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Today, on the blog, I have one of the warmest people I’ve ever encountered through my blogging journey. Shilpa Gupte, who blogs at Metanoia, connected with me a few years ago. It was virtual friendship at first click. We have never met in person but I hope that will change soon.

She is on this space today to speak of the wonderful relationship she enjoys with her nephews. She writes as a parent would, about the highs and lows of this journey and what it has brought into her life. Shilpa, thank you for this piece. Over to you.


Years ago, I discovered that there were some things in Life that I would have to forsake. Like, for example, having kids. It had been a tough decision; one that broke my heart, but one that I just had to make. I decided I had enough on my plate, already. A mom-in-law who was a victim of schizophrenia and a partner who was a victim of bipolar disorder.

Enough to handle for one life time—was my thinking. Frankly, there is only so much a person can take, or manage, by herself.

An aunt gives us her take on #Parenting. Click to Tweet

It was difficult dealing with the feelings, really. Worst than dealing with people’s endless enquiries about when I would be giving them some “good news”. Ah, those were the days, when almost every other day, a colleague or a neighbor or a relative would ask this most annoying question and leave me fuming, inwardly.

Why couldn’t people just mind their own business? Well, that’s a lot of expecting from people, is what I realized.

Worse, though, as I said earlier, was dealing with my feelings. My maternal instincts had to be muffled each time I saw a baby, or interacted with my students at the pre-school I worked at. Add to it, the endless series on ‘Life in the womb’ that was aired those days on the National Geographic.

An adult woman holding a newborn baby's palm

Those were the moments that tormented me, no end. Just imagining the life taking shape within a mother’s belly, the life growing into a complete human being and then entering the world and bringing along with it endless joy into the lives of its family. Sigh. I don’t even want to remember those days now.

Of course, after all these years, and at this age, it really doesn’t matter anymore. Really! I am, in fact, happy with what I have. Not everybody gets what they want in Life, do they?

However, about 15 years ago, this was not the case. I battled those difficult moments, hushed up the yearnings and learned to count my blessings. I tried explaining myself how it was better I wouldn’t have to deal with kids as then I could focus better on taking care of mom-in-law.

Mental illness can take a toll on the caregivers, so I deduced that all happens for the best and was glad I made the decision that I did.

What Changed

Life, however, takes care, you know. If it takes away something from you, it gives you something else in return. Something that more than makes up for what it took away from you.

And, in return of the child of my dreams that Life took away from me, it gave me two little souls that lit up my world and made me feel “complete”.

My two nephews. My younger brother’s son, and my sis-in-law’s son, born about 6 months apart; bundles of energy and cuteness that has made me get over my loss, completely.

Parth and Aum are the two apples of my eyes. Two completely different human beings—as different as chalk and cheese—but simply adorable and full of love. I remember, when they were born, I wanted to do so much for them. I did whatever I could, as an aunt. But, it was only once they began to grow older that I became more of a buddy to them.

Having taught pre-schoolers, I was more comfortable dealing with kids that age, more than handling babies. I feared I might drop them, or hurt them. They were so tiny, so delicate! Their mothers were much  more encouraging, and would leave them in my responsibility with nary a care in the world, completely trusting me and my capabilities.

I did enjoy their babyhood a lot, of course.  All that cuddling, and kissing and making funny faces and sounds to make them laugh brought alive the mother in me, awakened the maternal instincts I had muffled up long ago. And, it felt immensely good, having kids—two kids—who were almost mine!

Mine. That word, that feeling of someone belonging to us  really gives you an unexplained joy, doesn’t it?  I would joke that I now had two readymade kids whenever someone asked when I would have a baby!

As the boys grew older, our bond grew stronger. Communication with them became easier; they began understanding and following whatever I told them. Made it easier for me to connect with them better. Made it easier for me to understand them better.

Kids often react differently with different people. They are definitely close to their parents, but they have a different kind of relationship with the other adults of their family. And, I wanted to have a fun relationship with them. Something like a buddy-buddy bond, where they could not just laugh and play, but also share stuff they didn’t share with their parents, or were too scared to share with their parents.

Read why you should Parent Like An Aunt

And, that’s just what we worked at, and that’s just how things are, today.

