This Women’s Day Inspirer post is special to me because it is about the most special person in my Life, My Mother.
When I was very young, about 3 years old, I would see my mother getting dressed in crisp cotton sarees every morning and going to work. My father picked me up from kindergarten school every noon and took me home. He would ensure that I was in bed for my post lunch afternoon nap before heading back to work. My mother would be home with my siblings at around 4 pm in time for my evening snack & playtime. I saw her cooking every morning, playing host at my father’s official parties and grading her student’s assignments – all with equal ease. I saw my father too, juggling his corporate role and domestic responsibilities without any fuss or embarrassment. His colleagues would often come in and see him sweeping our garden or washing vessels.
I accepted this situation as a normal part of Life and thought that’s how Life is in other homes too. Both parents went to work, both shared their domestic responsibilities and childcare. I took it for granted that “every adult” worked outside home, earned a living, and had an equal voice at home. Imagine my surprise when I saw a different situation in my friend’s homes. I often asked my friends why their mothers did not go to work, and the answer was the same. Who will look after the babies then and cook? I thought over this and answered naively – the Daddy and Mummy- both, of course.
I did not realise then how far ahead of her time my mother was. (I am talking about 50 years back). She never gave up on her dreams or allowed marriage & children to come in the way of her ambition to be a teacher. She completed her M.A in English Literature, Bachelors in Education (B.Ed) and Masters in Education – all post marriage. She had three kids, the youngest of whom is yours truly born 9 years after my eldest sibling. She taught English and Social Science at her school and ensured I got top grades in both (or else I would be suitably chastised!). She was a prolific writer and published several of her short stories and poems. She was always at the forefront at school fests, directing plays & dance performances. She went on to become the Principal of her school and was an inspiration to her colleagues.
Today, she is no more with us. And, I realise how much she influenced me to be – Me. I look back and realise how strong and determined she was. No drama, no rhetoric – just a calm and pragmatic approach towards Work-Life balance. She never wavered in her commitment towards her goals and did all she could to influence the women around her to become the best version of themselves.
Above all, she taught me that a complete woman is one who is proud of her talents and harnesses them to change her Life and the lives of the many women around her. Her ambition does not take away from her commitment towards her family nor does asking for help from her spouse make her any less of a “woman.”
A woman need not sacrifice her dreams nor give up on carving an identity for herself if she has the self-belief and courage to make her choices in Life. Memories of her calm demeanour, composure and strength will continue to light up my Life always.