In the heat of the moment today, I asked my teenage daughter how many times in the recent past, had she shown her appreciation towards me. She and I both knew the answer but I just wanted to say it out loud. I just wanted her to feel bad. I just wanted her to fee guilty because she had make me feel bad. Having spit the poison out at my family, I stepped into the kitchen drowning my tears into the Sambhar steam filling the kitchen. She came to the kitchen and apologized for making me feel bad. But she still didn’t say she loved me. She still didn’t say how much she appreciated me for all that I do for her. She went up to her room and I continued in silence working on the Sambhar, wondering why it tasted like salted water. No matter what I did, it just refused to improve.
I gave up on the Sambhar, knowing very well, that is not what was wrong in our household today. What needed work were my thoughts, my emotions and my relationship with my daughter. It has been a long time since I write. But today, words welled up in my throat, trickling down my eyes and rushing out through my fingers onto my word editor. I had so much to say, so much to record that I had to write it down.
I knew I was the one who had to apologize to my daughter for expecting love and appreciation. It was almost like asking me to be paid for all the hard work I had put up in bringing her. It was like measuring and quatifying my love and commitment for them and asking them to return it to me with interest. Was I loving them because I wanted to be loved back in return? Was I taking care of them because I needed to be cared for in return?
I have known the answer to these questions, yet I ask them, to myself, time and time again. I know my answer and the answer is “No”. No, I do not love them expecting love in return. No. I do not take care of them, expecting care in return, not now, not when I am old (I plan to keep myself strong enough both mentally and physically to take care of myself even in old age. In case I fail, at that, I am not my children’s responsibility.)
The fact is that I never expect anything from my children. They owe me nothing, not even their love or their appreciation cause whatever I have done for them, was my own hearts longing. They have never asked me to give them good food, secure household, and a bright future. They never asked me to be around for dropping to classes, managing their friends and their hobbies. Come to think of it, they did not even ask me to give them birth. I did and continue to do all this, simply because I love to. I love to take care of them. I love to see them grow. I love to love them. I just couldn’t see life any other way.
Yes, it hurts me when they disrespect me or fight with me or digress from the path that I am trying to build for them. Yes, I would love if they love me and take care of me. But honestly, it is ok, if they don’t. Cause my love for them is not dependant on their love for me. I will continue to love them and be there for them no matter what. And this is not a promise to them or to myself, it is just the way it is for me. I just can’t help it or change it.
So, here it is, my last few sentences for my daughter, “I am sorry for demanding love and appreciation from you. I am sorry because I do not do things for you expecting you to love me back in return. By demanding love from you, I have let my own love down. I am sorry. I know you love me and I know you respect me and you show it in your own way. Your way of showing love is not exactly my way of showing love and it is ok. It is ok, if your love for me grows less/more over time. Do not ever try and love me more. Do not ever try and make me happy. You make me happy each day by simply being you. You lead your life the way you want to without having debts that you have repay to your mother.