Today, at 7 and 8, the boys are a bundle of energy, tiring me out whenever we meet and have our playtimes. Or, even study times. Oh yes, study times can be equally taxing with the boys as they ask so many questions!

Their endless hunger for information leaves me baffled, at times. Now, Parth, whose school is nearer to my residence, comes home after school and spends his time with me till his parents return from work and take him home. So, the few hours he is with me are the busiest hours of my day.

Not just his studies, but his endless chatter, his games, his mischief keeps me on my toes. Even lunch times aren’t ‘peaceful’ for me. I am not used to talking while eating. But, when Parth is at home for lunch, I have to brace myself for the volley of questions that he shoots at me, precisely when we sit down to eat.

No sooner do I reach for my first morsel than the first question pops out of his mouth. And, more often than not, it is something for which I have no answer! Like, where does God reside? How big are black holes? What if our earth came too close to a black hole? How long does it take to reach Mars? God!!! The kid lives and breathes in space!

Hubby bought him a book on space, which sadly lies in a corner, because he has me to answer all of his queries. And, I have an answer for every question, is what he thinks!

Aum and I, on the other hand, don’t meet as frequently, as I would like. But, on the days I visit mum, my entire day goes talking with him, accompanying him to his skating classes, or helping him with his studies. And, he is one guy whose words are “unfiltered”, just like most other kids.

Their candidness surprises me; makes me wish we adults could be as frank while expressing our thoughts, our feelings. Aum loves gifts. And, whenever I take something for him, he says there was really no need to buy anything for him, for he has everything he needs. But, now that I have got it for him, he will keep it! That artful dodger!

Life with my boys feels wonderful, complete. I have two little buddies, who share secrets with me, who shower their love on me. The kind of hugs Parth gives can stifle a person, but I love it. I call him my teddy bear, and his hugs lift my spirits when I am low. Aum’s naughty smile and the twinkle in his eyes bring an instant smile on my face and I feel blessed to have someone who takes Life so lightly.

There is so much to learn from these kids. But, more than that, there is so much to thank Life for. I always wanted a daughter, but now I have TWO sons, who love me as much as my daughter would have, so what have I lost?

Turns out, nothing. Instead, I have gained. Tons of love and uncontrolled laughter!

A parent is made by the love between two individuals. Sometimes, that role is fulfilled by an aunt or an uncle. Read about how being an aunt made all the difference, twice over. #Shailajav #Parenting #PositiveParenting #Aunt #GentleParenting #LifeLessons

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Guest Author Bio: Shilpa Gupte

Shilpa blogs at Metanoia–a health and wellness blog. She writes about health, food, nutrition, as well as words of motivation we all need from time to time. Books and art also are a major part of her blog, as are her experiments with words through reflective writing.

Shilpa with her beloved dog, Chikoo

Follow Shilpa’s blog and on social media here:

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ShilpaGupte1
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/shilclix/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mywordsmyart/
Pinterest: https://in.pinterest.com/writershilp/

All Images used are for representative purposes only and are courtesy: Shutterstock

Baby in a bathtub by Mongaman; Mother & baby hands by M Dogan; Asian mother and 2 year old boy on black background by Brayden Howie;   Asian mother holding her newborn baby by Anurak Pongpatimet; Loving mother with her boy by Michaeljung

Comments

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23 Comments

Rachna Parmar · August 27, 2018 at 11:02 am

So nice to see you here, Shilpa. Loved reading about you and your boys. I can totally understand what you say and feel. I became an aunt first and a mum later. When my sister was expecting, luckily we loved in the same time. From taking her to her prenatal appointments to her delivery, I have done it all. And then my niece was born. When I held her in my arms for the first time, I can’t explain the joy and love I felt. No matter what, I maintain that she is my first daughter. Initially my sister would drop her to our place with a babysitter. Mum would supervise them and I would look forward to coming back home after work to be with her. She was just so adorable. The entire family shared in raising her in the initial years. I was there when we put her in day care, sitting outside for the entire 3 hours. Today, she is 19 and if she has anything on her mind, she just picks up the phone and calls me. I cherish this beautiful bond we share. Here’s to all the aunts and our kids!

