It’s a different story when mum visits over.
A cleaner house, a more organised routine, timely meals, and household chores running like a set of well-oiled machine. As kids, there never went by a time when we were left to starve. There never came a moment when we had to pick and wear the same clothes we had dumped in the wash tub yesterday. There never showed up a week when we were late for school. And there never went by a year without new clothes. We took our basic needs, which Maslow has so mindfully defined, for granted. Or, so was the case with many of us.
When age plays its card of reasoning, the tables turn over, and the daylight of it all cracks on us. While accounting for mum’s ubiquity. There is a need to consider all domestic pursuits with the same effervescence. Whether, the regimental mundane or the infrequent extraordinary. It can mean obliterating those lacklustre cobwebs that are beginning to claim their reign across the ceilings. Or, freeing the living space from impending pests and insects. It can involve restitching her clothes from where the seaming has long retired. Or, restocking the refrigerator as so to avoid running out of supplies. It can intend having her routine health check-ups done. Or, ensuring she consumes her after-meal medicines on time. The list of to-dos pulsates as faithfully as the heart pumps blood into the system. In the midst of which, the household dailies are the one arm. And the need to assimilate any me-time with a diplomacy is the other.
The wake of this sojourning pit stop fetches a realisation of selfless dedication. And we find it to be all right if she decides to take some time off. A trip into the hilly valley canvassed with a flowing stream nearby. Or, paying a visit to the near and far relations. Attendance at a social gathering, even if it means compressed absence. Or, spending a few days with another of her offsprings. This is the me-time we crave for. The chance to unwind from the paradoxical routine.
Sometimes, I feel amused at the thought of the concept of time off. Because of its out-of-the-blues prominence. Because of the stressed insistence we make about its presence. Because it was an abstract conviction in days when we grew up. So acclimatised are we to our lifestyle today, that anyone stopping over for a stay becomes nothing short of a moral obligation. And we take our time coming to terms with it.
A lifetime gives us an airtight container worth of opportunities to undergo first-time experiences. We cherish some. And pay our last respects to a handful. No container, yet, is ever enough to collect and bottle those ventures that we engage in with mum. Considering, the memory of every one of her stays is an experience of a first-time. Whether cherished or swept to a corner of the mind.
These days her attention is elsewhere that is sponging a significant chunk of her energy and time. For she is visiting my younger sibling and taking care of my year-and-a-half-old niece. On days when the sun shines on the tropics, it would not make a difference. But today, I couldn’t have cared less about unwinding.
They say, learning to give in and give away is an acquired trait. You tend to pick it up when you have a younger one around. One can be the centre of attention for only so long. Maybe, it is a phase you’re meant to grow out of.
Honestly, I’m not there yet. For, I feel the blister of an old-school sentiment brewing within me while she is away.