Dubai Diaries: Love is give and take, even if it’s mother's love
Motherhood is not easy, but maybe we can do our bit to make it easy.
Motherhood is complicated, and so is Mother’s Day. You saw the barrage of Mother’s Day messages on social media? Like you, I also posted a lovey-dovey picture of me and my mom with the caption ‘the one and only infinite source of unconditional love.’ I know my mom’s love is undying for me.
But hang on. What about my love for my mom? Is it that unconditional? And how much love do I return? Here is a sample. We are an extremely fussy family when it comes to food. My brothers and I all had distinctly different ideas of what we wanted to eat. Our father, a travelling judicial officer, would come home on weekends, and his constituted a fourth.
I had seen my mother taking pains to balance all of our culinary desires, rotating through each of our favourite meals in a fair, even-handed way so nobody could complain. But what about her favourites? We had no clue and it was only until I was an adult that I noticed one morning that mom was hardly eating the South Indian staple dosa that was on the table for breakfast. When I asked her why, she shyly admitted that she’s never liked them. How did I make it through three decades of breakfast with her without seeing what was on her plate? She certainly noticed what was on mine every day.
So, when we exalt motherhood and crown it with the great attributes — undying, uncompromising, unconditional love and all that blah blah blah — it got me thinking. Am I a mother like my mom? Are there days that my love for my son has been undying, uncompromising, and unconditional?
Without borders, without question, and ready to do the ultimate sacrifice even if it is on the dinner table? Not always. I am human. And I value my likes and dislikes. And there have been a lot more days when I find myself frustrated, ill-tempered, and as cross as two sticks. And you know what? I’m fine with that. I don’t need to be anything else.
I do take my own needs into account, and my son knows about them. I think that’s better for him, for me, and for our relationship. I think it gives him a more realistic picture of who I am, and might make him a better, caring partner. But we need to go farther than that in talking about Mother’s Day. “Mother” is a hard, painful concept for many.
There are people who no longer talk with their mothers. There are people who do not know who their mothers are. There are lots of women who have always wanted to be mothers but who have not been able to for many different reasons. There are women who have lost their children, and whose answer to the simple question, “How many children do you have?” starts with a heavy sigh.
Motherhood is not easy. Maybe we can do our bit to make it easy. And teach our kids that love — any love — is a give and take. Maybe we can start by asking our moms what they want for dinner.