The Changing Faces of Indian Moms

‘Maa to Mumma’, modern motherhood is so different from before!

When we use the term “mom” in the Indian context, especially in olden times, the picture that comes into our minds is that of a quiet, docile, simple woman who is happy to live within the four walls of her home, taking care of her children, husband, elders, and family. She is not aware of the world beyond her home, and many a time she hardly ventured out as all that she needed was provided for her. Her whole world surrounded her family, home, and hearth. She had nothing to do with the outside world. She was always available 24×7 for her family… waiting patiently for her husband to come home, her children from school, feeding them, and many a time eating the bare titbits remaining after the family had eaten.
She was always the first to get up before dawn, making sure breakfast was ready for the family, packing lunch for her husband and kids, and what little free time she got was used up in cleaning up the house, washing clothes, and cleaning the vessels, and if she was lucky, she would manage maybe half an hour of sleep.
This trend continued and still exists in rural villages, but as modernization came in, women started going to schools and colleges, and as westernisation spread into towns and cities, the picture started changing gradually, and we began to see educated women in many professions walking and standing side by side with their male counterparts.
As the years passed, the old image of the stay-at-home simple mom faded away, and in a click of a button, there emerged the modern mom, more aware, more advanced, and intelligent; once she started earning and became financially independent, she became more confident, bolder, and outgoing. It was not just the women who changed; even the men wanted an educated wife, a modern wife who was earning and contributing to the household.
Where initially the child was always pampered, held closely, and never left alone, now the picture changed dramatically. In came nannies, maids, and household help who looked after the kids when both the mother and father worked. In fact, the kids would be spending more time with the nannies and maids than their mothers, who, being working mothers, hardly had time to look after the kids. Cooking was out, and in came fast food, ready to make packets, or a cook was hired to cook for the family. Entering the kitchen was out and being served hot meals by the maids or taking out became a fashion… Out went healthy, homemade food, and in came fast food trash.
Modern mothers today lead a life of their own, not saying that they stopped loving their kids, but the attention paid to the kids lessened to such an extent that today’s kids become self-reliant at a very young age and accept the fact that their parents are too busy and many a time hold a lifelong grudge against them. In our fast-moving world where everything is automated, keeping track of kids is so easy: click of a button, send a message, and get a reply… Meal times are no longer family times as each is busy with their phones and there is hardly any conversation… The only sound heard is the clicking of phones, forks, and spoons clashing. Modern technology fast forward revolution has created a gulf between the mother-child bonds.
Taking time out for children is a task for most modern working women, especially single working women who have to depend on their parents, maids, and babysitters to take care of their kids while they are out. The concept of one family under one roof is slowly being replaced by one roof but different rooms in the house, with each person preferring to eat alone while watching their favourite shows or checking their messages. Kids today don’t want to be a part of family functions, and family holidays are a thing of the past.
The days when the entire family would look forward to an outing, movie, or picnic have been replaced with the concept of “each to oneself.” Today’s mothers do love and care for their kids, but the way to express and show their love and care has changed over the years, and the toll and pressure of working and earning more money to make ends meet is a challenge that is taking them away from the small pleasure of a family, spending time with kids, listening to them, and giving them quality time.
I miss seeing children holding their parents hands, hugging them, listening to them, finding time for them, however busy one may be…And as this trend deepens, the gulf between the mother-child bond is slowly slipping away, unaware of the irreplaceable consequences it is leaving behind. Where once a house used to be full of laughter, music, and the shouting of kids and family, today there is a silence that is frightening and feels like a ghost house.
I recall the famous ghazal: “apne hi ghar main kisi aur ke ghar main hai.”

Bhavani Sundaram is based in Delhi and is a freelance writer.

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