Some thoughts on Mother’s Day

My mother is an incredible woman. I know every child feels this way about their mother, and that is how it should be. However just like every other child, I also feel my mother is especially special in a way that cannot be explained to others. I could launch into many reasons why I have spent all this time in awe of her, but she is the kind of person who finds such public display of affection embarrassing, and frankly distasteful. She belongs to that fast-shrinking class of solid and sturdy humans who prefer to deal in actions rather than words. It can feel a little bit silly to go wishing ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ to her one day in a year- it’s too convenient, too little, too fluffy. And yet, one has to do something, so I do that- usually with a card. Yes, I somehow turned out the words and poetry, sentimental kinds.

So this has been resolved long back. This morning when I wake up and am going about my day as usual, my husband looks a little hurt- ‘Aren’t you going to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day?’ he says. I am about to laugh at the joke that I didn’t quite get, when it occurs to me that he is serious. Instead I go with the confused look. ‘Don’t I take care of you?’ he says. I humour him and wish him a happy mother’s day.

It leaves me with a funny feeling, and some new thoughts. I am not much of a maternal person myself, at least not yet. I am still a child in many ways. And that reminds me that I have been fortunate to have people in my life who have assumed the maternal role to allow the child in me to be. No one can replace my mother, and yet I could not have gone through different stages in life, often away from home, without people who were caring, and generous and giving. Who were maternal.

I think of my sister, I think of my father, my husband, friends… maybe I should drop them a message too. Oh wait, but they have different days assigned, right? It’s not Father’s day today, nor Friendship day. That’s when the absurdity of the different ‘days’ assigned to each relationship strikes me in a new way. These days seem to tie each relationship into a neat bundle of stereotypical well-defined roles. The truth is that any relationship of any significance will typically defy the neat boundaries- your mother will be your friend, your teacher, your father. Your spouse will be your friend, your partner, your mother. Your father will be your mother, your teacher.. and each of them will be many things that have no name.

I don’t want to take away from the sentiment attached to Mother’s Day. But maybe we can add to it. Maybe we can celebrate the ‘motherly’ instinct in the many ways we find it in our lives. A warm, though inadequate, thank you to all those in my life who often put my needs before their own, all who love without expectations, who worry and fuss and pray for me and also others, who give and never talk about it. May your tribe increase, the world needs more of you. I hope I grow up to be one of you too.



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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Sushmita says:

    After reading your lovely post, I stumbled upon these words from Gloria Steinem (it’s long, but beautiful):

    “I’ve been thinking about Mother’s Day, and why I and others, who are not mothers, identify with this day just as much as if we were.

    Of course, it’s partly because we all owe our lives to our own mothers — which would be enough — but I think there is another reason. Even if we are not mothers, the noun, we may be mothering, the verb. Indeed, unless mothering is a verb, it is not an action in the world.

    Think about it: As a noun, mother is limited to half the human race, and also to the accident of fertility and age and intention. In some societies, motherhood is honored only in women who are married, or who have sons. In most societies, a woman is more encouraged to give birth to another person than she is to give birth to herself.

    As a noun, mother may be good or bad, willing or unwilling, on welfare or rich, worshipped or blamed, dominating or nurturing, accidental or chosen.

    Perhaps that’s why the word mother is so much used in profanity; in war, as in “the Mother of All Bombs;” or by war-makers who honor Hero Mothers who give birth to soldiers.

    But when mother is a verb – as in to be mothered and to mother — ah, then the very best of human possibilities come into our imaginations. And we are all able to mother, whatever our sex or our age or our abilities.

    To mother is to care about the welfare of another person as much as one’s own.

    To mother depends on empathy and thoughtfulness, noticing and caring.

    To mother creates the only pairing in which the older and the younger, the stronger and the weaker, are perfectly matched.

    It is also about free will. One can be forced to become a mother, but one cannot be forced to mother.

    What Julia Ward Howe had in mind in 1870 when she invented Mother’s Day was a day on which we oppose war and advance peace. In other words, it was not Mother’s Day, but a Mothering Day.

    It reminds us all, whether we are young or old, male or female, of the possibilities that lie within us and that we cherish in others.

    I thank Julia. On this day and forever more, we will be reminded that peace is not just the absence of war. It is the presence of mothering. “

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh how lovely, thanks for sharing! And such a thrill to know Gloria Steinem echoed my thoughts (or vice versa)😀


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