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The mediocre mother gets no cred from anyone, but guess what? Your child has only one mom, no ‘best mom’ to pick out of a line-up! You’re fine as you are.
It’s New Year and everyone is busy making resolutions, if they haven’t made them already. I have been one of ‘those’ before; excitedly making resolutions and losing steam mid-way through the year, sometimes half way through the first month! This past year, after a long time and much deliberation, I decided to make one. And I’m quite certain I will be following it. That’s because I already have been following it for a while and am quite good at it! That’s the art of being a mediocre mother. It doesn’t need much effort or skill or practice. You know how they say some people are born ‘with it’? I’m one of them. Born to be a mediocre mother and proudly so.
When my son was born 3 years ago, I waited for my ‘moment’ with him. I had imagined and painted a picture of holding my child in my arms, instantly falling in love. Sometimes, a slow background music from one of Karan Johar’s movies would accompany my imagination. After all, I had heard so many mothers tell me how it would be extremely special to hold your baby for the first time. When the nurse handed my son to me, I just remember feeling clueless, utterly hopeless. Hilariously, my husband has a video recording of that moment where I’m just staring at him and the baby, looking around the room for answers.
Ironically, I didn’t have any questions. I thought it must be the pain killing drug causing me to feel that way. But cluelessness, I realised, went on to define me for the next few months. All well intentioned friends and relatives offering unlimited and unsolicited advice didn’t help. I was not only constantly second guessing myself but also comparing myself to other new mothers around. It would bother me if someone was teaching her child to roll over faster or if a child put on more weight than my own, or if some mother nursed her child more than I did. Forget the sleeplessness. I think I was a wreck even without that!
With time, I realised, this feeling of being inadequate did not go away. My son went on from being a new born to an infant to a toddler to a pre-schooler. If anything, the feeling got worse. I remember going on a play date to a friend’s house. Her house did not seem like a toddler lived there! It was so clean and well maintained, my friend could have passed it off as Buckingham palace! And her daughter seemed like an angel compared to my devil. She listened to her mother, did not spill food or break toys or throw tantrums. I came back feeling so disappointed! Of course, I got on to a mission to teach my son to behave like that angel and the mission lasted all of 2 days and 14 hours. My house went back to looking like a tornado just passed by it in no time.
And these competitions in school. Are they for mothers or children? I don’t understand the point of having a cake day in school. I’m a working mother. While I thought its best to contribute to the economy and buy the cake from a bakery, someone had baked a Banana Choco chip cake with walnuts! I couldn’t even pride myself on working, because so did she! For a fancy dress competition, I just put on some old white coat and sent my son as a doctor. And believe you me, there were a lot of these doctors, policemen and lawyers when I was a child. Some mother with exceptional creative erudition had sent her child as a bus, which of course she had built herself. “Oh I just saw a how-to video on Youtube’, she said, with utmost casualness. Of course, her child recited wheels on the bus, my son stood on stage and waved at me, full of glee and joy! No guesses for who won that competition!
Oh, the constant pressure of being a ‘good mother’! Sorry, the ‘best mother’. It’s like having a migraine, a throbbing head ache accompanied by nausea and disturbing vision. But you still can’t give up on being the best! You are steadily at it, because you have to be, no choice there. You have to be a mother, with a job, balancing her career, home and baby (if that’s even possible), baking master chef quality cakes in your perfectly well maintained kitchen while looking like Kim Kardashian, building buses out of cardboards and teaching your child to go win the world while you chair your company’s executive meetings. Phew!
Exasperated, I decided to speak to Ma about it. I told her how easy her generation had it. There was no social media or texting groups where mothers exchanged notes or posted pictures of their accolades. I told her how she sent the same rice and sambhar for lunch for 12 years of school and got away with it. And here I’m, googling ‘25 super quick and healthy meal ideas for school’!
She didn’t seem happy that I thought her generation had it easy. She asked me what I wanted. Her question disturbed me because I did not know the answer to that. ‘’Do you realise that you are already the best your son can have? You are his mother and he will always think the world of you. Like you and your brother thought, when I made those awful chappati-pizzas. Or when I made you eat idlis 3 days in a row making it look like I was doing you a favour by cooking your favourite meal. You both turned out to be more than fine. You are just that, a mother. No such thing as a good mother or a best mother. It doesn’t matter if you are spending sleepless nights to get him into the best school in town, pick the one that works for you. If you cannot work full time, work part time or don’t. Your choice again. Just do your best, not someone else’s best. Don’t bother what others think, you are his only mother and he thinks the world of you. And he is all who matters”.
“Stop taking yourself so seriously and make me a cup of coffee, at least make yourself useful as a daughter”, she said, dismissing me. That’s Ma, upfront, blunt and in your face. Isn’t she the best!
Post coffee with Ma, some bickering with husband and a long evening walk later, I decided to stop chasing the ‘best mother’ title and be just that. A mother. An ordinary, mediocre one. Most importantly, the only one to my son.
A full time mother, part time writer. While not juggling between work, home and a
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