Wednesday, 1 July 2020

What's the Biggest Flaw of Being a Parent?

What's the biggest flaw of being a parent?

The fact that you can't suffer on behalf of your kids. You can't ache instead of them, you can't take their pain, their illness and their heartaches. Even after your best efforts to keep them safe and healthy, they will fall sick. You'll have to watch them cry in pain, their eyes sullen in sickness, body weak while you just stand there perfectly physically normal and helpless. Severely helpless. How can that be fair?

So then you pray. Mechanically moving and taking action. Running from doctors to tests to medicines. Wondering why I can't have an umbilical cord to attach and transfer the illness to me instead. Why can't every mother be like Lily Potter who protected Harry with her love. Wouldn't it be just fantastic to have a strong force shield around our kids to save them from all flues, bad vibes and such? I mean, frikken Voldemort couldn't do anything. and here a microscopic bacteria has created havoc.

Such a flaw. They were so safe in the womb. Illnesses were mine, injuries were mine. If I ate junk food, the nutrition (however little) was theirs, the junk was mine. Stupid, bloody birth. Now they have to live in this big bad world, unguarded from bad people and bad viruses.

Even something as 'small and routine' as a blood test of a nearly 4 year old broke my heart into a million pieces. What was I supposed to say when he looked up at me and said, "Mumma why?? It hurts so much!!'...I don't know kiddo... I wish it were me instead. My eyes were watching the docs and nurses like a hawk. Why is an intern allotted to me? How DARE she tell my kid to behave better and take the med. doesn't she know he has 104 temp! has she even tasted how bad the medicine is? does she even know what a good, docile li'l angel my baby is? Stupid girl. Where is the doc? What if this is something serious that gets neglected?

And in all this, one has to be brave, in-charge, and take action. Which hospital, which doc, what medicine, food and pee logs, don't worry kiddo, mommy is in charge. she's totally in control and super brave, nothing to worry, no bad scenarios running in her head. She’s calm positive, reassuring, even trying to fake an upbeat vibe. Yeah sure. You can't let them sense or smell your anxiety or fear or know how truly fattu you are when it comes to them. I am their iron strong pillar of strength, someone they can turn to when in trouble.

Then comes the guilt. One thinks of every simple demand one turned down, every mess I got angry at, every blunder I might have made that got him here. Maybe because I didn't wash his hands the 17th time it got dirty? Maybe it was the sugarcane juice? Maybe I didn't notice and he was wearing a semi wet tee shirt? Maybe maybe maybe... I need a reason, a cause that I can avoid the next time... It has to be like maths. Left equals right and there is no scope for error or chance or variables.

I keep going down the rabbit hole, crossing the corridors of guilt, gloom, regret, despair... till I see the light at the end of the tunnel. A smile. The best smile in the whole world. There couldn't be a better one. Then he says something in a cheery voice, I can't seem to remember the words coz I'm smiling like a idiot in trance... my world is back again like it should be. He reaches for the mango that was brought in a hope to cheer him up... and its all sunshine and roses again. His temperature drops, and coincidentally, I noticed, its spring in the real world. Its not dark and gloomy and the end of the world. There are beautiful colourful flowers around, blue skies, bright sunshine too. What a perfect weather, he insists on going outside and starts demanding a treat... life is good again.

(This was written in Spring 2018, my husband was away for work. My elder son was 4 and younger one was 2 and half years old.)

PS: I noticed, the tense in the article is horrible. (I'd like to apologize to half a dozen of my English teachers and to some, not all, of my Grammar Nazi friends... I know my membership will be revoked).

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Hormonal Cocktail (Part 2)

2nd Trimester

Just when I was resigning to the fact that this, nauseous, emotionally unstable, straight out of a high drama movie me is probably who I am now; comes the bright, sun shiney 2nd trimester. The books and the theory were right! It was a glorious time! Body, hormones and I had amicably acclimatized to each other and were singing songs. Body was in the pin-up, ready for pregnancy shoot, cutely bumpy phase and all was well again. One just recommends pregnancy to everyone in this phase, because it is so beautiful. Free from the teething in of the first 3 months and far from the reality of the last few months.

Representing a Fire Engine Truck
Days were good: eat well, exercise, walk, stay happy, socialize, read sensible stuff, listen to Mozart, Bach and Kirtans, (ok fine, rock music.. but it was soft rock) take multi-vits and pray. And repeat. Everyday. And if you're very adventurous, take an out of town trip as well!

When you can't play Paint Ball... because, apparently its no fun to aim at a pregnant woman. Plus, I was a slow moving easy target.

