My mom sent me a Facebook post yesterday, that said, “Mothers are like buttons, they hold everything together.” I almost smiled, but I also know that I would’ve found it very dramatic if she would’ve sent it two years ago. It’s not because I’m a better person now. It’s because I finally understand where she’s coming from. I feel like taking a stand for her, now that I finally see her as a woman – more than a mother. It is weird, if (and when) we start seeing our parents as our future selfs.
My mother is a teacher, she’s also very disciplined. And maybe subconsciously, but growing up I was too different from her. Most things she’d do, I’d do otherwise. Of course, we would hardly agree. We still don’t agree all the time, but there’s more empathy now. In seeing her as a person, I either want her to have everything that I’d want at her age. Or I keep trying to figure why our choices differ. For instance, I could never be a teacher. I am impatient, short-tempered and those are not the best ways to describe an educator.
The thing that also surprises me at times, is that she had this career, with two kids of her own. So there was literally no escape. And it’s not selfish to want an escape from your kids or family. When I asked my mother about her aspirations and if she wanted to be a teacher at all, she smiled a little. She does that when I ask things that are too honest.
According to my mother, she chose this career because it was practical to do that. She could come back home early, and there was still stability, financially. This was before she got married. After she had me and my brother, these things about a teaching job looked like perks. She would also get to spend the summer vacations with us.
I then asked her what SHE wanted to do. She smiled again, and said, “I wanted to work for a nice firm. But there were hardly any government jobs, and private jobs were too impractical back then.” I also wanted to know if she ever considered changing her career path. “Nahi” was her answer – “Kyunki mujhe time mil jaata tha tum dono ke saath, aur mujhe realise hua ki teaching achha kaam hai.”
My mother is a perfectionist, she’s also very intelligent. Now that I think of it, there aren’t many things she’s not good at. She’s also the most empathetic person I know – and she can be very optimistic at times, which I don’t love about her. It’s not always important to find the “best” in everything, everyone. So, when she said, she started appreciating her profession, I couldn’t help but think that she made herself like it. As if there was no choice. And in many ways, there wasn’t. Women haven’t had the same opportunities. We still don’t. There were even less jobs or career paths that made sense for her, back then. And, pay disparity, pregnancy discrimination, lack of equal opportunities – these issues played a bigger role then.
Being a mother is selfless, and for some reason we celebrate that. Now that I think of it, being a teacher is quite similar. You constantly work and add something meaningful to a person’s life and future. And while you could do the bare minimum, you try and make the best possible effort.
We are told that we should love them because they raise us, and that they give up on things for us. But why is that the prerequisite? Shouldn’t we be told to love our mothers for who they are, as people? Why does love always come down to sacrifice? For the longest time, I didn’t ask my mother about her choices, her aspirations. And she never said. She also never complained, for having to give up on a dream, or even something more basic like the last pizza slice. That’s the thing, mothers don’t do that. They just take it all in. And we celebrate it as compassion. How’s that right?
When I asked my mom about juggling between a career, and her kids, she said that she always liked the rush. I know that about her, she always wants something to do. What I now realize is, that in keeping these two worlds, and an entire family together, she never did something for herself. The world is already unfair, on top of that, expecting someone to give up something for us, doesn’t make sense. And mothers deserve to be treated as more than just an epitome of selflessness.
All I can see is, it takes more than just selflessness and love to be a mother. It takes guts. It takes a whole lot of giving, and somehow, they still manage to keep it all together. I know, I could never do that. And I still might not always agree with my mother’s choices, in life, or in general, but I do respect her, more than I ever did. Surprisingly, it didn’t take another one of her sacrifices – for me to finally get her. It took seeing her as a person, as a professional, and more than anything, a woman who understands that this world is unfair to me, as well.
So yes, mom, mothers are like buttons, but you deserve to be more than that.