This year my elder son turned 15 and I completed 15 years of motherhood. Yes, motherhood which is often put on a high pedestal, not without reason though. Trust me, I am not one who likes to be treated as a deity or worshipped. I am as human as another woman and terribly flawed too. But motherhood is a journey that changes you like no other and challenges you in ways you never dreamed possible. The conflicts, guilt, second guessing your decision all come with the territory.
Before I became a mother, I was pretty carefree. Responsible only for my own happiness, I was free to live my life the way I wanted (despite being married). I am a person who has always followed her heart, right or wrong. This was completely thrown out of the window from the time I was expecting the first time. No longer could I even eat, drink, sleep, go out to watch movies on a whim (Okay this one I did even when heavily pregnant ;-)). That was the smallest step in becoming responsible for another life, the life that I had helped create and was bringing into the world. The emotional impact is even more staggering as a tiny form squirms in your arms, completely dependent on you for safety, security and pretty much everything.
It was also a time when I felt very close to my mother who I had recently lost. Nothing like becoming a parent that opens up dams of empathy for your own parents because you know how hard you had been on them. Then came the multiple struggles. I wasn’t prepared to be a mother. Are you ever? It was more like an adventure, an exciting journey that I heard of from the others and looked forward to embarking upon. I liked kids. I was hands on with them, had been with my own niece. But having your own child and then children is totally another ball game. It was terrifying at times and intensely joyful and emotional at others. I have made a lot of mistakes. I have lost my temper multiple times. I have yelled, ranted and cussed. I have had times when I wished I didn’t have them. Yes, I have been through the entire spectrum. But I have also been responsible, loving and have tried to be a decent mother too.
I have asked this question to the husband and I already knew his answer even before he said it. Through all the trials and tribulations, angst and joy, frustration and elation, would we do it again in hindsight? Yes, we would! Pray why, you must be thinking. It is because as testing as the journey is, it has been immensely rewarding especially as both the sons are reasonably grown up. In the initial years, you are the parent – teaching them, watching their every precious step, moulding their values, watching your own behaviour and habits so that you are a better role model. In turn, I became a better version of myself. I am more patient, more accepting, more genuine and more open as a person. I am also more mindful. My children are my friends today (except when they quarrel like dogs). I bank so much on them for both emotional and physical support. I know there are times when they say and do things that uplift me. I see them slipping into the role of parenting me then. I have never hidden my flaws from them or shielded them from the realities of life. They know a lot about my childhood and my lesser qualities through the tales I’ve told them. And they are good kids – well mannered, sensitive, empathetic and most importantly independent.
The challenges for me are far from over as the younger son drives me up the wall with his tantrums and behaviour issues. He is working on them and I actively encourage him. The elder son has some tumultuous years ahead as he gets into the thick of studies. There will be stress, anxieties, failures and heart breaks much more than the childhood years. Keeping them well-adjusted and sane will continue to test my parenting skills as the grip of the external world tightens on them and those of the parents loosen.
One never stops being a parent. That is for sure. You just start letting go, little by little till they fly the nest.
This Mother’s Day, I congratulate all the mothers out there who work hard to bring up their kids to the best of their abilities.
We fail; we triumph; but we never give up.
I would love to hear about your parenting journey. Please share in the comments.
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