We never stop seeking our parents approval. Their vote of confidence for our choices and our lives, remains consciously or unconsciously very important to us. So you can imagine how pink with joy I was when this year, on my 38th birthday like every year, that one travel worn birthday card, yet again, made the long journey across continents to my mail box. 'I'm so amazed and proud of you' it said 'that I want to shout out, "That's my daughter!"
And no, I am no nobel laureate. My accomplishments are nothing out of the ordinary -which is another way of saying I have none to boast of. I went through a decent education, work at a decent job, raise 2 kids and some fish.....I live an average life and grow some flowers in my garden. My biggest accomplishment is to keep physical and mental stability -when I do accomplish those, that is. And yet she wants to shout out with pride "That's my daughter!"
I was one of those delightfully charming rebellious adolescents. I raged a constant battle for justice, equality and freedom that I believed was enjoyed by my 3 older brothers in different measure and means than I was allowed. Swaraj was my birthright, and I wanted to have it too! (My own daughter is now 8 going on 16, payback time is around the corner I fear!). My mother's soft nature belies her steely strength. A clever camouflage that several sorry people made the terrible mistake of misjudging. My Dad, bless his heart, to this day is clumsily misjudging, perpetuating his learning process. It was a credit to her temperament how she deflected most sparks I flung her way, leaving the fighting up to me. I took it on. Someone had to do it! Although quite the opposite in character herself, shying away from confrontations, she patiently bore my renegade spirit without stifling it and sat out my rather tiresome effusions. If today I'm given to unabashed toughness, woman or not, it's because this gentle lady let me.
Of weaknesses, the greatest of hers are us, her family. Each time any harm comes our way, her otherwise calm composure receives a proper buffeting leading to a loss of control. Since I am a living germ-meter, I catch every bug there is to catch. Her worried brows have spent many a long hours, all summed up perhaps even years, watching over me.
A child's perspective is so wonderfully absolute. The world as they know it, is the world as it is. There are no other versions. I believed that's what mother's do. Their lives consist only of a string of opportunities to support and protect their children. What else do they have to do? She is here for me. For a child to know that with unappreciative detachment, is to know with complete and total certainty that it has unconditional, selfless, secure love. A standing invitation to take it for granted, to be reckless. Because it will never wear out.
She is funny too, with her fears. I remember the time, one of the many times, I lay in a hospital bed spent from some sub-tropical disease or the other I had merrily contracted. Exhausted, I had finally found sleep after restless hours. All the time, with her by my side. Watching me closely. No sooner had I floated into peaceful slumber than I was shaken awake vigorously with someone repeatedly yelling my name. 'Sorry, were you sleeping?' she asked into my aghast face. What she didn't say, but had splashed all over her face was 'I thought you were dead!'
The other time, at the spectacular end of a very challenging twin pregnancy, I made for a worrisome sight as my body kind of went on strike at the most crucial juncture, trembling violently with a rising fever. She was there too. She's just always there. The rock that we are all anchored to. The doctors decided on an emergency C-section. Everyone around must have spoken german and looked quite grim when the decision was pronounced. The next instant, my husband tells me, she was gone, had found her way to the hospital chapel and was deliriously explaining to a bunch of blank faced Turks, that spoke neither English nor German, that her only daughter was probably going to die giving birth to twins and there was nothing else she could do but to storm heavens!
There were times I observed with some amount of annoyance how thin she spread herself for us, wondering where the self-respect was. Provocatively I dug and poked, testing for the limits of this dedication. There were none. She always knew, with vivid clarity, which side of the fence she was on. She knows what she cares about and she could weather every storm for it. Fiercely independent, intelligent and hardworking, she taught me a women can raise (4) kids, run a home, hold a job and be her very own person. With her many faults, she still mastered motherhood flawlessly, by her own convention, giving effortlessly, naturally, unendingly.
In a place rife with mindless female infanticide, when asked why she had 4 kids, she has always answered (I love this part!), 'I was waiting for a daughter'.
For this and many more reasons, I'm so amazed and proud of you, that I want to shout out, "That's my Mother!!!"