Sunday, May 08, 2016

What mums want for Mother's Day

Mother's Day is pretty much a commercial thing but since it's around for us to honour and commemorate mothers, I'm going to use it to do just that.

I haven't been a mother all that long. I recently told Muffin when I was filling up a form for him that where it stated "Name of Parent", I once wrote down my own mother's name. Because in my mind, she's the mother. I'm just a kid, playing house.

But I guess, I am a mother, with 3 kids to care for, love and fiercely protect. But the most difficult part of this aspect of my life is not that. That comes naturally, as does the worry and stress about everything from their well-being to something as inconsequential as exams.

So what is the most difficult part? It's protecting myself as a mother. Not just physically and that in itself as tough. The eye bags, the shot memory and the late nights are testament of how I and probably we often forget to look after ourselves physically. But what's even harder is to protect myself emotionally. And I know I speak for more than myself.

Like I say, we love our children fiercely. And for good or for bad, we do everything we can to make sure things work out. But that means laying ourselves vulnerable to attack. The twins do science in school now and they learn about exo-skeletons. One thing they have been able to point out is that exo-skeletons are hard external coverings to protect the soft inner bodies of the animals or insects. Yes, mothers need that too.

We constantly worry whether we are doing right by our children and doing enough for them. We are paranoid enough to worry that we aren't doing enough despite all signs to the contrary. And because that's where we are most insecure, we are also most open to attack. It could be by another mom who is well-meaning, chiding us for not giving our child a particular opportunity to flourish. Then we feel that we are lousy mothers.

It could come in the form of an elder who defends our child when we try to discipline the child thereby eroding our authority or our conviction that we were right in disciplining our child; implying then that they know more about parenting than we do. That's when we feel that we're ineffective as the mother.

Or it could come from someone who, past their own years of parenting has forgotten what it feels like to be in the trenches, waxes lyrical about how easy it was for them to have parented their children and look back with rose tinted hindsight on how fun parenthood was; making us feel like incompetant frauds because we run furiously on the hamster wheel just so that we don't fall off. Then that voice in our head tells us how useless we are as a mother.

Or it could be someone who tells us that despite how established we are professionally and how we spend all our time struggling to keep all the balls up in the air that "No, you can't have everything" and we ought to chuck our life and our profession to stay home so that we could helicopter our children. Because, that's what true mothers do and when we are not home all the time, there are no two ways about it; as with every single jibe against us, we are made to feel that we have utterly failed as a mother. And that's what rips apart that soft inside within us.

So that, is what we have to immunize ourselves against; our confidence as mothers that people around us knowingly or unknowingly erode to make themselves feel better or look better. We always try to do right for our children and we do what we can within those limitations. And for most part, the children thrive when mothers do it that way despite these perceived imperfections.

So my rally call this Mother's Day is not just to honour mums by buying her flowers today and taking her out for a meal but to make it an effort to not judge mums; to encourage us every day as we battle both the outer challenges and inner strife that comes along with motherhood. That way, we help each other create that necessary exo-skeleton against all the world and their criticisms on what we are  obviously doing wrong. That way, we help each other be the best mums we can be. Because at the end of the day, it isn't a contest where only one of us can be the best mum. Just as we want the best for our children, we should also want the best for every mum out there. We are all in the same boat.

Not the Oscars.

Now, that would make a rockin' Mother's Day gift.


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