Life Over Books,  Parenting

Lessons from a Tenth Birthday

My first born turned ten over the weekend, which means it’s a decade since I’ve become a parent. Ten years ago I breathed through all my contractions and saw that tiny bundle of flesh in my hands for the first time. And as cliché as it may sound, at that moment, I remember making that promise like all parents that I’d try and be the best one. But it is only after a decade that I realize that there is no such thing as a “best” parent.

So like all other occasions, celebrating her tenth birthday seemed important. For, one surely needs to create warm memories for the child to carry for a long time to come. As the day passed with celebrations, party poppers, games, squeals and return gifts, I found my mind traversing back across years to my childhood- to my very own tenth birthday. Wondering why?

I unabashedly admit that I am a product of the eighties and nineties

It is something I am proud of and cherish dearly. No wonder nostalgia picks me up quite easily. My tenth birthday was special, but not in a manner most would deem fit in today’s Instagram times. Until the morning of my tenth, there weren’t any discussions of an approaching one in the household. Growing up in a traditional “Tambrahm” home, the concept of birthdays and celebrations were way different from the rest. Birthdays were celebrated on the day one’s Nakshatram appeared as per the Tamil calendar month (the star appearing on the sky as per the traditional lunar calendar). In fact in all innocence, we kids in the household believed that each person had two birthdates to celebrate in a year- a Tamil and an English one.

Getting back to my tenth birthday (as per the calendar date), after a considerable amount of nagging (which was termed as a stubborn fit by my parents), in the morning hours before school my father decides to get me a packet of toffees from the local baker. I had them stuffed into a blue round tin biscuit box that was otherwise used by my mother to store her sewing accessories. I was ready to distribute them to my friends at school, not in the prettiest of frocks, but in the regular school uniform. However, it just did not matter, for clutching that blue box tight at my heart; I was the happiest child that day. How I loved the horde of children who swarmed around me trying to lay their hands on an extra toffee or two. My day was made. There was a more elaborate celebration on the day my Nakshtram came up on the Tamil calendar, with a feast of paal payasam (rice kheer) and a visit to the nearby temple in the evening. A tenth birthday was celebrated. Looking back, I am convinced that my heart must have been content. No wonder, even after almost thirty years these thoughts are still fresh in my mind. Sans a fancy party, clothes or a pile of gifts, memories had been made. Life was that simple!!!

Reflections as a parent

As I reflected on these thoughts this weekend, I couldn’t help but question myself. Was I actually creating warm memories for my daughter? In my quest to shower her with warmth and love on her special day, why did everything suddenly seem so superficial to me? Unexpectedly, the answers to these I found on my own, while reading the copy of Geroge and Weedon Grossmith’s Diary of a Nobody. The book is a constant companion and has never failed to make me look at life’s little pomposities and inanities in a different light. There is no denying that growing up and parenting too, is not really the way it was years back. Somewhere between being a child of ten, to a parent of a ten year old, numerous changes have crept in and around the world I am part of. The best of pleasure in life is still derived from little things! However, the definition of simple things has changed now. And accepting this understanding is what we as parents must do. Life probably isn’t that complex after all. It is just us, trying to adapt to the vagaries of time!

*Featured image source: Pixabay
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  • Ashwini CN

    Happy Birthday to your daughter 🙂 Life was way simple back then and we didn’t need fancy parties to feel loved or pampered, a special home-cooked meal (including our favourite foods) was enough to celebrate our birthdays 🙂

  • Rachna

    Very happy 10th to your daughter, Ramya I am very much like you, not for elaborate parties at all. A small cozy get together is what works for me. And now thankfully no parties at all. 🙂

  • the bespectacled mother

    10th birthday is truly special. My birthdays in school were celebrated just like yours until the age of 8 because after that my family moved to North India and June is a month of summer holidays there. Then it became a search expedition every year to find any friend, in the neighbourhood, who might not have gone out of station for holidays which seldom happened. Once I got 3 friends and I was superbly happy to finally have my birthday party. How was my 10th birthday celebrated, I do not remember.
    I really liked what you have said – “Life probably isn’t that complex after all. It is just us, trying to adapt to the vagaries of time!”
    My best wishes for your daughter 🙂

  • BellyBytes

    Happy ten year old mommy. Your tenth birthday seems to be monumental too! I hardly remember what I did for my tenth except the fact that I got my first ever bicycle ( adult size) which was a bit big for me. My parents thought that the full sized bike would help my legs grow to their full size. Alas, we didn’t realise that by that age I had reached my full size so I should have stuck with my kiddie bike which was better for my short legs 😉 Ten is a milestone after all! Hope the next ten are equally happy for you and your little girl.

  • Shailaja V

    Birthdays are the time for best memories 🙂 We remember the love, warmth and joy more than what we actually ate or how much was spent on us, isn’t it? I have such fond memories of my own birthdays as a kid. Most of them quiet, family affairs and the outpouring of love was remarkable. I think our kids will learn this too, as they grow older. Gy’s 12th was just a cake cutting and 6 friends who came over and screamed ‘Happy birthday’. It ended with the kids having juice and cake. Best party ever and there were no return gifts either. Nobody seemed to mind.

  • Corinne Rodrigues

    A happy 10th to your girl!
    As you know I’m not a parent, Ramya, but I do wonder about the excessive displays at birthday parties and other events. A few years back, I was pleasantly surprised to find some neighbours actually organizing simple games for the children at a birthday party, sans ‘event mangers’ and ‘party planners’. The children seemed to have more fun too.

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