A parent’s greatest enemy

A parent’s greatest enemy is low blood sugar (to use my MIL’s term) or plain old hunger (to use the normal term). Not the child’s. The parent’s. The Hero prefers to replace the term low sugar with low caffeine.

After careful observation (and bitter experience), I’ve come to the conclusion that humans don’t really grow up after age two. Oh, physically and intellectually we probably do but emotionally, in thew ways that really count, not so much. We develop sophisticated language skills and rules of civilized behaviour in order to distance ourselves from these deceptively tiny human beings but underneath it all, I am convinced, the whiny and irrational toddler rages strong. All it takes is a trigger. Hunger is a prime trigger.


Here are some examples of things I’ve said to/about Chotu – with fullu feelings to match – before my morning coffee-tiffin:

He should understand how hard it is for me when he doesn’t want to get dressed in the morning.
The Hero, though totally un-caffeinated at the time, knew better than to react. He did roll his eyes, though…

Chotu kanna, let’s get ready! Don’t you want to go to school?
And what answer does one expect from a kid on Monday morning?

If you wiggle while getting dressed, Amma won’t put on your clothes, ok deal?
Have you ever met a toddler who’s objected to nudity?

Chotu! If you don’t drink your milk I’ll give it to the pussy-cat!
Chotu was all excited about going out to find said pussy-cat.

Chotu kanna, sometimes you have to listen to Amma whether you like it or not! Now come here!
Despite the high level of self-righteousness in the preceeding statement, when one doesn’t actually give out whacks on the bum, such threats are basically empty and lead to more “Ooh! Mommy made funny screaming sound. Let’s see what else does that!” experiements. Sigh! Yes Dear, you were right all along.

(to The Hero) Urgh! It’s all your fault that I have to go to work.
The wise man replied, “The kid would still have to go to school…”

Barring a great medical breakthrough in the field of personality transplants, our kids are stuck with the parents they’ve got. So today I resolve to cook myself breakfast before I make Chotu’s lunch. I also resolve to make pulav and raita for lunch every Monday morning.

Mommy Guilt – The every single minute is sooooo important fallacy

I usually try to keep my parenting posts gender neutral because I know we have a lot of hands-on dads out there who’re as involved, if not more, than moms. This one issue seems more mommy specific, though. If this sentiment sounds familiar to you, please raise your hand!

If I’m spending time away from my child, it has to be 100% productive.

This is the fundamental reason I switched jobs a while ago. It’s also the reason I came close to quitting my current job a few months ago. I felt that the work I was doing at office did not justify the time I was spending away from my child. I was not willing to wait out a lean period or a bad patch until better opportunities came through.

This guilt is also the reason I hate making time for something I classify as a luxury. For instance, I’ll step out on weekends to meet a friend for coffee when Chotu’s napping but if coffee spills over to lunch or lunch to shopping, the guilt starts ticking like a bomb getting louder each second. If I spend some time to get my eyebrows threaded or get a wax done, that’s ok because it’s basic grooming, right? But I haven’t had a pedicure since Chotu was born.

The worst part is that this whole guilt is entirely self-imposed. The stress invisibly builds minute by minute, day by day. I’m judging myself by the worst standards possible, refusing to let myself be human, not tolerating the mistakes of others around me, not letting myself take a minute or two in the car just to breathe at the end of a 45 minute drive in maddening traffic (on the occasions I do drive to work), fighting battles to get to work from the moment I wake up, feeling as though I’ve accomplished nothing at the end of the day. I drove myself to the point of exhaustion doing nothing but worry. For two years I didn’t question this guilt. I figured it’s just part of being a mom. Over my break, though, I had to reset and rethink. I can’t do this for the next 16 years till Chotu leaves for college. It’s insane! I had to make peace with two things.

First, I cannot achieve as much at work as the men whose wives are homemakers. I cannot do as much for my child as women who are stay-home moms.

Second, where does this ideal that moms should spend every moment with their kids come from? I can remember a time in joint families when the older kids babysat the younger ones. There was always a granny or an aunt or even an older cousin who would keep an eye on the kids and the kids pretty much engaged themselves. Even when nuclear families became fairly common in urban areas, neighbours were often a proxy joint family. My mom remembers me playing for hours in my neighbour’s house. Well-off families had “ayahs”. This “OMG! My kid doesn’t leave me time to shower!” state of mind seems to be a more recent phenomenon. When did it become so important to account for every single waking minute to a child (and then co-sleep with them at night)? Whoever came up with it, it certainly wasn’t my child.

So if it’s not my child who’s asking for my every single waking moment and it’s never been the norm anyway, why am I so darn upset about it? Am I trying to prove something? Why? To whom? To what end?

You thought I had answers, didn’t you? I tried, but they were so intensely personal that to put them here would end up sounding incredibly self righteous… I’ll do a separate post if you’d like to know! 🙂

Dear Indra Nooyi

Thank you for reminding us that a degree from Yale and being the head of a Fortune 500 company does not equal shedding regressive expectations about gender roles. I wish I could say something insightful here but I suspect that your definitions of “having it all” and being a “good mother” don’t match those of my generation.

Link for those living under a rock (and peeking out only to read Simbly Bored)