On Every Mother’s Day, There’s One Memory That Reminds Me How Universal Motherhood Is
- There are days that I still pause at those initial moments when destiny decided I become a mother.
It all started with the day I joined the exclusive and universal Mothers’ Club. The day our firstborn arrived, with fireworks and sparkles.
It was hard labor, me and my baby lost oxygen for some crucial minutes before she was delivered and brought to the world, by forceps. The gynecologist even claimed that it was one of his shining moments and a tough case in his career.
The initial moments when my baby arrived have been etched forever in my memory. The strange, but ecstatic feelings when I saw this small, delicate as porcelain, baby in my arms. I thought to myself — is this what the hullabaloo of ‘miracle of life’ is all about? The pains of labor seemed to have all melted away and frozen into this tiny person. Can a baby who is looking so vulnerable, make such an impact of steel? Well, it did, for me. Mesmerizing is what I would sum it all up.
From that day, all my ideals of working till the day I drop dead seemed to take a back seat. From a career woman, my priorities started to make a paradigm shift. I couldn’t think of anything else except to be with this bundle of joy presented to me. I was even surprised at myself for such a conviction.
My entire life started to get streamlined at that juncture. I took my role, a little too seriously, and wished to do the best on my newly allotted portfolio. So, started reading and sifting through endless child-rearing books that could lay my hands on. Finally, threw them all out. And, decided to let my heart lead the way and supersede my mind. A thumb rule that I try to follow to date. Which makes the trials and tribulations of raising children, a tad simpler.
Many years and another baby came along. With it, my views on mothering became even stronger. Watching our children grow is what I would consider a privilege. And, a right that can never be compromised. For anything in the world. From reading to them to having them read to you now, is pure pleasure. From you teaching them, to them pointing out gently any mistake you do now, is a great pride. And together, trying to navigate a complex world, is an adventurous journey.
The diagnosis and the tag of a “special needs” child came when my older daughter was around four years old. My husband and I went through our own journey of ups and downs, endless information from support groups, medical interventions, therapies etc. Our biggest and most significant decision was to move to India to raise our girls closer to home. There are days that I still sometimes pause at those initial moments when destiny decided that I become a mother. And, treasure them with immense joy.
And, on every Mother’s Day, there’s one memory that always comes back to me on how universal motherhood really is.
Throwback to the year 2007
I had found a tragic note in my child’s backpack. A chilling shiver ran through my spine. The note read that our elementary school principal had lost her 20-year-old son in the Iraq War recently.
We read about the war almost every day in the news, but when it gets closer to someone we know, why does it just hit you like a ton of bricks? I went through a gamut of emotions — ranging from an immense sadness for the family, and heartfelt empathy for the mother losing a child, to liberally bashing the world at large for creating this war.
Then, reality struck as to how to approach the principal and convey my feelings to her. This was an unusual situation for me. In fact, never have I ever come across such a scenario in my whole life thus far. I gave this a lot of thought and ran through a whole lot of imaginary conversations and internal debates as to what would construe a sensitive conversation, something that would convey my feelings appropriately. Zilch. Nothing was quite convincing though.
The next day, I was at school to pick up my daughter and honestly, was secretly hoping to avoid running into her since I hadn’t planned anything. Suddenly, there was a tap on my shoulder and a familiar, booming voice wished me with a bright smile. There she was, the very person that I was carefully trying to avoid.
Words just blurted out of my mouth from nowhere — “Sorry to hear about your loss, Mrs….”. She looked at me for a moment and with tears in her eyes gave me a warm hug. That said it all. Then, we talked and shared words of comfort — one mother to another mother — a strange bond capable of breaking barriers.
And, I walked away with a heavy heart.
(Top image, courtesy av)
Jayashree Srikanth lived in the United States for 16 years, then moved to Bangalore with her husband and two daughters. She is a proud homeschooler of a special needs kid, who has a successful art career now and has won several awards including carrying the torch for the Rio Paralympics, in 2015. Her younger daughter is studying Neuroscience and Psychology at UCLA. Social work, writing, and traveling are her passionate hobbies.