Yes, a mother can miss her daughter’s school
The school has been closed for two months now. Though online classes have been a success and my daughter seems to have adjusted to the new system, I miss the familiarity of her school, which brought such positive changes in my life.
This makes me travel down memory lane. Back in 2013, when my husband went away to an East African country to take up a new job, my parents made this big move to emigrate to Canada to be with my brother. I was deposited at the altar of the home newly built by my in-laws in Hoshiarpur, Punjab, with a four-year-old daughter in tow, transfer orders to a new station in my hands and a sense of loss gnawing at my heart.
Settling in had to be done on multiple fronts, in a new house, a workplace and a new city which though not imposing did seem a little strange to fit in as I didn’t know anyone there, nor did my in-laws who had just moved in after my father-in-law’s retirement from the army.
The new order of life dictated being in a marriage sans companionship, long distance phone calls and finding a balance in life while being my own anchor.
I admitted my daughter to a school close to our home and would drop her there before going to work and pick her up while coming back.
And though the rest of the city was a chaotic blur, the house required personal touches to be called a home and my workplace remained unfamiliar, it was the school which helped me come to grips with the situation I found myself in.
It was a place I started identifying with.
Many anxious women would queue up with me to wait for their tiny tots who came rushing to them after school.
It was somehow reassuring to see other mothers experiencing similar emotions when seeing off their toddlers, a feeling of togetherness foisted upon us as parents of OT (own transport) pupils, spending those few minutes together in the routine of picking and dropping our children while the rest of the students arrived in buses. It started with hesitant smiles and nods and we soon introduced ourselves to each other.
My initial resistance to acknowledge this strange kinship, which acted as a bulwark against engaging strangers, soon began to crumble.
In the coming days, I would look forward to meeting my ‘friends,’ and they too soon started counting me among their own.
For them I was not a newcomer in this city, a stranger seeking acceptance, an unfamiliar face, but another mother, of an OT child.
If my daughter found happiness and security in her school then I can say happily that I discovered my first set of friends in the city in these mothers during those difficult years of settling in.
Now, after seven years, I still drop my daughter to school, pick her up, meet more or less the same set of women with a few additions and subtractions.
For me, this school, which my daughter proudly claims as her own with a glint in her eye, stands for familiarity, love, comfort and acceptance. Now, the city feels less alien, the house is more of a home, and I feel more anchored… Yet gratitude encompasses my heart when I am at the gates of the school.
I hope sooner than later this oasis now shut down because of the Covid-19 pandemic will throw its gates open, receiving its flock of students with open arms bringing knowledge, camaraderie, bonhomie to the fore not only amongst the students but their parents as well.
The author is a Hoshiarpur based veterinary officer.