Tag Archives: Parenting

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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Being mommy (again!)

As I write this post, I’m secretly hoping the newborn won’t wake up for at least another fifteen minutes. I have to decide if I want to eat, pee or sleep for an extra ten minutes. This is how precious time feels when you have a tiny human who has taken over your life. 
I’m nursing myself back to health, and a 5 day old has made me feel like I’m 50. 

It’s been 5 years but the kind of comments or opinions about being a mother that I’ve received from everyone has not changed. Why do we do this?

Here’s a quick refresher on what NOT to ask/ tell a new mother. Honestly we’re up to our ears with stuff and we don’t need more of this.

1. You’re still FAT.

Oh, this one is a classic. A great conversation ender because you won’t know what hit you after asking a mom that question. 

We’ve provided a harbor for a life to sustain, grow and bring it into this beautiful world. Please look beyond my size. 

2. Normal or C-section? 

The baby is born. Isn’t that enough? Why do you care if it was born naturally, or when I was up to my eyeballs in Drugs? I did what was right for me at the given time and situation.

Learn to respect my privacy and marvel at the newborn.

3. Breastfeeding Vs Formula (Is the baby drinking well?)

No, I’m starving the baby, because that’s what mothers do. Duh.

Honestly, the baby is getting milk, and nutrition. That’s all I care about. If you care about something else, that’s your call but do not intrude asking me questions about how I’m providing for my baby. 

It’s my responsibility to nourish and raise the child in a healthy manner, and I’ll do everything as humanely possible to make sure I do a fabulous job at it.

4. Calling/ Messaging/ Asking for pictures/ requesting a visit

It’s a blessing to have friends and family that care for you. I’m sure everyone means well. However calling incessantly or scheduling a visit early on might be a task on the parents. 

The first 6 weeks of newborn care is utmost important. Give the parents some time and privacy to recuperate and they would gladly host your visit and love for you to meet their little wonder 

5. Will you go back to work?

If not, will you pay my bills? Then it’s none of your business. It’s a personal decision and it’s the choice of the mom to make. Don’t weigh in on my personal matters, and I won’t do the same. 

6. Try this method for ( eating, sleeping, milk supply) because it worked for me.

Sorry, I don’t care if you wore a garland of  fresh garlic and did the hula dance to increase your milk supply. Glad it worked for you.CIO method may have worked wonders. Please don’t force your methods on me. It’s between the baby and I to figure out what works best for us and take that route. 

7. The baby looks just like the dad.

Really? This is what the mothers get for doing all they do. It may be the truth but it would be nice to hear about features that resemble, like he/she has your eyes. 

As someone rightfully said ” the baby is just born it looks like a potato”.   :). Don’t get ahead in comparison and be gentle on the mom when you make such comparisons. 

Child birthing is hard as it is. Along with it comes all the physical and mental stress. New parents are mostly exhausted and extremely busy. Giving them space and time is  probably the best thing you can do instead of being severely opinionated. 


A Note to Self

The more I want to escape from writing, the more these incoherent thoughts and words keep coming back to me.

Most of us struggle with the way we deal with emotions. We roar, upheaval, hide , deny, and finally seem comfortable wearing a mask. We remove the mask, wanting to bear it all, yet, almost immediately wear another for the fear of being judged.

Invariably, we are back to the drawing board, trying to make sense , trying to cope, trying to put all the pieces together.

What I’ve noticed is leaving–(things, people, memories) as is, is fair, to us and to them.

Take people for example, you always want them to be a better version of themselves for you to be happy. To satisfy your needs. You try so hard to change them into what you envision them to be. I do that too. It’s a lost cause. People will be who they are, and you trying to tamper with their persona, is only going to cause unwanted pain.

Let it be. We weren’t meant to be perfect, or preach perfection. We are all flawed. Beautifully flawed. Else, what would separate us from each other, right?

I am a mother of a toddler. You can only imagine the amount of “reinventing” I have to do keep up. I used to be bitter, I was very hard on myself, and always felt angry, depressed and at wit’s end when I was amidst treating parenting like a doctrine we all needed to follow.

I threw that book. Left the mess. I wasn’t running the rat race for the “best parent” award. I told myself that having a messy house is better than having a messy mind. I stumble, I ache, I am covered in dirt but I am happier than I used to be.

I keep telling myself there is no right way to do this. Neither there is a set routine. Follow what your intuition tells you, and keep all the negativity in that closet. Visit it, yes, but don’t make it your wardrobe.

