They never did tell me that once a mother is always a mother, not a counselor or a friend in the making. Could I ever conceive of the impossible transformations that would overcome me, once I don the mantle of a mother? It was nigh disconcerting, if not entirely smothering to my internal space. Once the wailing infant arrived, the world appeared singularly dissimilar to the earlier known one. It was moulded out of shape, turned highly unaccommodating and completely distanced. On one hand my external world swallowed me whole, the walls closing in on me, whereas on the other hand, the entire universe seemed to be applauding in jubilation; aah, mother at last, birthing the millionth baby to join the bandwagon of Indians, where little Indians abound! Stupefying! Well done, ole girl! Confusion!
Never was I told, that while all the above may be true, along with the thorns adorning the crown of parenthood, jewels lie concealed therein. That infants actually grow into children and then into thinking, individual adults was the great bonus. These very adults, our children, gradually transform into caring, loving individuals turning the tables on you. Just like that, in the blink of an eye, the adult-child is advising you, telling you not to worry and acting exactly like you – turning in the covers on your tired body at night. That our children can be our parents too, was a huge revelation!
Among the things that they don’t tell you, is that while you are struggling to be a conscientious, guilt free, loving and consistent parent, you are also pushing forth your own boundaries. You too are growing from strength to strength. I gained in years and wisdom, without the shadow of doubt. Religion, or let’s just say, my Faith came in handy and sharing worldly wisdom within the community became a habit. Were it not for the elders, that constitute a fairly large proportion of our society, doling out dollops of wisdom, our ship would have sunk. We tried it all; first when our kids were mere infants, then as they quite surely turned into little monsters. With gentle guidance, timely intervention and societal pressures, we got through the first one’s teen years without major mishaps. The second one’s teens were a cakewalk!
Society continually threw up diverse ideas on parenthood, and as a young married couple, we were barraged about how best to bring up a child. Each piece of well-meant counsel seemed sane enough to us, yet how were we to the perfect set of parents never seen before! What a test, what pressure! Yet none could envision what we actually lived, because it was our unique experience, as each experience necessarily is. Needless to say, we touched new spiritual heights because we constantly harkened to the powers that be. We sought help to wade through a particular phase, or to aid the process of easing the pain of our child’s puberty; or simply to help us help them, our children.
Was I told that I would earn laurels, albeit surreptitious, garbed in intangibles? No. What were these? A look of gratitude from my husband; a hand pressed in appreciation for my patience and wisdom oftentimes when he found himself drowning under a fusillade of unanswerable questions from our little ones. He attempted to demonstrate his admiration for my sleepless nights in service of future citizens of the world by a quick call from his workplace. In the meanwhile, his snoring remained persistent and indicative of intense part-time parenting. The crossfires were innumerable, but none insurmountable- together, armed and bonded, as it were, with love- all you really need, we always emerged, a little battered, but whole. A foursome gradually formed, unknown to us. The thread that linked us was what formed a strong nucleus- the family. Roles became clearer- as we realised they must. Father’s is the last word (after consulting the mother figure); areas of strengths were discernible and kids, no matter their age, quickly ascertain whose domain is whose. There’s no dodging a keen-eyed kid…who is yours day and night.
Fatigue is a word that we both quickly effaced from our dictionary. No, we weren’t told this either and it did not ‘alarm’ us to discover that we were indefatigable!
They didn’t tell me that becoming a parent was embracing the wild, in real terms. While my own wild streak underwent much taming, the Ones to be restrained were let loose and their spirits, quite amply un-harnessed. I, along with the father, my spouse, yielded to their demand for freedom, as they continue to scroll out a steady stream of meanings of it. Gently, over the period quite ironically called ‘The Growing Years’ (ours naturally), the father also understood their whys and wherefores. Having fallen in line with their freethinking spirits and open minds, we avoided much heartache. We adapted ourselves to them, as they adapted themselves to us. We learnt to heartily encourage and vett their ideas, which may not have always been up our alley. They were and are there, at large, integrating themselves into a society we created; a community that helped us thrive in our roles, one way or another.
The years gone by have filled me with gratitude on many an occasion. When all else around me crumbled, the training I had undergone through parenthood, came to my rescue at all times. Distraught I may have been, frustration and despair may have overwhelmed me, and I may have even contemplated suicide at some point in time (outdone by acute physical and mental fatigue), but after my head bore the crown, never ever did I consider myself the full owner of my body and mind. The responsibility and restraint that comes with parenthood, the repercussions of bearing not one but two children, help you gather your forces from every nook and corner of your being and you just keep going. What a gift for life! Surprise, surprise, another one of those profound truths they failed to tell me….
Bound by our love and our children, we live on, my husband and I, proud that we chose the path of parenthood. Oftentimes weary, sometimes jubilant, we are above all, thankful for having chosen this path. This path that is perhaps overabundantly strewn with catches, yet heaps of rewards, grows upon you stealthily as you advance, willy nilly, in new and untested directions. Gratefully recognizing a fact staring us in the face, that had we been forewarned, would we have chosen otherwise? So, maybe it’s best that the wisdom of the years that was our parents, was kept from us and they did not tell us the finer details after all.