Monday, April 6, 2009
I am an unapologetic "daddy's girl." Not in the way that my voice goes up ten octaves when I say "dad" and not in any sort of MTV "Super Sweet Sixteen" way. I didn't ask for and wasn't given ponies when I was a kid. But, nonetheless, part of my heart belongs to my dad. ( For what it's worth, almost everyone who meets my dad wants to give him part of his or her heart...but that is for another post...!)
You would think that my ability to label myself a daddy's girl, with all the stigma that entails, would make me sympathetic to the plight of the mommy's boys of the world. What's wrong with a boy being close to his mother right? I have two little boys and I obviously want to have a good relationship with them when they are adults...but ever since I was pregnant with my eldest, 4 years ago, I joked that I would do anything in my power to prevent unleashing "another Indian momma's boy into the world."
Indian Momma's Boys. Every Indian girl I know jokes about them but I can't think of one true example of the specimen. According to the NYTimes, though, they are live well and kicking--at least in India. This article--somewhat mysteriously featured on the front page of the Business section--has commerce experts weigh in on the “huge, continuing umbilical cord between mothers and sons" in India. Citing A.R. Rahman's profuse thanks to his mother during his Academy Awards acceptance speech, as well as the curious case of an Indian judge advising the feuding, billionaire Ambani brothers to take their disputes out of court and to their mother, the article paints a picture of Indian males as a uniformly doting bunch of slightly sappy little boys, constantly calling their moms.
What is it about the term "momma's boy" that makes us bristle? Obviously, if unpacking the term yields a child-man who demands to be taken care of by his wife as if she were his mother, that is one thing. We all have children to mother, we certainly don't need to take care of our husbands in the same way. But if it just means a grown man who is close to his mother, why is it so difficult for so many of us to stomach?
And is this phenomenon--of an Indian momma's boy--even true? Something about the article seems off. Like the author is trying to hitch her wagon onto the ever-growing Slumdog star. Are we really supposed to believe that these movers and shakers in present-day India are, as a rule, still so tethered to their moms that the "[h]and that Rocks the Cradle Can Call the Shots," as the article's title proclaims? If so, how does this phenomenon translate to the Indian men we all know here in the U.S.? And what is it about being Indian that lends itself to being more prone to being a mommy's boy?
As usual, I have no answers... It's my hope that we all establish wonderful, deep relationships with our children. It's my heartfelt goal to have my children love me the way I love my parents. My dad is currently in town visiting which means everything in my house has been fixed; all the toys have new batteries in them; our taxes are being done; we are going to fancy dinners; my kids are saying "Bapu" in their sleep they are so excited; I feel a sort of visceral joy and support that can only come from a truly selfless, loving presence in your vicinity. It is my fervent desire to be such a presence to my children...
But, at the end of the day, I would be lying if I said I would be okay with anybody ever labeling my sons as "momma's boys." So there it is...!