I am sure this is ubiquitous and every one of you would have faced it some time or the other. I am talking about that `mild sense of disapproval’ exhibited by your fellow denizens towards you on various occasions. There are several layers to it and I will explore some of them. You will soon become immune to your spouse’s ‘MSoD’ whenever your daughter throws a tantrum or refuses to eat healthy. And also when he opens your wardrobe and finds it in frightful disarray or makes that occasional visit to the kitchen to ‘prepare tea’ and finds it in its usual pell-mell. Not that you mend your ways and become a supermom overnight – you can’t; you either become defiant and give that look of ‘It’s your daughter too’ or ‘it’s your kitchen too’ or you develop that useful thick skin. The second option comes in handy on several other occasions.
Like when your Mother-in-law exhibits MSoD when she sees you not wearing bangles anymore or that sacred mangalsutra. At times your mom and mom-in-law would together exhibit MSoD when they talk about their good old days when there was no domestic help and they did all the household work themselves including fetching water from the well and taking care of a brood of children and yet miraculously being far more healthy than ‘you’ when all you do is just cook a sparse meal and go to office.
By now you would have got used to your mother’s high standards of excellence but you still can’t escape being distraught when she shows acute MSoD when you are immobile in the hospital after surgery. The old lady in the next room too had a surgery like you yesterday and she already had her breakfast and is walking in the corridor, she would say. You somehow find the energy and launch into explaining the difference between laparascopic surgery and open surgery.
And then there are colleagues in office who get the sickness of MSoD when you try to discuss something you read in the newspaper that morning. ‘Do you find time to read the paper in the morning’ – such an innocuous question but there is a slew of underlying accusations – you shirker, how can you not feel guilty being outside the kitchen in the morning – you have your priorities all mixed up and so on and so forth. And listening to their discussing their culinary skills, housekeeping skills and parenting skills would give you a major inferiority complex, forget about their MSoD, when you talk like an ignoramus in those areas.
Then the feeling encompasses you when the boss walks into your cabin and invariably finds you talking over the phone or when the gymnasium instructor gives that look which says ‘how do you think you would shed weight if you make occasional visits to the gym?’
Well all is not lost. You can counter them by exhibiting MSoD yourself at all of them, if you remember and if you get a wee chance. And then there is your angelic daughter for whom you are everything. Hmmm..... not really. You realize that the day is not far off when she too would be inflicted with MSoD – but as of now she is only curious as to why I don’t apply make-up or atleast lipstick like X‘s mom or why can’t I bake a Barbie cake or why I scold and shout at her while Y’s mom is always sweet.
So the all permeating MSoD is here to stay and the sooner you get used to it the better it is for you. Maybe this sense of disapproval stems from the universal feeling of ‘My way or the highway.’ And with delusion of being an evolutionary biologist I try to trace the origins of MSoD. It is the remnants of evolutionary pressure of organizing ourselves into a society for survival. The individual who does not conform is shoe-horned to fit or else viewed with suspicion and treated with scorn.
Whatever it may be I have devised my set of ways for dealing with it:
1) Act as if you don’t get it. This robs them of the pleasure of seeing you affected.
2) Confront directly – saying in so many words, what is left unsaid.
3) Put on the face of a martyr – this would irk the other person and make him forget his MSoD.
4) Talk blandly – shorn of all feeling and you would be slotted as a ‘Gone case’ beyond redemption. And that is wonderful for you.
5) Exhibit sense of humour if you can find the stomach for it – tickle their ribs and they will forget their MSoD, if only for a while.