If Mom Is The World For You, Do Not Let Her Words Be Mum

If Mom Is The World For You, Do Not Let Her Words Be Mum

The tinsel dust over Mother’s Day celebrations has yet to settle down. The past few days saw most newspapers vying with each other in printing stories of ‘special mothers’ of ‘very special progenies.’ Bollywood stars, cricket icons, business tycoons, political bigwigs, renowned musicians, - all the successful men and women acknowledge the role of their mothers in shaping their fortunes. Here are some of the golden quotes uttered by famous personalities and their mothers:

‘She is a patient mother. We share the need of a cool room, a warm blanket and an afternoon siesta. Everytime I am with her it is special. I feel 12 again’ - Vishvanathan Anand on his mother Susheela.

‘She is a very undemanding mother, who has given me and Yusuf, unconditional love. There are very few relationships like the mother – son bond and I am very lucky to have a sweet mother’ - Irfan Pathan, the sultan of swing. His mother Shamimbano ensures that the dinner table is laden with both her sons’ favourite dishes whenever they are at home.

‘From my mum, I have learned to be my own person and that I think is the biggest lesson in life.’ - Priyanka Chopra, the famous Bollywood star.

Cricketer Yuvraj Singh confesses - ‘I am a mama’s boy. I just love her food. I can’t think of doing anything major in my life without her advice.’

Every rising son has a mother behind him . Sonia and Maneka somewhere dominate the political thinking of Rahul and Varun. It seems that Kokilaben Ambani has a great influence on her sons Mukesh and Anil. Rama Pilot, mother of Sachin Pilot, campaigned for her son in Ajmer . In business, Kumarmangalam Birla follows his mother, Rajshree Birla’s vision of ‘commitment, passion and speed. Sachin Tendulkar’s doting mother Rajani, has played a stellar role in what he is today --- right from fetching him his cricket coaching during his early days, to watching his feats on television now.

For Kareena Begum, her world revolves around her son A.R.Rehman and the latter never forgets to mention and credit his mother for all his achievements so far. She feels, ‘Today being a mother is a big challenge. But I feel I am blessed to be Rahman’s mother. He won the Oscars, and I am happy, but on mother’s day, I am happy to be called his mother. He is simply the best son.’

But what about the average Indian mother of an average Indian child, especially a female child?

The average Indian mother has little control over her womb, let alone her child. Her biological needs of motherhood are controlled by the male members of society. Apart from a handful of emotionally independent women, many are forced to either abort the girl child in the foetus, or sometimes abandon her due to social and economic pressures.

As a mother she is expected to take care of the needs of her children and other family members. She may also be a money earner, but rarely has control over her finances.

She is expected to take the brickbats for the failure of her children in any field, whereas their laurels are credited in the father’s account.

While mother’s day celebrations were in full swing, the following story was ironically placed in some middle page corners of news papers:

‘Yet another girl was found abandoned in the city on 8th May. The infant, around 7 months old, was reportedly left under a tree by her ‘stone hearted mother’. Health personnel of the Civil Hospital (where the baby was rushed for treatment of diarrhea) said, ‘the mother would be surely a stone hearted mother, otherwise no one can desert such a sweet baby’. So far this year 10 abandoned babies have been found in the city of Lucknow , of which 6 are girls. Last year, the number was 30, out of which 25 were girls.’

Is this the case of a stone hearted society or a stone hearted mother? But we are so prone to be judgmental, especially if it is a woman who is at the receiving end.

In the words of Mother Teresa, ‘mothers are special because they think of their child before anything else in the world’. It is probably for the same reason that selfless mothers forget their own selves and neglect their health. Several doctors are of the opinion that, be it diabetes, anemia, hypertension, excessive bleeding or menopausal complications, mothers continue to bear the disease till they can. At times the ignorance continues even after that. Take the example of cancer. Over 40% of all cancers are treatable if identified in primary stages. Despite this, cancer of cervix and of the breast kills thousands of Indian women every year because of delay in medical intervention.

Dr Harjeet singh, a psychiatrist at CSMMU feels that, ‘nature has made mothers this way… they simply can’t divert their attention from their child. It is therefore the duty of the people around her to ensure that she is in good health.’

There is enough statistics to prove that the maternal health of our country is in a shamble, mainly because of an uncaring society which traditionally insists that the mother eats last and the least, and sacrifices her own wellbeing at the cost of caring for her children.

The modern Mother’s Day holiday was created in 1907 by Anna Jarvis (who was never a mother herself ,in the biological sense), a Philadelphia school teacher in honour of her मदर. It was purported to be a day for each family to honor its mother.

Nine years after the first official Mother's Day, commercialization of the U.S. holiday became so rampant that Anna Jarvis herself became a major opponent of what the holiday had become and spent all her inheritance and the rest of her life fighting what she saw as an abuse of the celebration. She criticized the practice of purchasing greeting cards, which she saw as a sign of being too lazy to write a personal letter, and finally said that she "wished she would have never started the day because it became so out of control.’’

Yet, this is exactly what we are doing—exploiting this idea to suit our personal gains.

Mother land, mother tongue, mother earth, mother board, --- we love to pout a whole lot of mother things. The mother figure is everywhere --- in every Bollywood movie, in T.Vserials, in every temple, in many commercial ads, and in so many aspects of our daily life. We worship the mother goddess by fasting for nine days during the ‘Navratras’. But we do not hesitate to kill the mother (either physically or emotionally) in the name of family honour --- for not bringing enough dowry, or for begetting a girl child, or for daring to raise her voice against gender inequalities. Merely celebrating one day or nine days does not change the hard ground reality. Every day there is increasing violence against women.. Let us ask ourselves how we treat our women, how we relate to our mothers, what are their needs and what rights do they have. Let us start to make motherhood respectful and meaningful, rather than just worshipful.

Today the urban women are often forced to choose between the demanding career clock and the ever ticking biological clock. Most city women are expected to juggle corporate and family life. Surprisingly few complain about walking this tight rope. While it often calls for compromises, few are balking at the task, and rightly so. Until a few years ago, only a few girls left college with the intention of getting a job. Nowadays it is the default code that girls look out for jobs once out of college. This is progress. At the same time, the rise in urban divorce rates, coupled with redefined gender rules has transformed modern day motherhood from a biological obligation to a 24 hour job. Unwed, single, scared and yet brave --- the new age urban mother is daring to embrace motherhoods of all kinds.

The dynamics of the mother and child equation may change, but there is one thing that has not - Mother is still the emotional punching bag for all children.

So if you want to be a Mom who can do it all --- handle home and hearth and kids and work, then stay fit in mind, body and spirit. And remember to:

M: Take your Multivitamins.
O: Not Over-work yourself in your zeal to be a good mother.
T: Not be a Trash can for leftovers from your child’s plate.
H: Have some Hobby to focus on.
E: Not sacrifice your Entertainment while tending to your children’s needs.
R: Have some Relaxation time for your self.

Then only will you be a MOTHER in the true spirit of freedom.

Shobha Shukla

(The author is the Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS) and also teaches Physics at India's prestigious Loreto Convent. Email: shobha@citizen-news.org, website: www.citizen-news.org)