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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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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