Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

My mother was a #scimom, back when there weren't a lot of them in the US, forget where she grew up.
But her father, my grandfather, believed in educating women, and in the sanctity of knowledge. She grew up in a household where both the acquisition and the sharing of knowledge were all important, even when other needs went unmet. She has stories of my grandfather insisting on tutoring for free even when he didn't have another job, because he thought it immoral to charge for something as basic to survival as an education. This is something I feel guilty about sometimes when I get my paycheck stub, at least partially, for teaching a few classes.

She's carried on my grandfather's legacy. She convinced my father to stay in academia and not go into industry. Only one other mother of any of my friends growing up had a) a degree more advanced than a bachelors, and b) continued working in her field of training after having children. I remember learning math from her that not only does she not remember teaching me, but she doesn't remember ever knowing. When she went back to get further training in her chosen field when I was in college, and there was a coincidence of topics we both needed to learn. I remember coming home on break that year and each trying to read the other's text books for a few days.

Somewhere in the struggle for what religion, if any, was passed onto the kids, the importance of an education became the prevailing belief system in our household. Of course this has its own set of problems. My brother and were pushed too hard, praised to little, belittled every time we lost faith in our ability to succeed in college, or complete (or start) a PhD. But those rants and scars are everyday. I know I wouldn't be here without her as a role model. Good an bad combined. In a time when I am constantly looking for role models in how to balance kid, job and a partner in a different city, I should remember to turn my glance closer to home.

Today is Mother's Day. Does anyone else have thoughts on their mothers? Or on their children?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing memories of your mother. In many ways, your mother and mine are very similar.
    Like your mom, my mom also gave top priority to education and pushed her children to work hard and do well at school.
    Her own journey in life is interesting-her parents did not encourage her to study too much and found a husband for her as soon as she turned 20. As luck would have it, her father-in-law was an educationist and seeing her desire to learn, supported her in many concrete ways to pursue her education. While my father lived in a different city, my mother continued to live at her in-laws house (this was very common in India in those days) , completed her Masters in Science with flying colors and also went to teachers training college.
    This training came in handy to her in later life. My father moved very frequently, but my mother would easily find employment wherever they went and would spend her days fruitfully.
    My mother was very determined not to raise me the way she was raised by her parents. She protected me from every form of social or cultural conditioning that devalues education and a successful career for women.
    Sadly, she passed away when I was 20. I missed her very much through my academic journey. I also regret not being able to share the joy of it with her.
    Happy Mothers Day to you. I wish you all the very best with raising Epsilon :)