I recently started blogging for Parentous and it gave me much food for thought, mainly because rules of parenting are up for so many interpretations. There really is no parenting manual for couples into parenting and when it comes to single parents, well, the rule book hasn’t even been dreamt of, let alone been spelt and written. Apart from the three lovely words …
THOU SHALT FAIL
And I did – in more ways than one.
Firstly, our little family had little or no financial security; I am a lousy money manager, so for a long time we lived from pay cheque to pay cheque.
Ex is a single child and so am I. I am the lone surviving member of my family; hence extended family is a bit remote. On the top of that, I am eccentric and have no social graces thanks to my foot-in-mouthitis. I tend to piss people in the extended family off.
And for a long time in my life I was prickly and touchy and had a huge “Why Me?” chip on my shoulder.
Of course my intention was and is always good, and I do come from a good place vis a vis them, but then the road to hell is paved with good intentions as the Bible says. I am all too human and imperfect.
I do not think I will leave a huge legacy for my kids. But there is one thing I have done in life that I am very proud of. Perhaps that is my legacy for my sons.
I have never wanted to cling to my kids. That is my gift to them. I have not sacrificed my life for them. I have lived my life, had friends, enemies and frenemies. I have had my writing, my blog, and through the blog, a huge circle of friends. These things keep me busy. They grew up knowing that I was there for them, but I did not breathe over their shoulders.
I have my needs and wants, and I will damn well fulfill them. I have seen too many people devote their lives and their resources on their kids, their only topic of conversation is what their kids do, and their only joys come from their childrens’ achievements. Those poor kids! What a terrible burden to carry on their shoulders!
What I have given my kids is the liberty to be themselves. Why should they live with anxiety and guilt which parental sacrifices bring? They do not ask for it (except to blackmail parents into buying them the latest electronic gizmo once in a while heh!).
Yes I am a parent, a mother. But that is not all that I am. I am me, and was the person I am much before the boys came into my life.
To the people who often wonder, “Kaisi Maa Ho?” my reply is :
“I became a mother when my sons were born. It is just another role in my life, an important one, but just another role …
My sons know me and appreciate me as a person, not just a mother. I give myself permission to live my life and free them from the burden of living up to my expectations.”
Ritu Lalit is the author of two novels, A Bowlful of Butterflies published by Rupa & Co., and Hilawi published by Popular Prakashan. She is a single parent and blogs at www.phoenixritu.com