Over the past few weeks, Ive been wailing and cribbing to anyone who remotely offered to listen and spare a minute on how annoyed, unhappy, bogged and trapped I feel right now. The thing is I have been feeling it awhile, it just hit me strong over the last fortnight smack in my face to actually voice it out. One cannot ignore something that’s choking your breath out. The more I said it out loud, the more convinced I get. There’s a tiny imp in me snickering that am actually probably just looking for excuses to duck out of this part of my duty and responsibility. Am I? I donno.
priorities and priorities. Ones that threaten to smother you later and ones that force your hand this very minute. To which do I bow down to, where do I accomodate and in what do I happily dwell?
In a way I suppose I should be content that I am even allowed to dream of options without feeling too trapped in a no-choice-place, as some of my friends tell me they are in. Keeping expectations, dreams and wants to a bare average helps I suppose. Neither the husband nor I dream big. Wait, we do. Just not materially. We cater to our simpler pleasures, and keeping in trend with most of us desis who worked hard our way up by climbing the ladder of education, we too nurse dreams for our children.
That’s where the dilemma comes in.
Is it okay for the children to not have my presence when they need it most at the impressionable, forming years that they are in now, or do I plod on with the hope that what extra I bring home would only help pave for a foundation that will help them later on in college.
Then again, unless they build well now, the foundation, what are the chances of a strong future even in the horizon? Or do I continue to have faith in them as individuals fending for themselves and support as much as I can with a presence of 3-4 scattered hours every evening?
Sure, am not the first mother on earth who’s facing this, and I know I won’t be the last, so what makes me different or why do I consider putting myself through this? I have been at home raising my older two for a fair amount of time. Ive put good use of the hours. Volunteering at the school, knowing how things work, learning the system and ultimately put myself through a graduate program I worked hard on. I doubt I got bored. I doubt I’d ever be bored. There’s just so much to do out there. A lifetime of free hours would still not be enough for all that I’d like to learn and relish. Is that being selfish? Am I driven by the thought that I want to get the most out of the freedom am angling for? What about my duty as a wife and a partner in all ways? Do I continue to feel guilty that I do not want to support (monetarily) the husband in his duty towards us as a family and our children?
I know am not one of those darling patient moms. I do what I can, am strict, I indulge, I pay attention, but I don’t hover. I don’t pamper them, but treat them as individuals and hold expectations of them in maturity and excellence. Over the months Ive become hard. Snappy, irritable. I try not to bring hangovers from work home, but I suppose I do as how I behave isn’t right. Neither to me nor to the kids. Work is not a huge issue, just the whole atmosphere of being bound and stuck to the chair brings in me a dislike to the place we all are in.
Perhaps passion makes you forget time when you indulge. It does. So does that mean that I have lost the edge that drove me a few months ago? Sad? A small bit definitely, but not overwhelming enough to let things be and continue on. I think of all that I have accomplished in my 36 years of life and I don’t have too many regrets. I have studied well, earned 2 undergraduate degrees and a very well earned graduate one. I think I have done fairly okay as a person, wife, mom, sister, DIL and a friend. I have run a business and have some profits to show. Ive done a couple of various stints of jobs and I have learned a wide array of what is out there. Sure, I don’t have a lengthy spiel on how excellent I am in just one particular sphere as most strive to, but I am made this way. It’s time to accept that I perhaps do not want to be cut out for a long cushy career. If I were to die today, I wouldn’t have too many regrets. Except of course the arbit long to-do list that most of us overzealous dream of, as far as my life is concerned, yes, no regrets.
The forefront of why I feel what I do, is the larger guilt and worry of letting the kids down. NOW. Not later when they are old enough and flown the coop. The daughter leaves in 5 and the son leaves in 6 when we are left home with the munchkin.
Five – Six years. That is all is the time I really do have to hold her and him in my eyes and bank on the closeness that comes only out of sharing the roof. The bond that is deeper will continue on of course.
I see friends whose kids have left for college and the occasional vacant looks in their eyes that sneaks in without their knowledge. I see the sparkle when they talk excitedly about them coming home for the holidays and I see the disappointment when they tell you in the same breath that the kid leaves in 3 days for his internship program/summer school/job. The mixture of pride and yearning is evident. It’s unavoidable. As parents no matter what the preparation, the emotion will hit us. When it does, you accept it, as that’s how life is made out to be.
One lady tells me “you have to look after yourself. Kids will one day get up and leave without looking back at you.” This the same lady who is the epitome of mommyhood. I admire her deeply for her patience and how she runs her home of 3 boys. She stepped out a few years ago and feels good about doing something for herself. One other friend tells me “look, you shouldn’t compare yourself with most of us. We are all 2 kid families. It’s relatively easy. You have a 3rd variable in the equation. It isn’t easy, and frankly, no one can relate to it enough to advice you best”. Another one whom I admire put herself through school just like me and now runs a fairly large IT division at a govt contracting company. She who encouraged me to find my place outside, tells me now “I wish I didn’t leave my little one home and go careering off, those times never come back”.
I agree. I would never trade the time Ive spent with my older two up until they were five. Those are precious years. As they grow older, they don’t need me the same way they did as toddlers but the presence is missed. That’s how I see the last one year had been. I have been deaf to the tone in the phone calls as they ask repeatedly “when are you coming home?” , the missed opportunities in the various after-school clubs they could thrive in but couldn’t as I wasn’t there, the lost homeworks that affected grades ultimately and the tired hungry faces losing nourishment in ways that could have been prevented.
Ultimately, I think of myself as a juggler. A juggler needs to be in business only so long as the items he’s juggling stay either in the air or in his hand. A juggler is capable of only so much. Increase the things to juggle, and one of them is sure to slip and fall. What slips and falls is important and plays a key role in deciding what to let go and what to hold onto.
I think I’d like to hold onto what little I can offer to the growth of my kids. After all, they are what I truly call a personal product of me and the husband. If I had to write my life’s resume, my kids would be my highest and biggest personal achievement, not for bearing them but for what and how they ahve shaped up so far; followed by my studies. So, for me to not give them the priority to nurture and show them the path of being the best they can be would be a crime.
Going against nature just harms everything around it. I believe my real nature is to be. Not to be defined by just one role, but one of a harmonius airy blend of all that I want, can and should be.