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Parents should realize that their children do not 'owe' them anything, and we should ideally set children free to make their choices in life.
Parents should realize that their children do not ‘owe’ them anything, and we should ideally set children free to make their choices in life.
My son is too young to even understand the promises I have made in my heart to him. But I have still gone ahead and decided on a few things lest I forget when the time actually comes to put these vows to use.
The first time I read Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, I went WOW! But these lines just stole my heart away :
“Your children are not your children. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.”
At that time I was not a mother but just a daughter and I understood these lines from a child’s point of view. Almost everyone, during their growing up days has had a conflict of opinion with their parents and there is almost always a feeling that our parents do not understand us.
And now that I read these lines again as a parent, a new truth has been unveiled to me. My son is a person in his own rights. And therefore there are some things that I have decided in the hearts of my hearts to do.
To begin with, I have promised myself that I would not obsess over making him something or someone. But be right beside him in the journey of becoming whatever he wants to. I shall not take away his right to dream his own dreams. And one day when he finally becomes what he is destined to be, I shall not fall over to take away the credit or even expect him to call me his motivation, support or other fancy things. In my eyes that just defeats the purpose of loving someone unconditionally.
Most importantly, I would have a life of my own. People can go ahead and call me selfish and other mean names. But being someone apart from being a mother simply means that I would not grow old to become a nagging old woman who cannot help breathing down her child’s neck only because she has nothing to do.
Moreover it also means that maintaining my individuality would only help my son discover his own. It really saddens me to see women who spend all their lives raising their children and lose themselves over the years only to end up feeling lonely, unloved and betrayed once the children have flown. Only if they had had a life apart from the children, they would have dealt with the reality of empty nest much more effectively.
In my mental list of promises, one thing which stands prominently marked in capital letter and in bold font is that I shall never ever expect my son to pay me off for the sacrifices and compromises I make for him now, when he grows up. He is not my insurance policy or a retirement plan. He is a person with a mind and heart of his own. The only thing I can do is love, guide and raise him.
It would be truly unfair on my part if I do all of these in the hope that one day he shall pay me off. In fact I would be terribly happy if he takes care and loves his old mama then, simply because he wants to. He is definitely not obliged to do it. He is not indebted to me. He owes me nothing. Not even for giving him birth. Bringing him in this life was my decision and desire, and it was no favor on him. It should not be for any child.
When my son was just born, somebody told me that by doing a certain thing I could ensure that my son would always keep coming home, once he grew up. I said if he would love me, he would always come. There is nothing else that I need.
Even though there is still a lot of time before this happens but I have firmly decided that I shall not envy and compete with the woman in his life. I shall put an end to this age old game of passing the buck. Whatever has been my situation or whatever experiences I have had, I shall never pass it on the poor girl just because I sailed the same boat once. I shall not give away my frustrations, anger, beliefs and dead rituals to an unsuspecting soul just because I have been through them. I shall definitely not derive any sadistic pleasure out of troubling another woman’s daughter just because I have a son.
So there it is, all the things that matter to me as a person and as a mother. I truly wish that my son grows up to find his true self without the burden of my expectations but under the sunshine of my guidance and that I keep the promises that I have made to him.
Published earlier here.
Image source: mother with son by Shutterstock.
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I huffed, puffed and panted up the hill, taking many rest breaks along the way. My calf muscles pained, my heart protested, and my breathing became heavy at one stage.
“Let’s turn back,” my husband remarked. We stood at the foot of Shravanbelagola – one of the most revered Jain pilgrimage centres. “We will not climb the hill,” he continued.
My husband and I were vacationing in Karnataka. It was the month of May, and even at the early hour of 8 am in the morning, the sun scorched our backs. After visiting Bangalore and Mysore, we had made a planned stop at this holy site in the Southern part of the state en route to Hosur. Even while planning our vacation, my husband was very excited at the prospect of visiting this place and the 18 m high statue of Lord Gometeshwara, considered one of the world’s tallest free-standing monolithic statues.
What we hadn’t bargained for was there would be 1001 granite steps that needed to be climbed to have a close-up view of this colossal magic three thousand feet above sea level on a hilltop. It would be an understatement to term it as an arduous climb.
Why is the Social Media trend of young mothers of boys captioning their parenting video “Dear future Daughter-in-Law, you are welcome” deeply problematic and disturbing to me as a young mother of a girl?
I have recently come across a trend on social media started by young mothers of boys who share videos where they teach their sons to be sensitive and understanding and also make them actively participate in household chores.
However, the problematic part of this trend is that such reels or videos are almost always captioned, “To my future daughter-in-law, you are welcome.” I know your intentions are positive, but I would like to point out how you are failing the very purpose you wanted to accomplish by captioning the videos like this.
I know you are hurt—perhaps by a domestic household that lacks empathy, by a partner who either is emotionally unavailable, is a man-child adding to your burden of parenting instead of sharing it, or who is simply backed by overprotective and abusive in-laws who do not understand the tiring journey of a working woman left without any rest as doing the household chores timely is her responsibility only.
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