Because for the first time in my life, someone was dependent on me.
I am the youngest of 4 kids, so was always babied, and hardly ever depended upon! I ended up marrying someone who is fiercely self-sufficient and independent. And I have no particular wifely skills that made him dependent on me. But as Amma I am needed and loved in the most unbelievably gratifying manner.
Because of her I respect my body and myself more.
I am no longer ashamed of or embarrassed by my body. This body protected her. The breasts, that have always been a matter of discomfort for me, nurtured her. And when I pant or feel unfit, I worry that I may not be the healthy mother she deserves, so I try and set things right. I try and work out, add more greens into my food, cut down the junk. I haven’t fully succeeded in this, but at least she got me trying.
Because for the first time in my life, I am not totally selfish or self-obsessed.
Yes, there are times when for the sake of a nap I would allow the telly to baby sit O. And I often take the easy way out and give her maggi or happy meal for dinner. But by and large, I put her interests above mine, and feel good about it.
Because my work seems less exciting/important than her activities/social life.
In a heartbeat I would turn down an interesting travel assignment or meeting, if it’s her annual day/birthday/sports day/PTA meeting.
Because she has made me aware of the need for financial security.
Till she arrived in our lives, I would fight R’s every effort to save and invest. I want the ‘here and now’ thrill of money. I didn’t want to save for the ‘future’ at the cost of the present. But after O’s arrival, one of the first things I did after I got back to work was start a long-term investment plan.
Because she has made me so much more tolerant and understanding of people.
She is a social animal. She loves to surround herself with people. Friends, neighbours, family… she pines for their company when alone. She makes friends everywhere she goes, and she maintains the relationship so well. Calls, play dates (that she arranges herself), an attempt to include her friends and their mothers in my life. For her sake, I bite down my judgemental, opinionated reactions, and open my mind to better experiences.
Because of her I take more effort to dress well.
Jeans and loose shirts were all that I wore. And then I realised that she liked seeing me dressed up – by dressed up I mean, not look totally like a wash out. She loves the way my sisters and friends match accessories, and take time over their dressing. So now, I do it. Though R is always vocal when he fancies something I wear or a look I sport, it still takes O’s little dance and gushing, for me to get into groove. I spend a few minutes extra over my dressing when I take her out or have to drop her in school. I don’t want her to be embarrassed by how I turn out.
Because of her I am careful about my prejudices and biases.
Even if I can’t get over it totally, I don’t make my hang-ups public. I also try and find a middle ground. I don’t want her to grow up imbibing all my quirks.
Because she forgives me so often and so willingly.
I have a temper. A quick nasty one. And I know it’s not easy to forgive. But she does every time. I feel terrible that she does. Terrible AND nice that she does. Because of which I am constantly working on it, and trying to keep it under control.
Because she reaffirmed the power of the hug.
Hugs any time of the day, for any occasion, or for no reason at all. Fantastic, amazing, incomparable power of the hug.
Because she is a tireless negotiator, who is always teaching me new tactics.
Like she still hasn’t given up convincing me that Barbies are not all bad. Little does she know that I had a set myself till I was 16 or 17! Trying to get me to buy her one, she wanted to know if I would be happy if she selected a dark-skinned, Indian Barbie… and that’s when I realised that she knew my prejudices too well. That I had a problem with the blonde-blue eyed ones she had. She is yet to realise I have a problem with their figure too… But she is a right little diplomat, who explains things to me without losing heart or temper. I am learning, still.