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Defining The Mother

While the Twitter timeline on most days throws up mostly pleasant thoughts and delightful blog posts to read and make me wonder why I’m still stuck in a desk job, every once in a while it also throws up a piece that leaves me feeling unsettled. A few weeks ago, it was Sorry, but being a mother is not the most important job in the world in The Guardian.

Defining The Mother - Being A Mother

It urges women to drop the slogan that “encourages mothers to stay socially and financially hobbled, alienates fathers and discourages other significant relationships between children and adults.” Perhaps the piece has a few valid points to state. But it seemed more like a rant than anything else. And at the end of the piece, I was only left with one thought.

Perhaps, being a mother is not the most important job in the world. But I know that for a mother, raising her child is the most important job in the world. It is, for mine.

Mothers, I have learned, are conditioned into believing that their child’s upbringing is a reflection of who they stand for. When I fell sick a few years ago, the mother was deeply upset. Not just because I was in pain; but she was hurting too. She said, “Now everyone will say that I don’t feed you well.” When I have a meltdown in the front of the entire extended family and yell out the not-so nice facts that everyone knows but will never acknowledge, she will cringe. Later in the privacy of her bedroom, she will lash out at me, “This is not how I raised you to be!” And when I bang the doors and storm into my room to cry my heart out, smarting at a rejection, I know she breaks too. Because she will fight with herself each time she has to reprimand me.

At the moment, I see her whole life being defined by me, my presence. My meal times, my travel plans, my plans for the future. On some days, I wonder how her life would have panned out in my absence. Would she have felt more whole? Would she have been a little less harsh on herself? Would she have been a more carefree soul? I don’t know the answers to any of the above because she won’t entertain such questions from me. But I sincerely wish I knew. Maybe, one day, she will let me know, in her own way.

As I was adding the finishing touches to this piece, I came across this timely tweet by Arushi Nayar, “Loving someone often means letting them make their own mistakes. And that’s a hard thing to do.” It reminds me of how Ma keeps telling me that I’ll only understand this when I have children of my own, someday.

It also defines the relationship between Ma and me. More thorny than rosy and more teary than smiley.

Shruti Garodia is the 20-something daughter of an exasperated mother. When not sparring with the mother, she reads, tweets and occasionally blogs.