Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day - A retrospective introspection

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Mother’s day is nearing and all of us are gearing up to celebrate the day. I don’t remember this being such an important day when my children were growing up. I vaguely remember being invited to their Bal-Vihar class along with other mothers and children were made to wash their mother’s feet as a mark of respect. Their teacher gave a short speech on the importance of a mother in one’s life. The children sang a few bhajans, sweets were distributed and we returned home to our daily routine. I don’t remember giving a second thought to the function. I was more worried about my husband’s return from office and the time in hand to get some snacks ready for him when he arrived. My father in law was waiting for me to get back home to be able to leave for his evening stroll to meet up with others of his age. What I mean to say is that those were times when motherhood was taken for granted.

Rewinding further to the time when I was growing up, I remember my mother giving due importance to us, the daughters of the house, on festive occasions such as Navarathri and Shankaranthi. But it never occurred to us as to why we never had a day allotted for a mother’s welfare. Oh yes, we were advised to fast on certain for one’s husband’s long life and on certain others for the son’s welfare but mothers were never given a thought. She was there in the kitchen or other areas of the house slogging away churning out mouth watering delicacies and supplying regular meals. Clothes would be folded and stacked, potable water filled in properly cleaned utensils, servants would be dealt with ………well one can go on and on. I don’t remember ever hugging my mother and saying “Happy mother’s day amma!” We were never a demonstrative lot.

I wonder when all this changed? Was it when TV sets became part of our homes? Is it because more and more children have left home in search of jobs in far off places and foreign countries? I wonder how my mother felt about it? Did she even expect to be given some kind of recognition for all that she had done for us children? For that matter do I want it for myself? To be honest I don’t and perhaps my mother too had never entertained such thoughts. But I do admit that I feel happy when my children call me up and wish me on Mother’s Day.

I truly wish I could relive my childhood and give my mother a little hug to say how much I loved her. I’ve never said it in words but I am sure she understood.

I wish my mother had been more communicative and shared her joy and sorrows with us. She somehow preferred to keep it to herself and we could never bring ourselves to ask her anything that she did not say but we understood all the same. Why then should we be told anything when we understood everything? I feel that it may have eased her troubled mind if not anything else.

Should I call it lack of communication? How could it be so when we understood each other so well even without communicating in words? Try as much as I might, I cannot recall an occasion when my mother made us the target of her own frustration and anxiety. In fact she never very much liked it when I used an aggressive or authoritative tone to pull up my children.

“You are teaching them to answer back. You will not like it when they do.” She’d say.

I know that I am not the person that my mother was nor are my children the kind that we were. However the rapport I have with my children is no less or more than that I had with my mother.

Generations of mothers have passed on. What remains unchanged is the care and concern they have for their children. Even under extreme provocation it is difficult for a mother to think ill of her children. She would find all kinds of excuses for them and blame everyone around them for the circumstances. Even when she is unable to defend them her heart is always willing to give them ‘just one more chance’.

Is there anyway one can define a good mother?

If she is soft on her unruly children then she is spoiling them.

If she is harsh then she is a tyrant stifling the natural growth of the child.

If she defends them from others who target them then she is over protective.

If she doesn’t then she does not care enough. After all who can support the children if not her.

So while it is generally agreed that all mothers are good, none are good enough. Paradoxical isn’t it?

I end with an instance that took place long ago.

My son was then around 9 years of age. My friend’s father in law had passed away and their house was full of relatives who had come to attend the ceremony connected to his death. I was at their place helping out with the arrangements for the function that was to take place the following day. With the mother busy and a whole lot of children to play with, my son was having unlimited fun time. The kids were up to mischief and one of them poured water on the firewood that was being used to cook meals for the family. The cook got upset and marched them down to the lady of the house complaining that it was impossible for him to work if the parents did not monitor their children. I ordered my son home saying that I’d deal with him later. I kind of accepted that even if he hadn’t actually poured water he was equally responsible for the situation. However, the other mothers did not think so. They went on and on about how well behaved their children were and this being a new place they would never ever dare to do such a thing. Finally I was the only person being indirectly blamed for raising an unruly kid who was responsible for spoiling their angelic incarnations.

