Reposting an old one I had written a few years back.
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Like a million rebelling teenage girls, I too grew up swearing I would never turn out to be like my mother when it was my turn to be one. Time and Life have a funny way of ganging up on you and springing the most ironic surprises in your face and making your words come back to bite you.
Today, supposedly all grown up, and a mother of two, one a teenager and the other, just an ‘e’ short of te‘e’n, often I find myself opening my mouth to chide my child and hear my mom speak.
The first time I did that, I almost looked over my shoulder to see if my mom was actually there and had become an expert ventriloquist. Now I know – that Time and Life are sitting out there, in some corner of the vast universe and having a quiet chuckle to themselves, with a bunch of moms ROTFLing around them.
And, just because I did not let my daughter go to the school dance, when my daughter throws up her hands in the air, gives me the ‘rolling eyes’ treatment and swears, “Amma, when I become a mom, I swear I will be nothing like you! I would be such an understanding mom. You just wait and see!” I cannot help but give a conspiratory wink to Time and Life. I know they are busy laying the groundwork for me to have the last laugh!
And nothing else quiets down my daughter as telling her that those were my exact words to my mom when I was a kid, and look at me now, telling her exactly what my mom told me. She immediately shuts up. And I know it is not because she suddenly understood my point or had become ‘oh so nice’ and docile. I know it is a sign of panic. Nothing freaks out the girl more. I know the questions will come soon.
“Do you seriously mean I will become like you? (‘A stick in the mud’ are the words left unsaid)
“Well, I cannot guarantee you that. But you probably will start thinking like me.”
“Including the extra pounds and stretch marks?”
And when she asks me about the stretch marks, I tell her that they might not look beautiful, but that I wear them with pride. Every time I see them, I do not see the damages that motherhood did to my body, but rather think of the two beautiful lives I bore within me.
As for the few extra pounds, personally I think, that they are added to moms to make your hugs more comforting when you kiss away ‘boo boos’ and chase away nightmares. And that is something she totally agrees with.
Someday I will also tell her that motherhood also makes you vulnerable. Somehow the lachrymal glands start going into overdrive with the advent of motherhood, as does your imagination. And by imagination, I don’t mean the kind that conjures up rainbows and unicorns and pretty little fairies. These are the worst kind that can make you wake up in terror.
Every time you see the image of a starving child or hear about a crime against a child, your mind cranks up its projector and plays your own personal horror movie, starring your child. And every time the phone rings when your child is away from you, a nasty little doubt creeps up, “Is my child in danger?”
I guess those are some of the ‘privileges’ that come with motherhood. Some good and some bad. The rewards of motherhood are not always immediate. Sometimes they are; like when you wake up for a midnight feeding, all tired, groggy and going mad with lack of sleep, and suddenly the tiny little thing in your arms just looks up at you, makes absolute eye contact and gives you a toothless smile. That is the instant you rip your heart out and place it at those tiny little feet.
And from that moment on, no other smile exists in your universe. Madhuri Dixit’s 1000 watt smile pales in comparison and Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile makes you think she is constipated. Hold on to that smile. Etch it deep in your memory. I assure you, you will need it. While at the moment it will make you forget the pain you went through to get her out into the world, in later years, the memory of that smile might be the only thing that keeps you out of jail when you wholeheartedly want to strangle the very life you brought into the world, especially during those crazy teen years.
Or the reward might come later. Years later, when a midnight call wakes you up and you hear the panic-stricken voice at the other end of the line, “Amma my baby did not burp. What should I do?”
Finally they realize that mom does know something after all. Either way, they will make you lose your sleep. Accept that. Or maybe, sporting gray hair themselves, they will come and rest their head for a quiet while on your lap. And once again they will be what they have always been to you – your baby.
On that note, I sign off, wishing all you wonderful women out there a Happy Mother’s Day. Remember, hold on to that smile!
And to all future mothers… “Bear in mind, your day will come!” (This to the gleeful rubbing of my hands and a wicked grin on my face…)