In Turkish we have a phrase, a saying to apply to it all. Boş var. It means “that’s empty”; your words are full of nothing.
This week’s been one of contemplation. A week when to question has taken presidence above it all. When do we become responsible for the choices we make? When is too late to stand up to the actions of our past, the choices our younger selves made? Since becoming a Mum, like every other Mum, I’ve viewed the world through different eyes. I’ve viewed them through the eyes of a babe and scary as it may be, it’s clear that as parents it’s our duty not only to take, but to teach responsibility in whatever guise that takes, for actions good and those not so good.
Boş var. It’s empty. The words you speak achieve nothing, they’re full of hot air.
A tenant of Islam is to regard your parents with the highest of the highest esteem. By default, their parents then rise above them. In life this translates to the kiss planted on the elders hand, it’s the opening of the door, the giving up of the seat on the bus. But what if they don’t deserve that esteem, that respect? What if the mistakes that they made hurt you, or those closest to you, too deeply to be forgiven and forgot?
As I watch M grow day on day, I become more aware of how he looks to us for guidance. The way he looks to check if it’s ok to turn an almost sob to a smile, the big eyes that search for us as he wakes, the body that relaxes into our arms after a bad dream. That little baby who copies us in pulling tongues and grins at the baby in the mirror, that baby there is following in our lead. Right now, M needs guidance on how to feel, whether to respond to stimulus with a smile or with a frown, guidance on when to pee and when to burp it all out. Right now’s the easy part. All too soon that baby there is going to look to me, to G, to both of us for examples on how to view the world; more importantly, he’s going to look to us as examples of how to live in the world.
Often it’s not about the words but the reason, the circumstance behind the words. If the words are empty, chances are the situation is too.
Having a baby has a profound effect on how you evaluate the world you inhabit. It’s made me rethink the choices that I make and the decisions I see through. But the biggest change has come in how I view the people in my life. While I’m not alone in having a complex family, mine in many ways is more tangled than most. Looking at my family in relation to my son makes me realise how important it is that I clarify individuals positions and to do that, those positions, those relationships must be clear to me. Opening up old wounds sometimes is the only way to go, no matter how much you’d rather keep them closed.
Boş var. It’s how G comforts me when I’m rehashing old pains. And he means it. Boş var – it’s empty now.
It’s not my place to judge peoples actions; for right or for wrong, their bench is not in front of me, but knowing something doesn’t make it easy to stick to. Twenty-seven years ago, mistakes were made. Yet were those mistakes not made and decisions taken that were, I wouldn’t be the me that’s typing this right now. I might not be me at all. Letting go of those mistakes and the consequences from them has been a rollercoaster with a very steep curve but it feels that finally, ailhamduillah, the coaster’s gliding to a halt.
We can’t change the past and we can’t plan for tomorrow more than we did for today, but we can ensure that the place we’re in tomorrow is a better one than today. I can’t rewind the clock. I can’t undo the mistakes and change the way the wheel turned but I have to – for M if not for me – I have to change the way it spins from now.
This week, the patches I placed on some gaping wounds feel more secure that they’ve done before. I hope I’ve brought clarity to me, to us – for us. When M asks me questions in the future I feel more confident about being able to answer them clearly, keeping in mind the respect I’m obliged to show. Bridges over past cracks are rarely set in stone but right now I’m laying down the mortar and hoping the cement sets.
M deserves to grow up surrounded by people who set good examples of how to live his life, of how to live within this world. And as I see the world through his eyes, I see we all deserve that; me included. So some doors I’ve shut to allow another to open. One that shines in the sun and lets every day be the greatest day. M deserves that. I deserve that. Anything less than that? Boş var.