You want it, you don’t want it.
It is either too early for it and you plan assiduously, or it is too late and you pray vehemently.
And when it happens…
One moment it is the most gratifying gift on planet earth, the next you feel weighed down by the sheer relentlessness of the demands it makes on you.
You start out as a novice and discover that you are one for life.
It looks like you have bagged the most unique offer in the world and then you are repeatedly stung by the competitive bug- has she got a better deal than me?
And so on.
The pains and pleasures of parenting, sigh…the craziest roller-coaster ride in life! You want it all inside out when you are downside up.
Nothing seems more precious than that evading silence and sleep in the night (forget daytime!) after you have so lovingly brought home the bundle of joy. You like the cute smile the baby has learnt to bestow on you but you count the hours to his next bout of (hopefully sound) sleep. She is all you and yours- the doll!- with her bright eyes and curly hair but you would like someone (preferably mummy) to raise her for you. Her first words are divine but you want someone else to tutor her to preschool asap. You have till now stifled yawns gleaning over articles about parental pressure and what not but now that Tinu is 2, you cannot afford to let society sideline her. She must do a dance number in the New Year program. Or wield the fairy’s wand in the fancy dress competition. Phew! 4 hours spent sticking the damn silver foil on the stick while Tinu in diapers is busy applying toothpaste all over herself, blissfully unaware of her filial duties! Drop her at the summer camp, it will build her character. No way, she can barely take care of herself, I am her father and I do not want all this new-fangled nonsense in my home. Safety first, you hear? Hear? Nothing is heard especially not the voice of the spouse or that of reason.
And thus the endless loops of the roller-coaster accelerate…expectations, competitions, comparisons, anxieties, hopes and so on till it is time to step down the roller-coaster, arthritic knees et al. Hopefully the fairy of yesteryear, fortified by her summer camp experiences and her mother’s push and father’s pull is in society’s limelight, with her degree and her worldly wisdom and a plum place(ment) where it matters. The pay packet speaks it all. For all.
You may be basking in the overseas sun, adapting to new values of new generations. You may be wiping off a tear under your thick glasses, looking at that dog-earred photo of the chubby fairy for the hundredth time. In the solitude of the retirement home.
Call it a good roll of the dice. Call it sound investment. Call it a great learning experience which shaped YOUR character like life was one unending summer camp!
Or maybe it was an all-guzzling ordeal which drove you bankrupt-emotionally, financially.
Professional hazards, you see, of defining parenting!
But as Khalil Gibran so eloquently puts it
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.