Two stories, both about mothers from two different situations. You get to pick which one lingers in your heart for longer. 

Story –1 

It was an unusually sunny morning in the city of San Francisco. It was cold with a chill in the wind yet the sun shining strong above us. We were on a hill by the Golden Gate bridge, devoid of any tourists, just a few photographers. I sat on a small rock with my two children enjoying the beautiful sight around us. The bridge looked absolutely gorgeous and the water beneath it glistened and shone.

A little later as we trekked down the hill. I spotted my husband, having a conversation with someone. An older lady, standing next to a bench that overlooked another side of the bridge. 

We greeted each other as I approached them. And in a very warm and loving manner, she said, “What beautiful children.” Many say that. But there was something very special about her words. 

“Thank you,” I said. Now close enough to notice the wheelchair placed next to her. 

“It’s my son’s 43rd birthday today. So we came out here to spend sometime. It’s a gorgeous day,” she said stroking his hair. He sat motionless on the wheelchair, staring into the picturesque setting overlooking the hills and beyond the bridge. He did not speak or acknowledge our presence. We were unsure yet we wished him on his birthday.

I do not know if he could comprehend our conversation but we stood there chatting with the mother for a long time. It was difficult to ignore the positive and happy aura around her. She was so full of life. Life may have been tough to her but she had not taken it laying down either. Even at the age, where most need to be taken care of, she was caring for someone without complaint. 

Sure, she must have her hard days and sad ones. The ones when she wants to quit it all. But she did not choose to focus on that. She chose to focus on the good ones. What steel does it take to make a mother like that ? Those moments in life where I am humbled and reminded to be able to love my children unconditionally, sans expectations and or any fright for what tomorrow may hold for us. 

“We need to head back. Would you need help,” we asked. 

“No, I do it alone all the time. Thank you for helping me out earlier though,” she said, gently shaking my husband’s hand with immense gratitude for a small gesture of helping her with maneuvering the wheelchair before. 

We walked away in silence and in awe of the determination and selflessness we had witnessed. 

Story –2 

A week back, a social media tag was doing the rounds. Mothers were asked by other moms to share pictures depicting their motherhood journey. One would tag friends and family and thus the tag would reach others. Real, Authentic pictures (no photoshop, no models). Optional(you really were not forced to do it). Harmless, rather you could take a moment to appreciate a fellow mom. No parenting advice or sermons in bullet points(Thank God!).  It was unlike many other things one finds on social media. I was tagged so many times over that I put up a picture too. 

“If not for them, life would not have been what it is today. Fun. Challenging. Demanding. Rewarding. All in the same moment. I may tell a lot of stories in my lifetime but their stories will always be the closest to my heart.”

I truly mean every single word in there. And I know that most mothers wrote something heartfelt. We may not have written our personal stories but we provided a glimpse of it. 

On browsing through similar posts, I noticed there was an ongoing debate on a friend’s timeline. Why was it named the “Motherhood Dare” ? Where was the “dare” in putting up pictures ? I scrolled done a few more comments and what I was witnessing was nothing I could have imagined.  A bunch of fellow moms trolling and leaving unpleasant comments for each other on another mom’s picture with her children. No one stopped to think even once. 

Some called the whole affair ridiculous. Some called it naïve that one jumps on anything and everything on the social media wagon. Many challenged each other if they would actually share something they had dared to do as a mom. 

My friend quietly  took  her picture down, her picture with her children that said a mere two words, “My World!”. 

We are a village, a community, a gang…that is what they say about moms isn’t it? We understand each other without saying our stories aloud. Our stories are unique to each one of us yet so similar. The incident saddened me more so because I know about my friend’s fight with preeclampsia and life threatening situations in having her children. If she chose to write about what she had really dared, it would leave many speechless. There was a time we listened to those stories and took inspiration from it, cheered and backed each other up.

Now we judge. 

I shut my phone and walked away with a heartache at the insensitivity, lack of respect and compassion of it all.

Epilogue :

 In the modern times of  parenting, we have more resources, tools, opinions and options than ever available before.  But it also makes me wonder if that is making us a bit robotic and less appreciative of the enormous gift bestowed upon us as as parents. These are questions I am pondering over. This is not an opinion post so I will leave you to ponder, find the answers yourself and pick the story that you would like to stay with you. 

Authored and Picture By : Piya Mukherjee Kalra, based on some recent observations, rendezvous and incidents. 

Picture : From an old mother’s day post from the Chatoveracuppa archives.