My Life. My Way.

“Blog podalaiya?” (No blog yet?) queried my mom over chat. I thought for a minute and said “Nothing to write about.” Pat came the response ” Why don’t you write about the emotional loneliness that parents go through when their children disappoint them?” My mind went “What about parents who cannot look past their expectations and be rational?”

I couldn’t quite get the handle on what she was talking about. However, I then read Usha’s Lonely hearts post and just knew.

All my life I have known Amma as someone who’s life centered around us kids and Appa. With Appa’s demise it is more around the computer which is her link to us. She often pops up cheerily asking “Enna news?” in the middle of my day when it is past bed time for her. I indulge her and push her to go back to sleep. I call her religiously each morning. Just to reassure myself all is well in momdom. I often wonder how much better her life will be if she had her own set of friends, hobbies that kept her occupied and excited. I worry about her twilight years when she will need us more than we need her.

Like Usha mentions in her post, the plight of the desi parent who’s world revolves around their roles as parent or spouse becomes worse should their kids disappoint. If they chose a life for themselves that did not meet with mom/dad’s approval. The rational mind wonders why is it so difficult for parents’ to accept something if it means that their kids will be happy since that is what they really want. Don’t they? It is not really clear.

I know of countless parents’ who disown their children because they married outside the clan or decided to establish nuclear families of their own. While it is understandable that their future is in some way tied to their progeny’s isn’t it time to let go? To stand back and accept that kids are grown and they can decide what is best for themselves?

I know this is a muddled post. It is because I am torn. Between feeling sorry and being rational.

11 comments

  1. Thought provoking topic, Laksh! Being one who made my own pick on the person I married, we do think we gave enough time for both sets of parents to digest and come to terms with the situation and then only got married. As time flew by, I can see the pain on the other side better. Kids can make the decision but how they handle it matters a lot. I have not read the post you linked to yet, but I am saying this from other experiences. Since we have not reached that stage in life, we cannot say for sure that letting go is the right thing to do. In most cases, parents let go out of no choice and with so much worry/concern..I think we will feel their feelings when we get to that stage..it is NOT going to be easy for us doing what they are doing now. I am also torn, since I can see the younger folks point, and I also ache when they totally DONT see the parents point.

  2. I don’t really think it is about parents letting go. No parent can really let go ever. I would let A live his life, will not hinder it in any which way, much like how my parents do with me or my brother. They advice us; it is up to us to take it. Do they feel bad their son does not have time for them; to visit them once in a while? Yes. My grandma still worries about my mother who is 61. I do crib about how my parents curb me, but I am living with them; so I have to abide by the rules of the house! It is theirs after all.
    That said, about your mother…as you have written, her world was never hers. It was all of yours – your father, you, B and K. She is living miles away and alone. She is lonely. No wonder she says she is alone. Is she right in saying her kids disappoint her?! Not really. She knows that as well. It is like I say that A is the root cause of all my miseries sometimes or that he is a burden. I love him and have no one but him, yet….
    I personally dread the time I have to spend once A is on his own. I would be much the same way mami is now….much earlier probably! I will not stop A from leading his life; but that is not going to take my loneliness away. Say I have work…I still would come to an empty house; after retirement what? is a question that haunts me.
    Is there an answer to these? No, not really. It all boils down to each to his/her own. Emotional independence which was preached to me so many times. Is it attainable? Not to me. Don’t know about others. This is not about giving up, but facing reality as such. Again a long comment; don’t know if my point has come across.

  3. Oh yeah, am torn too….and till date have never been able to come to terms with it….I guess its again heart and head here….head insists to be rational…and heart says to be sorry…and we go crazy with this internal conflict…sigh… life is complicated…

  4. Very thought provoking Blog. Narration will definitely appeal to both youngsters like you and Desi elders like me. The fact remains one has to come to terms with reality and it happens at one stage for every one, later if not sooner..The way you have put your thoughts shows how concerned you are about your mom back home..I can offer one thing at this stage, when my wife, my mil and myself go back after our stay here, can be an additinal Contact for yoyr mom, if it is OK..we can in our own way give her our time and company to make her feel at home..Iincidentally we have lovely children and excellent spouses who show similar omcern about us…that makes our life esay with my mil in her eighties to live happily wherever we are..

