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Motherhood has been the most enriching of experiences for me. I spent a good part of last night thinking of all that I had gained in terms of life’s lessons. Here are the top lessons that this baby Buddha has taught me.
This little bundle has taught me, more than anything, to look at things from the wonder of seeing them for the first time. Every time he reacts to something ordinary and mundane, I sit there trying to see things the way he does and it is fascinating. We laugh at bubbles, at wagging tails, at sweeping brooms and hopping crickets.
He reminds me to use all my senses, to touch and feel, to listen and repeat, to lick and smell. It’s invigorating to follow his lead. The joy he experiences when he learns something and how he repeats it till he hasn’t mastered it. Like turning the faucet on when he brushing and squirting the water all over me.
How he makes connections and likes to show them off. How he wants to share his success and his troubles with everyone. How he knows the power of communication and how he makes each person feel special with his secret codes of communication. A high five with his favourite uncle, a cuddle with his aunt, a story with his grandparents.
I have been reminded by him, that nothing can replace the emotional connect of a smile and a hug. He sees people as people, without any preconceived notions. He sees each interaction as the unfolding of a new story. I hardly knew my neighbors before he started asking me who lived around us. He will happily go and ask strangers their name and their life story. Given the paranoid world we live in, sometimes I have to really stop myself from holding him back. And then I remember, that we have to believe in the inherent kindness of human beings to survive this word. The term, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is always at play when I see him. He has reminded me of the importance of the bigger picture. The importance of community and of simple good will and deep curiosity about the other.
Most importantly, I have learnt to live in all kinds of mess and chaos. (People who know me will be shocked by this revelation.) I am able to remind myself of the fact that he needs to play, to be messy, to be stimulated and to be a child. Without realising, I had started pushing unnecessary rules on to my own life, in terms of rigid schedules, timelines and predictable methods. Any sudden change in plans would irritate me. Ever since he was born those rules have long gone and been replaced with a more flexible approach to getting through the days agenda. I have tried to limit his rules and the NO s in our communication because I anticipate a lot more of it as he grows older.
We try to do most things that are “helpful behaviors” together, we clean up together, we apologize together, and we limit our television time together. I don’t grudge him this. I have learnt not to grudge other people their follies in the process. I realize how important it is to learn things through experiences and at an individual pace. I think this made me a better leader and listener at the workplace.
When he was younger he would come with me to office every day and thanks to him I rarely missed a day, because he loved his make shift day-care there. I have been fortunate to have a very supportive and flexible workplace. One that allows women to integrate both their roles as mother and as a professional. Motherhood helped me assimilate my multiple identities more completely and though I had moments of self-doubt, it gave me an opportunity to understand this as a right as much as a reality.
When I became a mom I was scared of how much responsibility nature bestows on us to raise a baby. I felt anxious about the future, about how I would react to tough disciplining, how I would transfer values to him and how I would be a friend, an anchor and a mom. Today I don’t worry at all, because I realize how organic, spontaneous and instinctual this bond can be. How much we learn about ourselves in this process, how smooth and subtle the transfer of learning is.
Yes, we have to struggle and learn to find our balance with the rest of life, for me the costs have been worth it. I made a decision to be a mom and to work. I have altered my definition of success to include being an available and involved mother and not just a success at work. I know I will continue to struggle with all the roles that I have to play. However, I hope I can set a stage for sharing and communication with my son.
This is a letter I wrote for him the other night:
You are young and full of wonder and eager to lap up all that mummy says. I know you will outgrow the wonder and you will outgrow your mum pretty soon. I hope you and I will always talk and share and learn from each other as we do today.
Here are some things I want to remember to tell you. In case, I get dementia,or you stop listening I’ll write them for you:
Please remember most importantly that you have to accept yourself. Be aware of your strengths and abilities but also of your limitations and your weaknesses. Don’t be too proud of the former and too defensive of the latter. Always be real and be fair to yourself. If you can do this, you will be fair and accepting of other people.
Respect and accept that people will be different and that similarities will draw you together but sometimes so will differences. In relationships lie opportunity. Opportunity to know yourself and another and to understand life’s experiences in a diverse way.
Be open to know people and experience more but always nurture what and who you hold dear. Every passion requires nurturing and every relationship does too.Be passionate about all that you do. Do what you love and love what you do. For without emotion there can’t be pleasure. I hope you find your passion, I hope you nurture your passion and I hope you aren’t afraid of the search for a passion. Be brave and be steadfast.
The last message I have for you is to recognize the impact of your actions, see the consequences for yourself and for others. You can’t make everyone happy but you can be sensitive and considerate. Nothing is more enduring than goodwill and kindness. Collect heaps of it.
I hope you always remember the small victories of life but have in sight the large goals. Be a man who stands up for himself, for his values, who looks out for friends and family.Be responsible to your partner and your work. Grow into someone who is not afraid of not knowing and not afraid to learn more. Be as full of wonder and keep asking questions. Even though I am sure I won’t be able to answer these questions soon. When I become old and batty, be patient and answer my questions too.
We will survive the tattoos, the girlfriends, the haircuts the experiments with identity and much more as long as we keep talking and listening and promise to make it work.
With ever growing respect for who you are!