Category: dilemmas

Can a parent ever let go?

Can a parent ever let go?

This past week, in a bit of a coincidence, I’ve stumbled across multiple stories from friends – children and parents – who’ve disagreed with each other over important life-decisions like the choice of career or life partner.

It’s heartbreaking – this disagreeing with people closest to you, this not being able to understand each others thoughts and motivations.

Desperate children have been driven to the brink of suicide because they haven’t found it in their hearts to rebel. When I was younger I’d wonder why parents wouldn’t let them learn from their own mistakes. It seemed like such a logical thing to do.

As a mom now, I am no longer so certain. My children seem such a part of me, like a physical living part of my body, my heart, that it seems only natural to reach out and stop them, protect them from making mistakes. Separating myself from them seems the hardest thing I will ever need to do.

I wonder where I will find the courage to let them do something that, to my mind, is clearly a disaster. Would I be okay if they left the tried and tested to strike out on an unknown journey? Would I be okay, for instance, if one of them chose a career in music over academics, or would want to try their luck in Bollywood or strike out in the jungles as a photographer?

Would I be able to let them go? And yet be ready to have their back should they fail? Without a hint of ‘I told you so’? And then when they’re back up on their feet, would I be ready to let them make their next mistake? Be ready to have their back yet again?

It’s not going to be easy.

As I’ve grown older, possibly wiser, I’ve known some people who rebelled against their parents and found happiness. Some didn’t. Some heeded their advice and found happiness, others didn’t.

The thing is, one never can tell with life.

While children follow their passion, parents have to be the voice of reason. Click To Tweet

Ever so slowly, I hope they learn to balance their passion with reason, on their own. And I hope I’m around till they learn to do that. As their parent if I’m even writing this post, thinking I will have to let them go someday, it’s a step forward.

Meanwhile I make this promise to myself..

that I shall keep an open mind and respect their wish to follow their passion.

that I shall always always place their happiness above societal pressures – a lesson gifted to me by my parents.

and most of all, I will never close the doors of communication.

And I hope when the time comes, the children will give me and my concerns a patient hearing. And then, if they choose to go ahead despite it all, I shall find the courage to stand by them.

***********

 

Linking up with Mackenzie at Reflections from Me #mg

Am I doing it right?

Am I doing it right?

This post is a Tangy Tuesday Pick at Blogadda

Once upon a time I used to be this easy person, happy to drift along whichever way life took me with the Husband for company of course. I was passionate about my work and had plenty of work-friends. We went out, frequented food festivals, attended plays, watched films, and browsed exhibitions. A lot of it was part of my job and things couldn’t have been better.

We never bothered with a master-plan for life. And it didn’t really matter.

Once we decided to have children, that changed. We had to have a plan, we had to make decisions, not just for ourselves but also for two other people and I found myself stumbling around in the dark, unsure, unprepared.

It was terrifying. It is terrifying.

Parenting is like handing over a company to a trainee with no experience and no option of quitting. Click To Tweet

Two companies in my case! And so very diverse ones at that :-).

There I was, expected to excel at the most important job of my life with only my instinct to guide me and the whole world judging me. Is that crazy or what?

Not to worry, I told myself, and got on with the task, with bits of advice from doctors and counsellors, family and friends. Soon, the bits grew into a deluge that threatened to drown me. It’s like the story of the man, the boy and the donkey. There really was no one right way.

The first few years I thought it was the physical demands of motherhood that were the toughest – the unending feeding, cleaning, boiling bottles and the long sleepless nights. I was wrong, for that was only temporary.

What didn’t change, hasn’t change even now, is the constant doubt, the indecision and the big question – am I really up to this task of turning babies into decent adults? That, is the hardest part of parenting.

