Saathi and I are at the kitchen island, he is chopping broccoli, I am mostly done with prep work for lunch. The children are yet to wake. I am feeling refreshed. The kind of freshness you feel when you have had a good nights sleep. I say something to that effect and Saathi brings up the fact that I did not nap the previous afternoon and ergo! a good night’s sleep.
The morning is relatively low key. Waking up at 5:30 AM has its advantages. It is just past 7:15 AM and I sit in the study killing time. I luxuriate in that oasis of free time. It occurs to me that in a long time, I haven’t felt guilty. I haven’t associated my worth with money. I am content to live out each day the way it plays out. I am not planning for the future. I am not worrying about what-ifs.
A few weeks back, I signed up for a 10-day writing workshop. The cost is steep. In a random conversation after I registered for the course, Amma raised the prospect of if the course was worth it. I read the question as “Was I worth it?”
The instinctive, immediate answer was a resounding yes. I surprised myself by how vehemently I felt I was worth it. The thought has been circling in my head. I have been computing my worth in various ways and realize that my time as I go through the day nurturing, organizing, planning, chauffeuring, writing and just being can’t be tagged with a price.
In my early years as one half of an earning couple, I constantly compared myself to Saathi. I yearned to earn as much as he did. I evaluated myself solely on the basis of money and that worked. As our bank balance grew, so did my feelings of happiness. I felt I was productive, I was a contributing member of my household.
In the few months after I quit work following motherhood the second time around, I waited for the inadequacy to set in. I waited to feel slighted. I waited to feel less than. I figured that would hit once my infant became a toddler. She is now four and I am still waiting.
In mulling over the changes in the past few years, I realize nothing has changed but for how I perceive myself. I look in the mirror and see a beautiful person. I read my words and see the gift I am leaving for my children. I take in the silent dinner table and realize my food is delicious. I fold and put away clothes and know in some way, I am the center of the wheel that drives our home.
There are moments of insecurity, especially when I hear morbid tales of death and families left in limbo. They pass when I realize I have done everything I can do to inure myself against one of many paths my life can take.
Most of all, this is about today, this moment. It is about feeling secure in who I am now.