Monday, 14 June 2010

Bohemian Rhapsody


Disclaimer: Not for the faint/foolish hearted; not an easy, fun read.


V, one of my best friends from school who's the proud papa of a nearly year old girl called me today - he said he feels about 50; and is too tired dealing with work, life, family and all the rest of it. He says he’s terribly stressed that he can’t see his daughter play ever!

It got me thinking about my childhood. Growing up was like a dream. I really was a little Queen ordering everyone around and getting everyone to do my bidding. If I wanted my dad to stay home from work, I asked him not to go. And he wouldn’t. In hindsight, he may not have been a great worker but he definitely was the best dad a little girl could want. No doll was too expensive, no desire unattainable.

At the same time, I wasn’t spoiled. Mom, dad and I had intense discussions on life. A typical talk - how I am to treat the less fortunate (like sharing pencils and other stationary with the maid’s children). If you are a single-child sharing is a skill that ought to be taught. Or just being normal and not high-handed with help. (I do wish a lot of people were taught this lesson.)

Later when we had a sort of financial downfall, I also learnt the importance of saving pennies and the whole waste-not-want-not deal. That really was a difficult time because once you’ve been used to comforts and luxuries, it’s hard not to have it again in your life - where you think twice before splurging on two expensive mangoes while earlier you’d think nothing of ordering the entire cartload.

But no matter what the financial situation, growing up, there was plenty of love. My parents were madly in love with each other – so much so that often I felt a little left-out. But I never missed having siblings because I always had friends who filled the void. Also, growing up, mom and I used to fight very bitterly like rival siblings and poor dad had to act like a peacemaker. I didn't miss much in that sense.

So when I look back at my childhood, I only remember love and comfort and clichéd though it may sound - a glorious harmony. And I see my parents as they were then, young, full of life with a zest for living and enjoying every moment as it came. And they made sure I was ridiculously happy as well. That knowledge again, comes to me only in hindsight, back then it was just the only way of being.

Did they have any existential moments? I recently asked my mom about it and she said she didn’t. Not until the entire anxiety of my dad’s voluntary retirement and life post retirement hit them. But by then I was old enough to know what I wanted, I was doing what I loved, I was financially sufficient and so when shit hit the roof, I could handle it. When my parents suddenly fell out of love, I could act as a counselor, be a friend to both, and try and work it out as a family. But by then I was old. Definitely younger than I now am, but old enough to handle tough times.

So were I to describe my childhood or the parenting I had in a word, I’d say - ease. It was simple, natural, and effortless. And my parents (both of them) were always available.

But these days, it’s different. There is so much pain, and trauma and angst involved in parenting.
Most of us don’t conceive easily.
And when we do it’s fraught with complications.
And when we eventually have those little buggers, we aren’t entirely natural or happy.
Like in the case of V who is stressed that he hardly gets to spend time with his daughter.

From the time I spoke to ST last week (first lover and now dear friend/father figure) and then when I spoke about it to Anu a few days back, I’ve realized that may be nature is trying to tell us something. I think it’s telling us to stop procreating. ST is of the opinion that the planet cannot handle another generation. Anu thinks that we hardly have any resources left to leave to the kids, what are we bringing them into?
And what happens if we do have a child and it does grow up and suddenly we aren’t good enough parents? And when we want to control its life and make its choices? When we subject our child to our modes and mores? When we come to depend on them emotionally, financially, physically? Who parents whom then?

And can we really thrust that responsibility so casually and yes, so selfishly on an unborn person?
Parent-child relationships are emotionally draining and physically exhausting the older we all get. So when V was bitching to me about feeling 50, I laughingly reminded him to not expect any sympathy from an 80 year old.

But it is an alarming thought. Can we, as a generation, be young enough for our children to have a happy childhood? And when our child is older, will we be fun and wise enough to love him/her and let him/her go their own way no matter how conventional/unconventional he/she grows up to be?
And talking to most of my friends who are all in complicated parent-child relationships, my ear-worm just wouldn't stop -
Mama, didn't mean to make you cry; sometimes wish I'd never been born at all...

Can we be at ease with tomorrow and yesterday?
As a parent or a child, is it really possible to love unconditionally and unselfishly?
I don’t know, what do you think?

11 comments:

Manasi said...

the way our parents loved us, no. this generation- our generation is way too much of a me generation. we can't be unconditional. we have rules and regulations and conditions for everything.so yeah, no - i don't think we can give THAT degree of unwavering support, the solid foundation and the unconditional love that our parents gave us...because that was a different generation altogether..

Bhumika's Boudoir said...

True, Manasi, I guess that's what worries me - not knowing if we have been good children and wondering if we will be good parents if/when we do become parents.

Bhumika's Boudoir said...

