Being a single girl child, I have always been the apple of my parents’ eyes. Till college, my only job was to study and was never expected to do any kind of household tasks. My parents are quite traditional and believe that girls should be treated like princesses. All that matters to them is that I am brought up with good morals and can think independently, it is alright if I do not lift a finger at home. My dad’s logic is that I need to be cherished while I’m young because I will have a lot of responsibilities once I get married and step into my spouse’s house.
Growing up, I have always regarded my mother as my best friend. She is my pillar of strength, motivator and counsellor. She is always there for me when I need her. She is an excellent homemaker. She prefers doing everything herself as she wants things done her way and suspects that others may not be up to the mark. She singlehandedly manages everything at home.
Once I started working, I would help out my mom with some of the chores during the weekends and chip in occasionally on weekdays. These were little things like chopping the vegetables, washing the clothes in the machine, filling up water bottles, making tea, etc. It made me proud that I could find a way to help her, even when she did not want me to.
A few days back, my mom went on a ten days trip to Mumbai with our relatives. My dad and I could not take time off work so we couldn’t accompany her. She was worried about how we would manage because this is the longest time we were going to be without her. I insisted that she go with peace of mind, asked her to stop worrying about us and have fun for a change.
The ten days without my mom by my side made me stop and notice all the little things that she has been doing every day for more than two decades. I missed waking up and seeing her face first thing in the morning. I missed her hot cup of filter coffee. I missed our morning talks. I missed teasing her and seeing her fake anger. When I got back from work, hungry and tired, I missed how she always had the dinner ready. Every day felt incomplete because I had no one to share the day’s events with. Talking on the phone is just not the same as talking to her in person.
With my mom in Mumbai, I had to pick up some tasks to make the house run. My typical mornings involved waking up early (which is a pain because I’m a night owl), making coffee, cooking breakfast and lunch, washing the clothes and packing lunch. When I get back from the office, there was tea to be brewed and dinner to be cooked. Thanks to the help who promptly disappears whenever my mom is away, doing the dishes and sweeping the floors were also added to my list of tasks. On the first day of my mom’s travel, I was sceptical that we would manage without her, but I assured her on the phone that we were doing fine.
I loved cooking as a hobby during the weekend, but cooking two to three meals for ten days was not fun. I felt like I was working all the time, both at home and at the office. There was no free time and I was worn out. There were days when I was sleep deprived and looked like a zombie. I wondered how working moms struck a work-life balance. I was clearly missing something.
My dad knew I would not be able to hold on this way for long. In spite of my protest, he bought dinner from a restaurant every other day and that made things a lot easier. He offered to help on multiple occasions, but having inherited my mom’s traits, I refused to let him do anything. So, he did little things like fill the water bottles, chop the vegetables and boil milk for coffee. These little things made a huge difference. Seriously, having someone to make me coffee in the morning was a big deal. That single cup of coffee had the ability to pump me up for doing all the chores of the day.
The ten days passed and mom was back. She was surprised that we survived without her. She said she was proud that the two of us did not burn the house down and did not bite each other’s head off. I was exuberant to see her, so I ignored her exaggerated comments.
Having always looked at my mother as my friend, philosopher and guide, I never noticed the effort she puts in for the family. I’ve always known my mom is a Wonder Woman and has made many sacrifices for me but missing her put a lot more things in perspective.
Her trip made me appreciate her more than ever. I realized that I cannot do it all and was thankful that my dad helped out even when I asked him not to. I learnt that it is alright to get help and should try not to do everything by myself. I developed a newly found respect for all mothers. I was able to empathise with people living on their own, away from their family. I started admiring my colleagues who are mothers. I resolved to help out my mom every day and not just on weekends. That is the least thing I can do for everything my Wonder Woman does for me.