When we got tired of playing the mind games these are the ten games me and boys played and mastered. We were always good at being escapists, prefered the imaginary to the real and often yanked ourselves from one world to plunge into another. We all had our “me time” but still we spent a lot of time together bonding over board games, singing, telling stories, doing some sort of art/craft, playing some real-time games which would leave the house looking like as if it has been hit by a tsunami. It was tough but it was fun.
Computer games were a new rage and the boys were fanatic supporters of this new religion. All my efforts to keep them away from this growing menace failed and then I thought,’ if you can’t beat them join them’. WTH.. but I still laid down some rules.
And what did we play ? Here are the top ten.
1.Claw – Because I love wild cats 😀
2.Soldier of fortune – The first gory game I played where it was all guts over fear. Imagine that after yelling at the boys for behaving like bloody psychopaths.
3. Need for Speed/ Roadrage – I could never learn to drive but always dreamed of the mean machines I could control. The need for speed was satiated here and it was so engrossing that sometimes the line between virtual and real just disappeared. It was fun all right.
4. James Bond Nightfire – The only time I could be more than just a bond girl 😀
5. Delta Force Land Warrior – My initiation into first person shooters. It was cathartic in some ways.
6. XMen Arcade Game – For the love of classic X-Men characters. Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Nimrod, Mystique and many more. At times it was ridiculously funny but a lot of fun with the boys. A comic book come to life perhaps. 🙂
7. Batman Arcade Game – Chaos in Gotham – My love for the dark knight began much before Nolan. When you have two superheros in the house you need to learn the survival techniques for anything could happen anytime.
8. Solitaire and Freecell – These were the games to zone out when the house was not a war zone with aliens spaceships landing on your head and cars flying from between your legs.
9. Don’t think we just engaged in virtual games. There were a lot of indoor and outdoor games that were invented at the spur of the moment. Missions planned and executed, Rooms turned into makeshift WWF arenas (I was always the referee trying to save my head) 😀 , paper planes flew out of the balconies and windows with their tails in a blaze of fire, The entire house turned into an obstacle racing fast track where all sorts of cars, jeeps raced like lunatics. (my participation was limited to providing unlimited power boosters ( especially made in my kitchen) and occasionally tripping over some invisible flying object. ).. Oh yes, and picking up the debris later on while chasing the boys around to clean up.
10. Yes, I had my collection of WWE and Pokemon cards, tazzos and what not. These were guarded like prized possessions and traded occasionally with great deal of negotiations. We did play all the games with these interesting loot.
Raising boys is not for wimps and they kept me on my toes 24/7 but then it was also an adventure and great fun to grow up with them.
I believe that Parenthood teaches selflessness, to love and respect your kids unconditionally. Parents teach the children to be independent and rejoice in their blossoming. Both my sons are adults now and when I look back I think all I ever taught them was to shed everything that hindered their growth as human beings and accept themselves as and who they are. This covered almost everything that needed to be said. As a mother I believed that what I could teach by example I could not by words.
My parents taught me the value of discernment and take independent decisions and that is exactly what I instilled in my boys. To be discerning without being judgmental. It was an uphill task in the kind of environment they were growing up in. To keep their minds from being polluted by age-old rituals, customs and doctrines was an everyday struggle but I stood my grounds and made sure the boys learned to use their minds and not follow what the adults in the family or in the social milieu shoved down their throat. Since early years both the boys were encouraged to travel, explore, learn from the way people lived. To have a hunger for experiencing life at different levels. Independently. It was a challenge they had to undertake to refine themselves, to shun the comfort zone. To survive in all sorts of conditions. Build immunity, sensitivity, compassion towards life in all its forms. To value life and engage with it with an open mind and a student heart. I believed that exposure would enhance the personality and it did. Most of the times the ordinary things, the experimentation, the willingness to ask question does extraordinary things to children’s psyche. It teaches them important skills and to look beyond what is right in front of them.
