A SINGULAR LIFE
By ASHA GILL
If you are in the market for unconditional love, constant companionship, joyful moments and personal growth, then you need a pet. Not a child.
Yes, it’s true, you get all the above and so much more with a child, but you will also suffer abandonment issues, extremes of emotions and ultimately, an empty nest and an equally depleted pocket.
There are many things the elders do not tell us when we start the journey into parenthood. There’s the obvious – the sacrifices of sleep, freedom and of self. Then, there are the less apparent secrets like spending slivers of free moments “Google-ing” dinosaurs, recipes and looking up information to satiate a certain tiny person’s curiosity. Or perhaps the fact that the fridge needs to be locked from thieving hands looking for your secret stash of chocolate or even your beer!
Remember what it was like when you were younger?
Kid: “The rentals (for us oldies, that means parents) have so many bottles of beer, they won’t miss one, let’s go share it upstairs while we pretend to do homework.”
Kid: “Shhhh, the rentals are asleep, let’s take the car for a spin, they won’t notice it’s gone.”
Sneaky pesky behaviours that are bound to crop up in one guise or another. Marking yet another notch on the road to separation and dismissal.
Dismissal of US!
Perhaps the picture I am painting is darker than it needs to be. It does make me understand the elder generation better when they berate us errant offspring for not caring enough, for not doing enough and not visiting regularly.
Whilst this “Asian” attitude puts a lot of us off, our guilt for being so selfish actually serves our further avoidance of obligations. There is much truth in this abandoning of the elders.
Now, here’s the irony, the shift in perspective. They did their job too well. They parented us to the point where we became so utterly independent that we don’t need them anymore, leaving them feeling bereft.
I never understood this until I earned my “P” status.
Last week I did a radio show about the irony of parenting. What spurred me to share this with the listeners is that over the countless articles and blogs I read in preparation, one resounding factor made the difference between heartache and heart-warming.
Sharing those moments ... to be able to freely and honestly tell your partner, friends or family about how well your kids did at something but also how it pinched your heart a little, perhaps even rendered a tear or two, will help you laugh at your own folly and feel normal, human.
At whatever stage and age your child is. Whether they are three or 50 years old, there will be moments where they make a leap in some area, decision, or choice. At that moment, for the parent, there will always be the sting before the feelings of pride and happiness.
That sting will come at odd times, but at regular intervals, throughout growing up.
Like when your child is learning to ride the bicycle. You charge like a mad thing alongside the two wheels with your precious cargo. Your hand is in contact with the machine and child and you are turning blue with exertion. Trainer wheels are off and you are praying no mighty fall occurs to deter their goal. Then suddenly, they are flying around on their own steam and they yell, “Let go, I don’t need you any more.” Ouch!
It’s silly! It hurts like hell and you know in that second that you will be facing many more phrases like that until one day, they move out and show you just how they don’t need you anymore.
This is the irony, the cruelty of it all.
For in all those heartbreaking moments, you also know that you have done an amazing job. You did it so well, in fact, that you should be applauding yourself.
My little Man is so independent in so many ways. I wish I could just stop the clock at times. Perhaps even go back in time. Sometimes he gifts me with moments of regression, just for my sake I know, by asking me to help him do something he is so capable of.
Yesterday he came to me with a brush in his hand asking me to help him with his hair. Usually he does his own comedic brush over, hating interference. I suppose he sensed a secret longing in me and afforded me a precious moment to fuss.
I am so grateful. I know those moments will grow less as time grows more.
If you have an elder who mutters harshly about how you are such a crappy ungrateful person, please ignore the words and remember this translation:
“I long to feel needed and my life had the most meaning when you were the centre of my world.”
When you think of it that way, and realise as a parent that one day you could be feeling lost and the house too quiet, you will perhaps know how to give them some “needing” again. And just maybe, your kids will remember that, when they are grown and getting on with their own life.
Asha Gill put her globetrotting life on hold to focus on the little man in her life and gain a singular perspective on the world. You can tune in to Asha’s show Eat, Love, Play on Capital FM 88.9, Mondays to Fridays, 10am-1pm. She’s always looking for stories to tell and ideas to share, so send her an email at email@example.com.