The Imperfection of Motherhood
To raise a free child, a mother should first be free. Or, have such a respect and fierce belief in freedom that she would do all it takes to set her child free of things that bound her own life down. To do that, a mother should have a sense of her own self, her place in society stretching across time and an awareness of what every generation can and should do to the next.
Sex either unplanned or planned, happening at a particular time of the woman's ovulation cycle produces a child. Biologically, it creates a mother. Motherhood is all what happens after that till the end of life of the mother. The entire journey is motherhood. It is a choice, a role, a duty, an aversion, a validation, a meaning, an obsession, an emotion, a responsibility and a pedestal for most.
The natural assumption is that the minute a child is born, the mother becomes a divine being, full of mystical knowledge, blessed by the universe with all that is necessary to raise a child that is not scarred by the world into a perfect, endlessly happy being.
Motherhood is biological, emotional, voluntary and also the unbroken chain of pain and trauma that is handed over countless generations using the cover of sacrifice, love, compromise and forgiveness and making it an impossible pedestal that stands on shaky legs that none can question. Motherhood is toxic because it is not allowed to breathe. To fail. To unlearn. To redefine. To laugh. To be silly. Clueless. Humble. Impatient. Have boundaries. Or self-care.
Motherhood is in reality a spiritual possibility to break that chain that crushes humankind. The only way out of this endless chain of pain and inherited trauma of humankind we are forced into when we are born, live through and die with. Motherhood is the only chance for human beings to be free. Since motherhood nurtures life into existence, it is the the only thing through which we must create our freedom. Mothers are not perfect saintly creatures, untouched and not scarred by life around them or their journeys. Most mothers are deeply wounded, carry embedded trauma from centuries of oppression knowingly or unknowingly, battling patriarchy and having their voices stifled almost all their lives. Mothers are human and more scarred than many others, and conflicted in being a person and a mother and what it means to being both.
A need for a mother's nurture is so deep and basic that we cannot reconcile ourselves when we do not receive it. We feel we have failed as a human being for not having received it. We must be flawed. For, mothers are never flawed. Nor, can fail to love. There must be something therefore wrong with us.
In having a mother who does not stand by you, you definitely are scarred for life. A wound so deep that it may never heal. Sometimes if one is lucky, healed by other mother figures who may briefly enter our lives or may take on that role for life to help us heal.
Mothers can be evil, cowards, bound by patriarchy, scarred by violence, lacking in confidence. Many mothers are not educated, have not been allowed to think for themselves or take independent decisions. Most often only having love and intention to offer in absence of any other useful contribution to lives of their children, lives very different from what they have known.
Mothers often fear for their children who dream, especially girls since they themselves do not trust that girls can dream or realize those. They would encourage dreams to be made smaller, closer home, within permissible levels of patriarchy or domesticity so that one dreams but safely. Without censure.
Mothers can often mislead their children, and could tend to favor sons over daughters and can literally ruin a child for life through emotional manipulation. There are mothers who are ashamed or downright resentful of children who are not compliant, feeling themselves a failure for raising children who are curious, creative, rebellious or different from the rest of the flock. They take it on as a personal failing, and in continuously running the child down for originality, kill the spirit of the child. There are mothers more concerned about their own social acceptance than standing by their child.
Bad mothers come in many shapes and forms. Mothers who only feed their children. Unemotional mothers, indifferent mothers, do not come to me with your problems mothers, Why are you always like this mothers, why cannot you be like the others mothers ... mothers who stand by seeing their children slapped, abused, killed even without raising their voice. Mothers who choose victim hood as their model and are angry because you would rather fight as a winner instead of bending down as a victim. There are many mothers who do not like children who win. They prefer ordinary, compliant children with nothing special about them to odd, eccentric, talented or disruptive children who they consider to be trouble. There are mothers who hate conversations, questions that make them uncomfortable.
Bad mothers often show us the way to be the kind of mothers we would never want to be, and fiercely point us in the right direction of being a better mother ourselves or at least attempt to be. And, there is no guarantee that just that awareness will make us a perfect mother.
Ultimately, motherhood is a continuous humbling experience of many a time having the right intent, empowered by a false sense of superstardom, very poor role models, ingrained social structures that rob it of realness. It is only in failing and falling many times even when the intention to love and be there for our children that we get anywhere close to being a mother. There are no guarantees that we will succeed any better than our mothers did. It is definitely important that if we had bad mothers we attempt to do better.
Motherhood finally is learning to walk alone bravely again and again, in full vulnerability, with no clear idea of what it takes, but choosing to walk nevertheless ahead, in the hope that path you walk on should lead the way, and your shadow is worthy enough to have given some shade and shelter for your child or children when it was needed the most. It is the ability to pick up the pieces of failures and having the courage to try once more.
Most often, Motherhood is unimaginable optimism in the power of love to the point of stupidity and having no sense of ego when it comes to your child. It is this that is celebrated the most.
It is difficult to be a person and a mother, and difficult to set a child free and continue to mother. When a mother and a child are free, you will finally see two people who have grown. Very rare. But, that is the opportunity. That is ultimately the victory of motherhood. If, and when it happens.
That is the terrible weight of motherhood. That one can never be free and be a mother.
When a child is born, the mother is born with it too. And, together, some day they can set each other free through the journey. That is the spiritual lesson that is gifted in each other through this bond. It is an opportunity. Not a guarantee.
What we do with it becomes our life and theirs and what we pass on again to the next generation. Succeed or fail.
- Srividya Srinivasan [11/5/2020]