Even the 7th month whizzed pass on some of the afterglow from the 2nd trimester but the 8th month was relentless. 
At times I would be crazy-ass angry on something so trivial that the last remaining logical part of my brain would reason with the hormone laced part. I'd recognize how tiny the issue was and try and be Gandhi about it, but the other half of my brain (which was more in charge right now) would be like a raging bull on adrenaline, looking for a fight, lashing out some inane trash talk (you wanna fight?! lets fight! come on!! Are you scared??!!). 
On other days, I was gloomy. Like when summer holidays are about to end and homework isn't done, like when you overslept in the afternoon and it is dusk when you wake up, like when you just can’t find someone to share an apple pie and you don’t want the calorie guilt of an entire pie, like when you form a mental picture of how awesome you'd look in a dress you ordered online but in reality you look like a plump potato, like when you keep planning on Goa trips and they never happen, (you get the picture?). The nasty, grey gloom engulfs like an uncomfortable hug from a creepy person and you can’t shrug it off. It makes you wanna curl up with a soft toy even if you are not a soft toy kind of a person.

Upset at being 'left all alone' while being admitted at the hospital. Only a pimple to give me company. SMH
When the chemistry of pregnancy took a back seat (read, hormones), the physics came into play (read, center of gravity and such). By the last lap, the 9th month, I couldn't remember life without the bump.  Like really, no bump? Wearing something and finding it loose on you, what was that like? Getting up after sitting on the floor, without assistance or without applied knowledge of gravitational physics? And when you do get up, none of the the trippy dizzy postural hypotension? No endless trips to the washroom? I could paint my toe nails? Scratch my ankles? How must it feel to walk 500 meters without being breathless? Or what was it like to sleep on my tummy or even my back? Or turning to a side without waking up and consciously executing it? Or not having a constant back ache or exhausted feet? 

When the physical unpleasantness leaves you free, the mind starts with its games. Random thoughts cross your mind: Elephants are pregnant for TWO whole years? MAN they’re strong; those lady-elephants. Just imagine how bloody boring would it be- ‘so what’re you doing for New Years this year, Sammy? Pregnant. Next year? Still pregnant. Ok then (awkward silence).’

At the time, the best thing was to vent it out with fellow pregnant women. Only we could understand each other. The whole other world just didn't get the minor nuances of a glorious pot belly. It was only with them that one could secretly confess the botheration, without the fear of judgement and being a wimp about a temporary condition.  Apart from being excited about meeting the baby, one would secretly rejoice about 'the bump having completed its purpose'. Or lets just say 'Yay! Congratulations on becoming a mother... and being DONE with the pregnancy!' I'm just going to roll over and sleeeeeep on my 
tummy. Like the way God intended it!

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Body, Where are You?

7 months pregnant.

I parked my car snugly between two cars and was happy at my precision. I really didn't get why people think women can't park. I attempted to get out. It took me 10 seconds of awkward struggle with the car to realize that I would not fit through the narrow space.

By the 9th month, banging into the dining table much before anticipated was normal. So was opening the fridge door into my bump, accidentally knocking things off the table, walking into the sink, etc. I was like those 'hit-me' toys with a lowered center of gravity.

Mentally, my body was still 53ish and not shy of 70! Sleeping on my back or tummy or on my right side or without 4 pillows seemed like sweet, distant memory. Simple things become a luxury when you don't get to do it. Like, wearing heels or being able to tie my shoelaces or touch my ankles, or not feeling like a penguin.
None of this seemed like a burden though. It seemed more like a short lived inconvenience. I had blind faith in my old friend, metabolism. I was so sure I would bounce back to my pre-pregnancy weight and be able to wear jeans with a zip, in no time. Plus, the bump looked so cute. Just like Zoo-Zoo's. Everyone smiles at you with a motherly warmth and helps out. Strangers open doors, give their seats to you, you don't have to stand in a queue especially if you're standing at the food counter at the movies. People clear out of the way as though you're a Princess or as though you're armed. You're in a happy bubble as round as your belly.

But yeh bump aate hue jitna accha lagta hai, jate hue utna bura! The shriveled, raisin look was not working for me. No no no. At least give me back a wrinkle free tummy? Huh, nature? Looking at my tummy would be my least favorite and at the same time oddly hilarious thing to do. That top that you bought when you didn't know you were expecting doesn't fit you anymore. Forget fitting, it gets stuck while you try to wear it and you're caught in this embarrassing neither in nor out situation, funny, yet you can't laugh, stuck and you can't breathe. You throw it away and your new body smiles at you sheepishly while you look at that top apologetically. How humbling can it be! There was no scope of vanity in my postpartum appearance. Jelly tummy, constellation of pimples on the face, a gait similar to hip-replacement patient. If this wasn't humbling, I don't know what could be.

How long can you fret about something which is not in your control at that moment? One forms such a sense of identity with physical appearance that to disconnect you from your form becomes difficult. You want to work out but your stitches won't have any of that non sense. You want to watch what you eat but your appetite and well-brought up taste buds revolt against it. Good meaning people keep saying that it took 9 months to get here, give yourself a year before you get back. 

