Sunday, September 3, 2017

Little Boxes

Pete Seeger, the famous American folk singer and social activist, sang decades back about "little boxes".
"Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
       Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.
And the people in the houses
All went to the university,
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same..."

Box like houses, exactly alike in appearance, alike in expectations from life, alike in their middleclass conformity. The song always struck a chord and the boxes always intrigued me. No wonder they are making their way in to my blog!
Boxes. In other words, social conformity. The invisible boundaries that society imposes on us. Of course, without boundaries, we the notorious species called homo sapiens will run amock with chaos and mayhem everywhere. So, yes, boxes are a social necessity perhaps. But when we put our mind in that box too and refuse to see the blue of the sky lurking from some open corner, crippling ensues. When we love the boxes so much that we are threatened if we can't relate to another human being without the reference frame of the social conditioning, the boxes become cages.
The socially defined boxes in our mind keeps dictating us at every cross road of life. We are used to putting our feelings, our relationships, our whole life in to the boxes that undergo social scanning. We need relationships with tags of social approval to feel comfortable. One human being, reaching out to another is not of any value, unless you can put defined and acceptable tags to that relationship. It tells us that love is hardly even understandable unless you can put a label of social conformity!

Need to be acknowledged, need to be accepted is a basic human psychological need. But in a desperation to achieve that, so many times we our selves become a social commodity. Individuality is the price to pay when you need to conform at any cost! We need to marry at a certain age, make babies at a certain age, obey certain functional or dysfunctional commandments of society in order to have breathing space. Otherwise we are failures, we are outcasts.
How dark must be the despair when a successful intelligent young girl feels like an outcaste because she didn't fit in to a defined social box of "being married at the right time". How heart-breaking it must be when parents leave their kids hands when something could not be put in the boxes they believed to be right for their kids. Be it career, be it finding a partner or even sexuality. How painful, when your "friends" avoid you because you make them feel uncomfortable by standing by your unconventional beliefs.
I agree, boxes feel safe. The usual, the predictable has a sense of security around it. Its like getting a tick mark against your name from society. Tick marks; something that we are so fond of seeing, since the time we start going to school. They mean approval. They mean we are accepted as being part of the herd. They mean we are not alone. But do they mean happiness? Do they mean freedom? Do they mean being compatible with your own self? Does, not being alone, guarantee not being lonely?
Of course society changes with time. It is changing as I write too perhaps. But somewhere the roots of social conditioning are so deep, the dogmas are so stifling that its scary to stand apart. We are comfortably numb by a state of social hypnosis and no longer feel the pain of being exactly alike each other in our limitations.
So, today, if I could seek something for the generations to come, it would be their strength to stand apart, it would be their ability to choose fearless conviction over social conformity. After all, how wonderful is a world where your mind can take a fearless flight in an open sky. Where we don't cage ourselves in social dogmas. Where we can develop our individuality without being judged, learn to embrace emotions and value relationships.

Too much of a dream, eh?


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Not the best job in the world

People these days tell me that I am doing the "the greatest job" on earth right now. Facebook posts scream the glory of this greatest job, where there are no holidays, involves multi-tasking, many hardships and does not have remuneration. Some disillusioned souls even tell me that it’s a thankless job, after all!

Yes, am talking about the glorified job of motherhood.
And risking sounding like the most self-centered mother on this planet, I wholeheartedly disagree. It surely is not the best job on earth. Nor it is the most difficult or the most rewarding or the most glorified one! 

Simply because, it is not a "job".

The psychological ramifications of this so called greatest job or the noblest sacrifice are far and wide. For example, the "socially aware" post that keeps circulating on social media that proudly proclaims how mothers never retire from their job. While the father retires from the office job, the mother simply goes around the house, cooking and washing dirty utensils and stuff. Or the subtle social expectations that the mother will always have to toil the hardest to win a place in the hearts of her clan. Irrespective of the tag of a working mother or otherwise, unless they churn out the yummiest food on the plate, take the children to the best basketball camp, arrange for the most interesting birthday party; they have failed. Failed to themselves at least.

These posts and other social innuendo which tells me that now my life is about raising my children, sacrificing my life, my individual dreams and aspiration, leaves me a little sad, a little confused, slightly annoyed and guilty of feeling confused, sad and annoyed! And thus this post, to clarify my stand to myself (and if anyone else is interested to listen, err read).

I don't know about others, but I sure am not doing any "job" in raising my children. Greatest or toughest or otherwise. I am just honoring a relationship. The most beautiful relationship, with two most precious people of my life. I gave birth to them. I spoke to them, sang to them when they were taking shape inside me. Obviously the relationship is special. They are tiny now, they are dependent on me. Thus my responsibilities are little more for them. But every relationship has its responsibilities, every relationship has its commitment and every relationship needs some amount of sacrifice! There can't be anything bigger or smaller in relationships. They are all different. My relationship with my mother should be and is equally important to me as my relationship with my children. Yes, the tenets are different. 

My children are not my weakness. They are my strength. They show me how beautiful it is when the only abiding rule in a relationship is unconditional love. Yes, I have changed as a person when I chose to be a mother. Some of the changes might be qualified as a "sacrifice" too! My "me time" has reduced to almost being non-existent. But that's because it has been replaced with "we time". The never ending snuggles, the story times, the peekaboo, the crazy nameless and often meaningless games. That’s my life line right now. And the funny part, this frenzied time will blur in to being a beautiful memory very soon. My boys will grow up. They won't need me to play peekaboo too long. They will have their own world. They won’t depend on me to bathe, feed and put them to sleep. But I know that our relationship will evolve for better with each passing day. I will be their friend, their mentor, their support system and their emotional anchor at different stages of our lives. Motherhood is a choice. A much cherished choice. I am not losing myself in them, I am finding my self . More and more, with each passing day.

And do we take holidays in any other relationship? What amount of work we do, what responsibilities we take in our lives, depends on the equation we create with people around us and our circumstances. Sharing responsibilities, supporting each other should be the rule and not the exception. We never retire from being a sister or a daughter or a father for that matter. Why should we retire from being a mother! Motherhood is not sacrifice, motherhood is not a social expectation to be ticked off, motherhood is not servitude, motherhood is not a job. It is a choice, it is a journey, it is a relationship. 

And to the two precious little souls who made me embark on this journey, I wish to tell them one day:
"Because of you
I can feel myself

slowly buy surely becoming the me,
I have always dreamt to be" (Tyler Knottingley Gregson)