An image surfacing on social media caught my attention and sent my thoughts into a fury. The caption says “Unconditional Love”. However, I do not see love anywhere in the image! What I see is an amalgamation of agony and pain. I see a need to take some rest. What I also see are unspoken words that nobody will understand until she says them. I know as a woman and mother that she will not say them because she, like all of us, has been conditioned into thinking that thinking about self is being SELFISH. That’s completely false. Loving yourself is the purest and the most sacred form of love. The image raises other questions in my mind:
- Is unconditional love the responsibility of one person in the family?
- Does a mother always have to be an epitome of supreme sacrifice?
- Till how many more generations would we justify inequality in the name of selflessness?
In the picture, the woman appears outwardly calm. But the girl within her is shouting, “Where is my so-called family? Why am I am in this alone? I need rest.”
Feeding the family a nutritious meal at the cost of your own health and life. Is that what defines a mother? A woman? If you tell a 5-year-old dreamy girl child that hard-hitting phrases such as “responsibility” and “duty” would crush her dreams as she grows up; she would probably decide not to grow up at all. All of us, however mature, need time for self-love and self-care. This is as vital as any other duty. This is a duty towards yourself.
If I had my will, the picture should show all her loved ones around her, helping her prepare the meal. The mother must never be alone. If she is risking her health and rising above her pain and discomfort to cook for her family, each member of the family must do their bit to ensure that she is not alone. Love is beyond boundaries, beyond gender, beyond duties.
This is to all the women who are reading this. You might juggle multiple roles in your life. Despite this, your life is absolutely precious, and it is only yours. Your duty to take care of yourself is over and above any other duty that you willingly or unwillingly take up. Please prioritize your physical and mental well-being. When you need rest, convey it firmly to the people around you. Do not self-sabotage. Do not kill yourself to be in the good books of people who actually do not care. Health is vital. Life is precious. Respect yourself so that people around you get the right message.