“My mom” is one of the most frequent
statements that we use when we first begin speaking. While mothers are depicted
as “the most beautiful, the most intelligent, the most …” until the
adolescence, from that time on it takes another turn and statements such as “my
mom is so strict, she would never allow me, I am so mad at her” come to be
heard more often. Later on, you grow up.
As time goes by, you realize that you begin to be like your mother about whom
you said “I will never be like her”. In fact, you realize that all the things
you were mad at, found wrong are right indeed. Just then you remember your
mother’s word: “You will understand when you are a mother yourself” and you
smile. However, what you understand most is that being a mother does not mean
just giving the birth. Although counterarguments are typically spoken out,
being a mother does not mean self-sacrificing, devoting yourself to children,
or claiming a right on the children’s lives.
WHAT DOES “BEİNG A GOOD MOTHER” MEAN?
If you become a mother deliberately and willingly,
your baby will intuit it. Babies who are in need of care for a long time
starting from the birth do understand if the caregiver is ready or not. If you
are ready for it when you become a mother, the feeling of security your baby
experiences forms the basis of his/her mental health and influences your baby
throughout his/her life. Establishing the feeling of security is just the
beginning, but not sufficient for being a good mother. We start thinking about
what we do in each step after becoming a mother. “Am I a good mother? Am I
doing the right thing? But the only way to achieve this is not trying to be
perfect, and not wanting perfect children, since as you try to become perfect,
worries and worry-related mistakes increase. Our baby will become a healthy
individual, when he/she achieves the separation and individualization processes
just after forming the relationship with us. Worries may constrain the baby’s separation.
Not allowing him/her eating meal, changing clothes, making the bed, cleaning
himself/herself after toilet, sleeping separately, having bath, doing homework or
preparing the school bag on his/her own, and still complaining about the child
is not responsible, and not doing well is not the way of being a good mother.
Spending all your time with your child, and ensuring him/her to do everything with
you and taking pride in your child’s falling all over you, thinking and making
decisions for him/her is not the way of being a good mother. These kinds of interfering
actions lead your child to become an insecure, clumsy, coward and dependent
adult in the future. This does not mean that your child loves you more or
respects you more when you make decisions for him/her about what to wear, which
school to attend, which job to have, even who to marry or how to raise their
children. It means that he/she is an adult who can not make his/her own
decisions, and who can not carry out the requirements of being an adult.
The number of mothers who try to carry out their
children’s all demands and can not say “no” in order to prevent them from
getting sad, disappointed, or hurt, is increasing day by day. In point of fact,
not setting limits and not being able to say “no” to your child will cause
him/her to get sad, disappointed and hurt in the future. Children who have not
encountered with limits get confused and withdraw when facing with life issues.
These children also display destructive behaviors to themselves and others;
they are not able to judge the results of their behaviors and they typically expect
you to relieve him/her of the consequences.
MOTHERS OF MY COUNTRY
I wanted to put a piece of poetry, or a quotation from
a literary work at the beginning of this writing. However, I couldn’t find a
couple of lines about mothers that are cheerful and lively. All the texts
written about mothers and motherhood are full of pain, sorrow, loss, and regret.
Mothers are depicted as self-sacrificing and long-suffering in all texts.
Mothers who do everything for their children and never think about themselves…
Mothers who suffer all the time and are never treated as they deserved… It
seems that we lay the burden of solving all the problematic issues about women
that take their source from the social misattributions on children. We unfortunately
have decided children are the ones who are responsible for fixing the
situation. It may be the case that children, as the next generation, have a
role in claiming the rights and entitlements of women. On the other side, expecting
our children to pay for this individually and arrange their lives in accordance
with their mother’s lead to unfairness.
Does being a mother really mean self-sacrificing?
Aren’t we in expectation of a return from our children indeed? It is not a rule
of thumb, but commonly we expect them to be nice, hard working, well educated, well
employed etc. Even though we often say that we don’t expect anything from them,
actually we expect our children to take care of us when they grow up. I seem to
hear the objections: “we want everything for them”. Of course, we want
everything for them. But then, we feel disappointed when our children don’t
agree with us, don’t call us as much as we expect, or when we get an impression
of them spending more time with their spouses or their friends. Moreover, we
reflect our disappointment to them. Conflicts with the mother-in-laws are much
more prevalent relative to other countries. And we object to our children’s
independence much more than other people. Our way of treating our children goes
from being too indulgent to being too strict. We can change our attitudes
according to our mood. As our children can not watch our mood changes, they get
confused about what is right and what is wrong. To make matters worse, we try
to take other people’s words into account while treating our children.
Being a mother should mean that loving the baby who is
in need of help from you from the moment that he/she is born, helping him/her
to grow up in a healthy way so that he/she can become an independent adult.
During this long process, the only thing that is everlasting is the reciprocal
love. And this love is so invaluable and unreciprocated that cannot be measured
with a gift or a phone call on a special day. No gift that the system imposes on
you on Mother’s Day can symbolize the relation between you and your mother. What determines your relationship is how much
you know each other besides your mother-child relationship. When you are able
to share and understand each other, the happiness of being a good mother and a
good child will be enormous.
Prof. Dr. Bengi Semerci