Posted in close to heart, The Chronicles of A

Gender Inequality Is In Our Head!

My elder one, Ami is turning 4 in a few months and she is one of those Curious George types.  She has to ask at least 50 questions a day and since she is learning to talk in English, it is mostly why, what and how questions. This morning I was teaching her about Gender- Well, Boys and Girls, Male and Female to be precise. Here is a gist of the conversation and then I’ll get to my point:

Me: Ami, Amma(Mother), Ammuma (Grandmother), Suma(Aunt) are all girls or females.

Ami: Okay.

Me: And Acha(Father), Appoopa(Grandfather) and Kochacha are boys, males.

Ami: Ok Amma. So all boys are males and girls are females.

Me: Yes. Yay! High Five!

Ami: But Amma who is a girl? And who is a boy?

Me: Huh. Hmmm Girls have long hair and all that and boys are rough and have short hair.

Ami: Oh! But I am rough and have short hair. SO I am a boy eh?

Me: <Gupling> No Ami. You are a girl and so is Cookie. Let me think and give you an answer to who is a girl and who is a boy ok?

Ami: Ok Amma

Phew!

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She turned back to playing and I was left thinking about the idea we have in our heads about males and females. Why did I say that girls have long hair when I am thinking of chopping away my mane? How can I say boys are rough and tough with short hair when our Babita Kumari and Kiran Bedi are proving us all wrong. That’s when I realised that gender differences and indifference are within us, in our head. It is on us parents to teach our future generation the actual difference instead of just passing on the adage of what has been drilled into our head. Pink for girls, blue for boys. Boys play with cars and trucks, girls play with dolls and brush!And all this blah blah about women representation and reservations need to be shut down!

I was bought up by my dad who donned the role of a mother, just like that. He learnt to cook, tie my hair, listen to girl talk, answer teen queries and every other thing that a mother is “supposed” to do. And me? I used to run around in shorts and tshirts and play with boys, climb trees, ride cycles and do everything except pee on the road! Then why did I reply in that manner to Ami?

It must be the stereotypes that are drilled into our brain from the time we are born. No matter what we do, or where we go or how we are raised, these stereotypes will tag along. And it is not just the information passed on from one generation the other, it’s not just one movie, it’s not just one TV show, it’s constant exposure to the same outdated concepts in the media over and over, starting before preschool and lasting a lifetime! Unfortunately,  gender stereotypes in movies and on TV shows are more than persistent; they’re incredibly effective at teaching kids what the culture expects of boys and girls. What makes these messages stick ,and harder for parents to counteract is that they’re timed for the precise moment in kids’ development when they’re most receptive to their influence. Think of preschoolers who are just beginning to identify as boys or girls. The characters they see on TV and in movies often have an obvious masculine or feminine appearance, such as a superhero’s big muscles(Little Singham, Johny Bravo) or a princess’ (Rapunzel, Anna, Elsa)long hair. These characteristics also are often associated with specific traits.For young audiences who absorb ideas from the media on how to behave and what to become, these characterizations can lead to false assumptions and harmful conclusions.

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Now, kids have this amazing, natural ability to see the world as limitless, but when adults signal that certain things or behaviors are off limits for kids based on their gender, their worlds get smaller and smaller—and that’s not just sad, it can be damaging as well. Obviously, every parent has the best intentions, but sometimes it’s possible to unknowingly promote stereotypes that can fence our children in. Its not just in India, but around the world as well. What is disheartening is to know that. although we have stepped into the 21st century and there are heated discussions about feminism and glass ceilings, there are still very consistent forms of patriarchy all around the world.

So what can I do or what can I say to my girls so that they don’t get caved in and caught up in this ever rolling ball?

Well, at least for the sake of my girls, I’m going to look at it as a window of opportunity to really address these attitudes and beliefs before they become cemented later on. How?

  • There is NO boy toy and girl toy. Girls want to play with a car, so be it!
  • Football and hockey isn’t just played by boys. Go, play!
  • Pink is not just for girls and blue isn’t just for boys.
  • Show my girls the people who have broken stereotypes and marched ahead.
  • Choose books wisely.
  • Chores of the house are divided equally. There is no such thing as a job that acha does or amma does.

