Shrieks of ‘It’s done! I’m free!’ rent the air outside my door at 1 pm this afternoon. It was Gy back from school, having written her last exam for the academic year. The joy in the air was so thick I could have cut it with a butter knife.
Her cheeks were flushed with joy when I opened the door to greet her. Flinging herself into my arms, she exclaimed, ‘It’s my Independence Day.’ Rolling my eyes at the hyperbole, I said, ‘Really?’
Giggling helplessly, she ran to hug her dad and relentlessly darted about the house like a puppy finding itself in a vast field. It took her a good ten minutes to calm down and I couldn’t help but smile at the laughter in her eyes.
So yes, the holidays have begun and it’s going to be two months of sheer laziness and relaxation. We started the celebrations early today, by watching an old Hindi film, one of our favourites. I may be taking the holiday bit too much to heart, since I haven’t even made dinner yet and it’s almost 7 pm here!
But, rules need to be broken every now and then.
Last night, she came to me with a very sombre face and I assumed she wanted some reassurance about the exam today. Instead, she blinked and swallowed hard and finally asked in a hesistant tone, ‘Would it be okay if I slept on the floor tomorrow instead of the bed?’
Surprised, I asked, ‘You mean like at a campsite? Sure, I don’t see why not. Would you like me to get your sleeping bag out and set it up?’
The change in her face should have been caught on camera. Throwing herself at me, she rested her head on my chest and whispered, ‘Thank you, Amma. Thank you.’
We held each other for a few moments and I stood there, drinking in the warmth of her embrace, that cherished hug that says without words that our actions matter.
Before you ask, the image here isn’t of a blanket fort that I made. Please, I am not that creative or patient. That’s a stock image.#Parenting guilt can strike you any time, whether you're a new mom or a veteran. Click To Tweet
I’ll have you know I’ve doubted myself as a parent in the last week. People who know me, know that I don’t share pictures of my kid on social media. I stopped it a while ago, thanks largely to safety concerns. But that doesn’t mean I can stop others from doing it.
In the last few weeks, I’ve looked at pictures on Instagram and Facebook of kids who excel at sports or academics. I’ve seen updates of kids her age making wholesome, three-course meals for their families. I’ve kicked myself hard and called myself a failure for not pushing my kid, either academically or otherwise. I’ve even gone through Parenting Guilt 101, namely, focusing a lot on myself and my physical/emotional well-being to the exclusion of everyone else these last 2 months.
And it’s all eaten me alive. I admit it.
It’s crazy because I usually am the first to advocate that ‘You are enough’. You, as a person, are always enough. I repeat this to myself and to anyone who would care to listen, ad nauseum.
Yet, I fell victim to the guilt, just the same.
Academics matter, activities matter and so do the little things in life, perhaps more than we realise. If you were to ask me what I achieved as a child, I’d draw a blank. I used to sing but that was because I loved it and nobody pushed me into it.
I cannot force my kid to do something she doesn’t enjoy but I will encourage her to pursue something because she loves it. For now, it may be a sport. Perhaps in a few years, it may be something more creative or artistic. But I have no way of knowing for sure.
This is why moments like making blanket forts and setting up sleeping bags on the floor are important. They make me realise that even if I never raise a star athlete or a future doctor, I’m fortunate to have a kid who takes pleasure in the simple things.
Perhaps those are the holiday moments I should seek out and cherish every single day. Perhaps then, this parenting thing may get a bit easier.
Featured image courtesy: Shutterstock