    Shilpa Gupte · August 28, 2018 at 10:50 pm

    Rachna, it is during those moments when my boys pour their heart out to me when I feel I may be doing something right! Their talks are unfiltered and their emotions pure. And, they accept me the way I am–whether I am strict with them or whether I behave like a kid with them. It is this acceptance that makes me feel blessed. The confidence in me that they have when they tell me things that trouble them, that I feel like they are mine,,,completely mine! That is the reason why we aunts are lucky, isn’t it? 🙂

Lata Sunil · August 27, 2018 at 12:12 pm

Its fun to be an aunt-parent. Now that my own boys are big and independent, I love it that my 6 year old nephew drops home sometimes and I babysit him. He is a bundle of energy. Like a rocket, he keeps whizzing past my vision as I continue to work at home. Then he comes up with some crazy questions most of it related to my sons. As a family, I love it that we can love the children in the extended family as our own.

    Shilpa Gupte · August 28, 2018 at 10:59 pm

    Yes, Lata. We are indeed lucky we have so many kids to look after and treat them like our own. All I hope is the boys stay this way and tolerate me when I grow old, too! 😛
    We do joke a lot about how things will change when they will grow up and I will be older. And, you know how they reply? “You are still in your 40s?” Hehehe….those kids are too much, I tell you! And, I love them the way they are!

Anshu Bhojnagarwala · August 27, 2018 at 2:17 pm

Shilpa, I love your writing because you don’t hesitate to bare it all. Though I can’t really fathom your pain of taking this tough, practical decision, I can understand a bit of it. You are a strong woman and you come up with positive posts no matter what you go through. I am glad you have two nephews who adore you. Though I have my daughter, I have 3 little nephews who I love a lot.

    Shilpa Gupte · August 28, 2018 at 11:03 pm

    Thank you, Anshu!
    I just feel that I am an equally flawed human being (like the rest of the world) so why put on a mask? These and so many other things happen with each one of us. Best is to accept it all and talk about it without making an issue out of it.
    Yes, I am indeed lucky to have my two monkeys with me. Life would have been rather bland without them 🙂

Nabanita · August 27, 2018 at 2:46 pm

Oh Shilpa, I loved reading this. You know I heard somewhere that you don’t need to grow a baby in your womb to love or feel like a mother. Also, the love from an aunt is in now way different from a mother. I see how my sister loves M. So, I know. These two little gems are so lucky to have you. You are one hell of a woman and I admire you. Hugs!

    Shilpa Gupte · August 28, 2018 at 11:07 pm

    Thank you so much, Nabanita!
    Yes, I am so lucky to have my gems to make my life so much more brighter! And, you said it right..You don’t need to grow a baby in your womb. Parth’s mother keeps saying that she only gave birth to him, but I moulded him into what he is today. I know she is quite sentimental, at times, when she sees him doing things I have taught him to. But, frankly, it does feel good hearing that whatever I did for Parth, I did it right!
    Counting my blessings!

Vinodini · August 28, 2018 at 7:17 pm

What a pleasant surprise to see this guest post by Shilpa on your blog, Shy! Shilpa, your description of your relationship with your nephews is so endearing. You’ve indeed gained a lot. There’s so much more to parenting and nurturing than just having babies. I wish our society was more accepting and understanding towards people who do not fall in sync with their narrow-minded expectations. Kudos to you for taking it all in your stride and making the most out of your blessings. Hugs and love.
Vinodini recently posted Musings from MunnarMy Profile

    Shilpa Gupte · August 28, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    Yes, Vinodini, I too wish our society was more accepting and also one that minded its own business. But, that’s not how things are. In fact, I doubt it will change in the years to come. However, all we can do is count our lucky stars and be grateful for being able to make certain choices that did not backfire in any way.

    Hugs! <3

Akshata · August 29, 2018 at 9:36 am

This is such a heartwarming one Shilpa. The turmoil of emotions you went through can be strongly felt here. Your nephews are born out of your heart as is evident from the lovely bond you share. A lovely piece. Very thoughtful of you Shy to bring us this piece

    Shilpa Gupte · October 11, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    Oh yes, Akshata! These guys were born in my heart, and have been a blessing in disguise for me!
    Thank you so much! 🙂

