Many years ago, I was talking to a friend about my daughter: “I can’t tell you how much I love her – she means so much to me…” (as if any other parent feels less about their child! The Romeo-Juliet syndrome in parenthood 🙂 ).
My friend heard me out patiently. Then she said something startling. “You love her, yes. We all love our children; they mean the world to us. But have you ever thought of what you mean to her? You are her entire universe – you can’t even begin to imagine what you mean to your child. That is the love she has for you.”
Recalling that conversation gives me gooseflesh even today. Till then, I had always been focused on showing my daughter how much I loved her (in my own peculiar way 🙂 ), doing my best to understand what she was saying feeling thinking about things and so on. It had never struck me to wonder what I meant to her.
For a few days after this conversation, I was ‘nice’ to her, ‘careful’ around her. Eventually, this artificial behavior dropped off, and I became my usual self with her. But the realization of what I meant to her stayed with me. It didn’t change anything about my style of parenting, but I became conscious of that thought.
Today, on Children’s Day (in India), think for a moment, of what you mean to your children. Not what they think of you, because that changes all the time :-), but of what you are to them in their lives. If you find it difficult to do so, think for a moment of your own parents.
You love being praised – we all do – but that praise has a special heart-warming quality when it comes from your parents. All your life, no matter how old you are, somewhere deep inside, you continue to seek validation, approval, appreciation from your parents. There is no acknowledgement, no recognition that is not improved by your parents adding their voice to it. It is a contentment that no words can express adequately.
We all feel this way. So do our children.
I think of parenting as a privilege. I am conscious of it as a privilege even during the tears and tantrums, the sulks and stormy scenes. And that is what probably makes it all go easier on both me and my child.
Just think of it! Here’s this little person who adores you. When you’ve done nothing more than bring him into the world (at least initially). The baby is not conscious of who is doing what for him; he does not understand ‘loving’ or ‘caring’ as an idea. Everything and everyone is just a new experience for the newborn. But as you ride the roller-coaster of being a parent (while concurrently riding the roller-coasters of being yourself and maintaining all your other relationships), you are still the rock of his existence (though he may not show it! :-)).
It is a deeply humbling thought.
Parenting is a privilege. No matter what your child is like, no matter what your relationship with her, no matter what the circumstances. No other relationship can give you the range of experiences, the depth of emotion that parenting can. And that’s what life is about, isn’t it?
Being a parent is the most alive thing you can do. You want the adventure and the peace, the quiet and the noise, the highs and the lows, the pride and the desperation; you have it all, because you are a parent.
You are privileged – because you are a parent. Let your child be privileged too – to have you as a parent. Every day is Children’s Day – and Parents’ Day too! 🙂