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Archive for the ‘A Journey With the Child’ Category

— A Young Mother’s Reflections

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born.  She never existed before.  The woman existed, but the mother, never.  A mother is something absolutely new. 

 — Rajneesh

A child is carried in the mother’s womb for nine months before being blessed with the light of the world. As the mother nurtures her baby for this long period of time, the child becomes a ‘part of her’. In the process, the mother develops emotionally, spiritually and mentally.

While a common understanding is that a child is developing biologically inside the womb, it cannot be denied that it is also receiving subconscious impressions of character and spirituality based on the mother’s thoughts, behaviour and personality. Mothers’ influence on the child starts from the moment of conception and it does not end with the birth of her baby. In fact, now the child is ready to explore his parents through his senses as opposed to the subtle ‘sensing’ in the womb. The outlook the child will eventually form towards life depends a lot on the parents. Even among the parents, the mother’s role is a major one.

When I became a mother about two years ago, I did not realize motherhood. But as time passed, I started becoming aware of my role in my little daughter’s life. My parents took care of her for over a year while I was busy in business that demanded my full attention. However, whenever I met her, I felt that to my daughter, her mother was the most perfect creature on earth and the loveliest one. When I met her even after short intervals, she always looked longingly at me.  Whenever the interval was a little longer, she tried to stick to me. With each passing day, week and month— I now realize— she always turned to me expecting the role of a caregiver, protector, savior, friend, teacher and companion. At that time, when she was not even two years old, it was amusing to sense these expectations. But now I somewhat understand the void she was passing through.

Now I fully realize that a mother needs to be constantly aware of her role in the child’s life, the role of a loving mother.  It may not be easy to be an ideal mother. But love makes every thing possible.  Moreover, there are no hard and fast, clearly defined rules that one could follow for motherhood.  This could make things harder, especially in the beginning. But with a little bit of understanding, and a combination of openness, patience and flexibility, it is possible.

A mother’s life is now to be lived, not just as another human, but as a positive role model for the child.

In trying to think of how to do a good job as a mother, I found that a very important ingredient is to be willing to change and to constantly try to modify oneself for the better. One cannot be a good mother if one is not ready to adapt to changing circumstances. This is a quality that can help all individuals, but especially a woman who needs to transform herself into a good mother. By being open to change, a mother opens up possibilities for her child to become a well-groomed individual.

Such openness should be reflected in everything a mother does – whether it is her housekeeping habits, day-to-day behaviour, relationship with others and even in taking personal decisions. In all these activities, she should be ready and brave enough to make changes. If she is rigid or unwilling to change her original style, then not only will she make her own life hard, but also make her child’s life miserable.

Some changes might be very hard to carry out— like changing one’s temperament, but the very instinct of motherhood makes things easier.  The difficulty is that under the rapidly changing family circumstances and values, the instinct of motherhood is gradually diminishing. Yet, it cannot be denied that it is very important for the child’s positive growth. It is the responsibility of a mother to carry it out. She has to be mindful that all her activities are being observed by the child and will undoubtedly affect the day-to-day behaviour, personality and character of the developing individual.

Being open also means being ready to take responsibility for any wrong action that a mother might have knowingly or unknowingly done. If she does not admit her faults, then her child sees her as hard and unwelcoming. Children have the instinct of sensing this ‘hardness’ and often adopt the same characteristic in their own personality as well. Conversely, if their mother openly admits her mistakes and apologizes when wrong, they feel this ‘softness’ and imbibe that quality.

Lastly, I think that ‘motherhood’ is a full-time job. It can be done well and with enthusiasm if a mother embraces opportunities to make it fun. Dancing, laughing and consciously enjoying with your child are ways to make this role more pleasant. When a mother opens up her arms to hug her child, she opens herself up to a world of possibilities and a world of change. Dressed as a mother, she actually serves various roles in the life of her child. So, it is very important for her to accept motherhood with extraordinary openness.

— Sudeepti Dhawan

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Life teaches us many lessons but how much do we learn from them? Here’s a video tilted ‘Interview with God’. I have seen this content several times, but it makes sense every time. Are you ready to pause, to think and to learn:

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I am thankful to a wise relative who recently introduced the following poem to me, originally written more than a century ago. Mr. Sukhdev Kumar, reciting this poem in his passionate, enthusiastic voice at the age of seventy-two, reminded me of my existence and took me to thinking back to the question of ‘who I am’ and ‘what I am for’.

