I am a passionate gifter. I dive head first into anything that involves celebrating milestones. I spend time, effort and thought doing what a lot of people consider a chore – getting gifts. My blog goes by the tagline — the gift of love and life and gifts for all the happy occasions the duo entail. And yet, I’ve never given my mother a gift on Mother’s Day…not even a card.
Growing up in Mumbai in the eighties and nineties, I wasn’t even aware that such days existed. I was 12 when I first heard of Valentine’s Day (yes, we managed to escape the commercialisation for a long time). It’s only in recent years that concepts such as Mother’s Day have sneaked in on the tails of their successful leader, Valentine’s Day. Even so, the trend is restricted mainly to cities and large towns.
But, the more fundamental reason for not celebrating Mother’s Day, though I’ve been aware of its existence for a few years now, is because I’m not entirely at ease with the concept ( Strangely, I don’t have such a strong sense of discomfort with Valentine’s Day). Because for me, the math just doesn’t add up.
Being a mother, it’s not just for a day, is it? It’s an entire lifetime from the moment your child is conceived inside you. It’s an eternity of loving and nurturing your children, worrying about them, praying for them and, trying your darndest best to mould them into your version of what the ideal is. An aeon that is faithfully shadowed by self-doubt about your parenting skills and wondering, why you were a better mother before you had kids. You just can’t fold a celebration of that lifetime or salute all that work to fit in neatly in a boxed up, gift wrapped day. It has to appreciated, cherished and acknowledged a lot more often.
Like my mother and several others I know, I don’t expect a gift on Mother’s Day. Our rewards are random, our gifts come in unrecognisable avatars and our work is acknowledged in peculiar ways. It happens when, out of the blue, our child utters something incredibly intelligent or perceptive and we think, “Hey, I’m doing a good job, after all” or, when our tiny tot, who has embraced the ‘terrible 3s’ phase with alarming alacrity, realises that the tantrum has gone too far and offers up conciliatory wet kisses and an apologetic, “BUT, I love you”. It hits us with an unexpected thud when our rebellious teenager, in the throes of adolescence, decides to end the conversational cold war with a casual funny remark aimed to say, “Maybe you’re right and you have my best interests at heart”. It props up in the form of our partner in (parenting) crime who pitches in with gusto without assuming that raising a child is the sole obligation of the mother.
Unless our lives are peppered with these and several other such affirmations that make the hard spots in mothering worthwhile; unless we stop believing our mothers should be ‘selfless paragons of virtue, who paradoxically don’t need to have a say in their own homes’; unless we recognise them as individuals with their own quirks and qualities, anything we give or receive on Mother’s Day would be an empty gesture.