Before embarking on the celebrated motherhood journey to raise confident, resilient, empathetic, compassionate kids, we’ve first got to fix womanhood deprivation issues.
I had written once that motherhood is the right of passage that unleashes a woman’s powers she hadn’t known existed within her. Now, ten years and two births later, I am strongly inclined to give a 180-degree flip to my view and say, “Motherhood can’t define who I am as a woman. Instead, it’s got to be my powers as a woman that I have honed since birth — i.e. the quality of a woman’s womanhood — which largely defines who I am as a mother.”
Because how can we separate a woman’s experiences in life from her skills as a nurturer?
When I worked with schools in India, as part of an organisation that helps schools and parents manage student health, I often heard mothers wishing that their children grow up to be resilient, balanced, go-getter adults. What I wanted to ask them then, is that how many mothers can confidently define themselves as that — resilient, balanced and go-getter women? How many of us mothers have set goals and ambitions for ourselves? Why is it natural to dream big for your kids, but not for yourself?
While very few fathers attended our student health seminars, held online during the lockdown, it was mostly the mothers who logged in. Cameras turned off, mics muted. It took much effort for my team to convince these women that their opinion matters and sharing their parenting experiences is important. What would often follow was a series of clichés. “My child doesn’t listen to me.” “I am not as well versed with technology as my children, so how do I help them?” “My child is so disorganised, I am tired of cleaning up her/his room.” And so on.
I was almost tempted to digress these seminars into a motivational session for mommies, so at least they took home a bit more self-confidence and valued their voice so, in turn, their children value what they say and do. Not being able to help the child operate an app (or not being able to discuss finance or real estate or politics confidently, for that matter), in my experience, is more a refusal to step out of the stereotypical image of a full-time mother. Disorganised routines of…