MamaMia

Now that the fervor of mother’s day has died and all the posts written, and photographs uploaded, and commented upon, I think I can gather some courage and write my bit on mothers and the pedestals they are placed on. Actually why do I use the word ‘they’? Don’t I also belong to that same herd? Don’t get me wrong. I love being a mom. And while there have been moments when I would have gladly disowned my offspring, most of the time its been an interesting and rewarding journey.

What brings a furrow on my brow and a wry grin to my face is that high pedestal which moms are placed on. It can get a bit over whelming at that height. And if you are an Indian mom to top that, then it can be dizzily over whelming.

When a baby is born, thankfully they come equipped with a sound system. A wail here and a wail there is sufficient to alert the new parents that there is a requirement somewhere. An empty tummy or an emptied tummy are the two narrow options that one has to chose from. Then as Baby grows, one wishes there were some more specific signals that he gave out. He wails and wails. And Mommy is supposed to figure out if it means an aching something, or hunger, or a wet diaper or some new cause. Or maybe Baby just wants to check his vocal range. The reaction to such a wailing or whimpering is usually a synchronized look of all present towards Mommy. Mommy is supposed to know , you see! As my son used to say when he was some 3 years old. He loved me a little more than he loved anyone else because I have ‘borned’ him. I love that word. Borned. I am expected to know my children inside out as I have borned them.

And as the years progress, there have been days when I have wished that each individual was born with a manual in his / her hand. A manual which says what makes that individual tick. My two children are oh! so different from each other in temperament, habits and tastes. But again, its more a question of observation and attention which makes me tune in to their individual likes and dislikes, as well as knowing which button to press to get out their best, more than just the fact that I am their biological mother. There are those days when I feel like announcing that I am not their mind reader.

As they grow older its getting more and more difficult for me to figure out what goes on in their minds. When I hear parents being criticized when they cannot prevent a child’s actions, I often feel like asking that if a person doesn’t often know their own mind, how can we be expected to know the mind of another individual so minutely, no matter how closely linked we are. I mean, I take at least a couple of minutes just to figure out which flavor of ice cream I feel like having on a particular day. And here I am talking about my mind which is taking those two minutes to figure out something as mundane. How can I or anyone else be so presumptuous to think that a Mom will know everything that goes on in their offspring’s mind?

Mommyhood is a beautiful experience. But along with that that great responsibility comes the assumption that we have some supernatural power. For me this journey has been about enjoying my kids, not about collecting brownie points for reading their minds. Actually, I don’t even pretend to know what’s in their minds!

 

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Murphy?

As people hit middle age, they start pondering about the way life unfolds, about the meaning of their lives, and where they stand in this infinite Universe. Very honestly speaking, while I too have reached this stage, the questions which dominate my mind nowadays are of a slightly different nature. In the past few years, two regular happenings have made me think very deeply. One is something which affects my daily life. And the second is part of the larger canvas of my life.

Ever since I have moved to this home eleven years back, I have had a dhobi, or a washer-man come by every evening to pick up clothes for ironing. This is a very common practice in our country. He doesn’t have a fixed time, but generally comes by anytime between 7 pm and 9 pm. Funnily enough, no matter what time he rings the bell between the aforementioned time, I am just about to have my dinner, and probably have just put the first morsel in my mouth. Initially I didn’t give it much thought. But I realized that no matter what time I sit with my dinner, be it 7.30 or 9 , sure enough, the door bell rings. I have lately started wondering and of course pondering….does he wait just under our apartment window, with a periscope. Then wait for that exact moment when I serve myself dinner and sit at the table, and then reach for the doorbell? Or can he just sniff the dinner being heated up and decide to ring the bell? Its become a betting topic in my household to see if it’s the washer-man who rings the bell, when I am in midst of my dinner. And the children look at me with trepidation, when I mumble under my breath that maybe I should just invite the dhobi for dinner one day.

It is a worrisome situation, isn’t it? As for the second mystery which perplexes me, it’s something which has happened so many times in the past two decades, but yet never fails to amaze me.

My spouse’s job involves a immense amount of travel. In the 18-odd years that we have been parents, it’s with increasing amazement that I see Murphy in play. I have yet to figure out how it happens. Any emergency involving a child happens when my husband is travelling. Whether it’s a common flu or a broken arm, inevitably he is out of station. I scratch my head during these times. Does the child sense Daddy out of town and decide to give me the privilege of taking decisions? So there I am, at 3 am , peering at my baby girl’s offerings in the potty, trying to figure out if I should give her an extra dose of medication to bring the loosies under control. Or peering into my son’s eyes to decide if the angry red eye is a result of over enthusiastic rubbing or actually a case of conjunctivitis. Or peering down a throat to see how inflamed it is. Or staring hard at a swollen finger, trying to see if the injury needs a consultation and an x-ray. When I think of it, there’s a lot of peering that happens when a child is involved.