Bonding & Letting Go
A large part of parenting is bonding with your child. I’m sure every parent starts forming a bond with their child since inception. I remember the day I took my test. I was shivering and was a basket-case of emotions. Here I am so clueless about this tiny little being inside me, and how her presence is going to change me and my life forever.
The anxiety and the corresponding emotions reach a whole new high after hearing the first heartbeat and feeling the first movement inside you. “It’s real alright”–I kept telling myself.
Since I’ve lived away from India for almost a decade now, my first exposure to learning about pregnancy and bonding was through books and the internet. Ideally, I would have wanted to learn more from my own mother. Did I miss her during this crucial time? —Yes, of course. I did talk to her over the phone about a few aspects of it. However, I guess the distance (they are based in India), and not having them physically with you makes it a difficult topic to talk about. The most you can get out of a conversation regarding pregnancy with your parents is a lecture on “Do’s and don’ts,” “What to eat versus what not to”, and how resting is crucial. Once the baby is born, behavioral comparisons take over. “Oh you did the same thing at this age”, or “You looked so much like your father.”
There isn’t really much South Asian parents share with respect to “what you can expect” from a child at a given age. My mom always said three decades ago things were different. Technology isn’t where it is now. Once you crossed twenty weeks, you knew you’re out of the danger zone and were going to give birth to the child.
There were no devices for 3D/4D scanning at that early stage and fetal heartbeat wasn’t a thing. Discussions with my parents with respect to raising my child amaze both of us with respect to how times have changed. Another important observation worth mentioning here would be that each individuals experience with parenting is unique. So, no matter how much advice, or information you think you have, you might be put in a completely new situation which probably needs your calling and intuition to take over that circumstance.
The parent-child bond grows stronger and gets enriched on a day to day basis. Before you realize the kids are running, talking, walking, and imitating you in all aspects. They keep vying for your approval and attention to each and everything they do and learn. Somewhere all along the way, you know that one day they will leave, to go out and explore the world in their own way. It is funny how you start looking back at your own behavior as a child and the decisions you took while growing up.
I vividly remember lunch breaks while I was in kindergarten. My mom visited me at school every day during lunch time. While she fed me, I held on to her tightly afraid that she would leave me behind. When it was time for her to leave, I wouldn’t let go and cried hysterically. My mom cried too and my teacher gently took me away.
Growing up, my parents took a lot of decisions for me, whether I approved of it or not. I’m sure most of my fellow south Asian people identify with me here. Decisions ranged from what was acceptable with clothing, to being present at family social gatherings, and a deadline to be at home every evening before seven. Once I reached my late teens, negotiations and open communication was encouraged; however, the newly attained freedom was never to be taken for granted. My parents always had the final word. Call it “helicopter parenting” or being concerned about our welfare.
Many years later, when I had an opportunity to work overseas, my mother pleaded with me not to leave, but I told her it was a fantastic opportunity for me to work and grow. I had to convince them that I might not get another chance like this going forward. After much consideration, she gave in. She probably understood that it was my time to leave, and explore the world on my own. She got out of her comfort zone to take this bold decision to let me go.
My little toddler started play school last week. It was a very tough first day. A lot of tears were shed. I could see the look of betrayal in her eyes and heard her scream and cry through the doors. I was standing outside crying as well. “Why do they have to grow up?”, “Why do we have to go through this?”–I must admit that I kept looking at all possible options for her not to go back. Quickly enough I realized that, I will never be ready to let her go. Learning from my own parents, I know that, if I don’t start with small steps, the bigger ones will definitely be harder. I now realize the amount of strength it must have taken my mother to see me leave.
The bond between you and your child remains a lifetime. Our children will always be fragile little beings to us and we will go at length to protect their interests. But at some point, we must know that certain experiences can only be gained when they learn on their own. While I may not agree to all the parenting techniques used by my parents, I will always look up to them whenever I need advice or just someone to talk to. I am on the other side as a parent and It is now my turn to slowly let her go–to learn new things, make new friends and open up her mind to new possibilities.
What have you learned about letting go since becoming a mom?
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