MY GRADUATION

“Didi” a Hindi word for – big sister.

Or a more commonly used form of respectful address to any older woman of the household.

Usually not a term used to refer to one’s own mother though.

However, this was what I was referred to as, by my son for the first two years of his life with us. DIDI.

My daughter called me ‘mama’ but he firmly referred to me as DIDI.

I tried ignoring him when he called me ‘didi’ on a couple of occasions, hoping he would be forced into calling me ‘mama’, but his confused and hurt eyes melted me into responding right away.

He called my husband ‘papa/daddy/pa’ all the various connotations and endearing terms for a Father with ease. But I remained firmly didi for a long time.

I joked about it when we met friends, stating my apparent youth has my newly adopted son completely confused. He thinks I’m his older sister! When we went out friends joked about it too.

All the while secretly, I feared that he hadn’t truly accepted me fully as his mother. He doesn’t love me as much as he loved his Dad, I felt. I haven’t connected with him quite as well as I should have, I blamed myself.

What if he never accepts me in the role of a mother? His Mother more specifically! I fretted many nights over this.

My beautiful baby boy, who came to us at the tender age of one, was only just learning to speak. He was adjusting with all the huge curves life had already thrown his way at such a fledgling stage. New surroundings, new family, new languages, new Country, new sibling, new parents. He coped admirably with it all! He continued to smile, play, and be what we now know to be his impish humorous self through it all. He took to all of us with ease and made loving him so easy and natural for all of us.

My beautiful girl born to us 8 years before, adjusted to her new brother, the unusual circumstances and all the life changes that go with a new baby in the house with such maturity and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt how big and kind her heart actually is.

So amidst all of this emotional palaver, when God had been kind enough to grant me a smooth transition on so many fronts with the new arrival I was left questioning the universe as to why is my boy not ‘accepting’ me as a Mother. Why does he still see me only as ‘didi’ I wondered.

After a while of such fretting I let it go. In more ways than one, my son had clearly depicted his affection and his attachment to me along with the rest of the family. I decided not to agonise pointlessly over a name tag as such.

Then one day I chanced upon a story of a foster mother who had felt compelled to adopt a little girl who on the very first meeting with her then foster mum referred to her as ‘mummy’.

A combination of various aspects of the story, fuelled by the fact that I had finally taken the time to step out of my self-indulgent thoughts to think beyond only my own need to be accepted, that I think I may have seen some sense at last.

My baby boy, in his limited time at the facilities before coming home to us, had grown in an environment of mainly women. There the primary caretaker, the head honcho of sorts who fed him and cared for a majority of the kids daily needs was referred to as ‘didi’ by all. The child knew not of any different term. She was the closest to a motherly figure for all the children there and they knew no different. So when my son came to me, despite the household having a nanny and visiting grandmothers, he had linked me as the ‘didi’ in his life. He had associated and singled me from all the women in his new home, in that role.

I had indeed, this means been accepted as a mother, it was only left to me to decipher it appropriately.

Recently one day he just very naturally switched to calling me ‘mama’ in the course of his garbled baby conversations. He simply switched to calling me mama and while we all clapped with glee behind his back, drew no attention to it in reality!

I am pleased to say that I am now firmly mama in his vocabulary. My love for him remains just as strong and deep for him as it did during my didi days. The new name tag bore no effect on the emotions, I realised. I felt like I was destined to be his ‘mama’ from the minute he entered our lives. I intend to remain his mama for the rest of my days. The fact that he has chosen without any duress of his own accord to call me so now, I hope is a reflection of the fact that he now understands a mother’s love.

And so it was that I graduated from ‘didi’ to ‘mama’.

 

 

Advertisements

Learner Mother(on)Board!

IMG_3095

Mother’s Day passed by recently. One day in the year when everyone takes that special effort to make their mothers feel especially loved and important.

Flower greetings, dinner dates, spa surprises, handmade cards and in today’s day and age the all-important social media platform public declaration of affection to one’s Mum were the order of the day.

I made the usual mandatory greetings to all the Mothers in my family as well as among my friends too. I briefly considered online shopping, gifts for both my Mum and my Mother in law. But then that urge passed me by :-)! Instead I took to social media and made public declarations of my heartfelt respect and admiration of these two and few other inspirational women.

Said to myself I should blog about these wonderful women. Pay homage of sorts to their aspirational skills first as women and then as successful mothers too. In my head I had various snippets of incidents in particular that I would like to share with the world, which perfectly depicts their skills as successful mothers.

My mum’s grace under the toughest set of conditions that life had meted out to her, her intelligent mind, her charm, her poise, her strength of character, her faith in a higher power and her beauty has set the bar high for me to follow now not just as a woman but also as a Mother myself. From her I learnt that I must lead my children by example. I strive to try and bring them up with faith, with honesty and as a wife I also strive to learn from her the crucial ability to ‘stand by your man’ unwaveringly in the true sense of ‘through good times and bad’. I must blog and share with the world these I thought.

