Saturday, December 14, 2013

Not the best of days but then it isn't the worst of them either. A somewhat unpleasant (to me at least) interaction, a warm chat with a venerable 76 year old about her charitable work, a dip in confidence levels thanks to the unpleasant chat, a rise after a quick nonsense chat with two old friends....this is what it is about, isn't it? Good days and bad times.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The post from a hole

I'm neither here nor there at the moment.

I was like this eight or maybe seven and half years ago, when Big A was about 8 months old and my new mommy feelings were strong as ever but not enough to survive on them alone. My friends worked. My husband  worked. My mom worked. My neighbour worked, even though she did not really want to. My maid worked. Everyone worked expected me. Oh yes, I worked too. But day and night shifts that are done at home and involve children, high chairs, scattered cereal, splattered sofas, squeaky toys all over the floor, potty seats and wheels of the bus sung for the 25th time to put the tyke to bed are invisible. It's just something you do when you are home 24/7. It's not work because real work requires a smart office chair and desk, a nifty computer where you do other things than check mommy blogs, kids furniture and upload photos on Facebook. And get paid at the end of the month, which is what makes it all real. f

Irrational? Yes. But when you are in a baby induced hole, you tend to have such thoughts, even if you love the hole you're in.

So by the time A hit 8 months, I hit the paranoia button and decided that I had to work. Not full time of course but on a freelance basis. My life depended on it. Yes am quite shallow that way and not exactly ad-material for motherhood.

Now A is about to hit 8 years next month. I have work on hand. Have always had for the last eight years. Small time stuff that's enough to keep me happy, occupied and delusional enough to think that am doing 'real work.' I even have a 'venture' of my own with a friend that is on baby steps but is there, nevertheless.

But the discontent of it all is hitting me back again. Is the work I'm doing really worth it? Where do I stand among everyone else? Has the baby hole sucked me too deep inside? I'm restless and panicky as a friend pointed out today. At least that's how I'm coming across.

Weird? Perhaps to the outside world. Normal? To some mothers-in-a-hole who tread the same line of thought. Abnormal? Certainly not!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

In which I go soppy

“I’m suffering from the empty nest syndrome!”A mother whose daughter has just left for university abroad commented recently on a Facebook group I belong to. In less than two minutes, there were other mothers in similar situations commiserating with her. Mothers with children who had just left home to attend college in another city or country; Mothers with children who had started working elsewhere or were about to take off soon, whether for college or work.
As I read the comments, I realized that precisely at that moment, I was rather thrilled to have the children out of my hair. The big boy had gone off to a birthday party and was safely away for a good three hours, while the younger one was sleeping next to his grandparents and would be mollycoddled by them once he awoke, saving me some time.
I thought of the house as it usually is, especially on a holiday. Books all over the sofa, crayons on the dining table, blocks hiding under cushions, balls, cricket bat, NERF guns everywhere, a sock or two flung across at some point, which I’d been too lazy to notice or pick up. Yes, I’m a total pushover when it comes to setting boundaries for play areas within the house. I looked at the mess and instead of getting worked up as I always do, thought of how it would all look once the kids had grown up and left home, like these women’s had. The house would be clean. Almost clean, as the husband wouldn’t be attending college again I suppose. But clean in a way that you wouldn’t trip if you didn’t spot that tiny car on the floor. In fact, there would probably be no tiny cars at all. The boys would be 18 plus anyway and too fixated on their X Boxes and play stations or whatever new comes up in the next 10 years. They wouldn’t want you to sit and play Dragster with them or demand your attention every five minutes. They would be teenagers, almost adults. Attached but detached as well, in their own world.
And so as I thought of all this in a rather uncharacteristic, maudlin manner, I suddenly couldn’t wait for the boys to come bouncing up to the room and take away all the free time I had. Because 10 or 15 years isn’t long when you have children who keep you on your toes and make you long for precious minutes that you get to yourself and stop being a supply chain.
Before I know it, they would be out of the door and the floor would be squeaky clean with no tiny cars, no spilled juice or Chocopie crumbs. As I kept up the weepy imagination, the doorbell rang and in walked the boy. “How was the birthday party? Did you eat anything?” I asked out of sheer habit, the words tumbling out of my mouth before I could stop. “It was okay,” said junior with supreme disinterest and a look that said, really mom? You can’t wait even a minute, can you? He walked to his room, picked up his Beyblade and started playing, oblivious that mom had spent the last half an hour agonizing over and imagined life without him in the vicinity.
The process of detachment has already started. And it is extremely disconcerting at times. Let the nest overflow at of the moment.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

