There are days when I look at my soon-to-be five-year-old and be awed about ‘how mature he is and how logical his thought process is.'
And as I sit there and virtually pat myself on the back for having managed to do a reasonable job with him so far, the mood suddenly changes. From someone who perfectly understands what you’re trying to tell him, to someone who pretends to be dumb - the swings in mood are both amusing and scary.
Amusing, if you’re an on-looker. Scary, if you’re the parent.You’ve probably heard that phrase - The Terrible Twos. Well, I did too. And then I experienced it and found out the reason why they call it that. Of course, what I didn’t realise was that it would then turn into the ‘Terrorist Threes, where a lot of things (including the lovely glass Bric-à-brac in my showcase ) would develop a tendency to blow up without any warning. But then again, a lot of people continued to tell me that things would only get better. Someone, even told me that the worst was over. And I believed it. Until he turned four. Year Four too has been one of many discoveries and learnings, much like the ones before. And just like that, I’ve also discovered that my son has graduated from the illustrious League of Ordinary Toddlers to a gang of the Young and the Restless. If you too have kids in this age range, you’ll probably be able to relate to some of these. For the rest, enjoy the laugh. After all, one person’s **** is another’s entertainment ?
And of course, if you do happen to catch them on a good day, put on your most charming smile and ask them why they behave the way they do, you’ll probably get an answer like this:
Suddenly, everything makes perfect sense. Your 'Because I said so!' now has a valid counter argument.
[tweetbox design="box04" float="none"]Someone smart said: Parenting guides should end with recipes for strong cocktails.You will need it.[/tweet_box]
Picture this.You’ve just loudly announced to your toddler that it is almost bed time and that he will need to pick up all his toys and put them back in their respective places, or else he’s not getting a bed time story today. And surprise - your young one completes the activity without actually complaining. ‘Win!’ you think, and contemplate sitting down for a few brief seconds to rest your tired feet before you hear a loud crash from the bedroom. Reluctantly, you get off the sofa and walk up to the room and peek inside. Suddenly, the place looks like a war zone. Except, that the war is just about to begin.
If you’ve been following Daddy Journals for a while, this isn’t going to be the first time you’d have heard me say this. But for the sake of the record, let’s pause for a moment for effect and let me reiterate:
‘Parenting is bloody hard work'
Sometimes, I think that we don’t realise we have a temper till we have kids. Okay, that may be an incorrect observation. I’ve always been on the higher end of the temper scale. And patience has never been one of my strong suits. But raising a toddler can just be a very strange experience.
On one hand, you have good times and the ‘firsts’ of many life activities - words, walks, eating alone and what nots. On the other, you have your uncontrollable rage when everything just goes slowly from good to bad to worse to …well, you get the drift. When things are good, you are quite literally on the top of the world. And then when things get out of hand, you feel awfully depressed.
To quote Jennifer Anniston’s character, Rachel, from FRIENDs, you feel like :
“It’s like there’s rock bottom, then 50 feet of crap, and then me!”.
If you’re one of those ‘goody-two’ shoes parents who has NEVER lost your patience with your child or if your little one is a blessed angel who has never pushed you over the edge, kindly take a minute, while we applaud you. And now, look away. Because you’ll probably never understand the points that I am likely to discuss ahead.
For the rest of us ‘normal’ parents, you may continue.
The simple truth, I suppose, is that people yell. Yes, some of them might dress it up as having a loud voice, but I am yet to find a person who hasn't yelled. There’s no point in beating up yourself over it. Sometimes yelling is the only way to get out all that frustration in you. But if you must yell at your kids (or anyone), remember these four points:
Now, I am not (nor will ever be) an expert when it comes to parenting. Honestly, there are days where I sincerely wonder how I would have fared, had there been a test for parenting. Probably would have failed. But here’s the thing. A toddler who is in the middle of his/her tantrum phase can break even a saint’s patience. Of course, Zen mothers are exceptions.
Coming back to the topic though, never in a million years would I have imagined that someday I would write a post about feeling bad because you yelled at your kid. But well, here I am. Parenting does make me do weird things.
But perhaps the most ironically humorous part of parenting is how it makes you feel at times. It is perhaps, the only kind of relationship where :
If you win, sometimes you're actually losing.