Oh Scheiße! Manasi, welcome to the Boudoir officially! :D

Punter Tips said...

Disclaimer: I am not a parent :)
Your article remained of an incident that took place a couple of years back. A very good friend of mine, M, who is expecting a baby any moment, told me that she will wear gloves before she cleaned the shit of her kid and how she regrets her decision of conceiving. At that time, I thought to myself how M would be able to manage her little one. But the moment her bundle of joy descended, she was truly full of love... cleaning the shit (without gloves), or waking up at odd hours, yielding to the tantrums..yes..she did everything that her mother (or any parent of any previous generations)did..all with a smile. And this coming from a lady who wanted to have a career and not kids!
I suppose the cosmic energy will teach the parents to be ..well..parents. However, difficult this full-time job may be..one will always ensure that they give their best. Seeing the things from other side, like we, non-parents (? Is there a word like this?) may look difficult. But when you take the plunge you will know it.
Suresh

Rati said...

Nice post, but I can't help disagree with some statements in the post and well, the comments.
I think, the world is not telling us to not have kids, but to take a long, hard, look at what we do when we have our kids. To be better parents, to the best of our ability.
With Punter Tips, what does it mean when you say have a career or kids, Why does there have to be an either-or? Especially when there are women who are successfully doing both and there are countries that are sanctioning equal number of days for maternal and paternal leave?

Suresh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Suresh said...

Rati,
I do agree with what you have said, about the world not telling us to stop procreation.

With regard to your query:
With Punter Tips, what does it mean when you say have a career or kids, Why does there have to be an either-or…
I do know that there are many women who have had successful balanced both their professional and personal life. I would, go the extent of saying that women are more capable of balancing their life than me.
I merely said what my friend has informed me.. and I respect her decision as everyone is entitled to take his/ her own decision . This is in no way a judgment passed on all working women (which I believe, you have interpreted from my comments).

Hope, I have clarified you query!

Suresh

Bhumika's Boudoir said...

Suresh/Punter Tips, thank you for the reassurance and welcome to the Boudoir.

I think it was very clear that it was your friend who wanted to have just a career and not kids. And that you were not implying anything sexist there. At least to me it was.

I've looked after puppies so I know I can deal with babies too; I was just terribly afraid of starting another dysfunctional relationship/family.

I sort of still am. But as some wise friends of mine have told me, it's way ahead in the future and the future will take care of its own. And like you said, 'But when you take the plunge you will know it.' That really was reassuring.

Rati, the world has always told us to be better parents, to do the best of our abilities, and to be responsible.
But take a long, hard, look at what we do (at least most of us) when we have our kids.

And I do think that there is a lack of natural resources, basic friendliness and decency in the world today. And bringing a child in to something like that has to be a well-thought out decision and not just a vague, 'Oh, two years of marriage, let's make a baby now.' That was the only point I was making. My gynec also told me how our lifestyle is so different from what it used to be, that having children is fraught with difficulties. And in most cases, it requires medical supervision. So different from how Cane and Abel were born. :)

Having said that, I really want to have a child. Which is why this soul-searching and the worry. Of course, I might end up being an unmarried single parent and that's a different blog post and issue altogether.

Chetan said...

I believe every person on earth has unconditional love to their children till they grew up to certain age. It is a very natural phenomenon (very same in animals also). When we think about realer days, where a family used to have half a dozen+ children. There were just printed knowingly or unknowingly. No goals, no aim, very little knowledge about their future life… but they never lack of parental, love and affection. Just have to change the way to love the children.

In my opinion people are too worried about their children carriers rather then show the paths to success to them. In one situation neighbor’s child ask for toy, and the kid got reply from his mother, “you scored very less marks in the test, I get you the toy when you score 90% in the test”. I don’t understand the relation between the toy and the test score. If there is a financial limitation, convince the child with something else…

I too have same opinion about the lack of natural resources for the growing population, but the “life force” defiantly balances the equation.

Anonymous said...

Now a days the kids are not so fortunate to see Dad nd Mum together for more than 2-4 hrs in a day, so as the parents. However, In this given scenario the love nd affection remains deep inside, but unexpressed !!! For that matter we were lucky to have had attention from our parents for every single thing that we do, which gradually developed in the inner sense to be returned.
Now that the wold clock still at 24 hrs circle, after so many years, parents lack sufficient time to give attention to their kids & raise them as much as one would have wished to be.
It also reminds me of a joke with a strong message inside, A Nanny, Mum nd Kid went to the school for the first time and the teacher asked the kid , who is your mother & the kid quickly raised the finger towards the Nanny, and said Nanny is my mother because she gives me food, she plays & sleep with me

Bhumika's Boudoir said...

Chetan, Anon, thank you for visiting. Very true. :)