The moment we have children we all know what we want to tell them, teach them as they grow. We have already filed away words of advice and counsel to guide our children as they grow. But sometimes what we don’t tell them is as important as what we do.
Afshan Anjum writes about the 5 things she will never tell her son.
“Be prepared for at least six hours of labour pain as you approach your delivery”, the doctor told me in the last week of my pregnancy. Deep inside, I was prepared for much worse. Nine months of reading, conversing and hearing endless stories from those around me had given me a fair idea of ‘what to expect’ – the world’s best pregnancy manual, really. Nature was kind to me though. I had about four to five hours of active labour, the stamina and courage to face it, and opted for a natural delivery.
It’s true that not everyone falls in love with their newborn right away. I too spent a whole day figuring my baby out. Nine months felt like a year, for the nausea could often make a day feel like two. I used to get emotional, angry and anxious – nothing new there. I talked and sang to my baby a lot. I had thought of so much that I’d tell him/her. But once I had him in my arms, there were also a few things I was sure I’d never say to him.
- “I carried you for nine months, had sleepless nights and almost died in labour to bring you into this world”
This is a strict no-no not just for me, but for all mothers out there. Pregnancy and labour are a part of nature. If you choose to be a mother, you have to go through the process. It’s not a favour we extend to our children, for it was never their decision. Instead I’d like to remember that if I gave birth to him, he too transformed my life. No other experience could have given me as much strength and confidence as this.
- “We wanted a daughter but had a boy”
When I was pregnant, my husband and I kept imagining a little girl ready to enrich our lives. Having a daughter is the most beautiful thing, they say. It gives one more joy to have a daughter in this time and age, as we try and fight to make this world a better place for women. It was only when I had a son did I realise that one of the best ways to make that happen is to raise better men.
3. I want you to become this or that when you grow up”
Today parental aspirations may not just be a doctor or engineer anymore but a cricketer or a TV personality. Parents’ aspirations have changed with every era and children have either succumbed or rebelled. The biggest challenge will be to not give them the slightest chance for mutiny. We have to learn to love what our children do. Of course we have to give them our opinion but the ultimate choice, the loudest voice has to be their own.
- “Look at Sharma uncle’s children…”
This is what a lot of us grew up hearing. Comparisons either put immense pressure on children or make them lose the value of their family’s opinion. Close-knit societies have always lived with this problem of comparison. The good thing is, as a more evolved, well-travelled generation, we can choose not to make the same mistakes. My child may not be like the neighbour’s class-topper son, but I’ll respect and value his understanding of music or who knows, his cooking skills. I’d like to love what he loves.
- “You will realize when you become a parent”
Yes, I know a lot more now as a parent than what I could have imagined without being one. But all my life, I’ve hated this particular bit of emotional blackmail. Be it my mother’s sleepless nights when I fell ill or my father’s hard work trying to bring me up, I could see it all clearly with my own eyes. I’m doing the same for my child, may be trying to do even better. But I believe that most children register every small detail of what you do for them and every bad day you have to make theirs great.
I hope that my child one day becomes an even better parent than me, but at the same time has taken good lessons from the time I spent with him.
Mother of a one year old called Zizou. Makes good mutton curry. Afshan is also the News editor & Anchor at NDTV sports.