Saturday, May 31, 2008

Forgotten To Play

As a teenager, I never tired of babies and children. I could spend the whole day playing with and entertaining them and be ready for more the next day. Having a family with a young kid visiting our home was the best treat I could have. It was around the same time that I felt my earliest longings to have a child of my own. There was this groundswell of tenderness and love for children that I wanted to shower on my own - I could hardly wait for motherhood.

J came along many years later and my life circumstances were very different from what they had been in my teens. I was now the sole provider for this child I had given birth to, the marriage had gone kaput and I was living in a foreign country trying to make it all work out for the two of us. Somewhere in the muddle of things, I lost my ability to play with a child tirelessly as I was once able to. Here I was mother of a child as I had always wanted to be and in some ways I felt I was not doing half the job I was able to do back when I was an adolescent.

Back then, it never took any effort to play with a child - it came to me naturally when I was around one. With J, it seems like heaven and earth must move to me to be in that frame of mind when I can just play with her and do nothing else and not grow restless or tired. I see mothers around me who do a stellar job and it makes me feel that much worse.

It is not as if these women have fairytale lives. They are able to cope with life's challenges and still retain the childlike in them - something I have obviously failed to do. While trying to salvage what I could of the wreckage of my life when my marriage ended, I must have overlooked what would become very important for J - her mother's ability to be a child with her. I must have lost that somewhere and don't know how to find it again. To know that I did have it once and that other children have enjoyed the tenderly maternal in me in a way J never has and likely never will is lacerating.


ggop said...

I don't know if it is necessarily your being a single mom. My experience with kids mirrors yours. In my teens I seemed to be around a lot of kids and it was really easy to entertain them and manage them.

Somehow along the way I lost it - but until 5 years ago I had a lull in the presence of kids around me. Now my friends are having kids and I admit being quite awkward.

Anonymous said...

I experience the same inability to engage in childish conversations with my own although I was a kid magnet in my teens. But then, I console myslef saying the kids love us no matter what and just showing them our true self makes them happy. Kids are not very judgemental (atleast until their teenhood). I have a feeling unlike adults they do not compare notes on their mommies (other than my mom makes the baset cake or my mom is the coolest).

Priyamvada_K said...

It is responsibility, dear HC. In your teens you could just play with the kids. You weren't responsible for how they turned out, for their school and after-school activities. You didn't have to earn a living. You were just a student, and here were these kids to play with. Easy!

When I was home with Kamala full-time (in her first 2 years) I could play. I juggled home and kid only, and kid also was young. You cook, feed, change and play with the kid.

Now if I don't have that same joie de vivre, I put it down to being a responsible working parent.

The spontaneity will come - don't worry. You'll make a great grandma :D


Heartcrossings said...

ggop - I wonder of being a teen makes it easy to relate to a child - you've recently stopped being one yourself. I must be easy to relate.

annonymous - You are so right about kids not being judgemental. They are happy to have what they have and don't know that they could have or ask for more. Oddly enough, to this day I fare a whole lot better with other kids than I do with J - which is quite a mystery.

Priya - Thanks so much for the wisdom and hope :) I wonder if children benefit more (emotionally) from a carefree (even if somewhat irresponsible) parent who is able to be a child than a very responsible one.