Whenever I thought about having kids, I always hoped for a girl. Especially after marriage, my desire to have a girl increased manifold. It wasn’t a fantasy to dress her up or play with her. It was a dream.
I wanted to raise a girl who is confident, independent, one who can either find a life partner of her choice or ask us to do the honours for her. A lady who would build and maintain her identity, stand by it and defy all the patriarchal norms. She would stand by her parents even after marriage and look after them just like she would be expected to look after her in-laws. But anyway, god had some other plans.
He gifted me a son, and suddenly all my dreams looked frivolous. I wondered why. Why was I over assertive on having a confident girl and didn’t care about it when I had a boy? Why did I want to raise a girl to take care of me in old age but expect a son to lead his own life without worrying about his ageing parents? After all, a son isn’t my budhape ki lathi, that’s what everyone says these days. I shouldn’t tie him down to my cruel expectations and pull him down.
But I beg to differ. The definition of ‘budhape ki lathi’ has changed over the years. Gone are the days, when ageing parents felt financially insecure. Most of us have retirement plans in place, right from the day we start earning. So in all probability, at the time of retirement, we would be financially stronger than our kids (who might still be struggling to finish their masters by then). So financial needs are taken care of. But what about the emotional needs?
My son is just four years old now, and I have already started spending time with myself. My son is gradually becoming a little independent, so I have started developing hobbies and interests (something that I can fall back on in my old age and fight the empty nest syndrome). I devote a good amount of my time and energy into it. I have places to visit, and I have friends to talk to. Yet at the end of the day, I feel exhausted. That’s when my son jumps in, kisses me goodnight and hugs me tight to sleep. My eyes, even with their dark circles, sparkle in the midnight. The tiredness withers away. My energy for a new day is restored. And most importantly, I am instantly drifted into deep slumber without any anxiety or sleeping pills.
Years down the line, most probably my son would be studying in a different city, separated by time zones. Every time I sit down for a meal, I will wonder whether my son had his food or not. Every time I go to sleep, I will wonder how many hours of sleep my sonny boy is getting. I value our relationship and will value it till the last breath. In my old age, all I would expect from my son is a little emotional support, and I hope I can nurture a strong budhape ki lathi for my old age.
I hope I can inculcate the right values in my son from an early age. I hope he grows up to appreciate the relationships and value them. I hope he becomes a man with a heart full of desires and follows his dreams but at the same time, has a little space reserved for his relationships. The relations that will give him strength through the crests and troughs of life. The relations that will support him to achieve his dreams. The relations whose warmth will traverse the oceans and cuddle us both to a peaceful sleep.