It was a lazy summer afternoon. Priya was lying in her bed listening to songs. Her mother was cleaning the kitchen as they were just done with lunch.
‘Why do you have to always clean things right away, mom? You’ve also just had lunch. You should also lie down for a bit”, Priya said.
“Instead, you should also help me with this, don’t you think Piyu?’, her mother asked. “And I have been asking you to go have a bath since the morning, and you haven’t done it. I don’t appreciate this laziness at all”.
“I have just had lunch, ma, now I can’t have bath. Your highness yourself have taught me not to do that”, Priya said cheekily.
Her mother sighed in disbelief and shook her head. “I don’t understand what the problem is with your generation. Why are you all so lazy, I’ll never know,” she said under her breath.
“Also mom, I am going to try this new intermittent fasting thing, so don’t make lunch for me tomorrow, I’ll manage, okay?” Priya said yelling from the bedroom so that her mother in the kitchen could hear her.
“What? I can’t her you. Come here and talk”, her mother said sternly. She was visibly disappointed in Priya.
Priya yelled louder, “NO LUNCH FOR ME TOMORROW MA, I”LL EAT DIRECTLY IN THE EVENING”.
Her mother stopped cleaning, went to her room and said, “Why? Why will you eat directly in the evening? You’ll get acidity if you do that. Don’t do it.”
“Why don’t you let me be, ma?” Priya said being annoyed. “Why are you always trying to micromanage my life?”
“I don’t do anything of that sort, I am your mother and I will tell you what is right for you. There is nothing wrong with that. All mothers will do the same for their kids”, her mom said.
Priya could not believe what she heard. “You don’t micromanage my life ma? Oh come on. You don’t let me choose what I want to wear. You nag me to take a bath early for god-knows-what reason. You don’t let me stay over at my friends place. You force me to learn to cook. Is this not controlling my life?”
Her mother looked at Priya in sheer disbelief. “This is not controlling your life. I am just telling you what is right for you”, she said.
“But I am 26, ma! I should be able to take my own decisions. And you should be able to let me, don’t you think?” Priya said with tears forming in her eyes.
Her mother said in a concerned voice, “Piyu, but I am older than you na? I have seen life a little more than you, and I have more experience than you. And ultimately, I want what is best for you, isn’t that right?”, she said stroking her hair gently.
“Yes mom, I don’t doubt that at all. I know you want the best for me. But how do you know what is best for me? How does anyone know? No one knows! Which is why I am asking you should let me do things my way. Would the world collapse if I shower in the evening instead of the morning on one Sunday? This isn’t anything but you trying to control me. And honestly, I don’t even think it’s to prove anything. I think you’re just used to it.”
Priya’s last sentence took her mother by surprise. Priya looked the other way and buried her head in the pillow. Her mother sat there in silence, reflecting upon what Priya had just said, while caressing her.
After Priya fell asleep on the bed, her mother did not stop feeling uneasy. Thinking about what Priya had said just before sleeping. She decided to call her mother and talk about it.
“Hi ma, how are you doing?”, Priya’s mother said, and told her the entire story.
Priya’s nani started laughing. “Piyu is just like you, and also not like you at the same time”, she said. “You also hated me telling you what to do, didn’t you?”
“Not at all, I used to obey you and dad always, no?”, said Priya’s mother.
“What a load of rubbish. Haha. You were not as lazy as Piyu is, I agree, but you gave me a hard time because you did not live the way I wanted, too” she said.
She continued, “Look Varsha, I understand what you are going through. I was in your place a few decades ago too. The thing is, that we parents get so used to controlling our kids’ life since their birth. And it is essential, no doubt, when they are kids. We need to shape them, give them good values as best as we can. What we are striving to do is make them into individuals that can think on their own because we know we are not going to be around forever. But once they actually turn into individuals that can think for themselves, we can’t seem to let go.”
“But ma, I’ve had a lot more experience than Priya, isnt it? And all I am trying to do is to help her not make the mistakes I did. I want her to be better than me, I am sure you understand that.”, Varsha said, looking for validation.
“I do not doubt your intentions for a second, my love. But you have to let the kids make mistakes of their own. And let them know that you will be there for them to fall back on, when they make a mistake.”, said the nani.
“So what”, continued Varsha, “Am I not supposed to tell her anything? Not supposed to give her any advice? Just watch her make mistakes?”
“Of course not, love. You must give them advice. With all the experience you have got. But expecting them to take the advice each time, and act accordingly screams ego. Your kids are adults now. And you both have raised them well. You just have to trust that you have raised them well and give them the choice to make their decisions themselves. Nagging them, for small things like bathing and what to wear, or even for bigger things like whom to marry or what career to pursue, doesn’t work. It’s their life and you have to trust them with it.”
“Hmm”, sighed Varsha.
“I know, love. It is not easy. We are so involved in our kids’ life since they are small children, and letting go of that is definitely difficult. But the sooner you do it, the sooner you’ll be at peace”, said the wise nani.
“How did you do it ma? Give me something that will make it easy for me. How did you let go?”, asked Varsha.
“I’ll let you know when I do”, said nani and both of them burst into laughter.