Monday, October 8, 2007

A little thing called love...

My father is visiting from India. Now, take a deep breath before you read further. He's been staying with us for the last 6 months......and we love every minute with him!!! I've been fortunate enough to have my mother visit three times in the last seven years. The last time was when I was expecting Shiv. She stayed with us for 3 months to help with the baby. Her presence helped more than I could imagine, since Ranjit had started his new job in Pittsburgh, and I had to stay behind with Shiv to sell the house in Cleveland. So, while my husband was away 5 days of the week, acquainting himself with a different company and city, my mother and son bonded.

There's something very endearing about watching a grandparent interact with their grandchild. There's a certain calmness and peace about them that you never really got to see growing up. I don't think my parents really had the time or energy to really enjoy my company, because they were more focused on meeting my basic needs. Don't get me wrong, though; they've been wonderful parents and still are. What I mean is that as a parent, sometimes the responsibilities and mundane duties are what can prevent you from sitting back and just indulging in your child's affections. When I look back at my childhood, I have so many wonderful and fun memories. But I also recollect that my father had to be away on work for long hours and days, so he could provide the best for us. I remember my mother always making my birthdays really special with her home-made cake and deserts, but I'm also aware of how frustrated and exhausted she would be when she was unable to communicate with me.

But now it's different for both of them. Of course, they still have responsibilities of their own, which seem never-ending sometimes; paying the bills, cooking meals, attending endless family functions, etc. Now, they can allow themselves the freedom to relax and laugh more. To let down their guard, be silly and monkey around with their grandchild. I never realised how much joy my child would bring my parents until he was born. For them, he is a gift from God. An acknowledgment of their dedication and commitment as parents. A reflection of their identities, virtues and complexities.

In the last 6 months, I've seen my father and my little boy develop a beautiful relationship with one another. My father has never been known to be demonstrative in his affections. He's never said, "I love you!", or hugged us instinctively. He's done so much more though. I feel his love when he lets me sleep in in the mornings, while he attends to Shiv; I know he cares when he insists on doing the dishes in the evening after I've spent hours in the kitchen making dinner; when he makes my favourite dish without me asking him to.... But I do see a different person now. And that's the magic of a child. Shiv brings out the best in my father. He makes him smile and laugh more. He makes him want to hug him back. He makes him return his tender kisses. He make him give him high-fives, and say, "Good job!!!" very proudly. Shiv makes my father do all these wonderful things that I have seen him do so rarely, and I know that it doesn't feel forced in any way.

My husband asked my father whether he would miss Shiv when he returned to India. My father smiled and simply said, "I don't know". But deep down, I know he will. I know he will miss Shiv running to him every morning, calling out "Ajja" (grandpa). I know he'll miss playing "cookie" (peek-a-boo) with him. He'll miss Shiv trying to feed him his half-eaten drool-soaked grape. He'll miss listening to those funny animal noises during diaper changes. And most of all, my father will miss Shiv holding his face and gently giving him an "omma" on his cheek. But I think what will hurt the most is me not being able to see any of this for another one year.....

1 comment:

Jen said...

Isn't it amazing the profound appreciation you suddenly get for your parents, once you have a child of your own? My dad is enjoying being a grandpa so much! He is even changing diapers -something my mom says he never did with me!