Saturday, May 01, 2010

On Motherhood..........

The image on the left is a banner inviting mommy bloggers to get listed in the e book that is being released on Mother's day by Indus ladies. This would be a great way of connecting mommy bloggers and exchanging notes. The link to this site is here.


Becoming a mother may be easy but being one is not. I may sound harsh because motherhood is considered an exalting experience.While one can be considered a bad daughter/teacher/sister/wife etc. it is difficult to be a bad mother. However, with all good intentions, motherhood also means a lot of responsibility and accountability.

A mother is a child’s first teacher and the example set by her is keenly observed and emulated. It is natural for a mother to vent her frustration on her child merely because he/she is an easy target. Very often the child takes it in his/her stride and a mother’s outbursts are not taken seriously but there have been instances of a mother’s attitude and outlook that have had an adverse effect on a child’s personality and perspective. It is therefore a mother’s duty to take care that she does not rub in her own disappointments onto her children to the extent of affecting their lives.

Sujaya was an ambitious mother and although her husband was not a high ranking officer she nursed hopes of educating her daughters well and ensuring a bright future for them. Being ambitious was one thing but constantly drilling into their minds that they deserved the best in life and that their lives should never be like her own was something else. The disappointment that she felt at being a middle class housewife rubbed into her daughters and they in turn chose to look down upon anyone who was not so well placed in life. When the question of marriage arose, no proposal seemed good enough. If the boy was well placed in life, he had to support ageing parents. If his parents had enough resources to take care of their expenses and the boy himself was earning a good salary, his English had a Bihari/ Bengali accent and he was not considered suitable. The boy’s sisters were snobs or the mother seemed dominating. The father was just a clerk or the quarter allotted to him was meant for workers and supervisors and it was impossible to adjust to life in his home. This went on and on and at no stage did their mother explain to them that it was not possible to find a perfect groom. It was unfortunate that the girls had a skewed idea of human relationship and marriage. While the older one found herself a matured partner who was able to bring about a positive change in her attitude, the younger one was not so lucky. Her marriage failed and ended in a divorce.

Bamini had a tough time at the hands of her parents in law. In fact the entire household including her husband would tremble at the sight of her domineering father in law. It was no wonder that she filled her daughter’s mind with negative thoughts about one’s in laws. Her daughter today is suspicious even when her mother in law showers genuine affection on her. She feels that there had to be an ulterior motive behind the seemingly kind behavior on her mother in law or sister in law’s part.

There are many other examples that come to my mind where I’ve felt that had a little caution and self - control been exercised by parents, their children would be better adjusted individuals. A father who humiliates the mother in the presence of his children, a mother who suppresses facts or lies to her husband or a parent who supports a child when he/she is wrong are all accountable for the kind of adults they become later.

No one is perfect and this applies both to parents and children. The reaction to a particular circumstance also varies with individuals. The mother who is at the receiving end may evoke sympathy. However, she could also be considered a weakling and as being responsible for the situation. The daughter who watches her being abused may turn out be an aggressive individual.

What then is the solution? I am no counselor but I do feel that two adults committed to each other by marriage as well as members of the extended family on both sides should be mutually respectful, at least once children arrive. I know of a lady in her seventies who has an only son. It is to her credit that none have heard her complain about her daughter in law. The girl is just picking up the nuances of house keeping and very often messes up things. The mother in law understands, that with all her faults, she is an important person in her son’s life and mother to her dear grandchildren. She therefore needs to be treated with love and affection. Criticizing her or constant faultfinding will not help. Accepting her for the person she happened to be and gently trying to initiate her into the customs of the family without imposing her own will on her would perhaps bring about a positive change in her attitude and very soon she would be a second daughter to her.

