03 December 2009

Mothers or Martyrs

Late last night, I received an sms asking if I was awake and if I had some words of wisdom to spare. Well, perhaps to share would have been a better word. The sender of the sms was lamenting that her children were ungrateful. They only look for her when they are in need and when things get better; they disappear without a word of gratitude. She went on to tell me that she could forget it but she felt hurt and disappointed. I did not really get what she was trying to say. My advice to her was to let it be. I told her to do what she could and to be happy to have helped. Most important of all, I told her to do it with a giving heart. Not to expect anything in return for whatever kindness done is probably best.

Frankly, her problem is that she helped her children with the idea that she would receive something in return.

I thought about it a little more. I wonder if mothers are supposed to be martyrs. Surely, that isn’t a pre-requisite.

I have heard of mothers who give their all and do their utmost for their children. They are self-sacrificing and think nothing of themselves except to be the model and perfect mom. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve also heard of mothers who give birth then leave the kids to maids and never really have that natural mother/child bond. To the latter, having that baby was just part of an agenda in the book of life. I know that there a millions of scenarios and these are just two.

I think that expecting some acknowledgement from one’s children for what we do for them is not entirely wrong. However, if we want gratitude (in the form of a reward), then it becomes bizarre.

I don’t imagine myself as a “perfect” mom. I suspect it’s kinder on the children when the mother has flaws. It makes her approachable. A less than perfect mom would also be able to empathize with a child that is learning, searching and making mistakes along the way.

I remember when my boys were toddlers, “Dynasty” or “Dallas” were the hits on TV. I was a great fan in those days. When the show came on, my boys knew that whatever they asked of me, during that one-hour show, I would respond with, “Wait for the advertisement!” They understood that it was “my” time and that during the intervals I would attend to them. If they forgot, I only had to say “Wait” and they would finish my sentence with “for the advertisement!” It turned out to be a game for them. Did it make me a bad mom? I don’t think so. My sons gained valuable lessons there. I think they learnt not to be demanding. They know that waiting a while is not a bad thing. Probably some moms knowing I did this would cringe in horror that I could put TV before my sons. My own aged aunts raised their eyebrows at the many unorthodox methods I have used with my own flesh and blood. In reality, it’s my decision since it’s my responsibility.

Today, everyone tells me that my son is such a “nice” person. “Nice” is good! “Nice” is what’s inside of him. The external qualities don’t mean a thing unless his heart is nice. I’m patting myself on my own shoulder for this!

Coming back to a mother being a martyr, I believe that a mother, who does everything out of love for her child, does not ever expect anything in return, not even gratitude. The mothers who have mechanically looked after their child, doing only what society expects them to do, are the ones that end up feeling unloved, unappreciated, disappointed and sad.

This is probably what happened to my night smser. Her kids are all grown up. They are all married. She feels her job is done and it’s payback time. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. They all have their lives to lead. The sooner she realises it, the better it will be for her.

Such is life!


Antares said...

This woman has been reading all the wrong books and hanging out with all the wrong friends. She's a living cliche, poor thing! Please recommend that she get ahold of Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch! :-)

Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

I'm afraid this woman hasn't read the wrong books. She's not read any at all. Her lessons in life have been learnt from watching too much TV and movies. It's sad because I doubt she was looking for answers. She wanted support which I couldn't give. :(

Patricia said...

This less-than-perfect mum concurs with everything you say.

I know I raised my two with love, most of the time. I had bad days, and I had badder days, but there were also days when I snuggled them, and told them stories, and baked their favourite cakes for tea!

Insurance. I think that's what many mums and dads feel their kids are. And therein lies the problem.

I want only for my children to be happy, and for their adult selves to love and accept me for what I am. Cukup lah, tu.

Estrelita Soliano Grosse said...

Pat dear, You used the word "insurance" that I wanted. Somehow tha word escaped me when I put the post up.

You are absolutely right that some parents consider their children like insurance policies and want to make their claims when they feel that the policy has matured. How sad is that, huh?

Take care, now! Hugs for you, ya!