THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE May 11 2017
RUMINATION'S ON MOTHER'S DAY
In “ The importance of being Earnest”, Oscar Wilde wrote "All women become their mothers; that is their tragedy.”
This was 1895, which was at least 100 years before "If you wanna know what a chick will be like in 20 years, look at her mom” theory came about.
This is a such a loaded statement and drives many women, especially those that have not as yet had children themselves, crazy.
With Mother's Day a few days away, I came across an article in one of my new's feeds that referred to this theory. At first, I laughed out loud and hit delete, and then last night, thinking about it, I realised that in many ways it was in fact, true. We all turn into our mother's at certain points in our lives. They may be lasting traits, or fleeting moments. But the undeniable force of a mother shaping her child, is true and it exists.
It was only when I became a mother myself that I realised that there were creeping similarities. I never understood why, for one thing my mum spent so much time in the bathroom. But for the 7 year period that I was either pregnant or nursing or had a toddler in the house, I completely got it. It was the only place you could be alone and find moments of sanity and peace. I also never understood why she hardly ever ate leisurely. My boys were at least 5 before I could eat something and relish it all by myself without someone else trying to reach for it, drool over it or regard it with suspicion.
Research shows that we tend to age like our mums, - in which case, I am going to rock my 50’s, 60’s and 70”s . My mother has never used sunscreen, expensive face creams or really anything more than an occasional swipe of baby oil. She looks amazing for her age. And I don't mean "amazing" in the airbrushed sense of the world right now. She looks like a person who has lived her life, earned her wrinkles and scars like the badges of honour that they really are. To me, living in Singapore which is a culture obsessed with youth, wrinkle free skin and perfection, my mother’s face is reminds me to be true to my own, and not to buy into all that hype.
The tendency to replicate how you were raised about certain things is also something I see in myself. Although my own personality influences my behaviour to a certain extent, I find that in many ways I parent the way I was parented.
Growing up, my mother was my best friend. There was literally nothing that I could not tell her. Our relationship was one that my friends envied- especially those that grew up in a more traditional home where a mother was the matriarch that set the rules at home that you had to follow. I was lucky, in that there was nothing that I couldn't tell her. Hence conversations with my kids are open, and vary wildly, and the only rule is that they are allowed to ask me absolutely anything. Which can make for some interesting breakfast table questions sometimes - the most recent one being - “what’s a she-male?”
She and I have always had very different views on religion, with her preferring the more traditional route, and me following a path perhaps not quite as strict. However we both have an inordinate amount of faith in spirituality, and expressing gratitude through prayer. Growing up, and even now, one of her favourite phrases was/is “Storming the heavens”; Especially when she was asking for something for my brother or me.
It sounds quaint, and in our very material world, almost odd. But it is a tremendous gift learning that sense of faith innately, without it having to be taught. In this aspect whilst my boys don't follow either their dad’s or my religion in any way an orthodox fashion, I can see their sense of faith is a strong and robust one. Even if they sometimes need to be reminded to focus on gratitude instead of a top ten list.
I don't ever remember my mum without a book. And whilst I don't remember her reading to me, I do know that it happened often, if not every night. From her I have my love of reading, books, literature, crossword puzzles and words. I remember I was 12 when I asked her what a word meant, and she said that she would have to look it up. I felt a distinct sense of my world crumbling even if momentarily. I didn't think there was a word that she didn't know the meaning of.My own edict of “Use the dictionary” falls on deaf ears at home. Especially with CC2, who informed me that it was still easier to ask me, than type the word into Google, as I “explain it better.”
However the tradition of reading to my boys still continues even though they are 11 and 13. It is one of my greatest joys to be able to share with them the words and ideas and its like having your own little book club for 3.
Born entirely without guile, she has always treated everyone around her the same; be it sweeper or CEO. This, especially in Indian society which can be positively sycophantic, is one of the ways in which I am most similar to my mum. This makes for living in very interesting times when you refuse to bow, scrape or kiss ass for any reason at all.
Like her, I believe in the power of having a creative outlet - whether it's painting, baking, playing an instrument, or Macgyvering something around the house. We grew up with our clothes hand stitched by her, all our birthday cakes baked by her. And now being a mother with incredibly good help at home, I still don't know HOW she did that. When did she find the time?
Like her, I am a “doctor” - there will be broken bones, smashed knees, and cuts that require stitches. Learn to not faint at the sight of blood. Learn basic medical jargon. Learn to ask the right questions and remember the answers. All of this was good advice, both when I was a flight attendant ( the medical part of emergency training was always the easiest for me), and when I became a mother. Especially when our older son was diagnosed with a heart condition that required surgery, - I learned to ask the right questions and stay calm - until it was done. (I did fall apart much later though!).
Until I was 17, my mom worked as a teacher. From her, I learned to appreciate the time, energy, commitment, and care that teachers show every day. It has made me appreciate teachers and all that they do, that tiny bit more, knowing exactly what goes into it.
Eat. Enjoy food. Eat the bloody cupcake. You have the rest of your life to diet. In fact don't diet. Walk the dog, stretch. Do your exercises. But don't diet. Salient advice. Sadly I seem to only follow the cupcake and don't diet part.
My love for animals - ok, dogs; especially dogs is another shared area of similarity.
With this mother’s day around the corner, I realise that whilst I always thought of myself as more my father’s daughter, I am equally, and in far more fundamental ways the parent I want to be, because of my mum. And in being that, I am more like her than I originally though.
Raising 2 boys, I certainly hope that they turn into their mother one day too.
So for this Mother's Day, I wish you good health, love, joy, and children that one day turn into you. 😏
Happy Mother’s day to all of you.
Written by Anaita Thakkar for Lustre Jewellery