Veda Adur is an out-and-out 80s mom with the heart and soul of a millennial. A mother of two sons and a grandmother of one darling little girl, she talks about bringing up her boys, imparting Indian-ness in them on the opposite end of the world, and how she would change her approach to parenting if she could go back in time. Join her as she spills matters of the heart.
I always longed to be a young mother. Even before I was married, motherhood featured right on top of my bucket list. So, naturally, after the wedding bells had faded and my husband and I had settled into the rhythm of daily life, we decided to start a family right away. At that point, I was quite naïve about what it meant to be a mother. I didn’t fully comprehend the responsibilities that came with it, so when Ajay was born a short while later, reality caught up with me. As a first-time mother, it was a struggle to keep up with my little boy. I would be perennially paranoid, smothering him, being overprotective and becoming flustered every time he fell sick. I became the flagbearer of restrictions, imposing no-nos on activities that I thought would harm him. As he became older, I pressured him to work harder at school and I became the resident taskmaster. Consequently, I failed to see my little boy’s burgeoning talents.
When Amit was born four years later, I had mellowed. I was more aware of child psychology by then and I knew that being overbearing and overprotective could be detrimental to a child’s growth. I tried applying the same parenting approach to Ajay too, but I feel now that perhaps I should have changed my mothering style towards my older son sooner. If I could go back in time, I would be more liberal with my children, allowing them to experience more, and letting them fall and falter occasionally. A child’s early years are what matter most. I have observed that the blame for a child’s atypical behaviour is often pinned on him or her. The actual responsibility should be borne by the parents of the child. The upbringing and parenting style go a long way in moulding a child’s personality.
When I was a child, my parents were never heavy-handed with us. My father was the disciplinarian at home. He was strict when it came to the academic performances of my siblings and me. I was in awe of him, and I think his focus on academics rubbed off on me. When my children were growing up in the ‘80s, there were no books on parenting like there are now. Or if there were, I certainly didn’t have access to them. We lived in a nuclear family, so there were no parents or elders, to guide me along my journey as a mother. I did things on my own.
I’m not sure whether my boys’ personalities were reflections of my expectations as a mother. I suppose because Ajay was my first, I was more demanding of him. Thus, he grew to be an introvert, whereas Amit was extroverted and gregarious, taking his role as the family jester very seriously.
When the boys were teenagers, we moved to the United States. It was a struggle for all four of us. For my husband, Deepak, and I, finding jobs that matched our qualifications consumed our everyday life. Though we eventually found our feet, the boys were experiencing their own set of changes. It isn’t easy being Indian, abroad. There is a massive cultural clash, and as teenage boys, the internal conflict may have been even harder for my sons. Their moral compass was still developing at that age, and it was probably harder for the needle to point north in a sea of mistaken priorities. Yet, my boys’ roots were strong and I am proud that they held their ground and their values as they grew up in a then-foreign land.
Today, I am a grandmother to an extraordinary and beautiful little angel, Aashna. Ajay and my daughter-in-law, Sushma, are raising her beautifully, letting her explore the world, fall, and get up again. While they are protective of her, they let her fend for herself. My boys have grown up to be confident, successful men. Now that Deepak and I have moved back to India, Ajay and Amit live halfway around the world from us. I miss them everyday, but they’ve built great lives for themselves and are doing extremely well. I’m so happy for them and I wouldn’t change a thing. Sometimes, though, I wish we were there with them and for them.