Sunday, November 18, 2007

Chew On This

The scene: a one-year old's birthday party. Daddy is Korean, baby mama is white. I go up to the halmoni* to say hi. I've known her son about 15 years. Here's our conversation:

Me: "So how is Jisung** as a father?"
Halmoni: "Jisung is good father. Deidre**? She a good mother, not so good wife."

Oh SNAP. Keep in mind "Deidre" is within earshot.

Me: "What do you mean?"
Halmoni: "She no work. Never cook."
Me: "Well, she takes care of the baby all day."
Halmoni: (tut-tutting) "Jisung work all day, come home and he runs around make dinner. Always have to cook."

I tried to explain how normal it is these days for guys to do the bulk of the cooking and sharing of chores once considered "women's work" yet she was unconvinced. Funny how such a simple act as food preparation can be a measurement of one's viability as a mate. It was also a good reminder that some first/second generation parents see this evolution as a defect. Furthermore, Koreans don't play! Screw McCain, the real Straight Talk Express stretches along Wilshire Blvd.

As Thanksgiving approaches, do any female readers want to share some Mother-in-Law stories? What are your experiences with your mother-in-law and unsolicited advice or passive aggressive vibes? And how did your hubby/significant other back you up, or not?

*Korean for "Constant source of marinated meats, dduk, kimchi and kimpop." And yes, she prepared a huge spread that was banging.

**Names changed to protect friendship. :)

SD (who does the bulk of cooking around the house)


annie said...

When my daughter was just 3 months old my Korean mother-in-law invited herself and family to our house for Thanksgiving. I was too stunned to object or even suggest she might lend a hand or bring a dish or two... As I recall nobody offered any help cleaning up afterward either...

Beloved said...

This is why I worked my *ss off when my Korean mother-in-law came for a 5-week visit a couple summers ago. No need for her to know that hubby usually does the dishes and other chores. We pretended it was all me. Yeah, I could never keep it up if she lived on the same continent (and fortunately, I was on summer vacation at the time), but I looked like a saint and she left content that her baby boy is well looked after. *wink*

Sarah-Ji said...

The amount of cooking I do in the household would have to be considered statistically insignificant. I'm a little better on the cleaning, although my husband would probably beg to differ. My MIL is the hostess with the mostest, and I mean that as a compliment, and she pretty much did all the cooking and cleaning while raising her 5 kids. Fortunately, she seems to understand that since I'm away from home 11 hours a day working, and my husband only works two days a week, that it's natural that her son, whom she trained well in the kitchen and other homemaking skills, would do more than I would. It's actually my Korean mom who thinks I don't do enough and that my husband's too good for me.

I know that there are plenty of women who work full-time and who still do the bulk of the household stuff, so I really do feel fortunate. Although my husband thinks I should blog about how I need to clean up after myself so that my blogging friends will keep me accountable.

Anonymous said...

my ex-MIL is a terrible cook. when i had the first baby, she bought a ton of honeybaked(r) ham frozen casseroles for us - but waited for me to heat them up. =)

Grace said...

I'm not Korean, but can I contribute? I'm Filipino and I have a Mexican MIL...

When I was 3 months pregnant, we announced it to my ILs. My MIL's response? "Was it an accident?"

6 months later...I had my daughter on a Sunday night. I was released on a Thursday morning. My MIL and the rest of them invited themselves over to supposedly "celebrate my birthday" on Saturday. We ended up eating pizza and none of them helped clean up. Uh...did they forget I just had a c-section?

And now? When we go up to see them and have to spend the night for whatever reason, we do NOT stay at my MIL's house. The last time we spent the night? We had to search on our own for extra blankets and towels. We certainly didn't feel welcome.

SoulSnax said...

oh man, that can't be true about all Korean mothers in law...

but damn, if all that is true, Mrs. SoulSnax sure is lucky my mom ain't Korean. if the cooking was left to my wife, we'd starve to death.

interestingly, when my wife was away on business, my friend Jorge was like, "so what you been eating now that your wife isn't around to cook?" hahaha

christina said...

Well, I think I am the anomaly. I am Chi-Am, the Huz is Caucasian. I think this conversation with the Huz and his mom just about sums it up. This was exchanged after a couple of years of dating (and starting to think about marriage).
TH: *Girlfriend* is a great gal, I really like her. She's a good person.
Mom: Yeah, don't fuck it up.

'Nuff said. [Big proud grin]

A said...

My mother in law passed away recently. So without speaking (very) ill of the dead, I will say this...

She once gave me a Christmas gift (a decorative item) that was broken when I opened it, and then did not offer to do anything about it (buy a new gift, get it exchanged, say 'sorry', nada!)

She also regularly bought me pajama bottoms without a top. (What was she implying?) My own mom used to say I should send a pic to her, pajama bottoms only, to say thanks!

Mama Nabi said...

"When my daughter was just 3 months old my Korean mother-in-law invited herself and family to our house for Thanksgiving. I was too stunned to object or even suggest she might lend a hand or bring a dish or two... As I recall nobody offered any help cleaning up afterward either..."

When my daughter was just 6 moths old, my American in-laws invited themselves to our house for Christmas... no one offered to help. I cleaned everything up with my baby on my back in a mei-tai. Hmmm, wonder if my Wisconsin-bred white in-laws took some Korean in-laws lessons.

My white MIL is appalled that I don't do ALL the cooking despite the fact that I do ALL the dishes and still do SOME cooking, at least since our baby was born. She keeps giving me recipes and tells me I need to practice. Whenever she sees her son in the kitchen (who'd rather cook than do any of the clean up), she frowns and fusses and says stuff like, "Well, maybe [Mama Nabi] could learn how to do some of this."
Spousal support? Not much at all.
But to the topic - I hear that Korean si-umoni (husband's mother) can be on one extreme yet jang-mo (wife's mother) can also be on the other extreme, i.e. treats your spouse like a king, even better than she treats her own daughter... any thoughts on that from those with Korean jang-mo?