5 Life Lessons I Learnt From My Mother

As a person, I am not inclined to much of expressive writing on social media for years now. I rather prefer the intimacy of a phone call or WhatsApp to connect to people, with some social media stalking for healthy envy or keeping updated about distant people.

However, since the time I have started blogging I have realized that sometimes writing and letting the world know about something has its own place. In the 18 months of life that Elementum Money has seen, I have used it as a space not just to simplify personal finance but also to mark important occasions in my life, 5 years of marriage being a case in point. In 2 days, my mother turns 65 and I thought why not take this as an opportunity to make up at least a bit for the decades of selfless service that has gone in raising me.

1. You must always earn your bread

My mother is a masters degree holder in Hindi but wanting to utilize all her time to raise her kids, she never really took up a full-time job. This is probably one of the biggest regrets she holds to date. While growing up, I and my sister were always told that we should ensure financial independence by earning our own bread.

Yes, the much-revered Sadhguru might preach that motherhood needs to be the only identity of a woman. However, I will always be grateful to my mother for my feminist leanings, especially when it comes to having an identity out of the house, separate from that of being a wife or a mother (whenever that happens).

2. Evolve as a person and in mindset

In the three decades that I have observed my mother, I have seen the shifts that have happened. Coming from a conservative family in Ludhiana, it is no mean feat to raise two rebellious daughters in a tough city like Delhi. What has amazed me over the years is the gradual evolution in her mindset, amply aided by the fiery arguments between her and my sister (thanks to whom my battles were far lesser between me and my mother 🙂 )

To give you an instance, there was a point when my mother forbade her daughters from wearing sleeveless clothes. Traveling from that point to happily helping her daughter wear a tube gown and a mid-riff baring lehenga on her weddings is a journey not everyone can claim to tread.

3. Always keep learning

In the last few years, I have realized I am innately curious as a person and more importantly have an insatiable thirst to learn. I have a long list of things I would want to learn in my lifetime. In the last few days, pretty randomly it struck me that I could well have picked up this trait from my mother.

Though she has always been a homemaker, she has an inherent distaste for gossip and random chatter about people. So, she has always found out things that catch her fancy and dove deep in, be it naturopathy, painting or even starting a home business of woolens.

Now when I think of it, she also encouraged me and my sister to inculcate non-academic interests, be it classical dance for my sister or theatre in my case. I can say for sure that this trait of looking beyond books (at least the academic ones) has helped me grow as a person.

4. Be gutsy and stand up for yourself

My mother has this habit. If she thinks something is wrong, she will go to all lengths to get it corrected. In all honesty, I have been embarrassed about it at times too. But then, there have been instances which have driven the point of being courageous and holding on to stand up for yourself.

In school, we used to have annual athletic meets with different age categories for competition and the best athlete to be declared in each such category. I and the sports teacher had some history and were not very fond of each other. In the first year, where I participated, my medal tally was better but thanks to some power moves, another girl was adjudged the best athlete. My mother hung on to that like a piranha and just did not let go for weeks, complaining at every level possible, till the time they acknowledged the error and declared me a joint winner. The next year, the same power moves, same result and same persistence from my mother.

As she has told me and displayed in some of her actions, if you know you are right, you better fight for your right.

5. Let your children grow wings

My sister has now been in the US for almost 16 years whereas I moved to Mumbai over 11 years back. Every time, on the last day of my sister’s India visit, I can see how her leaving again for a long period impacts her. In my case, when she proposed an arranged marriage match at a pretty young age for me, only because the guy lived in the neighboring locality of Noida, drove home the point about how much she wished her children would stay closer.

However, all those things aside, she has always encouraged me and my sister to grow wings and go places that we have only dreamt of. I have seen enough and more dependencies that a lot of parents build on their children in an effort to keep them close, even if it might mean stifling their aspirations. From my mother, I know that children deserve to follow their dreams, wherever it may take them.

I might not say it enough, but you have been an inspiration Mumma. And I can’t wait to see you in a few hours. Wishing you digitally in advance, a very happy 65th birthday.

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