I knew the importance of a dialogue, conversations, questioning, airing the differences fearlessly and with a trust that they will not be judged or reprehended. Freedom to converse without inhibition or fear helped them form their own opinions and choose what was right. That they could speak up their mind was largely due to the trust we shared. It is a friendship that we share even now. Once you rise above the relationship and treat the children simply as fellow human beings the approach to life changes. They become confident, curiosity helps them to expands their horizons inwardly as well as outwardly and a foundation for critical thinking is laid.
My boys had a privilege to experience two very different perspectives on ‘how to live a life’. A liberal, freethinking one from their maternal side and an orthodox, ritualistic one from the other. I think it helped them form their own set of values for life. They also learned from my limitations and sufferings. It made them a champion for women’s rights. Another major aspect was to make them aware of themselves so that they accept themselves as and who they were. I remember one of my sons asking me how I would react if he told me one day that he was gay or bisexual. I said it was his life and his sexual orientation or the way he is biologically. There was nothing to ‘react’. It is what it is. He asked if I would accept it. I replied that the question of acceptance doesn’t arise because it is ultimately His Life not mine. The fact that I would be by his side if needed was enough to make him comfortable with his choices I guess. I belive and taught them that unless you love yourself as who you are you can not love others nor others can love you. Loving oneself is an important lesson in life. To value the life we are given and live it well. Brief as it is.
The knowledge that I neither considered or treated the boys as my extension nor tied them to my apron strings helped them and me to lead a normal guilt free life in which we had mutual respect for each other, learned from each other and grew up together. Children are keen observers and often make decisions based on their understanding of life. To help them in this process all that is needed is a slight nudge. They have an agenda of her own. Suddenly one saw that the role of a mother as imagined or perhaps, vaguely understood could be questioned. Please! Can I not live my own life? Do I have to answer for each little thing I do? I am disgusted with this refrain “it is for your own good”. I know what it means and I can take care of myself – thank you! There is much heartbreaking pain and avoidable conflict. An uneasy kind of friendship develops as the teens are about to end, and one hopes that some understanding and maturity comes along to make life a little less rough – not for the daughter or son alone but also for the mother too. It is phase that strengthens the bonds without turning them into a noose. All one has to do is understand where they are coming from and help them deal with it if required. Unnecessary involvement in their daily struggles irks them at times.
I feel children who do not carry the burden of ‘teaching’ turn out to be better adults. I have seen around me the all engulfing apron strings, the controller moms who invade the very fabric of their son’s life till the core and leave it tattered. Mothers who just do not know where to draw the line. The worse thing a mother can do is to smother the child with ‘love” stunting their personalities. I cut the umbilical cord for my sanity and for the betterment of my children. They were loved and cared for but never became the primary focus of my passion and preoccupation. For the children to grown up without any mental, emotional, sexual dysfunction it is essential not to suffocate them. Being a free-spirited person myself it wasn’t difficult to instill it in my boys.
Growing up with them has been a wonder filled experience. Still is. I know I am the most unconventional mom but I love just the way it is. Now, I am looking at my life afresh, from their perspective, sharing a more mature friendship which began from the time I conceived them. A beautiful detached attachment. Motherhood has made me a better person and to sum it all in one sentence I would say, “Let your children be. You can’t teach a sapling how to grow; you can only give it all it needs, sit back and watch.” In doing so you are not just making them good citizens but most importantly better human beings; and in the end, that is all that matters. This post is written for the #MomsforaBetterWorld Project
“If you don’t like where you are in life, there comes a point when you must give up the part of you that’s keeping you back.” –Dr. Sonya Friedman Kid 2 embarked on a new adventure in his life today. It gives me immense pride to see my little cherub begin his college life. Till kids are in school we usually consider them as kiddos and then in a blink of an eye they grow up. Since last few years I saw the handsome lad mature into a responsible, thinking young man. Something that happened too quickly in the case of my first-born. The kid grew up too soon. That’s another story most of you know by now. It is hard to be a mother and harder to be a woman at the same time. Why am I reversing the order? Because that is how I want you to look at it for now. I had thought I will never bring up this subject again but things don’t always go the way you want them to go.
