like it's home and settle in. We have everything in storage and it is making me weary. Buying a place is difficult too. We don't know how long we are here.

  6. It must be hard. In Italy we're used to stay at home till we're very grown up. But when we have a boyfriend or a husband it's usually OUT of HOME! :-) Anyway... I've been out of home three times: when I worked in the UK, four years with my boyfriend and a year (I couldn't endure more without killing her) with a so-called-friend... but I can really understand... if I had a family I would love to have a "home". And I can also understand that you're missing your home... I would miss my mother too if I lived far away! You're amazing!

  7. You are obviously a very adaptable person.
    I had my son & DIL and 2 granddaughters live with us for 11 months and then DIL marched out one night because of some silly thing & has hardly been round since. So I think you are doing exceptionally well.

    Many thanks for your wonderful words of encouragement on my blog. I wish your mother many more years of good health.

    Nuts in May

  8. I think you do very well, mind you I would not manage to stay sane. I never knew my in-laws they were both dead before I met Jack.

  9. We've live in apartments all of our married life. We've been in this one for 34 years now and I hate the idea that someday I might have to leave it. It's my home. It's not fancy, but it's full of loving daughter grew up here.

    Neither my husband nor I have to be "on" here. That's the big difference, not owning or not owning. My heart goes out to you.

  10. Wow.....I'm simply in awe. My best friend's husband is from India and when his father passed away, his mother came to live with them for 6 months out of the year. I find both your and her stories amazing!

  11. It must be tough sharing a house with others. I have a 145-year-old farmhouse, and three generations used to live under this roof; it's hard to imagine, since there doesn't seem to be enough space to keep my bickering children away from each other, and it's so crowded when we have company....

    Thank you for visiting my blog! I've become a follower of yours!

  12. I personally love the idea of combined families. I know it is not the norm in this country but it is something that appeals to me.
    Stopping by from SITS! Please stop by!

  13. I can see the many benefits of communial living, in fact I rather longed for it when our children were smaller, but I am sure it can also be quite a minefield to traverse with so many different personalities living side by side.

    I confess, I would hate my children to marry and bring their spouse's and children to live with me - eeek - perish the thought!

  14. My hat is off to you. We lived with my in-laws for 3 years when we moved to Mexico. We got along great, most of the time, but I always longed for a place of our own. We've been renting a home for the last 6 years. It's not ours, but it sure feels like it! :D

    Greetings from Mexico!

  15. I know sorta how you feel. We live in an apartment, but I long for the day I can have a home, a place we own, a place that is OURS. I have lived with my in laws and I love them to pieces, but it's just not the same as my own place.

  16. This was a fascinating post. I admire your ability to adapt to your surroundings.

  17. I have trouble getting comments in. Sorry my previous one got lost. Basically I said I think you seem to be the only one doing the adapting here. Surely other family members, including Hubby, should be giving you more consideration.


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