Been thinking about what life might be like another 15 years down. Right now it feels like the only purpose of my existence is to bring up baby. And I just have one. Can only imagine what if is like to bring up multiple.
I have also been spending time lately with people older than me. Kids gone off to college, or moved away for work, families of their own to look after. The unfairness of the situation is too in my face to ignore. You spend your prime years bringing up these birds only for them to fly away leaving you and your ’empty nest’. Too cynical a view maybe but that’s what I can see around me.
Takes me back to 8th grade English literature class. We talked about how the love between parents and children isn’t a love of equals. There are no conditions attached to the love a parent feels for their child. Not always a reciprocal relationship.
Not too long ago, I met a lady at a dinner gathering in Kuala Lumpur. A gynecologist by profession, she had a flair for the dramatic. In a long winded speech she gave about how our country had gone to the dogs, she declared that the bane of our problems was the fact that educated and affluent people weren’t having enough kids. And the irony is that the ones who can least afford it are the ones who are reproducing by the dozen. Her choice of punjabi words for referring to this latter group wasn’t too opportune, extracting some gasps from the audience at this blatant show of superiority. But today when I look beyond the drama, I can see that she had a point.
I can only speak for myself. The more time an effort I put into my child’s upbringing, the more expectations I have from him in terms of the love and respect he shows towards me. But at the back of my head, I am wary of them going unfulfilled at a later stage in life when he no longer need me to spoon feed him or put his sandals on. To have a piece of your heart walking and talking in this world and to eventually have to let go of them, may not be every ones cup of tea. I will always love my child more than he loves me. And that’s where the vulnerability sets in.
But at the core my unconditional love is not as unconditional as it seems because I am selfish in wanting to preserve it and in trying to avoid heartbreak when my nest empties out.
Some might argue that the more children you have the more you are dividing your risk. It’s like a video game. The more lives you have, the more chances you have at winning. So it makes logical sense, even if your unconditional love is selfish at the core, to have more children.
But I have seen huge nests empty out too.
The more pieces your heart is divided into the more it aches in multiple spots.
Maybe it’s just one of those days where the grass isn’t greener on either side.
I do know that everyday my heart longs to hear my father’s voice one more time. Yet, I know that my love is not even a fraction of what he felt for me. I know this because I have one of my own now.
Khalil Gibran’s spirituality does give some respite to the troubled heart.
And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, “Speak to us of Children.”
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.