Once a female child is born, she immediately sides into the role assigned to her by the society – of a daughter, sister, wife, mother so on and so forth. The first robe of role-playing that the baby girl is wrapped in grows with her infant body, taking her through the long tedious journey into womanhood. Somewhere she shrinks into nothingness and all one can see is the role she is playing at a particular stage in her life. Am I being too bitter and judgmental? Maybe, but this is how I see an average woman’s life especially in my country. So what happens when this infant begins to acquire a mind of her own, when her body begins to stir and revolt under all those layers of responsibilities etc? What happens when she finds she has a voice? What happens when at some point of time in her life she throws away those cumbersome layers that draped her individuality and breaks free? She is condemned for life. She is called names. She is looked down upon and society begins to foam at mouth and picks up weapons of filth to fling at her. Thinking for oneself is not acceptable. How can a woman think for herself? Who is she anyway? Some women disagree and step out of their “boundaries” their “line of control” irrespective of the repercussions that would follow. Some “adjust” and ” compromise” for various reasons and stay confined within the four walls of their “home”. Consumed by the fire that burns in them.
In a society where maternal love is revered it is difficult to digest the fact that a mother can walk out of a bad marriage leaving her children behind. Men do it all the time but women are judged harshly. They are called “cold-blooded” “inadequate” “shameless”. How can a mother leave her children? It is sacrilegious. Taboo. “What kind of mother are you?” Someone asked when I said my boys stay with their father and I have been away from them since last two years. “You abandoned them?” Pat came another question and by this time I was beginning to feel guilty again for the umpteenth time since I crossed that threshold of the house I lived in with my kids, husband and in-laws.
“No, I did not abandon them. (The word is very upsetting ) I see them regularly, talk to them almost daily. They come and stay over at my place. We are closer than ever before.. I think so..” my voice began to fail me here. Leaving your marriage is the biggest challenge one faces in life. For twenty years I stayed in an unfulfilled marriage not knowing which way to go. I was economically dependent and had no confidence to break away and start all over again. The boys were small and needed me. I wanted to stay with them, watch them grow, give them all the love and support they needed from a parent, be their friend, be there when they needed me. I did that as best I could but then something snapped within one day. I had to take the hardest decision of my life. To stay in the marriage which had lost its meaning or walk away. Choice 2 meant leaving the boys behind. At that moment I did what I felt was right. I left. I broke the news to my sons (15&19 at that time) and hoped they would understand. I believed they did. convinced myself. They put up a brave front and stood side by side with me but the sound of their hearts crushing into trillions of pieces shot through me like a comet leaving me throbbing with unsaid hurt and a permanent feeling of guilt. Still somehow I could not bring them to stay with me nor could I go to live with them. We had to part to discover each other. The fact that I did not ever feel guilty enough to reverse my decision made things worse. In the eyes of others it was “cruel” in plain and simple words. I often talked with my boys about it and knew how difficult it was for them to show support for my action when inside they were hurting. No child can be happy in such circumstances but I often wonder if they were growing up as happy kids in the kind of environment they were living in. What changed by my leaving? The house was same, people were same, it was same shit they were facing anyway and now without my support. It was worse or was it? Only they can tell.
I have heard people whisper “All that fight for dignity and respectful living is fine and dandy but how could she do this? I could never leave my babies at any cost.” Well, it is what it is. I left at a time I believed they would understand my action. I am sure they did or they would not have had anything to do with me. The fact that we are still together no matter where we are speaks volumes. Some day I would want to know honestly what went through their minds but till then i am not assuming. There are times when I ache for togetherness. It is a lonely battle one has to fight if one chooses to break the norms. I began to start afresh, learned to be financially independent, though still legally married and still dependent on my mom and brother as I stay in their home, I am finally able to choose what I want to do with my life , with myself. Sometimes it feels like a bigger trap , more space but still a sand box. It is fine till the time I play inside it, stepping out isn’t an option but for now I am good with it. At least I am breathing without ventilator.
