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Remember how I helped you when you fell? I need to you to step into my shoes. I know I will fall and that it’s difficult. With you by my side, I can do it.
“Why? After all these years? Why now?” asked my son.
I replied, “Precisely, it is high time. Isn’t it?”
He just threw up his arms in exasperation and walked off. I didn’t go behind him like I usually do. Both him and I needed space, I realised.
He came back to me after dinner, looked at me and said, “Okay. I still don’t understand but I want to. Can we please talk?”
I replied, “Yes, we can.”
“In three years, I’ll start earning. I’ll support you in every way. You don’t need to spend your free time looking on the internet to look for ways to earn money. I understand financial independence is a necessity but you gave up your job to bring us up. Why do you want to start looking for jobs now?”
I said to him, “You want me to depend on you after three years like how I am dependent on your dad now?”
“No, mom! That’s not what I meant, and you know it!” He responded in a tone that implied he was angry. Until few days ago, he would get irritated whenever I sought his help, because I belong to the not-so-tech-savvy generation.
However, today, I can see the concern in his voice so I thought he deserved to know my decision. Wasn’t it just like my knowing about the decisions he takes about his life?
So, I told him, “I know most women want to be financially independent from the time they finish college. Even I worked for a couple of years. It’s so nice to be able to have your money and also support the family.
There are some women who can easily give up everything to raise their kids, because they become their priority. I won’t call it sacrifice. No, I would call it a choice. I chose to stay at home and enjoy every moment of your and your brother growing up. Though I gave up on my desires, I have no regrets at all.”
As he looked at me, I continued, “After a few years you will move out, and I may or may not live with you. I have seen what loneliness does to people who are getting old. They become unreasonable, just like kids. I know everyone talks about how old people are just like kids but it is very difficult to be in that situation. And I have seen old people who are very fit, and financially stable become unreasonable when they have nothing to do.
“I don’t want to wait to get old to start learning something new. Right now is when I want to start doing something new and explore and find out what I can do best. Yes, it is a struggle and there will be days when I feel like I can do everything but there will also be days I feel I could’ve started earlier.”
He was still there so I kept going, “Don’t you want me to start doing something for myself without depending on your dad? And without justifying me needs to him, no matter how small they are? Then, do you want me to do the same all over again with you? Your dad is not bad, but his idea of needs is different than mine and I’ve always agreed with him, don’t you think that should change now?
“When you get married, your partner will be someone with completely different ideas. We need to declutter and make space for her. Which is why I need to do this. I know it is frustrating for you to see me fail. But remember when I encouraged you every time you fell? I need to you to step into my shoes now. And I know I will fall and that it is difficult to start now. But if you are by my side, I know I can do it.”
He sat silently for a few minutes, then nodded his head and hugged me. Then he said, “Go, mama. I will be right behind you to catch you when you fall and to gently push you till you reach your destination.”
Picture credits: Still from Hindi TV series Anupamaa
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