The holidays have come. Thankfully they have also gone. Maybe I’m getting older and the charm of exchanging gifts has worn off; maybe it was never really there to begin with. Growing up in an Hindu household, we did not celebrate Christmas, not even in the secular exchange of gifts as many families of different faiths do. As a child I didn’t notice the lack of tree or tinsel; for sure I knew Santa Claus was a hoax as he never found us. As a teenager, when friends called to see what I’d gotten for the holiday the long pause after answering “coffee cup” exposed the non-idyllic nature of my childhood.
Christmas was like any other day in our house; so was Thanksgiving. Most summers were spent reading in the bleachers reading Ken Follett during my younger brother’s T-ball games.
I’m not asking you to feel sorry for me. The festive deprivation may have been the greatest gift my parents ever gave me.
Treating me like a non-fragile, ordinary creature who was a burden (don’t let her get pregnant! or wind up working at McDonald’s!) rather than precious blessing may have been tough medicine at the time, but now as a parent, this distance is what allows me to be the best mother I can. Ironically having an imperfect childhood makes it easier to parent
I don’t feel pressure to create a bubble of idyll around my sons (or re-create as my friends do).
In my younger days I suffered many disappointments. Ordinary letdowns that are death to a teenager like missed slumber parties (mustn’t let the girl spend the night out. Remember she has a uterus!) or high school field trips to New York City (go to the library, read a book about that place, much cheaper!) meant I dealt with disappointments early on and often. The older I grew, the more sadness and conflict I encountered. My familiarity with the unsavory parts of life meant that as we grew older, my friends came to me for coping strategies. A close friend’s miscarriage crippled her emotionally; it was the hardest event in her life. I was one person she could talk to because I was no stranger to raw emotion or a sense of unfairness.
Now that I’m a mother, each and every one of those hard moments is a reminder that I’m doing darn well for my guys. Yes, I have a demanding schedule as a writer and professor; I’m often away from them and I may not do the things other mothers do. But by comparison, every day for my children is better than most of the ones I had.
I know they don’t need expensive toys (though they do have a Pinterest worthy playroom). I don’t shield them from the word no. If they fall over, in most cases, they pick themselves back up.
Some call this tough love. I call it preparation for life.
I am a typical Virgo and have perfectionist tendencies. But this is one area I’m happy to be mediocre. Rather than be plagued by guilt at what I’m not doing for them, I will celebrate what we do have together. And hopefully teach them some valuable lessons in the process.
What about you? Are you happy with your childhood memories or do you wish you’d had more of something? Any parenting wisdom to share?
I love supporting fellow creatives. This week I’m delighted to host the Vashti project which is the collaboration of musician David Homan and choreographer Ariel Grossman/Ariel Rivka Dance. Not only are they young twenty-somethings-turning-thirty, David grew up in my hometown of Gainesville, Fl and is now producing performances in the Big Apple. Can’t get much more legit than that!
Here’s a video clip from the rehearsal of their upcoming production of Vashti,the story of a woman of courage, asked to dance for a king. If you’re in the New York City area, you can get tickets at the link below. If you love dance and want to support independent artists, you can donate to their Indiegogo campaign to help fund the show.
Rebellion and Rebirth–Ariel Rivka Dance and Riedel Dance Theatre Present an evening of dance with live music.
“Vashti” a collaboration between composer David Homan and choreographer Ariel Grossman/Ariel Rivka Dance interprets the Biblical story of Purim through the lens of feminism and women’s empowerment. Set in Persia, before the rise of Queen Esther who helped save the Jews from the wrath of Haman, Vashti reigned as Queen of Shushan. Who was she? How did she come to have such power? Was it only because of her beauty?
A myriad of interpretations exist–Vashti as a complex, strong and brave woman, or a vain, wicked and disobedient wife. Requested to dance naked for the King and his drunk friends, Vashti must make a choice; to lose everything, possibly her life or to shed her dignity. Exploring her origins and the women surrounding her, “Vashti” shows us all how to best preserve our sense of self when presented with the ultimate choice. With modern choreography that springs from a strong balletic core this work involves five dancers and live music featuring violin, cello, guitar and piano.