On mothering

I watched a movie. The kind I like about the girl pretending not to like the boy, falling hopelessly in love and something happens to separate them and  finally love triumphs. They are re united and live happily ever after. These kind of movies are so predictable. But I absolutely love them because  for at least 90 minutes, they give me an excuse not to think as I immerse myself into this fake world. I also suspect that I enjoy them because I am a hopeless romantic. I would be caught dead admitting that to anyone. In this movie, the mother of the girl told her that it is ridiculous to live for your child and you must follow your heart wherever that leads you. That got me thinking. Does parenting define me? Is there anything else that defines me other than being a mother? A couple of days back, I was in a workshop where the hotel staff place these minty sweets on the tables – just in case there is someone in the room with smelly breathe. I ate one (no, I don’t have bad breathe) and remarked to my workmate that these mints were really minty and should be given to children to discourage them from eating sweets as they were so minty, no child would take more than one. These mints were the kind that bathe your nose and mouth in mintiness and make your face go all cold. The guy told me “you are such a parent”, and I had my aha moment and wondered, does parenthood define me?

This together with the hopeless movie got me thinking. About me and my son and how I want to be remembered. I want to be a good mother and be remembered as such. But I don’t want that to totally define me. I want something else for myself. I constantly fear that I will only be remembered as a good mother and a good accountant! God forbid that should happen. This fear is one of the things that made me start writing. This fear made me want to create something else to define my life. To some extent, I would agree that it is ridiculous to live your life for your child. But I have the sense to admit that it is easier to get absorbed in parenting and forget to follow your dreams than it is to follow your dreams and still be a great parent. Whenever I think of motherhood, I always think about the sort of mother I want to be and the sort of mother my own mother was and now is to me.

I want to be a mother whose love liberates and emboldens . A mother who will make my son fearless to face the world because his mother told him he is fabulous and he actually believes it ! I want to be the kind of mother who physically demonstrates her love. Through kisses and hugs and occasional tears. At this stage, I also want to be the kind of mother that is more of a parent  than a friend. I’m saving my 50s’ for the friendship phase but at this time, I must be a mother first. I want to be his inspiration. The person he looks up to for direction. I also must be a happy mother. Happy mothers inspire their children to search for their own happiness and  find fulfilment. A happy mother is fulfilled with  her own life and that is why I must pursue the things I want from my life. I know it would be foolish to hope that I am this saintly perfect mother. I know for sure that I will make many mistakes .But I must try.

Whenever I think of the type of mother my own mother was to me in the first 20 years of my life, I think stoic. I think parent. I think intolerant. I think disciplinarian and judgement. In the first 20 years of my life, I never had a moment of reflecting  on my mother’s love. Perhaps because the mothering was such that I never  had the courage to question it and the way it was handed to me. My mother was a mother to me in very different circumstances to those I am a mother to my son and maybe because of that, we must mother differently.  I wish many things about those first 20 years of my life. I wish most that my mum had loved me more openly. Yes, with kisses and hugs. I am vain like that. I also wish my mother’s love had emboldened me. In the last 10 years of my life, my relationship with my mother has slowly shifted. To something  with space for more emotions and certainly ,more hugs. Something drifting towards friendship and less judgement.

No part of me faults my mother for mothering me the way she did. Because I know she did the best she knew how. I also know that there is a world of difference in her circumstances and mine. And for this, I must consciously be the type of mother that I wish my mother had been and  try to validate some aspects of her mothering in my own. Like the discipline.  I would not be so daring as to tempt fate by saying that I am a better mother. But I can boldly say I am a different mother from my own mother. For me, that is enough and I find some strange comfort in that.

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