Celebrating the parent who is present


In having lost one parent much sooner than any of my close friends did, I have spent a great deal of time and heart in thinking about and celebrating my father’s spirit and presence and mourning his passing.

But I have never paid enough tribute to the parent who he left behind, who is alive, here and now, and whose daily and unending labour of love has given my young child and me the rock-solid home, refuge and tireless attention and care that enables and defines who we are and who we have become in our lives together, each in our own person, and together as a family.

Always the seemingly more reticent of the two, my mother was the quiet strength beside my expressive and gregarious father. Far apart in age, from different cultural, linguistic and social backgrounds, the two were always one of the best examples to me of a loving and respectful companionship.

During my teen years, when I was drawn a great deal to books and as a result of that drawn to and mesmerised by my father’s formidable intellect, I can never forget how he gently but firmly reprimanded me for seeming to put him on a pedestal writing in one of his letters to me at boarding school that the example my mother set with her effortless integrity, unflinching humility and unconditional humanity were by far the more coveted virtues, no matter how scintillating being widely read or a word he loathed, being intellectual seemed to be.

I have never forgotten that. Both for what it taught me about me and my blinkered view then and for the renewed admiration and love I felt for the way he loved my mother.

Although my mother has of course told me over the course of the years, that the usual, gendered differences existed between them too, she has always said my father was rare in considering her at all times with the deepest respect for being the kind of woman she was and for the kind of mindful, attentive and unbelievably generous mother she became.

I cannot ever be grateful enough to her for having always let me make my decisions, no matter how flawed, and often contrary to her expressed wishes or opinions, for never withholding her support, labour and love simply because I have found myself face down after following some of my mad plans, for having stuck her neck out for my young child and me when I have needed someone to rely on unconditionally and for being the kind of loving, patient and fun ‘present in the moment’ grandma who despite her getting older and frailer never whines or protests or grudges the entire lack of ‘me time’ and who runs this house and home for us in a way that makes the hardest and most invisible work and labour seem like a cake walk.

Advertisements

Simple vanities


About 10 minutes ahead of our young children’s arrival, we, a motley group of mums, in our mid to late 30s, gather together outside the school gates and have some of the most ingeniously compressed chats about how we are keeping up/coping with our still new selves as mothers.

Today, Radhika, mum of two, and adept civil and criminal lawyer, came wearing eyeglasses for the first time. When we enquired after the circumstances of this new acquisition she said in half jest that it was either too many hours spent wilfully in front of the idiot box late in the night or sleep deprivation. (The latter, in being a common affliction, didn’t even register a flicker of sympathy.)

But what did catch our attention was the former — and when we asked how she managed (as though it was an achievement) to even find an hour to watch the idiot box, on her own, late in the night, she said it was her detox therapy, her way of finding some much-needed ‘me-time’ after the children had been put to bed and after she had caught up with the day’s news with the husband who tended to get back from work, late.

She also confessed to gorging on hot chocolate fudge (yum, yum yum) originally bought and stored with the intention of sprucing up dessert for unforseen guests — during her nighttime sojourns!

Although I haven’t yet begun hoarding sweetmeats, I too remember having stayed up late one night watching a semi decent Hollywood flick with Bruce Willis — and enjoying it all the more because I got to do it on my own, in the house, with little T fast asleep and with this deep sense of contentment that I was doing something I loved without having to handover T to anyone or worrying about how she was doing, or feeling horribly guilty about doing something for myself.

And the only reason I haven’t repeated it much is because of how wrung out it had got me the day after — and pretty incapable of being a steady hand on board the parenting ship which made me cringe and fill up with unnecessary guilt.

But another favourite and convenient ‘indulgence’ we have discovered is a good haircut. And although most of us wistfully long for the luxurious after services that other women seem to indulge in after a hair cut such as a slow, time consuming, head massage, we are more than happy and grateful in knowing that we can have a haircut at all! For it is just the kind of one hour indulgence that fits perfectly into the three hours when our little ones are safe and happy at playschool and just the kind of ‘lift’ we seem to currently need to pay attention to our little girl selves that we have lost sight of in our ongoing busyness as mums to high energy toddlers — and a celebration of our respective vanities!