Motherhood is a blissful state, and the joys that come with it are unparalleled. But what happens when a mother starts feeling that her worth in her child’s life has diminished? Close on the heels of Mother’s Day, I happened to watch the film Otherhood on Netflix. It was not a conscious choice. I happened to stumble upon it while browsing for movies, and the synopsis seemed interesting.
Otherhood definitely provided ample room for thought, but this article is in no way a review of the film. I simply wanted to reflect on a situation that many mothers with grown-up children might relate to.
A glimpse of Otherhood
Three suburban moms have known each other since their sons were six years old. They have bonded and remained friends for decades. It’s a yearly ritual for them to meet for brunch on Mother’s Day to share all that is going on in their lives. In one such meeting, they happen to confess to each other how distanced they have begun to feel from their sons. None of the sons have done anything special for them for Mother’s Day. The moms voice that at that stage of their lives, it feels like “otherhood” and not motherhood!
“What did we do wrong?” asks one mother as she wonders if they had erred somewhere while bringing up their sons. Another joins in by saying, “We did everything right. That’s what we did wrong.”
The three friends plan to make a visit to New York to surprise their sons who are undoubtedly taken aback. The rest of the film is how the boys and mothers deal with their emotions, their differences, and misunderstandings.
I let out a sigh of relief!
My 24-year-old was not at all in favor of me analyzing the film. He said that it was not fair to make generalizations and in no way did he belong to the club of indifferent sons. There is a scene in which one of the mothers asks her son to list 10 things he knows about her, which puts him in a fix.
Much to my kid’s annoyance, I wanted to pull his leg and asked him to do the same. I was pleasantly surprised when he said more than what I thought he knew about me.
Jokes apart, it is very natural for mothers with grown-up children to sometimes feel ignored or unwanted. This is especially true if it’s your heart that rules your head most of the time. You are definitely one of the toppers in the list of emotional moms if you have cried on your child’s first day of school. A thought might sink in that since he or she is independent now, you are not needed any more. There is a kind of loneliness that pervades the home once you are an empty nester. So is there some way to get out of this not-so-good feeling?
Rewrite the rules in your life
All along, you had only been a mother taking care of your children. Hustling around to make things perfect, you may not have had the time to breathe. Well, reinvent yourself and start making more “me time”. Brainstorm the list of things that make you happy. Take extra care of your health, which you may have neglected all this time. Pay attention to your personal grooming because it radiates a sense of self esteem.
Let your life blossom beautifully with friends and relatives
I have personally known moms who, while investing time with their children, have stopped socializing with others.They claim that they have no time. Do not ever make that mistake. One cannot be that busy to cut ties with their friends.
Your friends are the family you choose. Now that you have all the time with your kids gone, build that camaraderie to share the laughs and good times. It’s a new chapter in your life, and you are the author who can write the story beautifully!
Learning something new
Come out of the mindset that you are too old. As cliche as it sounds, age is just a number. It’s never too late to learn something. Give life to the dreams that you may have lost somewhere without knowing. Indulge in activities you love. Everyone has the potential to do something amazing; it’s just that the talent sometimes remains hidden and unexplored.
Never lose your individuality while being a mother
It’s a challenge to raise children, and parenting does not have a foolproof formula. You may have given the best years of your life to make your children successful and independent. That is fine, but always remember that you have an identity besides being a mother. Yes, you need to accommodate quite a bit, but do not sacrifice your wishes to that point that you are always being taken for granted. That will later make you question if being a mother is a thankless job!
Here’s a dialogue from Otherhood which makes so much sense. The character of Carol Walker, played by Angela Bassett, says to her son: “You know who you are without me; I need to figure out who I am without you.”
Finally, being practical helps in the journey of being an empty nester
Not always, but sometimes let your emotions take a back seat. Do not assume straight away that your children have not been in close contact because they do not love you or need you anymore. Give them the benefit of doubt, and consider the possibility that there might be a lot going on at their end which is keeping them occupied.
Also, as hard as it is, do not have too many expectations. You have done your part in raising your child. Just end it there, and do not hope for anything in return. Your joys will double when the love and concern come in without expecting much.
Happiness is a state of mind that we can create for ourselves. So let’s focus on the positives and make this transition to being an empty nester as joyful as ever!
(This article was featured in Women’s Web )