I need to write
I have to write
Yet it's a bait
I'm loath to bite

Monday, September 17, 2012

Letting Go

An edited version of this appeared in a parenting column I sometimes write for an online newsmagazine in Bangalore. And just because I mentioned parenting don't think that you will find anything of great importance here. Just the regular vent of a mildly neurotic mom.   
These days when we get back from Wednesday evening drums class (which incidentally is in our vast and not very secure apartment complex), I let A boy cycle it to our building all alone. In keeping with tradition, I start off by shouting instructions loud: Keep to the side/watch out for cars/don't go fast, etc, etc. It doesn't last long as he is out of my line of vision soon enough.

When I reach our building, I find A boy waiting near the elevator, thrilled to bits at having tasted freedom.

I can finally understand what Lenore Skenazy was getting at. Sort of anyway*.

In 2008, New York based writer Lenore Skenazy let her 9-year-old son take the subway home. For weeks her son had been begging her to be allowed to travel alone and she finally relented by leaving him with a MetroCard, a subway map, some money and loose change in case he had to call her.
When Skenazy wrote about the experience in her regular column, there was a flurry of reactions that ranged from calling her a child abuser to appreciating the way she allowed her son his first taste of independence.

I remember reading Skenazy’s column when the incident happened and being in two minds about what she did. Was this right or was it being too radical? And would I ever be able to do the same?

A boy was only three then and safety and ease of travel factor in transport systems in India are vastly different from what they are in say, New York, but the question in my mind was, when would I finally have the courage to let him be on his own, without parental supervision in every step of the way? And given the way things are in today’s overprotected parenting world, when would I finally learn to let go?
My son is nearing seven now and I find myself facing that question again. We live in an apartment complex that is not ‘gated’ from all sides, leaving the road from our building to the park open to all kinds of vehicular traffic, from cars to water tankers. Sadly enough, the traffic peaks from 5 pm in the evening, just when children are out to play.
I would love to send my son out to the park alone, he’s at that age when he needs to go out and make friends on his own without mom hovering in the background. But even if I trusted him to safely keep to the (non existent) sidewalk and reach the park, do I trust the speeding cars, tankers and trucks? No I don’t and would rather not take that risk. At least till he is eight.
We are mostly a generation of overprotecting parents. “By the time I was seven, I would walk to the grocery store across in the locality and buy eggs for Ma,” says a friend who would cycle to said grocery store through roads teeming with scooters, rickshaws, cows and bikes. But the world was a safer place then, he reasons, because he wouldn’t let his 8 year old girl do the same thing now. “Not until she is at least 12 or 13.”
Are we ruining our kids’ lives and depriving them of some much needed life skills? In his book No Fear: Growing Up in a Risk Averse Society, author Tim Gill points out that activities that previous generations of children enjoyed without a second thought have now been labelled as dangerous and the adults who permit them branded as irresponsible. He says that childhood, especially the crucial years between 5 and 11, is being undermined by the growth of risk aversion and its intrusion into every aspect of children's lives, restricting children's play, limiting their freedom of movement.
This in turn constrains their exploration of physical, social and virtual worlds. The author is talking about UK here, but the situation could apply to India as well. 
Most parents I know (including yours truly) do not let their children venture out much on their own. Our justifications are unsafe roads, unsafe play areas and of course, an overall unsafe world.
We are being overprotective of course. But I trust that when I finally let him be on his own (another year), it won’t be too late for him to face the opportunities and experiences that will allow him to stand his ground and teach him to overcome his fears. Yes, but the solo bus or metro ride is still a few years away.