And sometimes when you lose, you're actually winning.
I usually don’t share posts. So when I do, that means it’s touched a chord with me.
Here’s a post by a dear friend and mom-blogger, Shailaja, about her travail with yelling. One of the things I love the most about her blog (not just the post) is the little widget in the sidebar that says how long it has been since she last yelled. It’s an amazing ‘visual indicator’ that makes you think and realise that you could be a lot closer to ‘Zen’ Mode than you think. If you must know, my counter has just reset. Hopefully, I can go a while before it resets again.
Happy Parenting, folks.
Recently, I spoke to a friend who is all set to embrace motherhood in all its glory. Now, I’ve known this person for a long time, and she loves what she does for a living. And mind you, she’s pretty darn good at it. But the more we discussed parenting and how life changes after kids, the more it became evident to me that there was something she wasn’t telling me. As people who’ve known me for a while can confirm, I usually diplomatically manage to
coerce get the person into revealing what it is.
Anyway, as it turns out, while she was ecstatic about motherhood and everything associated with it, she was also concerned about a few things. One of these things was ‘returning to work’. Because as I mentioned earlier, she is someone who enjoys what she does and for her to not be able to put in the same amount of effort post-motherhood, would - in all sense of the word - kill her.
Curious, I asked her - why should her becoming a mother, affect the way she worked? After all, people successfully do both. She looked at me and said “Guilt”.
And her one word answer, got me thinking. I’ve heard the phrase ‘parenting guilt’ being thrown around quite a lot, and perhaps one of the reasons that I wasn’t too affected by it, was because, well, I rarely feel guilty about anything. For starters, if I did, I wouldn’t eat so much cake and be such a rotund person. (Yes, I noticed the smirk.) Perhaps, it is also because I don't think I've done anything that wasn't justifiable in my book. But I couldn’t let go of what she’d said; so I pondered over it for a few days wondering if others felt the same way.
I started to ask other working mothers in my group - friends, fellow bloggers and ex-colleagues. And I was surprised to hear that at times, a lot of them felt guilty in some way.
Some felt guilty about not being able to spend as much time as they would have liked to with their kids. Some others felt guilty about actually enjoying their work, despite having a little one at home. Yet some others, felt guilty because society made them feel like they weren’t doing enough. And some others felt guilty about the fact that sometimes they felt the urge to have some ‘me-time’.
And that’s when I realised that I had an example - a fusion of these, perhaps - right at home.
So to my lovely wife, who is both a career woman as well as a doting mother, and every parent who may have at times, felt guilty about not being there 24x7 for your kids, this one is for you:
Not everyone can juggle all the different roles as you can, with such relative ease. So relax, you are doing a splendid job. Yes, I know - at times, you may feel like you’re not doing enough for your kids or sometimes even feel left out of the little ‘ecstatic moments’ of joys that you may otherwise get to share with the kids. It’s only human to feel so. And of course society will lay down their rules of what’s the right way to bring up a child and what isn’t. But pay no heed. You’re all superstars.
And since we’re on the subject, remember that while your kids are a pivotal part of your life, there is no need for your world to revolve around them all the time. The presence of your kids should augment the sweetness of your life, like how a spoon of sugar can do for a cuppa, not shackle your conscience.
You deserve to take some time off for yourself. So the next time, if you feel you’re not doing enough or being there enough or giving enough, remember that it is okay to go out for a meal or a movie or even a mini-vacation, just by yourself or with your better-half while leaving the kids with grandparents or extended family. Or to take time off to do things you like - be it writing, reading, painting, or even just lazing on your couch, watching your favourite TV show. Or even just enjoying the work you do. And most of all, it is okay to ignore what others may think of you as a parent. Your parenting style needs to be shaped by your situation and the environment that your family is in, not by some social expectation, external pressures and unwritten rules of how to bring up your child.
Regardless of what the ‘parenting police’ say, remember that there is no ‘Perfect Parent’ award. So just be a real one. You are a human being, not superwoman (or man). It wont do you any good to be riddled by guilt set by expectations or to be anxious or exhausted. Instead, what time you do have with your kids, make sure you become a happy, good-humoured role model showing them that it is perfectly possible to balance priorities in life.
