Are you forcing your child to forgo their childhood?
As adults we tend to drown in our problems, we forget to take the little joys of life seriously. That is until we are our problems, and it’s tough to even breathe. But when that little one comes along, happiness is effortless, and we slowly start burdening our little bundles of joy with the responsibility of our joy.
We don’t mean to do that to our children, none of us do! Neither did my mom mean to do it to me. But when her life took a turn she didn’t plan out, she held my finger tight to protect me. Maybe that’s when I realised I had to hold back to protect her too.
I think it’s the circumstances we were in. Dad and mom didn’t have a fancy degree or a job that paid well. So it was all struggle in the small one-room apartment with three kids. But at the end of the day when we all sat down for that one hot meal our tired mother prepared, it was literally paradise. And when she got sick, and we didn’t have enough to care for her, the meals turned cold, and paradise turned black. Food was the least of our concerns though. The free clinic helped us out as much as they could, but she needed more.
What happened? My older sisters and I turned into mothers to tend for the one we were losing. Her pain ridden drowsy eyes would shine every time she would see us taking care of her. There quickly would be a tear running down her pale skin – a tear of remorse – of how things turned out. She knew she was dying, and she understood how that killed all of us.
I like to think that I was her favourite, as I read to her every night. She said the stories helped her forget what’s real and what’s not. She said she felt as though she flew away to a place where she had us all safe and happy. The house was warm, and the backyard was big, and we were all always laughing!
30 years later, I still remember the last time I sat down and read to her the words of another, she blissfully smiled. I don’t know if she understood much but she did enjoy. Her face was a shade of blank – mixed with joy, and I kept reading to her what I thought was her favourite book. Waiting for her eyes to shut, waiting for her to let go, waiting for her to fall into a beautiful doze.
The next time I saw her, she was wearing her best dress. She lay so still for her watchers that it hurt me. It hurt me to watch her the way she was. I took peace in the thought that she is happy now, and away from the painful corridors of those long hospital halls. But it still did hurt how everyone reminisced her living days and how they would miss her so dearly.
Meanwhile, dad held my hand as tight as he could. As though he was trying to hold on to hope for me. It was sweet.
As my older sister gave the eulogy, everyone nodded and smiled and cried. But I felt like I was just there but somewhere else too. Somewhere away from all this hurt that my heart couldn’t possibly comprehend for me.
As the service was coming to an end, I could swear that I didn’t feel her presence anymore, although she was physically still there. And that hurt as well.
Then when she was given back to the earth, I could feel she had left us for good. Maybe she would look down soon on a dull night and miss us too.
We drove back Home ever so quietly. Home. The word felt empty, as were the vessels. There wasn’t enough food or clothes to go around. And we didn’t have topics to talk about because she wasn’t
there to listen. So we were walking zombies, making noise as we moved. We were all a little empty, crying while hiding in our rooms.
In my room, I was alone at last. As I was when she was alive. So that felt normal. But my lump of pain had me still drowning. Reminded of the beautiful past, where life was something you could live without having to think about it.
I went to her grave every day for as long as I could and read to her stories that helped me fly too. Sometimes I would take my own short stories where I had strong wings that would help me reach her at the highest station in heaven. I would imagine her smile while listening to my story. I would imagine her healthy. It would hurt her to think we forgot her and remembered her disease.
So we lived with her memories and somehow forgot to make our own for a while. And my greatest remorse is we missed out on our childhood, and that would be the last thing mom would want. As a parent today I work hard to make sure my children grow at their own pace. I make sure they never feel what I did as a kid. But I always dread the fact that there might be a time when I won’t be able to protect them when they will be forced out of the nest. That’s when I read my mother favourite book, she gives me courage through its words.
At this point, my youngest grew restless of watching TV and thought it best to throw a tantrum. I kept the book down and took her in my arms to make her a snack. “Honey, how is the essay going? “, I asked the oldest, she grunted in response. I smiled and gave my hungry kid a tight hug before I had to let her down. And this scenario right here brought my paradise back to life, and I began making the much-awaited sandwich.
Read this on Are you forcing your child to grow up? An Adult already in her childhood as well.