We just seem to think of gender as a binary function when we are all non-binary. The age old saying of let boys be boys and girls be girls must really be questioned. And so, off I go to tell little Ami that if you pee on the road, then you are a boy!

Wink Wink.

Someday soon… Hopefully

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Posted in close to heart, The Chronicles of A

Going from One to Two

One of my closest friends is pregnant with her third and another one I know is pregnant with her first. The former can’t remember what month she is on and the latter knows the week and date to the t. And me? Well, I am going from one to two and boy the difference is night and day. I know many articles and blogs have been written about the difference between first and second pregnancies and I will not talk about whats there. This one is for what it has been for me.

Before I start, Ami, my girl, you will always be special. It is not just because you are my first born but because you were my teacher, the reason for me having so many of my “first” and “aha” moments. For teaching me that unconditional love is the purest form of love.

There is something about the first time that is just sort of magical. With us, it was just Ami and me. When Ami was born, I didn’t shed a tear because I was happy to see my friend of nine months finally in my hands! I was filled with an anticipation that will likely remain unmatched for the rest of my life. At every step of those nine months, I knew what week I was at, what fruit size the baby was in my tummy, what were those measurements on the scan report, what to eat, what to avoid, what made the baby uncomfortable, when was the baby most active etc. I would write down the changes each month, make a number of checklists, list of baby names from month 2, had a hospital bag ready by 7th month, thought about what dresses to buy, what to wear and my the list can go on! To cut the long story short, I was too occupied and happy and excited to think about anything else but my baby.

This time, its different. I wouldnt say it is a bad thing but things are very different. From announcing my pregnancy to getting that hospital ready, everything has changed. I have become paranoid! No, I’m certainly not worried about what fruit size my baby is or what week I am on or what my baby is feeling or doing. I am on 33 weeks and I haven’t done any shopping. I haven’t decided a name, I havent thought about anything at all! Checklist you ask? The only checklist I have are all work related! At this pointI’d like to say to you Baby 2, that its not because I dont love you already, it is because I am too worried about your well being! Now, because I know what its like and have been there done that, I know the risks, I know the signs, I know its not a cakewalk. Remember though, that I am like this because I love you to bits already.

Last evening, I spoke with my mommy-of-2 friend because I had to speak to someone who had the experience. I wanted to ensure that I was normal! I have been thinking about what would happen to my family if something was to happen to me? What if something went wrong with me? What is the husband going to do with a 3 year old and a new born and a dog! I mean, he cannot even take care of himself for a day without goofing up! I had never really thought of dying and have never been afraid except for now. The thought had began to affect my sleep, my work and my whole life. I would on some days look at AMi playing and silently shed a tear. My friend said its okay. It happens and its perfectly fine!

This morning, as I woke up and made tea, I realised that even if I didn’t consider myself of any value, those few human beings certainly needed me around. I suddenly felt very wanted. My fears seem to slowly fade away. Today, I live.

So, my advice to the moms going from one to two, take it slow. One day at a time. To feel scared is normal. It just shows you care too much for those human beings that need you. To the first time moms, enjoy while it lasts! Savor every moment, cherish every kick and nibble. This one is special.

See you after I go from one to two 🙂

To my Two,

I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my babies you’ll be.

Amma

 

Posted in The Chronicles of A

A mother speaks- Chapter 4

In the past 26 months, I have learnt a lot. Changed as well. My toddler teaches me life lessons everyday. I am a mother. A working mother. You know what does it take to be one?  Lets just say, “a lot”!

“The obligation of working mothers is a very precise one:the feeling that one ought to work as if one didn’t have a child , while raising one’s child as if one didn’t have a job.”

