ABOUT ME

I grew up in a very vociferous household. Sharing one’s opinion was naturally encouraged- ask our former neighbors.

I learnt very early in life, that if I make stupid choices, my parents would let me see it through (basically).

I decided to pass on the same gift to my daughter- the freedom to form one’s independent opinion after gathering all the relevant information.

She decided to unwrap her gift way too early. She’s 4 now and is a human machine that churns out 150 “why” on a daily basis. Yay to me!

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I Wish I Could Tell You

I wish I knew a way to always protect her.

From an unsavory comment by her classmate.

From a casual neglect by a teacher.

From a small accident at recess time.

From my own well-meaning but faulty parenting.

When I look at her, I know she deserves nothing but the best.

But what is the best?

Is it to protect her from every possible, probable hurt?

Or is it to let her be- even if it means, she experiences a mild let-down, from her family and friends, at times?

I wish I could tell her, all that I have learned about the real world….that no amount of self-improvement will impress that one bully who dresses up as a friend.

I wish I could tell her that, her humor lights up a room.

I wish I could tell her that even though I get upset about her covering her bedroom walls with colors and stickers, never in a million years do I want her to stop being silly, or stop being a child.

I wish I could tell her in a way she can comprehend that her kindness and wise words fill my heart with so much love and genuine respect for her.

I wish I could stop “fine-tuning” her already fascinating personality.

I wish I could tell her that every time I held her hand too tight while crossing a road, or appear too paranoid while she makes her 50th jump from the sofa on to the floor, I am as much trying to protect her as I am trying to manage my untamable fears.

I wish I could tell her that a mother’s heart and mind are scary places. That no person should ever be exposed to that kind of frantic and fearsome worrying. The constant worrying about possible scenarios in which their child can get hurt.

But mostly, I wish I could tell her every day, that she is perfect. That she is loved. That she is worthy of everything that comes her way.

Stiff: My Parenting Poetry

Deeply inspired by Kipling’s poem ‘if’, I have titled it ‘stiff’ which is what my neck is right now. Dedicated to all parents.

If you can keep your head when your baby is hitting his by going towards the same sofa corner again and again…
If you can trust yourself when all family members doubt you about changing the diaper of your constantly in motion baby…
If you can wait and not be tired of waiting, so that the baby finishes his bottle…
If you can dream – and not need sleep time for it…
If you can make one heap of all your baby’s toys
And risk it on one surprisingly strong punch of your baby’s tiny fist
And see them scatter, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your annoyance…
If you can talk with crowds and still keep your baby busy,
Or walk with stains and not feel awkward about it…
If you hate your sleep as much as your baby hates your sleep…
Yours is the Bedroom floor and everything that’s on it needs to be picked up and cleaned..
And – which is more – you’ll be doing it tomorrow again…

5 Things I No Longer Say

Motherhood, among other things is a sobering and humbling experience. All your lofty ideas about ideal parenting are finally put to sleep as you struggle day in and day out, to get your act together. Which is why, I no longer say the following things:

1. That kid is such a spoilt brat: I always used to feel, that for a kid to lie on the floor and bang his hands and feet had to be his parents’ fault. Because, of course, they must have set a bad precedence and the kid now believes that he can get his way every time he breaks into that routine, in public. My daughter, has recently started using this tactic at home and in public places. I don’t know, how it started. I don’t know how I can curb it, but I know this, it wasn’t me who encouraged this behavior.

2. How can they let their baby cry: Here’s a fun fact- kids are like grownups…They like drama, and they cry- to get attention, to get their way, because they are bored, because they can’t sleep even though they are terribly tired, because they are hungry but don’t like their meal and for many reasons that parents have no idea about (at least in that moment). I always thought, that if a baby is crying profusely, and his parents are walking ahead without consoling him, cajoling him, or comforting him, they must be really bad set of parents. I have come to realize that, every time a baby cries, it doesn’t always have to be real, serious or even something remotely important. My daughter cries, if I take away the shoe, she was so gleefully chewing on, 3 seconds ago. She then again cries, if she accidentally, gets her tiny, oh-so cute hands on one of my lipsticks and literally decides to
‘paint the town read’ with it. She then cries again, if she discovers our dustbin has some thrown away food in it and wants to munch on it and I clearly being the villain, stop her from another of her ‘innocent’ indulgences. Sometimes, we have no choice, but to allow our children, to get over themselves, because we just cannot give in to their temporary ideas of happiness!

