The Charades I Play

AmmuPattu

It is drizzling, water spraying on me from trees bent with rain water. I skip over one puddle to land right in the middle of another. Rivulets of water snake past my feet as I move towards my car. I am in no particular hurry. My bag dangles from one arm, my phone on the other. I wipe the glass surface on my tee shirt and notice turmeric stains on it. I smile because it is Friday and also because of the strange lightness of being that comes from being sans kids around me.

The music is upbeat and I dance within the constraints of the seat belt and the fact that I am driving. Pulling into the driveway, I am reluctant to go inside. The earth smells fresh, the damp in the air is refreshing, the greenery around seems to have peaked in anticipation of its inevitable fall. I let myself inside the house and look around. There is so much that needs tending. I start with the kitchen, letting the music from my phone give me company.

I rinse each plate, scrubbing dried on chutney and hardened cheese. The plates are a relic from Ammu and Pattu’s daycare days. They show squiggly doodles and their names in an unsteady hand. I pause remembering the moment just before Ammu walked out the door this morning.

“Don’t worry Amma! I can handle it.”

“Worrying is my duty. That’s all I do!” I replied as I zipped up her hoodie and handed a working umbrella as she walked away.

The freedom I feel each morning after the kids are away comes from setting that worry down. Worry about being on time for school. Worry about packing healthy lunches. Worry about making sure they have what they need for class. Worry about making sure their water bottles have fresh water. Worry about the zillion inane things that eat at me, press down on me and cover me like a lead blanket. I operate each morning trying to wrest free of these things that bind me.

I soap and line the plates all facing the same way. I start on the bowls next. My dishwasher is a sight to behold when I am done.

“I should worry about myself and stop worrying about them”

The thought startles me by its insistence. I wonder what will happen if I stopped worrying. If I let things be. Will the kids meander down ten minutes before the bus? How many days will it take before they realize that if they do not make the bus they stay home? How many weeks will it be before homework will be done and packed without me having to tend to it?

The thoughts feel like flights of fancy. I poke around, rearranging them, wondering all the while if I could institute some measures that take some pressure off me.

I collect the clothes strewn on the breakfast table, fold them and carry them upstairs. I pass the twins’ rooms and sigh with satisfaction at the sight of beds made, clear floors and spanking new painted walls. I put the clothes away and see four towels in the bathroom. I realize with a start that the kids now bathe themselves. They do things I used to do for them just a few months back.

I almost feel giddy with the newfound knowledge. There will be a time when my worries will change the sheer physicality of things to far more complex stuff. Perhaps then I will long for the simplicity for today’s cares?

10 comments

  1. You know Laksh, I don’t fret as much about any of these things (the water bottle, the equal division of snacks, the fresh water etc.) for my kids. It comes from the belief that it all balances out, and that we will learn from our mistakes. It also comes from being ok with my imperfections as a mom, with the knowledge that I instinctively do what is best for my kids, and the confidence that my kids will figure it out, and these mistakes are part of becoming self sufficient individuals.

  2. >> I wonder what will happen if I stopped worrying. If I let things be. Will the kids meander down ten minutes before the bus? How many days will it take before they realize that if they do not make the bus they stay home? How many weeks will it be before homework will be done and packed without me having to tend to it?

    I have been thinking about this too Laksh.
    Today as usual I was preparing for an arguement over brushing dotter’s hair. Then I decided I will let her go unbrushed one day if needed so she understands she cannot go like this. By 8am, I asked her where the comb was, she showed me and she let me brush her hair with no drama. I thought it was a small victory.
    We have to teach them to be responsible, slowly. Dotter thinks teacher will get upset with ME if she forgets her homework or if she is late to school. She needs to know it is her responsibility. I am ready to let her be late to school one day, or forget her homework one day, let her fail, instead of always being on the lookout for them, that will be their best lessons learnt.
    Long post, been on my mind too much lately and your post struck a cord.

    And yes as you rightly said they will get it in time and we will miss the simpler times.

    • I’ve tried letting things slide until it gets to the point they’ll their bus if I don’t intervene. Then, its a question of whether I want them to miss school to teach a lesson. Am not sure they consider missing school a punishment.

  3. Oh yeah. We all will long for the simplicity of the worries we are plagued with now. But at that point, it is best to remember that in a more distant future, the future worries would be simplistic.

    “My dishwasher is a sight to behold when I am done.”

    Love that sentence. I see the REAL you in all her glory.

  4. Laksh I completely agree with each and every word of your post.I share the same worries as a mother of two kids, 11 yrs and 8 years. I too feel that they could be more responsible for themselves but I guess the little soft corner of my heart wins over and cannot be hard on them.Time will teach us and them both as we learn.😊

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