What’s the big deal about Mother’s Day? I don’t need a “day” to remind me about all it means to be a mother. My kids do that every day.
Sometimes I think I should give up my job and stay at home and look after my family and maybe, if my Muse comes to me, write books.
But then, I have these conversations at office that make me realize how vital it is to keep meeting and interacting with different people. (Of course, there’s more to office than that, but that’s another matter altogether.)
So some of the young people in office, just out of college, early twenties, have been quite vocal about what a pain it is to have kids and how they never want to have kids and how much fun they have in life without these unnecessary encumbrances.
When I hear them, I don’t say anything, and I hope I don’t smile, but inwardly I’m smiling – because it’s like hearing myself talk, 15-odd years ago.
Thinking back, I don’t think I was ever very vocal about it – having kids or not having kids. But inside, I felt that way. Screaming, squalling, runny-nosed brats, who needs them?
And, to be sure, of all the young people who voice these thoughts and those who think them without saying them, it’s not true that all of them will come around to the other way of thinking. It’s not inevitable that all women (to leave the other half out for the moment) will necessarily feel maternal urges later on in life. Some of them might choose to never have kids and they might be quite happy with that choice. I have no problem with that. Let each woman make her own choice, let everyone live their own lives and make their own decisions. I am not crusading in favour of parenthood.
But it amuses me to think that I used to think like that, and then I changed, and now I live with those screaming, squalling, runny-nosed brats, two of them, and I wouldn’t want to trade it for anything.
It counts for something, that I had many years of freedom and adventure before the kids came into my life. I traveled, I worked, I partied, I was gay and free and irresponsible. I made the most of it, those happy childless years. But then I chose to be a parent and I worked towards it with single-minded determination. I made it happen (against quite formidable odds). I made the choice and I gave up all that I needed to give up – the travel, the work, the partying, the gay, free, irresponsible lifestyle. It’s not that I don’t miss it. It’s just that what I have now, with my kids… it’s different. It’s tiring, it’s frustrating, it’s maddening at times, but it’s satisfying at a different level. When the kids are screaming and hollering and running around and fighting and driving me crazy (which, let’s face it, is every single day), it’s easy to lose sight of it. But when I step back a moment, it’s still there. I won’t say parenting makes me happy on a moment-to-moment basis, but there’s a much deeper satisfaction to it that mere joy or happiness can’t compete with.
So I was chatting with a much older colleague at work. I don’t even really know this person, we’ve interacted a couple of times, and remotely at that. I mentioned my kids and he said his daughters were grown up now, 19 and 25. I said I was waiting for my girls to get there. He said, “you won’t need to wait. It will happen so fast, and then you will miss tripping over their toys and sneakers.”
So says a father whose two little girls have grown up and left home.
I know he’s right. I have heard it, occasionally, from other parents too. The days crawl by but the years fly. And while we are immersed in the crawling days, we don’t notice the years till they’ve gone.
Once in a way, you need someone to remind you of what the view will be like 15-odd years from now. You need to hear the things that you know you are going to say 15-odd years in the future. Hear them and heed them. You need to remember to hold on to what you have right now. Don’t just fret about the days that crawl, take a step back to cherish the years… before they fly away.
Happy Mother’s Day!