Tag Archives: motherhood

Reflections on this mad ride of parenthood : What perks does parenthood offer you

I guess this blog over the last few months has focused mostly on parenting. It was not meant to be that way, but parenting is a consuming experience, and over the last one year, most of the significant experiences in my life have come as a parent.

As I explained in this blog, in the initial months, the only thing about parenting which stuck me was how  consuming and exhausting it was. I was propably stating an unpopular view at that time, but I wanted to legitimize the fact that women had the right to feel exhausted about being mothers. Then, as Migu started growing up, the exhaustion remained, but she also developed her own personality and there were many things to wonder at, nay marvel at.

Recently, I have read a few posts on parenting, which set me thinking more on this. These include the following articles (http://m.thehindubusinessline.com/features/blink/stop-the-lies-about-parenting/article5709875.ece/) and its counterview (http://www.themomviews.com/an-open-letter-to-the-lady-lying-about-parenting/) as well as this FB post from my friend where she wondered why when every important function in life (driving, practicing a profession etc) required a license, parenting never did. What this post and the articles highlighted to me was the fact that parenting remained highly romanticized and also given a lot of importance. Yes, parenting has a significant influence in your life. But as my husband once paraphrased J K Rowling, there is an expiry date to the blame you attach to your parents for the screw ups in your life. I think my response to my friends post would be “asking for parents to prove their capacity for parenting before becoming parents, is a bit like asking an unborn child to prove that it is worthy of life. Just like life becomes worthy over the course of living, we grow as parents over the course of parenting. And just like we make mistakes and are given second chances in life, we ought to be given them as parents as well.

Coming up to the two articles on parenting, I felt that though they were written as view and counterview, they both carried very different truths. The first author is right, parenting is exhausting and not necessarily blissful (or probably not always blissful). But more than parenting itself, perhaps the target of her ire was the romanticizing of parenting, specially of motherhood. Despite the women of today having many more opportunities and options than they ever did, there is still social pressure on them to become mothers, and also wax eloquent about the bliss of motherhood. But, hey, as a woman, I can choose to be a mother, I can choose not to be a mother, I can choose to be a mother and crib about my choice, and still not affect my child’s development or mar her psyche irreparably.

What I really appreciate about the second article (the counterview so to say, although it is much more than that) is that the write has acknowledged motherhood to be difficult, but has also spoken of the opportunities it provides. And the opportunities are for growing yourself, not just in helping a child grow. Motherhood can be that stage in life, where you genuinely introspect on your priorities and choices. It can give you a space to explore avenues and interests which you have otherwise not considered. I have known women start their Ph Ds when they are pregnant or just after delivering a child, of women taking on and completing extremely challenging work assignments and delivering on them during this period. Sometimes, it gives you the break which is needed from the hurly burly of professional life, and allows you to pursue alternate interests. For myself, although I have been into yoga a couple of years before Migu came, it is only in the last year that yoga is taking on a different meaning in my life. At some level, it has become a genuine part of my life and of late I have even considered giving up on the current job I hold and pursuing yoga more seriously, to probably become a yoga instructor or something. It is not just me. I have known mothers starting to learn dance or rediscovering dance when they take their kids to dance class and many dance classes are not operating mothers batches 🙂 My husband is waiting for the time when Migu can develop her own interests and go to classes, because he feels that as a child he was largly focused on his studies and missed an opportunity to be multi-dimensional and he wants to join whatever class Migu does, so that he can explore other dimensions in himself.

I guess the challenge of parenting, which makes it more difficult that slogging over a job is probably that there is another human being involved and you always have to put this other human being first, at least in the initial years. So you can never really estimate on a day to day basis whether the day is going to be challenging or rewarding and in what proportion these two are going to be mixed.

 

 

 

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30 Day Blogging Challenge : Day 13 : How comfortable am I in my body

Either I am very comfortable or I don’t really care.

I suppose I have a decent figure (above average height and fairly in shape, in fact, downright thin in recent months, the effects of running behind a toddler). I have very short hair, which I maintain with no great style. I am adamant about not wanting to grow my hair, because its easier to maintain this way, and at some level I like the way I look like this. I do have body hair which I dont particularly try to hide. In fact, I dont even do regular threading for facial hair, which I get, as a result of some hormone issues.

