I spent my weekend either sleeping, eating or watching one film or the other on OTT platforms this weekend. A much-needed break that I had promised myself once I was done completing a certain portion of my ongoing manuscript. One of the films that I managed to watch, among others, is Vidya Balan starrer Shakuntala Devi (you can read our review of the film here). Setting aside the legacy that surrounds this film, it raises a very important question for all of us to think about. Why do we not see our mothers as women of flesh and blood? Those who have desires, ambitions, and even shortcomings of their own, like any average human being? Even in 2020 have we managed to rid motherhood of stereotypes, so closely associated with it that the two seem inseparable?

The realisation of how unfair one has been to one’s mother dawns once you embark on that journey yourself, as rightly pointed out in the film. We all want to be “perfect moms”. Prepare delectable lunch boxes, ace every school assignment, ensuring that our kid is well verse in rote-learning and extra-curricular activities, doing everything in our capacity to make it to and retain the best mom pedestal that we are thus put on.

Also Read: Interview: Shakuntala Devi’s Daughter On How Her Mother Defeated Gender Stereotypes

Some of us give up on our careers, some of us juggle work and motherhood. How you do it doesn’t matter, the point is there is no such thing as a perfect mom, because none of us is what we may think of as “perfect”. We all have shortcomings as people, and motherhood doesn’t rid us of our imperfections, it only forces us to gloss them over.
How does this affect our relationships, both as children and mothers ourselves? It sets up unreasonable expectations and deprives of the kind of compassionate glance we may have to offer to other people but not our own moms. A child may feel entitled to her or his mother’s love and attention all the time, expecting her to be there, putting the rest of her life on hold. When a mother fails to do that she is labelled a “bad” mother not just by her child but by society as well. If anyhow a mother does manage to do that, she ends up reaffirming stereotypes that have bonded motherhood with virtues such as sacrifices, benevolence, etc, which becomes problematic, especially when you are raising a daughter who will someday become a mother herself.

As a child, it is difficult to see your mother as a woman outside of her duties as a mom, but isn’t this something that can be overcome with conditioning gradually? Can’t we as a society and as families re-shape the gaze of children and that of our own towards mothers? Can’t we liberate women from the constant perusal that motherhood brings their way, deciding the priorities of their lives for them?

Also Read: Shakuntala Devi: India’s Female Mathematician Who Became The Human Computer

Every woman has the right to chase her aspirations and seek fulfillment as a woman. To have a margin of error and not be intensely judged for every little shortcoming of her as a human being. Some women are short-tempered,  timid, forgetful, hasty, or indifferent by nature. Motherhood cannot flip these basic traits in a person, and it is unreal to even expect that to happen.

Before we bring this new gaze to our children, let us inculcate it in our own way of looking at moms. Moms who we may not want to label as adarsh maas. Let us embrace and accept them as people as unconditionally as we expect them to love and be there for us.

Image Credit: YouTube screenshot

The views expressed are the author’s own.

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