How mothers keep families together

We waited impatiently for her to get back and she did, in a few minutes.

By Annie Mathew

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Published: Tue 8 Oct 2019, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 8 Oct 2019, 10:09 PM

We were in the middle of an important meeting when a team-member's phone chimed. We were visibly annoyed at the intrusion that disrupted our train of thoughts. She held up the phone to show us the screen and we could see it was her mom calling. She excused herself and moved out of the room to attend the call.
We waited impatiently for her to get back and she did, in a few minutes.
"I wouldn't miss that call for anything in the world," she said unapologetically. "Not many people in my age group have the privilege of getting a call from their moms."
There was stunned silence in the room as the gravitas of what she said hit each one of us in the gut.
Mom is the person we usually take for granted. We know, no matter what, she will always be there for us.
She is someone who will accept that we are busy and who will wait for us. She will empathise with us when we unburden ourselves without giving us even an inkling of what she may be undergoing. We like to believe that she is eternal and will always love and care for us. It annoys us if she is not available when we make a call or when we need her. It's ironic that if it's the other way round, it somehow seems acceptable.
Moms are our 'go-to' person at all times, especially during distress and misery. We might share our happy tidings with many but any small or big worry the call is always to mom.
Sometimes better sense prevails and as the phone rings, I decide I will not tell her that all of us are under the weather. We will be better soon so why worry her unnecessarily.
I put gobs of cheer in my voice and say the merriest 'hello' I can manage.
I sense a studied silence at the other end, as her 'mom-antennae' catch signals of unspoken words and tremors in my voice.
How moms are attuned even to the slightest inflections in our voice always amazes me.
Out comes a terrified voice 'What happened? All well?'  It is all the cue I need and I open up my bag of troubles, at a speed that can rival the super-sonic flights! At the end of the talk I feel so light hearted that I gather the courage to tackle the worst of flu or whatever life plans to throw my way!
I have unfairly transferred all my worries to her and she keeps checking with us if all of us are hale and hearty.
I feel guilty and resolve never to bother her again with the minor stuff that is part and parcel of life only to digress sooner or later.
As soon as a woman becomes a mother, nature instals a panic button in her which gets pressed even for the flimsiest of reasons. This panic button works tirelessly and goes into overdrive when grandchildren enter the scene and moms begin all over again from colic to teething to schooling..
As moms grow older, as depressing and sad as it may sound, they start preparing us for a life beyond their presence.
My mom talks about the natural cycle of life and how one generation needs to pave way for another. It usually begins with 'A day will come when I'll no longer be there but you and your siblings should stick together through thick and thin.' She notices the clouds of despair on our faces and tries to soften the blow with humour. 'Not any time soon though, I still have a few scores to settle.' It does little to bring cheer.
Moms are usually the ones who keep the family together as she becomes the all-encompassing tree under whose benevolent shade we all gather.
I remember a friend telling me wistfully before leaving for his home-country this summer. 'This would be the first time in all these years that I will not be going to our ancestral house first. Mom's no longer there to await my arrival.'
We could have loving siblings who do care for us very much but without mom, it's not the same. So take that precious call, everything else can wait.
Annie Mathew is an educator and writer based in Dubai

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