Exploring Patriarchy – Chapter 5
MM’s mother was her biggest support. A strong steady presence in her (MM’s) life through the good times and the bad – and irrespective of her (MM’s mother’s) good times and bad.
She helped MM explore new ways over the years, and taught her a level of independence that she herself hadn’t had as a young woman. An independence that she’d learned through trial and error, that made her extremely self reliant as she grew older, something unusual in a society where old age is tied to dependence and an inability to do one’s own housework, and look after oneself.
Independence is often learned through trial and error. Some success and some failure. Learning to pick oneself up and try again, until one finds a successful path. It’s hard for a mother to watch her daughter go through this process within the barriers families often have regarding the way things are done at home. Knowing how deep these unwritten rules can cut and how hard they can make daily living. I think some degree of separation in the mother-daughter relationship is needed to make this easier.
This is something many fail to do and it can create discord as the daughter tries to navigate barriers in her marital home and find ways to minimize chores. The mother might try to help her daughter by teaching her the ways of her generation. Try to help while not fully understanding that a daughter needs to adjust to the habits of a husband from a family with very different ways. And that both husband and wife need a middle path that makes both happy.
Not completely understanding the pressures of the life of the next generation or the personality mix within the family that is different for each new marriage. And therefore thinking all ideas that worked for the earlier generation are best for the new. THIS is think, is the mother wound of patriarchy and it extends beyond mother and daughter to other parent-child relationships and to relationships between women in general as regards bringing ease to housework. Because maybe, ideas on housework and cooking are deeply connected with the way families relate to each other within the home.
MM and her mother had not made this mistake, and there was much hope in their relationship. A willingness to lean on each other when needed, and a fierce independence at other times.
MM’s mother loved her sons and daughters equally, but she made one mistake. Instead of teaching all her children personal independence, she brought all her children up in the way that boys were brought up in her family tradition – taught to focus on studies and their hobbies to the exclusion of all else. And this left all of them, including MM, starting their lives with disorganized inefficient living and home management skills.
This was something MM’s mother would see later and look on with regret. Wondering why it had to be all or nothing. Why it had been so impossible for her to get her kids to do 5 minutes of chores daily or 30 minutes on weekends. Just a little bit so they learned work-life balance from the time they were young.
And because of the glorification of the mother that was so much a part of her family culture, she would feel deep guilt and self-recrimination. She would forget that being a mother doesn’t raise one to God-like perfection and take away one’s humanity – one’s fallibility.
She would forget that she had given her children the biggest gift that any parent can give their child. A gift that would last MM a lifetime and that she would treasure. ALWAYS.
A gift that my mother also gave to me.
You taught me to believe to have faith and to talk to a higher power everyday. First thing in the morning and at night before I went off to sleep. To think about the reasons to be grateful and to say thank you out loud. To talk about my worries and ask for help. And I believed. I knew there was always somewhere to go when things got rough and it wasn’t about religion, customs or traditions. You taught me to wake up every morning sit in a quiet corner at home, and feel the light. You called the light Jesus but you taught me that people call him by many different names. That there was no need fancy clothes and money. Because it was a personal one-on-one relationship between me and the powers that be. That all I needed was to feel the quiet and the silence. And I learned to find it even during times of turmoil - to believe even when I could not feel. The lessons we learn in childhood stick even though we sometimes go through the motions and say the words, but forget what they mean. Life decides when and what we need to learn and takes us in hand and we always go back to where we came from looking for answers. I did. And I learned again, to start my day in quiet and in silence and to practise being grateful every day. I say the words even when I don’t mean them and they slowly seep in and become the way I feel, and my life opens up. I’m grateful that I can find the quiet no matter how noisy it gets. For all that went well and for the mistakes I’ve made because they teach me the lessons I need to learn. I’m grateful that I can feel the comfort of the light and know it’s there for me always. For getting struggles I have the capacity to face. I know it’s not in my hands but I still hope that my struggles stay that way. I’m grateful for family, love and caring. And I’m grateful I can see that every struggle has been a part of a series of events that taught me joy. I feel the comfort of knowing I’m never alone because of this gift that you gave freely and I’m grateful for you. For this part of you, that will always be with me.
To my mother.
I invite you to read all chapters of Exploring Patriarchy and walk with Microwave Madam as she explores the impact of patriarchy on her life and on society. And looks for solutions.