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Why do men grow up to be mumma’s boys? How much of interference in a couple’s life is going too far? An incisive look at this common scenario.
“I can’t take it anymore.” Her words echoed in my ears as I went to bed.
I had met Poonam, my childhood friend, at a coffee shop today. She had come to Delhi for an official trip. Given her hectic schedule, we could only manage to meet over a cup of coffee. But she had a lot to share.
She started on a sombre note, “My mom in law doesn’t stay with us. Yet she knows each and everything happening in my household. She wants to know whether the supplies are being used judiciously, the cook is maintaining hygiene levels and the calorie needs of her son are being fulfilled optimally. She always has a feeling that her son is not fed ‘well enough’.”
“Who shares all the updates with her?” I asked.
“My husband of course. His morning starts with a wake up call from mumma followed by regular lengthy updates throughout the day and it ends with the goodnight call/text to mumma. He spends a hell lot of time talking to her and updating her with all that’s happening.”
I suggested, “Hey Poonam, why don’t you guys install CCTV cameras in your kitchen and living room. It will relieve your husband from the mammoth task of updating each and everything he does and free up some of his time for you.”
Poonam chuckled when she heard this bizarre suggestion. Practical implementation of such an idea is questionable but it certainly lightened the mood of the conversation.
She continued, “How I wish I could do that. You know what! When we go shopping, he continuously clicks pics of the shirts he likes and sends them to his mom to approve. A man all of 35 years, an IT professional leading a team of twenty odd people cannot buy a damn shirt without his mumma’s approval. He needs her approval for all his decisions.”
I was shocked, “Really?”
“Yes. Can you imagine, when we plan our vacation, she takes a virtual tour of the room before it is booked? Just to be sure her son will have a comfortable stay there. She is omnipresent in our lives. I can’t take it anymore. It’s claustrophobic.”
I understood her situation was way too tricky but I tried to assuage her a bit, “Be patient, things would be fine. All moms are like that – very concerned about their kids. Just the degree and intensity vary.”
“Certainly not. Even I talk to my mom every day. But I am not expected to update her on each and everything happening in my life. There is no accountability that she seeks. I make my own decisions.”
I tried to pacify Poonam, “But dear, your mom in law doesn’t stay with you. You have weekends to enjoy. I am sure even after lengthy phone calls, you still have time for yourselves on weekends.”
“No we don’t. She has a substitute in the form of her daughter who also lives in Bangalore. Every weekend we are expected to be either at each other’s place or outside together. I think she feels only Didi can take care of her son in her absence. I have no time to relax or catch up with my friends.”
“How is her attitude towards you?”
“She is polite. Treats me well. Even my husband is sensitive towards my needs, caring and soft spoken like his mumma. The problem is I don’t know where I fit in that mumma-beta equation. I don’t know my role in my own household. I am feeling I am living with a remote controlled robot. Not only that, even his “so called” friends don’t leave a single opportunity to exploit him.”
The phone rang and Poonam had to leave. I had no suggestions or advice to offer to her. I could only imagine the extent of her woes. That night, when I was lying next to my toddler son, her words echoed in my ears. I looked at my son and said to myself, “Kya mera beta sirf mera hai?”
It gives me a sense of contentment when people around me say, “He looks like you. He’s a mumma’ s boy.” The clinginess is extremely irritating at times, but when I hear this it brings a certain sense of happiness and pride. From a scratch in his body to the consistency of his poop every day, I know it all. But will I want to know all of this when he is 35 years old? Certainly not!
What can I do so that he does not remain a “mumma’ s boy” all his life? I want to make him independent not just financially but in his thought process too so that he can take his own decisions and be able to stand by them.
I don’t want to raise a mumma’ s boy. I want to raise a MAN. When do I begin and how do I begin? In my quest for answers, I reflected and I researched.
I reflected on the upbringing of my husband. He is extremely independent in his thought process and decision making abilities. He has imbibed a lot of positive virtues from his boarding school and a strong value system from my in laws. But I don’t have the heart to send my child to a boarding school. I reflected on the upbringing of my brother. He is equally independent in his decision making abilities. He was raised at home with a sense of controlled freedom. I reflected on my son’s behaviour. When I take him to the park and if he falls down, he gives an award winning performance to grab my attention and to get that extra share of coddling. But with his dad, after a fall he simply gets up, rubs his hands and starts to play again.
Based on my reflection and some research, I have listed a few things I intend to do right away to avoid the “mumma’s boy” syndrome when he grows up:
Let his dad play an important role in his life too.
Give him opportunity to make small choices/decisions.
Stop my instinct to rush in to ‘save him’ all the time. Allow him to fail and learn from it.
Develop my own interests/ friends and not strive to be his lifelong buddy.
“Mera beta sirf mera NAHI hai”- that’s my new mantra.
Published here earlier.
Header image is a still from the movie 2 States
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