My mum-in-law’s strong will, her ability to take control, her no nonsense stand for mediocrity of any sorts, her absolute refusal to cut corners in any situation, her passion for cooking, her ability to rule her children with an iron hand that was guided by a soft heart (oxymoron-ish almost to hear but it’s true), her unwavering allegiance to her children and her family, her ability to make them the centre of her universe, her methods of frugality, all ambitious bars of achievement for me to aspire towards. I should pay homage to her too this Mother’s day I told myself.

My sister is another inspirational mum who always comes to my mind when I set myself goals to achieve. Her sheer grit and determination, her single minded focus, the skill with which she has brought up her girls to be individuals and not cookie cutter products moulded by peer pressures of society, her own ability stand out and achieve so much as a woman in the corporate world, I can only hope to juggle as many hats as her and not drop the ball on one or all of them! Another person to whom I should accredit as an inspirational source of learning for me, I thought.

And as I put together meaningful words, snippets of thoughts into coherent sentences in my mind, I thought of my own children. The reason I am what I am today, the primary driving forces of my life. Both of them fledglings as yet I wondered how will I lead them by example? How will I know if I am doing right by them? What is to be considered as the parameter of success? Who will truly show me the way on a more micro level with this huge responsibility of life.

Then it hit me. They themselves! It is from them that I can draw all that I need. My inhouse God gifted, teachers. Infact my children tender aged as they are, have a wealth of wisdom to impart to me already albeit unwittingly.

Watching my children grow, each one of their arrivals has offered me a new perspective on several aspects of life.

Some mornings I drag myself out of bed while others I positively leap out, however with my kids each morning is a new day a new beginning and new opportunity to do new things. I can learn to greet each day with more enthusiasm from them.

Persistence. Ever watched a two year old try to do something beyond his physical capabilities? That rarely ever stops them from trying though. They keep at it seldom giving up. Some strong life lessons on steadfast determination to be learnt there.

Questions. Are we there yet? Can I have ..? Why not? Why? Annoying questions each parent faces multiple times on a daily basis. However to think about it these are valuable questions perhaps we need ask more often ourselves too. Ask that ‘why’ when it’s most required, put myself out there with a ‘can I’, clarify with a ‘why’ or challenge with a ‘why not’. Set myself a goal and ask myself ‘are we there yet?’

Emotions. Laugh out loud more, cry when you need to, cry when you just feel like it, yell when you are pent up with untold words, say what’s on your mind, share your joy, spread your happiness to all around you, childlike behaviours which well perhaps we could as grown-ups do with expressing rather than bottling it all up to accumulate into insurmountable walls within ourselves. Here as an adult though I shall need to show some restraint with some of these emotions I am guessing. The essential essence of it all is to be more honest with my sentiments.

Enthusiasm, acceptance, the ability to move on and not dwell, opening my mind to receiving new ideas, constantly evolving, growing this never stops. It shouldn’t too!

So as you see I am learning that Motherhood is not just about imparting wisdom, or setting an example for my children to follow, it is also about learning valuable life lessons from these little teachers God put into my life. It is a two way street where although I give and invest immeasurably into, I also receive infinitely back.

So this Mother’s Day I dedicated my reverence to not just the inspirational mothers I know but to also the unwittingly astute little teachers I know.

I look forward to a lifetime of learning from these mentors in my life!

CHANGE

CHANGE

 

“The Secret of Change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the New” – Socrates

Metathesiophobia – A Morbid fear of change.

Fear of change is one of the biggest characteristics in a person and also one of the biggest challenges presented to a person.

What makes us fear change so much?

In reality, fear of change is one of the main reasons that hold us back, stopping us from taking that much required step towards something new.

Fear of change convinces us that the change is bad for you and convinces people to resist the change with all their might.

The high levels of anxiety created by this fear of change can be brought about by false rumours, unnecessary gossip, not knowing what to expect and sometimes sadly purely by malicious vested outside influences. All these can be crippling and could well completely deter us from taking that one essential step towards accepting something new, something which perhaps may well in the long term prove to be a positive change for us.

Not knowing what to expect and the fear that stems from it, is natural, but quite often this fear comes from a sheer lack of knowledge or lack of information.

As humans we are naturally creatures of habit. Routine becomes automatic, becomes second nature and any occurrence that threatens the safety of this routine immediately makes one wary.

The apprehension caused by the prospect of change, something new, the possible loss of control even transitional or worse still the possibility of the change bringing about more work makes us dig our heels in and resist change just for the sake of it.

This is exactly why many people do not like sudden surprises even if they are meant to be pleasant ones. We resent the messengers of change, we suspect their motives, we invest ourselves mentally and physically to finding ways and methods to hold off the change permanently. To retain what is familiar, to retain the existing for fear of the unknown becomes of paramount importance to us.

This is not to say that all change in always good. There are cases in which perhaps the change may not have always been for the best. However what is the parameter by which we decide what is best in life? Is there a tangible quantity or state of things to which we can assign the term “this is the best”. I’m not sure there is.

