The modern Indian man is an interesting specimen. A good portion of us fit very nicely into a neatly packaged box. We grew up humble, studied and worked our way to a stable lifestyle, had a girlfriend or two, and now checkbox our way through life’s remaining milestones. We each also have families that are far from perfect, but typically have far tighter bonds thanks to those same imperfections. One family might have the alcoholic uncle, another the shady businessman relative while another maybe the drug abusing nephew. But regardless of each family’s “oh that thing they’re known for in gossip corners”, Indian culture for the most part is built on very strong family ties that stand the test of time to raise some pretty awesome people. And one of the staples of Indian family dynamics is, as you might have already guessed…the Indian Mother.
I remember growing up in California, and having friends (aka white people) come to sleep over. Their moms would drop them off at 6PM, we would eat Cheetos, play video games, and then their moms would pick them up at 10AM the next day while the smell of Aloo Puri would be happily escorting them out of our house. To them, it was a fairly routine hangout. To me, I was shocked. How come their moms hadn’t called 50 times during the night? Where were their snacks from home they might need in case our food wasn’t good or a tornado struck? As a kid, this constant looking after and affection was something I first resented (“Stop embarrassing me mom!”), then grew accustomed to (“Where’s my socks mom!”) and now in my 30s, is something I’m sort of juggling with. Indian Moms are the best and I have grown to respect and admire my own exponentially each year. She loves my brother and I to death. She treats her sons with a firm hand but only because she cares about us more than we can imagine. But how does one join the real universe after being treated for so long like the center of hers?
That’s soft of where I am in life right now, and I’m curious if you are too. How much love is too much, and how much is not enough? Why do our moms yell at our fathers for going out late, but think our girlfriends/wives are just stressing out their precious boys if those girls think the same? It’s an interesting dilemma, and I wish I knew the answer. They’re so many times when my mom stays with me (and I know I sound like a spoiled piece of shit) that I get upset she’s enabling me to take it easy, because this is the age I need to get my ass in gear. Breakfast? Sure, but I should have made it myself. Oh you’ll take care of the dishes? Thanks mom, I’m gonna go relax and do important stuff like check Facebook. Or Tinder. You’re the best. While this is awesome (lets be honest), it indirectly enables a habit in each of us that may present problems later. I unknowingly yell at my mom all the time about lost things around the house or “Yes, for the 50th time, I’ll eat outside and don’t make anything!” and she has never once pointed out this shouting. (After which I’ll stumble home drunk, having forgotten to eat, and luckily she hears my cupboard banging and whips up something quick to eat). It’s nothing malicious and more out of our loving-shouting- communication habit, but good luck speaking in that same tone with your future Mrs. A girlfriend or wife who looks at you on your phone while the dishes are still sitting on the table isn’t gonna tolerate things the same way mom did. She might have also just sat in traffic, struggled at the office with her own politics and wants to veg out in food coma just like you. But alas, that’s not always what beloved mama might think.
There is obviously 600 other things we could talk about, for the sake of simplicity, as you mature through life just try to keep this in the back of your head. I’m no psychiatrist but I’m assuming whatever Freud alluded to, it had merit for him to be so famous and me to randomly cite him now. None of us probably want to date our mom’s doppelgänger, but I think we can all fairly assume moms subconsciously program a certain expectation of how a woman “should be” that plays a part in our next phase of life. Will it repeat with our girlfriends/wives for the next generation and the future sons, or is the new modern family dynamic going to change that? Time will tell but recognize this as you get older. Your moms love you and you love them. They love being there for us (it’s probably a need that goes both ways) and I’m so happy I was raised in a culture that instills family values I’m only now coming to fully appreciate. But again, keep things in perspective as you go. Life is tough, and while you’re a rockstar at home you’ll eventually need to learn how to be a rockstar outside of it where Mom is not enabling you to be king of the castle.
I remember at an office meeting years ago, a few clients were visiting from Canada and we got a last minute email that the client’s CEO was going to be joining. All of a sudden, ties were required. One of the 40+ managers runs into my cubicle (I think I was 26 at the time) and he is visibly shaking. Like Palms sweaty, knees deep, mom’s spaghetti. (Hey! Eminem Mom Pun!) I look at him, sort of laugh (cause he looked like Milton from Office Space) and asked him whats wrong. He said he had no idea how to tie a tie, because (and I quote)…”Mummy always did it.”
Tied his ties.
So me, being the smart/suave US educated independent man I was, naturally did what any NRI Chooth would do. I grabbed the tie with my American swagger, smiled at little bunty/puthar crying in the corner about his incomplete windsor and saved the day by doing what I had been trained to do since my early teens.
I googled it.
There is nothing wrong with a family that cares for you, and caring for them back. The unwritten agreement in most Desi communities is the parents take care of you into adulthood, and you take care of them the rest of the way. And that’s completely fine. But a lot of times we sort of overlook the major part of life that you and I are now headed. I know many people aren’t fortunate enough to have parents that love them as much as some of us, and I will cherish my mom till my last breadth. But I honestly just wanted to discuss this cause it’s something I see people dealing with. As always, if you have something constructive to say please do so below. Hugs to you and your mamas. And to my mom who raised us alone since I was 13, if you figured out your macbook and are reading this, I love you. And I’m hungry. *Disclaimer Over*