The glorification of the mother begins with the child. The child, with his or her limited capacity to understand life and all its complexities, grows up seeing the mother as a strong figure in every sense and thus becomes incapable of defending himself or herself from any possible threat in life. The more he or she is protected by his or her mother, the more fearful he or she becomes in front of everything else. This then creates an isolated identity for him or her. Such a glorification of motherhood can be seen as a way of further subjugating women without any need for laws. Indeed, as in India, in the past, it was not possible to legislate the social status of women lower than that prescribed in the texts, because those were divine and perfect. But now that religious texts have started becoming questioned even in India, what becomes all the more important is to prevent such ‘glorification’ from taking place through popular narratives.
To be a mother, a woman is supposed to forget her individuality, and identify completely with her role as a mother. At the same time, she is expected to excel in that role. In other words, she has no identity apart from her role as a mother. This is not a very new idea. From ‘yes, dear’ to ‘I put my career on hold’, we have heard it all. We know how oppressive the patriarchy can be. The patriarchy has made it impossible for women to be anything other than mothers-in-law, wives, and daughters-in-law. But what society also ignores is that this glorification of motherhood also puts pressure on the mother to be the best mother she can be. And being the best mother is as much about suffering as being a whole human being, loving someone other than your child.
Being a mother is a socially constructed phenomenon. It is not a biological fact, not something that women are powerless to change in any society, and not anything essential to the female identity. Motherhood is a complex social construct, that historically, has been associated with ideas of sacrifice, nurturance, purity, and wholesomeness. Loving motherhood and glorifying it with all its emotional guilt has become a recurrent theme for capitalist societies. A mother is supposed to love her offspring endlessly and without end, even at the cost of her life because the interests of the offspring become paramount, superseding even the basic needs of the parent.
No matter how much an individual chases their dreams and desires, the societal view remains. Being a just okay mother for some is what counts as a supermom. Sacrifice and suppression have been deemed necessary for mothers to be good mothers. Institutionalizing the gendered qualities of motherhood not only portrays women as naturally maternal but also provides channels to distinguish their behavior from men in socialization. This is so pervasive that it has been associated with positive attributes for the same. Women who are being glorified as mothers are treated with much adoration and respect but along with these comes a stigma attached to their identities along the lines of being there to raise children, manage homes, serve the husband and take care of his or her parents after marriage.