Here’s a little truth that comes with becoming moms. We are not only proud mothers to our little ones, but we also assume that we are super moms who are blessed with immaculate child-rearing skills. Each mother thinks that her way is the best, and her child the best. It might not be entirely wrong considering that a mother does everything in her power to do the best for her child and raise them in the most appropriate manner. So self-criticism is something that stands miles away. However criticizing another mother is a matter of a furlong.
I have a friend who is a mother of two. Her younger offspring is under a year while the older one is a super active kid who could mow down anybody if you didn’t tread her terrain carefully. This woman has two domestic helpers. But every time she meets me she releases her pent-up emotions around how hard it is to look after the two children.
It confuses me. Two domestic helpers and qualms about raising children ‘all on her own’?
Then she perplexed me with further. She narrated how she had taken her older one to the swimming pool while she sat by the poolside with her younger one in the pram. She started a conversation with a few people and the next thing you know, there was a loud thud. The baby tumbled out of the pram on the edge of the pool, and the mother held her just in time to miss the five-feet deep pool.
I shook my head in disbelief and fearfully asked what happened next. She said that the baby almost fainted and what followed was a welter of noises from everybody around.
I had been thinking how could a mother be so reckless to leave her baby unattended in the pram and by the poolside. It needs nothing more than watchful eyes and a presence of mind, I thought. I began comparing myself with her thinking how my children’s movements never escape my eyes. I thought of how my children are my sole focus – be it at a party or their activity classes. I never forget about them in the middle of all the fun I can savor in a busy life. So how on Earth, as a mother, this woman could be so ignorant? I was perhaps mentally labeling her amongst the worst moms ever.
Until one evening she visited me. She asked me if she could talk to me for a while. I welcomed her with a flurry of thoughts on what she might want to tell me. As I am somebody who can easily absorb other’s problems, I was scared for what she was going to tell me.
And here it was. Her father who had been an employee at a mill in her hometown had gradually been losing his sight to glaucoma. Only a few weeks ago he was dismissed as a blind man. The medicines that he had been on were no help as the doctors conceded defeat to a late diagnosis. Had he been brought in earlier, his eyes could have been saved. She sobbed as she described her father whom she loved and how he had raised her and her siblings while battling with the challenges of life.
What turns out further was – that evening by the poolside, she was talking to a woman who was referring to a plausible treatment under the purview of a reputed doctor in the town. She forgot all about her baby for a few minutes – because she saw some ray of hope coming along for her father!
My heart went out to her. I was suddenly overcome by remorse for getting so judgmental about a woman who was not only a mother but also a daughter! Behind the picture-perfect household headed by a supportive husband that she has, two pretty daughters that she cares for, helped by two maids, there were more worries that were ticking away in her mind all along. Suddenly there was a tremendous respect that I felt for this woman. She had endured so much agony without ever talking about it – with spasmodic rants about hardships of raising children because these thoughts had been hindering a happy motherhood.
And here I was – belittled. I thought about how she rose from nothing. Perhaps it were the hardships that gave her the forbearance. Amidst everything, she had been managing to train her older one on very many things. Perhaps her endurance is also going to impart the survival techniques to her children.
I concluded – you never know what one is going on. Especially the woman folk is subject to various life conditioning. To put one on a high pedestal or to despise one is none of your business. As mothers, we could be kinder in trying to understand other mothers and offer a shoulder to lean on if need be, complementing each other.