Freedom has been on my mind more often this last year than at any other time in my life. Probably ‘coz I feel the lack of it – acutely and painfully, ever since we moved back to live with my parents (I know!) and I became a new Mom – two hugely freedom-sucking events! There are times when I regret both, times when I accept that this is just what I need at the moment, times when I convince myself, ever so fleetingly that this is just a temporary situation. Then there are times when I’m in such sweet denial that all is well with the world; others, when I think eloping with self is the only way to stay sane, when I can’t stand the family, can’t stand myself and can’t stand myself for not being able to love and need the family like ‘normal’, ‘good’ people should. To show you that I’m not a complete people-hating ogre – there are times when I wouldn’t have it any other way!
I like large, open spaces – physically, mentally and spiritually. I cannot stand being caged in, whether by wooden fences or absurd expectations. I’ve been independent in thought and spirit for too long to allow myself to be penned in now. And yet, breaking the shackles of ties that bind and love that suffocates is proving to be the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Don’t think I’ll ever get it done to be honest. Assertion within family is tough to do – emotional minefields are everywhere and one mis-step can ruin a lifetime of trust and loving. I’ve trampled my fair share of hearts and egos, and the only reason I’m still loved, I gather, is because families are like that – they love and hate, but rarely like. Well, mine’s like that. I love them, deeply from a distance and painfully when near, one of the reasons, my relationship with my Mom was so much better when all we had were weekly long distance phone calls!
Now that we live together, things are different – very different. And to add color, my Granny stays with us, my Mom’s Mom, so we have a definite hierarchy going here and no prizes for guessing who’s at the bottom of this particular ladder 😉 But strangely or perhaps not so strange, my Mom and Gran think they’ve got the worst deal! It could be because I’m short-tempered and impatient and can get real loud and aggressive if I think that’ll help me get my way! It could be because, I’m the intruder into their hitherto safe haven, where they were reigning queens and have managed to upset their carefully balanced apple-cart of housework and daily routine, with my impossible & impractical (or so they say) suggestions for change and betterment. “Who does she think she is? Waltzing in here and thinking she has all the answers and can do everything better?” I can see the thoughts in their heads! Do I learn? Sigh…oh well, all’s fair in love and war 😉 When I was younger and wet behind the ears, I always wondered, why whoever coined that phrase, imagined that love and war would have anything in common. Hah! Now I know!
My Granny is 84, extremely loud and deaf, and uses her high-pitched shrieking (I take after her :P) with devastating effectiveness on my Mom, who as the only soft-spoken one in our little trio, is always at the receiving end of one of our outbursts. Poor Mom! But she’s an ‘enabler’ if ever I saw one. She’s always trying to keep the peace and make the whole world (which in her case is her family) happy, which I’ve tried to tell her is impossible. You know what they say about keeping all of the people happy at all times? Can’t be done and a waste of time to try! Does she listen? Duh! In the process we’re either walking on egg-shells around each other or impersonating screaming banshees (That’s the third time I’ve used that particular phrase to describe us! This is getting serious.). It scares me, ‘coz I’ve begun to believe, this is how it’ll always be (which of course it will, if I don’t do something about it), days of uneasy peace and politeness, followed by edgy days with a definite ‘calm before the storm’ feel, if you get what I mean.
And yet…where else can I find not one, not two but three human beings willing to sacrifice everything and anything to put a smile on my face? Do you see, why I said this was a losing battle? I struggle with wanting what’s best for them (which ideally they should get to decide) and wanting what’s best for me and sometimes it’s difficult to reconcile to the fact that the two are so different. I mean, there’s plenty of love here, maybe too much, maybe it’s getting in the way…my hubby certainly thinks so!
He keeps telling me to stop thinking for them and let them do their own thing, however silly and laborious their attempts may seem to me. I hate admitting he’s right, I do! But he is! I know! I need to learn to let go, to allow them their own space, knowing how fiercely I protect mine. I understand that perfectly in my head and on paper, just not so easily in my heart, especially when I see them cling to old time-consuming routines and energy-sapping superstition; insist on ancient ways of doing things that can now be accomplished by the click of a switch; spend every living moment in the kitchen, and think nothing’s wrong!! If only they would occasionally meet me half-way or even a couple of steps down the road, things would be a lot easier. A lot this, is me trying hard not to disappoint them, ‘coz they’re not easy to please. They would disagree, but I’ve always known my parents to egg me on to do better, without really making a big deal of my successes (which admittedly have been few and far between). I know they’re proud of me, but it doesn’t hurt to hear it once in a while. But there you are, that’s just how the family is, praise is confused with vanity and the good stuff remains unsaid. I should know, I’m no different! But with the arrival of my son, I’m trying hard to be the change I want to see. It’s tough!
I’m making a start of sorts, starting with Mom. Her birthday’s coming up and I’ve made plans for a lunch together (Just the two of us! Can you feel me tremble?!), followed by a manicure and pedicure, and a surprise party at home with a few close relatives. If we don’t strangle each other, I’m planning on making this mother-daughter thing, a regular event, one tiny step at a time 🙂 Heaven knows we both need to find a way to be free with ourselves!
It’s been a long time coming!
p. s. With 15th August fast approaching, freedom and all things freedom-related are on the menu! These are my thoughts. I thought I would start with what I know first – family. Part II on country follows shortly.
5 thoughts on “Contemplating Freedom: Part I”
Harsha ….this piece touched my heart. Have a super duper mother daughter day. It doesnt have to be perfect…its the first of many more.
And of course You Are The Best…..please think about publishing or a newspaper contract or anything ,I just want the world to read you…Lots of love Beena
You made my day Beena!! But then you always do 🙂 Love you hamesha 🙂
I have always appreciated Somerset Maugham, his stories first, then novels and the quotations. I never knew why he said ‘It’s hard to be a gentleman and a writer’ without including a lady. Now, I know. Your piece is excellant; having a ringside view I know the situation, and how as a lady you still have written as a very good writer.
You call them superstitius, come visit my side of another kind of ring.
Thanks Kalibhai! I only wish I could be as balanced in life as I appear on paper!