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What does it mean to be a ‘mother’ ?

August 7, 2009
[Guest post contribution by Shailaja Mohan of Shail’s Nest.]

An elephant does it. So does a goat, orangutan, polar bear, tiger, puma… Yeah they all do, give birth I mean just like countless other mammals on earth including humans. There is a difference though. While after giving birth, the rest of them go about their business of being a mother quietly, humans (the one human that gave birth and the rest of the crowd consisting of women and men) crow and trumpet about it, some among them continuing to do so throughout their lives, never letting their offspring or anyone else forget what a great and noble act was theirs. ‘Pathu maasam chumannu, nonthu prasavichu’ (Bore you for ten months, of course technically wrong, and gave painful birth) go the Malayali mothers (in real and reel life) and I am sure their counterparts elsewhere have something similar up their sleeve to keep those errant and not so errant but merely independent (which it seems is the greatest sin in the eyes of most mothers) children in line.

It IS a tough act, no doubt to it. But please spare me all those paeans sung in praise of mother and motherhood. Please spare me also the worship and adoration. Please spare me all that (nonsense) talk of divinity. Please spare me that place reserved for mothers over there on that too tall (and shaky to boot) pedestal which makes one look ridiculous apart from the danger and discomfort of standing on it impersonating an inanimate stone statue while the rest of you burn incense sticks suffocating one in its smoke, burying one beneath garlands of tributes and chanting praises to mother and motherhood till one goes deaf…. And all for what??! For going through the perfectly natural biological act of giving birth?! Give me a break society.

Yes, I am a mother. So what??

I am no God-like figure.

I am no superhuman.

I am not an inanimate object/stone idol.

I am not an asexual being.

So stop treating me like all of the above just because I have given birth.

I am human.

I am made of flesh and blood like the rest of you.

I have all the human feelings and failings.

I laugh, cry, get angry and stressed. I may scream, throw something in frustration. I love with all my heart. I also hurt. I desire, long and yearn. At times I may feel jealous, envious, disillusioned, and delusional. I need love, sex, sympathy, care, pampering.

I sometimes hurt with innocent remarks or barbed words spoken in frustration. I forgive the worst of mistakes. I expect to be forgiven too.

Sometimes I am down in the dumps, I am lost. I need a hand to pull me out of my despair or at least railings to hold on to pull myself out. Don’t think/assume that because I am a mother everything becomes alright magically. I need affection, a caressing hand, a warm breast to lay my head when I feel cold and alone. I think you are the world, but I need to be made to feel I am the world too for someone, somewhere.

I am scared at times, unsure too. I make mistakes, I may want to walk out, start afresh. Instead of kicking me down, accusing me that a mother cannot, help me start over again. I am also capable of hate. I lash out, strike, spew venom. I may have my moods. I may look forlorn and morose. Don’t expect that ‘mother’ is a synonym for the mannequins in the malls or worse still, the models who are paid good money to do a bit of smiling for a short time in front of movie cameras. I also look frumpy most times quite unlike them, though I try not to.

I fall sick (remember I am human). I need the doctor, maybe someone to listen to my real or imaginary aches and pains. I want to be left alone just like you all want at times. I want to do my own things, not to be at your beck and call at all times. I have likes and dislikes. It is not always about your likes and dislikes. Respect my privacy. Motherhood does not mean my life is an open house for you all to walk in and out when it pleases you.

Don’t talk down to me, talk to me; you may know a lot of things. I know a few things too. Don’t treat me as if I have half a brain. I may not be used to certain things, so may take longer to learn or simply won’t be up to mark in some. Don’t poke fun or make unkind remarks as if I don’t exist. I do. Don’t assume (or expect) that ‘sacrifice’ is my middle name. Don’t worship me as you do the idol in the temple and then walk out to forget me till the next time you need something.

Yes, I became a mother when I gave birth, a biological act that has been assigned to me by Nature as of now. But that does not make me a saint with superhuman capabilities.

I am no God-like figure.

I am no superhuman

I am not an inanimate object/stone idol.

I am not an asexual being.

So stop treating me like all of the above just because I have given birth.

I am human.

I am made of flesh and blood like the rest of you.

I have all the human feelings and failings.

Treat me like one, just like you treat each other. Is that asking too much??

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. Usha Pisharody permalink
    August 8, 2009 3:33 am

    Bravo Shail! You say it absolutely true!

    Have read this at your space, but I needed to put this down here as well!!
    "I am human.