It is unfortunate and very tragic how the course of events in one’s life can affect children. They do bounce back and begin to live a normal life but somewhere the heart longs for the times spent together. It is the same with parents. I won’t say its just the mothers who go through this, fathers too suffer. I told myself over and over that kids need love and support and don’t want someone to fight their battles that they do on their own. They chart their own paths. One just needs to be there to encourage and give them that opportunity to grow and expand their horizons. It doesn’t matter if that’s done living together or elsewhere. I have been there for my boys no matter what and whenever they needed me but today somehow the deluge was too much to contain. Caught between rock and hard surface I sat here in my room getting updated on the progress of how things were shaping up as Kid 2 prepared to leave to other city to join the college. An important mile stone in his life. I wasn’t there in the last two important years of his school life and the fact that I could not give him a proper hug and wish him luck by physically being there broke me completely. Some emotions are private and I cried my heart out into the pillow. For the first time I longed for two strong arms around me. A shoulder to keep my head on and just pour it all out. We weren’t engineered for being lonely. It is tough at times especially when you are mushy and a sucker for love.
The sun is about to set in my city and soon the night will come bringing another rush of memories. Memories of all that I lost and found in my struggle to juggle various roles as a woman and somewhere I would stand and watch myself , the “me” that is now and wonder was it worth it ? I don’t know what the answer will be today but most of the day it is “YES”. Even with this burden of gratitude I am carrying of being “taken back in the fold of my maternal home”. Even with the knowledge that I owe my “independence – economical and otherwise” to someone without whom it would have been a different story all together. Even though it is a bumpy, uphill task to live day-to-day and struggle to keep my voice strong It is Worth every bit of it. I will miss our weekly meetings, fun and laughter, cooking especially for him, hanging out in favorite joints but we will be connected none the less. he didn’t meet as often as Kid 1 but his absence will be strongly felt.
This is the second time the brothers are being separated. Earlier it was when I had to send Kid 1 to he boarding school. Another hard decision I would have preferred not to take. I know they will miss each other more than anything. One day each one has to take their own path and go in different directions, the hearts say connected none the less. I know my boys will understand and not judge me harshly. I know they will treat the women in their lives and for that matter any woman anywhere with the respect they deserve. I know things will not stay the same. I know that wherever we go we will never be far away. The love and friendship we share will strengthen with time and we will always be able to float above the so-called ” social norms and code of conduct”. I wish my boy all the very best in life and success in the path he chosen. I am there for him always in any way he wants. I have a lot to say to the elder one and some day we will sit down , just the two of us, and talk to each other as two friends should but till then I just want to say I am a very proud and happy mother. Thank you for being in my live and enriching it. You guys are the best friends I have .
Stay strong , Stay Focused. Love you. please excuse the typos and random flow of thoughts. Republished on BellBajao Blog
I was looking for more ways of wasting time and thought of starting a new series called ‘Monday Memories’ . There are times when some little thing in the present takes you back to some moment in the past. Some bittersweet memory comes floating to you and then the things you remember are more real than the things you see in the present. I always wondered if a moment from past tasted the same . Sometimes it does. You can actually feel, hear, see touch exactly the way you did at that moment or maybe you believe you do and that’s all matters. It keeps you going in hard times, in times of loss, separation, loneliness.
My boys are now grown up and many a time a simple little thing as a pack of cookies, a box of crayon, a song or a sentence in a book sparks a memory of their childhood, a childhood that was an adventure for them as well as for me, and I realize how those memories are piles in endless stacks inside me.