        Written by the renowned poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, I present this famous poem to you along with my own reflection of each verse. Feel free to skip my interpretation and read only the straight, non-italicized lines of the poem (for that is how I would read it, if I were you). Subject it to your own interpretation. No two souls are alike, no two minds are alike. My experiences in life situate my thoughts in a perspective that may probably be very different from what you have experienced and ‘lived’.

       Through the italicized words, I try to unfold the poem from my own point of view, taking it from an abstract to a more concrete level. So take this poem and do with it what you want. But whatever you do, try to utilize it in some way in the way you live.

A Psalm of Life

(HW Longfellow)

 Tell me not in mournful numbers,

Life is but an empty dream!

For the soul is dead that slumbers,

And things are not what they seem.

I read this and think of how we are ‘made to believe’ about who we are and what our reality is. The process starts at a very young age. Children listen to stories, watch incidents and silently participate in discussions that impart in them a sense of what is important and what is true. This subconscious sense will then shape the direction of how they live their life.

 Life is real! Life is earnest!

And the grave is not its goal;

Dust thou art, to dust returnest,

Was not spoken of the soul.

Our identity is not because of our visible bodies. It is our soul that defines us. The body, composed of the five elements, will return back to the five elements one day. But that is not the fate of the soul. The latter continues its journey, even after this body is gone. And it is this journey of the soul that is the real life!

 Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,

Is our destined end or way;

But to act, that each tomorrow

Find us farther than today.

In this journey, the only thought we need to keep close to our heart is that every day should take us higher than before. With our minds and bodies, we need to follow our souls, leaving behind all hurdles. At the end of the journey it does not matter how much fun we had or how much distress we were in; all that matters is how far we proceeded towards our soul in this human frame.

 Art is long, and Time is fleeting,

And our hearts, though stout and brave,

Still, like muffled drums, are beating

Funeral marches to the grave.

Whether we like it or not, this present life will come to an end. Our bodies will be buried or cremated. It does not help to close our eyes to this reality and say, “We shall see when the time comes.” Instead, it would be more befitting to prepare for the end. No matter how strong or sturdy a living being was during his or her lifetime, one day the body will surely be one with the dust.

In the world’s broad field of battle,

In the bivouac of Life,

Be not like dumb, driven cattle!

Be a hero in the strife!

We have spent enough of our precious time just blindly following others in the world. We have handed ourselves to the will of the world without giving it a thought. We let them do the thinking for us, let them take our decisions and surrender ourselves without the least struggle. It takes real courage to stand straight and tall when the world is pushing us down from all sides.

 Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!

Let the dead Past bury its dead!

Act, – act in the living Present!

Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Often, we engage ourselves in thoughts of what happened in the past, leading ourselves to fret and regret. At other times, we think of the future and make plans to make it better in the times to come. When we do so, we live our life either like a ghost or like a fantasy creature. Rarely do we spend time living like a human being, thinking of what and who we are in the present. We should live life the way it was meant to be— remembering the internal strength and chastity that our soul possesses and realizing the presence of God with us at every step.

 Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sand of time;

Living a worthy, coveted lifestyle is not impossible. We have many examples in history to remind us what it really is like to be a worthy human being. Leave alone history, we probably have examples in our personal life which impart a sense of what life truly means. These are inspirations which we should use to guide our own lives. What use is a brain and intellect if we are not going to put it to use to learn lessons from others?

 Footprints, that perhaps another,

Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,

A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,

Seeing, shall take heart again.

In the past, people have struggled to make their own and others’ lives richer, fuller, better and more comfortable. We need to use those struggles to remind us that ‘no matter what, we cannot quit’. In our own life we need to model this behaviour so that our children can get inspiration from our actions, from our courage and strength and from our ability to keep going bravely. There is no room for weaklings. Polish up your strengths and pave the way for the world to do the same.

 Let us then be up and doing,

With a heart for any fate;

Still achieving, still pursuing,

Learn to labor and to wait.

