A mother is born
- May 1, 2011
If there is still a miracle in the world then I can say I have experienced it in the last nine months. I am in complete awe of nature – how does that little mouse like thing that had been floating in the belly for nine months, feel, think, react, express and even understand his new world. I couldn’t have imagined that watching a child grow would be so fascinating. My last article before taking the maternity break was full of anxiety, excitement and intellectual projections of an unborn mother. But actually the experience of being with a child is that of pure joy and wonderment. It is also a process of digging into one’s own self and looking at life afresh, through the child’s eyes.
I don’t mean to sound like an obsessive gushy mother, as this experience is much more than that. In fact it’s not only about Vihaan, my 9 month son, but what this experience has triggered in me. After reading some of the baby books and surfing info on the net, I realized that both my baby and I were not so unique. All his milestones and my emotional roller coaster rides were not ours alone. Having said that, it is also true that every child is different and so is the mother’s journey. Isn’t that the existential dilemma we all live in- at one level we are all the same and yet so different. And maybe that is why the deep desire to fit in and yet stand out. In many ways we struggle with this dichotomy, and only some of us are truly comfortable within our skin and not torn by the contradiction.
At a Child Protection Rights’ workshop recently, a mother asked me if having one’s own child has inadvertently made me more self-absorbed. Thankfully, no! In fact I have become even more aware of our privileges and feel troubled by what we shut our eyes to. The workshop was a reminder of the insensitive world we have created for many children who are vulnerable and unprotected from violence, discrimination and exploitation. When I realize that Vihaan is soaking in everything around him like a sponge, I am so much more conscious of my actions and all that we expose him to.
Recently I read an interesting observation made by a child psychologist, that when a mother picked flowers from the garden, the child processed it as “flowers are worthy but not the grass”! Even though the mother was not consciously discriminating against the grass, this is what the child understood. It is shocking what impact our actions can have on children. While the nature- nurture debate continues, we know we can only play a role in the latter. So it is imperative that we create an environment that is safe, happy, peaceful and green for these innocent little ones.
Many of us want to shower all our love through things – toys, clothes and baby stuff that flood the market. From the very beginning I have tried to minimize the temptation that comes with being reasonably privileged and having access to variety of things. An artificial demand is created by emotional manipulation for products that we don’t even need. But reusing old bed sheets as swaddle cloth right from his birth and not hesitating to take hand me downs has helped check my desires of buying new things. We are now part of a pass-it-on chain where sharing has become part of our parenting journey. We do want Vihaan to learn very early on to let go of his things and not feel less loved when he is given hand–me-downs. I know I could do better as I do struggle at times, giving into temptations, but when I do resist, I know I am a happier person, a happier mother.