And as for the kids, they'll turn out just fine. After all, you are amazing parents.
I'm curious - What do you think? Do you think parents need to feel guilty about working? Or even having to want some 'me-time'? Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Indian society has a problem. We somewhat detest the ‘live and let live’ philosophy. Rather we’re followers of the ‘live and let’s tell others how to live their lives’ movement. And true to this ideology, if you happen to be a single person on the slightly northern side of the age scale that begins at twenty-one, it is highly unlikely that you haven’t been asked even once - “So, when are you getting married?”. And even if you somehow manage to run away from that question and eventually with someone you want as your better half, they come up with the next question - “So, you’ve been married for ’n’ years - no kids yet?”. Sadly, there's nothing much we can do about it apart from silently mouth, 'Mind your own business!' Or deliver that witty and sarcastic one-liner we've been carrying around.
As the father of a 33-month old cuddly, yet at-times overly active toddler, I have my hands full. Pretty much all through the day. Anyone who says that looking after young one(s) is not considered as a ‘job’ in the real sense of the word - kindly get a rectal examination done - your head seems to be stuffed all the way up your behind. Because, trust me - it’s the mother of all jobs. And hats off to every single mother on the planet for making it seem so effortless. I guarantee you - it isn’t as easy as it seems.
Ever since we’ve had our little one, there have been times that we’ve questioned the sanity of our decision to have kids. Yes, it is incredibly delightful - sometimes like living with walking, talking, laughing, utterly cute and cuddly teddy. But at times, it is also a rather dreadful experience when neither you nor the kids know why each of you are throwing a tantrum or bursting into tears over something as silly as a broken glass vessel. Yes, it’s a mixed bag of emotions, feelings and experiences, to say the very least.
During my pre-fatherhood days, I’ve often mused about this whole parenting thing.
What is it that a kid brings to that already healthy equation of two loving partners who mean the world to each other? Is a kid necessary for you and your spouse/partner to complete the picture of a ‘perfect’ family? Or is it because you are really worried about your lineage and that without kids, it may stop with you? Or is it because you love your parents so much that it has been your life long dream to give them grand kids?There were plenty of such questions running through my head when we were trying to decide if we wanted kids. And to be brutally honest, even as we waited for the home pregnancy test unit to show either the plus that would make us jump up for joy or the minus that would just make the optimists in us try again, I still did not know the answer of many of these questions. I got around to writing this post because over the past year, ever since my ‘Daddy Journals’ started gaining a bit of popularity, I’ve had a few friends and readers ask me this question - if fatherhood/parenting is so awesome as you make it out to be, then why aren’t more people taking it to it? I could be plain blunt and answer that question with the charismatic smirk of a know-it-all diplomat and say ‘To each one their own’. And while that as a phrase is as good an argument as any, on a more personal level, I can only tell you what I’ve learnt. For what it’s worth, I’d like to share it here:
Do not let anyone rush you into this parenting thing. Because once you’re a parent, your very life as you know it, will change. You will still have late nights - except that the drinking and dancing will now be replaced by a feeling of helplessness while trying to figure out what a confused little soul wants. Oh, did I mention a confused ‘crying’ little soul? Enjoy.
Parenting is complicated. It always will be. People will try to 'un-complicate' it for you, but remember this - only YOU can do that. Because every kid (yes, even each of your own) is different.
There are no shortcuts or right ways to parenting. And no, there are no coursebooks. It is mostly a learn-on-the-go kind of practical lesson and you must be open to trying out what best works for you, your partner and your kid(s).
Having kids is like trying to eat your favourite ice cream while trying to navigate a heated obstacle course filled with LEGO bricks and other every day objects. Yes, if Daddy Journals ever got made into a movie, LEGO bricks would play the supporting cast.
If you’re lucky, until they grow up and are ready to clean after themselves, every day will involve either dirty diapers, poop-y behinds, sniffling noses, watery eyes, various bumps all over the body, chipped tooth, messy clothes, wiping drawings of Picasso off various surfaces such as walls, tables, sofas and sometimes even your favourite white shirt, projectile food and picking out stuff from your hair or pockets and being held to ransom over going to bed and wanting to play.
