There was this primary school I attended for a year in Class 4, because my Dad’s job transferred him after the session started, and this is all we could get into. It was a good school, a good year, and I still have friends I am in touch with. My mother would then come to pick us up, me and my sister, then in class 1, each day, in a shared auto from 8 kms away. And we would go back the same way.
The school, in its waiting area had this very famous quote about mothers displayed. ‘God couldn’t be everywhere, so he created mothers.’ I used to love the quote. It made me feel all warm and safe, because hey, if this was true, mommy was always watching us, protecting us, and could solve every problem in the world.
Today, 24 years later, after having been a mother myself for 3 years, 7 months and 20 days, the quote annoys me. What was one quote back then, today is millions of shares, and forwards floating around the internet and Whatsapp groups, all claiming just how amazing this mother person is, and just how she is to be revered, because she is more than your normal human being, she is a super-human, whose life is dedicated to make your life beautiful. It annoys me because, the truth is, no, she is not. I am not.
There is a particular forward, which talks about pregnancy, about how a mother foregoes her body for 9 whole months to be able to take care of you, the pains she goes through, the nausea, the restrictions, the entire package. And how you are eternally indebted to her because how absolutely generous does one have to be to be able to do something like that? Give up all her comforts, for YOU to be comfortable. Conveniently overlooking the fact that YOU are a decision she took, because she wanted you. I think back to the 9 months I was carrying Zo, and all I think of is how happy I was. Because I was going to be gifted at the end of these 9 months with a baby, that I wanted, I chose to bring to this world, I needed to have. My child. Why in the world is my child supposed to be thankful for something I decided to do, and that is designed by nature? Very frankly, by taking care of everything that is good for the baby while carrying it, I wasn’t doing the baby a favor, I was doing myself a favor, because I chose to bring this child to the world, I might as well do it properly!
Then this other forward where a woman is walking in the rain, and has an umbrella which is protecting only her child. Tagline “Only a mother can be so selfless, salute to this mother, hit like if you agree.” I really wonder that if you were walking down the road with your neighbor’s 3 year old kid, and it starts raining, will you not give your umbrella to the kid. Question next, do you think the father of the kid wouldn’t give him his umbrella? Or for that matter, the chacha, tau, maasi, maami? Would that be acceptable because they are not his ‘mother’? Because trust me, if my kid is out with anyone I know, they better give her the umbrella or I will ensure they are bonked on their head upon their return.
And as if this were not enough some of the forwards go ahead and claim that “Only INDIAN mothers can be this selfless” because, of course, by that equation the west is full of evil women who let their children soak in the rain because their make-up would be ruined. Annoyance is an under-statement here. And so no, I don’t agree with any of these glorifying comments, and no that doesn’t mean I do not have any respect for mothers. I just think that there is something called as exaggeration and this might be a good example of it.
The point is, while these quotes and comments and statements are meant to give mothers the importance they deserve, or remind the folks to revere their mothers because they are just so surreally awesome, what they do, is create pressure; pressure on normal women like me, who are forever struggling to multitask – trying to do justice to their jobs, their husbands, their kids, and their own interests outside all of this. Women who love their children, but think it is ok to have a life beyond them. Women who think being a mother is rewarding, but it is also exhausting, tiring. Women who miss their kid the moment she leaves for school, but wishes for a kid-free hour every day. Women who love listening to their kid’s chatter, but at times hand them the I-pad because Oh My God some silence is due. Women who are normal, women who are human, women who are mothers, but also so much more.
Because quite frankly, I am not sure if being thought of as God by your child is actually a nice thing. God can do miracles, but God won’t get annoyed and complain about the kid who bullied you in class. God will protect you from all harm, but God won’t discuss your crushes and heartbreaks with you. God will not support you in all your decisions vocally, and then chide you for being a sissy when a decision goes wrong. God will not make mistakes, God will be too perfect, and staying with someone like that can get very boring. A mother on the other hand can be your closest friend, your trusted confidante, your partner in silliness, a good advisor and an awesome ‘person’ to be with. Person, not God. Mine has always been one, and I like her that way.
And that’s pretty much what I aim to be for little Zo too; not a virtue more, not a virtue less.