My Fears As A Mother

Those delicate fingers. Those tiny toes. Those curious eyes.

Growth. It is a natural process. A change. And just like any other change, this one is hard to accept too.

The girls are growing. Taller and sharper. And with them is growing that never-ending fear inside this mother.

At times when I sit down and think about the future, what worries me more is the thought that what will the future hold for our children. Bouts of anxiety I experience quite often. Call me a cry baby or anything else, but that’s how it is.

Like most girls around the world, I have experienced those deliberate pushes inside buses, those hidden pinches on my tender bosom, those ugly thighs rubbing against yours, those whistles, those paper balls and pebbles, those dirty comments, those filthy eyes and the list is endless. It doesn’t matter if you are a six year-old or sixty year-old, you’re always and always subjected to one of these at any given point in time. I have never understood the psychology behind this. And since it only increases my already terrible migraine, I choose not to try to understand it.

The family loves travelling. It is a bonding, sharing and learning time for all of us. But of late I have started getting this butterfly kind of feeling inside me every time someone passes by the girls. Every time I see them sharing a seat with a stranger. Every time I notice someone staring at them for longer than usual. And this fear spoils all the happiness of those precious moments.

I always thought my mother was an over-protective one. But now that I’m going through the same phase in life, I understand her much better. She slapped me the instant I returned from my only school trip to Jaipur because the bus reached 4-5 hours later than was expected. I didn’t understand her reaction because I was brought home by my friend and her parents which meant I was in safe hands. Nevertheless, I never asked her permission for any further trips.

Anu is going to be ten next month and every time I look at her I feel worried about the changes she’ll soon be undergoing as a young adult. And it also makes me want to prepare her for all the uncomfortable experiences she might have to face during her adolescence period. And thus I try to sit and talk to her. I go on walks with her. Though she knows most of the biological process, I felt that she is yet to understand the graveness of my lectures on eve-teasing and other stuff. It pains me when she looks at me with her innocent questioning eyes as to why it is she who should be careful all the time. I wish I could tell her otherwise.

I shared my fears with the husband who comforts me saying,

We will cross the bridge when we get there.”

I totally agree. But in the depth of my heart I know I am not convinced.

I know the kind of fear that creeps in when you experience some stranger touching you in the wrong way for the very first time. I have experienced it at the age of eight in a crowded train compartment. He tickled my not-so-tiny feet that wore a pair of silver anklets gifted lovingly by my grandmother. It was night and we were travelling alone with Amma. All lights were off and only a few people were talking in different coupe. We had to cover another two days in the same compartment with the same man. Only I know how dreadful that entire journey was. His winking eyes are still afresh in my memories.

And when I am at the peak of this fear, I hear an inner voice which tells me,

“They’ll be all right. They’ll handle it better than me. They are mature enough.”

I know they will have to learn to fight for themselves. I know they will have to learn their lessons all by themselves. But that little child in me wants to share it all with them and protect them from all evil. I want to hang myself like an evil eye to ward off all evil from their path. I wish I could.

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No. I don’t talk to them about my fears, my insecurities, my apprehensions. I don’t cry in front of them. I don’t give up in front of them. I don’t tell them that the world has monsters too. I want them to remember my face and feel strong, not weak. I want them to still believe that the world is a beautiful place and together they can make it a paradise.

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6 Replies to “My Fears As A Mother”

  1. As a mom and as a girl who went through identical experiences (and some really unspeakable ones for a year and a half), I completely empathise, Rekha. It’s not easy being a mom ever. It’s probably even harder today because the world isn’t as safe as the one we grew up in. There’s more access to perversity thanks to tech, there’s more news of sickening stories in our papers and there’s a larger need to speak of all this with our young kids.

    But, at the root of it all, I believe in two things: Prayer and fortifying our kids. We must empower them in any way we can, to stand up for things that will keep them strong, no matter what. Whether it’s a playground bully or a pervert on the bus. We can do it. Of this I am confident. I am with you.

  2. {Hugs}
    As a mother of a girl child I could read so many of my fears, my personal experiences written just the way they haunt me in this heartfelt post. I couldn’t agree more on how all my life I’ve felt that I had over-protective parents and how becoming a parent has helped me see, how much I wish to be just like them.

    We are doing our bit to make our children more aware, more conscious of the dangers of the world they live in and I am confident our positive efforts shall help them emerge stronger and more confident than we ever were.

    Allaying fears from a mother’s heart is next to impossible, but working hard to help prepare our children better to face the changing face of danger in current times is the best we can do and are doing it.
    All shall be well because midst the negativity, thrives the positivity of people like you and me.

  3. Rekha, this is such a great post. But having boys, I still had similar concerns as both of us worked outside the house. Newspapers are definitely not helpful. Me and the husband repeatedly keep telling the boys about ‘good touch, bad touch’, how to deal with strangers, what information is ok to give, how to inform about strangers or known people who will do anything inappropriate. Pre-teens and teens are some of the most difficult years as they also get on to social media. Atleast, I believe making the children aware is the best like you are already doing.

  4. Being a mother of young kids, I sure can relate to so many things here. I myself have gone thru such bad experiences several times in India. I am not being judgemental here but since moving abroad (early 20’s), I haven’t had a single incident nor heard any of my friends here relate anything close to what we have to put up every single day in India. For that I am very thankful to God and I am also amazed at the way the kids here are constantly educated about ‘Stranger Danger’ be in schools or activity centres, swimming schools and even in sport areas. The support mechanism is truly awesome, it is as though the whole community is reaching out for one another. I am not suggesting moving abroad is a solution, just sharing my experience here.
    The problems we face in India are deep rooted. People need to change their mindset to make our society a better place.
    As much as a being a mother, it is also important to share that camaraderie with your kids that they are comfortable to share any issues freely. It is very important to reassure that they haven’t done anything wrong and no matter what, they are protected by parents.
    I remember being so terrified to share a horrible experience with my mom that I faced with the driving instructor. I just went silent and regressed thinking I will get in trouble. Looking back, I can only wish, we talked openly of what is to be expected of this crazy world.

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