While I was in Europe for work last month both my sons had their exams. I was tensed and it was easily visible in all my actions. While the younger-one is sincere and sat with me to study before the exams but the elder one, who is in his pre-teens refused to agree on the need to study prior to the exams. I tried to explain but he wouldn’t budge from his argument. His logic being, “mom, you only say that you are not after grades then why are you pestering me to study?” well, it is wiser to stop the argument once you know that you have pre-teen on the other side.
I tried to put things in place like craft work needed at school, any projects done, doctors list on the fridge, menu well explained to cook for all meals, emergency numbers of stationary –wala, grocery store etc. Mothers who travel can very well relate here.
Two days before the travel my younger son fell sick. Being asthmatic he had terrible wheezing attack. The sight of Abhi struggling to breathe was enough to make me panic . We saw the doctor and tried to put things in place. By this time, he had already missed his three exams. Elder one did not take this too well as to why he was supposed to go the school and appear for exams? There was no logic and explanation given for this and like a very stern mother I ordered – You have to so you have to. There are times when you have to put your foot down on some absurdly irrational arguments.
My flight was at 10.30 pm and even at 6 pm I hadn’t even removed the suitcase from the loft. My mother-in –law was getting hyper and questioned continuously if I had made up my mind or not.I was in a very indecisive state. I never wanted to leave my –although- now- stable -son behind and I couldn’t say “no” to my team as well. I was too overwhelmed by the entire scene around me .
Finally, I sat with Abhi and asked him if I could go, if he would be fine, if he was ok with mamma not being around?
His reply was, “mamma although I want you around but I am much better now and dadu, dida (grandparents), aunty(maid) will be home so I’ll be taken care of . Also , doctor has asked not to go to the school until I am totally fine so, I think you can go”
I thanked my boy for this but knew the bottom line – Doctor has asked not to go the school until I am fine.
Finally , the eldest boy ,Som my husband told that I could carry on and things are manageable .That confidence was enough for me .
At 7.45 pm I removed the suitcase from the loft , dumped the things in and I was at the airport at 9.30pm
Travel went on fine with lots of video calls , desperate calls , solve-my-fight calls , big brother-is-hitting me calls .
Then came the day when the doctor allowed Abhi to go to the school and earth came shattering down because it was Hindi test . I got some 10 calls (irrespective of the time difference) that Hindi exam is the toughest thing on the planet and I am responsible for making it worse . With lot of tears and sobs we somehow managed to revise Hindi over video call . Thankyou Vodafone international roaming for the perfect network which I never get in my domestic travels . Phew !! we managed Hindi, although Abhi wasn’t too happy as he is a very meticulous student and wouldn’t take any shortcuts towards learning .
Now , came another bummer . My elder son called up.He doesn’t talk much , because he only speaks through his WWE moves . Anyway after lot of persuasion he didn’t speak much but tears rolled down . I kept asking him but he refused to tell . Well, we mothers have extraordinary sixth sense and I knew the issue . I didn’t tell him anything but told him to be strong and will talk once back . He has crossed the stage of baby talks but as men never grow up and same applies to my 43 yr. , 12 yr. and 8 yr. old boys .All of them need cajoling and sweet mamma talks at times .
I was home after 10 days . After a customary hug , boys directly jumped to the bag of gifts, which I discounted because I was home like that student who has not fished the homework of the strictest teacher and wondering how to face the situation .
Due to jet lag I slept almost the day and finally when I met them at dinner I had some very heart breaking disclosures :
“You went leaving me behind even when I asked you not to go”
Me (silently ) my dear boy , you only asked me go and told me that you are better.
“You left me to study Hindi alone”
My (mouth shut) , Yes , I know . You never studied Hindi with me before the exam.
“You are responsible for my poor marks in Hindi”
Sid as ever , refrained from speaking anything . I then used my motherly magic and sweet talked him only to listen , “it is because of you I flunked in geography ”
I took all this with a pinch of salt and felling terribly guilty.
I was anyway swaying due to jet lag and with all the blame game on my head I thought a wonderful red wine will ease out the stress . As if my children read my mind and there they sputtered , “mom, you are on diet and you are into sports, you can’t have wine”
I just grinned as shutting mouth at this moment was very wise .
I was constantly reminded for next few days that I am ONLY person who did not do the duty of teaching , revising and persuading them to study for exams . I am the ONLY person who was responsible for their poor grades .
It took me around two to three days to come out of my jet lag and flu state .
I got up that morning with a fresh smile , packed them off to school , went for my strenuous gym session , attended not so important calls and mails , heard my mother over a call on parenting and significance of mother in a child’s life .
Once done , I was ready to welcome my children from school. I felt like a wounded soldier who has to give his last shot before succumbing to his bullets .
Over the lunch “I am the only person responsible” issue again came up .
Now , it was my turn . I was pondering over what all my children said over last few days . Cried silently in the pillow , ran faster in the eve , did more crunches , lifted heavier weights to burn it out . But this should be communicated to them – Clear and stern .
I asked my boys to listen to me attentively without cutting me in between .
Here is my speech ,
My dear boys , first I am sorry as I was unable to fulfil your expectation . I am sorry that because of me you got poor marks . I am sorry that I left when you wanted me .
But , tell me something
Did you listen to me when I said that it is always better to study before the exams and not wait till the last moment ?
Did you revise and complete your lessons on time ?
Did you even think that as you have the job to study and go to school, your mother has a job too?
You had so many people around you to take care when you were unwell , who was with me when I was down with flu during my travel ?
Your ONLY work was to study for your test , while my work was to attend all your desperate calls , mange with the cook , follow up on your WhatsApp group as you would not even know what do in the school next day , revise the lessons with you over video call , mange my work and team .
It is very easy to blame your mother for your failure but did you even try to put in best effort ?
I would like to make it very clear , that your mother has a job which she loves the way she loves you both . My work will make me travel but that doesn’t mean I am irresponsible . My work and commitments will increase over the coming years and we all have to accept it . Blaming me for your poor performance is not accepted . I am deeply hurt by your words . I thought I have two very sensible, intelligent and cooperative boys but you proved me wrong . I would expect more understanding when I travel next even during your exams . Let’s work it out together boys .
Phew!!!! I said all this in one go. Perks of being a national rank holder in debates and elocutions you see .
There was a silence for few minutes . we looked into each other’s eyes for a while and with a deep breath my younger one said , “but mamma , you can’t travel when our exams are on”
I smiled slyly because I knew whatever I narrated above will be reaped again. I’ll keep on giving this speech until they get it crystal clear.
If you are 21th century kid and then I am also 21th century mom, bring it on!