The strain of bringing up children, especially boys, has taken half my life. Yes, I am in my late 50s. I became a mother at 21, and from then on it was a struggle. I have three sons. When the eldest was eight the youngest was born and the middle one was three years old. Imagine my plight.
The eldest was always up to pranks, as eight-year-olds often are. He would be under a table, the next minute upon it, in a few minutes perched upon a tree making faces at me. While I went out to bring him down, the second one pinched the newborn, pulling the little one’s hair and running out in fear when the baby started crying. I had to lift the baby from the cot to console him, had to bring my second one to my fold lest he would feel unwanted, and had to pull the first one forcefully down from the tree and make him do his homework. It was a yoga.
While they were growing I had to undergo a different kind of exercise. I had to conduct coaching at home. I had to teach algebra to one, addition to the second, and counting to the youngest. I helped in writing essays, taught spelling, and identified the alphabets. Preparing food, supervising the laundry, and keeping the house clean were the other chores I had to attend to. I did all these with splendid vigour. Turning back, I see my efforts were amazing. How did I do all these things? Now I take hours to cook the meals. I grumble. I begrudge. I curse. My legs ache, my fingers get numb. I throw tantrums. Why do I feel so?
In the past I did so because I was young, because I had a lot of affection, because I wanted to meet the demands. Now I do so because of age, because of loneliness, because of saturation. My hands were full then. Now I am without work, with no pressing schedule anymore.
My children have migrated to different lands. We spend our days in two countries now. Part of the year we live in the country of our birth, but the major part in the country where our business is located. Recalling my erstwhile duties I feel exalted. My past was a stressful pleasure.
I discussed my experience with my children a little while ago. They enjoyed the narration and in between came out with the incidents which I had forgotten. They grinned and chuckled. Suddenly, to my despair, they broke into tumultuous laughter. I had never seen them in such high moods. I kept silent like a little girl ordered to keep quiet: “Put your finger on your lips.”
The three of them looked at my posture. They came close to me, sat around me, held my hands, looked at my eyes, and said slowly, “Mama, we are going through the same phase now. We lose our patience now and then, but never once did we see you furious.”
I brushed aside my tears and dragged the boys to my bosom. However old they might be they are still my sweet little boys, with velvety hair, big eyes, sharp noses, and broad mischievous grins.