The news hit us like millions of light photons joyously torpedoing our bones. My little girl, you, had become a mother. My chest got filled with emotions beyond the bounds of expression. That unexpressed joy is now like an unfinished symphony trying to find right notes for the melody. With Vaani’s arrival, the lingering thought that my sojourn on this planet is nearing its end vanished like dew under sunshine. I saw my continuation in her. Pooja and Ashim, we cannot thank you enough for making us feel immortal.
Vaani is one change in our life which changes everything for better. I hope that I get to see the days when this bundle of concentrated sunshine cheerfully does innocuous mischiefs. I can feel in my heart that when she grows up as a young woman, her smiles would cause earthquakes in California.
Pooja, I am very proud of the way and ease with which you and Ashim have embarked on the journey of motherhood. I see nothing about you which does not make me proud. You never disappointed us and I have no doubt that you will be a very good nurturing mother. My piece of advice to you is not to ignore your needs in the process. Invest time in yourself. Engage yourself in fulfilling activities. Take dance or cooking classes. Take piano lessons, or my favorite, take walks in nature. Most importantly, take adequate rest. The time invested in yourself will make you perform the joyful activity of motherhood more efficiently and effectively.
This will be a rewarding, but at times overwhelming, journey. Based on my 35 years of parenthood, here are some thoughts I want to pass on.
- Practice solitude. The poet Rilke said “in solitude your judgements have their quite undisturbed development”. You develop an eye for seeing the things in their depth, a place where wisdom and love flow uninterrupted. The grain of light you carry within you would shine with cool light of thousand suns. Your everyday life would look richer to you.
- Work hard on creating an environment in your home that fosters education and instills a sense of wonder, awe, and curiosity. Provide an education that supports an experience of wonder, while providing knowledge that does not hinder the art of imagination. When you read a bedtime story, engage in conversation and encourage her to ask questions.
- Always remember to celebrate life, be grateful and invest in prayer. Mornings are a perfect time for celebration. A perfect time to converse with the higher all-knowing spirit with prayer of gratitude. A word of thanks from deep wells of heart is better than thousand mantras. The fragrance created by the prayer of gratitude will fill memory chambers of growing Vaani. This memory will put her on the path of resilience and humility. Remember, prayer is not done for asking but to converse with all pervading spirit. It is song of the soul; whose words start with thank you.
- Before going to sleep, as a regular discipline invite silence into your heart. Recall and restore the beauty that gets dirt on its mirror during hectic activities of the day. Have her join you when she is a couple of years old. Girls in true sense are their mother’s daughters and they love to imitate.
- Encourage dance and music. Dance with her for no obvious reason. Dance is poetry of motion. Nietzsche once said that the day that does not have dance in it is a lost day. Engage her in music very early. I have tremendous bias in favor of piano. This is the only instrument that establishes neural connections between left and right hemispheres of the brain like no other.
- Let her play in mud. We in the race of modernization have forgotten that moderate play in mud increases immunity. When she grows up to understand her body, tell her that walking bare foot on freshly rain water soaked earth is sensuous and earth at that time is loaded with all kind of antibiotics and such exposure boosts immunity.
- Enjoy nature. This is difficult given our increased obsession with technology, but it’s important to expose her to the beauty of the world. As mother I think it is important that you and Ashim take frequent nature trips and expose her to the mystery hidden behind the beauty of nature. In the presence of nature’s luxuriance sublime feelings and poetic imaginations join to create amplified epiphany. Bejeweled riverbanks, rainbows shimmering through mists of rapids, lightening bugs shining upon clues from stars would create rich tapestry of beautiful words that will permanently get etched on her heart.
You must think of your role in Vaani’s early life as that of a gardener. The gardener makes sure that the plant gets adequate sunshine, water, fertilizer, and keeps it free from bugs. In short he/she do everything what is best for the plant. Similarly for Vaani, you are to provide a learning environment where she will flourish, grow and come into her own. Pay attention to her interests and guide accordingly. But do not overload her, which will be counterproductive. Teach her to be kind and respectful to all people, even those who get left behind. You have always been a humble and polite individual, and I urge you to continue to hone these traits and pass them on to Vaani. Remember you are not a sculptor, therefore you cannot sculpt her, but it is the direction and example you provide that will be of importance.
As a young mother a lot of questions would rise in your mind. These are life’s questions. Cherish them with patience and live the questions. One day at appropriate juncture the answers will appear. The answers provided will come from depths where irony does not exist.
We do not get to choose, life is what is in front of us. I hope that she lives with this thought and also knows that her worth is not going to come from what she would do but by becoming a better person and her soul would show in noble action.
I have tried to live by most of what I have said. Some of it is observation. I have lived a very blessed life and these blessings have been secured by wisdom of my ancestors and age-old traditions. I have tried to pass on these in words in this letter to you.