Thursday, October 15, 2009

You know you are in Brazil when

You know you are in Brazil when your mother-in-law lives in your lap. I’m just saying.

I love my mother-in-law. But why does she spend more than 22 hours a week watching TV in my living room -- and at an inordinately loud volume?

Few people in Brazil have made me feel more at home than my mother-in-law. She has gone out of her way again and again. While that may be the case I still do not feel obliged to tell her, at age 49, where I am going, when, for how long, and for what purpose.

We get along great. I pretend to understand her Portuguese and she pretends to understand my English. Yet all the while the inertia is that I am to go along with her directives. Yeah, sure, fine. Not really.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that I have been in the presence of my mother-in-law more in the last two months than I have been with my biological mother over the past seven years (save the brief – and very enjoyable - month we spent together before Luiz and I moved here.)

Things are different here in Brazil. People live with their parents. Adult children live with their parents – for many, many years. And intergenerational families gather quite frequently (read: weekly).

For me, while I love my mother, I saw her in person every five or six years or so. It was fun, but rare. And in some ways it was fun because it was rare. (I love you mom. Those were great times. Don’t misunderstand me.)

Now I open the door every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 8:00 a.m. to welcome my mother-in-law into our house for the day. And also on Monday, Wednesday or Friday if she has a doctor appointment or a hair appointment in the neighborhood. Goddess love her.

At least it gets me out of the house. If I wasn’t motivated to do some outdoor exercise before – I am now.

Keep breathing, I tell myself. Nothing is going to change. Find the groove.

Some things, I hate to admit, are less appealing in Brazil than in the United States.


Stephanie said...

You have just confirmed to me that no matter what I do, my in laws will be sure to follow. So it doesnt really matter if we do finally get our own apartment (please God let it be soon). They will be there to tell me the furniture is in the wrong spot, Im using the wrong cleaner, and I didnt cook with enough garlic in the rice.

I really do love my in laws. Truly. But there is something to be said for the familial closeness that goes on here. Especially when you have grown up with familial closeness at holiday meetings only.

Jim said...

Hang in there Stephanie!

Regarding cooking - I have won over my mother-in-law by never cooking anything remotely Brazilian. I dazzle her with new and delicious flavors from abroad. She loves my oven roasted chicken and vegetables. (low sodium, no frying, fresh herbs)

Like from Mars.

Fabio Bossard said...

There's a saying here that is: when you marry someone, you marry his/her family also.

Fabio Bossard said...

We do have tight relationship with our family, but you have to think of the economic situation of the country. I have many friend in their 30s who would love to have their own place but can't afford to move out yet. Also, it depends a lot on where you live.

Anonymous said...

BMILS, Does anyone have any insights on why they are like this and HOW TO MAKE IT STOP ;-). !!!!