3. Bad parenting sign #3– did he just hit another child: I thought, that if the home environment is ‘nurturing’, ‘healthy’, ‘happy’, ‘non-violent’, a baby will never hit another baby, until the day, my baby girl, hit me and when I expressed my pain, she started laughing. I have to admit, that her laughter was so cute and adorable, that I almost got ready to be hit by her again. The ‘responsible’ parent in me, however, tried telling her that one must not slap, push or hit another person. But she is too young. I would be fooling myself, if I hope, that any idea I intend to plant, will hold roots anytime soon. Until that happens, I am that embarrassed mother, in a social gathering, who apologizes, every time my baby plays her little game and hits another baby (tinier than her) and then appears shocked when the baby starts crying; all this while wondering that she was being friendly.
Sigh.

4. Eww…please grab a tissue & clean your baby’s face:…and while you are at it, maybe change her dirty clothes as well? I used to be extremely judgmental about the parents, who would what it appeared to be at that time ‘turn a blind eye’ to their child’s obvious shabbiness. Here’s the thing, they can see it, but just can’t help it, sometimes. My husband and I, just recently celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary and since it was right in the middle of the work week, we decided that nothing flashy or elaborate is possible, and that we will try and go to a ‘nice’ place for an early dinner. I bathed my baby girl, dressed her up in one of her new party outfits, matching everything, with everything. Then quickly got ready and off we went to the ‘nice’ place for our ‘some what’ romantic dinner. While we were on our way, our daughter demanded a biscuit and we gave her the one, she is currently fond of, a chocolate cream biscuit. By the time we reached to the restaurant, her face, tiny little fingers were smeared with chocolate. She had some stuck in her hair too. I promptly took out one of the wipes, but since she was already irritated with the fact that she was again made to sit in her pram, she refused to be touched, especially her precious face. So we entered the fine dining restaurant with my baby looking like she just got into a street fight with another baby for a toy dump in dirt. So yeah. Maybe nobody noticed, but I did and it was one of the many reminders, that no matter how perfect, you want things to be for your baby, you need to realize that sometimes there will be tiny little things (no matter how annoying) that will be out of your hands.

5. Please stop using your baby as ‘show and tell’ toy: My parents used to do it very often. Every time, a guest would visit our house, they would ask me to recite a very difficult poem that I had learnt and had previously recited on tv. This went on for a while. Things they wanted to showcase kept changing with time, but their knack of asking me to recite/sing/act something specific, didn’t. While growing up, I saw other parents, doing the exact same thing to their kids. Now that my baby is old enough to mutter some simple words like ‘mumma’, ‘puppa’, ‘no’ etc, I not only tell my colleagues on a daily basis my account of all her mumblings, but I also try and make her say some words when they are around. I am sure, I will shamelessly ask her to recite some random poem, when she gets to that age. I do it, because I am extremely proud of my baby girl’s little achievements and I want to share it with my circle of friends. I no longer think its awkward, or weird, or plain stupid. I guess, now that I am on the other side of parenthood and not a mere onlooker, I have realized that things that used to appear vague and non-consequential have some kind of fondness, tenderness attached to it.

In short, I no longer believe, I have grown up to become a perfect parent, which I thought I would be. I have left myself, in the tiny hands of my daughter and truly trust her ways to mold me into a parent, who would be tailor-made for her.

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Imperfect Parenting and why its ok

Note: This is one of my older blogs.

When my parents used to tell me, “you will understand our actions, only after you become a parent”, I thought they have found a way to say “whatever”; ie disagreeing without giving any logical explanation!

But they were right!

I can finally understand my parents’ or for that matter any parent’s predicament.

The fact that they are supposed to discipline their children and still manage to make them understand that its coming from a place of love is very difficult.

My daughter is just 20 months old right now, and when I try to discipline her, try to, not give-in, into every of her little and many a times unreasonable demands, she gives me the look, as if, I am letting her down as a loved one.

At this very tender age, she has already understood, that I am the emotionally weaker parent. As a result of which, my husband can say no and she’d probably not try after a point, but if I refuse something, her negotiations- smiling cutely, howling profusely, and giving me a silent treatment continue up until the time, I finally agree to do as she pleases.

Now a lot of parents, would immediately jump-in and say, that’s the entire problem- you give in too quickly. And they might be half-right.

