Are you like me, grinning like an idiot from ear to ear when your mother says ‘Well done’? Even when you’re all of 50+ ? It’s strange how after all these years, the person whose approval I value the most is my mother’s. And I don’t think I’m alone in this. We all need this special nurturing at any age from our first teachers and earliest fans – our mothers.
Yesterday, my parents came to visit me after a year. They live in Pune and don’t visit all that often. I was really excited that they were coming as a lot has happened over the year in terms of home refurbishment and redecoration and I wanted my mother’s opinion on how the house looked. I am of course in daily touch with my mother thanks to the mobile phone which allows both of us to talk while on the go but was especially happy to be finally able to show my parents how the house looked after all the paint and polish.
How proudly I took them through rooms they had seen before and showed off the artwork that hung on the walls! I was particularly proud of the way I had managed to mix and match everything, making my eclectic collection truly elegant and coordinated. So I walked behind my mother, silently watching her body language that said more than her words and was thrilled when she sat herself down, her body visibly relaxed as she smiled and said “Great! It really looks fabulous!”
My mother is no interior designer, nor is she a party planner or a society hostess but she is a meticulous worker who has always prided herself on doing a good job and has always maintained a good home with everything in the right place. Always one to follow instructions to the T, she can’t stand sloppy, slipshod work and takes pride in learning things and trying to improve herself even at this age so praise from her is praise indeed!
Mothers are equally generous with their criticism. In fact they can be cuttingly candid and really bring you down to earth with their fearless opinion of what they think of you or your performance. I remember the other day I was invited to a friend’s mother-in-law’s tea party and her mother was quite candid in saying “Oh I’m surprised that your friend (note: not her daughter) could make time for this function. Isn’t it cutting into her walk? I have given strict instructions to the family never to disturb her walk and even if I die in the evening, they should only inform her in the morning!”
We all need teachers, supporters, mentors and nurturers. Mothers are naturally equipped for this task even though they take the help of the whole village in bringing up a child. The ‘oohs and aahs’ of awe and wonderment that we inspire in our mothers from the moment we enter this world spur us on from the first time we latch on, to the first day at work, to do better and more.
We want to see her smile and feel happy and we gurgle and coo. We wait for her loving words to show us the way, her gentle touch to guide us and firm hands to hold us. We look over our shoulders when we say the first good bye knowing that she wants us to step out in the world. And that very first step, the first sign of achievement and her words of approval mean more than the star from the teacher or the prize at the end of the year.
So now that we’re mothers let us not forget those tender egos that need more than massaging – let us be kind in our criticism and gentle with our scolding. Let us be gentle with our praise and prudent in our judgment so that the little souls who look to us, get all the encouragement they need to take big steps forward in this harsh, unfriendly world.
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 babyhood, toddler hood, adolescence and adulthood; 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 her experiences of this wonderful journey from motherhood to grand-motherhood.