My aunt fits into the image of ‘perfect mother’ in happy-family television ads. Her three children are always dressed well, is never too busy to listen to her children, she manages her house with quiet efficiency, thrives on crisis and smiles through it all as if life is a piece of cake. When you ask her the secret behind her success, she says:
“After the children are put to bed, their clothes readied for next day and the lights are out, I fall down to my knees and thank god, I managed to maintain my composure. Being the ‘perfect mother’ obviously needs a lot of effort.
I’m quite certain I don’t want to get into this trap.
My life will turn upside down if I listen to hubby dear, who would love to see me in ‘that’ role. The other day, when he was patiently explaining the merits of parenthood to me, I saw a vision of my aunt asking me to disagree with him.
I decided I won’t be like her and racked my brains for a logical answer.
“We can’t afford it,” I announced. A baby is an expensive proposition, I reasoned out, “once the baby lands in our lives, we’ll be paying through our noses – medical bills, grocery bills, clothes, baby food and what not.” But hubby was unfazed. “Aren’t we paying through our noses even now, without the baby,” he asked.
My defences were getting me nowhere. So, I tried another one. “I am not mature enough to take the responsibility.”
Hubby raised his eyebrows, “What makes you say that?”
“I can’t handle all that it takes,” I said, relating my neighbor’s parenting experiences. One day her son wanted to bring home a puppy and she could think of ten reasons to leave it behind (the puppy, not the boy). “I would never be able to muster up even one,” I reasoned.
Hubby brushed it aside with a reassuring “you are a big girl now.”
Then I tried fencing armed with the flab theory. “I will put on so much weight. I gain weight even when I chew on a pencil. Perhaps I could try it if you have tips on how to pass on the flab to thinner people,” I mocked at him.
Like always, he had an answer for that too. “Listen, there are women who are just as miserable being thin as being overweight, so forget about that,” he smiled.
I decided I was not giving up so easily and threw in my final cards. I looked around our newly rented flat. “Isn’t this too small,” I asked, “I mean no man or woman can endure more than one week of complete togetherness. If we have to live in this soap box with one or two children, it would be like being locked in a rest room at a bus or railway station.”
That did it. He laughed and gave up.
When I think of children, it always transports me back to my childhood, when daddy used to throw me up in the air and catch me as I giggled until I couldn’t anymore, when Mama was always there to read my first book and sign my first report card.
I want to be a loving and a responsible parent when I am ready for it. And I look forward to my children telling me that I was there for them always.