But frankly speaking, I find it really hard to let down, that tiny creature, who looks at me, as if I am her whole world, who will follow me around the entire house, will sit with me in the kitchen- whether I am washing her bottles, or cooking a meal. I am unable to tell her, in actions and/or in words, that hey, I cannot fulfill, this one very innocent demand, because I have this uncomfortable responsibility of disciplining you as well.

For the record, I am getting better at the discipline front, but, what I am trying to say here is, I am unable to get the guilt out of my system, while I do it.

Much of it stems from the fact that I have a job and I am away from my daughter for good 8 hours a day. Which is why, when I come back home, I want to spend “happy time” with her, give the entire “quality time” a big high-five and please her (for the lack of a better word).

My mother, went through the same grueling internal turmoil for years. She dedicated her entire life in taking care of her family, while working full time. Her times were much harder though. We had a maid, yes, but not a full-time maid or a cook, or even the luxury to order food, whenever, she “didn’t feel like cooking”. Those were the times, when restaurant outings, were reserved for special occasions only. She let many career opportunities slide, to keep her family together, because taking that opportunity would have meant, staying in a different city and meeting after long gaps.

My parents managed to raise, two very independent, self-assured human beings. Thanks to them, I was introduced to music and movies, and poetry- something that I continue to seek as a form of meditation of sorts.

There were times, I wasn’t allowed to go to school trips and I resented them for that. Then there were times when I was asked to not spend “so much time” with a certain boy and I felt misunderstood. They took those difficult and unpopular decisions, because they could see, what I couldn’t, yet. I finally saw the logic behind all of it, only after I became a mother.

Can you imagine the kind of regret I feel, for giving my parents such a hard time for doing the “right thing”?

Now I live in a different country. I have a family of my own. My own set of responsibilities. I make short trips to my home. Short, hurried, blurry trips to my parents’ home.

I want to tell them, that I am sorry for being such a difficult child. Such a temperamental human being, who sometimes questioned things, just for the heck of it. I am sorry for letting you down, so many times. And thank you for always supporting me, even when I didn’t deserve it, at all. I am sorry for those hurtful words I said, and the superficial judgement calls I took, on your parenting style. In the hind sight, feeling a little stupid.

No wonder, our parents, insist on becoming grandparents soon after we get married. They sell us all kinds of ideas from “we’ll take care of the baby”, “don’t get us started on the biological clock”, “as you get older, it gets more and more difficult to take care of babies, have them now” to the insane ones like, “we are retired and bored, why don’t you plan a baby”. They finally feel free from the torrid task of disciplining children. Now, all they have to do, is be popular, by allowing their grandchild, everything he/she wished to do. Cakewalk.

Not just that, they also know (I think) that as soon as the grandchild would arrive, their own thankless, oblivious, “self-assured” child will get the taste of their own medicine- the pill that we have to gulp down when we see our own child, disliking us, disagreeing with us, disappointed in us, even in small ways, even when we know we are doing the right thing. Boy! that hurts!

As a child, I remember telling my mom, with all the conviction a 10 year old, that I will not work, after I have my kids. Indirectly taunting my mom, for making an obvious wrong life choice.

12 years later, I am almost the mirror image of my mother, as far as our daily routines are concerned.

I have come to know, that kids feel smarter than they really are, only because, they have no idea of what’s coming next. Knowledge makes you humble.

When recently, one of my colleagues, said that the same thing that she’s going to stop working for at least the first 3-4 years after her baby is born, I just quietly smiled and told her, don’t stress too much on the decision right now, take that call when you get there.

There can be multiple reasons, why you couldn’t alter your life, the way, ideally you would have wanted to do, after your child’s arrival- maybe you need the money, maybe you need the independence, maybe you cannot imagine yourself to stay at home and tend to household chores and the baby related responsibilities, maybe, you changed your mind. Trust me, you are allowed to. You will find a way to raise your special little one, in the best possible way, that you can.

My mom was not always around to pamper me, or discipline me because she was also working full time. She managed to instill independence in me, not just by letting me take responsibility for my own actions but also and more importantly by her own example. She and my father taught me and my sister a very simple yet significant lesson, that if you are ready to work hard in your life, things, comforts, luxuries would follow. Yes, luck will play a part in it, but that is something which is out of our hands for sure.

My child has allowed me to look at my parents in a different light altogether. She has also helped me to not only see my flaws but also to rectify them and if that’s not possible at times, then allowing me to go easy on myself.