My elder one is now 21 and I guess we spend 3,000 more hours on our first-born than the second one. Every little thing the child becomes precious. I don’t think I remember his “Firsts ” or “Lasts” but I do remember some particular incidents that filled my young mother’s heart. Raising boys is not for wimps. It is a challenge only some can endure. I guess I developed eyes at the back of my head when Adi was growing up. He was one little explorer who was curious about anything that he could lay hands on. A complete foodie and an absolutely fearless boy. While I struggled to keep things under control without going insane he invented different ways to bring the house down. Those were moments when I cried and laughed at the same time unable to decide which was the best thing to do. Never thought that these very incidents will become irreplaceable with time. I had to think two steps ahead to find a way to involve him while I went about doing my household stuff. One of them was colors. He would sit for hours totally immersed in various types of coloring material, old newspapers etc and create masterpieces on everything in the color zone including himself. He would then look around quietly, make sure I am not watching and then slip through the door with a riot of color in his little hands. He would pin it somewhere or place it where I will surely see and then hide. Waiting for me to make the move. As I said, I had somehow developed superpowers so I would know exactly what to do. I would pretend to do something right where his treasure lay and accidentally discover it. It was such a joy to see him creatively involved. I would say ‘ look what I found. This is such a beauty and who made this gorgeous piece of art? ” and he would shyly emerge from his hiding place , his eyes sparkling with joy and pride and his a big dimpled smile lighting his face and say , “me’. I would hug and kiss him and we would sit and talk about his masterpiece all covered with colors of love. For many years I kept those paintings and drawings till they were discovered by another curious adventurer who had found the art of dismantling, dissecting, tearing and making new objects what could be anything from weapons of war to some new inventions of a technical genius. 😀 My second boy was exact opposite of his elder sibling. four years his junior he loved a leisurely peaceful life most of the time. Another bottomless pit was added to my misery. At times I thought I was created for just two things- cook and clean.
Shubhang was always curious about the “hows” and “whys” of life and he practically dismantled anything and everything to observe the intricate machinery that lay within the mundane looking objects. If a watch was missing we knew where it would be or for that matter bigger things like camera carelessly left unattended. It would all end up in the junk box or will be discovered months later buried under something neatly tied in a bundle. One really needed a high IQ to figure out what that originally was. Watching him working with rapt attention on some complex toy or gadget that he had decided to open up I would often marvel at the working of his mind at such a tender age. Of course I went into a rage on finding something destroyed for good but then there was some magical spell these boys put on me every time they screwed up something. Yes, they were a gang of two. Partners in crime and vowed to defend and protect each others honor at all times Unless there the offered bait was a better option :D. I had to shell out big time in kind more than in cash to get the desired information. This was the beginning of a very strong bond between them which I can see even now.
One thing one must remember as a mother of growing up boys is that anything can be converted into weapons and landmines. It is through cuts and bruises and spilling of blood one learns this unless you are prepared for it and you never are. You never can possibly know what will burst under your feet or hit you from nowhere. It just isn’t possible to know. I realized it when I watched these brats chew their toasts in shape of guns and shoot each other or target strategic places or people with things they found uninteresting to eat. Although I hovered like a chopper to watch over the proceeding they managed to turn almost anything into a missile. I just had to learn and master the art of being alive.
The space between these memorable moments were filled with hair-raising tales about which I will talk some other time and between those tales of horror I cooked endlessly to fill those bottomless pits. It was something I loved to do till it became the sole purpose of my living. “WHF, I would say , You guys just had your meal” and they would look at me with those innocent puppy eyes and I wold melt like butter on toast and tie my apron once more.
But you know what, although I could kill with bare hands and I got so tired at the end of the day that I wanted the earth to split wide open and take me in I never restricted them in any way. I disciplined them but not at the cost of snatching away their childhood thought they may feel differently.
That bond which we three developed grew with passing years and slowly we rose above the mother-sons relationship without even noticing it. This is a friendship which I think should be there between all parents and children where the kids aren’t extensions or your subordinates but individuals. You got to respect their uniqueness and intelligence to gain respect and love. You got to listen to them, praise , them, guide them and make them believe in the fact that they can count on you for anything and you value their presence in your life.
Anything is possible in the house with growing up boys. It is fantasy land where you can trip on cars, you got to dodge flying objects and things popping out of no where, where there are no time zones, where there is battles are won and lost every day and you can hear one of the finest remixes and music pieces ever written. It is also a warm cozy zone of love and togetherness, of laughter and craziness, of pains and pleasures that life offers. Here you will find yourself floating in a cocktail of emotions almost all the time. From birth every stage of their enchanting life is an irreplaceable miracle. You learn the biggest lessons of life and the greatest strategies of survival in this world. You got to enter at your own risk but once in you are part of the gang. Once in never out. That’s what friendships are all about.
This is for my boys with love and a warm hug. I treasure them and very proud to see them all grown up into sensitive, discerning young adults.