When things get messy, or unmanageable, leave. Let it be. Take a walk, hum a tune. Free your mind. It’s never easy, but if you don’t leave, how would you know that you want to come back?

If you aren’t already aware, we are a species that are constantly evolving, not just in the genetic sense, but also as a whole. The basic building blocks remain the same , however everything else keeps realigning and changing.

I left home, a decade ago for a different town to complete my studies. Then to a different country for work, and now live in a different country. I left work, to spend time with the little one, and now, I work and I am concious of my time with her, as it is so limited. The point I am trying to make here, is the constant state of leaving, and coming back. After a while, you realize that it is almost consistent, and probably mean the same thing.

Instead of treating this as displacement, try to create a home within you that is strong enough to shelter all the storms that life brings in. Be easy on yourself, smile a lot, do what you love, be with people who make you happy, love unconditionally , and let things be.

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Turning three was a breeze

Funny thing about parenting is that you always think you’re prepared for what lies ahead of you, but you seldom realize that no amount of preparation would help, as the child never fails to astonish you. They would turn around and do something out of the ordinary, which would leave you enough room to grow to accept them for who they are.

I was given every sort of warning about terrible two’s. (Now, I’ve been warned about horrible three’s, it’s always something).

This year was challenging and beautiful in equal measures.

Little one you now have your own personality. You have started expressing your emotions really well. You make it very clear when you aren’t happy, and also keep testing the waters to have things your way. You’ve always amazed me at how you make it seem so easy to throw a tantrum when you don’t have it your way. I am going to try it soon :).

You’re very receptive to everything around you. You pay so much attention to the sounds around you. The music, the birds, the vehicles, your books and the characters in them. You pick up vibes so well, and smile your sweetest smile when I’m mad at you, or try to hush me up when I’m mad at your dad. You’ve shown me that every situation is only as big as we make it to be. If you can smile easily, everything will fall into place in its own time.

You started school part time this year. Even though we had a lot of initial hiccups you were a trooper and you now love going to school. You love your teachers and you’re trying to socialize. It’s so great to see you attempt at things you have never been exposed to with such ease. You’ve helped me overcome my own fears at attempting new things. It’s been liberating.

You love reading. Every time we are indoors you drag me to your room, take a book out and have me read it to you. We’ve spent hours reading the same books and you’ve never complained, because your imagination keeps getting better and better. It has taught me to look at myself and people around me differently, keep looking for good in everyone and keep giving second chances.

You’ve always taught me to give away all the love, even the love I didn’t get. You love me equally on my good and bad days and have no expectations. This is something I’m still working on, and hope to realize it before you grow up. It might come in handy when you need help with this in the future.

We’re always told to “be prepared”, “be tough”, “don’t be their friends, be their parents”, “use a grown up approach to deal with them” etc. When it comes to raising kids, little do we realize that we need to unlearn, let ourselves go, and many times come down to their level to resonate with them. Thank you child for bringing that out in me and help me grow with you.

I love you (even though I sometimes need to drink four cups of something before 09:00) and look forward to many many years of loving and growing with you. I’m so blessed that I don’t have to travel a lot to see the world, I often see it in your eyes. Happy Birthday.

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Dealing with Parenting Advice

One of my pet peeves with parenting has been the ease at which people give you advice. It sometimes is out of genuine concern, but mostly unsolicited. It’s like being at a party where no one cares whether you’re a teetotaler or not, you ARE NOT getting away without having at least one drink. We’ve all been there and I’m pretty sure that we don’t carry a board saying “Looking for parenting tips”.

I don’t know how these people find you, but they do alright. Being a parent suddenly means you are on the receiving end of advice. Right from the pediatrician, to the nurses, to the parent mafia you run into at the park, everyone suddenly is the expert, on your child.

Also, I do get particularly confused when people without kids give advice how one should raise their child. That surely is a contender for testing every last ounce of patience we have left (haha—like our kids don’t do that enough already).

I have devised my own advice warding-off techniques which has helped me not to punch the said people in the face (it was TOUGH) and I’m sharing them with you:

  • Wear earphones in a public place. Malls, Parks, Libraries, Buses. It’s a real conversation killer. Helps with situations where strangers come up to you and tell you how your child is wearing a wrong shoe or mismatched socks. (You see toddlers HAVE to wear what they like, sometimes five days in a row).
  • If you can’t concur with them confuse them. If they start talking about your child, you can steer the conversation to the new outlet store you visited, or talk about “Breaking Bad”. Gosh, everyone loves that series.
  • Keep staring at your phone every three seconds and act important.
  • Smile and nod at everything they say. They might think that you are either deaf or gone in the head.
  • Wear sunglasses in the park. People usually leave you alone. If not, follow point number three.
  • When friends or strangers who don’t have any kids yet give you advice regarding how you must raise your child, laugh loudly at their face and ask them to call you once they have kids. You can continue to laugh until you cry.
  • When your parents give you the “I told you so” or “You were worse” talk on the phone, just pretend that there is static on the line and hang up.
  • Sing your most favorite work out song in your head. LOUDLY WITH LYRICS.
  • Put the ball in their court. Make it about them.

