Motherhood

I won’t be able to protect you from the bullies at school.  I won’t be able to stop you from skinning your knees, or stop that jerk from breaking your heart.  If you get cancer, short of taking you to treatment, there is nothing I will be able to do.

All I can say as I push your stroller is that I will care for you better than I care for myself, and that if something happens to you it will be because I couldn’t prevent it, not because I didn’t want to, or didn’t try.  If I hear a gunshot I will lie down over you.  I can’t stop the car from crashing if we are driving–but tumne jab bhi hoegaa, wo mujhe bhi hoga–whatever happens to you will happen to me, too.

I look at your chubby little hands and remember how last year, as per the Hindu duty, I initiated my father’s cremation.  It crosses my mind that if I live to old age, you will be my parent and care for me.  And that with those chubby little hands, one day you too will consign my body to the flames, and visit the funeral home to carry me home in a paper bag, ashes and bones.  It will be a long ride for you.  It is an eerie thought.  I try not to dwell on it.

That is the gravity of what I signed up for, when I created your lives.  My life isn’t about me any more; I had my turn in the sun–and I didn’t even realize it was going on.  Now it is about you.  Being a family, the responsibility for your well-being, and (as someone said) to have my heart live outside my body for the rest of all of our lives.

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