I was 10-years-old when I got that unforgettable gift on my birthday: my shining blue cycle. Lots of feelings came rushing while I first tried to learn riding it — the fear of falling, the excitement of learning something new, a confidence that if my friend could do it, so could I, and, an anxiety of getting embarrassed if I fail or fall in front of my friends. I always had my father right behind me, guiding me and encouraging me. Occasionally finding the mistakes, but always helping.
Two decades later there was another special gift — a baby. Suddenly, similar emotions course through me: a fear mixed with excitement, anxiety mixed with joy, and a confidence shadowed by self-doubt. This time, its my in-laws who are backing me.
I got on the cycle and tried to pedal and fell down right away. Success takes its time. It also takes a few bad falls, but slowly I got used to my cycle and it got used to me. I learnt how to cycle and use the bell. I sometime cycled too fast for my father to run along. At times he would let go of the cycle and sometimes I fell. At times he could come running to pick me up; at times he would watch with a heart filled with dread — for the cycle....and me.
The instructions from my father on cycling were: Look ahead, manage the direction and don’t get distracted by small stones.
Mothering, on the other hand, is not too different. It too requires time, inevitable falls and guidance from elders. Even after several years I am learning how to ‘mother’ clear days, on lousy days, on ‘I don’t want food’ days, on ‘I want all things’ days, on ‘I don’t want to share anything’ days, and on ‘I don’t want a sister’ days. One is learning when to let tempers fly and when exactly to call a therapist for inner peace.
The lessons I learnt on mothering are to look ahead, manage the direction and don’t stress over small issues.
Over the years I mastered the cycle and felt the wind through my hair as I raced down the road on it. My blue cycle and I became inseparable. I rode it when I was happy, when I was sad, when I needed some air or a break. Riding on it made me feel totally alive. I learnt to find joy in sharing the cycle too. Sometimes the cycle and I didn’t want each other, but that was only for a while.
Mastering the art of mothering is a whole different experience and, how can one forget, soon there will be a new shining blue cycle waiting to be unwrapped.