Of Soppy Facebook posts and Uni-dimensional Mothers

May be it’s because I hail from a dysfunctional family, that I find the entire online charade of Mothers’ Day a little too soppy for my liking.

All the YouTube ads that I skip savagely, the marketing campaigns that sell uni-dimensional women who love and give and forgive and sacrifice for their children. Those status updates and sloppy Facebook pictures where the mothers are clearly uncomfortable, but are holding up a smile so their moronic kid could tag them on social media.

Quotes that have clearly been lifted from the Internet, followed by a one-line cursory tribute that often reads – ‘You stayed up for me when I had to study, you gave me all that I need, including a kidney for my dialysis. I love you, mom!

Not only do I fail to understand the need for such hoopla, I also find it terribly demeaning to women in general, and mothers in particular.

*

Since childhood, I have had a problem with the Indian custom of worshiping parents. Matru Devo Bhava, Pitru Devo Bhava – these lines never made sense to me.

How can a natural act of producing a progeny elevate one to the status of a god? If producing the next generation of the species is all it takes, then every creature on earth does it. What makes us so unique? Dogs do it, as do cats and monkeys and donkeys and camels – why do we humans enjoy the exclusive privilege of godliness? Surely monkeys should be gods too? And cows as …oh well!

My disillusionment also probably stemmed from seeing my own parents. They were both products of the 70s – born with generations of tradition, but blessed with an education that allowed them to break free and make their own choices. They both met and fell in love and got married and started living together, two minor blips in a nation that was trudging along the chosen lines of tradition. But somewhere along the lines of fighting customs and tradition, they began fighting among themselves.

All this before they even reached the age of 25. It was an age where you couldn’t make mistakes. An age that expected you to act on your impulses, and live with them hanging across your shoulders for one and all to see. It was an age that expected you to wear your scars, that did not allow you options, or dates, or make-up or break-up. And they were humans after all. While other parents continued being devas for their children, I saw my parents for what they were – confused 30 year olds who had no idea what to do with their marriage, or the kids that had resulted thereof.

*

But my parents belonged to an earlier generation. What about our generation?

Nearly every girl I know has a career of her own. One that is not a detour till marriage happens, something to pass time off with till the inevitable ‘M’ word. What happens to our generation when we grow up to become fathers and mothers?

Is there a guarantee they will all be wonderful women – giving and forgiving and caring and sharing?

Why does a woman have to be all of the above, anyway? Do we know what sort of a mother Marie Curie was? Or Florence Nightingale? Rosa Parks?? Does it even matter? They were all women who changed the world just by who they were. Brilliant, caring individuals whose genius benefited millions around the world.

By celebrating the ‘giving, forgiving, sacrificing’ aspects of your mother, you are only reducing her to a cardboard cutout. You are pandering to the image of mothers that advertisements and marketing campaigns create for you.

If you truly love your mother, you should be celebrating her flaws as well, her weaknesses. You should be celebrating her for who she is, warts and all. As it is, the world is hell bent on straight-jacketing women into pre-decided roles – Daughter, Wife, Mother, Mother-in-law, Grandmother. Your posts only add to the existing tropes.

If she’s amazing, she’s amazing just as she is. Whether she stayed up all night for your Board Exams or not. She’s amazing if she gave up her career for you, but more so if she didn’t. There’s more to your mother than her equation with you. She was someone before you came into her life and it’s utterly disdainful to assume you are her entire life. May be you’re not. May be if you stopped being such a narcissistic piece of shit, you’d think twice before assuming the sun shines out of your ass.

By celebrating the one facet of her that advertisers want you to, you are reducing your mother to a caricature. Every time you post a picture of her with a hashtag, some intern in a marketing office is jacking off to a new advertising campaign.

Your mother doesn’t need your hashtag and your Facebook update. She doesn’t need to be giving and forgiving and sacrificing or kidney-donating. And if you truly loved her, you wouldn’t reduce her to a cardboard caricature.

Happy Mother’s Day!

