As I was looking at this picture over and over again, a thought began taking shape and then came the cold sweat.
I know the exact moment when I realized in utter shock and bewilderment that I am slowly becoming my mom. Lil O was giving me a hard time with eating. And frustrated I snapped and said, 'Fine then, don't eat, just throw it in the garbage.' And that very instance, my eyes glazed over and my mom looked at me with a big goofy grin. Several things were happening. In my mind's ear, I heard those exact words being uttered so many times, in desperate frustration by my then-working-mom. My mom had that very same flashback. Then I felt a dip in the pit of my stomach as my mom felt avenged. Lil O sat there with her pout staring at both her mom and grandma, clueless and adorable.
Turning into your mother is not a bad thing except that would mean I am no longer the child and I am old. I know I had growing pains as a child, a preteen, a teen, an adolescent... practically every phase of growing up. Each time I would swear that my arch enemy - my parents ofcourse would pay. And the sweetest form of revenge was showing them how it truly was done. Little did I know that my parents were plotting the same course for me and they just won. I can recall several occasions where I promised myself that I would do things differently and be a cool parent and be laid back and nicer and a real best friend forever to my kids. Now that I am here, I am just like my mom. Sigh!
I am quickly realizing that parenting is not just instilling in them good values, teaching them things or shoving food down their throat one way or the other. It calls upon me the need to be a better person. My kids are constantly watching me like the CIA, like hawks and they are waiting for me to say 'Sh!t' that one time and learn just that. When I look at my mom, I see the hardworking, honest, conservative Indian parent from the 80s. That is great.
But when O looks back, what is she going to see? That her mom pushes off any work that can be done tomorrow to just that - tomorrow. She sees me in sweats stuffing my face with Cheetos and chocolates while telling her that chocolates are nasty and Cheetos are yucky. She sees me snapping and tries to make me laugh. She sees me ordering instead of cooking like my mom did. But I also hope she sees some of the nice things I try to do, for her, for her father and for someone else. I hope she sees that I try to be honest and that I think it's very important in life. I hope she sees that I am funny and fun to hang out with once in a while... yes, even when she is a teenager. I hope she sees how I watch out for my sisters and someday she will want to watch out for lil A. I hope she sees me as an independent woman who can change a light bulb. A mother who wields her womanhood as a shield and not a weapon, who is empowered by her femininity and not made a victim by it. I hope she sees that a little drama and tears go a long way than silently suffering. I hope she sees that I found an awesome man in her father and I was never ever, ever mean to him.
Maybe someday lil O is going to look at her child and say, 'Stop it or else I will throw all your stuff in the garbage'! And she is going to recoil and think that she is slowly and steadily becoming me. Honestly I don't want that for her. I know she can be better and so much more. But if she does find herself at that point, I hope she shrugs and says 'Yeah, this child has way too many toys - off to the garbage with you!'.
I am sure my mother wanted me to be much more and I hope she thinks that I have tried to use everything she provided me with to learn, to grow and to walk in her shoes for some phases in life. And to buy more shoes and wear them in a way that makes her proud (figuratively too).
So when I look at lil O (eventually lil A as well) trying to walk in my shoes, I am wishing that she makes her own footprints, her own paths and her own destiny.
And in the meanwhile 'hey lil O, I hope you like my shoes. Now get out of them, those are new and it's mine'!