Monday, May 18, 2009

What it takes to be a good mother

My choice of mothers for the Mother's Day event at DMC may be a little unusual, but bear with me...

Many years ago, on a shivering cold, rainy monsoon day, a cat landed up at our drawing room window. At the time we stayed in a government bungalow which had deeply recessed windows at an almost 2 foot depth, so it sheltered the cat very well from the rain and she gave birth to two kittens. One of them died that very night, sadly, but the other one lived and graciously allowed us to look after him whenever his Royal Majesty pleased.

We observed after some time that our cat, Sphinx, was always highly alert on Saturday mornings, at about 10:00 am. I don't know if he could tell time, but we could have told it by his behaviour. Bang at 10 am, every saturday morning, Sphinx would clamour to be out in the garden, and would sit there, every muscle focused, whiskers quivering with excitement. And every Saturday morning, without fail, dropping all her other commitments, his mom would come, on the dot of 10 am.

The two of them would have a gala time, running and chasing each other by turns, jumping through the tall grass in our somewhat overgrown garden, leaping up at flowers, playing roll-me-over, giving in to the irrepressible joy of meeting again in the most physical way possible. And then, the two of them, tired out from the hullabaloo, would curl up in the shade of the peach tree, all snarled up so you couldn't tell where the mother cat ended and the baby cat began, and take a peaceful nap, before momma had to get back to her usual job.

It was amazing to see with what regularity this happened, and to feel the joy of the two cats. All too often, one hears that cats are unemotional, practicalt creatures, more conscious of their own creature comforts than anything else. But this instance was almost an object lesson, about creating quality time for your child, and letting nothing - no deadline, no dead mouse - come in the way.

Years later, our servant had kept a Spitz as a pet but once it got pregnant, he realised that he didn't want to spend the money on getting her proper treatment through the process so my sister took on the job. We had to rush her to a vet all the way out in NOIDA, a good 1 hour's drive away from our then home, not to mention feed her motion sickness pills and later give her lots of vitamins and supplements to replace those she didn't get as a young puppy. She had 8 puppies, two male and 6 female, though one of the males died soon after birth.

We put out a cardboard box lined with an old, soft, cotton sari for the puppies, and the mother took amazing care of them. She was barely a year old herself at the time, much too young to have kids. She used to sit with them for the first couple of weeks, and then, as they grew up a little, she loved walking around the huge lawns of the house. Every time she came anywhere near the pups, all 7 would start mewling at her in the most plaintive way and she'd have to lie there and feed them for hours. As they became older and stronger, we could tell that she was getting really irritated with the whole feeding process, not to mention tired out, but apart from a few teeth-baring incidents, she did her job as a mom. This actually carried on till we took her to the vet for a postnatal check and found out that since she hadn't been given the right supplements when a baby, her feeding the pups was actually weakening her own bones.

Watching her in action with the pups was incredible. One may say whatever one wants about animal instinct, but she, at her young age, was so giving of herself, literally and figuratively. It was a great lesson about what it takes to be a mom - dedication and the ability to put someone else's welfare ahead of one's own.

We wound up adopting her and her son, since the servant didn't have the means to take proper care of them. We're grateful we still have this mother around, a matriarch now at 14 ( 98 dog years), and only hope she stays on with us a little longer. And though since then she's gone on to bite almost everyone in the family at least once, except Dad, we still rate her one of the best moms ever!


Sheela said...

awww... it takes all sorts, yes! heart-warming :)

Bong Mom said...

That was such a nice story, warmed me on a cold day in May

Delo said...

Shivering cold in May?!In Noida? Its so hot now.Loved reading the piece.

Bong Mom said...

I am not in Noida :)

BEV who wrote the piece does not say May

How do we know said...

thanks.. this was a lovely post!

bird's eye view said...

Thanks, Sheela, Delo, How do we know

Bong Mom - thanks. Where do you live, BTW?