Shafat Ali Dar
On a usual lockdown day, after I was done basking under the glow of my smartphone, I decided that I should sleep. I stood up to leave and formally offered a goodbye to my mom, asking her if she was fine. Yes, I am absolutely fine, she replied in her usual tone. But deep down I knew that she was not.
While I was climbing the stairs she called me and handed me my water bottle. As I walked away, I could hear her praying for our long life, happiness and good health. Like always, I took it as a usual motherly gesture and slipped under the blanket. Everything our mothers do for us is for us boring and regular, which we hardly appreciate because we are convinced that taking care of each and every individual in the house is their duty. We expect our mother to cook good food, to remember where we tossed away our socks last night, to do the homework of the little ones and coordinate with the school mistress. We expect her to offer us our uniform in the morning, neatly ironed and properly washed. We dictate to her dressing sense, because her favourite dress doesn’t qualify as a dress anymore. While we all are busy exploring options to kill time in self-quarantine, she is the one who is working like she has been working forever.
Her job is the job which is most overlooked in the house. All the real work, according to male members of the family, is carried out beyond the walls of the house. She is the one at the receiving end of anger when food doesn’t taste good or is burnt because she rushed to open the gate that we refused to open as we were very busy on a call with our friend.
She is the one with rough knuckles, greasy hands and cracked heels. She has no time to see how she looks like; it has been an eternity since she last gazed at her self leisurely in a mirror.
Like all of us, she deserves a break, but she rarely gets one. She deserves a break from doing two, three, five and at times ten things at once. She deserves a break from being ambidextrous because circumstances demand from her more than one strong hand. She deserves a break from being a cook who stirs milk with one hand and soothes the baby with the other. She deserves a break from planning every meal and doing laundry and going out in hot summer afternoons to fetch grocery, on the list of which are our favourite things on the top and her favourite things at the bottom.
She deserves a break from doing everything perfectly and expecting nothing in return. It is not only her body that works round the clock; her mind is never at rest, too. She feels the baby cry before we actually hear the cry. She is down the flight of stairs before the children even realise that they are crying. From the first light of dawn till the moment she sleeps and even in sleep – her mind is planning, worrying, working.
But what can we do? She doesn’t expect anything from us. She has been nursing us from the day we were just a single cell. But we should not expect her to nurse us for the rest of her days. We need to understand that as we grow up, she grows old. We need to relieve her of her responsibilities and start doing our work ourselves.
One of the easiest and most efficient ways to show your mom you care is to just come out and ask her how you can show your appreciation. Too many of us make assumptions about what others need or want, and when the person does not seem appreciative after the act, we feel hurt. Not making the assumption that you already know what she appreciates is the first act of appreciation. Let your mom have a voice.
If you want to look good at a party or at an official meeting, you probably should take no shame in washing your own clothes. If you are a foodie, help yourself. If you can’t go out, learn to cook your favourite dish at home. If your routine doesn’t permit even that, learn at least to appreciate what is served on your plate.
Your mom is very busy caring for others, perhaps older family members, so it might be nice to offer to take over once in a while. While we are busy maintaining healthy terms with our friends at school, with colleagues at work, we forget that our mom also deserves a social life. She deserves to spend time with her old friends, she deserves to talk about her young days and laugh and reminisce.
Most importantly, listen to what she is saying. She doesn’t necessarily want you to offer solutions for her problems. All she wants is you to hear them. That relieves her of the burden of unspoken words.
Give her a weekly off, maybe on weekends. Tell her to remain in bed on Sundays and serve her with the best food you can cook. Sit with her and sip the coffee together. Talk to her about the adventures of life she experienced and the struggles she went through. Trust me, you can learn the best lessons of life from her experiences.
It’s easy to mistake “caring” for your mom with wanting to change and improve her. It’s important to accept your mother for who she is. When listening to your mom, try to see things from her perspective. Moms have a tough job and are not always equipped to do it well. Make sure your mom knows that you care by showing her respect and appreciation for who she is, with all her imperfections.
Last but not least, show your mom how much she means to you. Through improved communication, thoughtful behaviour, and by being patient and kind, you can show your love and help strengthen your bond with the woman who created and raised you.