The other definition of parenthood: tightrope walking. One of the most challenging aspects of it is to find the right balance between knowing when to share advice and when to keep quiet. Constantly assessing and over-assessing a situation to know if it’s a good time to get a positive outcome or not. Sometimes, I have got it right; others, I haven’t.
I don’t claim to be the world’s best parent but I do claim to have given it a damn good try so far both with and especially without their father in the picture. I have never had my finger off the pulse when it comes to the best interests of my children. And I consciously make the distinction between what is best for them as opposed to what is best for me. That’s not to say those two things are always diametrically opposed. There are many times we are on the same page. However, them being boys and of the next generation to me, I have to remember those factors when dealing with their desires or needs. I would like to think that that acknowledgement is something they too realise I make. I always remind them of it anyway as I am acutely aware I can’t impose my version of reality onto their lives.
In my opinion, one of the biggest obstacles to progress in this world is miscommunication. Whether it be at a political level, community level and especially at an individual level, this is the root of so many problems. That’s why I am so pernickety about being clear yet honest about how one feels. I make sure I can talk about awkward issues with my sons but in a respectful and decent manner. I don’t leave them guessing my views when those views need to be expressed as I hope this information will help them make good judgements of their own decisions.
Lately, when we disagree, or when I feel they lack the foresight I try to offer them, I now accept that there is nothing more I can do. One of us is going to be proved right in the end. Maybe it will be me who learns the valuable lesson. And that’s fine. I’m not haughty enough to be impervious to good advice. But, if my advice or insight on a matter, which is based on irrefutable first-hand experience, is rejected against all reasonable logic, then I’m silently content to watch them shrink in defeat later on. I make it clear that I will say, “I told you so.” I take that stance because I’ve learnt that I can’t take a horse to water and force it to drink. Sometimes, the only way to avoid a path a second time is by falling right into its potholes the first time. Making mistakes is perhaps one of the best ways to learn a lesson – and to learn it well. I no longer have the patience or energy to be the guard at each pothole of the road others take anyway.
I’ve waited too long in life to put myself first that it seems by the time I do, I will have no energy left. That is something I’m not prepared to sacrifice any more because there is no gratitude for it. I have spent many hours telling my sons that their lives are in their own hands whilst letting my own slip by. So, selfish as it seems, I will deliver the essential message, make sure they’ve listened and understood and then move on. InshaAllah I hope that this will signal to them the responsibility they need to take for themselves. After all, they are young adults now and at the closing stages of my life, I feel my clock is ticking faster than theirs.
My sons are all finally at an age where their academic acheivements are no longer within my parental responsibility. That aspect of their lives has got to be one of the most arduous phases of parenthood and I am simply glad it’s almost over (for me). As adults, it’s finally time for them to take the reins on their own educational trajectory. I will always be there for support and advice but I don’t have absolute control of them any more in any sphere of their lives. Finally, I can slowly reclaim some freedom again for myself.
Inhale. Exhale. Slow and deep.
Of course, parenthood never stops. I have been honoured to know its joys, frustrations and challenges. I’m aware that not everyone gets this opportunity. Allah has blessed me with children, Alhamdulillah and I hope I have delivered my duties well, inshaAllah. Right now, I’m looking foward to a new phase where I can sit back a bit more and observe from the wings of the stage of life.
I am exhausted but I am excited.
I am worried but I am hopeful.
I am a mother but I am a mere mortal.
My mother half is only one part of my life. The other half is where I fill in the space for myself and by myself inshaAllah. This is a fait accompli.