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The children are gallivanting the countryside and I am back to my old routines.

While going about my work, I couldn’t help but go back in time and imagine how my own mother-in-law would have done under the circumstances, that is, apart from the many reasons she would bring up as to why the children (the son and his wife) should not be going away on a holiday on their own.

Yes, most Indian mothers of her generation thought their sons were old enough to be married and father children, but not to lead a life of their own choice. If horror stories of what happened to couples who went away on a holiday on their own did not work, it would be time for the waterworks to start. That definitely worked like a charm on most sons, especially with ‘I suffered so much to bring you up and give you all that I have!’ and similar lines thrown in for good.

Hmm…. I wonder how many women from my generation have witnessed this or a somewhat similar drama unfold in front of their own eyes? Does it still happen to the present generation? Things have changed a lot in India, I know, but perhaps not enough to say with certainty that we have put all of the ‘wanting-to-own-the-son-for-eternity’ behind us. Especially so when I see youngsters lamenting over the self-same issues that we ourselves faced.

Just today morning I heard a woman say that a man can have any number of wives he likes, but a mother he only has ONE. Pretty strong stuff, eh? Apparently her son wasn’t talking to her ever since they had a tiff over the bequeathing of all she had to his daughter. He wanted that to happen right away, and she wanted him to wait for her end to come around. One year into the non-speaking relationship with him, her proffering of olive branches aka tries of connecting through phone calls were being met with staunch silence on his part. It’s really sad.

Her words were expressed with such feeling that the listeners nodded gravely in agreement. Meanwhile I kept my counsel refusing to be drawn in. Of course a man cannot have as many wives as he wants like she said, not legally anyway, I wanted to say. But I knew instinctively that this was no moment for jokes.

Of course, I knew she was just trying to impress the uniqueness of a mother’s position in a child’s life. Strike that, she actually meant IN A SON’S LIFE. Who is concerned enough about their relationship to girl children to say something like this?! Try imagining it: ‘A woman can have many men but only one mother.’ Doesn’t look like the kind of thing any mother would say, right?.

Anyway, that brings me to why I refuse to be convinced of a mother’s uniqueness in a son’s life. It is exactly this inflated sense of self-importance fanned into a roaring flame by books, movies and society that makes a mother so possessive of her son, and extremely jealous of the woman who enters his life. Let go, I say, and watch the happiness bloom, yours, his and hers.