Nuclear But Joint

I’m on a bit of a memory lane ride these past couple of weeks. There’s that nostalgic brewing, and making me go *sigh*. I guess its got something to do with the weather, and something to do with finding myself on the wrong side of 30.

Yes, yes, we all remember my meltdown last year at turning 35. But this year, it’s recap time.

So much has changed. Not just in the past year, but in my life. From where I was till where I am has been such a fantastic journey already. I’ve learnt a lot, mostly the hard way. And I’m still learning, everyday.

And of course the people who have been a part of my process of growing up, and the people who have grown up with me, and those whom I hope to grow old with.

There’s been a new addition to our family too, I have a new sister in law joining the ranks shortly. She’ll be the youngest and last addition to our generation, that spans 15 years.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about when I got to know my husbands family and what my mom and mom in law have taught me and how they have shaped me over the years.

I was a naive 24 year old when I got married, came from a nuclear family and was thrown into the deep end of the pool. My mom and mom in law did the best they could to keep me afloat, and continue to be my anchors.(Ironic use of words no?)

One of the first few things my MIL told me about their family was that it was “Nuclear but Joint”. My reaction? WHHHAAAAAT?

It sounded like when someone makes finger food out of regular food, and that offends me greatly. Like biryani in a kulhad or a bite size taco. No.

Anyhow, so here I am in this massive family, I had to learn a whole new set of rules. Behavioural and conduct wise.

I wasn’t allowed to be the brat who sprawled on the couch and feigned death everytime I was expected to do a chore. I had responsibilities and expectations. *gasp*

My husband was sometimes kind with his words, and helped me understand the eccentricities of being in a humongous family of 30 people, other times, he let me fall flat on my face and enjoyed my struggle.

It’s impossible to find your voice, have others accept you, and love you, while having a personality, when you enter another persons family. It’s intimidating.

They have their way of functioning, their rules, their dynamic. And you have to learn from it. If you can’t pick up on the subtle audio visual clues, tough turds.

There were unsaid rules about where we sit, pecking orders, dining table seating, room allocations, literally everything you can and can’t imagine. Buh-bye brat on the couch, you’re now up and offering the elders snacks. And being married to the good boy of the family? The expectation chart was ridic.

But it’s not just them, in my own family, even though I believe that we are a relaxed bunch, there are unsaid expectations. I know my mom will deny the word “expectation” with vehemence, but it exists. There are certain rules. It’s ok. In wonder how crazy my sister in law thinks we are though, lmao.

Without rules in a family, there’s chaos. The larger the family, the larger the chaos. I maybe wrong in using the word rules, lets use the word guidelines instead.

It kind of helps us find our place, our comfort, while the elders find theirs.

Each one of us knows what our role in the family is. We know how to help. We know how to co-exist. We don’t step on each others toes. Each one of us has a role. Each one of us has a unique significance.

There’s respect for our diversity ( my in laws are mathurs, with a dash of jat, marathi, marwari, patel, spaniard, bihari and counting). There’s respect for our identities.

There are a set of challenges unique to the situation. But then there’s also all the fun, indulgence and love. There’s more of everything.

And whenever there’s 30 of us in the room? The only thing you’ll hear is laughter.

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