Tag Archives: motherhood

Finding your Village

It’s quiet. 
You see I’m a mother of an 8 month and a 6 year old, so this silence comes at a price. The last 10 months or so, I’ve had my village with me. My parents and my Inlaws helped me find my bearings after I had my second child.
When you live in a different country, you sign up to the good and bad that comes with it. It’s different when you’re single, or when you’re married. It’s having kids that make you crave for belonging. A steady state. An extended family. Being equipped to handle their needs and be everyone they can’t have with them.
So much pressure. You know how you feel when you have a nagging headache? That times thousand multiplied by two is how I feel on a daily basis. 
Don’t get me wrong, I love these tiny humans. Love that consumes you fully, that kind of love. Love that walks around you as your heart is now beating in those little beings. 


A few days ago the extended family had to leave. I didn’t realize the gravity of how dependent I was on them and how much help I had. I felt like my fort starting crumbling all at once.
Kids were both sick, and it was snot filled chests and noses times two. I was running on an average of two hours of sleep a night (where’s my fucking award already?) and was ready to give up. To make things worse the older one has a massive meltdown stating boldly ” I don’t need you anymore. Go away” with snot and tears and a hoarse voice. 

I suddenly remember the innumerable times I’ve said the same thing to my own mother. It’s all coming back to me at the speed of light. I’m really sorry, mom. I know how it feels now. 
I’m trying my best. We all are. Some days we scrape through and on the other days, we don’t. And I’m here to tell you that’s ok.

If you’re failing, let them see it. There’s a certain lesson they can learn in it– their mother is human too. It’s taken me six parenting years (equivalent to 500 human years, heh) to learn this.
I wanted to be the perfect parent ( bhahhaha, I know right?). If there is such a thing. I shut all my fears, worries, my inadequacies in the back of my head. I refused to give up. I tried and tried and oh my god it was so exhausting. I was exhausting. 
Slowly, I learnt it was ok to shove a mouthful of candy and drown it with a glass of something strong and I was going to be ok. I learnt that it was ok to cry, when I couldn’t take it anymore. I learnt to gloriously bask in my failures because (wtf) raising a human is hard. 
The cleaning, cooking and all the million things we mothers do on a daily basis would get done, if not I could prioritize and choose the top 3 things I could do in my list of 150 things. (For example: Today I showered, cooked, showed up at work and kept the kids nourished and alive. Win!!)
I am now at a stage where I don’t have a list. I let inadequacies visit me once in a while. I beat myself up, but also learn to take responsibility. I now know that I’m human and I’m taking baby steps everyday. 
Two kids is so so hard. Don’t know how you parents with more kids do it. Mad props to you guys. Recently when I was talking to my girlfriend Nicole (she has 3 kids, God bless her)– I told her “I wanted to jump off a cliff and kill myself but I think I’ll be ok”. She laughed saying that describes parenting perfectly. I think so too.


Parenting is never going to be a set of directions you can follow. There is no gps to wing this thang. You hold on to a paper map like you hold on to dear life, get lost many many times before you are on the right track, and that’s ok. Never mind the muck, and bites you got along the way. 

When your village leaves (it’s ok to panic) but realize that you become that village. Outsource as much as you can (except love of course), and cut yourself some slack. I’ve read about the CTFD (Calm the fuck down) approach and let me tell you, it works like a charm. 
I’m writing all this down because I would need to read this. Everyday. Every week. This is a letter to myself and to every other mom out there who is trying to do her best every day. 

 

Hang in there you guys. It’s going to be ok, if not, you will figure it out eventually. Breathe. 

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Stay At Home Mom– So What?

(This article first appeared on Masalamommas, an Online Magazine for Moms with a South Asian Connection. You can also read it here)



“Stay-at-home mom.” I didn’t know this was even a term until I had my child in the US and quit working full time to take care of my daughter. The term ‘Stay at home mom’ always threw me off a little and made me want to stand up and ask “wait, but everyone comes back home at some point, right?”

Ah, there was no escaping this I sensed as and when it was thrown at me at every instance. It was then clarified by a dear friend that a “Stay-at-home mom” was someone who “stays” at home to take care of her children full time. It’s pretty common where I come from, and looks like its common here too; however the terminology is very different.