Like I said in the beginning, I don’t have the energy to motivate myself to make extra efforts to look good. Most of the clothes I wear are baggy and shapeless, because I cant be bothered to wear fitting clothes, which I need to keep altering every time I lose or gain weight.

Yet, paradoxically, despite my avowed lack of interest in my looks, its in small details relating to routines of dressing up that I see a proxy indicator of how much time I am giving to myself. I have shared before about how becoming a mother with a preparation time of less than one week really threw me off balance, and made me lose my sense of self. It was in my grooming that it was most obvious. I was never perfectly groomed, and now I even did not seem to brush my hair regularly. Worse, if my husband used to take time off from parenting responsibilities to focus on grooming, I would get irritated, wondering why is he so focused on himself, while I care nothing about how I look. As I struggled to cope and gradually grew comfortable with the role of a mother, there we little changes in behavior which suggested I had reasserted control over my life.

The first, more than three months after my daughter arrived, I started wearing a watch again. I dont know why I stopped. I am terribly attached to my watch, but somehow, while coping with a child, I almost never seemed to remember to wear it. I was always stuck trying to figure out the time, but the watch was never there. THen one day, I consciously decided to wear it. That act had an internal symbolism for me, which I find it hard to explain. From that day on, I always try to ensure that I have the watch on. I have ruined a few watches, because I forget to take it off while bathing the child. But thats ok. The watch stays, because it is an integral part of me.

The second, this winter, I decided, I will not tolerate dry skin on my face. I bought some aloe vera gel, which I wanted to use twice daily. For more than one month now, I have stuck to it. I do it, no matter what office, household or mothering responsibilities I have. And it makes me feel good. The result of this activity is not for everyone to see, only I can see/feel the difference it makes. And it makes me feel good, not because my skin is better, but because I proved to myself that no matter how much your role demands, no matter how much you are drowned in different responsibilities, you can always find time to do small things which matter only to you.

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30 Day Blogging Challenge : Day 4 : Bullet Point your day

I started doing this the conventional way, making a list of all the things I do on a day, and cribbing about how so much of a day is taken up by my child, when I checked myself. I think this topic prompted me to explore a deeper issue.

For the last one month or so, I have been trying to get my daughter adjusted to day care, at least for a couple of hours. She is a social child, and while she enjoyed going there, she would want me to sit in the centre. Since I work in remote location and had good internet connectivity at the centre, I did not really mind it, but sometimes, I wondered how much longer this would last, when she will let go of me. I felt that after going to day care, she was becoming more clingy to me. A part of me felt happy at this reaffirmation of her affection to me, but a part of me was also worried.

Then today, as I took her to the centre, she turned back and said bye to me. She did not expect me to come in, she was happy to be there on her own. Yesterday, she refused to come back home with me. THis is not a sudden process, the last week or so, she has become very adjusted there. But still, when she said bye today, I suddenly felt bereft. Like she no longer needs me. Like I have been replaced in her life. At one level I was scared that she will now simply ignore or forget me, or no longer regard me as someone who is fun to be with.

This is a strange phenomenon. At one level, I crave for personal time and space, when I dont need to constantly care for her. When she grants it to me, I am not really as happy as I ought to be. I feel sorry for parents whose children are very clingy and wont stay one minute without them. At the same time, I envy them, because their child seems to constantly reaffirm his or her need for them.

I was having this talk sometime ago with my friend, who pointed out that it was in my power to make my daughter such a child, to foster such a high degree of dependence on me that she would not let me go. I know mothers have that power over their children, yet I rejected the thought outright. I could not compromise on the emotional resilience which was her strength, just to stoke my ego.

I sometimes wonder if this insecurity and fear is common to all mothers, or is it something, which because I am an adoptive parent, is unique to me. Can biological mothers rely on some kind of innate biological affection. Such a thought is contrary to all that I believe about life and relationships, that nothing is biologically determined. But sometimes, I wonder…. I really do

  

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30 Day Blogging Challenge : Day 1 : Five ways to your heart

I have accepted the thirty day blogging challenge, and so this blog will be busy for the next thirty days, and I will be writing on stuff, which I would never otherwise write about, definitely not on a blog.

