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!