Mum’s Virtues – Draft

When I was in college there was a trend to have someone (usually a male) read the palm of your hand to learn about your future. I think that more than a trend it was an excuse for the boys to hold a girl’s hand and charm her with their abilities. After much deliberation and recommendations from other friends, I also gave in and asked an amateur fortune (read story) teller to tell me my future.

He told me several things that day. And truth be told many of them have come true. A home away from home, travel in the early years of my life and a long courtship that will eventually result in marriage were just some of his tellings. Once he had answered all the typical things girls want to know, I asked him if a career as a writer was on the cards. He smiled and said he did not need to read my hand for that. “You are too impatient to ever write a book. Short notes and essays may be, and perhaps oratorical ventures (It was easy for him to say that, I was an active debater back in the day), but a book – perhaps not.”

And as more years pass by, I think he was right about this too. 

Why this prologue? Because I did put some effort in putting my thoughts in the form of a book (or so I wish) for the second time in last five years. But again, my impatience and lack of dedication took charge and here I am, sort of giving up on the idea.

But here is some of what I had drafted —

Dear Tara

My thoughts at this point are quite scattered. Do I first tell you why I want to write this post/book? Or do I leave it for you to figure it out and just carry on with my ramblings? I prefer the latter and hence here we go.

The thought struck me when we first announced our pregnancy to a closed set of people around us. As you will also realize someday, people have some canned responses to such news like,  “Oh how wonderful, you will be a great Mom”, and by the time they get to know the gender, the responses get even more canned. And one of the phrases that I kept hearing was, “A mini you will be here soon.” And although that would have been a delightful phrase for many, I personally was not very thrilled to hear it.

My reaction led me to start thinking of the impact my life will end up having on you. And whether I want to or not, the lenses with which I see my world will begin to color yours too. I will try my very best to not cast a shadow of my experiences on your upbringing. But at the same time, I do want to share a few things with you that perhaps every mother shares with her daughter (just not in a bullet pointed format perhaps). However you choose to use this, just know that this is all that your Mum has gathered in the last thirty some years of her existence. Some of these virtues will become irrelevant with time and some may need to be modified. Be open to the idea of change. It really is the only thing that is certain to happen. I do want to some day elaborate on each of these points and cite examples and incidents that led me to frame it as a virtue. Until then, here is a short summary, or a quick cheat sheet.

I have tried to divide this into sections that made logical sense to me. And to make this more readable for you. May be there is a day when you ask yourself, “what did Mum say about Friends?” And you will pick this up and turn to Page xx and get your dose of Mumness. I know all this is such wishful thinking. But we all have to do our bit to play the part we have been chosen to play in each other’s lives. This is my bit.

Good Luck and Good Life!

Ambition

  1. Don’t be satisfied with mediocrity. 
  2. Write down your dreams. They do come true
  3. Work hard but work smart
  4. When you are 16 and your parents force you to pursue science – ignore them and pursue whatever you want.
  5. Ambition is good. Competition is also good. Obsessing about these two is not good
  6. Don’t measure yourself against anyone. You are your own yardstick. Percentiles and positions are feel good measures. Learn to feel good about what you do and not where you are as compared to others.

Being a woman

  1. You might have to speak louder sometimes to be heard. Don’t make it a practice.
  2. Laugh out loud. Don’t be ashamed of it.
  3. Women are women’s worst enemy. Be wary of them.
  4. If someone starts a statement with -“but girls are not suppose …” Stop them right there. Or politely let them know you are not listening.
  5. Share your thoughts openly
  6. Ask questions
  7. Be patient with yourself. There will always be so much more you can do.
  8. Be original. (You don’t have to love pink)
  9. Shop a lot
  10. White hair are a sign that you are ready to take the next step in life. Don’t ignore these signs
  11. Don’t stop being who you are in order to fit an image of how people want to see you.

Family

  1. Cousins are your first friends. They are precious
  2. Never be afraid to share with your parents what you truly feel. 
  3. Your parents will make mistakes. Forgive them. 
  4. All the bad things that you will hear about India will always be off set by the love of its people – give it a chance. Learn about it. 
  5. Call up your parents when they are old
  6. If you plan to move in with your boyfriend, let your dad know ahead of time. Mom will know somehow.
  7. If you screw up, call your parents.
  8. If you want to cry someday, call your Mom. Dads are always faint hearted
  9. Dad will always be right. Mom might screw up sometimes.
  10. Your dad is the best gift I could have given you. Cherish him. He is one of his kind and he will never let you down.

