As we are going to celebrate Mother’s Day tomorrow, it feels like a vamp to not plan something for your mother. This ideal of motherhood remains stigmatised if you question the validity of this concept of the epitome of love. The kind of relationship bond that must remain unwavering and loyal forever. So automatically, one is expected to go with the flow and celebrate this day with a special gesture. Of course, it doesn’t matter if, for the rest of the month, one ignores a mother’s pleas or dismisses her needs altogether. What matters is the photo op on this special day.
On the other hand, the mother is also expected to be this godlike woman who must be capable of overlooking all misdemeanours of her children unquestionably. A mother is put on a high pedestal. She must remain on point to stay in that exalted position till she is alive.
An ideal mother can’t be seen pursuing her work, wanting casual sex, smoking, or being an irresponsible drunk. She must be attentive to her children. Unlike the father, who is not expected to be this all-encompassing, God-like creature who is willing to happily sacrifice youth and ambition for the sake of his children,
It also doesn’t help that discount on clothing brands, images of a twining mother-daughter duo on fashion sensibilities, restaurants that offer a Mother’s Day culinary package, or holidays that promise a memory scream into our senses from every nook and corner of our social media feed. So automatically guilt sets in if one chooses to ignore this special day that has been carefully created by marketing and advertising companies for people to shell out money and not treat this day like a regular day of the week.
But there is a new viral momentum gathering around #regrettingmotherhood that is slowly becoming intense. Many women are slowly opening up about their inability to handle the huge social and bodily changes that motherhood brings upon them. Till now, it seemed as though expressing these life-altering changes made a woman look like a monster. But thankfully, many women have begun writing and speaking up on issues of gender politics that have been weighing heavily on women’s ability to play the roles laid out by patriarchy. Motherhood is not all joy and happiness as it appears; for many, it can be a very difficult change as well as an arena of oppression and subordination in families where the mother is forced to give up her work, thereby also losing her financial independence. In such situations, the mother remains insecure and unhappy, raising children without any hope or means of financial security for herself. All this is increasingly leading to women not wanting children.
Many opt to adopt puppies or kittens. So apart from pet parents, now there is also voluntary childlessness, which is called being childfree.
This is the decision to not have children, irrespective of the ability to have one. But to date, across cultures, choosing not to have children is difficult and considered undesirable for a couple.
Today, many women are also delaying having children. They want to be like the husbands for whom it is okay to play Santa Claus on weekends and remain disconnected through the week as they pursue their passions and ambitions. Therefore, many mothers silently wish they were the fathers instead.
Mohua Chinappa is an author and runs a podcast called The Mohua Show