Mar 4, 2014

Listen To Your mother....and maybe your Father too.

Usually when I hear "You've been selected !" it's followed by unlikely schemes for improbable vacations or offers to participate in time (and soul)-destroying surveys. Imagine my surprise when this time I found I'm about to perform at a wonderful public event called 'Listen To Your Mother'! After a pinch or two to check that I hadn't succumbed to jet-lag (just returned from a trip home, to Kolkata, India) I realized that indeed, I'm part of 'Giving motherhood a microphone' .Year 5 now in 32 cities all over the US.

Selections were based on live-auditions of original write-ups about motherhood. 15 speakers have been selected to perform 5-minute pieces for a live audience. As I learn more about some of my co-presenters, I'm a little overwhelmed at the significant talent pool that I find myself floundering in. I hope to meet the mark and am particularly glad we're reading from pre-written pieces with little room for impromptu gaffes. Though who knows, I might outdo myself and fall over in mid-speech or something. It's been known to happen.  I once fell off my high heels. From a standing position. Thud.
Boston's inaugural show will be on April 26th, at 2 pm at lovely, historic Old South Church in Copley Square. I hope some of my friends will come watch, but even more that many strangers will... and leave feeling moved and enriched in some ways. See the announcement (and hopefully buy tickets) HERE. A portion of the proceeds go to a local women's shelter so your hard earned money will get you a bit more than a few hours entertainment.
If you've better things to do that Saturday, like laundry, bills or belly-button-lint-harvesting, please worries on my account. There will be be videos on the LTYM web-site later and you can rest assured, I will press them upon you to be wow-ed by what is indubitably going to be the only  5 minutes of 'fame' I'm ever going to see (that is, if I can continue evading arrest).
In the midst of this celebration of 'Motherhood' though, this persistent and niggling thought in my jubilant mind: what about 'Fatherhood'?
Talk about unsung.
If hard-working Mothers have a valid carp about being taken for granted, dedicated Fathers have an even more heart-breaking grievance - practical invisibility. Or they ought to. There's plenty of invaluable parental instinct at work there too, though it tends to go under-appreciated. So while I feel awash in gratitude that my peer group of Mothers is lending me both, their ears and validation, here's my song to un-sung Fathers.  Or at least to the not-unsung-anymore father of my son. Hope there's a live event for them soon.

Fatherhood: Caution and not
     For every maternal gesture of caution I've advanced to our toddler, has been a firm paternal hand that encourages and reassures. From helping him conquer fear and scale steep rocky outcrops on hikes to figuring out a bike. That I'm not as much of an fussy mother as I used to be, is due to the same influence. Because there's someone ready to catch us when we fall, we found our feet and really don't fall that much. That deserves a song.

Fatherhood: Less = more
           For everything I am able to unlock in our son by talking, emoting and drawing him out is an equally key, more silent presence where he can go rest. For those times when a child needs to be heard more than spoken to. In fact I have been told outright that he prefers instructions 'from Baba, because he uses less words'. A good listener who guides when you ask and loves you even when you don't (ask).That deserves a song.


Fatherhood: Roosting places
       So much said, written, read about a mothers embrace yet, my computer hard-drive is simply littered with pictures of his restful moments at home, nestled up agains muscle-y chest and bristly chin. Our infant often slept better there than tucked in my arms. He regularly retires there for some peace even at the vintage age of 7. That deserves a song.

 Fatherhood: Respect, earned
I try to not over-praise but fall down hard on that job, more often than I'd like to admit. So his refusal to get excited like others (and even me!) over a soccer trophy at age 6 made me exhale in relief that I hadn't wrecked our child (yet). He just couldn't see why he deserved a trophy when their team didn't win the most games. I wondered where he'd learnt such honest self-appraisal that he was unmoved by peer approval - not because he did'nt care about them, but because he himself  did'nt think he'd earned the kudos. The penny dropped soon after when he cleared a level on 'Need for speed' (a Play Station game) and rushed to tell, not me, but his Baba. Not given to gushing or even frequent praise - compliments from him are treasured. Positive reinforcement comes via a steady stream of hugs and nods but the real stuff is for when Oyon has truly earned some respect. Oyon seems to know which praise counts as honest and real because he unfailingly gets it for his well-earned wins, minor though they may be. That deserves a song.
     I'll always remember one really bad meltdown Oyon had around age 4 or maybe 5. It was the epic kind where though the crisis was long past, the sobbing wouldn't, COULDN'T, stop. Sleep was the only cure but no amount of rocking, crooning, back-rubbing from could short-circuit the compulsive sobbing that was now freaking him out more that whatever had triggered the meltdown. I was starting to get anxious when his father came and lay down next to his hot little convulsing body. He quietly wrapped one arm around a small, shudderingshoulder and with the other, extended a single finger. Oyon instinctively reached for and clutched it and - still sobbing - slipped into slumber in minutes.

And that pretty much sums up my son's father.

Now Boston-peeps - come see some funny, articulate mothers, at the 'Listen to your mother' event on April 26th, 2pm at Old South. When you call or hug your mother afterwards (as I promise you will!), don't forget to 'Hey Dad!' your Father too. You may not remember it as clearly, but you listened to him too.

Oyon-ism (7+)
Oyon: Why's the shadow of my hand longer than my hand Mamma? Wait I know! Some of the suns light waves thingies get blocked by my hand and they squiggle around my hand and team up to make bigger shadows! Right?
Me: Isn't a shadow a place where there's NO light? How do light waves make shadows then?
Oyon: The 'no light' adds up.
Me: Well reasoned. Now finish your oatmeal please.

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