The hardest thing about parenting is never being sure if one is doing it right. Click To Tweet

It begins with: Is the baby waking up too frequently because I use cloth nappies for him? And conversely: Did he get that rash because I chose diapers instead of cloth nappies?
Then : Will my baby grow up to become clingy because I opted for co-sleeping? Or Will he feel deserted because I let him sleep in the crib?
Is she refusing to eat solids because I introduced them too late? Or did she take a dislike to them because it was too early and she wasn’t ready for them?
Am I destroying his spirit because I am too strict or will he grow up spoilt because I’m too lenient?
Am I pushing her too much or am I not pushing her enough? Should I lend a hand or should I let him figure it out himself?
Will I distance my teen if I am too strict? But then how do I ensure he is safe?Should I be a parent to my child or should I be a friend?

And then there are the big ones:
Am I doing enough?
Could I have done more?
Am I doing it right?
Should I have done it differently?

Even after a decade of being a mom somedays, specially on the bad days, I am badgered by these fruitless ‘What iffs’ and there really are no answers.

The thing to do then is to tell myself the one thing I am absolutely hundred percent, sure of – No one loves my children more than I do. And that is the beginning of convincing myself that I am doing the very best I can.

How can I not?

***************

Linking up with Deepa and  Amrita for #MondayMommyMoments.
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Sports day and a regret

Sports day and a regret

Last week the twins’ had
their Sports Day and H won a bronze in the class race. Instead of celebrating, my first reaction was to look out for N and her reaction. The thing is, N is the sporty one.
She’s the one who comes home with a medal and is heartbroken if she
doesn’t get her moment on the victory stand.
H makes things worse by not being sensitive at all. I could almost
see him revelling in his medal and how that would make
matters worse for N. So when I went to pick them up I hugged them both, underplaying H’s
victory. 
As it turned out, to his complete credit and my amazement, H was pretty nonchalant
about the whole thing and didn’t blow his trumpet one bit. Very surprising indeed!
What surprised me even more
was N’s reaction. She was a little upset I could tell, but she kept a smile
firmly on her face and was over it soon enough. It might have to do with
the fact that she was part of the
gymnastic display and so didn’t mind not winning. It might have to do with her recent
dance performance where she’d taken centre-stage already.
It brought home the importance of helping kids find their niche – something they’re good at – academics or a sport, a dance
form or a musical instrument. It does wonders for their self-esteem and allows them to
handle failure better. That’s what seemed to have worked for N.
Maybe I’m over analyzing this and the
kids are just growing up. 
Whatever it is, I was a
relieved mum that day. I do have a regret though – I wish I’d had that one moment of unadulterated happiness
and of praise for H – it was the first time he had won at sports
since when he was a toddler.

That’ll remain with me a long time.
It’s good for the kids though: to learn to look beyond themselves – to be empathetic as also to be happy for a sibling or a friend.
If you have more than one child tell me how you handle it when one child does really well and the other doesn’t? How do you praise one child while comforting the other?
Enjoying the difference

Enjoying the difference

The other day I had taken the kids to the dentist. As he cleaned N’s teeth tching tching at how she needed to learn to brush better, H noticing his beard and cap, asked in not too quiet a whisper (he is completely incapable of whispering), “Mama is he a Muslim?” I nodded a trifle embarrassed. Undeterred he went on, “Muslims wear caps na ma? That’s how I know. We read about it in class.” “Yes they do”, said I hoping the questioning would end right there.

Even as I struggled with the feeling of embarrassment I wondered why I was feeling so uncomfortable. From H’s point of view it was a perfectly innocent, though a tad personal, query. I asked myself whether I would have been equally embarrassed had he asked, “That aunty is wearing a bindi, does that mean she’s a Hindu?” I still do not know.

I was reminded of a similar incident while on a recent holiday at Lucknow. At a curio shop outside the Bara Imambara I found myself standing next to two burqua clad women. One of them picked up a small box and asked the vendor, ‘What is this?” and he replied off-handedly, “It’s of no use to you, it’s a sindoor-box’ (vermilion powder used by married Hindu women). The ladies smiled and put it back. I noticed the easy exchange wondering at how simply the religious difference had been mentioned, accepted and dismissed.