    I am made of flesh and blood like the rest of you.

    I have all the human feelings and failings.

    Treat me like one, just like you treat each other. Is that asking too much??"

    Atta girl for articulating all of that!!!

    And Thank you!

  2. AnjuGandhi permalink
    August 8, 2009 8:43 am

    How true
    and thanx for letting others know that we mothers are also human beings with feelings, emotions and likes and dislikes.
    I have been pounding my family with this only that treat me like an individual. but we mothers are aways taken for granted, and blamed for every thing , made to feel guilty if we don't know something whcih the children want to know. after an outing every one gets tired but mother can never get tired. she has to be on her feet, cheerful and always serving others
    i also wrote something on this topic in my blog
    http://anjugandhi.blogspot.com/2009/05/motherhood-my-own-feelings.html

  3. Intrepid Dreamer permalink
    August 8, 2009 12:54 pm

    That was really a good read. We Indians do have this mother=goddess complex. That is one heavy cross for any mother to bear. There might be those who want to be Mother India, but so many of us just want to be ourselves.

  4. radhavkreddy permalink
    August 9, 2009 3:35 pm

    mother never for got. good/bad mother but allway ,s thinking children,s felings. but prsentyoung peoples not respected.chilren,s thinking useless why tel wings coming not lisint mother good takls. but mother feel chilren,s feelings. but home only kitchen wife. thisway some time she is alone. cying i am useless some try suside . allway she like friest children,s whole world other. mother castless she second god

  5. indianhomemaker permalink
    August 11, 2009 4:36 pm

    Congratulations 🙂 To Shail and to us – and to all mothers!

    "Treat me like one, just like you treat each other. Is that asking too much??"… We ask for no more 🙂
    Well said Shail!

  6. Indyeah permalink
    August 11, 2009 5:05 pm

    When I first read these words on your space I loved these lines. And I do still.

    More than ever. For, now so many will read this and perhaps give it a thought or two.
    Your entire post is so amazing that its hard to pick out any line that stands out.
    So many friends have already shared so many lines of yours from the psot. Words… all of which I love too.

    but for me this has to be it.

    Don’t talk down to me, talk to me; you may know a lot of things. I know a few things too. Don’t treat me as if I have half a brain. I may not be used to certain things, so may take longer to learn or simply won’t be up to mark in some. Don’t poke fun or make unkind remarks as if I don’t exist. I do. Don’t assume (or expect) that ‘sacrifice’ is my middle name. Don’t worship me as you do the idol in the temple and then walk out to forget me till the next time you need something.

    Yes, I became a mother when I gave birth, a biological act that has been assigned to me by Nature as of now. But that does not make me a saint with superhuman capabilities.

    ((hugs)) as Ushus says atta girl!:)) glad to know you here:)

  7. Anonymous permalink
    August 11, 2009 5:31 pm

    I am new into motherhood! "12 Months" to be precise!

    Now as i am coming to terms with being constantly "on the job" and fighting back frustation, fatigue, guilt of leaving my baby with the Nanny. I am also understanding much more of what all my mom did for me.

    Your blog is just so nice, awesome, good!

    I can see reflection of some assumptions i have had with my mom and so true that , we all just wanna "mom" to be always available though at time we are like "ma i am busy, will call u back"!

    Its so nice to read this stuff!
    Regards
    Shweta

  8. writerzblock permalink
    August 12, 2009 12:19 pm

    I started reading this post, thinking it was going to be a sweet mushy one. And at the end of it, I am quite shaken. And feel strangely LIBERATED! Yeah, I am human too. Would love to YELL it out loud, but won't do it, lest the neighbours complain.
    Thanks, Shail. This was a brilliant post. But what brought it on?

  9. shail permalink
    August 14, 2009 12:36 pm

    Thanks for publishing the post here NGI team. This is a subject close to my heart and I am so happy I could contribute in some way.
    Thanks Ushua, AnjuGandhi, Intrepid Dreamer, radhavkreddy, IHM, Indy and Anonymous for your comments to the post too 🙂

  10. Solilo permalink
    August 18, 2009 11:25 pm

    This is a post every child and mother needs to read.

    I have always said that parents are human too and it is wrong to put them on pedestal because then you expect too much from them and also develop a fear.

    Respecting and loving each other should be mutual.

  11. shail permalink
    August 21, 2009 12:01 pm

    Writersblock, what brought this on was the tag, but what really brought it on will be a blog in itself. Lots of things I see around me I guess and some things I have had to face 🙂

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