Mother’s day is celebrated every year in May (usually on the 2nd Sunday in the month of May) in honor of the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. Ever since I became a mother, I have deep respect admiration and appreciation for all that my mother has done for me, and also for what all mothers do for their kids all over the world. It is possibly one of the most complex, volatile, constantly evolving and multi-dimensional role any human can play in their life simply because there are no boundaries to your expectations of yourself and your kid’s expectations of you.
As a mother, every woman goes through a unique personal journey of self-awareness, personal growth, skill uplift, self-discovery and self-acceptance. With time, you realize that they only way you can play the part of a mother is by constantly un-learning / re-learning based on the needs of your kids and the changing environment, your ability to morph your reactions and responses based on the current circumstance and situations, presence of mind, letting go of things beyond your control, a dose of humor, selective amnesia and an uncanny ability to connect totally unconnected things.
As a mother of two kids, I have grown and evolved as an individual – thanks to all the experiences I have been through. Looking back on my journey as a mother, I can say that sometimes the most significant lessons have come to me by being a silent observer to the situation. Sometimes, the more powerful insights have come from pressing the ‘Pause’ button of life, and spending time in silent introspection and positive reflection. Sometimes, the most complicated situations have been diffused by taking a child-like approach to problem solving by bringing in simplicity in focus.
And sometimes, the answers to life’s most profound questions have come to me in deep slumber, and then I wake up enlightened, wiser and lighter. My deeper understanding of the differences between Him and Her is one such subject. In this post, I am sharing “What motherhood taught me about the differences between HIM and HER” based on my personal observations, experiences, insights and understanding.
1) He and She are wired differently by design. They have different needs, motivators, drivers and strengths which are unique and complimentary to each other in several ways. This is probably the ways of the cosmos to maintain balance between masculine and feminine energies, between focus and flow, between nature and nurture.
2) He picks up different words, messages and meanings from a sentence, situation or story, and she picks up very different things. For e.g.: Whenever I quiz kids with “Tell me the difference between a boy and a girl”, I get very creative responses. He says – she has soft pink lips, I don’t. She says – he is stronger than me, and sometime pushes me in the school line. I don’t like it. Each of them is responding based on their experiences, lens they wear and world view.
3) He observes very different things from a scene and she looks at very different objects. For e.g.: I play a game called “Question Time” with kids where I ask them random questions which compel them to think. So when I ask “Describe the room you are in and tell me 10 things you see” – More often than not, he will call out the fan, TV, A/C. She will describe the plants, paintings and pottery in the room. He will describe with pronouns and she will use adjectives. For e.g: He will say “This is a Bose speaker.” She says “This is a beautiful painting. I like the use of colors and artistic designs”
4) He and She have different aspirations for life. Part of this evolves from the individual’s personality, and part of it is based on one’s upbringing, conditioning and the influence of environment in growing up years. For e.g.: Every time I have an opportunity to engage with kids, I ask them “What they want to be when they grow up?” The answers are fascinating and never cease to amaze me. But more importantly, there is a huge difference in his answers and hers – in terms of articulation of the choice of profession, the position they aspire to get in their profession and the impact they strive to make in the world.
5) Priorities in life, relationships, career, health, money rank and look very different for him and her. Also, manifestation of these priorities looks very different for him and her. For e.g.: What do you say when the mother stays up till 3 AM to complete the kid’s school project due for submission. She tells the dad to drop the kid to school along with the project and leaves for work at 7 AM. She calls at 9 AM to check if they have reached school, and both the dad and kid are in bed asleep!!!
6) His reactions and responses to any high-stress situation (which involve fear, grief, anxiety, failure or loss) are very different from hers. More often than not, his initial reaction and response is logical. More often than not, her initial reaction and response is emotional.
7) Manifestation of emotions (love, care) vary significantly for him and her. For e.g.: Listening is one way she demonstrates that she loves and cares. Doing is the way he demonstrates that he loves and cares.
8) The emotional satisfaction one gets from talking to her is very different than what one gets from talking to him. In most cases, she has more evolved abilities to listen, sympathize and empathize. In some cases, he does not even want to listen and in some instances, he pretends to listen and in some rare cases, he genuinely listens.
9) During conversations and interactions, He is mostly focused on “his” needs for the moment and the future. Unless you condition him to think beyond himself, that will continue to be the default genesis for thoughts, words and actions. She almost always thinks and looks beyond “her” own needs, and strives to help to her best possible capacity. Unless again you impress on her that it is OK to focus on herself some times in life, she will stay that way for life. For e.g.: What do you say when you are visiting someone who is on death-bed. In middle of a somber environment, he says “I am hungry. Let’s have lunch”!
10) He has a unique way of dealing with weaknesses / problems / challenges which involve an extremely ingenious and creative way to transform his weakness / problem / challenge to a group weakness / problem / challenge or convert it to a strength by making the weakness / problem / challenge redundant. More often than not, the solution is found sooner than later and he moves on. She takes and makes the weakness / problem /challenge very personal, and usually takes time to deal with it, sometimes a life time!
What I recognize today about these differences between Him and Her is that acknowledging, accepting and appreciating these differences is fundamental to how we model our behaviors as individuals, model our perspectives as mothers and most importantly, model our kids behaviors to deal with the differences in this complex rapidly evolving world.
What do you think are the most fundamental differences between Him and Her? How do they shape your thoughts, words and actions as mothers? As individuals? Leave a comment to let me know.
Disclaimer: These are the lessons and insights I have amassed based on observations, conversations and personal experiences in interacting with kids and adults. There are of course numerous deviations to the above (which I will again vouch for based on my personal experiences).
Nischala Murthy Kaushik is a mom, writer and marketer. She is also an IIM Alum, TEDx speaker, award-winning blogger and features among Twitterati. Follow Nimu on Twitter