“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.
They come through you, but not from you.
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may house their bodies, but not souls.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.”
– Khalil Gibran
I am a four-year-old mother. Those are my favorite lines on parenting. And the lines mentioned above help me. The lines are beautiful to read. It makes you want to re-read them. And maybe once more. And then think about it.
As parents, we like to be in charge. To know that we are in charge of our little one’s health, life, knowledge, likes, dislikes, happiness, fun and tears. From the moment they arrive in our lives as a teeny-weeny cell in the mother’s womb, they become our pivot point in life. Our lives that were haywire, crazy and all over the place until then, suddenly changes. It all seems to fall in the universal rhythm and rotates beautifully on the axis called ‘baby’.
And then after months, s/he arrives. We all arrive at the promised land. The land of parenting. In this strange land, we teach them and we learn in the process. They err and we unlearn some of our lessons. In this land, we suffer every pain our little one goes through. For every mistake they make, we bear the cross of guilt. And then we wish we’d done more. We wish we were more careful. We tell ourselves, “I will take care of everything from now on. I will be his strength.” And before you realise, your little one is your weakness.
Slowly, the little one is introduced to the world of school. The first day of school is a litmus test, for the child as well as the parent. But it is yet again, strange. We want our child to be confident and smart. And not cry on the first day. To smile and go into the class. And when that happens, a little part in the inside of you crumbles. Through all the happiness and pride one feels, there is a slight twitch of the ‘letting go’.
Just as we begin to find a balance and survive, we take over their lives. We decide what they eat and wear. We decide when their tummy is full and when it isn’t. We seem to have the perfect knowledge about what is right and what isn’t for them. We suddenly seem to know a lot more than we thought we knew.
As a mother, I’ve been there. I still am a guest at that threshold. But then I think about what I am doing. Bringing up my little one in the safe environment? Ensuring she is happy, playful and healthy. And most often that she is. But will she be happy, playful and healthy when I am not around? In building my confidence around parenting skills, am I unknowingly shattering the buds of confidence in her? Am I considering every decision I take as a criterion of successful parenting, while I am blind to her capabilities? Am I finding peace in her tugging onto me when in reality, it is me who is clinging onto my fear of letting go?
I know I’d be happy if she turns around to be a successful lady. But I’d be happier if she turned around to be a beautiful human being.
I know she is a manifestation of life’s longing for itself. I need to understand it.
I think I know some more. But I need to understand a whole lot more.
I am in the promised land. But I think, I am yet to arrive.
A four-year-old mother. Been around for 3-plus decades. Learning new lessons and unlearning a few old ones. I try and find happiness in small things. I dream. I laugh. I cry. I hear. And I try and do. Life is all about love, laughter and light for me.