A man has three mothers- his mother, his wife and his daughter - who influence his three stages in life - his boyhood, manhood and old age.
They say God could not be everywhere so he made ‘Mother’ and it is this emissary of God who shapes the boy into man. She is there, guarding him since the time God wills his existence in the cloistered nook of her womb. Her blood flows into him, her very breath gives him life and nurtures him till he makes his appearance in the world with a loud yell announcing his entry.
Each day is a day of discovery for him — and he looks up to his constant companion — mother to share his achievements. She is his teacher guiding him to higher and newer discoveries; his friend, sharing his joys and his solace. Nursing his physical and mental wounds. When he goes to school his teacher is an extension of the mother image and he lets her mould his mind and thinking.
At home, mother caters to his creature comforts and waters his mental growth. Her unfathomable love wraps a veil of security round him and within that, he slowly prepares himself for the battle of life. One day, he is suddenly out of this veil, he is no more ‘boy’ but ‘man’ and he seeks a ‘mother’ for this new role in life. The wife steps in - now the sole influence in his second phase. His mother takes a back seat, but retains his original attachment, for as one of the songs go- “you can always get another wife, but you can never get another mother in your life.”
The wife is a stranger — comes from a totally different set-up. She is seeing the full-fledged man with his set likes and dislikes - and philosophy of life. She has to get used to the stranger, and give him the love he is used to. It is to her that he turns now for all that he sought in his mother. The wife shares his life, his body and soul. With her he shares his most intimate moments. Opens his feelings in their raw state. She now acts as the guide, companion and solace. She can urge him to higher aspirations in life, she can goad him to the baser activities. He draws inspiration from her- her influence is the greatest on him, she can make or break him and her duty towards him becomes more multifaceted. She sees him with no mask, the real him, and becomes the mother who held him fresh in all his naked glory. That is why perhaps Browning said that a man has two faces- one he shows the world and the other, his wife.
The daughter then enters his life, bringing varied emotions. Unlike his mother of whom he is a part, the daughter is part of him. The bond of blood which is not there with his wife, is now wound round him and his daughter- who is a combination of the mother and wife.
He seeks in his daughter, a tender relationship. He bows to all her wishes, he hangs on every word she says and indulges all her whims, he sees in her his wife’s image, she is the miniature wife whom he can fondle with unsullied affection and this very attraction of hers enslaves, him.
He hands her over one day to another man to be what his wife is to him. So he goes back to his wife- now a broken man- with a vital part of him gone. By now he is in his second childhood, his mother is no more. It is the wife who assumes the role of mother, wife and daughter. She came to him a total stranger, and remains with him.... his only companion next to his shadow.... isn’t that why the Bible says ‘What God hath joined, let no man put asunder’!