I must not have been more than ten years old, but the memory is very clear. I remember my mother lugging a heavy bag with one hand, while cradling my baby sister in another, practically skipping from one end of the railway station to another, in search of the correct bogey, all the while making sure that I was in her line of sight. Dad wasn’t travelling with us and I can’t remember whether we had hired a coolie or not. She managed to board the right compartment with us in tow and yet I didn’t hear create a fuss even once. It is this seemingly ordinary memory that comes to my mind first, whenever I think of how strong my mother is. The strength in question isn’t physical, but more mental, an attitude to get things done, without making a big deal about it. Of not hesitating to lug gas cylinders, change light bulbs, travelling alone at ungodly hours, or managing small and big upheavals in life, because of your gender. After strength isn’t a virtue one needs only in hard times.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Strong mothers are the key to raising strong daughters.
  • The strength in question here isn’t physical, but emotional and financial as well.
  • A strong mother leads by example and teaches her daughter that she can tackle big and small hardships of her life on her own.
  • That every time she falls, she must get up and dust herself, instead of waiting for a knight in shining armour to be her saviour.

The strength in question isn’t physical, but more mental, an attitude to get things done, without making a big deal about it. Of not hesitating to lug gas cylinders, change light bulbs, travelling alone at ungodly hours, or managing small and big upheavals in life, because of your gender.

We grew up with a busy father, who was seldom around to help with household chores and perils. So, if there was any problem big or small, we would run to our mom. While we lived a pretty ordinary small town life, my mother made it a point that her daughters knew what it took be a strong woman, in day to day life. She never refused to tackle a chore because she was a woman and often it would surprise other women in our immediate society. She cared for her two daughters on her own, while her husband was away on a rural posting. She completed her B.Ed and got a job well into her thirties. When my parents came to drop me off to Kota for my drop year, my first time away from home, my dad couldn’t stop crying, but my ma became my rock. I have always wondered what gave her such will power and self-control on her emotions. Now a mother myself, I try to live by the example that she became for us since a young age.

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No heartbreak is too tough to overcome, no challenge too difficult to give it a try. This is why I believe, the key to raising a strong daughter, is being a strong mother yourself. If you want your child to look at life sans the stereotypical lens that the society perches on her nose, you have to lead by example. A strong mother teaches her to girl to be confident and care less about other’s opinions. To prioritise what matters to her and her loved ones, and not what will earn her a certificate of appreciation from the society. She teaches her daughter to not be intimidated by roadblocks that appear in her way, due to her gender. But most importantly, a strong mother teaches her daughter that it is okay to fail. What matters is that you tried. That you pick yourself up after every fall, instead of waiting for a knight in shining armour to scoop you up.

If you want your child to look at life sans the stereotypical lens that the society perches on her nose, you have to lead by example. A strong mother teaches her to girl to be confident and care less about other’s opinions.

As women, the society conditions us to be dependent on men for a lot of things. From finances, to major household decisions, to any chore that requires stepping out of the house. For a lot of women, life is defined by their dependency, physical, financial and emotional, on others. However, only in later years of life does one realise how dangerous that can be. Just as men shouldn’t have to depend on women for their meals, or having a clean shirt to wear, women mustn’t rely on the men in their life to take care of their money, or do the heavy-lifting around the house, or simply lead, so that they can follow.

So, instead of waiting for others to champion empowerment and be an example for your daughter, take matters into your own hand. You don’t have to make grand gestures to showcase your courage and strength. It is little things that define your attitude towards life and even in an era of bold statements, the message can be installed with subtlety.

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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