A story about mothers and dinner tables

“ They always told us to eat slowly at dinner, to eat with our mouths closed, no elbows at the table, and finally they told us not to eat too much. But they never told us about emotions, what do we do with them at the dinner table? Do we share our tears or conceal them, if we show up with sadness tonight? Or do we tell the jokes exploding in our brain with laughter making us grin ever so slyly at the dinner table? Or do we remove ourselves from the table ever so absolutely when fury paints our cheeks red radiating colour and heat across the dinner table tonight? What should we do with our emotions at the dinner table? You never told us. But if we were to infer the rules from observing your behaviour than I suppose we must conceal it all, the sadness, the laughter and the anger. But mother, did you know that we could see through it all? All of us, father, sister, and brother. Perhaps it wasn’t us you were concealing it from, but yourself. I suppose it is hard to see oneself sad, foolish, or angry. I wonder if you succeeded. Because if you failed to hide your feelings away, if you still felt that you were all those things, sad, foolish and angry, sometimes even simultaneously, we would have loved it if you had shared it with us. Isn’t that after all what dinner tables are for? For sharing things? Both tangible and intangible? Perhaps that is why we never left the dinner table satiated, and not because you told us not to eat too much, but because we were never fed the intangible, we were always hungry but never knew why, for after all it was your responsibility to make sure we left the dinner table feeling full, feeling satisfied. Instead you watched us starve, knowing that there was something else you needed to offer us. All dinner table menus are the responsibility of the mother. Or did you not know that? Did your mother not tell you what to do at the dinner table as you have so clearly outlined for us what not to do at the dinner table, restricting our diet to mere food? Or was she like you too? Do you know it today at least? After all those years? Or are you still hiding things from yourself? Is it not a difficult endeavor to pretend oneself is blind forever? Do you not miss seeing how you look in the mirror? Do you not miss running? Are you not tired of tiptoeing making sure you do not trip or walk straight into a wall? What if you opened only one eye today? If only you could see that the light is not too bright, but just right. If only you could see my face, do you not miss it? Or are you so scared of seeing anything else, that you have chosen to sacrifice our faces too? Remember though we still have our eyes mother, have you not thought that we can see you? Have you not thought how painful it must be to watch you try to hide from yourself, to hide from us, your children, to hide from the world all together? Do you know the pain of mourning a mother that is still alive? Have you not thought that our pain might be great too? Have you not thought you could spare us it? Do you ever think of us? Do you love us? Have you ever loved us? Tell me, mother, do you even know how to love?”

It is true that mothers face the great pressure of obligatory love. Why is it that a mother must love her child? Why is it assumed? Why compulsory? Why if a mother is strong enough and honest enough to recognise that perhaps her heart is too broken to love another, even herself, is she deemed a monster, unworthy of any goodness or kindness to come her way? It is for that reason that mothers all over feel such shame to seek help when they realise they do not love their kids. It is not their fault, and neither is it the fault of their kids, but we must help them repair their hearts, repair themselves, only then can they love again, only then can the children of the world again feel love. Children know unconsciously the truth; there are superficial actions of love, but they cannot mask the real thing, no matter how well the mother tries to hide it. This piece of writing was written for the mothers of the world whose hearts are too broken to even love their children, and for all those children of the broken-hearted mothers who are starving for love and affection. If we do not have these kinds of conversations, things will never get better, things will never change. Society too likes to hide from its own shortcomings, but today perhaps we can face them together. We can offer an ear or lend a hand to a mother or a child in need of love. There is no shame in being unable to love. There is no shame either in needing love. It is often difficult for us to ask for love or help, so if you recognise someone in your life who could use some compassion, do not shy away from giving it to them. Give the gift of love and compassion to those mothers and children once more. It is for our children now who will become mothers and fathers for their children in the future, that we must have these bold conversations.