Mercy waited for her daughter to fall asleep to finish packing. John walked in on her, folding more clothes. He would have ignored her, but he saw a heap of their daughter’s clothes on the bed. That was when he saw the suitcases.
“Mercy, what is the meaning of this?” John asked.
“I can’t do this anymore John,” she replied.
“Were you going to leave without telling me?”
“You can see your daughter whenever you like but I can’t be in this environment. I’m going to my sister’s for a while as I figure it out,” Mercy responded.
“Is this about my mother again?” John asked her.
Mercy rolled her eyes and continued folding the clothes. She paused before responding. They had fought over the same topic since they got engaged. She had tried explaining herself to him, yelled in frustration, cried, and texted him over the matter for so long. All she felt was fatigue. She was tired of looking for alternative ways to talk to him about the subject.
They had gotten into a cycle where they would make decisions as a couple, but John’s mother would interfere with their plans. When Mercy raised an issue, John always found a justification for his mother’s actions. The first significant fight had been after they got engaged.
Mercy and John had been saving up for their wedding for a while. They had agreed on the kind of wedding that they wanted— a civil wedding followed by a luxurious, small and intimate reception. John’s mother had different ideas for her son’s big day. She wanted them to have a church wedding. They spent months arguing over the matter, and she only accepted a civil marriage when Mercy discovered she was pregnant. John’s mother saw it as a solution to ‘cover the shame’ of a child before the wedding ceremony.
During the fights over the matter, John told Mercy to understand that his mother was a staunch follower of their church. Mercy had asked John to explain to her that they had both agreed on the wedding arrangements because his mother made it look like John was coerced. When the news of her pregnancy broke, John’s mother chastised Mercy only as though she had made the baby herself. John hardly defended her.
The relationship with her mother-in-law got worse after the wedding. John and Mercy would live harmoniously, but there would be quarrels when John’s mother showed up. Like any other couple, they researched the best hospital for the delivery. They weighed out their options and settled on one. Both had a certain amount to contribute to meet the expenses, and each fulfilled their obligations. A few days towards the expected delivery date, John’s mother caught wind of their plans, and the drama began.
She took fault with the chosen hospital, complaining about the costs. Once again, she insinuated that her son should be saving money. The previous time the issue came up was during the luxurious wedding reception, never mind that Mercy also contributed to it. Mercy’s mother-in-law caused tension between the couple days to the delivery. John almost gave in to the mother’s demands, but Mercy gave him an ultimatum. The birth of their child helped ease the tension.
As is tradition, the child’s grandmother helps the new mother for a few days or weeks. John’s mother was delighted to care for her granddaughter. She went to John and Mercy’s house for two weeks. They were the longest weeks for Mercy. There was always something wrong with Mercy’s way of doing things. She even managed to drag the house help into the mess by giving her different instructions from Mercy’s. The house help constantly checked with Mercy on whose instructions to follow. Typical of John, he asked Mercy to put up with her since she would only be around for a short while, and she meant well.
“Mercy, can we talk things out?” John interrupted Mercy’s thoughts.
“What else is left to say, John? I have asked you in every way possible to create boundaries with your mother. I am tired of looking like the bad one,” Mercy responded.
“That’s just how my mother is and she’s used to being in control,” John argued.
“Forget about all the other times we have made plans as a couple and she decided our plans were not in line with her ‘standards’ but John didn’t we agree on how we would raise our kids spiritually? Didn’t we have that conversation?” Mercy asked. She stopped folding clothes and gave John full attention.
“We did, but—.”
“No, John. Don’t try to justify her actions. I put up with the snide comments when she disapproved of our civil wedding in favour of a church one. I bore the blame for the extravagant reception as she put it. She constantly alludes to me being a bad wife because I don’t prepare fresh meals for you despite having a full-time job. I cannot have her micromanage our spiritual lives too. I bet she’ll have a say in what school we enrol our daughter,” said Mercy.
“She’s always been like that. You’ll eventually get used to her,” John pleaded.
“No, John. I envisioned a marriage where we would work together as a unit. Having your mother constantly meddle in our affairs wasn’t part of the plan. We are living in constant anxiety, walking around eggshells with each other and that’s when we’re not arguing. I am tired,” Mercy said firmly.
John couldn’t persuade her to stay. He also couldn’t summon the courage to create boundaries with his mother, and Mercy decided their only relationship would be parenting their daughter.
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