In my times, mothering was not out of text books, podcasts or “keeping up with the competition.” It was simply out of instinct. Neelam Kumar reflects on an important aspect of Indian mothers which raises a few questions. Who is the spoon and who is the lemon in the race? Should I be emotional publicly about my child’s rights and wrongs? How do I set rules and live by them?

So I am in total awe of how young mothers of today go about their painstakingly put-together “motherhood project.” It makes me dizzy looking at their tight-roped schedules of getting their offsprings to reach their pre-selected destinations of knowledge, sport, night-outs and “personality development fun”. All with clock-work precision.
While I totally admire their discipline and dedication, I also think it is a bit like the lemon and spoon race which we played in school. The winning strategy was focusing intently on the lemon in your spoon and never letting it out of sight.

Neelam Kumar

Mothers are smart. But kids are smarter. And that is something that has remained constant since our times. In fact, each generation has been outsmarting its source–the parents.

Anxious mothers, do not fret over mothering your kids today. Just enjoy them. Soon, time will fly and you will find yourself being mothered by them.

My own son—a millennial is super intelligent and super sorted. Having lived and travelled everywhere, he has a global personality. I share a cute relationship with him. I love him as fiercely as I am in awe of him. He loves me in an endearing way. For he is reticent, strong and silent.

Our personalities are different. He is mature and dignified. I am hyper and expressive.

Can you imagine the feelings I went through when my son suddenly offered to fly me to London to bring my birthday in? It was a mish-mash of delirious excitement and extreme nervousness.

Also Read: Raising a child to be gender neutral

I suddenly realized that with the passage of decades, our roles had switched. I was the lemon in his spoon. I was keen to reassure him that I would do nothing silly to embarrass him by dropping out of his sophisticated spoon clumsily.
Our first trip abroad together become the stuff comic stories are made of.

Of the several rules I wrote for myself, I mention 2 here. Detailed below each rule are the creative ways in which I broke them.

Rule 1.

I will not embarrass him by displaying my emotions publicly.

His first birthday surprise left me dizzy with excitement. We were going to travel Emirates!! I tried hard to control myself at being whisked into the First Class Lounge. But, at the sight of all those exotic delicacies laid out in the Lounge, my heart went thud-thud. While he, in a very dignified manner picked up some beans and carrots, I loaded my plate to my heart’s content.

Before I knew it, my son was leading me out quietly, but not before I had shot out at everyone concerned, “I’m a Frequent Flyer, you know!”

Strangely, he looked flushed with embarrassment.

My actual birthday treat in London was straight out of my dreams. He escorted me lovingly to nothing less than a Broadway Show! Already a bit high on the drinks I had had at the castle pub outside, I began singing all those magical songs along with Aladdin and Princess Jasmine, as they flew around on their magic carpet. By this time, my son had given up “shushing me”. He had sunk deep into his seat.

But guess what? Seeing me enjoying myself thoroughly, a full group of men and women from the audience came over near me and we all began singing loudly to show our appreciation. What fun that night was!
Outnumbered, my son simply gave up.

Rule 2

I will impress him with my smartness

You see, Rajneel was born with a GPS system installed in his brain. He knows exactly where to go. I, on the other hand, am extremely geographically challenged.

I had promised myself I would impress him with my advanced sense of direction. At 6 pm, he left me at London’s Pri Mark store on Oxford Street with the instruction, “Mom, once you are done, just come out of the door to the East, cross the road and enter our Hotel. Simple?!”

At 7 pm, I emerged from one of the store’s many doors and found myself in a strange locality. But, mindful of my resolve, I kept on walking resolutely–miles and miles for several hours. By 10.30 pm. I finally gave up and called him up to please rescue me. He did, but pointed out, “Mom, do you know what you have been doing? You have walked 11 and a half times around our Hotel.”

Not one to be bullied and shamed, I said, “Ok son, tomorrow I am going alone on a Bus Tour around the City.”
He looked at me wryly and said, “Bad idea Mom. I will probably have to rescue you from Germany this time!”

I tell you, these millennials! They are so adorably different from us. They love us despite our dissimilarities in fashion tastes, digital awareness, decades-apart personality differences. So never try mothering them.

After the London trip I sent a msg to my son, “Thank you my son for a magical trip!”

Promptly came his reply, “You are lovely company, Mom!”

Do you think he was being sarcastic? Nah! Why would he be planning another trip with me, then?

My lesson from this trip:

Anxious mothers, do not fret over mothering your kids today. Just enjoy them. Soon, time will fly and you will find yourself being mothered by them.

Neelam Kumar has authored nine books. Having battled cancer twice, she donned the mantle of Cancer Crusader and wrote India’s first joyous book on cancer,  “To Cancer With Love-My Journey of Joy”. Her latest book is Manisha Koirala’s “Healed”. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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