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Thursday, 12 June 2014

Being a mother....

In all the occasions that I have spoken and interacted with mothers, the answer has been an exalted and composite - "Motherhood is wonderful!!!!!!" The same went for all single mothers I have interacted with.
During the first one year of my unofficially becoming a single mother, I hardly had any time nor the opportunity to think sane. All I used to wonder was, "How can I take care of my child when I am not sure how I can take care of myself?" Moreover, it failed me as to how unending sleepless nights, cleaning all the mess, talking to your child (has to be done patiently and calmly under all circumstances), being completely tied down to only and only baby-sitting and most important in my case - the worry of earning a living, could all lead to a "wonderful motherhood!!!!"


 I was out of the job market for 10 years, opting to only be my ex-husband's manager and devoting myself whole-heartedly  to his career-graph. We had a fantastic life, traveling all over the world. I did a few freelance assignments here and there as a music and lifestyle reporter and had a short stint of 1.5 years as the Senior Content Editor of Rave Magazine. However, that is not enough experience for a career which was required in an emergency and desperation. The main need for a "career" per se arose from the requirement of at least Rs. 25,000 a month to feed my son and myself!  

towel throw mother

I was really desperate searching my answer. I am a known fool for being truthful - a requisite that has mostly gotten me into trouble. However, Paolo Coelho says, "Be honest anyway." So I found a justification for being the known fool. Therefore, I was always embarrassed and full of guilt not being able to speak a lie about motherhood being "wonderful!!!!". The sheer guilt of being a bad mother (because I thought motherhood is awful) contained me from speaking a lie and blurting out the truth about how awful I felt about motherhood. 

What became a turning point in my life, however, was my Buddhist practice and its application in day-to-day life. My Buddhist fraternity used to tell me, "Your son is your connection to your Gohonzon." (Gohonzon is the scripture or Mandala to which we offer our prayers. It embodies all the forces of the universe and is present in all of us. We chant to the Gohonzon to activate its supreme power).
In the beginning, it was a big question as to how a sad, attention-seeking, totally dependent, restless 2.5 year-old, who demands all my energy to the last drop, can be the connection to my Gohonzon! What appeared to me was that he was the biggest barrier to everything. But I dare not say that, lest I am loathed for a bad mother!
Every morning, when I sat down to chant/pray, he would get inexplicably irritated, hit me and finally stop talking to me after feats of bursting into tears. The same happened at night when I offered my evening prayers. The end result was, with all the time-crunch that I had, I had to spend another 25 minutes each (morning and night) cajoling him and bringing him to terms. There were times when my patience wore out too.

mom is busy

 At home, it was only him and me...which meant that my day's to-do list had to be completed between 8:30 am and 1 pm, before he returned from school. That,obviously wasn't a task possible for me anyway. Having had to do the groceries, cleaning, part of the cooking, worrying about a job and of course, despairing and feeling frustrated about a broken relationship and all the uncertainty that it brought about, it only amounted to me not being able to find time to hunt for a job. Therefore, I decided to devote those hours to job hunting and then engage the rest of the day and evening in completing household chores and errands. 

This decision entailed taking baby-steps (literally) from home to the local market and back home - something that I otherwise could have done in 15 minutes, became a 2 hour-long process! My son had to accompany me everywhere I went as I did not have a place nor person upon whom I could entrust him. Some of my neighbours were extremely helpful during emergencies and I owe a lot to them for this. 
I slept hardly for 4 hours during those days. The reason? My son used to feel so insecure that even a turn-over in the same bed as him would wake him up with shivers and a blaring and tearful, "Mamma nei nei!"  But did I have a choice? No. So I went to bed without brushing and flossing my teeth. The result? 18 , yes, eighteen infected tooth after 2 years! 
I couldn't respond to nature's call for almost 2 years in the mornings as that left him howling. The result? My thyroid levels shot up to 19 !
However, I always found a wonderful opportunity to massage my legs all by myself and give it some rest every weekend, along with the rest of the parts of my body, when my son used to go and spend a day or two with his paternal grandparents.

I once complained bitterly about a few things to some senior members of my Buddhist fraternity. They listened to me, smiled and said, "It only means you need to strengthen your patience". I learnt where I was going wrong - one of the basic fundamentals of Buddhism says turning poison into medicine. I knew what I had to do, stopped complaining and set to work immediately.
The gradual process of my son calming down and turning into a peaceful toddler took time - the journey and the process of transformation was seamless and something I cannot describe with words here, as all I really did was chant and pray with all my heart. However, I learnt the key that led to this vast transformation. It was the process of my calming down and finding my inner peace. Children, I learnt, are like clear mirrors. They mirror everything that encompasses us externally as well as internally. I remember a guidance that once came to me from our mentor about "oneness of self and environment" - another fundamental of Buddhism - that I actually proved in my life. 
From that day onward, I have found an excellent way of polishing my own life - by using my son as a mirror. He reflects not only my externally manifested habits, but also deeply reflects every single thing that is happening inside me. The moment he is not aligned, I understand and start aligning the wheels of my life. 

baby with mother
My son - about an hour old...

Today, I speak the truth again. Motherhood is not an easy journey. It has terrible and turbulent sides to it, and I truthfully want to admit that they exist no matter how fairy-tale-like the cliched description may sound. But if you discover its flip-side, the phenomenon is wonderful indeed. Wonderful because it is that journey of your life that takes you back to your basics and brings you face-to-face with your imperfections, makes you accept those with humility and in many cases, makes you work on those imperfections! Motherhood IS wonderful indeed!