“A mother’s arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them”—Victor Hugo (1802-1885)
Who can deny the importance of a mother to a child? From keeping the baby in her womb for a full nine months, bearing the pangs of birth and then raising it until he or she is independent. The many sleepless nights, attending dutifully to all its needs, ensuring meals on time, bearing the agony of a wailing injured child, are some of the elements of the price of maternal love which only a mother single-handedly pays. Of course exceptions are there but these are never the rules. Thus, many women do become mothers but may not be as proficient as could be desired but then they are not the ones under discussion—only the true moms.
When those with living moms are questioned about their relationship, they have many things to say. Some consider her as a very strong emotional support who is willing to shock absorb the many tantrums thrown by members of the family and who keeps her children from getting hurt. Most cherish her touch, hug and kiss as having healing effect on their wounds, both physical and emotional. Many feel that no matter what their behavior is or no matter how hurtful things they may utter, the only person in the world who whole-heartedly forgives, is their own sweet mother. She has the capability to ignore not only minor lapses but even major delinquencies/misconducts so much so that even when she is scolding her children, they rush to her for shelter knowing very well that this momentary phase of reprimand would soon pass. Many women, especially in Pakistan, have been known to have given up their promising careers only to stay home and bring up their children with complete dedication.
Mothers, who are supportive in more ways than can be stated in words, have kids who are high achievers. Whether it is staying awake for their sake all through the night, preparing food, attending to their different needs, they are always there. From personal experience I can say with confidence that the mother of a deaf and dumb daughter, who devoted her life to raising child with such devout attention that the girl attained a masters degree in special education earning a gold medal. She is presently pursuing her doctorate from an American university. This is just one of the myriads of examples of successful men and women who have a determined mother providing moral and physical back-up, accentuated by her prayers. She is eager to share her children’s dreams and aspirations so it really is no wonder that most highly acclaimed personalities on being endowed with honours never forget to give due credit to their mothers.
In addition to sharing dreams, moms also are powerful vaults harbouring secrets about her offspring known only to her, having raised them from the cradle to making them sound adults. If anyone is totally exposed to anyone, it is the son or daughter of a mother, who is completely aware about each and every aspect—the good and the bad—of her child’s life that is deeply embedded in her mind. She is therefore, a good friend, a keen listener, a sharp onlooker and strict disciplinarian. At times she can appear irritating, especially when children want to party, for example but are forced to stay indoors or to do something ‘boring.’ Not that she wants to deprive her kids of some pleasurable moments but for protecting them from some unseen harm that she may discern instinctively. None can beat the maternal sixth sense that has prevented many from falling prey to the hands of a cruel fate.
Out of those who are blessed with a living mother many respect and obey her whole-heartedly but some usually take her existence for granted. Although she relentlessly serves her children twenty four-seven with no holidays, in return she is sometimes faced with forever sulking faces and grumbling voices. Old age homes are fraught with stories of abandoned mothers who are cared for by strangers because their own children have turned their faces away and left them at the mercy of others. Despite such irksome and obnoxious behavior, a mother continues her job with a smile overcoming her anger and where she bears desertion her prayers never cease but what about those unfortunate souls who, at a tender age are mercilessly separated from their mother either on account of her death, her divorce, or some other reason?
What is it to live without one’s mother is something that only they who have suffered this pain would know especially if they enjoyed a very close relationship with her. Perhaps an infant does not face that agony if taken care of by a loving foster mom but the experience is most distressful for those under-age children who are consciously aware of her existence. Loss of all kinds of relations can be compensated, even that of a father, but none can replace a mother. The umbilical cord may be a physical connector but in reality it is symbolic of that unbreakable lifetime of spiritual bond between a mother and her child. When this connection is broken prematurely, (it can be compared to loss of an important body part) for a while it leaves a person psychologically handicapped.
“You are now forced to cope with the loss of parental love and attention that was given uniquely to you, and that you depended on, possibly even took for granted”,says Carol Staudacher, grief educator, consultant, and author of the book “Beyond Grief.”
Besides feeling totally helpless, a child is pushed into perpetual grief, first at the time of death or separation and then practically each day as her absence becomes profound with very minor things like cutting nails and making hair to redressing the psychological pains of physiological changes that occur when stepping into adolescence; from small incidents at school to major events like graduation and wedding. The ensuing years may make a person ferociously independent and self-sufficient but can never ease the agony of tearing apart from one’s mom. Perhaps the most distressful aspect is the loss of that friend who knows you inside out.
The slightest flicker of emotion on one’s face can be accurately perceived by none other than the mother. As far as her child is concerned, she is the only one who can take its tantrums without feeling any resentment, pacify with maternal patience and understand without being judgmental. Her cool hand under the cheek of a sleeping toddler is a source of tremendous security. No abode is as safe and comfortable as the lap of one’s mom. Her smile is more radiant than the bright summer sun, her hug is the most assuring physical contact, her unconditional love can never be replicated, even her rebuke is laced with concern, her voice is sweeter than music and in short, there are no words that can adequately portray what a mother is to her child. Learn to love and care for your mother for as long as she is alive because there is no second version.
The writer, lawyer and author, is an Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)