For those lucky enough to have a mother and a loving relationship with her, being separated is always tough. On Mother’s Day, the feeling blooms. Millions of Americans have moms (and mother figures) in other countries, making the day a particularly bittersweet reminder of what they’re missing.
Neha Mahajan is one of those people. The New Delhi native and New Jersey resident has been “across the seven oceans” from her mom Sunita for the past 10 years.
“I got married in 2005 — in the same city as my parents,” says Mahajan. Shortly after, and pregnant with their first child, Mahajan and her husband moved to the UK. She recalls never-ending tears and teaching her mom how to use Skype.
Another tool Mahajan used to minimize the distance: The kitchen. “I tried real hard to make my food taste like hers. I would tell her how I missed her aloo matar subzi (potato peas curry) with ajwain paratha (carrom seeds).”
Those initial days of constant communication on the phone, through e-mails and via Skype set their new tone. These days, the two are in a comfortable rhythm, sharing triumphs, concerns and the trivialities of daily life using the technology they’ve grown to live in. Their new relationship is made of zeros and ones.
“Everyday — every morning I have to talk to my mom,” says Mahajan. “She knows what I cooked that day, who I met, what my schedule is like. She will ensure I have milk and groceries in my fridge. If my kids are sick, she happily comes up with home remedies. She has learned to browse the Internet, and sends me links for kids’ entertainment or little projects. Or home remedies or even recipes. Its like we are never that far after all.”
Mahajan and Sunita’s relationship is not only stronger than ever, it’s become more cherished half a world away.
“While growing up I was not that connected to my mom. I was always closer to my dad. It was only after I went far — to another country — that I realized what I had missed. You know, you take your mom for granted. They are these warriors behind you that push you to do things — make things happen.”
When Sunita came to America for the birth of Mahajan’s second child, the seemingly easy action of hopping a plane across the sea was a thing of awe for her daughter.
“I would’ve never thought she could get on a flight, answer at immigration point and get here all by herself. For someone who has not stepped out of her city alone, ever, this was a feat.”
On Mother’s Day, Mahajan sends her mother flowers, when she remembers to. However, like some other Indians, she finds the holiday a bit unnecessary.
“I know my mom will not want a Mother’s Day card from me — or even flowers. She never expects anything in return,” she explains. “I'm sure she knows that every day is a mother’s day for her. She would rather that I call her every day. She calls sending flowers a waste of money.”
Do you have a mom or mother figure in another country? How do you remain close? Let us know in our comments section.