I am a mother. A mother who has invested a lot in being a mother. I care about being a mother, of course, it goes without saying I care about my child.
And yet, Mother’s day makes me cringe.
The glorification and deification of mothers is more than any mother can bear. I too had bought into this as a young mother, doing it all alone with no family or domestic help around. It was only my rigorous corporate training that kept it from breaking my back because of the sheer workload and the innumerable hours. This is 24/7/365 with not a moment of holiday. (Sure – no pay, no promotions or medals either.)
Just the legends…
The perfect mother who gives of herself selflessly, with no thought of returns. The mother who stands in the sun so that her child can have some shade. The mother who works tirelessly so that the child can have a moment of joy. The mother who keeps awake all night so that the child sleeps in comfort.
Yes. Been there. Done that.
And it is heaven and hell, all at once. A journey into the self in ways that one never knew were possible. Accessing levels of love and caring that may have lived buried if this little person had not looked at me with such trust. A trust that I knew was a bond.
It is all true, the gooey stuff.
Then what am I complaining about?
It is not true all the time. It does not all have to be true for all people. The emotional blackmail inherent in the super mother myth is a burden I do not care for – it is mine only if I choose it. And not if other things are more important. Yes, I am a mother. But I am, as much, and more – a person. The personhood demands choice.
They want too much of me, comes the silent scream. I remember the breathless times when I patted the fevered child to sleep with the left hand, while drafting something with the right hand on the laptop. I remember rushing (and I still do it) from corporate meetings to parent teacher meetings to more, picking and dropping hats like a quick change artist. I can do this, I’d mutter. I can’t do this, would say the hastily quelled voice in my head.
You want too much. I want too much. Motherhood is too much.
And this is why I cringe when I see the sickly sweet Mother’s day sound bytes. We mothers we know the truth. We know the cost. And we know the holes in our fabric. Do not burden us with the weight of perfection. We try, and we do it with love. But give us our space to get it wrong sometimes. Allow us to be us, normal human persons who get it right and wrong.
Love us, today and everyday. But do not judge us for what we could or could not do. Whether we were real mums, adopted ones, (and dads too), or mums for the day and moment. We are on this quest along with all – we try and we learn. It is not a science, nobody can get it right all the time. Do not expect this to be more than any other journey – with its adventures, and travails and moments of joy and sorrow. It will have its highs and lows.
Those of us who were supermoms, and those of us who were yummy mummies, and those of us who muddled through, and those of us who learnt as we went along, and even those who always seemed to get it wrong – we are all the same in our love for you. Thank us please do, we love the attention and the gifts, and the kisses and the cuddles. But do not thank us for being perfect, thank us for being us. Do not thank us for getting it right, or even for trying so hard – just savour the moment where we are one, mother and child. A moment sacred to all of us who know love that is pure and true.
Yes, it is true. We mums do go on and on. That’s because we care. Over and above. When we do, just give us a hug.
(I just got one :D)