Even if the stump falls off, the umbilical cord is never really cut
My little grandson was barely a week old when I felt something was not quite normal while we were giving him a bath. I looked around carefully and when I found something missing, I instinctively took a deep breath and shrieked “Oh my God! It’s fallen off!”
For a split second my daughter wondered what it was and anxiously asked “What?” But what was in our minds was not what was in my hand – the shriveled up stump of the umbilical cord that I found in the tub of bath water. We, both of us laughed nervously seeing it, and wondered how on earth we could have imagined what it was that had fallen off! Heaving a sigh of relief, we wiped him dry; we picked up the stump and kept it on the table, a little sad that this was the final severance between him and his mother. The umbilical cord had finally fallen off….
But had it really fallen off? Of course physically it is cut and eventually even the stump falls off leaving the baby with just a navel showing just traces of a maternal connection, but this is just an illusion. In actual fact the cord is never really cut.
The connection between one’s mothers is very, very deep as it is evident with the reverence, affection, indulgence with each one of us talking of our mothers. Even today at the age of 86 and 83, my in-laws remember their mothers with not only great affection but still speak of them as if they are still alive. And no, they are not gaga or demented; it is just that they are still attached to their mothers. How often my mother-in-law will say – and to use my mother’s turn of phrase… while my father in law will relish a pickle and say – oh this is my mother’s favourite! So no matter how old a person is, the umbilical cord remains.
And as women, not only is this cord strongly attached, but often traits of our mothers are unknowingly transmitted to us and very often land up saying the inane things they used to say provoking the same kind of annoyance that they did in us, our own offspring! All through my childhood, my mother who is the most optimistic person I’ve ever met, thought I’d defy my genes and become 6 feet tall if I diligently ran 5 km every morning and did a 100 pull ups. Obviously her theory did not work yet when my own girls were little, I used to find myself saying equally idiotic things like – eat your beans, and they’ll make you tall. Alas, the ties that bind are strong and we carry forward traces of our mothers in our DNA and it is no wonder that the first fight, almost always ends with the accusatory words “You are just like your mother!”
Apart from carrying forward certain genetic traits, I find that we always use our mothers as a sounding board, a storage cupboard, a life line or even just a mother. Despite the numerous services available – tailors carpenters, professional packers, caterers and even doctors and nurses, there’s nothing quite like the comfort of a mother’s arms when you are lying in bed nursing a cold.
There’s nothing like even a deaf mother to hear your whines and whinges. There’s no food that can compare with your mothers even if you and your siblings are the only ones in the world who think it is the best. There’s no mattress in the most expensive hotel that can give you the same peaceful sleep as you get in your mother’s home and there’s no fragrance in the world that can compare with your mother’s unique smell. Truly, the umbilical cord is never cut and even an 80 year old mother will still be staying up at night to open the door for her 60 year old “child” to come home from a party, a 90 year old mother who needs help while walking will tell her 70 year old “child” to be careful while crossing the street and a grandmother asking her own mother how to bake a cake!
So while my children are still connected to me, I am still connected to my mother. And just as I grumble that they expect me to drop off everything to listen to their every whine, I expect the same of my own mother. And at the end of the day, I am grateful that things are just so.
As a mother of two thirty-year old daughters and a grandmother of a nineteen week old grandson, Sunita Rajwade has been there and done that. A hands on mom, she has seen two girls grow successfully through baby hood, toddler hood, adolescence and adult hood; solving their maths problems and contributing to their angst of growing up with a mom “who doesn’t understand”. But now as a grandmother, she’s being appreciated for her “wisdom” and “understanding” and would like to share my experiences of this wonderful journey from motherhood to grandmotherhood.