Every second Sunday of May, we are reminded of our debt: mother’s day.
It’s a debt alright; you are around, fed and educated because your mother insisted. This insistence may have been a pain, motherly love comes in various colors and shades including – and more often than you think – the crusty kind hidden under thickening layers of pessimism. But I shall never forget the mother I once had sitting across of me in a European train compartment. She was a visitor from India in the traditional sari and an absolute genius in handling her son. The only way to describe it is to say, that her (six year old?) son was hopelessly in love with his mother. Truly a rare sight, not every mother is a genius, but this person was. She had it all: she was attractive and tall with a light touch for her son, smiling with not even a hint of condescension, and yet completely in control without even saying a word, and the boy was absolutely glowing for her.
A passing observation, but it made you feel envious. The childhood you didn’t have. Couldn’t have. Because your own mother wasn't like this: left without alternatives and choices she had to wrestle herself through mounting obstacles and survive the curveballs defeats and disappointments life had been thrown at her, and in between learned on the job how to be a mother. Motherhood became a source of bitterness. She couldn't help it, she didn’t have it in her. Raw motherhood is still an indictment for the shamelessly commercialized bullshitting of our (in truth a-)social media and of so called experts on the subject.
The wife of a friend of mine once told me, she and her husband (both with academic credentials) had had read pretty much everything on parenthood and it was just of no use. Things always turned out different. We lost sight of each other when Aurelio was still small and a handful. We met again when the wee boy had become a towering guy looking down on me (and his parents) and had left the country for his studies in Cambridge – he is now a physicist.
I don’t think that we children ever fully appreciate what source of existential trouble and phobia we often have been, and I don’t mean having been naughty, just simply by being present and becoming a source of despair because nothing seems manageable for her, things she keeps to herself, hiding it even from her husband.
So once a year we remember and send a card and buy flowers. It isn’t exactly a stretch, is it?