Mother’s Day was a relatively new concept in India in the mid nineties. It was a borrowed concept from the West and we all sneered at this custom of designating this one day to mothers. “For us, 365 days are mother’s day. We don’t just designate one single day to celebrate motherhood!” we said. We were wrong. At least I was wrong. I didn’t celebrate mother’s day for all 365 days. I love my mother, but I didn’t celebrate her, I didn’t appreciate all she did for me, the things she went without to make sure I had everything I needed. Honestly, when I say she went without, she really did. Trust me, there is no drama involved in that line. She was, and still is, a constant comfortable presence in my life, my ultimate cheer leader, my picker upper when life dealt a blow, my confidante, and let’s face it, a nagging voice in my conscience till I did what needed to get done. I always felt words of love and thanks were redundant in a mother daughter relationship. It is understood that I love her. I shouldn’t have been presumptuous. Words may have been inadequate but I still should have tried. I have learnt to respect the power of words, since. So I write my feelings for her now.
The commercial aspect of Mother’s Day offends me. The day shouldn’t be about presents (although I don’t grudge any of you a day in a spa, or pandora bracelets or whatever you get), it shouldn’t be about the brightness of flowers or glitzy store bought cards! The day should be about telling your mom, “I see you. Yes you do drive me crazy sometimes (which mom doesn’t) but I love you more than you will ever know. Not because you gave birth to me but you tried your best to help me grow! You did what you thought was best for me. I didn’t always agree. But you were driven by love. And I love that.” There are exceptions to this mother image that I talk about, but then again, as the cliche goes “exception proves the rule”. The day should be about giving her that precious gift called Time. The day should be about picking up the phone and asking her how she is really doing. The day should be about noticing her as a separate identity, a woman as well as a mother.
I will indeed celebrate Mother’s Day. I will step out of this race against time for one day and find a comfortable seat on the grass. And I will pull out the memory book of my life and turn the pages backwards. I will revisit that moment when I first became a mother and held my first born to my chest. I looked down at her unfocused steel grey eyes and experienced some emotions that I cannot put to words. Was it love? Was it bewilderment? Was it fear? Was it apprehension? Was it pride? Was it tiredness? Was it all of these and more? It was a sense of an ending and a sense of a new beginning, all at the same time. It was the joy of holding a miracle. It was a fear of breaking her.
I will take a leisurely walk to see the first moment when I held Sahana in my arms, kissed her snub nose and whispered in her ear “I will see you soon” as the doctors whisked her away. I will remember the curly haired little baby girl who learnt to walk one summer in a rented summer house in Cape Cod while family sat around her, waiting to catch her if she fell. I will remember holding her soft hand as we waited for her preschool bus to take her to preschool. I will remember the moment when Ryan came screaming and kicking into this world and I heard the proud father saying to the new born, “You are so sweet, I could eat you!” as he cuddled the yawning baby. His toothless grins, the warmth of HIS soft hand in mine as we walked inside the grocery store. All those stressful moments when he was a rambunctious toddler and my fear that he was going to bump someone. His first day at preschool, his astonished expression as Sean blew on his face and dunked him in the pool at the tender age of 5 months.
I have a treasure of sweet memories that I want to write down for myself. I want nobody to present me a bouquet of cut flowers. I will, instead, pick up those memories of sweetness and kindness that my children have given me. They have offered their smile, their thoughts, their innocence, their childhood to me as flowers. I have accepted some, some I discarded because I have been preoccupied with schedules and timetables. I will pick up those discarded flowers too and tie myself a bouquet. Like when Sahana said she wants to grow up to be a parent just like me. Or today when Ryan assured me, although he gets very, very angry with me when I scold him, he never, ever hates me. Hate is not what he feels towards me, never. It is love, always love.
These are my presents that they have already given me. Along with the laugh lines. I have discovered my ability to love unconditionally because they were born. That is their gift to me. But I want more on this special day. I want them to give me a day when they refrain from sibling rivalry and meanness. I want them to take my hand and walk some distance with me, I want them to tell me about their thoughts, their emotions, their lives. I want this day to be schedule less and unstructured. I won’t ask them to be good and brave and nice and kind. I will not fret about grades. I will not talk about the frustrations that come with parenting. Heaven knows, I talk about that often. I won’t look at the bigger picture and worry about how they are growing up. I will simply live the day and feel very, very blessed to have two healthy children in my life, who drive me insane, cause tears of laughter, and make this mother’s world very colorful by just being here. I lose sight of this simple truth on most days. On Mother’s Day, I won’t.