It is believed that traditionally mothers are selfless, sacrificing and extremely loving towards their children however the latter might be. But I don’t see any proof of this in our epics. Was Kunti a devoted mother to Karna? Was Gandhari a good mother when she chose to destroy in frustration her foetus, just because Kunti delivered a boy earlier (and thus an heir to the throne)? The fact is, those days mothers had very little to do with the nurture and education of their children, particularly sons. Then, when did this unquestioned loyalty of the mothers towards their children come to be extolled and sung about? When his progeny became all important to Man, he must have made rules for his woman to protect and nurture it .

Mothers come in all hues and colours. Indian films have made too much of ‘Maa’ business- A mother shows the empty utensil to the audience as she has fed the last morsel to her children and a big issue is made of her drinking 2-3 glasses of water to assuage her hunger. Other times, the clinging mother is shown emotionally blackmailing her son whenever he is happy with his wife, just because an ancient commandment decreed, “A woman is looked after by her father in her childhood, by the husband in middle age and by a son in her old days.” “I bore you for 10 months (though the medical figure is 9 months, 9 days) nurtured you into adulthood sacrificing everything. Is this the reward you give me?” is the common refrain. Where is the affectionate mother who wishes all the very best for her child?

While in US, a news item was splashed across media about a mother and her court case. This woman had two children by an earlier boy friend. She had put the two kids in her car and had pushed them to death down a slope just so that she could marry her new boy friend. Mother! Holy Mother!!   I myself remember my first earthquake. When we were in Delhi, I felt a jolt in the middle of the night. When I saw the latches rattling, the earth swinging and things falling, I ran out in panic not knowing what it was.

Later, I was so contrite when I saw Ramu bringing our two kids, one on each arm, coolly and calmly. What was the glorious motherhood doing?    Another lighter instance of the ‘Glorious motherhood’ I encountered was, when I had invited a couple for dinner. The mother suggested that she would feed her child first. The child had a mind of her own. So, every morsel in the plate would be perfunctorily offered to the kid before the mom swallowed it herself chanting, “See, it is so tasty”. Poor mother must have been really hungry. She had chosen a socially acceptable method to solve her problem.

So, should we feel guilty and maudlin when we do not fit into the picture of an ‘ideal mother’ or do we drop all pretences and get more practical?

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21 responses »

  1. nadi says:

    always stimulating, always good.
    always a pleasure to read Vimala Ramu

  2. sudha says:

    Nice article vimala,while no human being is perfect why do they expect mothers to be so?

  3. Dear Vimala,

    Your view is indeed very honest. And that is how it should be or else we mothers try fooling ourselves living in an illusion that never gives peace, just plain guilt and regret.

  4. deepika says:

    When no one on this earth is perfect then, how can a mother be?

  5. vimalaramu says:

    Yes, Eva, I do remember one of your stories where a disabled child was destroying the life of a mother.

  6. Eva Bell says:

    Mothers are human too, and children sometimes do try their patience. We need not harbour a guilty conscience if there are moments when we dislike them. Someone said the formula for a good mother is Instruction+love+insistence. I would add ‘Let not the sun go down on your wrath.’

  7. vimalaramu says:

    Thank you, Geeta.

  8. gc1963 says:

    Wonderful, thought provoking article Vimala. I have seen my mother sacrifice a lot for us and also demand a lot from life as her due. I think both go hand in hand because we are all human. She has taught me to think for others as well as not to forget my own rights.

  9. isabel says:

    It’s human nature…
    An insticntive response…

    My late Lelong used to say; “how can you be of service to others if you can’t even take care of yourself”

    Wonderful article Vimala…made us pause and reflect deeply.
    Thank you…

  10. Lovely! Lovely! Lovely! Oh this is a fantastic piece! I know many mothers suffer from a sense of guilt just as I did. I thought myself to be a bad mother for I always thought of my happiness first. But just as Beny said, how could I have helped them to savour the joys of living if I myself had been unhappy. Freedom from guilt, regret and blames! Thanx Vimaladi!

  11. Nuggehalli Pankaja says:

    It is an erudite writing that you have presented before us,something like presenting a paper. Keen observation, systematic thinking with ofcours
    the usual tinge of humour. Subjectwise,it is something very different! I enjoyed reading it.

  12. vimalaramu says:

    Thank you, Beyniaz and Shernaz.

  13. Beyniaz says:

    Wonderful blog, Vimala. Children can’t be happy if their mother is unhappy.

  14. Shernaz says:

    Great topic, Vimala. I too have often wondered at mothers who will slap a child because that is what it requires; then they will weep guiltily and apologise!. And not in Hindi cinema.

    I am not an ideal Mother, regardless of the fact that my mother endeavored to be one. May be because of that. As grown up kids, it made us unhappy that she sacrificed so much for us relegating her wishes and desires to oblivion. Bless her soul.

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