Nov 11 2011


Interview With My Sri Lankan Mother-in-Law

My mother-in-law, Mrs. Beryl Reginald, and her husband raised two sons in Sri Lanka, a country just south of India and about the size of West Virginia.  I was very happy that she was willing to answer a few questions about life when they were small. “Amma” (the Tamil word for mother) moved to Canada in 2004 and lives with Nelson’s brother, Harry, and his family. She taught for more than 30 years at an all-girls middle school and is now helping take care of her grandchildren–three boys and one girl.  This is Part 1 of the interview; the second half will be posted in a few days.

When the boys were small (before school age), how did you manage to get everything done, in addition to teaching school?
We were greatly blessed by God with the necessary help, provisions, and guidance in every step of their growth. Since I was entitled to only six weeks of maternity leave, we had to employ a helper for a small salary to take care of our children during our absence. I had to be away from home from 7:45 am to 2:30 pm, and my husband was gone from 6:45 am to 6 pm. Fortunately, my husband’s father and my parents were more than willing to help us, to make sure one of the family members was always home. In the beginning,  my brother, who was waiting at home before he entered the medical college, was happy to help us during the day to make sure everything was done perfectly at the house and Nelson’s needs were met during our absence.  We used to get up very early in the morning to cook and get everything ready for the children before we left home. We also made sure to spend quality time with the children while we were home, which gave us great satisfaction and happiness.

What did your family enjoy doing together?
As a family we just enjoyed being together, playing, going for walks, going shopping on our way home from church and having snacks and sorting out things once we got home. There were times when we would all be in the kitchen while I got ready to cook. My husband would scrape the coconut (one coconut was used every day to cook curries in the coconut milk). Nelson and Harry would try to help us peel onions, which was a great mess, but we enjoyed the fun. Both Nelson and Harry were overjoyed to meet their father after work at the railway station, so every now and then, I would take them to the station and we would come home with both walking on either side of the father. Visiting family members, relatives, and friends as a family was really exciting.

Describe a typical family dinner back then.
It was mostly dinner we had together, starting around 7:30 pm. Usually I prepared the food and my husband fed them or saw them eat.  Then we would eat. Both children liked roti (a flat bread made with rice flour) made in various shapes and enjoyed it with butter and jam while we ate it with pol sambol (a dish with scraped/grated coconut and chilis) and leftover curries. For variety, we’d make thosai, string hoppers, and pittu (all are variations using rice flour). Egg hoppers (kind of like thin, crispy pancakes in a bowl shape) were their favorite. Other favorite foods were eggs in any form, pudding, tropical fruits and especially a glass of milk before going to bed in the night.

What were your dreams for your boys when they were small?
When our sons were growing up, as toddlers we started to recognize their interests, God-given talents, and abilities. Our dream was to create a suitable environment within our means, and we were determined to sacrifice in many respects to do our very best for the welfare of our sons, We wanted them to excel in their field of interest, and we enabled them with a sound education with a Christian background. Our will was for them to be sons of great character, to shine well in life with God’s blessings, and be God-fearing children free of pride, growing up physically, spiritually, and intellectually.

Permanent link to this article: http://jenreginald.com/interview-with-my-sri-lankan-mother-in-law


  1. Melissa

    I love it! I can't wait to read part II!

  2. mary

    I enjoyed reading the actual facts . I grew with them and realised the ups and downs but God has blessed them with woderfully .

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