We probably don’t give ourselves enough credit for most things in life. This isn’t going to be a lecture on imposter syndrome or anything to its likening, but we must remember this… We don’t give ourselves enough credit for most things. Period.
In a typical Indian household, it was at some point an unheard-of concept for the girl child to live outside, work to gain independence in more ways than finances, and even choose to marry when she wants, if she wants to. As some bizarre Hindi film stories have shown us, the girl leaves her parents’ home only when her Prince Charming (found in an arranged marriage set up) takes her away and unfortunately doesn’t have a choice to return, whatever the circumstance. This isn’t a sexist commentary but the tables have only turned partially and a single woman, more so in her thirties is still frowned upon – either there’s something physically wrong with her or she’s just unmarriageable due to certain standards set by someone we are never going to cross paths with.
A choice, however, is always a choice, regardless of your gender and that’s not something to be frowned upon, instead, it should be celebrated. As difficult it is to live away from home, away from the said pampering of our families and everyone’s favourite ‘maa ke haath ka khaana’, to make it on your own in the world, no one ever talks about what happens when you decide to move back home. From my vantage point, it’s a nice story with a different reality. From your eating habits to your social circle and any vices, to the sheer need for space, everything starts getting questioned, and you, become answerable for an examination you never prepared to appear for.
Another thing and a more important aspect of this choice is a role reversal. When the hands that brought you up and nurtured you begin getting old and wrinkly, it’s a matter of time when the dependencies change. As they should. Even when you want your life to be a never-ending summer holiday from school when all you had was memories to build and cherish, a true responsibility-free life. If only, reality never hit.
While growing up, I wanted to grow up even faster so I could live away from home and do my own thing without someone constantly breathing down my neck. So I did that because I had the choice to. Then a circumstantial net around me began to prove how I was probably a rebel without a cause, which is completely laughable when you look back, but the cause was strong enough to be a rebel back then, so it’s only right to own your decisions, mistakes and bad choices and hope not to repeat them or at least make newer ones. After all, variety is the spice of life.
In case you haven’t given your mother enough credit for bringing you up so you can have a conversation with someone, read a few books, take care of yourself (even shoddily so, because adulting isn’t up everyone’s alley), do it now. If I were my mother, I would be startled at my creation sometimes, but remember to mutually share credit all the same. Maybe make an extra effort at understanding each other’s language of love and communicate in it.
This Mother’s Day, here are some of the things that you might experience when roles are reversed, or when you’re standing at crossroads, watching your friends become parents and understanding what it really takes to be a parent, especially in the world we live in today. Most importantly, it might help you see how you meet your mother, as a person than your nurturer or caregiver. Read on:
Space: It’s the most important aspect of sharing a home with someone, giving them the space they need, when they need it. Most of us fail at this practice because constantly being in one another’s hair or smothering each other with affection, emotions and feelings is our idea of showing love. If you’ve lived on your own and then moved back home, this is a tough exercise, but might be fruitful in the long run. As they say, as you sow, so you reap.
Communicate: Most of the time we are unable to express our true feelings because we fear judgment, followed by a barrage of questions, with no solution in sight. While it’s nearly a Herculean task to sit your mother down and explain your mind’s goings-on, try, it isn’t as difficult as we might think it is. An effort or a few in that direction will also rightly educate you on how much to say and share to keep your peace and the energy at home. Remember that any relationship requires minimum traversing ‘halfway’.
Time: There’s never a gift bigger and more important than giving someone your time. To hang out together, read something together, watch similar content (without worrying about censorship), cooking together or just sitting down with a cup of tea or coffee and hear them out. When it comes to mum, you go the extra mile and ensure you keep no distractions around and do your bit to make them feel special, just by letting them know there’s someone to hear them out.
Co-fashionistas: Women grow up believing that their mothers are their friends first and mothers later. So we do things like friends do… Share clothes (most-ideal when you’re both around the same size), makeup (own brushes and sponges, please), perfumes and other products. It’s probably a boon if you have fewer or zilch body image issues with which you can only empower the women in your life.
You’re not your mum: We spoke about role reversals and co-dependencies, but taking a leaf out of points 1 & 2, it’s imperative to know when to take a step back and choose happiness over what you may think is the need of the hour. Whatever your reason might be to ever make a choice, if it is not serving you anything except heartburn and pain, it won’t do anything for the other person in the equation too. Life appears like a bed of roses when viewed from the outside, how much you let on. The ugly truth is that we’re all always dealing with something or the other. So just like we understand this about the world, or attempt to, deciding to shed your family’s, especially mother’s emotional baggage, is totally fine. You have to give yourself the chance to grow up and grow out of certain situations, which is a form of healing and self-care. You begin giving back when you’re well taken care of, and it’ll start with you when you make that choice.
Even as we all get used to our new normal of staying indoors more often and work from home, a lesson in mutual respect and understanding is step zero in every relationship. This Mother’s Day, resume some of these if you have been missing it thus far. Eventually, the wheel keeps turning, the manoeuvring commands, to a certain extent, can well come from you. What do you think?