Click here for shortcuts to regional language blogs and city-specific events.
"When my daughter, the older of my two, wed and left home, I felt a part of me gone. With a daughter and a son, I know what both mean, differently. When she was in her teens I felt as if she was my "physical extension" ! So when she left home to set up her own, I felt I lost a limb. Next time she came to stay with us, I was astonished how her priorities had changed. We too must've given the same shocks to our own parents ! When she said Amma, she meant her mother-in-law, not me! I felt she was always in a hurry to go back to her house and not stay with me for a few more days. That was the first time, it dawned on me that I have to start practicing detachment with attachment.
Two years after my daughter’s marriage, my son left for higher studies to US. Having experienced a child's separation once, I was better equipped emotionally. I plunged head long into various classes held in the city starting from vedanta to healing to ikebana - I just wanted to be away from home..since my husband was a 24/7 workaholic. My son used to write how he was missing my home cooked food, how he was waiting to come back to live in Chennai with us ... After a few years, he did come back and we got him married. He started living separately with his wife and we were also happy that they wanted to be independent from the beginning... But now, it was all changed ! When in the US, he missed my cooking, now if I called him to come over with his wife for a meal, it was always some excuse like "oh, Amma, we have other plans for the day, please don't mistake us if we don't drop in today" ! I could see that his priorities had also changed completely..
We talk so many things and give so much advice to others, but when it comes to our own children, acceptance comes very late. Our next step is to just leave them undisturbed in every way. It was at that time, that I made the following, my 'new profile'.
In all my relationships , rather interactions, I give my best and do my best to live up to what I say. My attachment with them is complete. However, I remain detached in the sense that I do not expect them to reciprocate my affection. Most importantly, I make a conscious effort , not to interfere or pass judgments on the lives they choose to lead. My concern for my near and dear ones will not fade with my detachment. If you let go of the ones you love, they will never go away – this is the beauty of attachment with detachment !
I have learnt to love and let go. This dictum has developed tolerance in me. When I let the people live the way they want to, I learn to accept them for what they are. Most importantly , I learn to tolerate the world around me and this tolerance brings in me a sense of peace and contentment. Since both my children live in Chennai, I follow this very strictly, you know why !
Now I have realized that we start growing mentally much more only after the children leave the house and we have to tackle the emotional vacuum, that arises, along with age-related problems . I specially dedicate this post to my friends, who are totally dependent on their children's lives, to nurture their own selves emotionally. Please develop your own interests, hobbies etc, however mundane they seem to be.. We must learn To love whatever we do instead of Doing whatever we love !!"
Yesterday, I came across the above message written by Sudha Murthi. It moved my heart, reading the feelings of an ageing parent. The message talked about emotional vacuum created when children leave and create their own world. It is about ageing parents, emotionally dependent on children. It reminded me of my parents, who are probably in same phase. Over the years, my priorities have changed - It's my husband, my child, my new family, my job etc. But I am still my parents' priority. I have moved, they are still there - waiting for my daily phone call, waiting for my infrequent visits. I am feeling sad. I am feeling disheartened. I am feeling guilty.
Indian parents get so much involved in upbringing their children, that they forget to have life of their own. They sacrifice their hobbies, their interests and sometimes jobs (mothers). And one day, children leave. They have to; It's natural- the hard fact of life. And parents then feel the loneliness. For parents, it's easier to be financially independent in old age; but emotionally it's very difficult to get detached from their children.
Wish every ageing parent understand the above message by Sudha Murthi. Please have a hobby, give some time to yourself - morning walk, yoga or anything, visit places. Please learn to enjoy without your children. Please have a group of friends.
To all children, I will say - Your parents are the first person to see you happy in your world - Your world of new family, Your world of ambition. They don't want to cut your wings, they want you to fly. But, at least, keep them connected to your world. If possible, stay with them in same house, it will be more wonderful place for your children with grandparents around. For those, who can't, please visit them frequently. Make daily phone calls to them.Value them and respect them. Encourage and help them in developing some hobby and interest. Life is a full circle; one day our children shall also leave- for good for sure. So, empathize with your parents and do your best to keep them happy and help them fight against emotional and other age related issues !!