Unable to take it any longer I left soon afterwards. My friend called out to join them for the night meal but I declined the invitation saying that I had a lot of pending work to complete at home.

The incidence has stayed with me ever since. Was it wrong of me to accept that my son might have had a hand in the mischief? Should I have defended him a bit more? I agree that my friend could not have supported my son or me since the ladies were from her husband’s side of the family. But could she not have generalized the incident having known Rahul since his birth? I have no answers till date. The incident, however, made me feel inadequate as a mother although I’ve not been able to change myself and jump to my children’s defence at the slightest provocation. I feel they have to take it in their stride and learn that it takes all sorts of people to make the world.
A very Happy Mother's Day to all of you!


Ugich Konitari said...


A very happy Mother's Day to you, and what a nice post !

I have often felt, that folks of our mothers generation, taught more by their attitudes and actions, than by actual sitting-down-to-educate-us. And so we learnt in an inclusive environment, by observing . We needed no special days, and our fine and allround development was actually a mothers greatest reward. Today, we need to have all these Days, because of an increasing nucleaisation of families, and severe lack of time on a day to day basis. Celebrating the Day kind of keeps the commercial world happy, plus forces folks to look inwards for a change....

rm said...

Its a super post revealing the undercurrent of a mothers thought process. U had the questions and the answers.

starry eyed said...

Happy Mothers' Day!

I agree...even I often admit my child's fault while some other moms act like their kids behaviour is pure as the driven snow. It's really sad and makes me feel lousy too...but it does help the kids take responsibility for themselves.

I like how you have written abt no matter how our mothering is, it's never good enough!

Prasanna said...

Happy Mother's Day Mom!!

Renu said...

happy mother;s day.

Our generation was same, even i have nevr hugged my mother and feel shy when my mother today wants me to be demonstrative like my children.

We nevr needed special days because we were supposed to be good in our day to day life.

tys said...

if ever iam to believe in the existence of a god, it would be because there are mothers.

Thank god for that.

Hip Grandma said...

Ugich:thanks and same to you. yes the family set up was such that we had a whole lot of women mothering our own mothers expected us to be nice to all of them.

rm:thanks.these are questions i ask myself oft and on.

starry eyed:this is one thing that does not change generation after generation.When i was growing up it was a neighbor who'd put me off by declaring that her daughter was above any sort of pranks while we knew that it was not so.

Prasanna;Thanks my child.same to you too.finally you take time to read what i write!i call that success.

renu:you are right. we were taught that being demonstrative was wrong and not the done thing.Happy mother's day to you too.

tys:I think I've heard that one and agree that mothers may not be gods but they are special.

AD said...

Great post!! Such a small incident but so thought-provoking.

Indy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Indy said...

Your posts are filled with an insight into how kids have been raised with a silent love of yore, and the more demonstrative one of now! I feel sad that your son was targetted due to your sens of fairness, but in the end you are the greater person for having the honesty to think he had an equal share in the children's collective mischief! I admire you and your dear mother_truly great! (Had to delete previous comment due to spelling mistakes! :) )

Indy said...

oops made several mistakes again..sorry for the carelessness!

Hip Grandma said...

AD:welcome here.and thanks.

Indy: thanks. I am glad you liked my post. In our childhood days mothers were expected to stay aloof while grandmoms and grand aunts raised the grandchildren. Parents would not dare come out in open support of their kids. times have changed for the better now although people do take it to the other extreme.

Zephyr said...

I came here from Indusladies ebook. Love your blog! The concerns expressed are so much close to my own heart. I too am a mother and now grandmother of a two year old girl and so can empthasise with your Mother's Day post.

I am new to blogging, introduced to it by my son. I would be delighted if you could visit me at

Hip Grandma said...

zephyr:welcome here and your blog seems interesting. I see that you also belong to the sambhar, kootu clan and the description in your post seems like an agraharam. Is it?

zephyr said...

Yes, it was indeed an agraharam! I felt an instant kinship seeing the Saibaba image by your side!

I am bookmarking you!

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