found out that I was pregnant several years ago, it was one
of the happiest and most exciting moments of my life. I was
awed by the fact that I had a living being growing inside
of me. I spent hours visualizing what my baby would look like,
talking and singing to her, caressing her, and beginning to
plan for our new family with my husband, Sumant.
as my love for my baby grew with each new day, so did my apprehension
about whether or not I would be a good mother. Would I know
how to take care of my baby? How would I contribute to her
happiness or unhappiness? How could I make sure that she treated
others well, that she felt secure, that she was on the right
path? What was the right path? I became overwhelmed thinking
about the responsibility of being a good parent.
was at this time that I appreciated, probably at the deepest
and most sincere level, how grateful I was to my parents,
Rita and Deepak Chopra, for the security, patience, love,
and support they had given me growing up. For much of my life,
people have asked me, "What was it like growing up as
Deepak Chopra's kid?" or "How did your parents teach
you and your brother, Gotham, spiritual values and ideas when
you were children?" Of course, for Gotham and me, our
father was always just our father, and Mom was Mom. We never
analyzed what it was like to grow up with them or how that
was different from others.
the context of becoming a parent, I started to think more
about the way in which my parents taught us, how they made
us feel loved, and how easy it was for us to communicate.
Because of my father's work as a spiritual teacher and writer
and his eagerness to impart his knowledge to us, I understood
at a young age how love and compassion set the foundations
for everything else in life.
and I did have a wonderful childhood -- not only because of
the fascinating people we met, but because we were taught
to look at the world with magical eyes, curiosity, and passion.
Perhaps because of this background, during my pregnancy I
was inspired to make commitments to myself about how I could
emulate what I had learned from my parents, as well as from
other family members, ancestors, friends and from my own experiences
in life. My hope was to give Tara a childhood filled with
wonder, magic, adventure, and mystery. And I felt intuitively
that the time to start was while she still a part of me --
I somehow knew she would be listening.
to bond with my baby reflected what I knew scientifically,
that the love and support a child feels -- perhaps even in
the womb -- results in specific biological outcomes for health,
self-respect, confidence, and behavior. And intellectually,
I knew that my baby and I were connected at every level. But
now, I actually began to experience my unborn baby as an extension
of myself, of my body, of my mind, and of my soul.
So I started
to write down promises to myself and to her. These promises
were inspired by all the love and hope that I felt for her
and by the anticipation of who she was going to become. As
I wrote, I realized that each promise was inspired by something
that I myself had actually experienced or learned. I started
to write down the stories, memories, and lessons that I wanted
to share with Tara as she grew up, as well as the values and
intentions I myself needed to be reminded of as I faced the
challenges of parenting. The result was that I could feel
our bond grow and deepen as I wrote. This bond only strengthened
after Tara was born and continues to evolve as she grows.
I see that my love for Tara is reflected in her love for me.
I know that we are constantly growing and coevolving.
now two years old. With her birth and the ensuing year, my
writing project was pushed to the side as I immersed myself
in actually being a mother. I have loved mothering Tara more
than anything else I have ever done in my life. I have also
realized that some of it comes naturally and that other parts
of it are hard -- very hard. You need patience, determination,
and understanding. And frankly, some of the original promises
that I had made to Tara were not really practical (i.e. I
promise to never say no to you.)
became more interactive, learning day by day and soaking up
the environment around her, I opened up my promises and decided
to focus on them again. I wanted to remind myself of the commitments
I had made to her when she was born, and I was inspired to
write even more promises. A few weeks after I opened the promises,
I also discovered that I was pregnant again! Hardly a coincidence,
my passion for the project was driven by the love for Tara
and my new baby, Leela, who was growing inside of me.
realized through this process that the bond between a parent
and child is one of the most important bonds between two beings.
Parenting today comes in many guises with unique challenges,
from single parents to those managing divorce or separation,
to parents from different cultures, adoptive parents, those
who are older or younger than the norm, and those who are
managing full-time jobs or daily pressures. But no matter
where we fall on the parenting spectrum, we are all bonded
by the role we play in shaping the innocent minds of tomorrow.
