Arvind loves this bedtime story. The one where I tell him about how privileged I was to cradle him in my stomach for 9 months. How I loved every minute of feeling him grow and move and stretch within me. How his father would lie with his head on my stomach touching him and talking to him every night ย as we delighted in perceived elbows, feet, hands and head. All the kisses that rained on the stomach that bore him. The songs I used to sing to him, particularly Come Away With Me and Beautiful Boy.

It is his favourite love story.

Tonight, post narration, his thoughtful head on my shoulder, he says this:

“So you loved me more when I was in your tummy than you love me now?”

My boy. Not just cutting close to the bone, but straight to the heart.

Of course I say, “Of course not.” And then I stare in the darkness at that naked half-truth.

The romantic notion of a child was easy. Loving the idea of my son was simple. That blank canvas was my great comfort. The intimate physical and spiritual relationship in utero that you couldn’t screw up with words, wounding looks and irreverant thoughts. The idea, the potential, the possibility of the perfect connection. See why romantics are doomed?

And now. Separate physical entities with strong personalities. Both headstrong and stubborn. Both moody. Both sensitive and tough. Sometimes hard. Always articulate. Hurlings words that splinter. Whispering words that warm.

I never bargained for finding my twin soul in my son – a son who outwardly could not be more different.

Yet we are the same. When we collide, its the armageddon. When we are one, the joy lifts us to another plane altogether. The blessing and the curse of that rarest of connections – the mirror to yourself.

It is harder to love someone who is so much you. Especially when you have not arrived full circle with the concept of loving yourself – warts and all. Sometimes it is easier to lash out at you, my love, than to haul myself up for a good look in the mirror. Sometimes the anger directed at you is no more than my incomprehension of myself. My frustration with those pieces of me that I would have loved to spare you, only genetics obviously had a different plan.

All those years ago, nursing those lofty notions of motherly love, I never realised that loving you – really loving you in flesh and spirit – would require such a rearrangement of my inner self. I never realised then that knowing you and loving you would be the single most important pathway to learning to love myself.

Epilogue: I forgot everything today. I forgot gym shoes, I forgot new toothbrushes, I forgot snacks. I sat defeated on the sofa and apologized to my son for being a terrible mother who forgets things. Without looking up, without taking his eyes of his toy, he replies in an even voice, “No you’re not. You are a wonderful mother. The perfect mother.”

*gulp* Yes, I know an undeserving compliment when I hear it, but it sweetens life nonetheless.


Filed under Arvind

28 responses to “Knowing

  1. Chuchu

    As I have said time and time have a real way with words-whether it’s being funny or profound…keep going-it’ll be a real shame if you continue to hide under the bushel:)
    and AWWWWW at Arvind-charmer that one is.. *huuuge hug*

  2. You know, I can relate to this ‘It is harder to love some one who is so much you’, Divya and I are so alike, we even have close birthdays and so the same star…it’s so much easier with Dhruv, he’s diametrically opposite. Div and I clash and clash, two suns in one orbit! And it’s only when I change something about myself, that I’m able to love her just a little bit more for that very same aspect!

    Loved your post…keep writing, busybee!

  3. Loved the post. I clash with my father like that. I don’t know the baby’s personality yet but I think I was the most non-mushy mom when he was in-utero. The love only happened after he was born. Makes me feel ashamed of myself sometimes.

    • Why would you feel ashamed? What about all the woman who go all nesty and then suffer horrendous post partum depression? (of course not their fault) You’ re not a better mother because you cooed more while they were in utero
      ๐Ÿ˜‰ That is the easy part. This REAL bit, thats the tough act:-) Enjoy this now.

  4. Amma

    Clashes will be there but it wont diminish your love for each other in anyway. Your hearts are in the right place. We still have our midnight conversations after years of sparring. So don’t you worry. The genes are such , all of us are strong personalities. But it has its good points too.

  5. Exactly what I struggle with everyday :(.This is such a beautiful read MGM you made me cry and I never do.

  6. Era

    Wow, my heart strings have been sufficiently tugged ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. The offspring manage to shake us up and rearrange ourselves and grow even more than the grown up men in our lives do!
    A child’s ability to love and forgive as we bumble along is one of God’s miracles. Arvind is a sweetheart.

  8. beautiful post.
    I dont quite know goosh’s personality yet – but this I do know – it’s quite strong. Already have a daily clash at bed time – he doesnt want to sleep, and I do ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Awww! The Boy is GOLD!

  10. this tugged my heart-beautifully written MiM…i have become your lifetime fan..i think I have said this before..but what the heck, will say it one more.

    Hugs to both you and Arvind–especially him for sweetening your day up!

  11. I repeat myself – you have a way with words. I wish I was half as articulate as you.

  12. Oh this was BEAUTIFUL Shal!
    You write SO beautifully! Seriously. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. wow… did you look into my soul and write this one?

  14. I came here via Dipali’s blog, and found a kindred soul in you. You could be describing my relationship with both my sons when you write this post.
    They are both very different people, but they both have huge chunks of their personality that are so me- the part of me that I often wish not to acknowledge.

    • Mom Gone Mad

      Rayna: welcome. You know, as difficult as this may be now, one day in the future, I think we might look at those same traits and feel a surge of pride too.. Two sides to every quality, eh?:-)

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