The best thing about being a father is that there are mothers. In most cases, mothers pick up kids, attend PTA meetings, teach in schools, pull up school staff — and even then get a bad name. Is being mummy the best-worst job in the world?
School principals, many of them women, admit their sex is “always expected to do more” on the professional and personal fronts.
While this is not true of all mothers, teachers said they are usually handed the emotional ‘line’ from mothers.
“If I’ve diagnosed a child’s problem, I will be pressed by her to give the solution as well. ‘He writes fine at home. Why doesn’t he write fine in school?’ ‘My child really likes you. Why don’t you stand next to him while he writes in class?’, I am told,” said a teacher at a south Delhi school.
Rita, who teaches in a Ghaziabad school, said parents expect her to ‘mother’ their children.
“I know mothers who read the school diary, cross-check the homework given with other mothers and even then call me after school hours for further confirmation. The day their child sits for an exam, they expect to know the result…. I never hear them making such demands on my male colleagues.”
Teachers said they were also terrified of the ‘mummy mafia’. For instance, three children from a Yadav family have been studying in a top-ranking Ghaziabad school for free since nursery.
“‘How dare you ask for fees?’ they threatened my principal,” said Rose, a teacher. “Once, I scolded those children in class and they told their mother. Next, I get a call from the father saying, ‘Do that again and you won’t reach home’.”
The demands that society makes on parents, especially mothers, said principals, contribute to “sometimes making them hyper. Working mothers have their own problems and homemakers, theirs. Where children are concerned, no woman is expected to fail”.
The mom vs ma’am issue
So what are we saying — that women have got it right and that they have got it wrong? It can happen, especially if one woman has to juggle two roles.
Ask a teacher’s child. “While meeting teachers outside the school environment did help me in creating a rapport, being a staff child meant that you are always under scrutiny,” said Rhema, a 24-year-old, looking back on her experience.
“Whether it was bunking class or incomplete homework or hanging out too much with a particular classmate — everything would get reported to my mother,” she added. Her teachers wouldn’t wait till a parent-teacher meeting to complain. So the way Rhema remembers it — it was all because of Mummy.
Mothers have other pressures as well. For many of them, the school run is no less than a fashion show.
Stepping out of their chauffeur-driven Jaguar XJL, Hermes bag in one hand and a jewel-encrusted Blackberry in the other, there is no knowing which way the wind will blow.
This is why they have large designer sunglasses holding back double blow-dried hair even though it is just 1.30 in the afternoon. Oh, the things some mothers do for their children.
*Names have been changed
(Inputs: Zehra Kazmi,Abhijit Patnaik)