Poking fun of mothers in laws never goes out of style. They are like special species that we all try to decode and analyze. I genuinely love my mother in law — she is a doll — but wives-to-be have it much harder because of the natural competition for the husband/son’s affections. An important factor for Arab females is how they get along with the Hamatti, which is often Arabic for that person from hell, since Arab men tend to be Mama’s boys. Mama becomes the standard for spoiled Arab boys who grow up, and Arab mothers tend to never think the wife is as good as she was — a formula for nasty family spats.
In honor of this competition,here are the six types of Arab Mothers in Law the universe has blessed us with (well except for Syrian mothers in law. From what I hear and see in Syrian soap operas, it seems that Syrian mothers in law are a different breed).
- The Auditor: She is not a bad mother-in-law, she just doesn’t know any better. She lives down the street and appears when you least expect it (like when you’re playing “backgammon” with your husband). She shows up with stuff that your kids threw away and gives you a lecture about it: “In the old country, this would never be OK!” Although she’s definitely your best choice for a babysitter, you shouldn’t let her get too close to your daily routine. The Auditor can never sit still, and she will always find a way to criticize your clothing, cooking, and the way you choose to raise your children – pardon me, her grandchildren. To survive this one, play chicken with her, she may give up.
- The Friend: She is just grateful that you put away her childish son, the one that gave her a hard time since she spent 12 hours in labor with him 30 years ago. She takes your opinion on her wardrobe and family matters and she respects your educational background (as long as you’re not a veterinarian). She is nice to your mother, and at times she may even appear selfless. She keeps to herself and rarely intrudes. The Friend makes it a point to kill you with kindness. Of course, expect your own mother to become jealous of the buddy-buddy relationship you have with your mother-in-law.
- The One From Hell: She says evil things like, “When was the last time you even looked at a stair master?” even though she’s 40 pounds overweight. When you try to dish it back out – or at the very least hold her accountable – she plays the health card: “Oh my heart, I only have a few more years to live, Allah sa3adni.” She enjoys authority and loves abusing it (like the time she made you sit at the kid’s table last Eid al-Adha). She spares nothing when insulting your origin – your family is from Homs?? – while conveniently forgetting her own less than stellar roots. Nothing you do will ever be good enough, especially when it comes to food (even though everyone knows that your maklooba blows her shit out of the water). Whatever happens, do not wish her ill and pray an IDF illegal bomb shrapnel will find her way to her foot, but only her foot! Your only recourse is to win your father-in-law’s affection, and pray that he is able to balance out The One From Hell.
- The Passive Aggressive: She acts like you don’t exist and she only talks to her son (aka your husband). If there’s something important, she only asks for his opinion and ignores you, pretending as if you are unable to intelligently contribute to any conversation. It’s almost as if she sees you as her son’s roommate, someone that he keeps around to help pay for groceries. But, the Passive Aggressive is just trying to figure herself out; her brothers stole her inheritance and her mother never hugged her enough when she was a child. Your best bet is to scream into a pillow, take Mary Jane as a mistress, or find an excuse to relocate to Alaska.
- The Indifferent: She is too busy with her own life and doesn’t have time to worry about you let alone your children. She’s pleasant, but don’t expect her to put down her Blackberry when she’s talking to you…or to offer to help you prepare Sunday dinner. She does an excellent job distancing herself from everyone around her, and never drops by to say hello – unless of course she needs something from her son. She has a career of her own, and half a dozen other daughters-in-law, so you don’t really matter to her that much. However, take caution: this may change the moment you have children. The Indifferent will work harder to get close to you and eventually to her grandchildren.
- The One That Wants To Outdo You: She thinks she is hotter, more chic, and younger than you. She even wears Apple Bottom jeans cause she thinks she has more swag than you. Everyone knows that her nose, lips, and cheeks are fake, but they don’t dare say anything for fear of having rumors spread abin the past year, but they choose to ignore but they all fear to tell her that to her face to they let her live on her own never land. God forbid cook anything in the microwave; she will never let you forget how you tried to poison her son and grandchildren, and she will be at your house every night insisting on cooking your family dinner. She is the alpha female of the house and she will mark her territory with droplets of your pride. Don’t try to marginalize her or downplay what she says. With the One That Wants to Outdo You, it’s all about the games you play.
[Tarboush Tip: Andrew]Filed Under Arabic culture, Hanitizer, humor, satire