Resigned to the current scheme of things, sitting slumped with my flab keeping me cozy, one fine moment, it dawned on me like some sort of a maturity lightening that struck me out of nowhere. My face, my body, my bones too will change eventually but my personality, and my basic human nature will be unscathed by the surgeon's knife. Enhance that. Invest there; make it so solid that, that is what you rely on the most. Build yourself with things that only get better with time.  That is what you associate yourself with the most. That is where you draw your sense of self and your identity from, right now you can't avoid this so face it the best way you can, get your game face on... and in the meantime, put down that ladoo and workout fatty.

PS: Metabolism, my friends, can we talk? Please don’t break up with me!

Monday, 5 September 2016

I Don't Wanna Mommy Today

I Don't Want to Mommy Today

I LOVE my kids. Who doesn’t? But I want some time off.
I just want to sip my hot coffee, slowly, with a slurp even.
I want to roll in bed half asleep refusing to wake up and waking up only when I am tired of sleeping. Yes, tired of sleeping was phrase that I knew too well.
I want to speak a complete sentence without being interrupted.
I want to wear shoes with laces and have time to tie those laces.
I want to take a long shower even though I wasn’t a long shower kind of person.
I want to eat with both hands, using cutlery and table manners and not have someone pick into my plate, hang on my shoulders or pull my hair.
I want my room, my little heavenly place, my sanctuary, spic and span and without toys for a change.
I want to wear a dress that remains clean for more than 3 minutes.
I want to drive at the speed I like and listen to LOUD music without the worry of waking anyone up.
I also don’t want to responsible all the time.
I want to swear when I am pissed off and not worry about being mimicked or have the shame of setting a bad example and not having my shit together.
I want my eyes to wander where they want or even stare into space and not watch over toddler play.
I want a li’l freedom from worrying about meals and snacks and playtime and activity. I want to read a book (not a parenting one).
I want to comb my hair (Should be higher up in the list).
I want to paint my nails in one go.
I want to carry a small clutch and have my necessary outings' belonging fit into it. Just for a day. ONE day. Not more than that at all.

Because then I miss the constant chatter of ‘mamma mamma mamma mamma’ in a cute toddler voice.
I miss the bright smile on seeing me like I am something very special.
I miss the duckling like behaviour of following the Mamma duck everywhere.
I miss the joy he finds in small things (OMG OMG a bucket a mug and waterrrr!!)
I miss the enthusiasm he has for new revelations, OH MY GOD, she opened the tap there, and water came out here, at the end of the hose!!).
I miss the tiny hands holding mine.
I miss the tiny feet trying to stand on mine.
I miss the absolute thrill of him thinking he has tricked me and has found the perfect hiding place behind the curtains, and I definitely cannot see his feet from underneath.
I miss the hands behind the back, half-walk, half-jog when I try to catch him with my mock run.
I miss the endless love he shares with me for LEGO.
I miss the bewildered look of ‘where am I?’ when he wakes up and then the loving, smile of acknowledgement on seeing me.
I miss the soft hands searching for me even while asleep to get some sense of comfort and security.
I miss the responsibility, the purpose of being this new Mom-me.

It’s like this; how boring would Batman find to be just Bruce Wayne after living a life of a superhero. The plain stuff just gets boring. Coffee? Pfft, anyone can have coffee. Try having coffee with a toddler insisting you make him wear his shirt NOW while the baby at the arm tries to sip your coffee. Now that’s skill.

Kaddu bana diya hai by God in bacchon ne. I wanna be a Mommy.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Hormonal Cocktail (Part 1)

Your body is not your own the minute the line turns pink. It's like a caution signal- you'll never be alone. It is a BIG responsibility and the first time you become a mom, it can be quite overwhelming. The world moves around doing its own thing as though nothing has changed but for you, nothing in your world is the same.

From that moment on, you're always pregnant. It's not like a pair of uncomfortable yet gorgeous high heels that you can take off, flex your tired feet, wear again and feel awesome and ready. Nope. You're always with that little seedling in you. When you breathe, walk, talk, shower, when you exhaust yourself shopping, while cooking, while others are partying and you're sipping your lemonade... you are always pregnant and liable. One doesn't know real responsibility and consequence like you do now. You can knowingly test the limits of your body, work out a bit more, eat junk food, party hop till late and be careless here and there. When you're becoming a mother, the pregnancy guilt comes free along with the pregnancy and you can’t take day a off from it. You have to grow up in a day (or minute) and the world can still be footloose and fancy free. But everybody around you doesn't seem to get the gravity of the situation. They can't figure out what happened to you. Where did the ‘live each day’, ‘carpe diem’ person vanish? Why are you sitting at a party like 60s goodie two shoes and sipping tumeric latte? B.e.c.a.u.s.e. The responsible new mom can't handle the guilt of anything harming your little, even microscopic baby. In fact, one does everything better than ever because only you are in charge now.