There are days (read: most) when I feel guilty about not being able to spend time with Ami and about how I am missing out on her tiny milestones because of commitments. Commitment to work, family, home and so much more. There are also days when I cannot give a hundred percent to my work because of my commitments at home and because my heart is out there with my girl. My heart feels overwhelmed when I see the lives of some people around me. And I do not feel like this on why their lives are difficult, I feel this for the strength that they display despite of it. My dad is one such person. But that is a post for another day.

Parenting is difficult for anybody. I do not believe in anything that stereotypes us based on our genders. It is equally difficult for everyone. Raising a child well is indeed one of the most painstaking things one will ever do. It burns you out. And even if you are doing everything that you could, it still leaves you with the guilt that you could have done better. Especially if you are working too. And the worst thing is that the result of your most precious investment is very vague and fragile. You can only wish and hope that what you are doing today will someday transform the little one into a good person – a kind, sensitive human being who will have enough potential within, to earn himself a respectable and happy life. I can only pray that the little time I have for my own girl and the time that I teach her about life in general will lay her foundations and lay it strong.

Unfortunately, for the millenial generation, we no longer live in the times where kids were surrounded by a large family. Ask me and I’d say that those were the best of times. Everyone was involved in raising each other’s children. Everyone was responsible to lay the foundation for a child. In reality, now, we raise our kids in isolation. The only people they interact with regularly are the parents. The mom and dad inadvertently become the single source of all that that will constitute the child’s memory, thoughts, actions, behavior and to an extent the very personality of the child.  In that case, what about children of working parents who don’t really have the time to even contribute to that little bit? 😦
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There is no way you can rationalize to a child about why you cannot attend that sports day or annual day because you got caught up at work. You cannot explain to them either as to why  you couldnt sit and watch that cartoon with them because you had to finish the work at home. And you certainly cannot expect them to understand the reason you are working extra hours and extra jobs because you want to make sure that their life is good in the long run.They don’t understand your job is their lifeline too. They don’t understand anything. They just see what you do with them, to them, and will remember that always as faint memories of their childhood – some strange feeling. That is why it becomes even more important to ensure that they end up feeling good, even if there are momentary bouts of discomfort or discontent.  Every parent needs to show double the love of what they would do otherwise when they have the time.

Thankfully, love is a resource that is inexhaustible. In fact, it is that one thing, which if you allow it to do, will surround your entire being with itself and transform your sufferings from pain to contentment. Probably the reason that our(Ro and I) world stops and our smile appears as soon as we see our girl in the evening. That hop, skip and jump with a peck on our cheek assures  that everything is alright. We tell her everyday how much we love her. And she smiles, like she knows, like she understands. Maybe she does.

Posted in The Chronicles of A

You are two!

Dear Ami,

We have known you for exactly 2 years and 10 months. Almost 1000 days. You are a part of us now. I have always taken pride in the fact that unlike your dad, am very verbal. I speak my mind. However, it now scares me to think that i may or may not be in a position to tell you what I want to tell you. So I am going to write you a letter every year to tell you things I may not remember to.

I had no clue what to do with you! For the past 2 years, you have been the number one source of my worry and happiness! As you learned, I learned too. You were neither my need nor want. You were probably the way god showed me what  my purpose in life was. And what a gift it was! Everyday since the day I have known you, I have prayed for you, over you. My little ami, I have loved every moment with you, but it has been painful and exciting to see the time pass and to see you grow into the beautiful person you’re meant to be. Painful because I want to freeze time and memorize your speech, your tiny fingers, and tiny toes. I want to remember your funny faces, your laugh, and your love for life. Painful because I want the moments of you crying out for me to last forever but painful because never do I wish to see you hurt. Painful because I know this time is too precious. I want time to slow down so that we can hold on to these cherished days forever. But it’s also been exciting, too. To hear you say words and then 3 word sentences to 4 and 5 word sentences. To see yyou run n jump. Recite nursery rhymes and hear you catch new words. I had my heart ripped out when I had to take the decision of putting you at a daycare. I want you to know it wasn’t easy. But you my tiny ami, made it easy for me.

