August 7th, 2015
Real women grumble and groan of being over-worked as they serve breakfast dressed in sacks also known as nighties.
I recently got anointed with the ‘Cool Mom’ tag. That’s when I realized I don’t behave like an archetypical mother in her 40’s. If all kids are meant to be irresponsible brats who were born to make their parents miserable, a model mother’s mission in life is to chastise them from time to time. And when she gets time from doing so, she motivates her child to study harder and score enough to make them every neighbour’s envy and parent’s pride.
If motivational quotes looked like a person, they’d certainly look like a mom.
I’m not sure who decided the behaviour template for mothers that dictates she fret and fume while she slogs at the kitchen preparing delicacies for the apples of her eyes. The woman who washes her child’s grimy clothes grinning ear to ear, and will readily sacrifice her pleasures for the sake of her child is more a demented ad filmmaker’s fantasy than reality. I can’t remember the last time I slipped into leotards to fix Maggi Oats for my family while I danced like Madhuri. Real women grumble and groan of being over-worked as they serve breakfast dressed in sacks also known as nighties. Or better still, they have a trusted maid who rustles up a tasty breakfast for the family.
As a wise woman who goes by the name of me had once said ‘behind every happy woman is her hardworking bai’.
Apparently, there’s a rulebook that states ‘thou shalt serve your family till you breathe your last’. And if we come across a woman who refuses to conform and is rediscovering the years she lost in her 40’s, she is considered an anomaly! Sometimes I get tired of hearing, love your spirit, from youngsters trying to be nice to me. It’s as if getting older is the biggest tragedy that can befall womankind and I am expected to be in mourning.
On the contrary, this is the stage when you can sit back and relax on your Lazyboy and see your fruit of labour bloom or turn into something you’ll gladly disown. Of course, it hurts when your responsible daughter you’re so proud of, thinks of you only when she is hungry or wants to borrow something from your wardrobe. You can always pretend to be her best friend and play the nastiest pranks on her friends who turn up for her birthday. The last time I tried this (got the boys waxed and gifted them baby smooth skin), her traumatised friend called up the next day to ask if parents are supposed to behave this way!
Is there an instruction manual or a book of conduct that states how parents are expected to behave? Of course not. It is an on the job learning process where we graduate but with mixed grades. We grow up, regress and discover the lost child and the screaming shrew in us while bringing up our kids.
We learn to accept our mistakes and that of our offspring with equal clumsiness. Too bad, a few of us think of parenting as a duty and deprive ourselves of the joy of rediscovering our pleasant and unpleasant side through our own children. I have learnt Zen like patience from my daughter. First she makes me repeat the same thing in varying degrees of volume and then takes days to complete the task.
I believe most successful apps like alarm clocks, reminders, autocorrect and the history function of Internet explorer are inspired by duties expected of a mom.
This Mother’s Day I actually put up a tweet asking people if they’d still love their mother as much if she were a lousy housekeeper and a cook. The response took me by surprise. Contrary to Mother’s Day tributes that harp about the dutiful mom who woke up at 4 am everyday of her life to fix up meals for her offspring, most of them said they loved her for the woman she was. So, I’m not sure why some of us kill ourselves with guilt when we fall short of the high standards of motherhood set by others. The one that paints us as the endlessly in demand, doggedly devoted Superwoman who conquers germs and disease with equal ease.
The world will always be full of people who have a perfectly clear idea about how others are supposed to lead their lives. Disapproving nods from the senior generation or her contemporaries shouldn’t stop her from being the woman she gets to define.She can choose to be someone who doesn’t give lessons on morality to her children, let’s them learn from their own mess-ups and would rather be an observer than micro-control their lives.
That doesn’t mean she can’t get into nervous fits when her daughter forgets to call her while she’s out with her friends, or puts her foot down when her friends use the ‘Cool Mom’ tag to their advantage. I can be a helicopter mom yet be cool when my progeny says she’d rather be a chef than an engineer. I can be a Tiger Mom yet be best friends with my son.
So the problem is not with what is expected of us but how far we are willing to go the extra mile to live up to someone else’s expectations.
The roles we play do not get to define us. Rather we get to define the many roles we play in our lives and that includes our existence as mothers.