Mother-in-Law Felt Bad Because of Kimchi

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The start of winter season is also the season of Kimjang. Women in Korean families gather to make tons of Kimchi to be kept and eaten throughout the cold months. Last month,  Andy came home with a huge box full of newly-made Kimchi. It was a sort of a thank you gift from his female friend because I edited a video for her. I didn’t want to accept any payment so she gave us some cabbage kimchi when her family had a kimjang session.

My mom-in-law felt really bad about it and told Andy never to receive any Kimchi from other people especially from a woman. “Lanieya, don’t you ever let your husband bring home kimchi made by another woman. The male members in our family had never brought home Kimchi except today,” she told me while we were having lunch. I didn’t understand her. I just thought of it as a sweet gesture from a friend. I didn’t understand why my mom-in-law felt so bad. I thought that she should be thankful that some people care enough for us to share their kimchi. And besides, we didn’t ask for it. It was a gift.

Then I realized that my mom-in-law is really getting older. She is changing. She’s becoming emotionally sensitive, forgetful and slow. She was upset because she thought of herself as a useless mom now. She was sad because we just bought or received kimchi from other people. She used to make a lot of kimchi for everyone in the family but now she no longer has the energy to do so. To cheer her up, I promised not to receive any kimchi from other people again (not forever though). Then I requested her to teach me how to make good kimchi because in that way, she would gain pride for handing down her “know-how” to her one and only daughter-in-law. Korean mothers love to talk about how they do things at home but most myeoneuris (daughters-in-law) consider it as jansori (nagging). I was relieved that she felt better after that. I love my mom-in-law and I want her to grow old happily and gracefully. I don’t want any negativity to enter her mind and heart. For sure it’s going to be more challenging as time goes by, but I will do my best to understand her and make necessary adjustments.

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