It is in the everyday snippets of motherhood, within this dance between child and mother, that I find tiny moments of Divinity, the kind I never stopped to witness before.
Sat Nam Waheguru, Sat Nam Waheguru, Sat Nam Waheguru|
My heart wound itself into a fastness my 6 year old body couldn’t understand, but I knew that fear was lurking over both of my parents, and it seeped into the back seat where my sister and I sat. The tidal waves of being scared and not being scared, of not knowing what exactly the scary thing was would not let me sit still, despite the warnings from the front seat.
We had been visiting auntie and uncle who lived in Squamish, and the road home was dark and windy; it wasn’t smooth, and boulders could hit our car. I watched my mother’s eyes, sometimes only catching one eye, and only half of that. Her eyes would go very small, and her hands held the door of the car very tightly. Sometimes, she would grab her seat and Waheguru would escape from her lips.
In a large and clear voice, I began singing Sat Nam Waheguru. I serenaded our old silver car. I spoke to the mountains around us. I silently prayed that the boulders wouldn’t hit our car because I knew that was the real fear that was perspiring out of my father’s pores. I silently prayed that we would arrive safe and sound, because I could see the fear that had changed the colour of my mother’s pink cheeks. We drove slowly, but whenever Dad drove too fast, Mom’s voice would change, her breathing would change.
Maybe because I once lived inside of her, I could feel the way she breathed. Maybe because I spent 9 months cradled close to her heart, I could feel the fear that was breathing into her heart beats. Or maybe that is just how children are with their mothers. I watched her, her body, her breath, her face – she was talking without her words, and she was very loud.
On that night, Sat Nam Waheguru was the battle cry; it was the cry that told the darkness; told the pot holes in the windy, icy road; told the threatening boulders to stay back, stay away from this little family of 4. When we stepped out of the car, stood in front of our red house, and slowly moved in through the blue door, and into the tiny little bedroom, I finally felt the fear release its hold and I finally stopped chanting Sat Nam Waheguru.
My mother looked into my eyes. Maybe because I sat inside her soul when I was tiny, I could feel her silent “thank you’s.”
For years to come, Sat Nam Waheguru saved me, held me, and moved me through the scary moments.It kept me warm, kept me safe, and it kept an odd sense of love emanating from deep inside, somewhere far away. As I grew older, I journeyed into the Guru Granth Sahib’s sweet melodies – sometimes carrying a tiny line away, but often carrying a string of lines. The more I listened, the more I sang, the more I longed to hear the banis, and feel how they worked themselves through me. When motherhood found me, I promised to give my child (and subsequent children) room to fly in and out of Sikhi. I wanted to offer the gift of Sikhi, its soulful mantras, and imprint the melodies that have carried my soul home from the many dark worldly spaces, onto their souls as a spiritual shield, as Divine diyvas to remind them of their innate Divinity.
Motherhood brought many gifts, but surrender was the least expected, at least in this wretched form. Sleep deprivation, constant carrying, constant holding, constant snuggling, constantly feeding, constantly functioning to serve, to protect, to nurture and to love – even when all I wanted was a few hours of uninterrupted sleep, I lethargically moved into the motions that were needed. Simultaneously, I understood the fragility and strength of motherhood. The arrival of my daughter, pushed the boundaries of joy, and a million little diyvas lit up the darkness I had been thinking was light. I finally understood the feminine, the Goddess within. I finally stood at the feet of the great mothers, the great Goddesses, and bowed, and bowed, and then bowed some more. I am still bowing.
Day in and day out, my little baby Goddess rested in my arms. If I placed her anywhere but my arms, she screamed. Her cries were torturous. At night, my arms were the only place she would sleep. She would get up every hour or 2 hours, and only once made it through 4 hours. For months, I carried her day and night. In my previous non-mother incarnation, I was the most ritualistic sleeper: I needed absolute darkness, I needed absolute quiet, I needed to lie down in my cozy bed for 8 hours or I would have migraines; but even my sleep surrendered. I learned how to strategically place pillows into a perfect inclined seating position whereby my daughter would sleep, and with pillows propped up on either side of me, underneath her tiny little body, I would fall asleep, with the lights on, with music playing. The “need” for sleep rituals was gone. For months, she would cry if she couldn’t feel my heartbeat or smell my presence. I knew nothing of surrender until this all came raining down on me. Nothing was mine, not my time, my body, my arms, my sleep, my bathroom breaks. Even my mind was occupied with her, and when it wasn’t occupied with this little being, I was a sleep deprived zombie. I somehow made it through to 20 months when she started sleeping in 4 hour increments. While we move back into sporadic sleep and wake cycles occasionally, there is so much more luxurious and needed sleep. And in this renewed state, I have found my way back into my banis, into Kirtan Sohila and into Jap Ji Sahib.
The gift of my daughter’s voice singing Sat Nam Waheguru with an ease, a love, a devotion that is purely hers, brings me back to that old, windy road. It reminds me that there are some things that little souls know, and some things that carry them through dark, icy, treacherous roads and brings them home no matter how far they go into adulthood, how far they drift away. There will always be a ‘thing’ that brings them back to their soul, their heart, and back to hearing the first songs of love that vibrated through their mother’s bellies, right into their souls.
While there is an utter devotion to motherhood, and an indescribable reverence for this little being, I falter. I wish I always had an excess of patience. I wish I always knew the perfect thing to say each and every moment. I wish I never over-reacted. I wish I could lose my anger, and only come from love, compassion and kindness. I wish I could move gently, and never let the charred reality of stress shift my sanity. I wish I could drop frustration from my emotional repertoire. I wish I could enter each and every moment with the essence of Sat Nam Waheguru, not for my sake, but for my daughter’s. When I look at her: running, singing, dancing, crying, helping, sharing, growing and living, I am mesmerized, and constantly pray that Sat Nam Waheguru will deliver me into the world of my wishes where I could be better. I know it’s simple, but the little mantra that could, keeps on keeping on. It keeps sifting my garbage out of my way, and keeps bringing in love and light. And every day, I look upon my little Goddess and feel the magnificence of her grand, old soul … and know that the little mantra that saved me from what lurked inside my mother’s worst fears, envelopes my daughter and will always guide her back home, safe and sound.
It is in the everyday snippets of motherhood, within this dance between child and mother, that I find tiny moments of Divinity, the kind I never stopped to witness before. From the moment my little Goddess opens her eyes, to when her eyes find my face and we both light up like Diwali in Amritsar. In between, we have crying tantrums, we have giggles, we have spontaneous meltdowns, we have random ‘ I love you’ songs, we have a frazzled mummy and a calm mummy – and both of us find a way to navigate these intense spaces and somehow land back into a hug. Divinity is much like that … it exists in the tantrums and the giggles; it is there in the beginning, middle and the end; and it is there when we sleep and when we are awake – it is just there.
This isn’t a story, but rather it is an ode to motherhood – an ode to the limitless love that comes barreling and screeching out of the hearts of mothers and pours an endless supply of unconditional love onto our ever-growing babes. It is an ode to the spiritual tools mothers carry in their hearts and bodies, and the spiritual practices that move from one generation into the next. It is an ode to my daughter for being the most kind and generous Guru. It is an ode to the dance of seyvaa and the dance of gratitude for this colossal opportunity to live in a tsunami of love. It is an ode to pyaar.
Bindy K. Kang-Dhillon has been humbled and grateful to have the honour of being ‘mummy’, masie, partner, daughter, sister and friend. As she juggles her doctoral program, Bindy is thankful for all the privileges motherhood has brought including jumping in puddles, painting recklessly and reading sweet bedtime stories.