Mother’s day – A retrospective

Posted: May 9, 2010

Mother’s day is nearing and all of us are gearing up to celebrate the day. I don’t remember this being such an important day when my children were growing up. I vaguely remember being invited to their Bal-Vihar class along with other mothers and children were made to wash their mother’s feet as a mark of respect. Their teacher gave a short speech on the importance of a mother in one’s life.

The children sang a few bhajans, sweets were distributed and we returned home to our daily routine. I don’t remember giving a second thought to the function. I was more worried about my husband’s return from office and the time in hand to get some snacks ready for him when he arrived. My father in law was waiting for me to get back home to be able to leave for his evening stroll to meet up with others of his age. What I mean to say is that those were times when motherhood was taken for granted.

Rewinding further to the time when I was growing up, I remember my mother giving due importance to us, the daughters of the house, on festive occasions such as Navarathri and Shankaranthi. But it never occurred to us as to why we never had a day allotted for a mother’s welfare. Oh yes, we were advised to fast on certain for one’s husband’s long life and on certain others for the son’s welfare but mothers were never given a thought. She was there in the kitchen or other areas of the house slogging away churning out mouth watering delicacies and supplying regular meals. Clothes would be folded and stacked, potable water filled in properly cleaned utensils, servants would be dealt with ………well one can go on and on. I don’t remember ever hugging my mother and saying “Happy mother’s day amma!” We were never a demonstrative lot.




I wonder when all this changed? Was it when TV sets became part of our homes? Is it because more and more children have left home in search of jobs in far off places and foreign countries? I wonder how my mother felt about it? Did she even expect to be given some kind of recognition for all that she had done for us children? For that matter do I want it for myself? To be honest I don’t and perhaps my mother too had never entertained such thoughts. But I do admit that I feel happy when my children call me up and wish me on Mother’s Day.

I truly wish I could relive my childhood and give my mother a little hug to say how much I loved her. I’ve never said it in words but I am sure she understood.

I wish my mother had been more communicative and shared her joy and sorrows with us. She somehow preferred to keep it to herself and we could never bring ourselves to ask her anything that she did not say but we understood all the same. Why then should we be told anything when we understood everything? I feel that it may have eased her troubled mind if not anything else.

Should I call it lack of communication? How could it be so when we understood each other so well even without communicating in words? Try as much as I might, I cannot recall an occasion when my mother made us the target of her own frustration and anxiety. In fact she never very much liked it when I used an aggressive or authoritative tone to pull up my children.

“You are teaching them to answer back. You will not like it when they do.” She’d say.

I know that I am not the person that my mother was nor are my children the kind that we were. However the rapport I have with my children is no less or more than that I had with my mother.

Generations of mothers have passed on. What remains unchanged is the care and concern they have for their children. Even under extreme provocation it is difficult for a mother to think ill of her children. She would find all kinds of excuses for them and blame everyone around them for the circumstances. Even when she is unable to defend them her heart is always willing to give them ‘just one more chance’.

Is there anyway one can define a good mother?

If she is soft on her unruly children then she is spoiling them.

If she is harsh then she is a tyrant stifling the natural growth of the child.

If she defends them from others who target them then she is over protective.

If she doesn’t then she does not care enough. After all who can support the children if not her.

So while it is generally agreed that all mothers are good, none are good enough. Paradoxical isn’t it?

I end with an instance that took place long ago.

My son was then around 9 years of age. My friend’s father in law had passed away and their house was full of relatives who had come to attend the ceremony connected to his death. I was at their place helping out with the arrangements for the function that was to take place the following day. With the mother busy and a whole lot of children to play with, my son was having unlimited fun time. The kids were up to mischief and one of them poured water on the firewood that was being used to cook meals for the family. The cook got upset and marched them down to the lady of the house complaining that it was impossible for him to work if the parents did not monitor their children. I ordered my son home saying that I’d deal with him later. I kind of accepted that even if he hadn’t actually poured water he was equally responsible for the situation. However, the other mothers did not think so. They went on and on about how well behaved their children were and this being a new place they would never ever dare to do such a thing. Finally I was the only person being indirectly blamed for raising an unruly kid who was responsible for spoiling their angelic incarnations.

Unable to take it any longer I left soon afterwards. My friend called out to join them for the night meal but I declined the invitation saying that I had a lot of pending work to complete at home.

The incidence has stayed with me ever since. Was it wrong of me to accept that my son might have had a hand in the mischief? Should I have defended him a bit more? I agree that my friend could not have supported my son or me since the ladies were from her husband’s side of the family. But could she not have generalized the incident having known Rahul since his birth? I have no answers till date. The incident, however, made me feel inadequate as a mother although I’ve not been able to change myself and jump to my children’s defence at the slightest provocation. I feel they have to take it in their stride and learn that it takes all sorts of people to make the world.

 A very Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!

The Hip Grandma lives in a small industrial town called Jamshedpur and despite all its

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