The other day I was watching a new Marathi serial ‘Agabai- Sasubai’ The serial revolves around re-marriage or a woman falling in love when she is past per prime. This is a pretty novel topic for the Indian audience and so it captured my attention. However, when I saw the ‘Mom’ character in the serial, I was suddenly reminded of someone I knew! The reason being the Mom in the serial was a typical ‘Adarsh Maa’ character whose life revolves around her child and family. I am not saying moms shouldn’t do that, but if it is at the cost of your identity then is it correct?
Another friend who desperately wants to do something constructive with her free time is not doing it for the fear of antagonizing her only child! She was taking some classes at home but her child ended up being fiercely jealous and accused her of dividing her time with others. The child believed mom was not giving her enough time, while the friend was unsure how to explain her that it is just a matter of two hours, which is normally the time the child is studying too!
Another woman that I know spends more of her time in the kitchen cooking up dishes that everyone in her family likes. She enjoys cooking and does create amazing dishes, but she is not just that! She loves traveling, shopping, participating in community activities etc. But she does not do any of the above because she feels guilty of stealing her family time by doing all this.
The common thread in all the above is the GUILT that the moms feels because they are doing something on their own that genuinely makes them happy! Do you see the irony in the situation?
Have you seen situations where the woman of the house agrees to do something, but then backs off when either her kid or husband is not interested in it? Why should everything be enjoyed by everyone? Why does the tag of Adarsh Maa extract such a heavy price? I mean not everyone enjoys traveling, so forcing someone to travel is unfair but is it fair to not let the person who enjoys traveling go ahead just because of guilt?
I squarely blame the marketing and film industry for this. Also to a large extent the typical ‘Adarsh Bahu sabka khayal rakhati hai!’ statement. Funnily, I have never heard the commandments for ‘Adarsh Pati’, ‘Adarsh Saas’ ‘ Adarsh Nanand’ etc. Why is there only an ‘Adarsh Bahu’ and ‘Adarsh Maa’?
Going one step further, another irony is – If you end up having an ‘Adarsh Baccha’ or ‘Adarsh Pati’ (as per the society norms), you are termed lucky! So, my point is if having something ‘Adarsh’ is a matter of luck, then why force the whole of womanhood to try and achieve that?
The whole mom persona is built on someone being larger than life. A woman who is a giver, a goddess even, who needs to be put on a pedestal! I am a mom and I have a mom. I don’t remember her missing out on most of the things just because of guilt. She is capable of traveling alone, making friends on her own and even learning a few things on her own. I am proud to have grown up seeing her doing things independently, many a time just because she wanted to do it, not because society expected her to.
I remember, when my mom started taking home tuitions, her intention was to help people and not earn money. Many told her that she was wasting her efforts and she should be charging competitive fees. But she never listened to them and did what gave her joy.
She might not have been able to contribute financially at home because of this, but because of the joy she got, she ended up being a happier person at home and that is a bigger reward, don’t you think?
Isn’t it true that as a person, if we love ourselves and do things that give us joy, it will have a ripple effect and create a better environment at home?
In case of my friend, if she ditches taking classes now for the fear of her child, won’t she sub-consciously blame her child for her not achieving the financial freedom that she seeks?
Tomorrow when the child leaves the nest, won’t my friend be pushed into depression as her whole life and being revolved around the child and now that very reason is not around?
Won’t a happy and content mom be a better anchor to a family than a mom whose family has been inconsiderate about her desires?
Isn’t a person complete when he/she does things that give them a sense of satisfaction and keep their minds occupied?
I believe as a parent it is our responsibility to tell the children that our worlds are bigger than them. They are definitely a big part of it, but things that give us joy are also equally important. It is human to want something and there is no reason to be laden with guilt about it. Children might not understand that their temporary need for attention might be causing such a big vacuum in your life. It is important to explain it with real-life examples that they can connect with. Reiterate if they don’t understand the first time, but Mom- never ever give up your happiness for the sake of guilt! You will be doing more harm than good. As in future your child, if she is a daughter will face the same burden of being inconsiderate to her personal wishes and that would be a terrible example to set, isn’t it?