Being my Mommy

I wrote this for Parentous today.

A fortnight ago, I stumbled upon This Is Water: David Foster Wallace on Life on Brain Pickings. David Foster Wallace, three years prior to his suicide, delivering one of the most timeless graduation speeches of all time at Kenyon College. It is easily one of the best things I’ve read on the Interwebs lately.

While it’s got many quote-worthy lines and is almost a mantra which we could adopt for life, the following line stayed with me for a long time after I shut the tab and got back to work:

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.”

That for me defines maternal love. Where a woman puts her entire life on hold just so she can devote all her time to that one individual who will eventually leave her to go lead a separate life, with someone else. And she does it tirelessly. Day after day, chore after chore, Dream after dream.

Being my mommy is a tough job. And a thankless one. It means nagging and being immensely boring, dull and, at times, repetitive, just to drive a point home. It means being disciplined and disciplining, at the risk of being despised. It means having to break all the bad news, risk getting shot for it and then soothing the ruffled feathers.

She drives me insane with her fetish for cleanliness, punctuality and discipline. But over time I’ve have also learnt that she is my big ticket to sanity. No one and nothing else will do. Hers is the first face I seek each day when I return home from work and usually the last I see on my way out. But I also lash out at her verbally, for all the not-so nice things that happen to me. She winces at my words, flinches at my tone and waits for me to stop. And then she turns away. And all the while, there’ll be a voice at the back of my head telling me that what I’m doing is wrong.

Forgiveness manifests itself in subtle ways. A bowl of my favorite subzi slid toward me, dessert in the fridge, a new outfit on a subsequent visit to the mall, etc. When I ask why, she always downplays it… Continue reading

*First published on Parentous.

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