Family is always seen as a wholesome unit nurturing love and support in all the members. It’s our safe space and we tend to have a benevolent narrative of it. However, we often overlook the concept of family as a patriarchal and unequal institution that is oppressive to mothers of the house. The power dynamics play a huge role here and mothers end up doing things no daughter likes to see them do.
Women are conditioned to be submissive, soft, and docile, especially from the point in their life when they embrace motherhood. A mom is expected to not only be nurturing, rearing, and caring, she must also be a role model for her children. Society tells men to see their moms as the difinition of an “ideal woman” meanwhile girls are told to aspire to be like them some day.
However, to become an idol for her children a mom must be ‘adjusting’ and ‘accepting’. Infact, these are the norms they’ve known for their whole lives and accept them as something normal. They don’t find certain patriarchal practices wrong or unfair. But what sort of impact such behaviour has on children?
What does a son learn, when he sees this “ideal woman” toil day and night for the sake of her family, singlehandedly manage the household and put herself last? Won’t he be putting his own partner to the same standards when he grows up? On the other hand, won’t a daughter feel guilty for prioritising her career over her household- something which she saw her mother do?
There is no such thing as an ideal mother- Here are five things no daughter should have to see her mom do:
1. Accepting Unjust Treatment In The Name Of Adjustment
Mothers often tell their daughters that when they marry things will change and they will have to “adjust”. The adjustment factor is somewhere so deeply rooted in their mindsets that they do not see it as problematic. Mothers go on accepting the unjust treatment they are often meted out at home because voicing opposition will make them selfish.
There are many kids who have grown up seeing their father screaming at the mother without any reason and the mother justifying it with arguments like ‘ He must be tired’, or ‘He works all day, ‘He must be frustrated’.
Moms need to stop these unjust adjustments, because in not doing so, they are basically telling their daughters that after marriage, a woman will only be considered a good wife or mom if she adjusts, no matter how uncomfrtable, exhausting or humiliating the situation is for her.
Suggested Reading: Have Seen This Happen At My Home: Navya Nanda Calls Out Household Sexism
2. Adhering To Patriarchal Customs And Fasts
Mothers observe fasts for their husbands and end up starving without food and water for a whole day. Yes, the very famous “Karwachauth” that millions of women in India observe for the longevity of the husband, where is the male version for it? By observing the fast mothers, in a way, assert and prove their dedication to the family and their husbands. But why do they have to prove their dedication in the first place?
Other than fasts, customs like covering their heads in front of elders and even touching the feet of husbands are quite prevalent customs. We understand that it is not easy for many women to break away from these rituals, even for their own good, or that of their daughters. Besides, to observe fast, or to cover your head can also be personal choices, but can we atleast talk about all the aspects of such practices amongst each other?
3. Sacrificing Career For Family Rearing
Mothers often depend on their husbands for financial support as in many Indian families women are discouraged from focussing on their career once they embrace motherhood. This dependent status is not seen as undesirable. The concept of motherhood is so romanticised that moms leave behind their careers and devote their lives to becoming the ideal mothers for their children.
No child wants their mom to leave behind her life and career for the sake of family in this day and age. As far as parenting and household chores are concerned, shouldn’t they be divided eqaully among all the members of the household?
4. Asking For Permissions
On being asked if the kids can go out, you’ll often find mothers replying, “I’ll ask her father once”. Moms often feel that they are powerless and have no agency, or the confidence, when it comes to making little or big decisions for the family. Even for basic things like going to the market or a friend’s house etc., you’ll find them asking for their husband’s permission.
Why does any mom need to take permission to run her life and that of those she manages from anyone? Moms need to belive in themselves and their capabilites- they are amazing multitaskers with years of experience on their back. Besides, when a mother shows confidence as a decision maker, she also inspires her daughter to never doubt her own capabilities.
Suggested Reading: Dear Maa, Please Be A Little Selfish
5. Putting themselves last
At children’s birthday parties mothers will be found in the kitchen cooking for the whole lot while fathers will be giggling with a glass of wine. Good food is offered to the fathers and leftovers are taken by the mothers. The whole notion of serving the family first and eating at the end is accepted by mothers and is sometimes even romanticised as ‘caretaking’.
Moms need to realise that it is not selfish to put themselves first. There is no rule that binds a woman to eat after her whole family is finished with their meal. Why can’t she sit with everyone and be a part of the dinner table conversation? If the food is not enough, should everyone adjust, instead of one person going unfed, or feeding whatever little leftovers are there?
No girl likes to see her mother as an individual who hides her strength, lowers her voices, censors her opinions, simply to make the opposite gender feel better about themselves. She has every right to live life on her own terms and encourage her daughter to do so as well.
Views expressed are the author’s own.