We have always been told that a mother’s love is unconditional. Bollywood movies and soap operas have squeezed every opportunity to emphasise about the greatness of moms, their sacrifices and kaise maa ke pyaar ki seema nahi hoti.

But what is unconditional love really?

Is it the fact that no matter how hard the day might have been for the mom she will still love her child?

Is it that no matter how tired she might be she will still get up to play with her baby when he asks her to?

Is it the 45 different dishes that a mom makes in the hope of her fussy eater gobbling down at least one of them?

While all the above are true when it comes to the vastness of love a mother holds for her baby, unconditional love has a greater meaning. A meaning that most of us don’t even think or know about. That meaning is different from the literal meaning of unconditional. The dictionary meaning of unconditional is:

adjective

not subject to any conditions.

synonyms: unquestioningunqualifiedunreservedunlimitedunrestrictedwholesale

So while the soap operas and movies are minting money using this literal dictionary meaning of motherhood, the true meaning lies elsewhere.

The word “unconditional love” when used in mothering can (and in fact should) mean “love that is not conditioned by society or prevalent norms.”

There are loads of examples I use during my parenting workshops that talk about this aspect of mothering. A mother can really do what is best for her child only if she is not burdened, scared or bound by what society tells her to.

Most of us can vouch for the moments when our mothering instinct and popular societal norms pulled us in different directions and left us in dilemma. Should I listen to what societal wisdom is telling me or should I go with my maternal instincts?

Always…..always…choose the latter.

Then you shall be truly in a place to think and do what is best for you child.

A son who tells you that he is gay, a daughter who wishes to be a sailor, a ADHD child who wants a fidget spinner, a kindergarten boy who refuses to cut his hair and loves his long locks, a daughter who tells you she has a crush when she is just 10, a boy who wishes to marry a girl from a different religion, a son who wants to give up his MBA and be a painter instead…….

All these circumstances call upon you to react contrary to popular societal norms and wisdom. And life is bound to throw these curve balls in your mothering journey….not once…but time and again.

Our kids are pure and like a blank slate when they are born. They don’t know and don’t care about what society tells them to. And during their journey into adulthood we stunt their dreams, hamper their spirit and force them to mould themselves according to the bottle that society wishes them to fit into.

If we wish to set our kids free and actually develop, we need to first gather the guts ourselves to think in our child’s interest first and about society later.

That day you can truly say that yes, my love for my child is unconditional!

 

(This post first appeared at TOI blogs on 8th June 2017)

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