Redefining Motherhood

Swapna Narayanan

Who is a mother? What are her duties? What role does she have to play?

These are questions that are never really asked by any girl on the threshold of motherhood, as she already knows the answers. The society has conditioned her well and she ends up towing the line of all the mothers she has seen around her, including her own.

Traditionally the expectation has been – if you are a mother, then you must ensure your children are well fed. So cooking is something all mothers end up learning (even if they do not really like to cook!), as feeding the children is of utmost importance. Only thing is, it never stopped here. There is an assessment criteria also – the kids must be healthy, even fat. Healthier the kid, prouder the mother!

However, it is time the definition of mother undergoes a change. There are enough examples available in our life, in the form of our siblings, cousins, spouses and ourselves, where we can clearly see that controlled mothering has not been very beneficial when the children grew up and stepped out to their own lives.

Motherhood must be enabling with a strong cocoon of love and warmth.

A mother must love, nurture, give but also empower, enable and encourage the child to manage the ever dynamic life with ease.

There has been a clear paradigm shift in the way one needs to be eased onto this life, and it is time mothers get a clear focus there.

Healthy is fit, and not fat! Nutritious food is what one needs to focus on. A healthy meal with a right balance of veggies, pulses and carbohydrates is the need of the hour to build a strong metabolism in the child. While constant feeding on oily delicacies is a no-no, so is constant thriving on cheesy pizzas and burgers! So mothers, do find the right balance and get your kids to eat right – with some cheat days built in for the puris and pizzas!

Children who do chores at home, turn out to be adaptable professionals. If you are a mother who feels that your teenager should not be helping you handle the laundry, or setting up the dinner table – then it is time you have a rethink. I know of many leaders who sit in an interview panel and assess the job applicants on their ability to multitask, step up and offer help to others in the team, and rise to the occasion in the times of crisis. So if you are a mom who wants her teenager to ace life, let him/her do chores at home and step up for you too.

drgEveryone (boy or girl) should know cooking. I was brought up by a very progressive woman who believed in making us independent and career minded, while being able to manage the kitchen too. So we were trained to do some very basic cooking to run the show (basically not go hungry), while focusing on our education. And her approach was totally contrarian to the mothers of my friends – both girls and boys. While girls were taught to handle the entire 9 yards of the kitchen, the boys did not know where the pulses are stored in the kitchen! Unfortunately that approach did not work well for them. While the corporate world lost out on some talent in the rigmarole of kitchen and home,  boys had a different kind of challenge. As they stepped out onto their own lives, they faced enough struggles while living in hostels, moving cities, or taking up new jobs abroad.

In the last few years, owing to the strong feminist calls, there has been a trend to ensure that girls do not enter the kitchen too, along with the boys. While this does give a strong sense of equality in the minds of the parents, it is not empowering the children.

Encourage your teens to step up and cook in the kitchen. Give them the space to plan the menu, and get them started on easier dishes that are nutritive and wholesome. Weekends are the best bet, when the kids can focus and enjoy the cooking along with you.

Motherhood, as it stands today, symbolises a certain set pattern and a lot of notions. It is time we redefine them and excel in the role of a mother by turning out well equipped children.



*All images used in this article are either Eyra’s own design or widely and freely available on the internet.*

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