Parul Thakur · August 30, 2018 at 10:50 am

I loved this post, Shilpa. You know to shape a person (kid or not) is a beautiful thing. And to do that, one needn’t be a mother or a father. If I look back, there are so many people who have made me who I am today. Teachers, managers,friends, grandparents – the best part about life is that. We need a village of loved ones to shape us. Hai na?
I am sure these two little champs owe many life lessons to you. Stay blessed!
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    Shilpa Gupte · October 11, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    Sahi kaha, Parul! And, not only have these two kiddos learned stuff from me, they have taught me a lot about life, too! In fact, they do so everyday…the one most important lesson being to look at life with an extra dose of humour! 😛
    Shilpa Gupte recently posted The artful month that’s October.My Profile

Obsessivemom · August 30, 2018 at 11:47 am

This is the best thing I’ve read in ages Shilpa. Such a beautiful heartfelt honest post. The first bit had me wanting to reach out and hug you. People can be insensitive, their curiosity – prying and hurtful. Glad you weathered all of it so wonderfully. The second bit just made me happy. So so glad you have those two young ones around. Also a huge thumbs up to the women in your family. I’d have loved to have someone the children could talk to when they cannot talk to me. And Aunts are just perfect for that role. You can afford to be a little less strict, a little easy – like you said – a buddy to them. It takes a village to raise a child and you’re just perfect for them.
Obsessivemom recently posted How I Became a Farmer’s Wife #ReviewMy Profile

    Shilpa Gupte · October 11, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    First of all, apologies, Tulika, for being so late in replying!

    Well, people can be insensitive, but such things teach us a lot about how we need to be–less prying and more of minding our own business. Frankly, it wasn’t easy, facing people’s questions and Life, too, but, there was no other choice for me, so I just accepted it all as part of life!

    Yes, these kiddos are like a rainbow in a grey, monsoon sky, that lights up the world and spreads its beauty around. I am less strict, but at times, stricter than their parents. But, the main motive behind being so is I need to get them to study better than they do with anyone else. 😛

    And, the part when I am less strict, gifts me with their little secrets that come tumbling out some times. So, either ways, it’s a bonus for me! 😛
    Shilpa Gupte recently posted The artful month that’s October.My Profile

kalpana · August 31, 2018 at 11:20 am

What a beautiful post Shilpa! It’s an amazing bond you share with your nephews. We don’t have to give birth to be a mother…And your post says it all and how! So touched by your unconditional love for your darlings. They are blessed to have you as their aunt just as you are for having them.

    Shilpa Gupte · October 11, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    You bet, Kalpana! We all are blessed to have each other. And, these kiddos are not just my nephews, they are my friends, too, with whom I can be little again and fight and engage in some much needed masti time, too! It works like therapy for me and helps me fight the blues. 🙂
    Shilpa Gupte recently posted The artful month that’s October.My Profile

Shantala · September 10, 2018 at 1:59 am

It’s so good to see you here, Shilpa. 🙂

This post is a great example of why I love your writing – your brand of honesty is so rare to find these days. It’s one of the best things I have read all day. So heartfelt and heartwarming at the same time.

And I am sure those boys treasure you as much as you treasure them. 🙂
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Esha M Dutta · September 12, 2018 at 12:06 pm

Such a heartfelt and endearing post on the blog, Shailaja. So glad you shared this wonderful blog post by Shilpa. Shilpa, do take a bow for the lovely piece of writing that is honest, positive and beautiful. You are one of my favourite bloggers and I can tell you, your wonderful persona always comes through in all your writings. I think the bond you share with your two boys will always be unique and special in its’ own way and you can still enjoy the perks and joys of being an aunt as you see them grow into bright and confident individuals. Nothing can beat that happiness, ever!

Shilpa Gupte · October 11, 2018 at 5:55 pm

Thank you so much, Esha!

Yes, it’s a truly unique bond, one that I am sure will stay steady all through, even when they are grown up. Well, keeping my fingers crossed! 😛
Shilpa Gupte recently posted The artful month that’s October.My Profile

Kyra Rodriguez · October 16, 2018 at 2:25 pm

It was such a heartfelt post! I’m also an aunt and I can totally relate about it. My sister was a single-mom, so I am the one who’s helping her taking care of my nephew. They surprised me with a video greeting on my last birthday, my nephew message really made me cry. He said “Thank you, Auntie for always being here for me and my mommy. I love you” Thanks for sharing this story!

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