I made my mom’s life hell. My brother and I, together.
This one time, my mom went to the bank to get something done and my brother and I had the whole house to ourselves. I just had a bath and was sprinkling talcum powder on my torso, and my brother walked by and almost slipped on the talcum powder that had fallen on the floor.
And an idea was born.
We sprinkled that talcum powder all over the floor in the living room and skated on it like it was a damn skating rink. It was fun for us, but you can picture the horror on my mother’s face when she got back to see her living room floor demolished by talcum powder. We almost finished the whole bottle of that on the floor!
We got a well deserved, good thrashing from her with the hard end of the broom. Then she spent a painstaking three hours to clean the room. And cleaning talcum powder off the tiles is NOT EASY. We didn’t have the easy-to-clean ceramic tiles in my house back then.
When I look back, I realize what a jackass I was to my mother even when I didn’t mean to be. I realized this when I was cleaning the apartment I live in now. I took everything in that house for granted, because my mom always cleaned up after. I always knew when I go into the kitchen at 8 pm there will be a hot meal ready and when I reach for the plates, there will be a clean one ready to be used.
I realized all of this very recently and whenever I go back home, I try to make it up to her. She is getting old, but you realize that mothers still do not lose their unselfishness or the need to care. I decided to give something back, in a small way.
Make your bed
The bed is usually a mess in the morning and you realize that only when you make your bed. Also, folding big blankets in the winter is hard on your mom’s shoulders.
Make your bed. She might just get a heart attack out of surprise, but it’s worth it!
Take the trash out
Get up early and take the trash out, before the municipal garbage collectors come. It smells disgusting, but your mom does that every day.
Also, your poop smelled disgusting when you soiled your nappies when you were an infant. Did she complain about that to you?
Clean up after you are done
Don’t leave the plate on the dining table after you are done. And don’t leave the leftover food on the plate after you are done with eating your food either.
Dump it in the dustbin. Then clean your plate. I am not saying that you should do all the dishes, but just finishing up after yourselves makes it so much easier for her.
Help her cook
Cooking is very tedious, even if your mom has had a practice of over 20 years, even if she loves it. As she grows older, rolling the dough for rotis becomes harder, even when there’s a machine that does that. Cut the veggies before she gets into the kitchen. Help her clean up after she is done with cooking. It goes a long way.
Keep things where they are supposed to be
I used to throw my bag I don’t know where, after I came home from school. I found it in my room and was usually scolded, but she always kept it there, no matter how many times I threw it anywhere. My socks were always knotted together and my textbooks were always where they were supposed to be. You always take all of this for granted.
Organizing things is difficult and time-consuming and it is hard work. Not to mention, monotonous. Keep your things where they are supposed to be. It will save her hours of torturous work.
Teach her technology
I know most of the mothers nowadays know their technology, but I am pretty sure a lot of the moms still don’t. My mom is probably the most technologically handicapped person I know.
But when they get the fascination –
“Oh look! It’s my old school friend! Is there a button to say Hi? How did she get on Facebook before me? She probably has a better son!”
They get to be in touch with all their old friends, make pretentious boring groups on WhatsApp and what not.
Yes, they will forward you those really boring WhatsApp forwards, but they are excited, and give them that.
Also, don’t lose your patience when teaching them how technology works. You were a literal dumbass when you were a kid with zero hand-eye coordination, tripping and falling everywhere. She was right behind you when you fell, saying it was OK. Ditto when you got bad grades because math equations didn’t make sense.
Reciprocate some of that patience. They are old, but not stupid.
Make her a snack/beverage
Yes, she can make her own snacks and beverages. But just make one for her now. A cool lemonade in the summers or a hot cup of tea in the winters, when she is on a brief break, sitting in front of the television. Even they get hungry in the evenings. Who doesn’t? Be considerate. She knew you were hungry with just one glance and fed you immediately.
Fix her a sandwich or make some poha. Moms, in their busy world, forget they are hungry or thirsty.
Drive her around
Yes, she probably can drive herself around, but even that becomes tiring for them. Be a chauffeur for once. Drive her where she wants to go so that she will have more energy to do the thing she wants to do at the destination. She will not protest. It is a relief for her.
And be patient again, when she wanders off to that jewelry or clothing store to look at things. Don’t grumble. It defeats the purpose.
Call her to let her know where you are
In all her time since she has had you, she probably has spent ALL that time worrying about you. Even when you are far away. Even when you are right next door playing video games with your friends. When you are late, just call. It gives her worrying mind a bit of rest. Sometimes she will act cool, like she is not worried at all, but she is.
At least text, if you don’t want to call. Send her a stupid forwarded joke on WhatsApp in the middle of the day. Let her know that you are thinking of her too.
Listen to her, like she listened to you when you were a baby.
I realized that I used to just tune my mom out when she started to complain about vegetable prices and the like. I would just sit there, watching the television nodding, hoping she would end her tirade. Her daily struggles seemed insignificant then. But her problems are real problems too.
And you know what, she is pouring all of her worries, some of them intimate, into you.
She is actually taking time out to talk to you. How many people do that? It’s either stupid conversations about sports or celebrities or who did what now? Or who is hooking up with who and what a piece of shit KRK is.
You want to know real life problems, listen to her. It’s a whole new perspective about people and life. You learn about vegetable vendors and housemaids and bank tellers and shopkeepers. The real deal.
And don’t just nod like you are listening. Talk, if you can. It’s not just the physical burdens she weight lifts every day.
I love my mom. But I couldn’t ever go and tell her that and hug her because I am just not tuned that way. But I know that if I do some things that seem insignificant I get that love across.
It is not a hug, but it will do. She made my life easy for a better part of 3 decades.
It’s high time I make her life easier.