“A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces that she never did care for pie.” – Tenneva Jordan
The perfect quote to sum up a mother’s selflessness. Whether we work outside or at home, so many sacrifices are made every day, for our children’s sake, for our families’ sake.
There’s just a little problem here. When our selflessness gets the better of us and we end up being slaves to our kids. When we base our happiness on our children’s accomplishments and milestones, we are making two big mistakes – we deprive ourselves the potential to make us happy, and we don’t teach our children to look for happiness within them.
And when these children grow up and start lives of their own, their mothers are left feeling adrift. Like a boat that has lost its moorings, they are clueless about what to do with themselves. As a result, most of them find it easier to just stick around. To not let go, to keep hovering and trying to be as involved in their children’s lives as they were all those years ago. I think we have a passable explanation for the Monster-in-law phenomenon here.
It is never a good idea to depend on someone else to make you happy, be it your child or your spouse. As mothers, we need to realize that even though having a child is, admittedly, the biggest challenge and responsibility we’ll ever have, we need to think of ourselves outside the whole ‘Mom’ role. Here are a few ways to do that:
1. Build on your relationship with your spouse – Indian men have a lot of work to do here, but change has begun. Remember, when your child is grown up, it’s going to be just the two of you. Learn to do something together – cooking, travelling, movies; anything that doesn’t involve your child.
2. Learn to let your child make their own decisions and then learn to respect those decisions – We tend to hover over our preschooler a little too much and then blame our teens for not being decisive enough. Start leaving the little decisions to them, so that even when they make the wrong one, a valuable life lesson is learnt.
3. Get a hobby ASAP, if you do not already have one – Everyone has something they like to do, even if they’re not very good at it. Just carve out some time dedicated to that activity every day. That way, by the time your child is out of the house, you’ll either have a little home business, or be a mini expert at something you love doing.
4. Love your body – Want something that’ll be with you all your life? You already have it – it’s your body and you better start treating it with respect. Eat well, exercise every day and go for regular checkups. The emotional perks of working out are real; it’s the best way to cheer you up every morning, not to mention ensuring a healthy and mobile old age.
5. Have your finances intact – The time your child leaves home will most probably coincide with life’s other milestones, like menopause, retirement etc. You do not want to add money woes to the list, and then pile the burden on your child. Plan early for retirement and medical emergencies, there are a lot of schemes available for the same today.
6. Maintain a social life – We’ve often seen scenes of the good old days, where the older members of the community gathered together under the shade of the banyan and then reminisced about years past. Of course, finding a banyan in a crowded metro isn’t exactly easy, but that doesn’t mean you let go of the friends you have. Like-minded and positive people are always a joy to have around.
Not very difficult to find happiness within yourself, is it? If you’re still seeking inspiration, check out Duchess from ‘The Aristocats’ grooving it away with the encouragement of her cubs!!
Fabida Abdulla is a former software engineer turned stay at home Mother Lion to her four year old son, whom she calls ‘The Cub’. She blogs about her crazy life at Shocks and Shoes.