All this time and nowhere to go gave me the opportunity to relive some old school memories. I was going through my treasured stuff from school when I saw the slam books from then. Along with all the nostalgia came a lot of surprise, embarrassment and self realization. You see, the first page of every slam book was filled by me and my own answers made me cringe. Boy, was I a silly girl back then? You betcha!
Throughout my school-life I had wanted to be extraordinary. Who doesn’t? Wouldn’t we be all lying if we said that we didn’t desire to have that glory?
The road to nostalgia was filled with chagrin at every turn and it reminded me of all the things I had wanted to change about myself back then, beginning with my name. Yes, that bad.
I mean, what kind of a name is Irfana (it means wisdom, meh!) anyway? The fact that Irfan Pathan gained fame during my adolescent years wasn’t helpful either. People who mispronounced my name went as far as calling me Irfan Pathan.
I wasn’t happy with my nose either. It felt too big for my face. Could I be anymore Asian? The two slightly crooked teeth in my mouth bothered me too and how nice would it be if I could get rid of all that baby fat? My feet seemed too big to me and I was invariably desperately in need of a wardrobe makeover.
And then there was all that stupid acne! Young chocolate lovers would know what I mean.
Besides these physical changes, I wanted the freedom an Indian teenager never gets- to see the world and rule it. I wanted answers for my philosophical self. I lacked confidence and knowledge but there was no worrying about it because I lived in my own bubble of ignorance.
I had dreams but no plans. And to top it all, I was hopeless romantic !
Years passed, ups and downs and bumps later, I made mistakes and gained experiences. A lot in me changed. Not at once of course, but I know I’m not the same girl I was in school.
With time, confidence filled my mind and optimism filled my heart. I learnt to be content with things I have while striving towards the things I want.
While I pursued my passion, I found my calling in teaching. When I started working as a teacher, I became a student of life. I fell in and out of love and realised that it’s fine. I learnt how to nurse a broken heart. I hated the world and fell in love with it all over again. I found peace at libraries and orphanages. I found solace in poetry, stories, prayer and friends. Different things worked for me at different times.
And one day, I just woke up with the wisdom that happiness resides in the little things in life.
I love people who just don’t talk about their big achievements but more about how much they love life, how they see beauty in others, how they appreciate every little thing and how they have the hunger and enthusiasm to serve this world.
Striving for an extraordinary life is foolishness. Putting all your efforts for that one entitlement is foolishness because it makes your happiness conditional. Don’t you wonder if you are anything more than mere titles?
Rather what’s extraordinary is to discover the joy and marvel of an ordinary life.
Waking up to the sun bursting through the clouds, seeing an old friend after a long time, a child’s innocent laugh, a blooming flower, biting into freshly plucked fruits, an old tattered book, a text from someone you love, a cup of coffee on a rainy day, random gifts, finding money in your old jacket, the glint in the eyes of your lover when they look at you, a kiss on the forehead, smell of freshly baked bread, being barefoot on grass or beach sand between your toes, the first hug from your child(well, that’s huge!), stories told by grandparents, silence… All these and much more!
Little things are far truer, far more genuine and difficult to falsify.
I’m not condoning a lack of ambition here. A life without goals becomes boring but try focusing on the ordinary things that feel special too. My pursuit of happiness has lead me to become a teacher, a designer, a wife and a mother. It made me read, write, teach, paint, love and nurture.
Not everything has changed though. I still laugh out loud like an idiot without a hint of feminity, I refuse to diet, I still experiment with my hair, I still do wear my heart on my sleeve and embarrass myself quite often.
I was a git, I still am a git. But a better one now.
So from wanting to change my name, my nose and my family, the only thing I changed was my attitude and it has been one of my finest decisions in life.
God, when you chiseled a raindrop,
How did you think of a stem,
Bearing a lovely satin leaf
To hold the tiny gem?
How did you know a million drops
Would deck the morning’s hem?
Identity loss is something almost every first-time mom goes through. Some have it easy, some have it worse.
Sleep deprivation, feelings of ineptitude, guilt trapping yourself, mood swings, leaky boobs- all of these seem to have a limited shelf life.But Identity crisis has a lifespan of its own.