In the meantime, all I have to do is manage my time, my energy according to her time and energy. I guess, its a very small price to pay for the kind of lessons she teaches me about relationships and about being human. Because that’s another thing, the moment you become a parent, you become more accepting and forgiving of other people’s shortcomings, since you have finally seen yours.

Motherhood: Behind the Scenes- Bad Heir Days

When people told you that, motherhood, is probably the most difficult thing that you would ever do, they were, for a change, not exaggerating, at all.

It is one of the toughest things, for me.

Elders, other mothers, relatives and common sense, all will tell you, that with time, you will get used to it. It will get easier, that you will learn to juggle- work and home and baby and me-time (if you hadn’t given up on the idea till then).

And yes, there are days, when you do feel, that you have it all together. You have finally sorted your thoughts, your laundry, your office and home to-do list, your daily time table etc and you have finally arrived as the “supermom”.

The moment you will decide to go and give the measurement for the “Supermom” costume, your baby will tell you..”not so fast, young lady”…

I call those days… BAD HEIR DAYS.

Just like the more unpopular and yet much less uncomfortable, bad hair days, you cannot control their arrival.

You can only hope, that when the bad heir days do come along, you have the strength, the energy and hope to get over your suicidal tendencies.

Sometimes bad heir days can come in a neat little bunch, where you child decides to throw tantrums for days to come, as if, he/she is getting flak from his fellow toddlers that ‘hey, how come, we no longer hear your cry or howl or weep for random things. Somebody is trying to get into their parent’s good books, we say!’
That’s one theory to explain the bizarre baby behavior.

Another theory is, God wanted women to have a taste of their own pill.
Remember, how men, young and old, bond on the topic, about their respective women, leaving them guessing about, their “actual” conversations and how it doesn’t mean anything close to what they thought it meant? How their respective wives or girlfriends, always play this guessing game, where they get upset or worse still start crying, and men are scared, because they have no freaking clue as to what could be the reason?
My theory is, God just wanted women to feel, how it really feels when the other human being, in this case your tiny little baby, chooses to not tell you what he really wants, while crying and howling and expecting you to quickly figure things out, in this pressure test of sorts.

Bad heir days are like daily soaps coming to an end. If you haven’t seen one that finally ended, you won’t believe that, its possible. Similarly, your parents, your husband’s parents, will never believe that, this cute little munchkin is capable of troubling you so much. Your in-laws anyway don’t believe a word you say, and parents have witnessed your teenage years and they know, you can make stuff up.

Unfortunately, all the people you want to impress by your skills as a mother- random strangers on the road, neighbors you barely speak to, colleagues who think you do nothing major once you reach home from work, so and so forth are the people who will witness those embarrassing moments, while you try and get out of the situation with all the dignity you can manage. You can try of course, but its useless. Whether you finally cry out of pure frustration or your baby does, there is no winning from there on, when your baby decides to lie on the floor, you really want to say ‘ I swear, he got it from his father, I am the calm one..’ Sigh.

I guess, all I am trying to say is, things can get annoying real fast, and its ok to say that out loud. Just because your child was acting out and you got frustrated, irritated, angry, upset doesn’t mean you are a bad mother. It only means, you are a mother who is trying to raise a child, the best to her knowledge. I doubt if “good mothers”- mothers who never get angry, seldom lose their shit, rarely contemplate about hiding under the bed or in the bathroom, exist. We are all a little bit of insane, who knows, what ‘normal’ looks like anymore. This is our new normal.

10 Reasons Why You May Think You Are READY To Become Parents

Let’s admit it right away. Since that moment, where you thought that you are ready, for parenthood, you have had equally strong moments of self-doubt. But there was something in that moment, let’s call it “temporary insanity” where you thought, just like me, that you are “ready”. Don’t get me wrong, kids are the best *Wink* *Wink*, but we were clearly not ready. I for one, have been sloppy since. But here’s why you and I  must have thought that we are ready for the greatest challenger ever!

1.You have had enough sleep for the rest of your life:I mean seriously, do we really need to sleep for 8 hours EVERYDAY? And even if we do, I am pretty sure scientists are just preparing us to become good and efficient parents. Unless they mean, even parents of toddlers should get 8 hours of shut-eye. In that case, I would be forced to conclude, that they are just a bunch of delusional single men.

