I don’t seem to recall any moments I spent with my mom when I was a toddler. I must’ve been too young. I always remember my mom being too strict; making sure I finish my veggies and do my homework on time. However, occasionally I get glimpses of the time my mom read bedtime stories to me while I sat on her lap. I remember her getting excited to wrap the Christmas presents and decorate the Christmas tree. Though I have never seen her completely let the guard down, I remember the fun times I had with her playing board games and watching cartoons.
As we grew older, I found her busy in household chores and other responsibilities as a parent. Because our dad was away all the time, the parenting responsibilities fell on her shoulder entirely and I could see that it was exhausting for her.
Whenever I visited my grandparents, I would hear stories of her mischief as a child and teenager. My grandfather would tell me how my mom was the naughtiest among her siblings and loves pulling pranks on others. But it was hard for me to believe that they were talking about the same person. I could never picture her being the fun, enthusiastic, and mischievous type.
Occasionally I would see her transform into a completely different person when she was with her friends. I would see her laughing and cracking jokes and acting absolutely silly. But as soon as her friends leave, she would have a completely different demeanor. It made me question what was real and not — the playful and silly or the calm and mysterious one.
Don’t get me wrong, she was the best mom one could ever have. She was always there for us whenever we needed her. She attended all the PTA meetings, annual day celebrations, and other extracurricular activities my sister and I were a part of. Whenever we had a craving for our favorite food, she would run to the supermarket and prepare it for us. If anything, she pampered us a bit too much. But whenever I hear stories about her from her friends or my grandparents, I couldn’t help but feel guilty. Did being a mother change her as a person? Did we steal the fun part of her, causing her to be this responsible and strict individual?
After my delivery, my mom came to stay with us for a few weeks. She would cook, clean, and manage all the household chores. One day after I was up from my nap, I heard silly noises from across the room. I went over and saw my mom doing the classic baby talk with my little munchkin while playing peekaboo. She was giggling and acting silly like a little child. She seemed to be lost in her own world and didn’t notice me for quite some time. It was the first time I saw her acting childish.
A few days later, when we were having our morning cup of coffee, we witnessed the first snowfall of the year. I saw my mom pointing towards the window with the excitement of a young child and saying, “Look, it’s snowing.” She raced towards the window and watched as the snowflakes fell on our porch. She turned towards me and asked if we could head out. For a moment I felt that the roles had been reversed as I looked at her innocent face waiting for my permission. I smiled and agreed. We immediately put on our jackets, shoes, and gloves and decided to head out. As I watched her run out with her hands wide open, trying to catch the snowflakes and make silly faces, I saw my mother’s inner child for the first time.