It is the daily update hour of the day, when the day’s events are duly recollected and narrated to my Mother. However, today being her birthday the folks at home are out for dinner and I am left musing about our journey together.
Growing up, there has been an amazing transition in my attitude towards my Mother. As a kid, I took pride in being called Daddy’s little girl. Compare me to my Mom or state the obvious fact of “you look like your Mother” and we were sure to start on a bad note. Contrast this to today where most of my anecdotes and almost all my recollections revolve around my Mother. The brilliant aspect is that the same is true of my brother and my dad.
When I look back at growing-up, with my mother in-charge of 95% of the process, the entire journey is engulfed in a halo. She is in absolutely no way similar to other Moms. The immediate reaction of anyone who hears this is that they all think like that. Well, I for one know this to be true. The very simple observation of my Mother knowing about each and every relationship fiasco as and when they happened will tell you volumes about the kind of Mom she is. She has never been the patronizing ideal human being. She had her faults alright and never admitted them! She never tried being an elder. She was a friend and confidante to my dad, brother and me. Till as far as memory goes, we were consulted by her in every small decision that was taken. She never treated me like a subordinate. This meant that I could not plead guilty on grounds of ignorance. This also meant that when Mom and I fought it was a clash of the Titans.
There were a lot of things that I learned first hand in my mother’s way of handling things. The one that immediately comes to mind is equality before the law. If a rule was made, example- 9 p.m is curfew time, then it had a blanket implementation, from Dad to my pets, no one could step out after 9. If anyone did, then the grey matter of the remaining denizens worked in cooking up an excuse to save the doomed soul. If I missed a train, then even though the next ticket would have to be arranged by dad, my fear was “what do I tell Mom?”. This one question sums up Dad, brother and my immediate reaction to any disaster. If we lose our phones or, as in my case, my passport, FIR and other formalities are thought of and dealt with after the all important question’s answer has been thought of.
I doubt if my Mother realizes how funny we find her idiosyncrasies. When we get a new maid, it is a custom for us to speculate on how long this one is going to last. Perfectionist to the core, and a desire for cleanliness that borders on OCD, no maid has the slightest chance of survival if she does not meet standards (which they seldom do). She has to be in bed by 8:30 pm (and expect us to be home by 9 pm!)and get up at 4 am. Mention a fact and she will somehow connect it to some evil plot and tell you the hidden meaning behind the statement that was just made. Ask her to do something that she does not want to do and the diatribe involves stories going back all the way to the year she got married. And above all, my brother and I cannot be on the same flight because that is equivalent to putting all your eggs in the same basket!
Having said all that, she is the reality check that my dad, my brother and I cannot do without. Since all three of us are the kind who go overboard at the slightest success, we need someone who shows us the mirror and asks us to come back to mortal realms. She is the thread that keeps us all together. Given my father’s extremely limited ability at having a conversation with me and my brother’s skill being deplorable at best, she is the information carrier.
To me she has been the elder sister and the friend I never had. We have had our differences and fought like maniacs but that has only reinforced our chill relationship. She taught me everything that I was supposed to expect from my life. Consequently, from my first crush to my first boyfriend, everything was revealed to her and the way in which she received most of the information is a stellar example of the mother I would want to become. Till date I am terribly scared of her when I have been clumsy or careless, but when it comes to my personal life, she has stood by every decision I have taken. When I decided to not go down the standard path of engineering, she stood by me (after some convincing!). She was the first one to tell me to not be obsessed with excelling in college but rather focus on having fun. I was a little late in understanding that advice, but in due course I did. She was the person who stood by me when I told her I wanted to travel after my undergrad.
After all the confidence she has shown in me it is but natural for me to reciprocate. So anything and everything than happens in my life reaches her. If I decide to dump my man, I ask him to f**k off in her presence. Unless I get her approval, the confidence does not come. And her patience with me is stellar. It takes a superb Mom to understand that your child is going through a certain phase and will eventually grow out of it. I still remember how I would tell her about my latest doomed love story every other month (last year) and she would just hear me out and say never mind, it is just a phase. In fact when I would tell her that I thought I liked a certain guy, she would tell me “Why are you telling me? Go and tell the guy.” That I ended up getting friend-zoned on account of her advice and to this day she and I laugh over the entire episode says volumes about the kind of bond the two of us share.
Her logical reasoning never ceases to amaze me. Like any other parent my Mom keeps asking me if I am home or if I am traveling solo or with guys only or if there are other girls on the trip, all legit concerns to which I lie as per what would keep her mental peace intact. Once when I asked her why does she keep asking even though I am miles away and can simply lie, she calmly replied, “As a mother it is my duty. What you reply is yours.” It is such simplistic logic on which she functions. When I was going through a break-up and asked her why she never stopped me from getting into a relationship (like other parents) she replied, “As if you would have listened. You would have done whatever your did anyway. Because I didn’t stop you you did not have to hide things from us, as a result of which you can talk to us about the fiasco today.” In retrospect, I really respect her philosophy of go try it out for yourself and if you fail then we are there for you. It has been the cornerstone of my character and attitude.
I love her for allowing me to do whatever I wanted to do. I love her for keeping my secrets. She is the only person to whom I bother explaining why I do what I do. I look up to her for the sacrifices she made to bring us up. Her steely resolve in the face of adversity has taught me that life can be dealt with. From teaching me what it meant to be an independent woman to letting me know the place of men in a woman’s life, she is the source of everything that I know about people. Above all, she taught me the most important lesson of my life: It is just this one life. There are no second attempts. Whether you want to enjoy it to the lees or waste it doing things only because everyone else is doing it is your call. Be with people you enjoy the company of and if you can’t find them then learn to love your solitude. I did not give up my career to see you settle for anything but what is best for you.
Thanks Mom and Happy Birthday!