Perhaps that’s something special to Lucknow – that acceptance of the difference without attaching any judgement to it, where being a Hindu or a Muslim is just a way of life, where one can point out the difference without fear of being misunderstood.

While the uneducated/politically motivated lot insists on the ‘I/We are the best’ philosophy, the apparently educated/balanced lot go with the ‘We are equal/same’ philosophy.

Girls and boys are the same, all religions are the same, people from all regions are the same. That is so very confusing for a child. The thing is — they obviously are not. They are very different. It is the difference that gives them their identity – why take it away from them? Our lives would be richer and perhaps easier too if we accepted and enjoyed our differences.

Next time, I hope I won’t be thrown off balance when the kids put up a question like that. I hope I can allow them to question, understand and accept them with the ease and innocence that only children can.

**************

On a vaguely related note here’s a conversation we had yesterday morning during the school-time chaos:

H: Mama may I be a Muslim?
Me: You may be whatever you want but why do you want to be one?
H: They have so much fun. They get to go to the fair at the Idgah and get all kinds of goodies to eat and they even get Eedi.

They’ve recently read Premchand’s Idgah at school. I presume that’s what brought it on coupled with the fact that today is Eid and the excitement of his Muslim friends is very infectious.

I wish I had the time and the patience to explain that religion was much more than a few sweets and some pocket money. Unfortunately we were running late (as usual) and I had to let it go. Another time, another chat, perhaps.

Missing my hometown sorely today, I thought I’d cook up some sewain in honour of Eid. Mercifully a friend dropped by with a huge bowl of Sheer Khurma and saved the kids from at least one of my cooking misadventures. It turned out to be absolutely delicious.

Eid Mubarak everyone!

Doesn’t it look wonderful?
No more happily ever afters

No more happily ever afters

I have a question today. But before that listen to this story that I shared with the children of The Book Club this Sunday. I’ll keep it short I promise.

The story (The Book Keeper)

… is set in the year 2042. It talks of a scenario where books and writing are extinct. ibooks, laptops, computers, tablets and phones are everywhere. However, there is this one poor Bangladeshi boy, Santanu, who possesses a book (A Bengali adaptation of Matilda). He doesn’t understand the Bengali script so he uses it as a diary, address book, notepad and a scribble pad all in one.

One day the Internet crashes. The parents are angry and the children, restless. They are forced to play outdoors and stumble upon a dilapidated building which happens to be a deserted library. They start to love the place. They read, run around and learn to make up stories. Then one day the Internet comes back and the kids all disappear again back to their electronic world leaving Santanu alone but happy with the books. You can read the full story here. (While you’re there you might like to check out the site. It has some amazing stories from around the world).

The question

So tell me now, does the ending bother you? It did bother me. Would you have thought of altering it before you shared the story with the kids?

I was sorely tempted to do that. I’ve tampered with stories earlier, mostly the so called ‘fairytales’, when the kids were younger. I did away with the gory and the unpleasant, evening out the rough patches making it perfect as it could get.

This time however I let it be. For one, this ending might be more near the truth than the one I have in mind, two – changing it would amount to trolling someone else’s story, three – maybe it’s time to let the kids figure out the situation for themselves. I sure was curious to see their reaction – would they accept it like it’s inevitable or ‘normal’ (Yikes!!) or would they feel saddened like I was?

What the kids had to say

The kids completely loved it – the whole story. There were exclamations of ‘cool’ and ‘awesome’ at the idea of all kids having phones and tabs. But there also were ‘haws’ at the idea of no books. They accepted the story in a way more positive manner than what I’d ever imagined. Rather than a black and white approach they found many angles to it. Most said they liked the ending for Santanu’s sake. They liked that Santanu could enjoy being by himself with just books for company. Some said this wasn’t ‘the end’ at all and that finally the kids got bored of their computers after getting a taste of the good stuff and came back.

It’s such joy to watch children think and talk and discuss. Yet one more time I was made to realise how I underestimate the way they think.

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