Monday, 21 October 2013

Cutting the umbilical cord

The phrase 'cutting the umbilical cord', metaphorically denotes the few intangible yet real phases in our life. A pregnancy changes a lady inside out. She experiences a unique bond with life. She no longer is the same person. There descends on her a sense of purpose and one way or the other she has to start taking decisions, sometimes including whether to go ahead with the baby or not. 

These decisions strangely affect her more than it affects anyone else around. She goes through emotional roller-coaster rides that create many invisible umbilical cords. After the birth of her child the physical umbilical cord is cut and even the remnants fall off within a few days. But for the mother, to mentally cut the many invisible umbilical cords causes so much of pain and anxiety and every stage only gets tougher than the other.

When the child is past 10 months, she stops breast feeding the baby and in the process, goes through withdrawal symptoms, which a person who has quit smoking can understand to some extent. She feels that the distance between her and the child has widened.

I went to the paediatrician the day before my daughter’s first day of school. The excuse being, I wanted to know if she was having fever and if she could go to school the next day. The doctor simply told me to read the poem on children written by Khalil Gibran. The first two lines of the poem go thus:

"Your children are not your children,
They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself”.

I felt better. Umbilical cord number 3, I told my husband, tears streaming down my cheeks.

But in time we get used to it, until they reach the first grade, when they are away for almost 6 hours. For working mothers this is a boon that they have been waiting for. No more running between crèches and baby sitters. But for non-working mothers this phase is umbilical cord number 4.

As we try and adjust to the ever changing motherhood horizon, the girl children grow fast and when they attain maturity, they slowly stop discussing their matters with the mother. The 5th umbilical cord snaps! And this stage is very difficult as the mother is herself going through mid-life crisis.

The day our children walk free with a job or otherwise, fit enough to fend for themselves, a strange sense of pride fills our heart. Once this feeling subsides, we realize that the 6th umbilical cord has snapped.

The ultimate umbilical cord, the 7th one snaps on the day our children get married and embark on their life’s journey.

Their journey and experiences with cutting the umbilical cord will now begin. A sense of completed purpose keeps us going. We now become a moral support as our children struggle to cut the umbilical cords, one after the painful next.