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I Don’t Want To Die For My Children…!

This made her rethink herself as a person and as a mother. "Am I a bad mom? If I really want to take a day off and not cook?"

Shakuntala was an amazing person. She is a romantic at heart. She loved to read the poetry of the great reformist Subramanya Bharathiyaar. He fought for the emancipation of women. Some of his works can still be riveting even in the current times. She used to pen for her school and college magazines in Tamil and English.

She enjoyed her stint as a translator and interpreter. She likes to call herself left-brained as languages enticed her. For her, Language is entwined with rich culture and history. She loves digging into the etymology of words and she did feel like a child, having discovered the root of the word and some story that accompanied it.

She enjoys her tea time reading tidbits from WhatsApp University. She likes to balance her chores and provide the best of her time to her children. She quit her career as an interpreter and took up a more demanding job of taking care of her growing family. She is methodical and proactive to all who depend on her. Sometimes a control freak, which she often realizes and continuously works on letting go.

She has her baggage of the roads she hadn’t taken and the choices she made and the ones she left.  She counts her blessings and somewhere while dreaming about that choice, she convinces herself that she is in the best place of her life all the time.

She does make time for herself to do the things she enjoys. Her family loves her immensely. She is the pillar of strength and motivation.

And this thought kept her going. She pushed herself beyond the “tiger mom’s” wildest imagination to provide the best of what she can imagine for her children. She enjoyed the time and she did have her moments of wanting to run away due to sheer exhaustion. This made her second-guess herself as a mommy.

She usually discusses such hard times with her mom, Chellama. She was an amazing soul as well. One such time, while she was ranting away her troubled mind.

Her mom told her about the tough times she went through raising Shakuntala and her sibling Kannamma. Restless days, that took superhuman strength to get by the day hosting relatives, older generations, and attending some familial celebrations. You could tell by the state of her body, the hardships she went through in the family and for the family. But, Chellama always said, she got through all these and enjoyed her kids learning a new art. She fulfilled her wish of learning to sing from her kids. She reminisced about her children’s teens. She said she would do anything to see her children happy. She said she would die peacefully having finished her task her raising her kids and it is now Shakuntala’s turn to go through this journey and enjoy the same.

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And after all the lovely conversation, 2 lines of thoughts disturbed Shakuntala a lot.

One thought – that amma is getting old and the thought of her death is very scary for her. She wants her mom to be there for her kids, to be the spoiling grandma who recalls her childhood pranks to her grandchildren. Who plays the good cop and also her shoulder to cry. Most importantly, her “mom journal”, from here Shakuntala learns to be better than her mom while learning from her mom’s mistakes and learning to raise her children for the new world. The thought of losing her pushed her to spend more holidays with her mom so as to not miss out. (FOMO as the latest lingo would call it.)

Second one was how can her mom give so much of her life to raise her kids. Her dreams, her sleep, her ideas, her time, her friends… This made her rethink herself as a person and as a mother. “Am I a bad mom? If I really wanted to take a day off and not cook? Wanting to just order food and have a spa day? Or even just allocating some time for the recently picked-up German classes? Am I selfish, if I want to watch a movie with my friends? Is working one’s way to being tired and spoiling health (physical or mental) the only way to be a good mom?”

Wellness is important to her. Mentally and physically to keep her going on with energy. The insane tag that comes along with raising kids in this century is undeniable. She does her best. Is her best good enough?

Such thoughts cascaded her into a near anxiety attack… She calmed herself and went on to introspect about a lot of these thoughts and their origins. A lot of them seemed to have stemmed out of a sociocultural compulsion. And most of them were only harms we women were self-inflicting to compulsively keep up with the peer pressure. She decided to work on slowly breaking free from these shackles she seemed to have inadvertently locked herself with.

She owed this to herself and she decided to spend time and do what was best for her and talk about this to her family. Everyone is gifted with time on earth and each human has to make the best out of it. So, she wanted to do all that she dreamt of and carry no regrets into her old age.

To start with she vowed to do these 5 things in order to take good care of herself

  1. To eat consciously  -not dumping leftovers onto her plate, no cold food, and no eating in a hurry
  2. To take her time to exercise and sleep well. – not allocate that time to help
  3. To be mentally at peace with all things that do not go her way. – not run to rescue and get worked up all the time. (ex: when a pencil gets lost and she runs to be the superwoman)
  4. To delegate work and allow them to do it their way.
  5. To learn continuously to tell herself that she is an amazing mom and she is all her children need.

Armed with all this, she said to herself, “I will be healthy mentally and physically to see my children grow up to be the wonderful humans they are destined to be. I shall be there for them, just like my mom for me to see them grow and support them in their dreams. So I want to LIVE longer for my children!

Image source: a still from the film English Vinglish

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Bhargavi Manivannan

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