- 5 years ago
- Wedding: August 2012
This topic has come up a lot, but my situation is quite specific and I’d like some opinions and advice please.
My husband and I have been married for 1 year, we recently immigrated from South Africa to Australia. Literally 5 minutes before we boarded our plane, my Mother-In-Law sends me a text message asking if maybe one day I could call her “ma”, which is the Afrikaans name for “mom”. I have never replied because I was just about to board a one-way flight for a new country and that was the last thing I needed to worry about!
I have been with my husband for 8 years, and he is Afrikaans, I am English. Since I met his mother, she introduced herself by her first name, knowing I was English and that the traditional respectful way to address someone older than you in the Afrikaans culture is “tannie” (or “aunty” for a direct translation). I then shortened the name I call her, which became my affectionate name for her, which only I really call her and have done so for 7 years. So I’ve sort of got my name for her and I just find it completely odd to now change the way I address her, just because my relationship status with her son changed from dating to married.
Not only do I feel that she has not done anything to justify her getting the title of the same person who gave birth to me and raised me, but generally it’s just weird for me and to be blatantly honest, if I wanted to call her “ma” or “mom”, would I not have done so already or asked her if I may? I have asked my Afrikaans friends, and they say it’s cold and nasty not to want to call your Mother-In-Law “ma” or “mom”, just do it to keep them happy. Unfortunately, my comfortability comes before what makes her happy and I just cannot bring myself to do it, it would be forced and strange.
So pretty much I just ignored the message, firstly, because it was sent to my South African mobile phone, which I don’t use anymore and secondly, who sends someone a text message asking them to call them “ma”? It’s such a serious thing to ask someone.
I am not sure what her desperate need is for me to address her as my mom. Perhaps a mom can explain this? I am possibly a bit insensitive. The biggest question, how do I respond and should I respond or would she safely assume my answer is “no” by me not responding? Do I owe her a response even though she felt it appropriate to send me a text message?