Once again I saw the reddish orange hues of sunset from my window. The same window from where I had viewed the same sunset, yet it feels so different today. The dust mites on the window sill are sticking to my fingers in a reassuring way. This view reminds me of the person I was before. Before I was engulfed into society’s norms. That wild girl in me yawns in her deep slumber, just reminding me of her existence somewhere deep down beneath many layers of grief and heartache and memories, where she was buried carefully. That person is just a memory sometimes, albeit a beautiful one. The sunset made me full of warm mushy feelings and hope and all those cheesy cliches. Today, I feel nothing. In fact, sunsets are reminders to fold the clothes, take a shower and do mundane household chores. Gone are the days when the setting sun reminded me of stolen glances, love filled conversations, all the butterflies in the stomach, gossips with roommates, and evening walks with my best friends. When I close my eyes I can still smell the fresh grass in our college grounds and the laughter in the background. Maybe this is how we grow old. Things that once mattered the most seems ordinary now. Definitely growing old.
Today I’m writing about the things I learnt from my son, a 20 months old toddler. Often we overlook these tiny humans, but watch closely and we can find so many things to learn from them. The life as a mother is taking its toll in many ways I agree, but its all worthwhile, believe me.
1. Staying happy
The first and foremost thing I learned from my baby is that you can be happy ALWAYS. If we observe a toddler laughs loudly atleast 10 times in an hour. The giggles, cute little snorts and smiley faces are making the people around them also happy. No matter if they fell and cry, show them their favourite toy and they start smiling through the tears, get engrossed in their play and in a few minutes they forget all their pains. How many of us have tried this? Next time you’re hurt just take up your favourite hobby / favourite show/ call your favourite person/make your favourite meal. Get engrossed and forget the pain. The trick is to distract your mind which keeps focussing on the hurt. You just need to re-focus onto things you love.
Often I see my boy trying to pull open that cupboard which is locked with a key. I try to reason with him, saying it can be opened with a key only which I’m not going to give you. Still he tries to open with his whole strength. Seeing his effort, I offer him the key which I know he won’t be able to insert properly in the keyhole. He is happy with the result that I gave him the key. He tries again with full energy. Sometimes he loses interest, leaves the key and goes off. Sometimes he throws the key away in frustration. But he always come back, tries and within days he succeeds in inserting the key properly. The same continues in turning the key and opening the cupboard. Its amazing that the small kid has so much perseverance while we adults are disheartened by our first failure. Keep the fire burning, always come back with full energy. The result will be fruitful, although delayed.
3. Love unconditionally
As a parent, I have disappointed my baby in many ways. He cries when he wakes up and doesn’t find me near. He cries when I don’t give him my mobile phone / TV remote / other costly items that may get damaged. He cries when I don’t let him spoil freshly laundered clothes. He cries when I scold him / pinch him for beating / biting others. In a day there are so many times when he throws tantrums and the reason behind the tantrum is me. Still he loves me unconditionally. The minute I pretend to cry, he comes running to my arms and showers me with kisses. At night he needs me beside him to sleep no matter how much I have made him cry unintentionally (No mother in the world wants their child to cry deliberately…situations!). His face blooms like a flower when he sees me first after waking up. I cuddle him up in the morning soon after waking up. Now I ask myself – Are we adults this much forgiving? How many days we build up anger before finally forgiving small mistakes? Even after days/months we keep pricking the old wounds. Be like a baby – love without conditions, forgive and be happy in the smallest of things!
The one big change that happened in my life after the baby was born is that I began observing nature again. Just a crow on a tree outside keeps my little one engaged and happy for so much time. Slowly I began observing nature through his eyes and good lord, we do live in a beautiful world. In the mechanical monotony of home – office – home routines its been a while since I paused to smell the flowers in my garden, or noticing anything beautiful. Nowadays I’m astounded in the variety of birds around us, and the different sorts of chirpings we hear everyday. Its like I’ve suddenly tuned into a new radio channel. All these beauties I have been ignoring. The child finds all this so entertaining and in turn the curiosity needs to be developed in us also. From my baby I learnt this lesson – I’m now enjoying our nature more, which soothes my mind.