As parents, we have the ability to create new global citizens
who have the power to change the world. In a world that is
often colored by fear and violence, this role becomes all
the more important. If we all make promises to teach our children
love, respect, honor, and acceptance, then we are playing
our parts in creating a safer, more secure, and more nurturing
world for them to live in.
promise to hold you, but never hold on to you.
look at me with your big eyes, searching for a hug, a kiss,
comfort, and security, my heart melts with joy. I am there
in an instant, knowing that today you turn to me for everything.
I yearn to hold you, protect you, and nurture you. And while
it makes me whole to meet your needs, I must constantly remind
myself that I am really only your guide for a short time.
You are on your own journey, a bud that will blossom into
its own brilliant flower.
there will come a time when you will no longer look to me
for all your needs, when you must search for your own answers,
when you will want to wander around the world and collect
your own treasures. I know there will come a time when I have
to let go and admit that you are old enough to make your own
decisions and determine your own actions.
you that I will let go and give you the freedom to grow and
become your own person. And whenever you want my advice, my
embrace, and my smile, I will be there for you. I will always
answer your call, and I will always be there as an anchor
when you need me. And while I know at times it will be hard
for me to hold back, I will respect your freedom and give
you wings to fly freely with confidence, joy, and security.
promise to show you how values can be the basis for genuine
lesson that our parents taught us when we were young was to
develop a sense of values that could drive everything else
we did in our lives. These values were not dictated or told
to us, but rather, like all children, we watched how our parents
treated others and themselves.
grew older, my father encouraged Gotham and me to begin a
process of actually defining our values. This exercise made
our value system a conscious part of our everyday thinking
and activities. As we grew up, our values drove our academic,
professional, and personal decisions and relationships.
morning as part of our meditation, we would think about the
most valuable experiences that we wanted to have during the
day. These experiences could include friendship, love, peace,
harmony, laughter, creativity, intuition, discovery, and more.
When we were silent and truly listened to our hearts, we always
found that our most valued experiences were ones that made
us feel good, happy, secure, and loved.
then take a few seconds to contemplate how we could find and
nurture these experiences. Inevitably, the process of discovering
our experiences would entail giving, sharing, or creating
those experiences with others. This created a dynamic where
we always felt connected to others and motivated to treat
others in the same way that we would want to be treated. It
also created a vision that engaged others who wanted success
and fulfillment as much as we did. And most important, it
allowed us to shape our own destinies, focusing on the experiences
that would keep us inspired, creative, and passionate about
each new day.
we hope we can instill values in our children that will give
them confidence and inspire them to treat others with love
and respect. The simple exercise described above is a powerful
way to help children listen to what makes them feel good and
then seek out and share those feelings with others in their
ten values that you hold most dear. Promise your child that
you will teach these values to him or her by your own example.
promise to remind you that there are many perspectives to
was two-and-a-half years old, he went for his first expedition
with his father. It was a big trip for his dad -- the first
time he was going to spend several hours completely alone
with his baby. He decided to take Sumant to the zoo.
was so excited when they reached the park. His father bought
him a balloon and sat him upon his shoulders, and they went
from one animal to the other. They reviewed all the appropriate
animal sounds. They pointed out the brilliant colors on the
parrots and the lovely feathers on the peacocks. Sumant's
father then gave him a wonderful treat; they took a ride on
an elephant around the park. It was one of the most special
afternoons his father had ever spent.
arrived home, Sumant's mother came running out to the car.
She grabbed Sumant, giving him hugs and kisses and asking
if he had fun. Sumant was licking a lollipop, and he showed
his mother the stuffed monkey that his father had bought him.
His father beamed with pride, knowing that he had treated
his son to an ultimate day of fun and learning. He was excited
to hear Sumant's tales of the day.
Mama all that you saw," his father coaxed.
beamed with pride and responded, "Rocks, Mama. So many
© 2005 Mallika Chopra
from: 100 Promises to My Baby by Mallika Chopra. Copyright
© Mallika Chopra. Permission granted by Rodale, Inc.,
Emmaus, PA 18098.
CHOPRA, mother of Tara and Leela Mandal, is an author
and producer who enjoys taking creative concepts and developing
them into cross-cultural, empowering products. She is a partner
in Chopra Media, which develops television programming, film
concepts, and media products. She is also a partner in the
popular K Lounge in New York City.
• 100 Promises to My Baby
• 100 Promises to My Baby
• 100 Promises to My Baby