Fears

  1. Understand that death is not evil. It is a process
  2. Take risks in life
  3. Your mom was once afraid of darkness. It’s ok if you are too. 
  4. Do things you are afraid of and do them early before you have liabilities.
  5. You are capable of doing way more than what your mind tells you. 

Finance

  1. Don’t be stingy.
  2. It is important to be employable. It is more important to be happy
  3. Monitor your spending
  4. Save towards goals – short and long term
  5. Value money but don’t make it a goal
  6. Buy a house before you turn 30. It will be small.
  7. Prioritize your spending
  8. Spend on yourself. You are worth it

Friends

  1. Only give advice when asked for.
  2. You don’t need to see them every day to call them friends
  3. People will change, and your friendships will evolve. It is all part of growing up
  4. It is not the number but the quality that matters
  5. Early in life you will make a lot of friends. Some will stay, some shall pass. It is ok.
  6. Make boys as friends (we are not talking about boyfriends yet) – they will teach you how to take yourself less seriously.
  7. Don’t surround yourself with people who don’t make you happy.
  8. If you are the smartest kid in the group you are not learning anything. 
  9. Friends who cannot hear the truth are not worth having

Giving

  1. Hug the needy. Share their pain. It is ok to even cry for them.
  2. Look below you to seek humility and above you to find inspiration
  3. Money is not the only thing you can give to the needy. 
  4. Spring cleaning is also a good way to give to Goodwill
  5. Help others

Habits

  1. Read/Read yourself to bed
  2. Write
  3. Cook for people you love
  4. Play outdoors
  5. Eat well
  6. Don’t smoke
  7. Drink wine
  8. Love coffee. It teaches you how bitter things can sometimes be so comforting. And you will always have your Mom and Dad willing to accompany you.
  9. Bake. Something about the smell of baking – it makes you sweeter 😀
  10. Meditate. I don’t. You should. I will
  11. When you are lonely, pick up a book instead of your phone. People might leave you but books won’t.

Have Fun

  1. Live your age. I had to grow up too soon. It is not healthy.
  2. Enjoy college! I didn’t
  3. Have at least a couple (ok a dozen), drunk stories to share. They are fun
  4. Don’t be the designated driver every time
  5. Take vacations
  6. Fun is not necessarily the same as noise generated from a group of drunk boisterous friends. Define what is FUN for you and do it.
  7. Love sunsets. And miss me when you spot a good one. Send me a selfie with it if you can.

Relationships

  1. Not everyone will love you back equally. It is ok. There is no reciprocation required in relationships that really matter to you.
  2. Don’t look for love, it will find you
  3. Love back
  4. You don’t have to be pretty or skinny or be like other girls to find a good husband who will love you. Your mother is a proof.
  5. Love will fail you sometimes. Don’t give up. 
  6. Don’t be ashamed to walk out of a relationship if it does not suit you
  7. Don’t trust others’ judgement when it comes to relations. Make your own relationships. Make your own opinions.
  8. Emotions are not a bad thing. Expectations are.
  9. All relatives are not equal. Pick your battles
  10. Respect your teachers and mentors. Good teachers are hard to come by.

Shit Happens

  1. People will lie to you on your face and behind your back. Forgive them.
  2. You will not make everyone happy.
  3. Gracefully accept compliments from people . They only become rare with age.
  4. Don’t take yourself too seriously; laugh at yourself
  5. You will fail at some things. It happens.
  6. Life will throw lemons at you. Don’t waste too much time looking for sugar to make the lemonade. Lemonades without sugar work just as much. 
  7. Learn to let it go
  8. Regrets are not bad. Just don’t let them linger too much.

Values

  1. The best gift you can give an elderly person is the ability to listen to them. Let them speak. You will learn something. They will love it.
  2. Question the norm
  3. Be famous, not necessarily popular.
  4. Stand up for what is right
  5. Create your identity, don’t pick up one
  6. Accept diversity
  7. Stay true to your principles. No body in this world should be able to convince you otherwise.
  8. If you think you can change something for the good of others, speak about it. Doesn’t matter if it gets done or not. 
  9. Be curious
  10. If there is nothing to hide, there will never be anything to lie about
  11. Do what is right for you. Not what is convenient
  12. Be convinced about your decisions and own them.

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