Deeply entrenched conditioning

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I never thought about how parenting and its roles really affect decisions made by parents.

Read this story on Marie Claire (link courtesy)and then followed a blog link from that story and realised judgmental societies can be on mothers, and even parents. How much we, as society, expect mothers to be and give up.

For the longest time I always assumed when parents separated, the mother would be given custody. I even disagreed with this movie way back in college.  I never stopped to think about the conditioning behind that thought.

I don’t know when quite that mindset changed. I guess seeing friends who went on to become great fathers helped me to change that.

Today I am slowly evolving to think about how being a mother is just another role a woman plays, like a sister or a wife or a daughter. But often it overtakes all other roles. Conditioning today shows me that most women who become mothers feel very guilty about taking time for themselves.

I have cousins and friends who take breaks, leaving their children with their grandparents. It’s fantastic. They don’t resent all the time taking care of their children and even get some TLC, without only having to give. And I love that attitude. It allows children to get to know relatives better, appreciate time with parents better and perhaps become all rounded individuals.

Once long ago, in an old office, a colleague who was a psychologist has a told a mother when she was feeling bad that her son cried while going to school.. ‘The more you feel guilty, the more your child will exploit that. Your child can sense you feel bad when he cries, so he will cry whenever he wants to get his way. But you still have to do what you have to do.’

That is something perhaps a mother may not be able to accept but seeing all those fake tears on little babies (which are admittedly cute and unnerving at the same time), I can completely believe it.

cartoon 2

My mother often remarks, “What will I do once both you and your sister leave home?” Do what you did before we came along, is my answer. She seems stumped at that. I (not always gently) try to remind her of the time she had hobbies and interests and did different things. But her thought process is short term. She only sees emptiness.

I see an opportunity. For her to be able to travel or read or paint or do whatever her mind tells her to. But seems to have stopped listening to it. Do all parents become like this?

I have friends who make  cases for both sides of this argument. I veer more to the side retaining individual space but then am not a mother and am told that influences my opinion. I have the ideal view of parenting and it’s not easy to do, parents say. But since I see people do it around me just the same, I don’t get the fuss.

(Cartoon courtsey)

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4 responses »

  1. Hmm. I say the exact same thing to Dhanno, “What will I do once you leave?” It’s not that I don’t have a full enough life of my own, my work, my friends, reading, writing, husband of course, my own space but, but, but … no, you can’t go back to what you were when you were not a mother. A part of me can never wind down, can never stop thinking about her, feeling responsible. It would require an unnatural amount of detachment, I think.

  2. Banno: Stopping to think about your children completely, and not live a life without a children as the mainstay, to me, are different things.
    What I was trying to say is perhaps dividing your life in to different activities and not solely focusing on your children, could help you return to it later in life.

  3. Shesturningblue: maybe things change once you become parents, and conditioning demands you be a mother all the time, for the rest of your life? I don’t know. Maybe my selfish streak is coming to the fore.

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