I end with a story that my mother loved to repeat-

A woman has four daughters and an only son who is the youngest among her children. The son gets married and the daughters who have arrived for the marriage advice their mother to treat the new bride well – ‘like one among them’ to quote their words. The mother is all too willing to pamper the daughter in law. The daughters leave and the house is back to normal. One afternoon the woman is heating milk for the afternoon coffee when the postman arrives bringing a letter from her mother. She calls out to her daughter in law asking her to keep an eye on the milk and starts reading the letter. The daughter in law has either not heard her or did not take her words seriously, the milk boils over and the kitchen is in a mess. The woman gets upset and starts cleaning up. She is also cross at her daughter in law for being careless and asks her to pay more attention in future. She then prepares coffee and takes it to her DIL’s room and finds her sitting on her bed and sobbing.

“Am I not supposed to say even this?” she asks her husband. “After all I would have said the same had it been one of my daughters in her place.”

“You cannot take the same liberty with your daughter in law as with your daughter” advises her husband. “ You can pamper your daughter in law as much as you want but you have to wait for a while before you take the liberty of admonishing her. She needs time to accept you as her mother. Right now you are just her mother in law.”

He was indeed correct and this story is true in every relationship. One needs to give it time to grow. And like any other relationship, motherhood also need to grow and develop along with one's children!

21 comments:

hillgrandmom said...

Being a mother/parent or for that matter a teacher of young children is a big responsibility because one holds the future in one's hand. But I think unconditional love and acceptance of the child goes a long way in motherhood.

starry eyed said...

"A father who humiliates the mother in the presence of his children, a mother who suppresses facts or lies to her husband or a parent who supports a child when he/she is wrong are all accountable for the kind of adults they become later."

and "It is therefore a mother’s duty to take care that she does not rub in her own disappointments onto her children to the extent of affecting their lives."

No truer words were said. I totally agree that in front of the children, respect shown by adults related by marriage, goes a long way, even if there is dislike or antagonism.

Having said that, often respect only goes one way from younger to elder. We don't respect our kids and our parents/in laws often don't feel they have to respect us.

Like Mary Poppins said, "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down". The same point uttered with respect for the other person (whether a child, daughter-in-law or parent) is accepted or rejected that much more easily depending on how it is phrased and put across.

How do we know said...

The last story is such a true and wonderful one!! Thanks for sharing it!

R's Mom said...

What a great post :)

R's Mom said...

Award for you :) http://readingthroughrsmind.blogspot.com/2010/05/awarded-awarded.html

starry said...

Loved reading all the stories and there was so much to learn from each one.thanks for sharing.

Aathira said...

Me being recently married... I totally relate to the last story

Usha said...

Motherhood is probably the toughest job in the world - there are no manuals and every time it is a different experience. And we all try to be the best mothers we can be but finally end up feeling bad for the things we didn't do.
To give all of yourself to them and still not expect anything in return - I guess the experience is a reward in itself. And i'd like to believe that the experience of mothering a child makes you a better person.

kc said...

Love the way you write, especially with appropriate little vignettes of life thrown in! You have a keen observation of people and loads of wisdom!! Thanks.

Uma said...

It is so tough when you have to lead by example and that's what is required while raising a child. I am realising this even more after my daughter was born. Many times I've realised a mistake on my part only on seeing it reflected in my daughter's behaviour.
I'm sure many mothers mean to protect their daughters to begin with but end up on the wrong side by overdoing it...

Arundhati said...

"It is a mother’s duty to take care that she does not rub in her own disappointments onto her children to the extent of affecting their lives."

"A father who humiliates the mother in the presence of his children, a mother who suppresses facts or lies to her husband or a parent who supports a child when he/she is wrong are all accountable for the kind of adults they become later."

"The mother who is at the receiving end may evoke sympathy. However, she could also be considered a weakling and as being responsible for the situation. The daughter who watches her being abused may turn out be an aggressive individual."

- Very true and very well said. Wonderful post.

~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...

great post !

i have seen friends take out their anger on their kids, and regret it the next moment .... though kids generally forgive their parents, but still ....

radha said...

