5 things I learnt from my working mother
My mother, Rukmini, was born in a culture that practiced the purdah system for women. Back then, girls were supposed to learn household chores, get basic education and get married as soon as they can’t. Not too much education because no one will marry an overtly educated girl.
Their parents would find them a nice guy from good families (read affordable dowries) and get them married even before they turned sixteen. Even mom was expected to follow the same diktat.
But she had other plans. She wanted to fly, she had her own wings.
Ambition is bad word for a mama:
But who’s going to look after your kid? Who is going to feed them, bathe them? You want someone else to raise your child?
Oh, the pity!
Mom was a teacher by profession. She belonged from a culture which considered an educated woman a social and financial burden. She had to fight with her family for the basic educational rights.
‘What are you going to do by studying so much? Who is going to marry you? focus on learning the household chores than these books. That’s what a guy and his family would look into while marrying you’, The family reasoned.
But she fought and fought. She ended up getting a bachelors degree while giving birth to three kids. And then a government’s job right after she gave birth to her third kid.
Mom was supposed to sacrifice her ambitions and desires in order to raise her kids, take care of her family. I am so glad she chose otherwise. We got to learn a lot from her over the course of her lifetime. Not to mention the unflinching support from my father. That will be a blog post for another day.
It’s been said time and again, a woman needs to earn her money, be her own boss. Mom not only earned money for herself, she invested them in the future of us kids. She didn’t need to ask for money from anyone and did everything as she pleased.
Few of the naysayers did question her about the need to leave kids at home and go out and earn money. But it didn’t deter her from the dreams she had, a better life and education for her kids.
Age appropriate life skills to kids:
We were taught to do household chores early on in our childhood. Mom wasn’t smothering us or spoon-feeding everything to us. We were supposed to take care of ourselves and our parents would interfere if only we went wrong. My siblings and I learnt cooking without the differentiation of it being a women’s job.
My brother was taught the same thing as I and their were no relaxation just because he happens to be a man.
Lessons of gender equality:
My father was always in the kitchen or right beside my mother. He never left mom alone or fawned that it’s not his place to be in the kitchen as a man.
In fact, dad was the one to encourage mom to study further and fuel her ambitions. We grew watching him doing chores alongside mom without the air of superiority that he is doing her a favor or something. They would divide the household chores in equal parts and help each other when in need. Dad deserves credit in equal parts for practicing gender equality at home and teaching us the value of the same.
Social interaction for kids.
Mom and dad weren’t always around to supervise us or do things for us. We were left to do things on our own as we pleased. At times we succeeded in our endeavors and at other times, we failed marvelously. The feeling of being able to do things on our own gave us confidence to grow on our own and we were running to our parents for every small thing.
Elevated self worth:
My mother was a social butterfly in a true sense. She loved being a teacher and the students gave her a purpose in life other than our family. Getting up every morning and being a teacher other than a wife and a mother enthralled her. The school and the teaching staff were her community. She always looked forward to her interactions with them.
They inspired her to be a better version of herself. She loved her life and fought off the challenges life threw at her.
Her identity as a teacher not only made her happy, they fueled her self esteem as well.
She very well knew her worth and what she stands up for.
If only I could be a mother half as good as her.