I want you to smile my dear. It is so pure that it really will make another’s world seem brighter. And you my dear, have the power to change the world with your smile. Over compliment people. Make their day! Love wholeheartedly and unconditionally. People will hurt you n rip your soul but that is when I want you to remember the time you learnt to walk. You fell, tore your skin, ripped your knee, cried but you still walked. You ran, infact. All it takes is try.  You are exquisite dear. To me, no matter what happens, you will be number 1. you will be my most special human being! I want you to know yourself, to know your soul. To do that, you must be truthful to yourself. Your conscience must be clear at all times. I know I will raise you well and so I know that the choices you make will be wise.

And always always always remember, what made the stars, made you too. Never doubt the light you shed. And last but not the least ever, on the days you feel low,remember that the man who said he loves you first, still does and will always mean it and the woman who first kissed you, did so, unconditionally. We will always be there for you and accept what you want to be. We will be your Armour and Shield.

Happy Birthday Princess.
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Posted in The Chronicles of A

You are One!

The year 2014 was when we celebrated our 1st Anniversary and it was a real roller-coaster year. In the midst of all that chaos, we had you. You were our sunshine. The reason we held on to our sanity and the reason we had a smile. You see, your father and I celebrated you. Over and over again, we celebrated your arrival. We spent months planning, talking about the type of parents we wanted to be, the things we would do with you as you grew up, the things we wanted to teach you.
Becoming a mother has been life changing for me. The minute they pulled you out of me, a part of me started living outside of my body. You came into this world and you made me want to be better. So much of my attitude and quite a lot of my character has changed and I can’t think of anyone else in this entire world that has that sort of power over me. I have made mistakes and I know I am not the perfect mother. But you my dear has been the perfect little daughter. I have gathered my strength from you and you have given me the courage whenever I have felt that I am not doing a good job.
My dear Ami, I look at you sometimes and see how innocent you are. In such a short span you have managed to teach me some of life’s biggest lessons. You fall and get up a zillion times but manage to keep trying until you are up on your own. You smile at everyone and everything and force me to believe that there is goodness in the world after all. This world isn’t always a pretty place and I look at how you’re untouched by the negativity in the world and I wonder how or if this world will change you. I pray it doesn’t.  I pray you always know how beautiful you are inside and out, and how amazing you are. I pray that God keeps you safe always. There will be people that don’t believe in you, but I believe in you.  There will be people that say things about you that you may not like, things that hurt your feelings or make you feel a certain way, but I believe you’re strong enough to ignore them and continue down the path that is destined for you.  You’re destined for amazing things and I truly believe that whatever you set your heart and your mind to, you will succeed.  You are our daughter and we will make sure you are equipped with the things you need in this life to be a good person with a huge heart. I want you to be good to others. I hope you always lend a helping hand to someone in need. I hope someone will lend a helping hand to you when you’re in need.  I pray that no matter where this life takes you, you always know your mom and dad are here for you, and that you always have a place to call home. No matter what happens, we will stand by you. I want you to count your blessings everyday and say thank you for all that life has given you.
Its been a tough year Ami. The only nice thing that has happened, is you. However, I am grateful that your dad and I were around to see your first smile, to see your first set of tooth, hear you say “acha”, watch you roll over and stand up.
Oh Ami, I pray so hard for you to one day find someone to love you the way your dad and I love each other. I want you to know that unconditional love does exist. I want you to see that inspite of all the hardships, turmoils, fights and arguments that your father and I have, we love each other and stand by each other at all times.
I’m still so very uncertain of whatever I have done to deserve such a beautiful and amazing baby girl. You are the center of our universe and that will never change.We love you more than anything in the whole world.
Happy first birthday my dearest. We love you forever and a day. May you always smile and may you always be blessed.
Love always,
Acha and Amma
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Posted in The Chronicles of A

A Mother Speaks- Chapter 3

Soooo I am going on a much awaited, much deserved vacation. I am going home! Again, I’ll be off for awhile! Last evening, in the midst of a conversation between moms and moms to be, I realised how much life has changed for me, how much I have changed!The transition from being a carefree lazy woman to a new mom is a huge shock on so many levels. I had to warn the moms to be ;). I didnt mean to scare the girls but I had t warn them because I thought they were waay too young!As a new mom, I have found myself doing countless things I never would have expected to do — some that are laugh-worthy and others that will make you cringe.

