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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.
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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