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