Growing up in India, it wasn’t a familiar term. Familiar terms were “housewife” or “homemaker”. My mother was a housewife and a rather successful one at that. I’m sure a lot my fellow South Asian friends would agree.

Growing up in a middle class family in India, mothers were always around. There were very few instances where a mom worked, and when they did, it was a set up that worked with the family schedule. I guess a lot of women stopped work, once they had a child due to the sheer demand of taking care of a newborn and running the household.

I think this holds true even now.
Fast forward to present, I guess it’s up to an individual or their family to decide what works for them when it comes to childcare. I’ve spoken about this in many of my previous posts. Having said that when I get stopped by random parents at the park, store, library, malls who I run into say “Oh, so you’re a stay at home mom?”– I almost want to turn around and say “If that means putting my child before everything else, and being able to afford it– Then yes.”

My family members in India have been pretty supportive of this decision, however every now and then they get curious about when I will actually go back to work.

‘Take everything in your stride’ they say. I, for one think moms’ who stay home with their kids are constantly under the microscope especially if they have recently quit working full time and are now home to nurture their child.
The jabs and the misconceptions never end. Here are some of the most common things people have said to me.

· “Why are you all dressed up? Where do you have to go?”
· “So, what *exactly* are you busy with all day?”
· “What do you mean by you have no time?”
· “Since you’re home all day, could you do this small favor?”
· “Oh poor you, must be terrible staying home without working”.
· “Will you *ever* go back to work again? Looks like you are losing touch”.
· “Looks like you’re really enjoying motherhood and don’t intend to do *real work* anymore”.
· “You’re telling me you make fresh food every day at home? What a waste of time!”
· “I’m so sorry about rescheduling seeing you again since I’ve been busy. But since you’re home, any day should work right?”
· “Why don’t you answer the phone? It’s not like you are busy *all day* are you?”

I think it is unfair that people have this image in their head about how easy being a stay at home mom is. To keep it simple it isn’t all that easy. I don’t have ‘extra’ time to do things what interests me, let alone making time for everyday chores and errands. Many times at social gatherings or parties I’ve actually seen people subtly rolling their eyes when I’ve told them I’m a stay at home mom. A lot of times some of my own friends have hardly talked about how my life has shaped up, and trumped some of my conversations with the “important stuff” like work talk, or gossiping about an ex-coworker.

It is a privilege to be a mother, and more so if you are spending time with your child day in and day out. It is tiring and not glamorous at all. I have learned to tune out the comments (including people as well) and sometimes come up with some hilarious comebacks. That’s probably for another time.

I haven’t decided on an ‘exact date’ yet on when I will go back to work and I am not in a rush either. I, however do intend to go back eventually. I’m not going to lie and say that every minute is beautiful. It is a mixed bag, but I am definitely enjoying this time watching her grow up. We need to grow a heart and treat mothers equally; whether they are working full time and coming back to their kids, or whether they are home with their kids all the time. It’s a ton of hard work and I’m sure all of us here will agree.

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Finding a balance between kids and friends

(This article first appeared on Masalamommas, an Online Magazine for Moms with a South Asian Connection. You can also read it here)

“Life will never be the same, once you become a mother”– this is something you keep hearing all your adult life, yet, you never really pay attention to it until you actually become one. I don’t know if “wake up call” is the right term, because you aren’t getting any sleep; but yes everything changes, overnight. As if pregnancy and delivery weren’t hard enough to deal with, once the baby comes you are inundated with hurdles, and it never seems to stop.

After my little one was born, I realized that I didn’t have enough “mommy friends”. Most of my friends were either single, or married without kids. As any new mom, I was overwhelmed and seemed to talk more about the baby than I realized. Due to a new schedule, I wasn’t always able to reach out to my friends or my social circle. When I did reach out, all my conversations began and ended with her.

