into her teenaged daughter’s T-shirts to selecting a career
for her, today’s Net-savvy mother can prepare her children for
the real world quite effortlessly, writes Nonika
SHE can easily fit
into her daughter’s clothes, and more often than not looks as
good, if not better, than her. At parties, she has no
compunction when a man other than her husband asks for a dance.
She can be the life of parties, often drawing admiring glances.
In fact, if her children were nowhere around, it would be hard,
if not impossible, to imagine she is a mother. That is
motherhood in today’s India where perhaps no other
relationship has been so deified as maa since time
So where does the
new-age mom, clearly a far cry from the traditional stereotype
mother, fit in the Indian setup? More precisely, what is she all
about? Is there a maa’s heart within her western
demeanour and oomph? In short, is the newly emerging model of
motherhood a refreshing change or a social deviant that could
spell doomsday for society and its norms?
Satish K. Sharma,
chairperson, department of sociology HPU, Shimla, says that
while the new phenomenon is confined to a select class, it has
to be understood in a wider perspective. But whatever change has
come about is, without doubt, a healthy one, he adds. "The
change may have been facilitated by alternative institutions
like cr`E8ches or ayahs but it has allowed women, working
or not, a definite breathing space, which is both their right
and prerogative," he says further. So the modern mom has no
compunction or guilt when she leaves her little ones behind to
shake a leg at the disc or tee off on the golf course or simply
accompany her friends for an all-women excursion overseas.
And yet, she could
be as paranoid about her children’s grades as any mother of
the yore. Hema Bedi, every inch a modern mom from City
Beautiful, who loves her golfing hour as much as time spent with
her two children, a woman who fusses as much about her own
attire as her daughter’s, quips, "Make no mistake, modern
is not a byword for casual. Today’s mother is as responsible
and conscientious as any traditional mother."
administrator, British School, Panchkula, who meets new-age
mothers daily, goes one step further and claims that the new-age
mom is not only more concerned, more caring but above all is
more aware. And even if she has less time on hands, the quality
time that she spends with her children more than makes up for
it. In fact, mothers today, she asserts, will go that extra mile
to hone their child’s talent.
Sood, a young lawyer from Chandigarh and a mother of two
daughters. Rather, she thinks the modern mom fares far better
than the one of yore who was bogged down by multiple
responsibilities of a joint family. Today a mother takes her
role of motherhood far more seriously.
Nidhi Singh, CEO
of a Chandigarh-based law firm, finds the comparison rather
odious for every mother, whether from the past or present, wants
the best for her child. But she does feel that since key to good
parenting lies in preparing one’s child for the real world,
the modern mother, with a life and exposure of her own, does
have an edge.
professor, psychology, HPU, Shimla, thinks that in the newly
emerging social matrix, not only does the new mother fit easily
into the child‘s social world, the mother-child relationship
is more friendly, less authoritative, and above all, more
Net-savvy mom is also able to guide her children, provide a
window to the world and even discuss grey areas of life like sex
But as she herself
can be sometimes seen defying social norms with a glass of
whiskey in her hand`85 is she not setting a bad precedent? Rekha
Sangar (name changed) doesn’t think so. "See, I have a
choice, I can hide my weaknesses and lie to my children. On the
other hand, I can be open and thus let my children know that I
am not a goddess but a human being with frailties. What lessons
they draw from it I leave it to their judgment."
Tanwar, director, women’s studies, Kurukshetra University,
Kurukshetra, feels that such moms do send out wrong signals to
their children, who do seek and need role models in their
parents. Rather, she feels that since motherhood entails a great
degree of responsibility, women for whom personal pleasure is a
priority, should refrain from doing so.
"But that is the crux. Today, a woman becomes a mother at a
mature age and thus is ready to be a mother with greater ability
have never played a more significant role in their children’s
lives as today when they are de facto the real decision makers.
From which school their child should go to, which doctor they
must be shown to, what career is best suited to him or her`85
she takes the call with or without her husband’s consent.
