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The nostalgia you feel for home is rooted in someone’s silent, relentless labour– usually female, mostly likely your mother. So don't expect your partner to follow the same template.
The nostalgia you feel for home is rooted in someone’s silent, relentless labour– usually female, mostly likely your mother. So don’t expect your partner to follow the same template.
As army kids who moved around a lot, my brother and I have always had a nebulous idea of what constitutes ‘home’. So ‘where are you from?’ was a tricky question, till we came to the conclusion that home was wherever mom happened to be living.
For most of us, ‘mom’ and ‘home’ tend to be synonymous. The things she did for you, the meals carefully prepared, needs anticipated and met almost like magic…all bring out a sigh about the ‘good old days.’
I can guarantee, however, that every bit of nostalgia you feel for your home is rooted in someone’s silent, relentless labor– usually female, mostly likely your mother.
The glorification of ‘mother’ and everything she stands for is the root cause of everything that’s wrong with the way we view women.
The dangers of such nostalgia are that it assumes that labor of care work (usually of the household and child rearing kind) is synonymous with love. It’s where the ‘good wife’ and ‘good mother’ narrative comes from. If you are ‘good’, meaning loving, then you will do things a particular way. Because that’s the socially acceptable way to prove you love your family.
When men say ‘my mother did it, why can’t you’ what he means is, my mother loved her family this way. If you do things differently, does it mean you don’t love us? And everybody wants to be loved by their partners.
Which is why educated, intelligent, accomplished men turn to their equally educated, intelligent and accomplished partners and ask then why they aren’t following the template. Far from being a conversation about an equitable division of household labor, it becomes a matter of whether the woman loves her family enough.
And while women are fairly good at pushing back against husbands or in-laws demanding them to do their ‘sacred duty’, it’s impossible to fight against the tiny tyrants who command your mind space, love and affection.
“My mother did it’ is even more dangerous emerging from the minds of women because she then expects herself to fit a certain mold of how she should be. If she doesn’t follow the template, then how can she be a loving mother? You can fight against the world, but your own mind isn’t so easy to conquer.
The only way to advance the cause of women, is to stop glorifying the ideal of what mothers should be. It is the only way to break the chain. We can break free of this self-perpetuating cycle by acknowledging that there are many ways to love and if you have to continually prove your love then there’s definitely something wrong with your relationships.
And as for your mom, she probably did what she had to do – she is the product of her time and her circumstances. And I don’t think she wants anything more than for you to make the best of the life and opportunities she has given you.
Image source: a still from Hindi film Deewar
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