This "Mother's Day" when I came across advertisements and competitions being organised on behalf of so-called organisations, it had taglines like, 'she has borne pain in bringing you into this world. Therefore, she understands you like no one else; she is your "Mother". Come celebrate this "Mother's Day" with us. Share with us an essay, or an article, or a picture that speaks about the bond that you share with your mother.'
Image courtesy- be-independent.co.uk
But here I ask the question, is it necessary that just being a biological mother makes one the "mother"? What about the surrogate "mothers" in this context? What about the hundreds of women going in for adoption today? Does adoption make them less of a "mother"? Cases are still prevalent where their "mothers discard newborn babies". Does the womb here signify motherhood in totality or is it the warmth, the support, the pillar of strength that all the more defines motherhood? Is it only about giving birth that categorises an individual as a "mother"?
I remember in class 1, I had hurt myself very badly and my class teacher Miss Tate had hugged me and had wiped away my tears. I still remember the moments so vividly, for I hardly did miss my "mother" then. Still today my teachers, the Sisters of my Convent School refer to me as their "child", some of them are unmarried and some are "childless" and some have their own "biological" children, but I refuse to believe that they are no less than my biological "mother". If my mother taught me the first lessons of life, then it was the teachers who did teach about the first lessons of love and warmth most importantly and in the process, they did not make me miss my “mother” in the tender years of childhood.
So when I see banners and posters on "Mothers day" stating sentences like 'she has given you birth, she knows you the best, tell her this "Mothers day" how much she matters' I find it problematic to accept. Giving birth necessarily is not instrumental in the best understanding of a person, I even know "mothers" who consciously use their children as a means to fulfil their egos and wills. "Mothers" are even such who brainwash their children against their dad, just because their relationship did not work out and instead this proves to their opponent husband that they are the winners in the battle in the context of their child. They never understand the needs of the innocent children who might want a "home" with parents and not a "perfect" mother telling them about the "imperfections" of their father. She is the "mother" but does she understand the needs of her child?
What about the millions of “mothers” who have a pet, children? Just because the pets don’t happen to be their biological issues, therefore, does it make them any less of mothers to their four-legged children? Whether it is about the fluffy cat that is kept as a pet, or the beautiful birds, or a cute little puppy, or an aquarium full of fishes, these pets are their beloved children. Not everyone can care for animals and birds understanding their unsaid needs and nurture them like true “mothers”. There exist a number of women who on principle keep a pot full of water during summers near a window, or on a balcony or in some open spaces to cater to the unsaid needs of the birds to help them quench their thirst.
If I may ask, I remember an episode in 'Satyamev Jayate' where they featured a couple who happily had adopted a deformed girl. They were so happy and proud about it. In the contemporary times, many couples do understand the pain of an unknown, discarded and deformed child and are giving such beautiful children the gift of home and most importantly; love and affection. Are they any less of being a biological "mother"?
We have many people working with special children, like the deaf and dumb, autistic, blind, etc. Such individuals train themselves especially, to understand the needs of such children. Here is not this construct of the biological "mother" contested?
To cite as an example, Mother Teresa is the universal figure of "motherhood" to the diverse people of the world across cultures. Mother Teresa has been an epitome of motherhood to the needy and poor, the sick and the homeless, the barren and the diseased. She is ‘Saint Teresa’ for the world, the perfect example of being the “Mother” without giving birth. Her tender care did heal the world with her universal quality of love, of affection, of kindness that all together signifies the sacred bond of motherhood.
In such cases, motherhood transgresses the bondage of the "womb".
We all have some "mother" figures in life, be it a well-wisher or a teacher, or some distant relative in some faraway land. "Mother's Day" taglines like the ones as mentioned above narrows down on the issue of "motherhood", and it also reminds some people of the absence of the biological "mother" in their lives.
For me it celebrates the womb; "motherhood" is a much broader concept in its essence and the warmth that it signifies. Therefore is not the so-called "Mother's Day" in this context a subtle celebration of the womb? Give it a thought.