On Friday, my daughter’s school had a mother’s day function. The kindergarteners were going to sing a small song to their moms and distribute ‘I love mom’ coffee mugs to the 20 or so moms gathered in the class. Ahhhh! Stuff that warms the cockles of your heart? Yeah, right.

The stress began as soon as the teacher announced that the kids were going to introduce themselves to everyone present. My daughter always hates being put on stage and she tends to clam up. Not unusual for her age, but not pleasant for me to watch.

Here, there was no stage. It was a casual classroom setting, probably to enable the moms to experience a slice of their kid’s school lives. There were the aggressive kids, mostly boys, jumping around and creating a ruckus. There were the verbose girls with groups around them, hanging on to their every word (welcome tothe world of peer pressure), there were the nervous ones, darting anxious looks and clearly wanting to run to their mommies. And then there was a girl in brown curls sitting in a group, but detached, quietly watching the proceedings with mild interest.

And I was immediately transported to another classrom, another group of noisy children and another quiet girl with brown curls, watching the commotion. To the turmoil she was feeling inside. To the hesitation she would feel for years to come. To the inherent introversion that was her destiny.

Don’t get me wrong. I know all of that. That it’s not wrong to be an introvert. That aggression is over rated. That you learn to be confident. That the world needs thinkers. That I would not trade myself for all the loose talk of the world.

Yet, sitting there in that classroom,  I just wanted to pluck my daughter away. I wanted to pull her out and prove to her that there was nothing to be afraid. And most of all, I wanted her to be happy-as happy as the girl who gave a 5 minute introduction or the boy who stuck his tongue out during those 5 minutes looked.

When we grow up we learn to blame our parents for everything, urged by expert psychoanalysts of course. So, I am stressed out because my father can’t handle stress. She’s under-confident because her mom made all her decisions for her.  He is agressive because his grandpa used to beat him.  How easy it is to blame your problems on Mama and Baba.

And how the tables turn when you are bringing up your kids. Was her toddler naughty mat the reason why she hates corners? Were the green vegetables the reason she hates biology? Was the math yelling the reason she’s so good at her studies? Was it right to be so good as studies at this age? Were the bedtime goblin stories why she looked wary of the boys in her class?

And then another question nudges the corner of your brain most persisitently.

Just how did my mom do it?

Then, of course, they’re moms who are put here to make the rest of us look bad. Those who weren’t born with the embarassment or stress gene (I have ample supply of both). Those who just smile sweetly when their toddler upturns several aisles in the supermarket and then he inexplicably stops and says sorry. There was one such sweet mom who just looked on serenely while the teacher was scolding her hyperactive boy. I wanted to shake her awake.

Just how does she do it?

And then there are the supermoms. Who do everything- house, work , kids. And they have mini-adults for children. Smart, well- behaved and independent. I came across many such moms during my stay abroad (where they dont have house help-thank God for Kanta bai!)

Just how the #$%@ do they do it?

By this time my stress hormone had taken over and I was gulping down several sips of water.

The teacher was calling my daughter, Khushi out to introduce herself. ‘Here is someone who has been waiting patiently for her turn,’ she announced.

Khushi walked out and stood confidently in front of us all. ‘My name is Khushi Verma’ she said simply. And clearly. Her eyes met mine. And I knew that it was going to be fine. 

This was not me. This was her. She had her own path, her own destiny. And she was going to be just fine.

Khushi gave me a small, sweet smile and sat down.

‘You have such a sweet, mature girl,’ the mother of the hyperactive boy caught up with us as Khushi was collecting her things. Her son was in the middle of the chaos and she was expectedly, waiting for him to come in his own time.

Khushi said bye to her friends and linked her hand in mine.

‘Just how do you do it?’ the mom asked me.

I sighed and smiled back at her.