For me, it lasted 1.5 years into motherhood. When I was pregnant, my mom continuously told me to be prepared – that life wouldn’t be the same. I nodded dismissively, reminding myself that she was from an older generation and that nothing would be lost and the only change would be that I would have a tiny, beautiful baby soon. Well, never doubt the wisdom of a mother!
With my son’s grand entrance (How? That’s another story) my world flipped overnight. I did a lot of preparation-mental and otherwise – but everything seemed so less. To say that I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. To say that I still continue to be overwhelmed on a daily basis would be truer than truth.
For some women- loneliness, exhaustion, raging hormones, self doubt, being self critical, sleep deprivation, cluster feeding, mood swings, body aches, hair loss, weight gain, loss of sexual drive, uncontrollable food cravings- are all small inconveniences that they won’t notice with a tiny baby in hand. For others, these are insurmountable challenges that need to be battled daily.
I missed my friends. I missed exercise. I missed eating on time. I missed being presentable all the time. I missed looking beautiful. I missed sleep. I missed going out. I missed my hobbies. I missed writing. I missed reading poems. I missed the sunrise. I missed being free. I missed everything a lot.
I forgot what it felt to be alone with your own thoughts because even when my husband took care of the baby to give me my own time, all I could think of was how to make things better for my son.
The first few months of me being a mom passed in a blur. Yet every minute seemed so long. The days are long but the years are short.
But soon as I got accustomed to being a mom and fell into a routine with a lot of love and support from my spouse, I began searching for my former self. I began with my hobbies- I read, I painted. I lost weight. I ate healthy, (well, healthier than before) I changed my entire wardrobe. I was still sleep deprived but now I was happier.
One midnight, as I pondered and rated myself as a mother, I realised I haven’t lost my identity. Instead, I had gained a new one. One where I am more patient and generous,with a new perspective and understanding of life. I see the big picture. I forgive people easily now. I began to appreciate the littlest of the little things even more- a quiet cup of tea, an uninterrupted chat with a friend, a slow meal and a full shower are all simple pleasures.
I realised that while I may be many things other than a mom, my son is, as of now, just my son-he has no other identity. He needs me and my undivided attention. Now I knew firsthand the intricate pain of parenthood, the beauty of loving a completely dependent being with all one’s strength. He’s my responsibility and it’s gonna remain that way for a long time now.
I have made new mommy friends,learnt three new skills, started reading motivational books. I now have an idea for a novel and a business. And all this is baby inclusive.
Motherhood is beautiful. It isn’t easy though. A new role. A new challenge. A new identity. And no matter what people say, it takes time. It took one and a half years for me. Could be more for you, could be less too.
Being a mother has changed me greatly. I have made choices for my future solely because I am a mother now.
And then, as I lay there, realisation hit me like a bolt of lightning. My mom had gone through all these “challenges” and much, much more for me and my four siblings as well. When she asked me to be prepared she wasn’t being someone from an older generation, she was just being an experienced, successful mom. I realised how much my mom poured herself out for us. As mothers, women become extremely selfless.
The tears, pain, sacrifices, heartache and work parents go through all their lives is unbelievable. The fact that I had only seen the infant and the toddler phase hit me hard. I still had to nurture a toddler, a preschooler, an adolescent, a young teen and a teenager. So then, I stopped rating myself (because it was too early) and instead gave a full 10 on 10 and more, to my parents and made a mental note to tell my mom I love her even more than ever.
To all the mommies out there- thank you! May we honour your sacrifices in all the ways we grow and may we always become your reason to smile!
Calvin and Hobbes is the only comic strip I have read that discussed philosophical topics in a humorous and relatable manner.
I love the story telling, the art, the wit, the subtle and sophisticated humour, the wisdom but most of all I love the characters – Calvin, the parents, Susie, Moe, Stupendous Man, Spaceman Spiff, Tracer Bullet, the teacher, the Babysitter and of course my favourite, Hobbes!
Every time I read it, I am reminded that we all have a Calvin within and we all need to let our imagination run free once every while.
I get off on ’57 Chevy’s
I get off on screaming guitar.
Like the way it gets me every time it hits me.
I’ve got a rock and roll, I’ve got a rock and roll heart.