I have never been around any kid while they grew up. The babbling and the crawling are all new to me. I mostly gather all my info from reading up. I swear by Dr Sears Baby Book. Its like my bible. I am not suggesting thats the way to raise a kid, but I really dont have a choice… So how did my life change…

I was never too fond of bathing. Yeah yeah judge me! Go ahead. I used to look at it as a chore. Something just to keep ourselves clean. Now, its on my to do list everyday! I look forward to the time I take a bath. I love bathing. Its the 15 minutes I get to myself. Nobody else can take that away from me. After a long day, some warm water n me. Bliss! There are days when I have even slept off there.Instead of European Tour, I daydream of long showers and baths. Hmmm. I am just gewtting started.

I am a singer. Not a self proclaimed one. Acquaintances,colleagues, friends and family know that I sing. I used to hum all the time. I still do. Its just that now I sing more of baby songs and lullabies. I try to sing songs but go back to baby tuning! I dont even know whats the latest AR Rahman tune is like! To think there was a time when friends used to come to me for the latest tracks 😦 I sing the same songs on repeat so much that my own voice is starting to drive me crazy, but it’s worth it, because that smile is everything to me! I am also known to talk a lot. I was the talkative child all the way through school n college. I would even talk to a log! Well, I still do. These days its more third person talk. I have somehow transported into a different dimension where I talk in the third person, as in, “Amma needs to sit down n take a break….for real”. Also, I find myself giving the play-by-play of every little action I am doing, even when no one else is in the room. Appaarently you have to keep speaking to babies so that they develop theor communication skills! Looks like I’ll need to attend spoken english classes before I can start speaking socially again.

No i wasnt exactly the stylish diva ever. I’d be seen mostly in tshirt n jeans. These days I cant even remember when was the last time I wore a clean pair of clothes!My clothes are mostly used as scotch brite wipes, wet tissues or jut\st tissues! In the beginning I used to change outfits more times in a day (due to various baby bodily fluids) than a teenager on the first day of school. Eventually I gave up changing clothes and accepted that I’ll be covered in something at all times during the day.The ponytail and nude face look has become my signature look, and by signature look, I mean my only look. I guess I should just go bald or sport the bob cut look!

Eating was a favourite! I was a foodie! I used to try every newly opened reataurant in town! Take time to enjoy a meal, savouring every bite. haaaaa what a life that was! Eating has now become a competition around finishing my plate in the shortest time possible, and I HAVE forgtten about savoring a bite. That hot cup of tea I made this morning to enjoy while getting ready for the day…..It’s 2 p.m. and I still haven’t gotten halfway through it and have reheated it four times. I enjoyed cooking. Ilove experimenting and spending time in the kitchen. Now I use my kitchen timer not to cook something delicious, but as a countdown to when Ro comes home and when I can hand over!!!

Sleep! Oh what a luxury it was, if only I had respected it and savoured it wjen I had the time, instead of wasting countless hours on the net!  10:00 p.m. has become my new bedtime, and even that seems late most nights. Moving even an inch while she is napping after nursing is a terrifying experience for fear of waking her. Sneezing while the baby naps is absolutely off the table, just hold it in and take it like an adult. Hold it, I say! I celebrate the fact that my baby is finally sleepng longer by spending my newly found free time obsessively checking on her.

Getting out was so easy! Pick  up bag n leave. Now, there’s a checklist on the door that has to be checked even if I am going down to the grocery shop. Diapers are a must. Maybe one in your pocket is also a good idea.  I have forgotten where I kept my handbag. Her bag is mine now. Or rather, I kind of ask for some space in her bag to just put my purse.

