I am blessed to be a mother. It is the most challenging yet fulfilling role I've played thus far. Of course, when we make that transition into motherhood, little do we realize what is in store.
All your life, you are bombarded with images of what a mother should, would or could be - of how you as a mom have this little life you get to love, nurture, mold, guide and protect. No one ever tells you that the biggest challenge is not guiding your child but rather being willing and open to changing yourself. You start seeing yourself the way your child looks at you, and every move you make there is a mirror held up in front of you. At first it is daunting. You realize that kids actually "do what you do and not what you say." The pressure is on to model the right behavior so your child can be a fulfilled and productive member of society.
Thus the change begins. You have now embarked upon this fabulous journey, and you learn as much from your child as you teach them. Prior to kids, you felt you had all the answers to life. You fared well on your own, whether that meant getting your degree, having a career or simply enjoying the freedom to live as you chose.
Everything changes with this new life. You now live for your child, and you want to put your whims on the back burner. In an attempt to raise your kids with values, you start to question your own. You know that if you don't give a convincing argument, you are losing out to evil forces. You find yourself stumped when your 2-year-old asks, "But why?" You very confidently start out by answering, "Because :." and don't know how to finish the sentence. You learn to articulate your values. Only if it makes sense to you can you convince your young to follow in your footsteps.
Change does not come without failures. The first change is attempting to be the ideal stereotype you see of moms. The movies show you how a mom exudes patience, is always poised, has all the right answers, always has a clean house, has freshly cooked meals and still has the energy to be a cheery mom 24/7. I wish someone had told me that's a fictitious concept. Through the years, I've had to work on these qualities, sometimes failing, but always willing to try.
Several changes follow. You learn to see the world through your child's eyes. To shut off that judging voice in your head when they talk, and just listen. When to advise and when to hold their hand.
Soon it's time for your babies to spread their wings and fly. You are amazed at how they've grown. You are proud and happy, not just of what they have achieved, but who they have become. All the while, you were afraid they weren't listening when you spoke about the values you hold so dearly. You now see that they were - most of the time. What is equally amazing is that, after all the introspection into your own values, you realize that your parents taught you well. You've come a full circle.
It is true that, biologically, something does change when you give birth. There is an inseparable bond, and no one needs to teach you to love your young unconditionally. Your baby may have grown and turned into your best friend, but you are forever wired to be their mom - and always worry, pray and hope that they are fine. Maybe that is the thing that never changes.
- Aruna Subramaniam, of Lawrence, is the mother of a son, Shiv, 16, and a daughter, Hamsa, 20.