two women lying on grass floor

Circle of life

I have often wondered, apart from ‘motherhood’ and ‘fatherhood’, why is there no such term as ‘daughterhood’? Or for that matter, even ‘sonhood’? Given a choice, I would describe ‘daughterhood’ as the state of being a daughter; you know, someone who juggles daughterly duties along with a demanding career.

And what does daughterhood entail? Well, with people extending their lives to hundred years and beyond by watching and emulating docuseries like ‘Secrets of the Blue Zones’, daughterhood essentially means mothering your ageing parents. There, you have it.

Like Signe Hammer said: “Mothers of daughters are daughters of mothers and have remained so, in circles joined to circles, since time began.”

However, at which precise stage of life this role reversal happens is difficult to pinpoint. The little bundle of joy one has had the good fortune of teaching how to walk, talk and count, shoots up one fine morning, way above your shoulders.

Soon, the school days blur into college terms and the acne and braces advice is traded for teenage heartbreak and career suggestions.

The only constant in this madly shifting scenario is the steady mothering that continues, irrespective of the time or the distance that separates us. Through all this, the brickbats come flying at you too. Fast and furious! From ‘Oh Mom! Don’t say anything!’ to ‘Oh Mom! You know nothing!’, one gets to hear these deriding remarks on a regular basis.

Nevertheless, a slight shift happens when major decisions, like job or matrimonial prospects, loom on the horizon. Unexpectedly, your assistance is sought to reinforce their choices and, surprisingly, when you speak, you are actually listened to. One has to sift through various thought processes and not say the first thing that comes to mind because now your guidance has lasting repercussions.

Meanwhile, the circle of life continues and reaches its crescendo when your daughter becomes a mother.

The moment our granddaughter was born, my bond with our daughter suddenly became stronger. Her fleeting glace towards me, as she was wheeled out of the delivery room, clutching her own newborn, was such a magical mixture of love, awe, respect and admiration that I had to blink back tears.

A remote memory sprung instantly to life as I saw myself in my mind’s eye, exchanging a similar look with my mother some three decades ago. The wheel was turning a full circle and I was witnessing this miracle right there in front of me.

Today (September 21) is our daughter’s birthday and, as she turns one year older, I want to tell the one I gave birth to that you are our pride and joy. I have prepared you for the life that you are leading and observe with great pleasure the legacy you are passing on to your daughter.

Motherhood and daughterhood ultimately mean the same thing. In the long run, daughters become mothers and mothers revert to becoming daughters. Everything stays the same, only the perspective changes.

By Nickunj Malik
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Nickunj Malik’s journalistic career began when she walked into the office of Khaleej Times newspaper in Dubai thirty-one years ago and got the job. Since then, her articles have appeared in various newspapers all over the world. She now resides in Portugal and is married to a banker who loves numbers more than words.