I stuck a small note in my cubicle last week which read : What new thing did you learn today? After reading this note , although I don’t get an answer about what I learnt that day, my temperament changes that I have to keep learning new things. Some days when Im thinking of the answers for couple of mins , Im distracted by the itchy feeling to check Facebook updates killing the remaining valuable time. On some fortunate days , I take the note seriously and retrospect about the learnings.
Below are the learnings I had in the past 2 years. While these were theoretically already known to me earlier, its only in the last 2 years that I realised them practically.
- The Art of ‘Letting go’ – When Anu was born, Mom was the world to her. For many months , Anu would get so excited to see me returning back from office and spending time with me – the emotional quotient was high. Anu now being 22 months+ after spending maximum time with the nanny on weekdays , playing with friends, relatives and grandparents, the ‘Amma, amma , amma ‘ mantra chanting has reduced, she can be happily playing for hours without thinking once about mom. To narrate an incident – Anu plays ‘hide and seek’ with her friends in the evening in the car parking area of our apartment. On 1 fine evening , as usual – Anu hid herself behind a pillar and was waiting for her friends to find her. Her friends were too busy chitchatting among themselves and didn’t notice Anu hiding. Just to make Anu happy, I went towards Anu and exclaimed – “Hey – here u r, I found u’.. Anu dismissed me, turned towards other direction and leaned to see if her friends were coming to find her. She wanted her friends to play with her – not mom. I stood like a statue looking at Anu with mixed emotions , then the truth dawned upon me that – Anu had grown up, I had not !!
With love comes possessiveness. I have learnt to let go of various things, not only w.r.t Anu but also in various aspects of life. Holding on to people/things can only cause disappointment when expectations are not met.
- Patience – Feeding Anu has become a Herculian task. It takes a minimum of 1 – 1.5 hours. I usually give up after 1.5 hours. The baby refuses to open her mouth 9 times in 10 trials. Feeding Anu with few spoons of rice takes 50+ attempts. Other activities like cleaning up the mess she creates, putting her to sleep takes hours at times. After yelling multiple times not to do something, the baby undoubtedly does it with a smile. Motherhood teaches more patience to the woman than what she had earlier.
- Guilt management : While Time management is much talked about topic in today’s world and various techniques are suggested to manage time, I feel guilt management should also be discussed the same way. Every guilt-ridden working mother should learn this art , to be happy. When mothers juggle between various balls of work, kitchen and raising a child , one ball slips while we concentrate on other two. The feeling of not being able to be the best mommy/ best employee/ best cook results in feeling guilty every day. There is feeling of guilt when I work after returning home while Anu keeps banging the door with loud ‘Amma’. There is feeling of guilt when I take continuous Work From Homes, not working to the expectations of the team due to kid, rejecting to attend any meetings post 4:30PM. There is a feeling of guilt when I have to cook a dinner on time when Anu is tugged to my legs asking me to play with her. I had to learn to set new standards of what CAN BE DONE(i.e say X% of 100% – ideal role) in each role. There will be a tradeoff – giving 100% in one role can hamper the other roles. Learning to be happy – learning to be guilt free – learning to strike a balance and be a satisfied mom AND happy employee needs to be mastered. Time teaches this quality.
- Respecting every parent – After I got married ( read after I started cooking) I learnt to appreciate the effort and respect every MEAL cooked on time. After I became a mother , I learnt to appreciate every parent I see, the fact that parents have raised their children to be successful individuals considering how daunting a task it is , surely deserves appreciation.
- Selflessly doing our duty : The below short story sums it all.
THE INVISIBLE MOTHER
A stay-at-home mother with 2 kids is dissatisfied with daily chores of a mother of being reduced to a pair of hands with kids asking – can you fix this? Can you open this? What’s for dinner? Where’s the phone?She was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history, music and literature -but now, they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.
One night, a group of her friends were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England . England returned friend said to her – “I brought you this.” It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . She wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to her until she read the inscription: “With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.”
In the days ahead she would read – no, devour – the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:
- 1.) No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we have no record of their names
- 2.) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished
- 3.) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
- 4.) The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
A story of legend in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, “Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof, No one will ever see it.” And the workman replied, “Because God sees.”She closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, “I see you. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.”No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, no hockey/soccer/piano/Scout/school meeting, no last minute errand is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on
.As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.
The above story tells the greatness of mothers. Having seen my father – I realize that all fathers too are superb.
After I composed this post about the learnings, I looked up. The note “What new thing did you learn TODAY?” still looked into my eyes. I responded back with “Learnt to compose a blog post about the learnings from the little teacher – Anu !!”.
Finally the first successful response to this haunting note on my cubicle wall. Yay!!
Many more life lessons to learn in the journey of life !!