12 thoughts on “Of Soppy Facebook posts and Uni-dimensional Mothers

  1. Nidaa C

    Dude, I dont think this has anything to do with you being from a dysfunctional family. I was born and brought up in your typical dreamy Indian nuclear family. Doting parents who would always put us above all their needs without a second thought and trying their best to be involved in everything to do with us. But despite this, I never had any illusion about my parents’ godliness. Though she is a strong and independent lady, I have always wished my mother would work or had some kind of hobby. Just so she would think of something other than fretting over her 3 kids. She married at the age 17. I always wonder what her life was like before. Did she have a crush on someone? What kind of a child she was? Was she ambitious? 40 years of marriage, my parents still talk for hours and laugh at the same things. But they are the typical sacrificing Indian parents too. I dont fall for ‘if you love us, you will do what we say’ or ‘we let you do this and that and now you get married’ logic. They dont understand that I am not like them and want different things in life. My parents are far from perfect just like I am. I have never idolized them. We love each other. But my love for them is questioned at times because I make my own choices. Its sad. But I have no choice but to live with it.

    Reply
  2. Ritika

    Start Rant
    Totally identify with most of the points raised. Parents are human, making them out to be perfect is setting up false expectations and unnecessary angst in the relationship. The whole public forum posting tamasha annoys me more (maybe somewhat irrationally so) because the emotions seem insincere. Not many moms (of 20-30 yr olds) really hang out on social media. So the target audience seems to be everyone other than your mom. Pretty ironic for Mother’s Day.
    End Rant

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    This article takes a contrarian view for the heck of taking it. Most people love their parents irrespective of their faults, like they love us irrespective of ours. But will anyone put up a post that says ‘Thanks Mum for being a bum’!?

    Reply
    1. Nilanjana

      I think that is exactly the point the author is trying to make, that there is a lot more to mothers than the unconditional love they have for their children.
      It’s not contesting the love, merely mentioning that alluding solely to the love is a one-dimensional and perhaps inadequate way of appreciating our mums.

      Reply
  4. Mahathi

    I did (and sometimes still do) idolize my parents. My good fortune, I guess. That being said, great post! Most of these greeting card holidays were created for commercial purposes, anyway. I mean, you can celebrate your mother without needing a specific day for it, and without reducing her just to her status as one.

    Reply
  5. farina salim

    Absolutely love the post…!!! Being a new mom…. i hate to be slotted in the forever ‘giving, forgiving, sacrificing’ category :(… I have a fulfilling career of my own and have no plans whatsoever of giving it up to be the perfect mom… I’m a mom yes.. but a perfect mom I guess not…. 🙁

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Who said you are not a perfect mom. Your career, strength and boldness might inspire and motivate your kid rather than you ending up in the kitchen or being a transporter for your kids!!. Good job..ur kids will definitely look up to you as a role model.

      Reply
    2. Lava

      Who said you are not a perfect mom. Your career, strength and boldness might inspire and motivate your kid rather than you ending up in the kitchen or being a transporter for your kids!!. Good job..ur kids will definitely look up to you as a role model.

      Reply
  6. Devika

    I love my mom. But I also hate her at times.
    I hate the fact that parents, even when they are ‘good parents’ create this entire compulsion where you are continuously trying to live up to their expectations.
    This is why I’ll never have kids. Because I can’t bear to let anyone have that kind of power over me.

    Peace.

    Reply
  7. Jamaluddin Khilji

    Awesome!
    Feminists should worship you for this piece alone.
    Dysfunctional family or not, straight jacketing mothers and going bananas over this Mother’s Day is simply not on.

    Reply
  8. Shuvendu

    To be a little fair, some of these ads do seem to show more than her sacrifices. Like her helplessness to learn internet or shyness to start a new business.

    By my little experience of being around women, I’ve seen them prioritizing their child above everything else once they become mothers. Sure, they can still be vulnerable and do a lot wrong or go ahead and become someone as great as Madam Curie or Madam Sonia… oh well!

    We should understand that these are Mothers’ day special ones and so these time-constrained video anecdotes should be allowed to ‘generalize’ and uni-directionally focus on her motherhood in particular and not womanhood in general.

    Like on valentine’s day they focus primarily on romance and on Laprosy day…now I’ve gone too far.

    Lastly, How much I hate the picture of an intern jacking off , uhh, but even then so, some of these ads are beautiful. Why can’t it just a miniscule way of acknowledging your mother’s efforts and celebrating and leave it at it, without being an ass about it, I mean with all due respect.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.