I have always given credit to my dad for letting me find my path in life, for making me independent, fearless, confident, and everything I am today. It was he who taught me to drive a car even when my mom thought I was too young. He let me be reckless till I figured out exactly what I was doing. He even taught me to fix a puncture so I always get where I ought to.
Wasn’t Dad the one who encouraged me to choose the university of my choice and find an apartment far away from home? He wanted me to learn life skills I couldn’t possibly learn in the comforts of my own house. Dad taught me the big things in life, and I attribute much of my personality today to his forward-thinking.
What I didn’t realize back then was who was teaching me the small things. I remember going shopping with my mom on several occasions. I remember picking up a terrible outfit for my ball—an outfit my mom would never have appreciated. However, she excitedly altered it to my size and even chose the accessories to go along with it. Not once do I remember her influencing my choice or contradicting it. She put up with my hideous fashion sense for years, teaching me to experiment and form my own opinion about myself. She taught me to know me for who I am and choose the things that suit me best.
My grandfather, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, asked me about my school every time I came home from university. I, impatient of correcting him every time, talked falsely about school instead. I still remember how angry Mom was at me for not being honest with her father. I was upset at her back then, but now I realize she taught me to love my parents fiercely no matter what, just the way she did. She displayed respect like nobody else could, and I learned a lesson for life.
I remember her accidentally finding a rough note in my bag that I had scribbled with words I wanted to say to my crush at the time. Not once do I remember her questioning me about it or investigating in any way to find out what I had been up to. She gave me time to sort it out by placing her trust in me, teaching me to take responsibility for my actions.
My mom has put up with my weight obsession, gym classes, and good-for-nothing diet plans. She has patiently waited as I chose between high-waist or low-waist jeans, long dress or mini skirt. She has encouraged me to read even while I struggled to figure out if I was a Mills & Boon or Judy Blume kind of girl. She has stood by me (literally) as I have practiced walking in heels, stilettoes, and even boots. My mom has taken my pictures in all the hairstyles I have experimented with. She has accompanied me to violin classes, singing, and even painting classes while I was discovering my true talent.
I am now in my 30s and a mom myself. I look forward to seeing how my kids explore this world and understand who they are. I wish and hope to provide them independence along with support—the way I have received both. I cannot think of a better example of parenting than what I was fortunate to experience. My mom always knew the small things mattered back then. As a parent, I will remember that in the end, it is the tiny lessons that will make all the difference because we are all made up of the little things.