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The door opened into a reasonably sized and minimally furnished room. As Deepti entered, she stepped on something and there was a squeaking sound.
“YEOW” she shouted and gave a small jump. But she was relieved to see that it was just a rubber toy.
She sighed to herself and I looked at her.
“Please don’t mind that. Come on in and have a seat” I said.
She was giving a quick glance to my house and a kind of sheepish look was spreading on my face. Without saying a word, I hurriedly proceeded to first create some place to sit. Almost the entire furniture was occupied with something or the other. The sofa was full of plush toys that were put to sleep (that too under a warm blanket in this hot season), then on a chair there were some tattered board books, and another one had the drawing book, crayons and water colours (luckily no water yet) on it. I was rigorously trying to stack up all the things in one corner, which already was overflowing with toys.
While clearing up the stuff, I saw her observing the walls. Guess she was trying to figure out the abstract designs. The walls, as one would see it, were scribbled with crayons all over; till the height where a toddler could reach. She smiled to herself and her smile widened to see right in the middle of the room there was a table having Angry Birds.. again heavily scribbled.. (was that the reason for being angry??)
We exchanged feeble smiles.
Deepti and I are childhood friends and deeply familiar with each other’s likes, dislikes and way of living. She moved to US after her marriage and we were catching up for the first time since I became a mother. She has always known me as an organized person (be it my thoughts or my surroundings) and reasonably neat and tidy person (never as cleanliness freak).
She then placed her eyes on me. And I was trying to gauge what was going on in her mind? Was she thinking how untidy and messy is the room? Or surprised how comfortably (and coolly) walking around the place which actually had something or the other lying at every next step? Or probably thinking I don’t take good care of my house. These are the usual reactions that I get, either verbally or through body language. So that’s what came to my mind first. Though somewhere deep inside I knew she won’t be judging anything. She simply smiled.. the same pretty and pleasant smile.
Her toddlers had accompanied her too and when all the little ones came together, whatever was stacked up in the corner was also up there all over the room and that too in seconds!! There.. my efforts to keep toys in organised manner went down the drain.. as always.
This time, we laughed aloud!! And so did our kids.
She said “I knew motherhood would definitely change you too. And I am happy to see that change. Had this been earlier you, there would frowns on your face or at least some hints of dissatisfaction”
“To be honest, this transformation took time. I know kids need freedom to play and explore and my kid is a no exception. Whatever is within her reach, which itself is ever growing, she simply pulls it down. And it’s never limited to toys. Right from clothes, to kitchen supplies, utensils, to newspapers and my books, my much preserved stationery.. everything. Initially, I used to get upset and immediately rush to put back the things in place. Then I decided to keep things beyond her reach. But that’s being foolish. Beyond her reach, also implies beyond my reach. I cannot store the daily supplies and needs, the attic right!
“I then decided to take it easy. It’s her growing age. And if not now, when will she do all this. Would she scribble on the walls 10 years down the line?? (Who knows she still may). I have never been a cleanliness freak, still somewhat tidiness I did want. As my little one started growing and wanted everything that she could lay her hands on, I surrendered. I told myself to relax and be part of her growing up, rather than an obstacle. I need to stop considering her playing with anything and everything as a messy or disorganized activity.”
I continued “One thing I must admit, it did bother me initially, what would others think? But then, why should that matter to me. It’s my house, my kid and let her play with whatever she wants.”
With a serious face she said “Hope you are at least keeping the medicines, electronics and other dangerous items, away from her reach”
It wasn’t my friend, but the mother in her, speaking.
"Of course" I said and we broke up into smiles again.
The rest of the visit was fun – talking, running behind kids, watching them fight, watching them play and buddies silently appreciating each other.
That night when I was observing my own house; every nook, every corner and every brick was saying only one thing- this is the place where a little one is growing up. I have decided to take things in her stride. It doesn’t mean, I am not trying to teach her “my way” of doing things or keeping the house neat and tidy. However that’s never the top agenda. I am not depriving her of anything (hopefully!!) My kid is happy and so am I.
Mera ghar kehta hai.. iss ghar mein ek badtha bachcha rehta hai !!