It was a childhood habit which grew with time. I always complimented myself on the ability to stick to my plan, to complete a task within a specific time period and doing it error free. This quality in me helped me sail smoothly where my job was concerned. Moving around with lists and ticking off points on my list gave me the maximum satisfaction!
Well…so what happened in the last ten years? Why is it that I changed to become that person who I have never been ?
Two reasons- My first child and…. my second one too.
As I walked along the path of motherhood, I realized that how much ever planning I did, it simply never seemed to work out! Earlier a simple trip to the super market would mean – carrying my bag, wearing my footwear and taking the key with me before shutting the door.
Going out to the super market now meant –
Elder one asking me – “Mom, could we also go to Pizza Corner too?”
Younger one – “Okay, let me pack giraffe and Camy too.”
Elder one brings about 4 sets of clothes- “Which one do you think I should wear today?”
Younger one manages to pack a small bag filled with stuffed toys while I get ready. Then follows the task of getting them both ready.
I saw all this as deviations from the well focused and perfect plan that was on my mind. I mostly felt all this as an unnecessary waste of time and Pizza Corner? No way! I had too many things to tick off my list still.
To think of it now, I used to barely notice the disappointment on my childrens’ faces. After all, I was still under the impression that I had their best interests in my mind.
Their days were always planned in my mind. After school my elder one attended Dance and Math classes while I enrolled my younger one in drawing and gym. Juggling their schedules and house work was getting more and more difficult and I leaned more and more on to my task lists.
It was during the month of April this year, during holidays, that my good friend Latha visited me with her children. We had planned to meet this summer after about 8 years. I was so looking forward to it! She was my closest friend from school and we would have so much to talk about.I was also looking to secretly show off how well I ran my schedules and how many activities my children went to.
Latha arrived with her two girls and soon we started making plans and going out. The first day we decided to take the girls shopping at the mall close to home. I told Latha that we could complete the shopping in two hours and come back well in time for lunch. I was quite tempted to show her my entire to-do list and the way I generally plan the day, however I refrained from doing.
Soon as we reached the Mall, we saw that “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” movie was playing and all the children wanted to see it. “But how can we? Aren’t we supposed to be shopping now? How can we change the plan?” I thought. I was surprised to see Latha coolly change the plan from shopping to movies, simply because the children suggested it. Right after the movies, we had ice creams at the parlour.Latha’s children had cones, while mine had cups.
“Oh but why are you having cups? You should have cones! They are more fun!” said Keerthi, Latha’s little one.
“Mom does not like it when we have cones. She thinks they are very messy.” Answered my little Megha.
Latha on the other hand, happily enjoyed cone ice creams with her daughters. It dripped and spilled a little ,she just wiped them away with a laugh.
The week that followed was a revelation for me. I saw the way in which Latha moved with her children. They were like friends, helping each other, teaching each other and laughing with each other. Latha involved herself in whatever fun activities her daughters planned – be it finger painting, singing or suddenly getting up and twirling to a spontaneous dance – she was always there with them.
“Do they go to any classes, I asked?”
“My elder one does, she loves painting. So we send her to painting classes. Not my little one, she is simply too little!”
Megha was a little younger than Keerthi and I was already sending her to gym and painting – without even understanding whether she was interested in them.
What was more, I realised, my little girls were becoming mini versions of me – always sticking to my routines, following my plan and ensuring that I was happy. Their loyalty to me suddenly got tears into my eyes.
“But am I being fair?” The thought niggled me.
“When was the last time when I had allowed them to do something spontaneously?”
“What fun activities had I done with them?”
I did not like the answers that were in my head. I realized I had been expecting them to always fall in line with my plans, without wondering about what they may be wanting.
I decided to take some quick actions. The rest of Latha’s visit, I decided to observe her schedules. I observed how she made plans along with her little one, always keeping a buffer of one hour, allowing her children to make choices for the simplest of things. I saw how her childrens’ face lit up for simple joys and most importantly I saw how stress free Latha herself was. To be very honest, her children were extremely disciplined, polite and cheerful. She did have a schedule, but she did not let it rule her life.
Her visit changed the way I looked at life. I stopped slotting every activity into giant timetables and to-do lists, for starters.
Today, looking back, I realize that it was one of the best things I had done in my life. Though I have not yet achieved the perfect balance, I have definitely changed for the better. While my children still go to classes, I see to it that they enjoy these classes and are interested in them. While I still make broad timetables, they serve more as reminders. I take care to ensure that their fun activities feature along with my tasks. Most importantly, I smile and involve myself more in their activities – after all, what else could be more important in LIFE!
Often we get so busy in our own lives, that we forget to enjoy the beautiful things in life. Children are a little different – they take pleasure even in the smallest of joys. At times, it is equally important to just let go and plunge along with them and see things from this little person’s point of view because- for them the little things have always been….big!