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’.

 

 

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Learner Mother(on)Board!

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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!