If you’re extremely lucky, you may get to see all of these in a single day. Sort of like the weather in magnificent England.
However as with everything in life, parenting has this balance which you must experience to see the blissfulness.
Like in my case, I was happy as a person before I met my wife. But having her in my life gives it a whole new meaning - a new dimension of happiness that I cannot begin to describe. And with my little one added to the mix, I’m now happier than ever. For it is a strangely humbling experience to realise that you will do everything in your power to make your kid’s life as perfect as you possibly can. And despite the constantly messy, confusing and exhausting life that I have now, I am richer and feel more loved than ever before.
Plus you have the perfect excuse to eat ice cream almost all the time and play with toys and video games.
Image courtesy - shutterstock.com
When I became a father, a few male friends asked me a question. A question, if I had to confess, I just hadn’t thought about. It might also be worth pointing out that these friends were largely unmarried twenty-something men who were in semi-serious relationships. Anyway, the million dollar question was: “How does IT feel?”.
The first time I was asked this seemingly good natured query, I was rather perplexed. For I didn't quite know what he was referring to. My idle mind honestly thought that either he was referring to the timely procreative act that had successfully borne fruit (kids - if you're reading, you're too young for that now!) or about having survived the nearly out-of-body experience of actually helping a doctor and a set of maternity nurses hand-deliver my little one.
Yes, I'm very aware that my 'experience' isn't even a drop in the ocean to what my wife could have possibly endured, but more on that in another post. Anyway, since I was usually in no mood to discuss either of those two points, in the interest of giving myself an exit window from the clutches of the above-mentioned question, I would usually just smile and shrug my shoulders, as if 'IT' felt like the most natural thing in the world.
Eventually, after a lot of contemplation (read as: man-ing up and asking my wife), I figured out that what they were actually referring to was in fact, 'How does it feel to be a father?' And truth be told, I did not know. For I'd never really given it any thought. I mean, how does one define these things? These feelings to be precise. It's not as if you've just been given a bar of chocolate and had to decide whether you want to eat it slowly or devour the whole thing at once. It is a wee bit more complicated than that.
How does one describe the feeling of realisation that you have just been elevated from the role of a normal, happy-go-lucky chap to someone who is now responsible (at least partly) for this new life form that you now hold in your arms? And that the little person you're looking at, with those tiny little fingers, toes, snouty nose and crinkled up forehead, is perhaps going to decide your schedules and social calendar for the foreseeable future. Also that while there may be times when their smile could make you feel like you're on the proverbial cloud nine, there may also be times when their shrill cries could keep you up all night wondering how you ended up in such a pickle in the first place.
No. I did not know how to describe that feeling. And I still don't, even after 33 months of wholesome and hands-on parenting. But here's the thing. To me, fatherhood has been a discovery of sorts.It's a journey of constant learning, adapting and yes, sometimes just thriving.
There are times when you can be both amazed by and angry at the same little person. At the same time, that too. Other times, you discover that you have this storehouse of patience that is the only thing stopping you from wanting to bang your head against the wall. There are also moments of self-discovery when you surprise yourself with how good you are at telling stories, sometimes even making them up as you go along. And then of those pangs of jealousy that you feel when you kid temporarily chooses someone else to bother.
And that there will be times when you just want to go to the supermarket under the pretext of doing some shopping, just to get some 'you-time'. Or how your inherent radar just goes off when you spot other parents with kids in the same age group. Of course, there are also moments of joy, when you discover that your ability to make the weirdest noises is a source of entertainment for the little one. Or the strange looks that people give you when you are busy having strange and intimate conversations with inanimate objects. Sometimes, the discovery is something more simpler. Like replacing your otherwise overpriced cup of latte from Starbucks to plain, strong coffee in a mug that says 'Daddy, you're the best!'.
And sometimes it is the fact that you can actually hear your own voice, after they sleep. Or how you're constantly trying to evolve from being the guy hanging out with your best mates to the guy that your kid wants to hang out with. Or that even the simple act of getting out of the house with a child requires more planning that your annual vacation. Often, it could be a more serious realisation. Like how this little thing called 'money' is suddenly a criteria for everything. Or how sleep, something that you managed without for days at a stretch, is now a luxury that you'd gladly give an arm or a leg for. Or how your relationship with your better-half changes. When sweet nothings become all the more important and every chance that you get for the simplest conversations are more precious that all the talk you've ever done before.