When I tried to reach out to my single friends to talk about my insecurities in my new role, I probably set out with an expectation for them to understand and sympathize with me. For starters, I had gained close to sixty pounds with my pregnancy, definitely looked and felt like a cow (you know why!), none of my clothes fit, and my social life was almost non-existent. For the most part, they did tell me it would get better–but really who were they kidding. I needed a fellow mom to divulge the real deal; the weight was here to stay for a few more years. Ha! Gradually I realized that not all my single friends shared my enthusiasm with my child’s growth, because of the simple fact that they were not in that phase of their lives, just yet. I was there too, a few years back, phasing out as common friends/family spoke about their children.

Most of my insecurities and woes as a mother started transforming itself as tweets and Facebook posts, to which I got some hilarious responses and support from mostly mothers themselves. I slowly started connecting with other mothers, who were going through the same set of challenges as me, and suddenly it wasn’t that bad anymore. Whenever I took the baby to the park, I made it a point to talk to other mothers and get their emails/numbers Facebook/twitter information to stay connected. (If you’re not of the talkative type–you will slowly become one for your child!).

Not hearing from my single friends didn’t really bother me as much. I wasn’t bitter when they didn’t share my views or enthusiasm about all things baby and was less conspicuous of their absence. I was slowly bonding with some really cool and dynamic mothers, who supported each other and me along the way. I could ask a stupid question in the middle of the night (how much Vicks is too much Vicks) and I would always get a response, from my fellow mommy friends. It was a blessing to have that kind of support.

Another person who I got really close to during this whole process was my own mother. It was a wonderful feeling to find a new friend in her. She gave me a lot of support, insight, and taught me to trust my intuition with the child. It also gave me an opportunity to learn a lot about my own childhood through her. The experience of bonding with my mother through my child has been really beautiful. We need all categories of friends to complete us. Even though I don’t call my single friends often, I do enjoy conversing with them about all other things apart from my child. (I’ve learned to keep child talk at minimum now).

We do need to remember our roots, and our friends keep us rooted. When we take our jobs as mothers very seriously, we need these friends to remind us the importance of mundane things and learn how to keep things simple. I don’t cringe at “Oh let’s talk soon”, or ‘Lets hang out soon” anymore because god knows I need that break at regular intervals. I’m sure once my single friends are mothers-to-be, or mothers themselves they will see the other side of the spectrum. When they do reach out to me for support, I will always be here.

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Novice

“I think we should have the baby in India” I said. I was almost 4 months pregnant. It was all those hormones, fear of the unknown and wanting to be close to my family that led towards this outburst.

Then came a lot of thought, analysis, practicality and calming my nerves in the form of my husband. He said, “I’m here with you”.

I came to the United States after getting married, 6 years ago. I quickly realized that we had different roles to
play, since we did not have a lot of family around us. While I filled the role of a wife, friend, sister, and confidante the husband complimented me equally by being my best friend, guide, and my backbone in this alien country.

But, I didn’t want our little one to be born with just us being around. I didn’t want to deny the grandparents knowing their grandchild. However, I also knew that by going to India, I would rob the husband of the entire experience. It was a tough choice.

I chose to stay here. To have the baby here( in the US). It wasn’t really appreciated by the family back home, which led to a lot of misunderstandings, arguments and eventually led me blocking everyone out. I was bitter and angry. Oh and those hormones, I said earlier right?

Before I knew I was getting closer to being a mother. I had an information overload with all those books, websites and advice from fellow mothers. Too much information, but no actual knowledge!

I however missed her, my own mother. Terribly. I was surprised about it even. I tried to be grown up about it but oh, well.Every doctor visit, every scan, all that blood work, made me cry. I was scared as hell. This kind of fear was new, and I immediately knew then that no one could replace a mother.

The baby came about 3.5 weeks early. Just four days after starting my maternity leave. So much for resting the last few days. Took about 22 hours, and I remember everything.

The husband was in the room with me. Helping me, holding my hand, breathing with me, encouraging me, crying with me. He assumed the role of my mother that day. Finally when the baby was out and handed to me, we fought hard not to cry. We were beyond anxious and bewildered. There she was this tiny little bundle. Of life.

I called everyone back home that evening. I spoke to my own mother after a long gap. Told her everything, letting go of all that anger, confusion, fear and ego. It then dawned on me.

I was reborn too. As a mother.


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