I truly believed that good manners, kindness all these are to be taught. Turns out most of the people have some of the seeds of compassion and other good traits embedded in them by birth. From blowing kissies to kittens in the cartoons to offering food to crows, they do have concern and love for other living beings. May be they learn from others, maybe its their goodness. When was the last time we hugged our friends? or family members? When was the last time we said ‘I love you’ to the people that matters? Lets learn it from toddlers, lets hug and kiss people who love us ( after the covid-19 pandemic passes of course!) and not take them for granted.
Apart from this, I’m still learning so much from my little one, in fact he is teaching me new lessons of patience, how to curb your frustrations etc with all sorts of mischief and a cute little face. In fact I’m growing along with him – as a mother, as a friend, as a better human being. And I’m cherishing each moment to the fullest because as they say, very soon our homes will be less messy and a lot quieter and the little ones will no longer fit into our laps and we are going to miss them terribly. More like sand in our fists, their childhood will drizzle past, and can never be regained. So be like a baby (pun intended)!!
When you watch a happy family enjoying shopping or watching a movie , we may feel like ‘Wow, look at them. They are so happy’. Often we feel the same about ourselves too. Like we are good. We are making some good memories. And in those happy moments, we may feel so proud of the lives we have created for us and our family. The thing about happiness is they just don’t last. Cruel isn’t it? Even a little jape made by any outsider or by someone in your family may spoil the whole balance of your family. And when there is no external factor, sometimes our own inner turmoil may affect the happiness of the whole family.
Mostly, the inner thoughts impact women more. This indirectly makes women the problem-makers in a family. The main reason being women are over-thinkers and more sensitive. Another factor being the fact that women are providing more in a family – be it in raising children or cooking or cleaning – in addition to regular jobs in case of working women. These are ingrained deep into the minds of people and that cannot be changed, even though some positive changes can be seen nowadays. Most women never complained in the older generations like our mothers and grand mothers, but today its not the same. Some call it equality, others may call it feminism. The same way a loving husband who helps his wife in household chores is seen as the ideal man by some, and a good-for-nothing-fella by some others.
Coming back to the topic, over-thinking in women may just strike a chord unexpectedly. You are perfectly happy in your life, doing all your chores responsibly and even your husband is contributing as much as he can. All of a sudden you feel as though he can do something more right? Why is the child being so un-cooperating? Why should I be the one to solve his/her tantrums always? Why am I supposed to solve everything for everyone? Its like I’m living for making others’ life comfortable? Who will make my life comfortable? This saga of thoughts may continue to result in fights between couples who were perfectly in love an hour ago. For some it may dangerously lead to thoughts like ‘I am so worthless. Nobody loves me. Why should I keep on living? ‘ . The one thing about our minds – its a dreadful master and a faithful servant.
Most of the women dealing with depression came all this way. I think we just need to show the red signal to our thoughts when it goes down that dangerous path. Its difficult, I know. But definitely not impossible. Atleast we need to divert our thoughts – take up some of our old hobbies, read a book, hum a song. Take a piece of paper and jot down the things around you that make you happy. List out the name of persons who genuinely loves you, even though you may feel like they don’t. Take a break from all the chaos when it becomes too much. Go shopping alone, go to a beauty salon and get your hair done – You’ll definitely feel better. When nothing works, go hug your mother. It all becomes better then. Now you know how your child feels when he/she clings on to you. I’m sure you’ll feel double the energy in doing all those tiring things for your child. Also remember how much your husband cared when you were having the baby. That alone will erase all the hard feelings for him. Converse with love and I’m sure everybody will understand you.
Just put all the negative thoughts that monotony brings into a hypothetical trash box and throw it away. All these are fool proof methods – tried and succeeded by so many people. So, its all about your mindset. Nothing about life is monotonous, we just need to add the colors ourselves. Colors of love, passion, happiness and gratefulness.