What does a mother look like? The answer to this question could widely vary, depending on whom you ask.
Recently, after our dance group’s performance, we overheard a 5-year old exclaim to her mom, “Do mommies look like this also?”. Here we were a group of mommies dancing on stage to the latest Bollywood numbers.
The question made me think – do mothers have that one defining thread that binds them? The traditional portrait of a mother is the ultimate symbol of self-sacrifice. You know the kind I am speaking of (your mother is probably one) – she always puts others needs and comforts before her own, lives for the sake of her family, (especially her children and husband), demands nothing and gets nothing too. Her sacrifices are spoken of in high regard, as examples of what ideal motherhood must entail. Mainstream media reinforces these notions – of the ever-sacrificing mother who doesn’t mind it if none of her wishes are fulfilled as long as those of her family are met.
What is forgotten in all of this is that this mother is a woman, who has desires, wishes and needs. She has interests of her own.
It is time to redefine the ‘mother’ according to the reality of our day and age. Motherhood is not her only purpose in life. Sure, a mother feels immense love and a sense of protection for her child, but should it be the whole of her existence? Should she not have an identity of her own, one that is not defined through motherhood?
As the Titan Raga ad points out, Motherhood is a choice, not a sacrifice. In an ideal world, each woman should have a choice if and when she wants to be a mother and that choice would be respected. Biological clock notwithstanding, she should be able to choose at what time in her life she wants to have the child. It may be after she establishes herself in her career, after she fulfills her dream of traveling the world, or after she finishes her second Ph.D. It should be when she is truly ready and not because society thinks the time is right. Motherhood is a commitment and should be a conscious decision, not a given.
I would prefer that my children declare someday that – “my mom loved her life and herself, almost as much as she loved me”, as opposed to – “my mother lived only for me and sacrificed her whole life for my sake”. I would like to take good care of myself: my health, my mind and my happiness. That will make me a better mother. I would like to grow, to learn something new , pursue my interests, fulfill my passions. I believe my kids will respect me for that someday, even though today they might throw the occasional tantrum that mommy is not waiting for them at the door when they get back from school.
I want my girls to know that they are important, their happiness is important to me. But I do want them to also realize that motherhood is not the be all and end all of our life. It is the start of a beautiful relationship, which is an important ‘part’ of our life. Not our whole existence.
A mother is a woman before she is a mother. And she must fulfill her dreams, just she fulfills those of her family.
by Namratha Varadharajan
Namratha is a digital marketer in the making. Other than her love for the written word and her kids, she enjoys Italian food, dancing and gardening. Explore more of her writings at www.namysaysso.com