2.You and your partner no longer talk to each other and it’s getting awkward:Here’s a thought, once you have a child, you will still find it extremely hard to find some couple-time just to laze around the house, talk without agenda, or just share the daily happenings. You will act more like two colleagues working on consecutive shifts in an office on a very important project. Transferring only the bare minimum useful information for a smooth functioning of this… arrangement! But most importantly, at least the lack of conversation will no longer be awkward. Now you have your baby to blame it on.

3.You ‘think’ you are ready:Which only goes to show, how ignorant you are! Before you realize what hit you, he’s going to need a diaper change, warm bottle of milk, and a lullaby, all at the same time. But don’t feel bad about ME, calling YOU, ignorant. Your child will ensure, that by the time he’s 1 year old, you wear it as a badge, wherever you go, along with “I don’t know, what was I thinking” to go with it!

4.You hate your friends, and you never want to meet them again:It will work like a charm. If you have single friends, they will soon realize that you have adopted cool lingos like – EBF, colic, swaddling and they look like idiots not knowing anything at all. Also, you have bought some cool gadgets that you are going ga-ga about- things like bottle sterilizer and breast pump, and they are crying internally for not being able to find use of these genius machines in their dull, single life. Your married friends without kids, will usually fall off the radar, because they will be home, trying to make babies of their own, so that they can have a shot at your new enviable lifestyle and schedule.

5.Your parents are plotting a revenge against you:What will give it away is this extremely innocent, well-meaning, and seemingly emotional line, “we want to see our grand-child, before we die”. Two people, who seem to be practically voicing their last wish, don’t seem to be those people who have an ace up their sleeves. But that’s exactly who they are. Wisdom has taught them enough about kids, and raising them, something, that you have zero clue about. They would promise you to take care of the child. Mark my words, they will only be there to make your child hate you even more, by ganging up on you with them. They make a fine team too, mainly because they have a common enemy…YOU.

6.You truly think, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder:Once you become parents, especially if you are the mother, you will soon bask in the glory of your natural beauty, your natural state, your fresh out of bed look, because anything more elaborate and anything that requires you to spend an hour or two at a place where they “pamper” you by “taking care of you” would sound boring and inefficient, in comparison with, the power of people finally not judging you, because for that they need to look at you at first. And they won’t, because they can’t take so much of awesomeness and raw beauty without submitting to it completely and being your chosen slave. And let’s face it, most are incapable of such spiritual experience, because they need to do the job that pays the bills.

7.You hate the “work-life balance”:Who wants to have a monotonous, repetitive lifestyle, where one day doesn’t look any different from yesterday or the fast approaching tomorrow? A child will ensure that you never suffer from monotony. You may suffer from lack of sleep, “my husband no longer looks at me ‘like that’” syndrome, “my colleagues don’t take me seriously at work” paranoia, but get this, you will never, ever crib about, your days being same. Every day will come with a new and unexpected challenge, no wait, an opportunity to grow as a parent and as a liar. I mean, how many times, can you possibly skip work, by saying “I slept at 4”!

8.You are a cleanliness freak, who is looking for their next challenge:Monica Geller Bing would be proud of you! Cleaning your house as a single adult or even after being married without kids can be called as “tidying up”. Once you have a baby, and he is old enough to move around, the cleaning up looks more like, a restoration process, after you were hit by a hurricane. Also, in future, nobody can force you to buy a white couch. Shortest argument, “I have a kid”.

9.You love being bossed around, and your spouse is doing a terrible job at it:You are most efficient when your boss yells at you from the other corner of the room, the deadline of your project, for the 15th time, in the same day. His yelling, arm twisting tactics, forcing you to always see his point of view, makes you feel that you are somehow contributing to something very significant in a very military regimen kind of fashion. Alas, you lack the same motivation or to be precise, a motivator once you reach home. You are not alone in thinking that a baby would beautifully fill that void. There are many content parents, pushing their boss-child to the “fun zone” of a mall. They plan to stay there for 2 full hours. Ask them, they’ll tell you everything.

10.People say, you will one day make a wonderful parent:This has to be the best reason to become a parent. Accepting a challenge, working hard at it, making an honest attempt, failing miserably at it, attempting it again, failing again, trying again, falling flat on your face, but not losing your hope and more importantly your will to one day be a wonderful parent. That’s what life is all about. To find your true calling. Now run, it seems, your child is up again.