I question our ability to accept change or to adapt to new situations of late purely because of recent events globally. Unexpected electoral results, unexpected Governmental moves so on and so forth have truly brought out the inner beast in all of us. In some the beast has heartily accepted the new path shown and is willing to tread it trustingly. In some the best accepts the new set of circumstances warily, in some grudgingly while in some the best has reared its ugly second head and is intent upon creating a bubble of discord, distrust and a general climate of unbridled fear among all around them.  Preying upon the latent fears of the innocent igniting them with flames of malice, creating discord with their words, with their negative soothsaying. Majority of these double headed beasts are steaming ahead in their righteous beliefs with little or no view of anything beyond their own myopic blinkered visions of what they want to see. Or rather what they want to hear.

I am angered with the juvenile displays of disrespect shown by such fractions, thinly veiled as humour. I am angered by those wolves in sheep’s clothing who claim to care but their words sadly give them away. I am angered that while the changes that are being brought about certainly come with their own fair share of uncertainties and concerns, we lack the faith, patience or open-mindedness to allow some time for the results to show themselves. Our natural biases prejudiced our good judgement.

At a time when ideally we should be reaching out as communities as humans to each other helping one and other traverse the trying times we instead devote our energies into bringing one and another down.

There are no guarantees of the future, few years down the line we may well look back upon today and wish we had not spent quite so much time resisting rather than accepting. While in life some changes may well be within your control to accept or decline, with some changes there is no way around it. The only way is through it.

So surely the journey can only seem easier if we decide to travel as one in harmony. Surely the need for an individual to prove themselves right cannot be more important than the proposed greater good of many.

change

UNFORGETTABLE

There are some moments in life which remain with you forever. I am not merely referring to those bigger defining landmark occasions of your life. I am also referring to those defining smaller occasions which may seem like inconsequential moments of your day at the time but when you look back on it, the memory of that moment will always stay embedded in your mind for various reasons. Events that open and introduce your mind to a new facet/ new thoughts.

Some of mine have been –

First day at the junior school. As a young girl who had just moved from the little leagues to the bigger campus of a larger school, I got lost on the very first day within the huge school premises. I somehow recollect perfectly the feeling of utter terror not knowing which way to go and standing there in the school yard (ours was a very large open campus) looking for some guidance. Which rest assured came soon in the form of a teacher. But those few seconds remain etched.

My high school results. This is a huge landmark in any student’s life in India. The entire final year at high school is riddled with worry and stress for not just the student but the parents too! A lot rides upon the grades secured in this final year. I had a particularly tough time with ill health and months of missed classes etc back then. With the support of my Mother I managed to survive the year somehow. That moment when my results were announced the feeling of sheer relief to know that I had made it through, remains unforgettable to me!

One cold evening my Dad thought it would be nice if he would pull back the covers and warm up my bed for me, so that I could have the luxury of slipping into a warm toasty bed, he had set it up perfectly. I walked in and shamefully uttered “what did you do…why did you mess my bed so”? He quietly set it all back neatly for me. I hated myself for that.

The day one of my ex colleagues was rushing home early stating “it’s my brother’s birthday today”. I resented her for leaving early especially when we had so much to do that day. Until she casually mentioned “we cut a cake and light a candle for him every year on his birthday. He’s been missing since he was seven”.

Olfactory memory but the smell of pipe tobacco still brings back lovely evenings at home where my Dad smoked his pipe and the four of us listened to music or played scrabble. We weren’t exactly the Waltons but we had our finer moments too.

This one is particularly indelible in my memory bank. One morning the local tabloids were filled with gory details of a brutal attack on a young couple who were killed in the name of religion by deluded members of one of their own extended family leaving behind their infant orphaned. I read the papers aghast and then went about my day. I had a meeting that morning, turned out the person I was meeting was the sister of one of the slain couple featured in the papers that morning. She was naturally innocent of any of the violence or brutality. But all the same I was aghast that she actually turned up for work despite the circumstances at home that were undoubtedly ongoing that day. But then she responded to my shameless queries about the infant stating “what about the baby …it’s not ours”. Misguided religious ideals and pride can blind one so much I realised only then.

The birth of my niece. The first born into the family I had never known anything could look as cute or as blindingly adorable as her.

The first time I met my husband….corny as it may sound. It wasn’t love at first sight, but undoubtedly there was something when we first met that possibly subconsciously opened the doors for further emotions.

The birth of my child……that moment when she finally arrived, I was close to passing out, but yet I remember the sensation of feeling the weight of the baby being placed upon my chest and with my eyes closed I felt and ran my hands over her little toes and fingers (don’t ask me why I did that I just did) before I finally heaved a sigh of relief.

Leaving a job that I had cherished for many years. Moving on is never easy especially when the future was left unplanned.

Receiving the death certificate as part of the documentation for an insurance claim from next of kin of a woman who had recently travelled abroad on holiday. She was only 38. Life can be so cruelly unpredictable, live today I thought to myself!

Do you have similar indelible moments in your memory bank? Do share…..would love to hear about them.

unforgettable