Recalls Priyanka, "I spent hours surfing the Net trying to
find reasons behind my daughter’s hernia problem."
mother of today is more clued in to her children’s needs,
especially girls, and is more than willing to open doors of
opportunities for her daughters. Says Hema, whose 15-year-old
daughter Shaira, is all set to go for an exchange programme to
the US, "Do you think my mother would have agreed to send
So, is the new-age
mother a far better role model for children than the
self-sacrificing maa, whose children were the world, and
perhaps the only world she knew?
Well, the new
mother, unlike the old one, which put unrealistic expectations
both on mother and children, is for real. Dr Rajesh Gill,
professor and chairperson, department of sociology and
department of women’s studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh,
is positive that if we are looking at a gender-sensitive social
order, it’s about time we got rid of the devi maa
syndrome that trails if not afflicts all Indian mothers.
But having said
that she does feel that life is not a smooth sailing for the
new-age mother. She still has to face the traditional conflict
of nature vs. culture. Since our age-old expectations from a
woman, particularly a mother, have not changed at all, Gill
says, "At one level, the new-age mom is celebrated and
often walks on cloud nine with that superwoman feeling. Children
often boast about their super moms, yet often there is a reverse
swing where her not being around 24x7 is treated as a severe
inadequacy." Even today she wonders how many women can rush
out of the home when her child is sick on the pretext that she
has an important office meeting to attend or an appointment with
an old friend she hasn’t seen for ages.
Assistant Advocate-General, Punjab, can feel the pressure all
the time and confesses that striking a balance between personal
aspirations and motherhood isn’t easy. Gnawed by guilt, she
has forsaken socialising. Many like Hema Bedi have let their
careers take a backseat. Bedi, who has given up her job, recalls
how she changed her four previous jobs to suit the needs of her
children, and eventually quit.
Either way, the
tenuous balance between pleasure, work and responsibility that
Tanwar advocates is not easy to arrive at. But at the end of the
day, children remain a mother’s, modern or otherwise, top-most
priority. In the process, if she steals a few hours to pamper
herself, who can grudge her? Ah, but society does.
family, especially her husband, who is to large extent behind
the new-age mom, doesn’t. For he understands no matter what
she looks like, today’s mom, too, is a mother, full of care
and concern. And like all mothers, her love is unconditional,
Her new avatar has
not compromised on the complex demands of motherhood. This much
even Tanwar, otherwise a wee bit sceptical about the new winds
of change, is willing to grant to the new mommy. After all,
India is still a family-oriented society, which Sharma hopes
will remain so and warns, "Let us not forget that single
moms of the US, too, are new-age mothers and children pay a
heavy price in terms of emotional neglect."
Will the neo
mother go to the other extreme and leave her children behind in
pursuit of her happiness and desires alone? Well, but for an odd
variant here and there, most modern moms have for found their
balancing act on how to be a happy and fulfilled individual and
a responsible mother.
shows the way
Madhuri Dixit with her son
Kajol in We Are Family
first time glamorous moms made their appearance on silver
screen, often looking more beautiful and at times younger
than their on-screen daughters, sceptics guffawed — oh! do
mothers ever look like this?
But in real life and in reel,
mothers have never looked better. Be it Kajol in We Are
Family or My Name is Khan or Priyanka Chopra in Pyaar
Impossible or Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in Kuch Naa Kaho,
mothers in Hindi cinema have surely come a long way and are
without doubt, a far cry from the Nirupa Roys of yore.
are they glam moms who look like million bucks, very often
they are women of substance who are caring mothers, too.
Take Ratna Pathak Shah and Anuradha Patel in Jaane Tu Yaa
Jaane Na`85 these lovely svelte mothers were clued in to
the changing needs of Gen next.
Art imitates life and vice
versa. In flesh and blood, too, Bollywood has its fair share
of oomph moms.
From Malaika Arora Khan to Madhuri Dixit to
Karishma Kapoor to Twinkle Khanna, motherhood certainly hasn’t
stood in the way of their glamorous personas.