Enough time has been wasted in dilly-dallying, in thinking, in grieving, in planning. It is time to act. In our heart, we need to be strong; in our steps, we need to be firm and in our attitude, we need to be positive. There is no need being scared of what the future holds for us or what would happen if something went wrong. Once our feet are set in the right direction, our life will automatically take care of itself. All we need to do is to keep going with hope and courage.

 

About fifteen years ago, I had put up a poster in my room titled ‘Don’t Quit’. When I visited the room again this year, I found it was still there, much to my joy. The following verse from the poster always sticks with me

“When the funds are low

and the debts are high;

And you want to smile,

but you have to sigh;

When care is pressing you

down a bit

Rest if you must,

but don’t you quit.”

‘A Psalm of Life’ brought back the memory of those times of early youth when one wills to change the world. Neither courage, nor strength seems to be lacking. And then, as we proceed and ‘progress’ into our life, we start ‘adjusting’— adjusting to lower standards, less-than-enough expectations. Not finding enough supporters who will say, ‘Go, do it while you can’, we are instead accosted by several people who say, “Oh, I dreamt of that too when I was young. The passion will soon fade away”— a melancholy note that need not to be heeded to.

It is youth, it is childhood, when the time is ripe to take an active role in creating the world of our dreams. It is definitely possible. All we need to do is to remember our own strengths and the passion of those who have dared to carry on! That is how the world continues to rise.

~ Nivedita Shori

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From time to time, we all get inspiring messages through emails, quotations on the walls of our workplaces, text messages, books, magazines, even printed on handbags or on the back of t-shirts! No matter how many times you read them or hear them, those messages are always valuable, because they ignite a spark somewhere within us. If they don’t do so, then it is a sign that our soul needs some cleaning up to be receptive of motivation. Here’s a video that motivates through its pictures and words:


 

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A mother’s children are portraits of herself.
~ Author Unknown

 Where parents do too much for their children, the children will not do much for themselves.
~ Elbert Hubbard
 

The walks and talks we have with
our two-year olds in red boots
have a great deal to do with the values
they will cherish as adults.

~ Edith F. Hunter

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A common question that adults ask children is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I remember posing that question to a bunch of kindergarten students once. The answers were pretty interesting. A girl said she wanted to be a princess; another five-year old said he wanted to be a dad and yet another child said she wanted to be a fairy when she grew up!

This shows that children are not ready for those future-related questions and for that type of thinking. All they see and know is their present world. The things they hear about in stories, the people they see in real life – are their models, their heroes. They think about what they want to be according to what they see. When a child says, “Look Mommy, look Daddy – I am so big!”, we often fail to see their excitement about the present and instead start thinking about how big they will be in the future and what they will do.

Children are little explorers who are not yet stuck into their futures and who are not aware of their ambitions in life. They are very open-minded. Anything is possible for them. We have no right to limit our children’s thinking with our own desires, standards and ambitions.

Do you know that parents have been known to decide what their children will be not only when the children are starting to think about university, but also when they are in middle school, primary school or even in play-school?

In fact, it will probably not come as a surprise that children’s future is decided by their parents even before they are born and in certain cases, even before they are conceived! It is heart-breaking to imagine what a tough life such a child will live – the pressures he will go through, the arguments he will have regarding his dreams, the suppression of his passion for his interests, and in the ultimate analysis – a   puppet-like life he would be likely to live.

In all of our plans, we forget that a child is an individual, living in the present. What he will be doing in the future may not be in our hands. We can only ‘fix’ the present and that will automatically take care of the future. Stacia Tuscher has said, “We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.”

Let us not forget what our child is today. Let us remember to give him the love and attention he rightly deserves; the respect he needs for being an individual with his unique personality; and the encouragement he needs from us. We, the parents, are the ones help the child to see his strengths and to enhance them – right now, in the present, not in the future!

~ Nivedita Shori

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Schools are places where most children spend a large part of their life. Traditionally, schools focus on education, often without realizing that education is not just academic. It covers all-round development. Education turns students into thinkers. A question worth asking is: Do schools foster child development by encouraging creative thinking?

The following video by Sir Ken Robinson gives a viewpoint on whether schools are doing enough to encourage creative thinking:

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