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Mothers Day just went by.
#MothersDay was trending on Twitter,Facebook and so is the content everywhere, praising mothers to glory.
As usual, I had been receiving a lot of forward messages and heartfelt wishes for being a mother, performing the 'holiest' role in the entire Universe. But, I would like to write to you, the World, on what I feel when I see that you love to 'define' mothers in so many ways.
When I opened the newspapers to read on Mothers Day, a thought dawned upon me. Almost the entire supplement of the newspaper was filled with articles focussing on 'the mother'. Beginning from celebrities who spoke about how their mothers were their inspiration, how they would share anything under the sun with their mothers, how their mothers had sacrificed all their passion to just take care of them and their family to how 'mothers' were an inspiration to successful entrepreneurs.
And then there was this article which was defining the different types of mothers. For example, the 'know-it-all' mother who was up-to-date with happenings on social media, constantly keeping track of who were their son's friends in virtual and real world and all that covered; the 'traditional' mom who made home-made food and packed lunch even after her child crossed his teens and many more such 'name-tags'.For a moment, I felt "are these people laying a trap for mothers, and naming it 'motherhood'?"
Just when you switch on the television, an advertisement for a 'tea' powder shows how a mother stays awake all night and makes tea for her son preparing for entrance exams.What if I am not like that mother? What if I choose to put the tea in a flask, give it to my son and go off to sleep? Am I not a good mother? Am I escaping from 'my duty'?
Then, there is another mother who cries as she leaves her child in school on her first day and waits outside all day long just to see her face in the evening.What if I am not like that mother? What if I choose not to cry and just feel brave that my child is transitioning into another world where she will learn to make friends and be independent and grow. Will you call me a 'heartless' mother?
Have you seen this picture doing rounds on social media where they define 'real pain' with a picture where a mother closes her eyes tightly where her child is injected a vaccination?I don't know why, but I am not that mother. Of course, I was nervous for the first two vaccinations that my daughter had in her life. But from the third time, I decided to be normal. Injections will be part of her life. It will cause pain. But if I don't feel pained for her pain, am I not a good mother?
When my daughter slips and falls down, I don't feel like making a huge fuss. At least after she turned one to two years old and moved into a more independent state of childhood. I just feel that I must give her the right medication, dress her wounds if any and mentally support her in the healing process. Does that mean I am an insensitive mother? Isn't a mother 'allowed' to be insensitive at times? Isn't it a normal trait of a human being?
One of the many columns had an interviewee talking about how his mother would eagerly wait for him to share his everyday happenings every evening and sip a cup of tea with him. I have never done that with my mother. Does it mean that she can't be called a mother?
My mother bought me books and read out stories to me when she was off from work. I do that to my daughter too - reading and creating stories for her. But, what about that mother who is not so keen on telling stories to her child? Does it mean that she is not an 'involved' mother? Won't you call her that?Why is everyone trying to lay this trap called motherhood, defining how a mother is and praising the symbol of motherhood with words like 'sacrifice', 'affection', 'care', etc.?
Look at this picture:
Oops, I am not that mother at all times. Sometimes, I do feel like offering that last piece of cake for my daughter but I am also a normal human being who loves cake. If I explain to my daughter that I want that piece of cake as I am hungry, will it make me a bad mother? Or, why can't I ask the 'father' to give up his last piece of cake for his child? Will I be called a criminal then? Why can't a mother have that last piece of cake?
Then, there goes a rhetoric which says that a mother dutifully cooks the best nutritious food for the child everyday and ensures that he/she drinks that energy drink daily without fail; that a mother is someone who creatively thinks of new recipes, makes cake with the daughter (with an old Ilayaraja song playing in the background) and makes eating interesting for the child every day. What if I choose not to be that mother? What if I am not too involved in my child's food habits and choices? So what if I leave that decisions to someone else in the family if I have that kind of support? Does that make me a bad mother? Will you throw these words at me 'What kind of a mother are you?'?
So what if the child chooses someone else other than the mother to shower her affection and cuddle to? Is that child's mother a bad mother? Will you call her that?
I am not the mother who wants to spend all my time with my daughter, keeping her always next to me, looking after her needs. During the initial days of motherhood, I had that yearning, But these days I happily let her play with everyone, take the liberty to leave her at my in-laws' place since they love to spend time with her and meanwhile do my chores when she isn't around. Does it mean that you will define me as a mother who comfortably escapes from the 'responsibility' of taking care of the child? Well, no, it means that I am a mother who knows when to be attached and when to let go of the mother's possessiveness about her child.
And, all the fuss about a mother being a multi-tasker. Well explained in this image:
What if I choose not to be this 'super-mom'? Well, honestly, I am not this kind of a mother. I feel happier leaving my baby under someone's care, while I work on my office assignment at home, when that person is willing to take care of my baby. I don't do yoga or go to the gym. I am happy how I look, be it slim or with cellulite at the wrong places. I really don't care.
In that case, will you call me a mother who is not ready to work hard and do all of this because 'mothers are meant to be hard-working all the time?'. Is it a crime if a mother does not know to multi-task and instead ask for help wherever needed, be it from the extended family or outside help (like maids, day-care, nannies)? How would this 'image of a super-mom' that you have created affect a mother who is not doing any of these? Have you thought about it?
It is indeed a great thing for a mother to be an inspiration to her child. But, what if a mother would like to just lead a normal human-being's life, not worrying too much about being a role-model for the child? What if she chooses not to take that pressure? Will you call her an 'incapable' mother?
I have fallen for the 'trap', often, to be honest. If I fail to engage my daughter creatively and fail to get her attention, I feel that 'I am not mother enough'. This trap of motherhood pushes you to constantly compare yourself with other mothers, think about what everyone defines 'a mother' as and ignites you to judge yourself harshly.
I feel that everyone takes the liberty to set standards for the role of a 'mother' which each and every mother struggles to live up to, each day.
Why can't a 'mother' live like the 'girl-next-door' waking up at 10 in the morning and asking her husband to put the baby to sleep when she is tired, if that suits her lifestyle? Why do you want to thrust a 'standard definition' on motherhood?
Please talk about your mother, her achievements, how she inspired you, how she cooked the best food for you and everything she has done for you. But, please don't expect every other mother on this world to be the same.
A mother can be short-tempered.
A mother can walk into a restaurant alone without her child and have her favourite dish all for herself.
A mother needs to check Facebook notifications and Whatsapp conversations as often as you do. She isn't doing a crime by checking them often.
A mother can choose not to shower her love by taking selfies with her baby and posting it on social media. Her way of 'love and affection' might be different.
A mother need not be the only person who decides what her child's meal chart should look like.
A mother can choose to order in restaurant food when she doesn't feel like cooking.
A mother can choose to party late-night with her daughter in the coolest attire.
All these don't make her 'un-motherly',if at all there is such a word.
A mother will always be a mother, doing what she likes and yet be worthy of appreciation all the time, for all that she is!
A human-being who you love to define as a 'mother'.
This post is a contest entry to the #EveryDayisMothersDay contest at mycity4kids.