Motherhood is an experience that is difficult to describe but has to be felt to be understood completely. Only a mother knows what it is to bring up a child, and to go through the motions of carrying her baby in her womb for 9 months, to give birth, to experience postpartum blues, to be rendered with sleepless nights and yet experience the bliss of watching ones little cherub grow into a young woman or man.
I’m a mother to two girls: 8 and 18 years-old. So when the second one was born it was like starting afresh. It felt like I’d never had a baby before and I had to re-start my learnings all over again. At times I floundered but I got up and strode with confident steps. And at times I was a winner all the way, hands on and doing a brilliant job. Since the age difference between the two is a wide 10 years, I have had to practice two different styles of parenting – between parenting a crabby teenager and then pacifying a clingy toddler. Of course, though with the basic ground rules the same. But believe you me, It’s been a fun journey despite the thorns here and there. After all, a rose wouldn’t bloom minus those thorns would it?
My older one is almost completing First year of college and the younger one is set to go to Grade 4. They are both at a very entertaining age I must say. The older one doubles up as my best friend. Only the other day we went together and got our tattoos done. It was a fulfilling, emotionally bonding experience; where she held on to my hands as I tried to forget the pain. She got my mother’s words engraved on her heart, “Ki Khushi” meaning “How Happy” in Bengali. She is very attached to her grandma. And just had to put up this little declaration of love on her heart.
The younger one is a sucker for art and crafts. She has stoked my long-lost interest in art so much that we started Zentangling-a form of doodling together. It’s a fun, engaging, relaxing experience we both indulge in each others company while exchange notes.
So here are just five lessons that my angel brats have taught me over the years. Lessons that are more precious than any gift one could ever have. And I’m so grateful for them and for having them in my life.
To Stay Young, To Behave Young, To Feel Young: Yes, I’ve always been pretty much young at heart, but then I give a lot of credit to my two girls for also keeping me that way. I have spent innumerable afternoons and mornings shopping with the 18-year-old, and then stopping by for a hearty meal, and then catching a movie after a long day of all this. It keeps my energy rolling and my zest for life high. We have scrounged through the Sarojini Nagar market looking for clothes in the latest trends and my 18-year-old dispenses fashion tips like a pro. So she ends up helping me pick what makes me look younger and natty. She does my make up when I step out for a party. I’m terrible at doing eye make-up as I barely do them for myself. She spends a long time putting together hues of eyeshadow to match my clothes and accessories. The younger one, on the other hand, makes sure we have Game nights on some weekends wherein we as a family indulge in various games like Dumbcharades, Snakes and Ladders, Scrabble and the works. We have even played Hop Scotch together. We do cycling races together. We go butterfly and snail hunting together. Reminds me of our growing up years.
To Lead By Example: As a mother, I can’t be telling my kids not to do something that I myself would be engaging in. So if I raise my voice and shout at them, they will replicate my behaviour and do the same. It has taken me years of training to watch what I say, how I say it, what I do and how I do it. After all, our kids are watching us every moment and will follow our footsteps. I have learned that action speaks louder than words. So if I’m calm and collected in a taxing situation my kids will see me and follow suit. If my kids see me positive and happy most of the time they will tend to become such human being themselves too. If they see I’m courteous and helpful towards others they will do the same. Thus it is essential to preach only what we are able to practice ourselves.
To Nurture Myself: Kids require a lot of investment of our time, if we want them to blossom and grow into all-rounded, well-turned out human being. So to nurture them, it’s important we as mothers nurture ourselves first. For a work-out-of-home Mom like me, it’s not easy to juggle between a career, home, husband, and kids. It requires a lot of patience and time strictly allocated to each of these. Earlier I used to spend all my time with them, with very little time left for myself leaving me overwhelmed, irritable and exhausted. I realised the importance of “me time” and now I make it a point to spend some time in the morning sipping my cup of coffee in peace, looking out of the balcony our gazing at the plants on the terrace. In the afternoons after having wrapped up work, and eaten lunch, I grab time to read and catch up on a short afternoon siesta before the younger one comes from school. That way I’m far more rested and ready to spend quality and valuable time with the her. I also make sure I go for some pampering to the Spa or Salon or get myself a coffee and a lavender cake and at the nearby cafe, all by myself.
To Be Open Minded and Communicative: I’m reminded of the lyrics from the delightful Bob Dylan song, “The Times They Are A-‘Changin'” : Come, mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly aging
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
Cause the times they are a-changing
I firmly believe it’s important for parents to adapt and acclimatize to the changing times. Else the generation gap will only widen. It is so very important to keep our channels of communications open with our kids and that will only happen if we try to understand them, instead of berating them for their little faults. Our kids will only open out to us if we share a strong bond, one that keeps the scope for communication open. This applies a lot to parents who have teenagers and are grappling trying to bring them up with their tantrums and mood swings. We cannot expect to parent our kids the way our parents did. Things have changed and they will continue to. When we start understanding and talking to our kids, we realise where they actually are coming from. Silencing them with angry words or reprimands is not the solution all the time. A calm, listening ear goes a long way to tide the generation gap and adapt to “The times they are A-Changin'”
Money Can’t Buy Happiness and Their Love. Our Time Can: I have always known this, but living in a metro for over 8 years I see how more and more parents are succumbing to the bait of buying gifts, toys, clothes, time at a Funzone; to make up for the lost time with their kids. Since they have long working hours, they barely get to see or spend time with their kids. So out of sheer guilt, I notice some parents trying to fill the void of their time with things that money can buy. You cannot buy your kids love, you can only receive it by reciprocating it back with your time. Though not easy given the busy lifestyles people lead juggling between, work, home, technology, social media; it is so pertinent to invest in quality time with our kids. Quality time versus quantity is the ideal mantra. It’s a good idea to keep our phones away when our kids are sharing their day at school with us, or when we are having dinner with them. I have been guilty of getting distracted by social media many times, but I do now consciously try and keep the phone away when the kids are around.
These are just five of the things I have learned from my kids. There are lot many though. But I assure you making an effort to follow these 5 lessons are in themselves a great way to get started. I’m glad I could reiterate these lessons to myself by blogging about them. Thank you #MondayMommyMoments