* Skenazy incidentally coined the cringe worthy term Free Range Kids. Just saying ;P 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Berry Weird Post

Made strawberry jam at home today. Turned out better than I had expected and was surprisingly easy to make. At least easy for me, not having made jam or even thought in that direction before. Had wonderful visions of serving only homemade fruit jams like strawberry, apricot, peach, plum, etc to my children and gifting them to people in pretty jars during Diwali, X-Mas, housewarmings, etc.
The dream ended right there of course. Because my version of gifting goes somewhat like this: I know in my mind it is Diwali/X-Mas/Whichever event demands gifts of jamlike proportions four weeks from now.

Week four: I keep thinking.
Week three: I think some more.
Week two beginning: I pass shops that could possibly stock suitable gifts but give them a miss because there are still TWO WHOLE WEEKS left.
Week one: I pass shops that could possibly stock suitable gifts and have a SALE sign. I give them a miss under the excuse that the older child needs to be picked up from bus stop (two hours from now) and the younger child is alone at home with the maid (and has been since 10 in the morning and not for the first time but still, you can never be too careful, right?). I have 7 days after all.
D Day: I rush to store I passed by earlier. Buy gift at full price when similar version was on sale only a week ago. Rush home. Realize have forgotten wrapping paper. Dig out Fabindia paper bag, put fear of God (and no TV for three weeks) into the older brat and make him paint it. After which we spray it with glue and then glitter, the boy having tasted the fun part of the activity now. Spend an hour doing Fabindia bag makeover after which I have barely 10 minutes to get ready. Realize as I'm leaving house there is glitter in my hair and the boy has some on his nose.

Now you know why I can never gift jam. Or, given the highly organised way in which I work, ever make it again.

This piece appeared in a parenting column I sometimes write for an online newsmagazine in Bangalore. And just because I mentioned parenting don't think that you will find anything of great importance here. Just the regular vent of a mildly neurotic mom.   

Good morning and welcome to the Mummy Pick Up & Drop Off service. I'm the chief operating officer cum chief pick up girl here. The job description fits me to the tee as I am always picking up things -- clothes from the laundry, toys from the floor, soap from the bathroom basin, child from swimming class, bus stop, playdate, skating class and so on. We welcome all sorts of applicants as long as they have spawned at least one offspring, possess a reasonable ability to be on their toes for the large part of the day, have a suitably haggard appearence while trying to appear cool and collected in standard 'Mummy Chic', i.e.,
one loose kurti/long top and slacks/capri. Please note that at least one of the above garments need to have pockets to carry napkins, house keys, car keys, wallet, lollipops and so on.

Applicants also need to be good multitaskers and skilled in one-handed operations such as folding stroller while holding baby, bag and other paraphernalia; feeding banana to baby on the hip while speaking to other moms about the older child's fussy eating habits and instructing maid at home over the phone; typing an email while reading bedtime stories to child; skateboarding while balancing the child on one hand and four tea cups in another. Ok so I made that last one up but I am quite sure there is some super multitasking mother somewhere in the world who can do just that.

For details regarding timings, rates and job satisfaction about the Pick up Service you could speak to some mommies themselves. They are found quite easily in parks, school bus stops and if it's holiday season near the swimming, art, craft, tennis and a million other camps. The perks of the job include almost nothing, unless you count hanging around aimlessly or finishing up your grocery shopping while junior does his training as a perk. Be warned that the job also has a good ability to play havoc with your mind as the brat whines about not wanting to go for Karate class, making you wonder if you are being the pushy mommy type. So you pull him out of it only to have him complain that AAAAAAALL his friends go for Karate and he is the only one left out. This of course makes you wonder yet again if you are a good mommy at all and if you understand your child. Our suggestion: Do not think. It interferes with the core job on hand which is to be shuttle service for child during school days AND vacations, along with in house chef, emergency playmate, boredom reliever and anytime cleaning service.

With such a massive job profile, when is the time to think?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

What I would really like to say to some people I know.

What is an issue with you, a huge, life threatening, emotionally twisting issue with powers to wreck havoc with your mind, relationships and spirit could be an entirely non issue with me.

Not everybody is cut from the same cloth and even if the cut of that cloth may not fit or flatter you or not even appeal to your eye, it isn't necessarily a bad thing. It may flatter me. Suit my purposes. Make me adjust my world. Stay happy.

So don't get yourself in Gospel mode everytime you spot something in my life that doesn't quite match your expectations of how my life, and for that matter, everyone else's should be.

Just be. And let me be.

If only...:)