All moms, especially stay at home moms, have had to go through the mundane interrogation of being questioned about what is it that you exactly do all day? Whether its non-moms or older moms who have forgotten their times or genuinely concerned friends who miss you at the social events that you were earlier the life of- we all have been asked that one horrible question at some point or the other:
“But what is it that you are doing all day?”
Of course with a seemingly independent toddler, a house maid for help and growing conveniences to cut time in the kitchen and other tasks it does seem that we should have much more time than we claim as moms. Probably that’s why we do get asked this question once our kids cross the 3 year mark. They are in school in the morning, with friends in the evening and sleeping at night. What is it that stay-at-home moms really do? Why is it that working moms still want to hurry back home to their toddler?
Well let me explain it to all the ignorant- those who ask out of concern and even those who ask out of contempt.
Mothering is not only about cleaning diapers and feeding the kid. That anybody can do. Even a non-mom. If I tell my maid to change diapers or I tell my mom to feed my toddler when I am away- the task will be done- equally well done as I would. Probably even better. My daughter seems to have all her eating tantrums with only me!
Mothering is not about keeping a height-weight chart or about vaccinations either. Yes, as a mom it is our responsibility to take care of the physical health and growth of our kids. But it’s not the only defining role of motherhood.
Mothering is also not about getting admissions in the best schools in nursery. In fact, it’s the least about that! After a recent frantic conversation with a mom who had recently undergone the ordeal of admissions in a city like New Delhi, my heart did go out for her. She recollected those days with so much stress. She admitted to crying out of pressure and anxiety. I can only imagine how mammothic the task must be! Yet, I am sorry frantic mom, mothering is not about getting your kid into XYZ school either.
So what is it that I would label as the defining role of mothering?
“Mothering is about shaping a human being.
Mothering is about giving a nation a citizen who is an asset.
Mothering is about giving the world an emotionally and spiritually sound individual.
Mothering is about giving the neighbourhood a great friend.
Mothering is about giving a person a great life partner someday.
Mothering is about giving a corporate a great leader.
Mothering is about giving your grandchildren a great parent.
Mothering is about giving the world a person it would be proud of!”
The hate and intolerance we see around the world today could be just uprooted if we all took our priorities as mothers correct and delivered to the best of our capacity.
We would have more Picassos, Messis and Ramachandrans if the mothers knew the strengths of her toddler and what she likes to do.
No teenager would be sucked into peer pressure if he is mothered to be a strong and independent individual with a sense of good and bad.
No country would have to fear guns if the toddlers are mothered to have the sense of right and wrong.
No individual would ever think of gunning down a bar if he is mothered with love and care and attention in his toddler days.
As a great summit is being held in Turkey at a moment when humanity is ashamed of itself, I would like to give my suggestion to the world leaders who are brainstorming to come up with a way to tackle the problems of the world- if all mothers are given enough time to spend with the kids, enough respect about what they are doing and enough support to encourage them to be “just mothers”- the next generation would be alien to such atrocities and the world would become a better place- for you and for me.
(This post was first published at TOI blogs on NOv 18 2015)