The world gets divided into 2- The Pregnant, and The Un-Pregnant. Your single friends, newlyweds, etc are all in the other half along with your husband sipping some delicious drinks wondering what the fuss is all about. And you're here, with your sober pregnant friends, tch-tching, shaking your heads on why they don't get it. (And how funny people look when drunk). Conversations became frequent with fellow pregnant people and dominated by pregnancy talk- 'how was the visit to Dr. S? Started folic acid? BabyCenter said my baby is the size of a papaya by now. Yup, I downloaded the baby Mozart App. Apparently the pregnancy glow kicks in only in the second trimester....’ Even if mentally you're symptom free, physically embarrassing giveaways (hello nausea and such) remind you that you're not alone.

Mentally one becomes such a cocktail of hormones that even though I had been 'me' for 28 years of my life, I couldn't figure out whether my emotions are 'me' or 'hormones'. Welling up on sensitive, family kinda advertisements (that one about the grand-mom bringing in food for her sick grandson in the hospital), calling mom again and telling her how much I love her, calling mom in law and asking her to visit NOW, finding newer, deeper meanings to sappy songs, finding new love for old friends and expressing it (uncomfortably) too often, discovering new worries, imagining new fears. What a pot boiling time!

And then my favorite target, The Good Chap who had promised, for better or for worse. Even though we'd known each other for 10 years by now, he couldn't have imagined this kinda roller-coaster. Every day was a new day.
Sometimes high energy- 'lets listen to loud music, dance, then walk, then maybe a swim, then we'll go to the market, then we'll cook together, then we'll watch a movie (reality- watched movie, ordered food). 
Sometimes, my dark broody side- 'what is the world coming to? Have you seen how polluted the air is? There are famines happening! Girls aren't safe in our country. My maid didn't come today. The oranges we bought were sour. There isn't one decent politician'.
Sometimes tears- 'we are so lucky to have such lovely parents, the neighbor’s dog died, why do you have night duty today? Omg I love my sister, omg you're the best husband.  Sometimes cannon fire- 'you said you'll be back in an hour, it’s been 4 hours! Is badminton that important? When will you accompany me for a walk? Do you listen to what I say? WHY is the weather so warm? That day you said such and such, the tone was horrible'. 
I'd be sitting patiently, waiting, fuming, and then unleashing my new found anger on him, or waiting for him to wipe away my wimpy tears and make the world seem like a better place or just be. He was the cause of and solution to all my problems. Glorious days!

And this was just the first 3 months...

Saturday, 18 June 2016

No kiddin'. Mom is a person TOO!

One of the best tangents of becoming a parent is seeing your own parents in new light. (This is me adulting). While searching for some good pictures of my kids with me I came across old pictures of my parents as new parents. In the pictures, they were the same age that I am today. 

If I could time travel, I'd be at one of their house parties, wearing bell-bottom trousers, slightly moving to ABBAs playing in the background.

My parents as new parents

I've seen these pictures a 100 times growing up. And the focus has always been to look at how my sister or I looked as a kid. But today all I could see was them. New parents' glow. Celebrating first birthdays, balloons and streamers put up by dad, beautifully decorated homemade cakes and snacks by mom and a fussy cranky toddler. Precious. No amount of money can buy the effort that went into planning and executing that party. None of the artificial looking fondant cakes or birthday parties at posh hotels can ever match what Mom made and organised.
I saw bright, colourful happiness in black and white pictures. My parents celebrating parenthood moments with such fondness; baby massages, first time Nani, a young Dad managing to fit his daughter in his strong muscular forearm. A young Mom, looking gorgeous, was smiling brightly with a baby, rounder than her, clinging to her arm.

For the first time in all these years, I could relate more with the people my parents were than the parents they've always been. They too like us would've been putting their best foot forward (for us) despite being exhausted (by us). They would've dreamed like we do today of what we'll become and how we'll turn out. They too would've worried themselves sick when we were sick. My god, Mom Dad are people too. Just like us. Why didn't I ever see that earlier? Why do I always expect them to have more patience, more love, more forgiveness, more everything than me?

Today when I see them as grandparents, I get a glimpse of what they would've been with us when we were babies. How they would've pacified us, fed us, cheered at our little milestones, entertained us, lulled us to sleep. And how after a long tiring day of handling us, they would've still been smiling and considering it worth it.

Left: My dad with his first born
Right: My Dad with his first grandchild
My Parents, now Grandparents

Same enthusiasm years later

Left: My Nani as a first time Nani.
Right: My mom as a first time Nani

If I could time travel, I'd be at one of their house parties, wearing bell-bottom trousers, slightly moving to ABBAs playing in the background and telling them what wonderful parents they are going to be.


Enhance yourself.

Image courtesy