Pause. And resume.

(A conversation on ‘hope’ between a mom and her 14-year-old daughter)

By Nidhi Mishra

Yesterday, someone shared with me a video by Serena Williams that went viral last year, where she is emotionally urging her little baby girl to grow up and take to a sport, ANY sport, but some sport. I remembered watching it together with my young daughter — in fact, many times over.

But, somewhere, during the repeats, I wondered what it was about this message from Serena that moved me so much. I have never really played any sport myself. I did inherit the family culture of an impeccable and exhaustive viewing of all Tennis grand slams, but it did not impact me any other way personally.

My daughter loved the video and gathered that I was trying to relay to her Serena’s message about the life lessons from sports. But seeing a tiny tear curl up in the corner of my eye, she figured it meant something more to me.

“Why are you so moved by this video?” she pestered, not happy that she was missing some point. The lack of a response from me made her venture to guess why Serena seemed important to me right now, while our lives seem to have come to a standstill.

Was it the daunting speed of Serena’s aces or the power of her backhand?

Was it the unmatched records of her Grand Slam victories?

Or was it the emotional appeal in the video, Serena trying to pack her life’s wisdom in a two-minute video, for her baby?

The answer I gave seemed terribly simple for all the flush of emotions I had been displaying.

“It is because she is a mom,” I said.

I could see my daughter had a loud “So what?” written all over her face.

“It is just that she is a mom,” I continued. “A returning mom. Doesn’t matter that she is returning to sport. It is the overpowering image of a mom returning to her life, reclaiming her life, the life she always knew before she hit pause. You won’t understand it. But every mom will.”

After some moments, my daughter replied, “You are right Ma. Yes, I get that it is hard. But I may not get HOW hard. I do understand now that when we talk of or watch Serena, it is not just her game.

 “I am conscious she is ‘getting back’ to her game, which is very different from ‘getting on’ with her game.

“It mustn’t be easy, after going through the life changing experience of becoming a mom. I don’t claim to know how much it means to young moms out there, but I do understand it means something. Someone to look up to. Someone like you, who pulled through. Some one who gives you hope.

“And I know what you will say now Ma, more than the game and the technique, Serena is sending out a message. As a mom. To another mom like you. And to any young girl like me, who is told there are so many reasons why women can’t take up the demands of a life-long career, sports or not. Well, there is one reason less now.”

There was something reassuring about hearing my daughter talk that way. It doesn’t take an expert to glean through and pick a few drops of hope from someone else’s story, someone else’s experience, however unknown their territory.

Now is not the time to convince our young ones that we have faced hardships. Now is the time to tell them that we lived through hardships and will do so yet again.

For now, I would only like to tell myself and all people out there, moms or not, working or not —

Many of us have hit pause before in our lives. And hard as it was, we always managed to resume.

There is no reason why we wont, this time.

Serena William’s video message for her little girl

Nidhi Mishra is an ex-banker who pivoted from a 10 year banking career to her passion for reading and luring others to read through her startup Bookosmia (smell of books). Bookosmia, a children’s content company has grown at a furious rate in the last two years, building an enviable bank of 270+ Intellectual Property, focused on bringing. She went to Lady Shri Ram College , Delhi University to pick up an Honours in Mathematics and a feminist flair on the side. An MBA from IIM Lucknow took her to a decade long career in the financial sector, finally quitting as VP, HSBC as she suffers from a (misplaced) sense of satisfaction and a drive to do something meaningful with her time. You can write to her at Nidhi’s first children’s book “I Wish I Were” is retelling of an old Indian folklore in partnership with Parvati Pillai, ex-design Head of Chumbak received much global acclaim and is available on Kindle. 

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