The story that your mother related to you - so true - and one that you can relate to at any stage as a woman.

Hip Grandma said...

hillg'mom:you should know.You are all in one. yes, I too agree that being a parent/teacher is challenging. It is more so in these days of technological advancement.

starry eyed:mutual respect is very essential even if one does not see eye to eye in many of the matters. But as you say the older generation often fails to see that. I hope times will change for the better in your generation.

How do we know:thanks. my mother felt that it conveyed an universal truth.

R's mom:thanks both for the comment and the award. I'll definitely pass it on.

Lalitha:i often wonder if I keep boring my readers with such narrations. i am glad you liked them.

Aathira;Me being a mother as well as MIL I too could relate to it.

Usha:'To give all of yourself to them and still not expect anything in return - I guess the experience is a reward in itself.'
very true.If not anything else motherhood is a big lesson and eye opener.We may not teach much but we do learn a lot.

kc:'You have a keen observation of people'
Thanks. I 've heard others say so too.

Uma:'Many times I've realised a mistake on my part only on seeing it reflected in my daughter's behaviour'.
me too. I've been admonished by my mother for that. Mothers should not support their children blindly. It is only for their own good that some caution and prudence is exercised.

Arundhati:i've seen children who add to a mother's misery by accusing her of being too submissive and not standing up to a tyrant of a husband.It hurts to be thus accused but I suppose that there's some truth in it too.

Deepa:There are many such women. A cousin would often complain that her mother who was otherwise soft spoken and mild mannered would become a child beater the moment her paternal grandmom arrived or if they visited her during vacations. I suppose the grandma was not very nice to her mother and her mother's way of showing her resentment was to find fault with her own children and beat them up for no real reason.

radha:yes. It seems more meaningful now than when my mother would relate it.

Hip Grandma said...

How do we know;welcome here.

Monika said...

brilliant post as usual

being a parent is a tough job and I agree with what u have said and what starry said too

shoba said...

I am not a mother,and so I can comment only on the last part of your post, about the MIL. Very true. The same holds good for the DIL as well.
But, I have always felt that a mother's/father's love is not unconditional. There is always an expectation from the child too.I think that maternal instinct is overrated in our society.IMHO.

Hip Grandma said...

Monika: Yes it is a tough job to raise a child and trying to balance between the head and the heart. But one learns with time.

Shoba: I do agree that parents love is conditional and why not. The expectations need not always be materialistic. It could be ethicasl and emotional. can you blame a mother if she expects her children to be kind hearted and compassionate to her when she is old and dependent on them? would it be wrong to expect a certain kind of responsibility in their actions? It is not wrong to set conditions. It would however be wise to stop expecting that your child would always stand up to the standards set by you. A certain amount of flexibility would help.

Krishnan N Subramanian said...

"Becoming a mother may be easy but being one is not. "

I am witnessing my wife "becoming a mother" now..That too is not easy:-)

Hip Grandma said...

NSK:i agree that becoming a mother has its own set of problems and is not easy in a physical sense to a great extent and emotional sense to a lesser extent. However, once the child is born the 'being a mother' part takes over and that is a life long challenge. I don't mean to underestimate the role of a father in a child's growth and development but the world including the father blames the mother and holds her accountable when things go wrong.

That said let me wish your wife a safe pregnancy and easy delivery.

Indu said...

Super Post! It triggered memories of my childhood days of how I used to wonder how my mother was a flawless person. She never used to argue with dad or my grandma in front of us, even though there were strong differences in opinion between them. And the work pressure would never show on us in any regard. I wonder if I could emulate at least 5-10% of what she was.
"A father who humiliates the mother in the presence of his children, a mother who suppresses facts or lies to her husband or a parent who supports a child when he/she is wrong are all accountable for the kind of adults they become later."
These lines are so true. And also, a mother constantly complaining to a child about the father's flaws is another common occurrence that I've noticed, which results in the children not being affectionate towards the father.