Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Glorifying Motherhood

Motherhood must be an amazing thing.  One hears time and again in our society of women who speak about how they had to carry a life inside for nine months and the sacrifices made in the form of food, life style, pain and freedom and more during the period and beyond.  For those of us who have not gone through it, we can only imagine of course and listen to stories.  However, I know one thing for a fact :  man forgets that just like their own gestation time, the cow has nine months while the elephant has 18 - 22 months.   

All beings bring up their child, equip them with life skills and let them go free.  It is man who keeps an account of the bringing up as well as the training time, and demand their pound of flesh for the lifetime of the kids.  All other animals do the hunting and feeding, teach their kids life skills and then when the time comes, they let them go. Go Free.  In literature and poetry the nine months carried by a human mother is glorified while you don't hear a mention of the same with reference to other animals.  Instead, we can kill all animals that carry a child for food or for fun.   We savour eggs of different kinds.  An example is fish being cut open to take eggs when very much alive and thrown back into the sea to drown and die. The parts of unborn calves of various animals are delicacies and sought after around the world. Where is Motherhood ?

Then comes the part of rearing, the toughest part.  There are many a mother, who after delivering a child leave all the affairs to someone else.  How many times does one come across women who have more than one hand at home to feed, clothe, teach and help the baby poo.  Many consider breast feeding a chore and use storage mechanisms.  While all of the above are a necessity today where woman go to work and handle affairs beyond the home, one thing I fail to understand is how the mother takes all the credit slipping under the carpet conveniently of the many hands that help in bringing up the child.

My mentor, a researcher and a very wise man, sent me a line on the morning of Mother's day.  'Ayah care replacing Mother care.   Let there be an Ayah day.  In praise of all the Ayahs'.  This line touched something that has been on my mind for sometime now.  It is also very true.  I visit when possible the school to pick up two kids in the family.  Name the make and you can find the cars there.  Me the unknowing kind, thought that all the cars brought with them parents.  Instead, majority of them were ayahs and drivers who picked up the kids.  Simpleton ayahs, fashionable ayahs, english speaking ayahs, and the high funda ayahs. They said hello, hugged the kids, fed the kids a mini lunch, handing them juice or water, and inquiring how school was.  Kids tell them all the stories, happy for someone to listen to them.  Parents, have you heard a kid repeating a story more than once ?  I doubt it. Rarely, maybe.  So, the story of the kids life is in the hands of the ayahs and drivers, not with the parents.  Under the watchful and caring eyes of the ayahs and drivers, a kid grows up, loving them probably a wee bit more than the parents who bring them toys and gifts.  The most glorious time of a kids life is lost to the parents.

Still, motherhood is glorified.   Maybe because the mother is juggling many things and is a good manager, managing to find the kid a first-class nanny.  While the lower strata of society has a reason for not spending as much time with their kids due to the run for making money to feed and clothe, the other strata today has so much to do :  the work time, whatsapp time, facebook time, parlour time, kitty party time, and all else not to forget the 'me' time.  What time is left, is leftover for the child ?  To compensate and make up, the kid gets lots of toys and whatever else (s)he asks for.

Many a house has grandparents who are required to take up the role of rearing with boundaries that are unmarked.  They should control and instill good values but cannot punish, they cannot scold or beat but should accept the pinch or punch and still smile, and they should act mature and be magnanimous when the kids fault and falter.  This kinds life is strange indeed.  As if rearing one's own is not enough, going through another cycle and with no control ?  Just wonder about the havoc it must play on their nerves.

Then there are the fashionistas - the kind who talk very fashionably :  'I spend quality time with my kid'.  'I have compartmentalized my life so well that kids have quality time with me'.  Who decides how much is quality time, when and how ?  Was the timetable run through with the kid ?  Any quality control process followed ?  Any feedback obtained ?  Any correction mechanism ? What is enough for you, was it enough for the child ?

Then there are the kind who speak about 'making sacrifices'.  No kid asked to be born.  If you have a kid it is solely because you wanted one.  Where is the space there for sacrifice.  According to me, the only people who have a right to say they are making a sacrifice are those who have kids because a man has violated them, within or out of a marriage.  This because one has to overcome bitterness and grief to bring the new one to life and forget the pain and love the child no matter what - that is sacrifice.  This may also hold true of women who give themselves up to protect their children in war torn and drought hit parts of the world.  It may also be true of women who lay down their lives to protect their own in other circumstances.  However, remember, the latter two kind hardly live to talk about their sacrifice.  If alive, they would call it their duty.  All others who have a child have no business using the word 'sacrifice'.  

And still the mother is glorified.  All for the act of delivery which every other being on earth does without fanfare and without a day of glorification. Not to mention the countless ayahs who silently hands over all the glory and remains in the shadows.  And a bow to those who are fired in the line of duty, for being protective or for being too loving or loved all because the mother does not want to loose control.

There are countless women and men who go about bringing up their children telling they are blessed and privileged to be part of a kids life.  There are also countless who don't have time to think that way, but do what it takes to make their kids life a better one.  And all this with no noise or celebration.  I see videos of mother ducks waiting for her line of kids, protective and caring.  There is an amazing video of a mother cat who walked into the flames of a burning building more than once to rescue her kittens and burnt her legs in the process.  Or the women folk among animals who live in groups - like the elephants, gorillas and monkeys who take care of others kids as their own. None of these amazing mothers make a noise about being a mother.  So, it is sad to see those busy in their own world, who hardly spend time with kids nor take an active interest in their affairs make a hullabaloo this one day.  

So, a thought :  Whose 'motherhood' should be celebrated ?  Of the one who just delivered, of the one who delivers and does what needs to be done to the best extent possible, or the one who did not deliver but rears the kid, or the grandparents who are seeing life repeat itself a second time around without a say, or others who have no say but have to go through it.

I would say ,the day if it requires to be celebrated should be 'Motherhood of the one who gives up the best part of one's own kid out of necessity to bring up another's'.  Motherhood if celebrated at all is for all beings who take time to be with kids, their own or others, who contribute to their well being, who enjoy in being there.  Any other kind is a farse.

Disclaimer :  The above is of course not written to belittle motherhood as many may accuse because I am not one.  Also, I am an expert in hardly anything, especially in the area discussed.  What I have written is based on interactions with mothers and interactions with kids especially in the age group of 17-23 who speak about time they desperately want but don't seem to get.

1 comment:

Hrushikesha Mohanty said...

No better example I can give than Yasoda the mother who brought up Sri Krishna while not being the biological mother. Yasoda-Krshna the bond has been described and sung so nicely in our epic. Same time my confusion with biological mother and her attitude to Karna... Say it divine direction and but I see motherhood has taken a beat.
Unfortunately sacrifice and reimbursing it in gifts a concept market driven consumer society is propelling. Real parenting is watching the progeny how out to kiss the world ... and also acknowledging nature has have many hands to see the continuity and parents are just a part of it