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“You’ll know when you’re a mother!”

Growing up, I got my way around things with my parents. Father has most often than not been pretty good with dealing with my impulses. But mother loved flipping to the other side of the world with anything that involved curfews, all nighters, solo trips, hanging out with newer friends she had never met, even moving to a new city for this fellowship.

And you know that conversation right before mother approves of your plans, the one that goes something like– “I’m a grown up maa, can’t I even decide for myself?”, I’d say with oodles of persuasion. And she’d respond saying,”Of course you can! It’s just that I’m scared for you. I don’t want my baby to be wounded and broken. Because if you are, I’ll be hurt too. I’ll be broken too.” And she’d interrupt my indifferent shrug to say, “You’ll know when you’re a mother! The umbilical chord was snipped when you were born, but your soul is still tied to mine and I can just not bear to see you aching.”

For me, this dialogue was nothing more than overreaction. But now, as a pseudo-mom to 62 of my bachchas, I know exactly what she meant. All her fears, her doubts and concerns seem real to me today. It was just this morning that my student stepped out of the school premises before assembly to grab a quick bite. For 15 minutes when I couldn’t find her, I was in a state of mind that I can’t do justice to in words.

In six months, we’ve spoken about our dreams, our fears, our passions and our secrets. And while I wanted to be the coolest didi around, I subconsciously treaded to an alien territory of motherhood. (Sometimes when they accidentally call me aai, my heart skips a beat!)

So now I’ve accepted that everyday, I grow with my kids.

Everyday, I fail and try getting back on my feet with my kids.

Everyday, I laugh and cry with my kids.

Everyday, I discover a little more of me and a little bit of the world with my kids.

Everyday, I relive my adolescence with my kids.

Everyday, I learn while I teach with my kids.

And though we don’t have an umbilical chord that was snipped at their birth, we’re weaving our own chords that connect straight to the heart.

So maa, I do know what it’s like to be a mother in my own right. A mother to 62 kids who give meaning to me, every single day. I know exactly what I put you through as a rebellious teenager. And though you’re proud of me, I secretly hope my kids turn out better than yours did!

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