One balmy winter morning Father had been in one of his relaxed moods, willing to listen and tell his two little children stories. My brother and I seized the moment asking away everything we knew would otherwise be met with a stern look of disapproval. I had asked him whom he loved more — my brother or me?
“You both are like my two eyes. How can I favour one eye over the other,” he answered lovingly as I beamed with joy, gleefully throwing my arms around him.
For me, even as a child, his words were an assurance that he did not see me any differently than he saw my brother.
When our son, Sid, was born, as first-time parents, our world unconsciously condensed into our little bundle of joy. During the months that had led to his birth, we built tall dreams, made unreasonable promises and vowed to soak up in every moment with our precious bundle.
Within a week into the soak-up-in-every-moment phase, I had wised up to those lines. Motherhood was beyond what I had envisaged — it was extremely rewarding and absolutely draining, immensely exciting but equally terrifying and often felt so easy yet totally confusing.
We pampered him with the finest toys but Sid was smitten with playing a noisy game of clanging pots and pans from the kitchen cabinet and the toys remained untouched.
A few years later, when we thought that we had seen it all, Little Princess made her arrival. That moment when we first laid our eyes on her was as extraordinary as it had been with my son. Our experience did not deter us from building tall dreams; making unreasonable promises and vowing to soak up every moment — only that we hoped to do it better.
Luckily the experience and the exercise in patience with our first born came in handy with our second. The miniature superheroes and cars that had remained untouched took to her fancy while the perfectly pretty dolls that she received as gifts failed to get her attention.
If one preferred to devour books, the other enjoyed shredding them.
They were born five days apart in different years yet are as different as chalk and cheese. It has been easy for me to accept them as two individuals as my brother and I have very little in common too.
Today, two children later, the weight of Father’s words resonates better and reinforces the fact that we can never see our children differently.
If I expect my daughter to undertake a responsibility in our home, I would expect my son to do the same as they both will need to be able to shoulder bigger responsibilities in the future.
If my son has a dream which he wishes to fulfil, my daughter is bound to have one too!
It is not about flexing muscles with the other gender or competing to be better than the other but about respecting the other and their choices as much as we would expect to be respected. Beauty lies in the fact that men and women are equally complex and made very different from one another, but it takes them both to complete the circle of life.
Here is a reminder to me as much as it is to you — if we wish to see the change in the generations to come, we must become the change by teaching our sons to respect women as much as we would teach our daughters to respect themselves as they would the men around them.
It all begins at home and it begins now!
Pranitha Menon is a freelance writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @MenonPranitha