Dolly Koghar lets her children off the hook.
When we talk about our child or children to others, we make them sound like they are the ‘sterling-est’ example of the human species, giving undue credit to our superior genes and the excellent upbringing we gave them; our kids are our best ego exhibits. But beneath the façade, our kids who are dearer to us than life itself, are the very people who disappoint us to the max; who’ve let us down the ‘worst-est.’
The truth of the matter isn’t that they’ve let us down, but like our parents before us, we’ve mistakenly assumed that our unbound love for them is a barter for loyalty and unquestioning obedience, and so, though well-intentioned, we channelled our own unfulfilled dreams and aspirations into their psyche. Regrettably, it’s nigh-impossible for our children to meet our expectations, much in the same way that we fell so miserably short of our parents’, despite doing as we were told and squashing our dreams. Nay, we didn’t even dare dream. We were blank pages with no plans or hopes, entrusting our fate and future implicitly into their hands. Neither did we judge the consequences thereof, ‘cause we didn’t know any different or better.
However, an even larger truth is that, although our children came through us, they cannot and will never belong to us; they belong to a future we cannot predict or force. Take the example of Siddhartha Gautama, The Buddha, who spurned the throne his father had envisioned for him, and left a newly-born son and a beautiful and dutiful wife to became a sanyasi (ascetic) with a begging bowl. To Pita Mehta Kalu, his son, Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism, was a useless baniya (shopkeeper), who let the cows munch away at the grains and freely distributed rashan (food and grains) to passing sadhus (holy men) and mendicants, for which he earned a tight slap.
All said and done, it’s about time I let go of the unrealistic aspiration for perfection, whether in others or in myself, as a cause bound to fail, because, speaking for myself, I think I am my biggest let-down. I’m also as yet far removed from being at peace with who I was or am. I am complex and confused and don’t quite understand myself. So, am I not asking for the impossible for my poor spouse to predict my mood swings, or for the indispensable cook to relate to my palette; or for my persevering tailor to sum up my current measurements through a video convo from Delhi?
As for my children, as much as I would have loved to see one of them become an Einstein or a Mark Zuckerberg of tomorrow, I wouldn’t have risked them falling between the cracks like many before them, who quit school or college in the zeal to chase their visions. However, my honest confession is that I saw them as my children, mine to protect from getting hurt; and quite unwittingly, I transferred my own fears, struggles and misgivings onto them. Also, I failed to recognise them for who they were, or are, or could have become. They always were and will remain their own separate entities, with their own strengths and flaws; each unique and dissimilar as the flakes of snow, no two chiselled alike and as unpredictable as Bangkok’s traffic, as is every other person on this planet. Subsequently, they, and you and me; we all contribute our very own, inimitable, one-of-a-kind flavour into the cauldron called co-existence.
Osho explains our relationship with our children thus: “First he depended for his breath on you when he was in the womb. Then he will take his own breath. You don’t say. ‘What are you doing? Are you trying to be free of me?… First he will go on clinging to your apron and then one day he will leave it. You will be happy because the child is growing, becoming mature… Pray for them but leave them on their own. You try to grow yourself.”