The daughter of my mother
We began un-layering our identity layer by layer. Last time we talked about ourselves from the eyes of our families. This time, let’s talk about our identity from the eyes of our mother (or the parent you are closer to). I am close to my mother more than I am to any other person in the world. It was the most interesting and difficult task to reflect and see myself from the eyes of my mother, because it was not a simple picture to make meaning of, but instead was a huge jigsaw puzzle of more than 1000 pieces, we all would have tried solving in our childhoods. Before moving ahead, I personally suggest you all do think about your identity from the eyes of the parent you are close to, it would not only let you know yourself better, but would also take you back to those small moments and memories which you might not have got an opportunity to re-visit from a long time due to the racing lives we live.
From childhood, I am confused whether I was a pampered child or a child who fell into her own traps. My mother stood fulfilling all my wishes and desires no matter how hard it went for her. From my dressing choices to toys and games I wanted to play to the activities I wanted to pursue — she fulfilled them all. I still remember an incident when she got me a three-piece suit just because I said that I wanted to look smart like my uncle in a coat pant and a frock does not make me feel that. My father did not like her gesture telling her that this is not an appropriate dress for girls, but who could have stopped my mother from showering her love on me which never followed the restrictions of gender norms. She taught me how to cook when I was in grade 2 not because it was desirable for girls but because it allowed me an escape from standing and massaging my grandfather’s legs as they used to pain a lot because of his diabetes. My brother, thus, looked after him and I enjoyed playing with flour in the kitchen. She got me admitted to classical dance, classical music, swimming, and drawing classes in different grades because I demanded to learn them so that I could participate in many inter-school competitions at my school. She worked harder than me in looking after the home, my old and un-well grandfather, me and my brother’s studies and my all these activity classes making sure that my academics don’t go poor because otherwise, my father would get angry. She used to wake up at 5 and went to bed after 12 and complete all the responsibilities she had, in which she counted my desires also as one. Later, in elementary grades she fulfilled another desire of mine making me join lawn tennis classes again just because I was attracted to it. Lawn tennis is not only an expensive game, but also a game played predominantly by boys. I can’t even imagine the arguments and criticism she would have gone through in my family to make me play tennis. But she did that successfully and never did any complaints and ranting in front of me or anyone else.
You would be wondering that how love-blinded my mother was that she fulfilled all my desires, but let me mention that in spite of being love-blinded she made me rational and hard-working. She never allowed me to leave any of the previous activities, just because I got interested in the new one. That is where, she taught me how to work hard to live our dreams, how to keep oneself determined and take responsibility for the older decisions of our life and not just flee from one stone to another. That is where, she taught me how to balance all the responsibilities and roles I have signed up for voluntarily, she taught me how to be rational and reflective for each and every dream and desire we have. She did not allow me to get into many boats together as said by many people, but instead taught me how to balance all the things I have added in my bucket.
I have learned a lot of small valuable virtues hidden behind my mother’s big gestures of fulfilling my desires and wishes. But moving older in life, I have started seeing her struggle more explicitly now. The struggles which might have been present even before, but got won because of my small age and her efforts. Now, when I am in my youth age completed my teenage and am in a stage of building my career and family, I see her struggling in making choices to either allow me to grow ambitious and make peace with me saying that my work is my topmost priority or to tell me the rights and wrongs that the world decide for a woman. I see her struggling and saying that “I taught you to balance everything, and so should you do now with your work life and your personal family life”.
I feel my best friend who understood me so well in my childhood slowly getting distanced from me, just because we both are having hard times living that friendship which developed when she saw me as a “human” first, then a “girl” and I saw her as my “mom” first, then a “woman”. Now, in current times the priorities have changed for both of us for sure. She sees me more as a woman first than a human of course, because she sees it to be her responsibility to prepare me for my life ahead which I would live in a society, who would see me as a woman first than a human (no matter how much we like or dislike it). And on other hand, I am looking at her more like a woman than a mother, just because I feel that she would have also lived the similar dilemmas society has been putting me through and will understand me and thus will support me. On putting in a lot of thought into this, I feel this is exactly how and why there exists the concept of ‘frenemy’ amongst girls/women. Every woman lives a dual life one of being a human and one an appropriate woman according to the norms of society. This duality makes one woman look at the other in two different ways. When the lens is chosen to see a situation that suits both the women involved, they are friends and when it does not it becomes a situation of being enemies (not of life but of that situation).
What are your thoughts about it? Do you agree or disagree? Think about it and please share your thoughts?
Also, I wonder if similar things happen with boys? And for that, all the male readers, I have my eyes and hopes on you that you would share your incidences here so that the lives of boys too get discussed and understood.
“Let me be ‘me’ before others bent me to their desires…”
(Adopted and Modified from Forest of Enchantments, Chitra Banerjee)