Thursday, October 18, 2007

Doing More

John was a geek twenty years ago until he took a break for few years to be a professional violinist playing at concerts around the world. He taught music lessons and wrote occasionally for a couple of music journals. Now he is back in the IT business again as a freelance organization development consultant. Given his background, he brings a very interesting perspective and is always eager to mentor. He has found a devoted mentee in me.

Sometimes, during lunch we chat about life outside work. He and his wife seem to live a quietly fulfilling life. She sounds like the kind of woman who can both inspire and support a man to achieve amazing things in life - just as John has. I often talk about J and he loves to listen. He often asks "So what's the latest with J ? What has she been up to ?". He tells me I should bring her to work one day because "She sounds like a really interesting kid".

I showed him some pictures of J, I had on my computer today. The first reaction I get from most people who see J's pictures is along the lines of "She's a perfect beauty" or "She's absolutely gorgeous" or some variation thereof. John commented "She has such bright eyes. She is very beautiful almost in a spiritual way". Then he added "You know, she is the kind of child you want to devote your entire life to, give everything you have to give. There is that look about her. You are very blessed "

When I see J, I see a good, loving child who has brought me nothing but joy from the time she was a spark of life in my womb. She gives me strength on the bleakest days. There is a serenity about her that I often find myself drawing from. When someone says she is the cutest little doll, I don't know if they are taking about J because I find it hard to see her the way she is at the surface.

I always thought I was obsessive about being a mother because she is all I have - J gives meaning to my life. I am frantic about giving her more - nothing I do feels enough. That it takes so absurdly little to make her happy, fills me with guilt - I wonder why she does not expect or want more. She is deeply grateful for whatever little I manage to do for her. Maybe that is the look John saw in her picture. Maybe I will never feel like I have done all that could do for her.

There was a sad irony in what John said too. A perfect stranger old enough to be her grandfather was able to sense all that about my child and yet her own father has not seen her since she was three months old. He was able to start life over like marriage and fatherhood had never happened. J's face must not have inspired him to give everything and more.

2 comments:

Priyamvada_K said...

"That it takes so absurdly little to make her happy, fills me with guilt - I wonder why she does not expect or want more. She is deeply grateful for whatever little I manage to do for her. Maybe that is the look John saw in her picture. Maybe I will never feel like I have done all that could do for her."


Dear HC,
Most children are happy with what they have - and it does take very little to make them happy.

Call it one of the gifts of childhood: a shared story, some time in the park, dinner - these things are enough to make them happy.

It is adults who keep thinking about what we lack, or how we can have it 'better' etc....What to do :)? So no need to feel guilty. J is just being a happy child, so enjoy her.

Also, I hear you on the "being obsessive about being a mother because J is all I have - she gives meaning to my life".

I have tried to steer clear of this, even though Kamala is a child I had waited/longed for - for 8+ years. But we as single women dealing with life (IMHO) may not want to peg our child as the anchor around which everything revolves. Sure, we absolutely would do anything for the child - that goes without saying for **any** parent who loves their child.

What I am talking about is something different, though. I have seen this with many single parents - notably those who are sole custodians of the child with no visitation with the other parent:

The parent's identity fuses with that of the child. Child becomes parent's world - the focal point of parent's life - to the exclusion of everything/everyone else. In time, this situation turns the child into the parent's emotional anchor, helping the parent navigate the ups and downs of life. This role is IMO more suitable for an adult - and something a growing child may not be equipped to handle. Chidren deserve our love and protection, and should under no circumstances view themselves in the role of our protector.

Sorry for that long-winded note of caution. Just sharing something I have seen/honestly-feel.

Don't feel guilty about not doing enough. You're a great mom who is doing a lot, and the fact that J is a happy child is testimony for it.

Take care,
Priya.

H said...

Thanks for the gentle reminder, Priya. I agree it is never good for a child to feel they are responsible for the parent.

J insists on having the last word on things that matter to her. I guess that keeps her safe from having her identity merging with mine :)

As for me, napping with her on a Saturday afternoon is what recharges me for the week. I guess children have a lot of positive energy that can revive you when you are down.