“Describe Amma” I coax Pattu in an effort to catch her off guard.
“Amma loves me” she answers even as she furrows her brow working on her mother’s day card.
“What do you like best about Amma?” I persist
She thinks for a moment before answering and without lifting her head says “Hula-hooping”
I smile and continue. “What am I not good at?” “Tumbling” comes the answer.
I give up fishing for compliments and turn my energies to Ammu. The answers though predictable are startling.
Turns out Ammu likes the fact that I hug and kiss her. She thinks I love her a lot. She loves watching me feed baby. She also thinks am a good cook. Her face dims as a little when she reflects on what she does not like about me. “When you are mad” she says when I ask her.
An hour later after the twins are in bed and the littlest one looks comfy sleeping on her daddy’s lap, I sit to record the thoughts that have been running in my head all day. My first Mother’s day after the twins accorded me the title was one of focusing on the act of mothering. Mother as a verb I would tell myself. It was in every little moment I was with them or doing things for them. It hovered in the subconscious as I made decisions that would impact their future.
This Mother’s day is all about the physical demands of motherhood. The nurturing and sustenance of a tiny living being. Acts that do not involve thinking. It just is. As I feed, burp, change the baby, I realize my life at this age revolves around her. Her cries are demanding and incessant. This mothering is physical. It is about touch and smells. About being on call 24×7.
I think of my mother and something that a visiting friend observed. It is about holding back and filling in the gaps. About letting go and staying on the sidelines. About redefining boundaries and creating spaces.
I have been lucky on both ends. To have a mother who knows to step in and to stay out. To have children who remind me to restrain myself. To reflect on and acknowledge the imperfections that make me. To let go of the motherhood I had on a pedestal and embrace the everyday mothering I do.