I read somewhere,’ Anyone can have a child and call themselves a parent. A real parent is someone who puts that child above their own selfish needs and wants.’
Isn’t that what a mother is all about? Isn’t that what a mother does all the time? Put her needs and wants on hold so that her children can get what they want.
A mother’s love is pure, selfless and unconditional. It is, as I say, “Just there.” Times may change, and life may move on, but a mother’s love and support are permanent and rock solid.
And because it is always there, it is a given, children tend to take that love for granted, firmly believing that it will always be there no matter what. Our childhood and youth are spent thinking that our mothers will always be there.
That is why we often do not value them as much as we should. When it comes to girls, most of them realise what it is to be a mother when they become mothers themselves and have to face all the challenges and struggles. Boys take time, and sometimes not before it is too late.
So therefore, my advice to all children, young and old, is don’t wait to tell your mothers how much you love them and what they mean to you. Do it now.
Today I am at a stage when I feel the void and miss my mother’s presence. There are so many things that I wish I had said to her but just couldn’t/didn’t. Now I have no way to tell her.
So, I am writing this letter to my mother in heaven to tell her what she meant to me. These are my special words for my mother.
My Dear Mom,
This is probably my first ever letter to you. I don’t think I ever wrote one while you were around. Maybe because since you were always there, words were not necessary. But today, I feel the need to do this. Today as I sit down to pen my thoughts, there is so much that I have to say to you, so much that I should have said to you.
I regret not doing this earlier, and the regret gets magnified when I realise that you are not there to read my letter. Maybe I am doing this for myself. Having said that, I do realise that if I had attempted this when I was younger, I might not have been able to do it well. This clarity of thought, expression and realisation has come to me only with age.
At the outset, I want to thank you for being you, for raising me the way you did; sometimes with love, sometimes with anger, sometimes by sacrificing and at other times with a reprimand or a warning. It is the combination of all these things that I have become what I am today. And I want to say that I love you, mom.
Today, as I reflect on my life, I feel I am a product of what you taught me and what I imbibed from you. It seems I picked up so much from your being there. So many of my expressions, phrases, and reactions are so you. In fact, I am constantly told by one and all that I have even started looking like you.
I think most parents and children don’t realise how much the children get influenced and inspired by their parents.
There are several things that I clearly remember that I learned from you. Something that you used to tell us all the time, which became a part of who we were and who we are today. Whenever faced with a difficult situation or a challenge, you always told us that nothing lasts forever. For you, fear was never an option. You were a brave woman who could never bow to any pressure. Clear in your thoughts; I remember how I used to get inspired when you used to tell us about the time you were living by yourself while teaching in a college. This was when girls were not even educated, let alone allowed to live and work in a different city. It was a hard choice, but you made it. Staying away from dad to continue to work was also a choice that you made. Of course, you had his full support.
I remember the days when our educational expenses were hitting the roof, but you decided that you would not compromise. As a family, we could cut down on other expenses, not education. That decision held us all in good stead.
Education is a big deal for me as well, and I admit that I get very judgemental when interacting with people who don’t meet my education standards.
Your handling of situations of crisis with that steely look in your eyes, that courage and determination are still fresh in my mind. I try and emulate all of this when faced with adversity. Your words that if good things don’t last, bad also can’t still ring in my ears. I think of you when I am down and out, and somehow all the courage, resilience and tenacity I need seep into me. I think of you and seem to stand taller and more confident. You used to tell us that one should never give up on one’s dreams and ambitions, and I have tried not to do that.
Words cannot express what you did for me and how you shaped my life. I remember the day dad passed away, and I felt so alone, rudderless, having lost my confidante, my partner-in-crime. You knew I had been closer to him, and so felt the need to reassure me about your love and support. Though your life had gone to pieces, you chose to put that aside and console me. I still remember the conversation we had on the terrace of our house where we were both crying inconsolably, yet you were able to calm me and reassure me.
And then the way you picked up the pieces of your life. You missed him all the time, but that did not deter you from putting my life on track. The world wanted you to get rid of your burden, namely me and get me married, but you would have none of that. You stood firm in your resolve to make me independent in every sense of the word. All around us, my cousins who were younger were getting married, but you stuck to your guns. I am reaping the benefits of that decision of yours. No matter what happens, I know I can hold my own, thanks to you.
The look of joy and triumph on your face the day I landed my first job is etched in my memory. It was as though we had hit the jackpot. You had been with me through the job hunt journey. Every time I had to go for an interview, you would accompany me for moral and every other kind of support. How can I forget that?
From you, I learnt how to love your children selflessly and from the core of your being. I hope I have been able to do half as much.
I remember that you were never a very pushy parent. Being the youngest, I was quite a spoilt brat, but you would always handle me tactfully ( at least most of the time!!) If I got stuck on something, you would try and explain the situation patiently to make me understand. You would never impose; just explain the options available with a slight nudge toward what you wanted me to do. And nine times out of ten, your strategy would hit the mark( between you and me, I too do the same with my boys, and it works!!)
There are so many times I remember that I must have driven you up the wall; the day I vanished for half a day because I was upset with you and Daisy and so chose to spend the morning on a tree top( thanks to all the Enid Blytons I used to read); my stubborn insistence on reading while having my milk in the evening; my refusing to take a nap in the afternoon and creating chaos, my refusal to stop wearing short skirts while going cycling… I better not say more.
Though we were not the best of friends while I was growing up, somewhere, you became the person I was closest to when I did grow up. There was so much that we spoke about, so much that we shared. I learnt from all this, as I now realise how it is critical to remain strong and firm under all circumstances.
Amongst the many things that I have got from you is my love for reading. In fact, I got it from both you and dad.
When you were going for your cataract surgery, the doctor asked, “What is the first thing you would like to do after the surgery?”
He expected you to say that you would want to sew, cook, or something like that. But instead, you said that you wanted to go back to your reading.
Also Read: The Dying Habit of Reading
When I remember this, I know I will say pretty much the same thing.
Even after I got married, I could bank upon you for almost anything. You were there to guide and advise me as I took on the challenges of married life. This taught me a crucial life lesson; that families stay together no matter what. You knew I loved cricket and relating families with that; you used to say that in life, one must know which team one is batting for and support it in every possible way.
You stuck by me against all odds. I remember the many sessions we used to have when I was pregnant. Your views and opinions gave me so many different perspectives. Your advice that before taking any action, look inside you and you will know whether what you are doing is right or not still rings true. No matter what one says or does, we cannot run away from ourselves. We have to be able to look ourselves in the eye.
Courage, conviction, resilience and tenacity are all qualities that I got from you.
The fact that I could share anything and everything with you is something that I have tried doing with my boys. Thanks to you, I have an open relationship with them where they feel free to be their selves with me.
There is so much to say, so much to admit. I guess this is the first in a series of letters to you and I will write many more.
‘A mother is your first friend, your best friend, your forever friend.’ That is so true; I miss you, my friend!