Vivaan turned 4 last month. I have experienced the deluge of all emotions I could ever imagine over these last 4 years. The all-consuming nature of parenthood combined with the absolute power of loving and being loved by another human. These beautiful paradoxes juxtaposed right next to one another still fascinate me and make me smile (and cry!), though my pendulum often swings to joy way more than I would have ever imagined. Yet, things haven’t gotten old or boring after 4 years though I will not lie, the sheer volume of thoughts in my head and the tasks on my list can overwhelm at times. But, for the most part, I also feel good about this so-called elusive thing called work-life balance, but oh I digress.
Back to Vivaan…
Here is a letter that Lindsey Mead has inspired me to write. She is an incredible writer and pens down these beautiful letters to her kids on their birthdays and it is my (belated) turn now. You are a gift in my life in so many ways, thank you, Lindsey
Thank you for yet another incredible year to be your mom. A year that was challenging with 2 of you, a million moments where you both needed me at the same time. It was a year that reminded me I could wholeheartedly love you both at the same time even though yes, taking you to the bathroom and nursing Saveer at the same time was a fun project! I am grateful you can now go to the bathroom on your own.
You have struggled with school – a lot to be honest. You have told us it is boring, and you often cry on Sunday evenings and Monday mornings. It is one of the hardest parts of watching you grow is seeing you in pain and I must remind myself that this is a part of your life at this point. We spent many months finding another school and we have finally found one and hopefully you’ll enjoy this one. You have wanted a forest school and even convinced me – “Mama, can you find a school where I can do my art projects and tracing outside and not in a loud class. My ears hurt in so much noise.” You like quiet spaces over noisy ones and you even asked grandma – “All of you are staying over in our house (for my sister’s wedding)? That’s too many people and it will get noisy!”
On that same note, you didn’t want a big birthday party and asked for a camping trip instead. I tried to convince you to get your friends in the park and we could do outdoor activities, but you insisted to have it your way. I learnt to accept you and your choices and remember that it’s “your birthday” and it should be celebrated the way you want it. We booked a campsite, months in advance only to have to welcome rain that day and chose to go to the museum instead. You were happy.
You have been asking for a big sister. I haven’t cracked the mystery on why, but it melts my heart. You have said – “No way” to a baby sister, only big sister is what you want. I don’t know how to do this.
You love to hike and joined me on most of my 52 hikes this past year. My favorite was a 3-mile hike in Marin and I hope to do it again with you this year. We love reading the Athleta & REI brochure that arrives in the mail and we talk about eating broccoli and protein so we both can hike big hills together when you are big, “hmmm maybe when I am 10 years old, mama” is what you say.
Your relationship with Saveer both inspires and frustrates me at the same time. I am learning to remind myself this is how siblings are. You both fight like you are enemies. Though if I am honest, I have to say he clearly knows how to instigate you and push down the tall tower that you spent 10 minutes building and it takes you 2 seconds to punch him in his tummy, ouch. And yet, the way you both hug, kiss and look out for each other is one of the most joyful moments of my day. You even told Santa that “I don’t need anything, but Saveer doesn’t have a train conductor costume so can you please bring one for him?”
I typically don’t go grocery shopping with the two of you after school/work but one day I braved this adventure. I was a little irritable and unknowingly repeated some version of “Get out soon, we are getting late” and you very assertively spoke up – “Mama, don’t say the same thing more than once. It only makes it worse.” I just looked at you in awe, smiled and said, “I am sorry Vivaan, you are right.”
I have also been told – “If you will not be nice to me, I won’t either. This is how it is mommy.”
One day Sumit and I were arguing for long in the morning and at bedtime, you told me – “Mama you were not kind to papa.” Thank you, Vivaan for calling me out because I truly wasn’t kind. I was hurt but harsh words are never the right answer in a marriage.
You love the arts; all kinds of pretend & imaginative play and I hope we can keep this love of yours alive. You love to ask questions and get your hands dirty, literally. We cook and bake a lot. You love being in the kitchen. Lately, you have been enjoying doing dishes. The other night you washed the Vitamix on your own.
We try and meditate before bed. Okay, I try and meditate, and you enjoy your opportunity to turn on headspace on my phone. I trust that you are vicariously getting some of the benefits though I have been told – “meditation is boring, mama.” But then the other day when I was having big tears, you came up to me and said – “Mama, take a few deep breaths, you will calm down and feel better.”
We have been working on helping you stay focused and complete a task at hand. You can sometimes get frustrated and want to give up. I have also noticed that you have a strong desire to please and not disappoint us. I hope you know that you are always loved no matter what even though there are moments you may not feel that way. I am learning to practice unconditional love while still holding high standards for you. I hope you develop a strong moral compass of doing the right thing for your own conscience and not to make us proud.
Your friendships are powerful, and I love how much you care for your friends. Yet, I have also noticed that things can be binary. X can either be good or bad, but we are trying to teach you that sometimes, good people make bad choices and X can hit you if you are upset and you can speak up for yourself and tell him not to hit you. Your teacher told us that you can get possessive of your best friend playing with others.
Finally, I have experienced the vulnerability of loving your child so closely and the fear that comes up with such love. There absolutely are moments when I wish time would stand still and I’d just spend hours playing with you, talking to you and listening to your stories. I recognize this is a very short window where I have such a close view of your world and what a blessing it is to be trusted and loved so much. Yes, there absolutely are moments when I hope you fall asleep, so I can have 5 minutes of quiet before I sleep myself. However, there are very few things as joyful as our bedtime giggles giving way to cozy snuggles, you tightly holding my arms and your deep breaths putting me to sleep.
I am blessed and honored to be your mom. Happy birthday, Vivaan!
This is so, so lovely. I’m particularly stuck by her comment to Santa about the train conductor costume: how generous! I used to beg my mother for an older brother and she’d look helplessly at me: that’s one thing I truly can’t give you.
Happy four. It’s such a gift, such a trip, all of it. Which you evoke so beautifully. xo