I sit with my mom and sob as I pour my heart out about a troubled last week, and as I start to cry, my usually oblivious preschooler looks up worriedly and asks, “Why are you crying Mamma?”
“Nothing darling! They’re tears of joy – you remember I told you about that concept. I was crying with happiness because I was remembering how you always tell me I’m the best mamma in the world!” She looks down at her blocks, unconvinced, and mutters, “No! You look really sad for that!” I’m shocked by her sensitivity and insight.
I read somewhere that girls are very tuned in to facial clues while boys are more observant about what’s going on in the environment. I know for a fact that my little monkey may live in her imaginary world all the time, seemingly clueless to the present, weaving crazy stories about her pretend Pakistani husband Chillu Purkhan who took her to see the Eiffel Tower, or making up tall tales about cooking up “Pakistanian” specialities for her visiting in-laws like “Pangkor” and “Buskair”. It’s easy for me to forget how emotionally cued in she really is when I see her talk about her Dr. Seuss-style mad, mad world, but one tear, and she’s right by my side.
I remember when she was only a year and a half, verbally quite advanced for her age, kissing me and repeating, “Mamma.. no cry. No sad. Ranya wipe your tears!” And recently, the one time that I fell and hit the equivalent of a funny bone in my knee, and was rendered incoherent for a minute in the bathroom, she brought the whole house down, telling them with great urgency that I was hurt (when I had recovered just as she stepped out of the door).
Sometimes in life, you feel down and out; you feel like you’re no good at anything, like you don’t have a deserving bone in your body, but no matter what you feel, when you look into your child’s eyes, you see the unbridled love and adoration they feel for you. One only encounters that kind of pure love in the eyes of their parents or grand-parents; the one that doesn’t keep questioning whether I’m worth it to begin with; the love that just keeps loving, despite the number of shoutings given, punishments meted out or angry words shared.
Maybe the reason God gifts us with children is so that when our parents are no longer around, we can still have cheerleaders in the world, standing on the sidelines, rooting for us. When we feel like the scum of the earth, we can look into our children’s eyes and feel that comforting love that comes without condition, and helps us resurrect our souls again!