Life lessons from daughters

Imagine this. A mother holding the tiny trusting fingers of her child and taking cautious baby steps into the vast unknown territory called life. It feels just right. Now visualise two little girls holding a mother’s hand and helping her navigate the labyrinth of emotions. How does this feel? It seems it is a parent’s prerogative to help children through the ups and downs of life. I’m here to share, how, children knowingly and unknowingly help their parents make sense of their environs by bringing a fresh perspective and clarity to the situation.

My younger daughter Aishi came home one day upset after her play time. One friend, in particular, had been explicitly “mean” to her and they had had a verbal spat. She was crying and was visibly upset. Only a mother’s heart understands the helplessness and anguish that comes with not being the centre of the child’s universe and of not being able to amend the milieu to suit the child.

Despite never having met this friend, I disliked her immediately and asked my child to stay away from her. Aishi, however, came to me a few days later with a goofy smile. She had patched up with this ‘mean’ friend and they were happy again together. My antenna was still up and for all purposes I was the quintessential tigress looking out for my cub.

“How can you be friends with her aga-in? Don’t you remember how you were crying?” I asked. My child answered guilelessly, “But mama she said she was sorry.” I was so ashamed of myself. All my years of growing up had robbed me of my innocence and childlike ability to forgive and let go. Only a child’s pure heart can teach you the importance of not holding on to grudges and living in the moment.

Akshi, my older daughter is 13. Yes, the teenage demons haunt my home. However, I’m here to shatter the preconceived notions generally associated with precarious teenage behaviour. She was having a tough time in school and her so-called friends had ganged up against her. She was irritable and unusually quiet at home. My heart broke as I saw her grades slipping in school. I wanted to build a protective wall around her; I even suggested a change of school.

In a moment of absolute clarity she said, “Mama, I’ve made some mistakes too. It’s not all their fault. Such things take time to fix.” She also said that she had to face the consequences of her mistakes and the few girls who still spoke to her would have to be her solace. I was astounded by her sense of responsibility, mature perspective and by her grit and determination to beat the odds.

Again, I was forced to introspect. Instead of making the child ready for the road ahead, I was making the road ready for my child and not really preparing her for the challenges that lay ahead.

Both my daughters have taught me immensely not only about life but also about living it. I can’t go back to the good old days of my childhood but through them I experience the joys of living the simple, uncomplicated life every single day. Russian novelist and philosopher Fyodor Dostoyevsky says it all: “The soul is healed by being with children.”

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