BY SAILAKSHMI DEEPAK
As a new mother 10 years ago, I had so many different experiences, some good, some bad, but all memorable. But the one memory that stands out is my obsession about how my child looked like me. His little fingers had a bend just like mine, his chin stuck out like mine, he smiled like me, he had a long face like mine, he walked like me, and he nodded/shook his head like I did….. Three years later the second baby came along, only to see my obsession getting worse. His eyes were just like mine, they had that naughty spark I had, his smile was like mine, his teeth were like mine……
And through all this, I was comparing my childhood with theirs. I recognized that I learnt a lot from the way their father was brought up and how he has turned out to be. So, I wanted them to have all our good traits, yet worried about them picking up our bad ones.
But sometime in the last few years, I have changed – and definitely for the better. Parenting books, parenting blogs, watching other mothers do their job, my own experiences – none of these helped. My kids taught me what was probably staring at me all along. They were just themselves….. both different from us and more importantly different from each other. Yes, their father and I made them, the proof is in their looks, and partly in their mannerisms, but it stops there!
It is better late than never. I have no regrets, just feeling grateful and proud to be able to learn from my babies. Yes, I actually did stop to listen so my kids will talk. I am now noticing so much more about them. I wish I had more time and better memory to soak in all that they are giving me.
My 10 year old wants to be treated like an adult but is still a baby inside. He is always talking about when his upper-lip will sprout hair, when he can go for an outing alone with his friends, when he can carry his own mobile, when he can have a room all to himself, when he can play his guitar like Bryan Adams…… Yet, he is the one who spends hours at the wash-basin making bubbles, begs us to give him a bath, plays with his food, does baby-talk, and worries when I leave him alone even for a few minutes. He does not like wet mess, so painting, cooking, baking, gardening are all no-nos. He chooses his clothes and steps out looking cool, hair spiked, carries a red and white Man-U bag, reads teenage fantasy fiction filled with beasts and battles, and wants to prove he has his testosterone levels building crazy high.
My 6 year old wants to be treated like a baby, but is the closest girlfriend I have. He is always talking about wanting to sleep in our bed, wanting to sit next to us at the table so he can be spoon fed, wanting to be read a bedtime story every night, wanting to be carried upstairs after dinner. Yet, he is the one who spends hours in front of the mirror with his very Bollywood style heroine dance moves, looks at frocks and jewelry when we go shopping, wants to sing songs in his artificial squeaky voice, wants to watch every move of mine when I am using make up, wants to give his two bits when I shop for clothes, or choose what to wear when I go out. He loves messy hands, so painting, cooking, baking, gardening are a big yes-yes. He doesn’t care about what he is wearing as long as it is bright and colorful, hates any hairdo that screams macho, carries a bag big enough to take his books. He reads his Rainbow Magic and goes through his fairy obsession.
They spend time together creating / directing / acting out plays for us, building Lego structures and cities, writing and illustrating books, running a pretend restaurant, pretend library, pretend supermarket, giving us a musical performance – guitar, keyboard, squeaky voice and all, building a zoo, a car showroom, quizzing each other, playing word games, but play to each of their interests and strengths. The outcome of that combination is outstanding. Yet there are times when the older one is kicking his football alone in the garden, while the younger one is cutting out paper dresses for his Barbie. The older one is out riding his cycle, when the younger one is playing in the sandpit. The older one is in the pool, swimming and showing his confidence in the deep side, while the younger one is filling water in his sand toys and swim cap and pretend kitchen in the pool.
I now celebrate their differences, and look at them with pride when they complement each other so well, and enjoy the balance they offer me when I play mom. But more than anything else, I am so glad they are unlike both of us.
About the author:
Sailakshmi lives in Dubai with her three boys: 6, 9 and 39. She loves to eat, bake, sing, dance and watch SRK on screen. She loves her job in the library, yet yearns for one in the big, bad corporate world. She hates parenting, but does it because the boys need it.