I know, I know. That sounded a bit harsh. But I’m sure a LOT of people here will agree with these techniques. Of course I was kidding (maybe).

I remember when my daughter was tiny. I remember how inadequate and scared I felt as a mother. Every day was different. Every new routine stuck for a few days, sometimes a few hours. It’s really tough. But during that time, I realized something. You and only YOU are the expert on your child. Not the pediatrician, not the nurse, not your friends. Trust your instincts with them. You will figure it out. It’s almost close to three years now, and I still keep telling myself “Don’t drop the baby, everything else will be fine”. It’s okay to follow your rules to maintain your sanity, and your family’s sanity in the process. It’s OKAY to let them wear the same tutu three days in a row.

Whenever you get advice that helps you out, make it a part of your routine. If it doesn’t apply to you, listen, and let it go. As hard as it is to keep your cool when you feel the whole world is plotting against you, and judging your skills, remember that you’ve come this far. Give yourself a LOT of credit and take it one teeny tiny step at a time. If people still get to your nerves, well, there is always the bullet points above to maintain your sanity.

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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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Thanking Fathers

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

There is always so much to look forward to when you become a parent. The good part is watching your child grow up, recording every milestone and beaming with pride knowing you are doing something right. The not so good part is having arguments about various topics under the sun. A new argument every day had become a routine with my husband. I always had something to say about his inability to help me with chores, and doing stuff around the house.

On more than one occasion I reprimanded him stating — we ought to teach the kids doing chores early, and you are not exactly setting a great example (with a slight hope that he would mend his ways). But, we all know how that ends.

Being successful parents sometimes takes a toll on the husband-wife relationship. Most of us would disagree, but we know we have been there at some point in our parenting lives.

Amidst all the clashes, I sometimes forget to compliment my husband on what a great dad he is. The minute he walks into the door–he has her full attention. No matter how crazy his day has been, he always reserves his special smile for her. He is a ball of energy and immediately switches to the “dad mode”. Keeps her occupied the entire evening with different tricks (while I try to take a shower, and remember my existence) and never raises his voice, or loses his temper!

We do give moms a lot of credibility, but often forget to acknowledge how much a dad brings to the table.
If we didn’t know how to turn on the “mommy mode”, it wasn’t exactly a cruise for them either. They always become the “punching bag” for everything we can’t do right. Sometimes, ranting and publicizing their mistakes makes our own faults seem smaller (I know I’ve done this a lot of times!) and it’s so therapeutic (*evil grin*).

He brings a lot of stability in our lives and keeps us grounded. He assures me that everything will work out when it’s time, and if it doesn’t we can figure it out together. When I get overwhelmed with being a mom, he calms my nerves and makes sure I get some alone time (lord knows we all need that). He is so patient with the child, and so giving which is very humbling.

Going back three decades, I still remember (or constantly reminded by my mom) that I was daddy’s precious little girl. His energy and love were contagious. He captivated my attention at all the times he was with me. He had so many innovative methods to spark my interest in various areas. Mom definitely had a lot of cleaning up to do after, but I couldn’t imagine me being me without all the madness we experienced as a family.

Even after he left to work in a different country, he constantly kept in touch with us kids through letters, audio tapes, goofy pictures, and the occasional phone calls (since it was expensive then). He was present with us, even during his absence with all the paraphernalia and his undying love for us.

I see so much of that same reverence for her dad in my child. It surely is unconditional love in its purest form.

Ever so often our own insecurities creep up and make us all very vulnerable. Parenting is the toughest job there is and I’m thankful that I have someone to share this journey with –as a fellow parent, a friend, and as a confidante. Knowing that we are not perfect and not always right keeps us going. Our roles as parents has definitely taken a front seat now, and I’m sure there will be a lot more challenges for us to face going forward.

The spirit of parenthood is something that needs to be understood and appreciated every day. On the occasion of Father’s Day I would like to thank all the dad’s who are pillars of support for their families. Not forgetting all the single parents who do double the work to make it all happen. This post is an ode to all the dads out there including mine and my daughter’s.

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