  5. Laksh-

    A great post that I can totally relate to, it is so hard to let go for the parents living in India to think that it is time that they don’t interfere too much in the daily happenings of their children, agreed, it all comes from a good intention etc. Similarly, part of the problem is us, being here and making that daily report/contact with parents so that they build on those expectations. It is high time we draw a line between how much we can please them and lead our lives as to how they envision versus what seems right and do-able to us. I am so tempted to write my own thoughts on a post similar to this.

  6. I don’t know Laksh. I am pretty clear on leading my life my way.
    And my mom has a life of her own. She has her friend’s circle which she expanded right after we left. Indulges in her favorite activities in all that 24 hrs intact but does that fill the void left by her 3 children? Can anything fill it?

    For most of the parents being a part or in the vicinity of their children’s day to day lives gives them a huge satisfication even if it would def. be contrary to their views.

    Ofcourse, one cannot enslave their lives for anybody, parents, partner or children – that is simply not living.

    I guess it would case by case basis how much either parents or kids are willing to make adjustments and also do they want it that bad!

  7. Thanks for linking. I am glad the post provided the spark for a discussion here.
    Of course your mom can call me or write to me. 🙂
    This generation may not find it too difficult to let go as they have learnt not to subjugate their personal interests and put others before themselves. This is a concept alien to many Indian women of your mother’s (and mine too) generation. They put everyone else before themselves and now, when left to themselves,do not know what to do with our time and energy. They have always defined themselves in relation to their loved ones. hence it is tough on them.

  8. It was really a thought provoking post – and there are pros and cons that could be discussed for long…

    so, on a lighter note, the first line was so sweet – your Amma asking “blog podalaiya” – it brought a smile 🙂 thinking of the exchange… that was really sweet!

    Take care,

  9. Laksh, I think the adjustment has to be mutual. Parents should know where their boundaries end, should limit their expectations, and distinguish between guidance and interference (they really go hand in hand). Similarly, children should know that their actions and decisions have consequences, and like it or dislike it, these actions affect the lives of their loved ones. An extremist and defensive stance from either party only ends up in hurt.

  10. my 2 cents: It is not about parents/children having expectations; it is about setting the expectations right. At one point we need to stop updating them on a daily basis. we need to help create an environment/ free them from waiting for the phone to ring(many do not want to get out of teh house because they don’t want to miss their kid’s phone calls). I sound pretty harsh..may be I am in this case with my parents and it works for me and them. But must confess that some other cases I did not set the expectations right and I suffered big time.
    now should I stop commenting on your blog on daily basis??? haha
    shy

  11. @Anamika: I get what you are saying. My question is if your parents had been adamant would your views still be the same?
    @Apar: Giving up and letting go are different things in my view. All I wanted to say was as kids grow up, may be it is OK for them to have views divergent from yours. It is OK for them to make mistakes and learn from them. Problem with my post is that it is way too muddled. There are things I want to say but can’t. 🙂
    @Rupa: Bingo! Life sure is complicated.
    @Mitr: Do write and let me know. Your point about expectations is well made. Gotta think about it.
    @Sachita: True. Its great your mom has her circle 🙂 It is hard to build a circle when one has become used to a life that revolves around just the kids. Sigh!
    @Usha: You perfectly understand what I feel. I have pointed my mom to your blog. I figured she would get in touch when she is comfortable with it 🙂
    @JS: It is sweet. She is my No 1 fan 🙂 and critic. She complains I don’t write interesting stuff anymore.
    @Suman: Wish the world were ideal. Really. Every one seems to know what is right yet we see power struggles every day
    @Shy: You have a good point. Will work on lowering expectations 🙂 And noooo. please don’t stop commenting. I enjoy hearing what you have to say. Really look forward to meeting you some time.

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