The ones who raised me…

My father doesn’t cook.

In all my years of staying with my parents, I have seen him prepare a meal a maximum of three times. And even then when we had no other option.

Still, he did manage to, surprisingly, teach me how a man should be in his home. By his actions.

You see, even though he didn’t cook, he did all the other chores of the house.

Chopping vegetables, cleaning if required, laundry of the whole house. And by laundry I do not mean putting clothes into a machine and switching it on. I mean with hand. Personally washing them with laundry soap. Washing machines didn’t become a norm among middle and lower-middle class families in India until a few recent years. People had their reservations with them. The same way they have it with a dishwasher. The whole: ‘We clean better than this…’ and ‘I can do it faster…’.

Dude, then don’t complain of not being able to find time when you choose to be stuck in chores all day long. And this is in reference to those who live in this part of the world and yet want to lead a life pretending they have no resources to make their lives a little bit easier. You absolutely do not have my sympathies. Especially when I see the kind of reliance people with needs, especially the elderly back in India, have on their house-help. Unfortunately, the elderly are the most vulnerable to being scammed or be taken advantage of.

That said, this is not a blanket statement. To do that would be widespread generalization of everyone’s circumstances. It is specifically targeted to those mentioned above.

Anyway…reverting to what I was talking of earlier, without getting too involved in the kitchen, my father did his part silently in raising us. He showed us a portion of what a husband should be like. One of the most vivid memories I have of celebrations, is my dad sitting and chopping anything and everything my mom needed. Onions, vegetables, salad, fruits, ginger, garlic, dry fruits; you name it. Even when he came to visit us here, he took over the ironing our clothes. So for me, this was always the standard.

In fact, it would be unfair to not include the other men I spent my childhood, teenage and adolescent years around. My uncles (maternal and paternal) took care of their own things. Did their laundry. Made tea when they wanted to without relying on the women of the house. Served themselves lunch without bothering anyone. So for me, it was the norm. It was, how I assumed, all the dads and uncles behaved.

Imagine my surprise (read: Shock!) when I saw how such normal acts were seen as ‘supportive’, or ‘progressive’, or ‘you-are-lucky-to-have-him-as-your-husband’, in a condescending tone, often said by women.

You see, I absolutely encourage spouses to value and cherish each other, be grateful for each other. Yet, fail to see how such simple, mandatory, everyday tasks, make anybody an epitome of perfection.

Yeah Auntyji…I married a man. Not signed a deal to raise him. :eye roll:

In short, I am his wife. Not his mother. He already has one. To demand and expect of his wife to turn into his mother, would be a little creepy, don’t you think?

I ardently wish people associate the word ‘Independence’ not just with money and a vehicle. But also emotions, ability to handle the daily things life throws at us. Maturity is also independence. So is money management. Budgeting household expenses. Teaching your child. Some people are independent in one way and dependent on the other. And it is what it is. Neither good nor bad. Just normal.

Our kids observe us daily. They see what we do. How we behave. They take cues. Adapt it without realizing it. It all will come in handy when they will try to build their own lives someday. These are the tools that we will leave them with.

Children who grow up seeing their fathers as much involved with them as their mothers will know the kind of parents they would like to be some day. They might imbibe certain traits and discard others. And that’s OK.

Girls who see their fathers value, cherish and honor their mothers, will know what they deserve. And in all likelihood protest against what they know they don’t.

Boys who grow up seeing the same, in all probability will know how to cherish their wives and raise their daughters.

Parenting is the activism which rarely gets the importance it deserves.

This is not an appreciation post. It is simply me reminiscing the effect men around me have had on me.

Were these men perfect? Absolutely not.

Did they commit blunders? Make mistakes? Hell yeah! Till today, merely remembering a lot of these mistakes strikes a nerve.

Do I think they are the best? Nope. Not in a thousand worlds.

Do I idolize them? Not one bit.

Then why did I even write this? Simply to acknowledge the fact that they did their best. Might not always be the best decision to take, or the best behavior to display, but it was their best at that time.

As the child who witnessed it all. The one who has now grown up and matured. The one who has learnt to separate the individual from their designations. And the one who has children of their own, I have learnt to see people as people. Flawed, fallible people. People who have their weaknesses and their strengths. People who are not perfect.

I am not a fan of the ‘at least…’ trope. At least they didn’t do such and such. At least you had such a person.

This trope rids people of accountability and essentially encourages them to not grow individually. So, to put it in plain words: They did the best they could. Sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously, other times unconsciously.

Could they have been better? Yes.

So, what have I discovered until now? That I must be better so that the generation I am raising can evolve more than I have managed to.

By marking the standard, they gave me a substantial starting point. That formed the basis of who I am in this moment.

I have always believed that my upbringing was not done by just my parents. It was done by every person I have come into contact with. By those I still come in contact with. Growth and journey only ever end when one becomes too exhausted to continue. I think I still have it in me to carry on.

So…to everyone I have ever crossed paths with…thank you for raising me. To hand me the tools to help me chip away the parts which held me back and polish what enhanced my Self.

To those who are no longer around: Every part of our journey cannot accommodate all who climb on board. Old have to leave to make way for the new.

To those that stayed: You kept me rooted.

To those who have left this world: I wish I had known you more.

To the new ones climbing aboard: Here’s hoping to a good many years ahead!

And finally…the ones who are neither here nor there. Those who have one foot in, one out. The ones who don’t really want to be friends but still want to stick around just in case some need arises in the future. The ones who are too smart for their own good: Yeah…I see you and recognize you buddy. You are around because your behavior amuses me. The whole drama-free entertainment at my disposal. Plus I wish you’d, for once, fall off the ledge you are so precariously teetering on and get severely bruised so at least you could grow a spine and learn to pick a side to stand on. Now this is the at least I could promote!

Just kidding!

I do not wish any falling off the ledges for anyone.

Or do I? *wink* *wink*

Fin.

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