All children are special. Some, more than others.
When you become a mother and step out with your children, you start seeing things you wouldn’t have ordinarily noticed. You enter into a world shared by other moms; you travel into spaces where children are not one of but the only priority.
You embark on a journey which has short term milestones like the 1st year, toddler, teenager, grown up, but no finish line. One stage of your child’s life gets over only to usher in troubles associated with the next one. It is true, once you are a mother, you can’t stop being one, ever.
Along the way you learn. You learn from your own mother, your friends, even your children and of course the internet (!!).
Also along the way come clashes.
I maybe the perfect mother but I am not a perfect individual and sometimes the person in me overshadows the mother in me. Since the arrival of baby no.2 I have been gloating around town thinking I have done it all. I mean I stay at home with 2 kids (which is no mean feat by the way), cook, clean, socialize, entertain and even find time to write occasionally, can anybody possibly do more? In this superior state of mind, I conveniently choose to ignore that my tone goes from pleasant to that of irritation in no time while dealing with baby no.1. Also forgotten is the fact that I whine for rest of the day if baby no.2 doesn’t take her scheduled nap. And, like any perfect mother, I do not like to be reminded of my limitations.
Last week when I was sick with food poisoning, hubby had to take our 5 year old for her dance class. Both of them came back pretty excited and were talking about new moves she had learnt that day. Mom there’s a new boy in our class, she informed. And he seems rather playful, remarked Daddy, but that’s how boys are and should be, he added.
I didn’t think much of it then, until the next class. And it was actually true. The new entrant was a cute little boy about the same age as my daughter, who seemed to be having a lot of fun in the class. It looked like he was there more to have a good time than to follow instructions. My focus was at that time was to keep baby no. 2 as quiet as possible and in between check on baby no.1’s moves, still it was obvious, he had difficulty concentrating. Busy persuading baby no. 2 to take a short nap; I couldn’t help overhear a conversation being carried on two chairs away.
A senior instructor was talking to the boy’s mother and what I could gather from their talks was that he was a special child and the teacher was discussing the best possible course of action with the mother. It was a long chat and I attentively hung on to every word exchanged (I guess it cannot be called eavesdropping since the people concerned were not whispering). The purpose of the whole conversation was to find ways to make that special child more independent and confident. I was very touched when the mother said, I can do everything for him, it is easier for me to do things for him then to teach him to do them, but that would only help me, not him.
Involuntarily, my mind started to introspect. How many times did I zip up my toddler’s jacket or tie her shoe laces when she took more than a minute (that too with an impatient frown)? Then there were these occasions when I sat with her do a craft project and did major portions myself because it would have taken ages and a lot of explaining otherwise. It was so much easier to do it yourself than wait endlessly for a simple job to be done.
And more recently, my year old baby threw tantrums everyday to feed herself and I kept finding new songs to sing at mealtimes so that she let me feed her. All this trouble so that there was a lesser mess for me to clean up.
I would have dug deeper into myself if not for the kids who came running to their mommies as the class ended, including mine. By now I was observing this special mom with new insight. Her son was still looking for clothes and shoes while rest of the kids were already on their way out. She gave various clues about the number and the color of the cubby which contained his stuff but he was busy counting squares. She then played a game with him pointing towards his shoes asking him where did the finger go? He kissed his mom’s finger and jumped in her arms giving her a big hug. Gently she pulled him aside and said lets crawl like bears and find your shoes. That seemed to do the trick and they landed near the right cubby.
Honestly, I struggled to hold back tears in public. They were not tears of sympathy for the special child or for his mother, they were tears of shame.
A mother is a child’s connection to the world right from inside the womb. She follows her mother, she learns from her mother and she tries to be like her mother. The child may be ordinary or he may be special, should it make any difference? A mother should do what she is supposed to do.
Bigger sacrifices always find their mention somewhere but what about the small things that a mother does every day? To me, this mother is very special not because her child has special needs, but because she does the ordinary things with a special touch.
I do not know if I will be the perfect mom I claim to be. I do not know if my children will grow up admiring me or aspiring to be like me. Today, all I know is, from now on, if I can do the everyday ordinary things right, it will be a job well done.