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A feminist mom who loves her son to bits writes this to him, life lessons that spring from a wish to have him grow up to be a good, feminist man who does not act from privilege.
My dear Son,
As I look into your almond eyes, I feel myself going mushy. You’ve got to be my most beautiful creation ever, because I created you with my best friend; the one person I know would be by my side, even if the rest of the world wouldn’t be.
As I look into those heart-melting eyes, I become acutely aware of my responsibility to make you the man some woman (or man) would be happy to have as a partner, just as I am happy with your father. I don’t know if I can “make” you the man someone would love to be with, but I sure am going to try…
As I read the news every day, of another instance of molestation, of disrespect, of domestic violence and of rape, I feel the dire need to guide you through this labyrinth of influences. On the way, I will make some decisions, some good, maybe some bad. I wouldn’t know if those are right or wrong until probably it’s too late. But I will make them anyway and then, cross my fingers.
As I make these decisions, the lessons I wish you learn are only these:
Gender is insignificant, really! The moment we start making this distinction in our heads, we start minimizing some and maximizing some others. All humans deserve respect, at the outset, unless they give you a very convincing reason to disrespect them. In that case, I beg you take your time to come to a conclusion. Give everyone an equal and fair chance.
Judge only after you’ve met someone and known them for some time. Yes, we all observe people and form first impressions, but don’t let those first impressions dismiss people as insignificant. And more importantly, don’t pre-judge people based on what you hear about them.
Moral compass is more important than faith. There is a famous saying: “If you have trouble distinguishing right from wrong, you don’t lack religion. You lack empathy”. Let this statement tell you that no God, no faith, no religion can come close to your self-monitoring mechanism. Because all faiths and religions will ‘punish’ you after you’ve already done something wrong. Your internal compass will kick in before you do so. Let that be your primary guide.
Patience IS a virtue. In a world of instant gratification, it is easy to succumb to momentary pleasures. It takes moral fibre to stand up to temptation and bide your time. Give everything time… and effort.
Hard work surpasses talent when talent doesn’t work hard. However talented you are, it’ll all come to naught if you don’t work hard. There will be failures but you must hack on. Rome wasn’t built in a day!
I know, this sounds so counter-intuitive in today’s world where street-smartness is a quality you can’t live without. But trust builds bonds and those bonds are priceless. Of course, there will be people who will back-stab you, but trust me, there’ll be very few like that. Learn to look at those who didn’t, rather than the ones who would.
Always be kind to people who have lesser than you do. It could be anything, lesser talent, lesser money, lesser ability, lesser education. Everyone’s fighting a battle you don’t know about. Make the time to be with those who may need you. A cupcake in need is better than a birthday cake without.
It’s a life skill, it’s a survival skill. For something as basic as food, if you’ve to rely on someone else, I’ve failed you! Big time! And whenever you have the opportunity, learn swimming and self-defence. These are life-saving skills and procuring them will give you some measure of confidence.
Yes, you may want to explore what you want to become later in life. But, do get some basic education you can fall back on. Life isn’t only about growing wings. It is also about learning to walk when your wings are tired/burnt/broken/hurt.
Laughter is one of the best things you can bond over and diffuse tensions of life. Being able to laugh (at oneself, specially) will be an asset you’ll realize the value of when you’re too old/tired to do much else. Once all else fades, talking is all that remains.
I’d probably add more to the list, but it’s a bit overwhelming just now…
Love – Mumma
PS: This stemmed from a question he asked me yesterday: At what age he can go shopping alone? When I asked him why, he replied: So that I can buy eggs, milk, cream etc and you can bake without interruptions.
Published here earlier.
Image source: shutterstock
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