To You, My Dear Child
A touching letter from a mother to her grown-up. Each and every emotion she had acknowledged through the passing years have been put to words beautifully.
My dear child,
When I first cradled you in my arms, I couldn’t believe that something so perfect could be borne out of love. The hours of sweat and anguish of unimaginable pain vanished in seconds as I looked into your unseeing eyes. And then you cried, so hard and so long that the nurses were convinced I was torturing you in secret.
That’s when I realized - motherhood is not for the fainthearted.
For over a year my life became an endless cycle of your burps and nature calls. I would sleep fitfully dreaming of clouds that looked like nappies. I looked like a cow, felt like a cow and smelt of curdled milk. It was as if the planetary positions had shifted and I had become a satellite helplessly revolving around you.
You evoked the strangest feelings in me. I was so afraid for you and was willing to go to any lengths to protect you from this harsh world. Anyone who tried to harm you became my worst enemy.
It was you and me against the rest of the world.
For you I let go of my dreams, my vanity, and girlhood, not out of duty but out of love. When you looked at me with eyes brimming with love, every inch of me tingled with joy… When you held my fingers for the first time…your gurgling laughter…the first time you called me Maa… these became the most precious moments of my life.
Of course you don’t remember the first day when I sent you off to school! The sleepless nights I spent in anxiety, worrying how my baby will cope in the sea of unknown. Waiting anxiously at the gate for you to come back…Scooping you up in my arms, nuzzling my head in your warmth….The dawn of awareness that I needed you as much as you needed me.
That feeling of wretchedness when I had to leave you behind, as I went back to work! I could hardly focus, my ears echoing with your anguished cries. Did you think I’d never come back? For years you would run down the stairs, screaming in excitement when I got back from work. And one day it just stopped. You had found new friends, new joys.
As a mother, I strived to give you a childhood that was as special as mine. I wanted you to have happy memories. I wanted to be part of it. I faltered, sometimes lost my patience, we fought, yet you never stopped loving me.
For years I was your universe and then you grew up. It’s not as if you stopped loving me. You just started loving more people. Letting go does not come gracefully to all of us. To let go of your fingers, put on a brave smile as your Dad and I gave you a little nudge into the world we were sheltering you from.
You are no longer our baby but an eighteen year old adult.
I now have constant arguments with my fears before I reluctantly dismiss them as irrational. Wipe that look of incredulity when you give me an exasperated look and say – Ma! Stop being such a child. Accept with grace that I’m no longer your hero. Resign myself to the fact, that from now onwards I will be more of a spectator as you change gears and speed up on the highway of life. Don’t worry, I will be in the stands cheering loudly for you and waving that flag. But don’t you ever forget that I’ll be waiting for you, whenever you need respite.
I have no advice to give you. All I can say is, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It’s from them you learn. Believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they're right and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can come together.
I do not know what the future holds for you. But doesn’t that make life even more exciting? To know that each new day is a surprise waiting to be discovered! As you stand at the threshold of adulthood, you must know that it’s okay to wish for something but don’t that let that turn into a hankering that stops you from enjoying what you have. We assume normal is boring. But what we dismiss as normal is actually a blessing we do not always realise! Don’t take what you have for granted and rue it only after you’ve lost it.
Life is a sum total of choices we make. But before you make those choices, think what you would like to be remembered for. As a giver or a taker? As an optimist or a pessimist? Rather than letting social mores and norms decide your rights and wrongs, learn to trust your instincts and listen more often to your inner voice. “She” knows you better than anyone else. And don’t let rules control your imagination and hold you back. Rules have their place but rules should not dictate who you are. Rules and morals evolve and change with time. The human spirit is eternal, ethereal.
Go my love, the world is waiting for you. Cherish your past, focus on your present and look forward to a future you’ve worked for.
Your loving Maa…
Guest article contributed by Purba Ray