The title attracted my attention Momism. Intrigued, I picked up the book from a wayside shop. What I read, threw light on the age old concept of motherhood. Trust Americans to come up with unusual theories! Momism, termed as asilent disease, is supposed to be peculiar to the middle-class American society but I feel it can easily be identified with Indian society as it exists today.
In a nutshell, Momism is all about the modern middle class American woman’s preoccupation with being a ‘good’ and ‘successful’ mother. The author is rather brutal in assessing this obsession and comes up with the ories that might touch the raw spot in any mother’s heart. One of the most shocking views that the author expresses is about how the modern day mother tries to fulfill her thwarted ambitions in professional life and diverts all her attention and energy to being a “successful” mother, thereby stifling the child both mentally and emotionally. Many misdemeanors of teenagers have been attributed to overzealous moms who have unintentionally but surely transferred their own frustrations to their children. By the time I had finished reading the book, I was sufficiently scared into asserting my own merit as a mother!
Over the years, the role of a mother has definitely undergone a drastic change. Elevated to Godhood, the ‘mother’ has been venerated in Holy Scriptures and hailed as ‘Matra DevoBhava.’ Even the skeptical and free-thinking Western philosophy believes that God could not be everywhere so he made ‘mother.’ My analysis of the evolution of mothers has been over the last three generations. The most interesting development has been in the attitudes and behavior of the mothers in their 40’s and 50’s what I would call the Nouveu Mothers (NM). Not as conservative as their own mothers, these NMs tend to temper their ‘motherism’ with traditional modernism and you have as a result, a variety of mothers who fall into certain categories:
The Ambitious Mother (AM) is always urging her children to do the things she secretly wanted to do herself but could not. I have seen many young girls do their Arangetram with such awkward movements that even their guru grimaces. When I asked these gurus why they allow their students to make fools of themselves, they put blame squarely on the mothers who pester them to hurry the debut. Recognising potential and encouraging it is fine, but forcing the child into something he/she has no aptitude for is criminal. You have a classic case of the mother of the Amritraj brothers who spent hours at the tennis court, watching her sons practice and even goading them when they slackened their pace or enthusiasm. Unfortunately, most mothers delude themselves about their children’s prowess and breathe down their neck. I still recall the heartrending cries of my neighbour’s six year old son as his mother bullied him into learning tabla. ‘No mama, please mama,’ he would wail and she would spank him. I tentatively suggested her to let him get over his resistance to the idea but she politely told me to mind my own business as she was hoping her son would be a better tabla player than her sister’s son! So, competition between sisters has to be through their children!
More cantankerous than the AM is the PM (Pushing Mother). These mothers don’t hesitate to flaunt their daughter’s physical assets to further their own ambitions. We hear enough of these in the film world. They are prepared to sacrifice their daughter’s happiness at the altar of their greed and avarice.
To be contd...