Sunday, May 12, 2013

Differences & Acceptance

I am typically sleeping when Samaira wakes up in the morning. Siddharth brings her into our bed when she wakes up and plays with her for a bit. When she looks at me sleeping, she starts talking to me right away. As I wake up and turn to her, she talks to me some more and then she falls on me to give me the warmest hugs I have ever received. No kidding. She does this several times in the morning and the warmth of her hugs is to die for, even on a hot summer day! That’s when I say to myself every single time - ”God she is such an angel and is so loving…please don’t let anything or anyone ever hurt her.

While I have these thoughts every day, the thing that rarely occurred to me until recently is the reverse phenomena. The reverse phenomena being the case in which Samaira may hurt someone. When we judge someone or resent someone, we have a higher chance of hurting that person. And the thought that occurred to me only recently is that Samaira could hurt someone too.

Most of us are often too quick to judge others. People who are not like us, or do not do things like we do make us uncomfortable. We judge people who don’t think the way we do, or don’t have the same priorities as ours. In fact, I have felt more judged as a parent than ever before – why do we feed Samaira what we do/when we do/how much we do/with what frequency we do, why do we give her certain medicines, why do we not give her certain medicines, why do we attribute all her shortcomings to down syndrome (which, we absolutely don’t), why are we not aggressive enough with her therapies, why are we not potty training her yet, and on and on.

That said, over the last 10 years or so, I have met a few people who have a much higher degree of tolerance and acceptance in them for people and things in spite of these differences. I am not really sure at what point I started to judge, but I have definitely learnt from these people around me to not judge and to accept more. Interestingly, they weren't necessarily older, wiser people that I was learning this from. I have met folks both younger and older than me who have unknowingly taught me the value of accepting with differences. So today I judge less than I did before. This isn't to say that I am above it all and I feel the same way about everyone. Because I don’t. While I judge less, my comfort zone is rather small, and the number of people I trust is even smaller. It takes me months and sometimes years to let someone in my circle of trust. And once someone breaches my trust it is almost impossible for me to ever get back to the same-old. But, even though I may not trust everyone, I judge less.

A lot of times when we meet someone who is stronger, more successful, or more popular than we are, it has the potential to result in jealousy or unexplained non-liking toward that person. There is this whole world of power girls or mean girls who are hugely popular or influential. When I was in high school, there was definitely a set of more influential group of girls that would prevail.

But over the last several years, I have learnt from other (especially) women around me that presence of someone more popular and successful need not be a bad thing, or something to resent. I am not in support of meanness here, but I am in support of women & men who are more powerful and successful than I am. I have met some very smart, successful women who celebrate other women’s success and acknowledge them, as opposed to resent them. These women helped me get over my insecurities and unknowingly taught me to celebrate those who are more successful than me. I am highlighting women over men in this case because it seems to be a bigger issue among women than it is among men. I was never super competitive to begin with, and others’ achievements hardly ever bothered me. But now I truly understand the value of celebrating others, something I did not understand before.

My hope for Samaira is that she will be the one to accept without hesitance and irrespective of circumstances, abilities and differences. I hope that she will not judge or resent others. I hope that she will not be the one to hurt someone. I hope that she will celebrate the differences in her and others and teach someone like me that being different should not necessarily translate into lack of acceptance.

And now on a completely unrelated note – a very Happy Mother’s Day to all the powerful supermoms out there! Siddharth, Samaira and I celebrated this day at our peaceful (at least for some time, until I picked a fight with Siddharth on one of our usual topics :)) & loving home - so special!

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