Remember, Sridevi from the Bollywood blockbuster English Vinglish who enrolls in an English speaking course to uplift her self-esteem when she finds herself lacking in comparison with her daughter because of her inability to converse fluently in English. Middle age is definitely not a show-stopper when she decides to go back to school. In the end, she enriches her life as well as that of her children and family. The daughter who was earlier ashamed to even introduce her mother to her teachers is now a proud daughter. Sridevi in the role of the mother perfectly symbolizes a progressive thinking woman. Agreed, it is not easy to be a child in today’s highly competitive and fast-paced world but it is even tougher to be a mother.
A mother’s responsibility doesn’t end with packing variety in tiffin box every day and taking care of the physical needs of the child. That is the easier part and can be delegated to the house help. A mother needs to be more than just a mother; she needs to be a companion, friend, advisor, counsellor, playmate, entertainer, motivator, role model, disciplinarian and confidant to her child all at the same time. A mother should be in sync with the world of her children’s even if it means staying abreast with the latest in everything including technology, gadgets, smart phones, music or whatever it takes to match her steps with those of her children. She needs to continuously push the boundaries.
Whether she is a stay-at-home mom or a working mother, her role and responsibilities as a mother remains the same. For sure, you have heard of part-time jobs, part-time business and even part-time girlfriend but ever heard of part-time mothers? Mothers – working outside or at home are always full-time. A mother may delegate her children related tasks to her own mother/-in-law but she still remains a full-time mother. This piece is not about whether a working woman or a homemaker makes a better mother. Whether you want to be a working woman or a homemaker- it is your personal choice.
Along with doing what it takes to be a progressive thinking mom, it is equally important for her to cut the umbilical cord early in life for various reasons.
Having her child on her mind 24/7 is no testimony of her motherly quotient. The need of the hour is to strike a fine balance between a contented mother and an over ambitious one. On the one hand, there is no escape for her from motivating her child to excel and on the other hand, she has to ensure that the child is not burdened with parents’ unfulfilled aspirations. If her world revolves only around the thoughts and anxieties about her child’s well being, unknowingly she is bound to raise expectations from her children. Such mothers suffer from empty nest syndrome and are likely to go into depression when the children leave the nest and become independent.
Moreover, it is claustrophobic for a child if the mother doesn’t provide a breather to him.
It is good for the child as well as for the mother that the mother has a Me time. This does not mean that she should not be available if the child wants to reach out to her for any physical or emotional requirement.
There are times when a mother needs to feed her own passions, to think of herself as a person, an individual and a separate entity because she is an individual first and then a wife and a mother. Why should her own desires and dreams always take a back seat in comparison to her child’s aspirations? For sure, the two are not mutually exclusive.
There are many activities which a mother can pursue to carve an entity for herself like learn a new skill or language, nurture a hobby that had been lying dormant for many years, make new friends, meet new people, join an NGO, gardening, fitness, reading, blogging, travelling so on and so forth; if nothing else teach children of your maid servant. She just needs to explore and there will be plenty that will catch her fancy to engage her mind productively. Cultivating a hobby will broaden her perspective towards life and give her exposure to empower her as a person, as a woman and as a mother. Her child will still be the most important person (or the second most important depending whether the child or husband comes first) in her life; wanting to maintain an identity of her own does not change that in any way.
You can still be the World’s Best Mom to your child. Whatever you do, go get a life of your own – both for the sake of your happiness as well as for the happiness of your precious child because only a happy mother can raise a happy child.
Happy Mother’s Day.
(This piece was originally published in Star of Mysore on 10th May 2015)