This is going to be a random blogging vacation for me, where I push the boundaries of what I allow myself to write. Readers who will start wondering if the old Divya will be back, hold on, she will. Or possibly, this vacation will alter me so significantly that she wont.

 

Five ways into my heart

I think I have been married for so long, that I have forgotten how or why I fell in love with my husband in the first place 🙂 I remember long conversations, many cups of coffee and a shared tendency to continuously analyse things. And things have changed so much these days, we have no time for long conversations, neither of us have stepped into a coffee day for years and years, and the analysis paralysis frame of mind we get into is the trigger for some of our most intense fights. Yeah, things which seemed romantic to a young girl of 24 can seem like a waste of time for a harried mother of 31. But anyway here is a list of five things, which my husband can do to get into my heart. With a few variations this is probably a list which every harried mother will make.

 

1. Plan and execute a weekend outing, with no inputs or prompting from me, which is simultaneously interesting for two adults and a child of one and a half, and plan it in such a way that the child’s eating and sleeping schedule is not significantly disrupted.

2.  Coming up with ways to engage a child while eating, for long enough to ensure that she completes the meal (TV not allowed. The toys should be such that they are easy to play with while the child sits in one place and eats).

3. Random post dinner snacks, an ice cream, masala coke, frozen paan or anything unexpected

4. Willingness to spend sundays in a random way, playing in the garden with my child and the birds. Finding a way to overcome the sunday evening blues, which being anticipatory in nature are even worse than monday morning blues.

 

5.  Conversation on yoga and appreciation for the new asanas I am picking up 🙂

I thought when I started writing this list that almost all the things will now be about my daughter rather than me. But I realize that almost all the items on the list is actually about me and what I continue to enjoy. So yes, while motherhood has consumed me, I am still retaining a sense of self, of things which I enjoy. Three cheers to myself.

 

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Reflections on Motherhood

Almost two months into this life as a mother, what has been my primary learning? It may sound funny or cliched, but I truly learnt what it meant to be child centered. 

I had always intellectually understood this concept relating it to the idea of client centered counseling, a term I use repeatedly in my professional life. I had always wanted to be a child centered parent. But when the child was given to me, I suddenly became very me centered. I was a completely unprepared mom, I had always had this  notion about myself that I am not good with kids and kids dont like me. Having a kid given to me within one week, everything I was doing for her suddenly became a reflection of how good I am as a mother. Her bath, her feeding, her sleeping, none of it was about whether she enjoyed it, but whether I had fed her or bathed her well. 

Funnily enough children do sense this anxiety and resist in their own ways. My little one resisted while taking a bath. She would scream the place down, whenever she was taken for a bath. It took a couple of bath sessions with her father for me to truly understand why she did that. Karthik taught me that its not nice for a child to have two people pounce on her catch hold of her hands and legs and start giving her a massage. But its nice, if she is allowed to play with the oil and smear it all over herself. Its no fun to have water poured over you suddenly. But its fun to have water splashed on you by a doll. Its no fun to be with a mommy who is worried about whether every inch of your body has been scrubbed. Its fun to be with a mommy who will play in the water with you and to hell with it if one patch of your skin has been ignored for a day. What he taught me was not ways to make her enjoy the bath, but a whole paradigm on how to engage with her for anything. Suddenly play was not confined to what she did with her toys, but every activity could be playful. Suddenly, everything I did for her was not a task which needed to be completed, but an opportunity to bond more with the baby. 

Performance anxiety is probably very common among new moms, specially in Indian contexts, where there are always a million opinions within and outside the family on how something could have been done better. So probably, first lesson, there is no one way to be a parent, and no one is a bad parent. You can choose a way which suits your own personality. I am a person who always treated kids like adults, so for me that works, I will prefer to reason with the child and set up mutually acceptable limits on behavior. 

And I guess most important thing for a parent, is to first just feel good about ourselves as  parents. Its quite challenging, specially for the parent who is taking primary care (mostly the mother, but let me concede that things are changing) to separate themselves from the child. When so much of your time goes towards someone else, then its their acheivements and milestones which you cherish and hold as a reflection to your own efforts. So if the child does well, its a reflection on the self, and if the child does badly, its again a reflection on the self. My advice, its ok to be inconsistent, if the child does well, be proud of it. If a milestone is delayed, or behavior is inappropriate, give yourself a little more time. She will get there. 

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