Hmmm as you can see, life does change!  A lot. I am just not the person I used to be. I have changed from being a carefree, lazy, laid back, selfish prick to being an over cautious, on the move, selfless mother. I no longer care of whther my hair is tied up or whether I have had food on time or that I havent got sleep for days together. What matters is that my princess is happy and comfortable. I see her smile and I know am doing it right.  Oh well, I know there will come a day when my girl will demand that I sport a ponytail and look chic. She will demand that I eat on time and get some rest and go back to the lady I used to be. Till then, I am at  her disposal.  Till then my time table is the one she sets n resets every single day…. Till the day she becomes the lady I dream she will be… till then……

  1. Like how parenthood totally doesn't change you at all.
Posted in The Chronicles of A

A mother speaks- Chapter 2

At some point of time we’ve all of had friends/relatives who’ve just delivered a baby. The one we cant just not wait to see! And how many times have we actually given unsolicited advice, even when we dont know a darn thing about it! So this post is on those little things. Trust me, this is from experience!Image result for new mom stress

  • Learn to say NO. Its your baby. And your husband’s of course. Nobody else can tell you what to do with the baby other than your own instinct. If you dont want others to carry your baby around, say no. If you want to co sleep with your baby, do so. If your “wellwishers” ( I’ll use this word to avoid any conflicts later) interfere in your time with your baby, say no! If you want to be left alone with your minion while your nurse, say so! Voice out.
  • First few days.The first few days after your delivery is really weird. I know moms would say things like, I fell in love with the baby at first sight and I wanted to show the whole world my baby etc. There may be pepople like that. However, its mostly the other kind. The first days are mostly in the hospital. Its really bad. Firstly the mom s really tired. Natural labour isnt the only thing thats painful. Au contraire, c-sec can be really tiring and painful. Dont go visiting new moms in hospital unless you are the grandparents, immediate uncles/aunts of the newborn. Dont. Give the mother and child time to get used to the new world. Its really depressing for the new mom to be seen in their worst form.
  • Breatfeeding. Its a really personal thing. A lot needs to be said about this. When a mother delivers, it is said that breast feeding should just come to her and the child, naturally. Thats bullshit. Some mothers are lucky if their kid drinks their milk  and some children are lucky to nurse naturally. For a good number of mothers though, it isnt a natural process. It takes time. The baby and the mother needs to be comfortable and it really isnt just your own body. A lot of factors make this process of milk production n consumption succesfull. So relax. It will come and even if it doesnt, dont feel guilty. It really isnt your fault and the “bond” between you and the child will not be reduced just bcoz the baby doesnt take milk from you! The baby only thinks of you as its “beck n call” person for a good few months. Dont listen to people and their tips on feeding! Each mother, each baby, each body is different. Feel free to tell them to shut up. I did. It wont hurt their feelings as theyll say you are in stress due to all the labour :).
  • Take time. You may not feel an attachment to the baby as soon as you see it. It may take awhile. It s completely normal. Rest is really all you need. Once you feel alright, take time to look at your baby and admire your creation. You will feel the love once you are ready for it.
  • Guiltfree.You need rest and lots of  it. Ask for help with the baby and sleep. Your body is your own, always remember that. You are bound tp feel like a cow initially. Everyone from the doctor to the maid will see your breasts. Well, the maid and the others neednt exactly. So ask to be alone when you are nursing. You may feel like crying because you are overwhelmed. Do it. Its really ok to cry. Listen to yourself. Feeling angry and depressed is not a crime.I struggle with finding my worth not in my family, but in my work and my hobbies (which I can no longer do). I struggle with being resentful towards my husband’s ability to come and go as he pleases. I struggle with finding my identity in how I look or what I accomplish. I struggle  with the ‘all-encompassing’ new role of being a mother. I struggle with not having any time for myself. Accept it. Its the only way you can move on.
  • Have food. Proper healthy food. You can diet later. Demand for food, if you dont get it on time. Scream for it. It is required. For milk, for energy and for just the sheer enjoyment of eating what you want.

Remember we all have good days and bad. Everything is a phase, a this too shall pass one. Enjoy it while it lasts. Just make sure that your priorities are set right. It is your baby and you first.