I could go on and on, but I won't. The thing is - 'Everything in parenthood is a discovery'. For no parenting book or journal can truly explain what you're getting yourself into. Only that you'll always come out stronger.
And as for this said 'feeling'. that takes on new dimensions ever so often. Sometimes every day. And at times every other hour. I suppose, it is pretty accurate to say that depending on the time of the day, you may receive a different answer for that question. Right now for example, as I sit nursing my wounded pinky toe, that 'feeling' is :
I can't wait for him to grow out of the 'I shall leave my Lego blocks lying around so Dad can step on them' phase. Trust me, they hurt!
I’ve often heard people say that “Parenting is the toughest job in the world”. And now that I’m a parent, I agree. The hours are weird, your employer has crazy demands and despite having a hot teammate, you’d find yourself wanting some “you-time”. Add to the fact, that if you are a full-time parent to a toddler, you no longer have a sense of time - weekends are the same as weekdays; 9pm is the new “bedtime” and your definition of a date is a “two-hour” chat with parents of other toddlers discussing potty training and what happened in the last episode of “Chota Bheem”. Yes, parenting is difficult. And for a good reason too. You are now responsible for an entire person (or people - gulp) and everything you say and every action that you take will set an example - either good or bad.
But here’s the thing - it’s not all doom and gloom. Your little one can make you feel thankful about a lot of little things, that we often tend to overlook. So today, I’m dedicating this short poem below for my little mischief-maker.
P.S. It’s the first time I’m attempting a poem. Special thanks to Jaibala Rao for her advice and help.
Thank you for being my inspiration To write every word with conviction.
Thank you for teaching me The virtue that patience can be.
Thank you for being my reason To wake up without regrets every season
Thank you for driving me nuts and To keep me sane and focussed.
Thank you for your smile That which can nurse any wound of mine
Thank you for showing me with all the seriousness That a little silliness is always needed.
Thank you for making me slow down To enjoy the little things in life
Thank you for teaching me how To unconditionally love.
Thank you for showing me That it is okay to be imperfect
Thank you for teaching me resilience To keep trying till I succeed
Thank you for showing me that I can show what I feel
Thank you for showing me it is fine To ask for help once in a while
Thank you for making me remember That little child in me again
Thank You for coming in my life and Teaching me how to live life again.
[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. Pick a letter, any letter. Now, write a story, poem, or post in which every line starts with that letter. I've chosen the letter T ]
I first came across IMC - Indian Moms Connect - when one of their regular authors had contributed a rather interesting piece, titled "Curious Case of the stay at the home dad". The part that caught my attention the most was the line :
"I am sure that if these stay at home dads were back home in India where they were susceptible to being judged they would have abandoned post long back."
This got me thinking. Here I was, a work from home/stay-at-home kind of Dad who had recently moved to India after a reasonably long time in London. And while yes, I did bear the cross of judgement for a long while, over time I discovered that the best thing I could do was to continue doing what I wanted to and pay no heed to their head nods and judgemental glances. And then out of the blue, R's Mom, who blogs here, contacted me to ask if I would do a piece on the perspective of a SAHD (yes, that's what the public call us - It's also pronounced s-a-d, which is just really...well, sad!). After pondering over it for a few days, I said yes, and like they say in the movies - "It all worked out quite well". They loved the post and well, as for me, I mean every word that I've written. So here's a snippet of what to expect.
Somewhere in a deep cavern, hidden amongst the darkest corners of our world, exists a mysterious species. A species that has over the past decades, both adapted and evolved very rapidly. While they closely resemble all of us in terms of physical features, they do differ in one aspect -they go against the “assumed norms of society”. They live amongst us, going about their daily chores. You might spot them on the playground, sometimes at school drops; sometimes even mid-morning at the supermarket going about their own business. With a reported number of two million members and growing, this mysterious species could be considered as potential trendsetters - if what they do could be considered as a trend. But the frank reality of the matter is, they just do in their own style, what their better halves have been doing for thousands of years. And just like their other halves, this species too neither requires nor requests accolades or awards. All they need is some respect and not to be judged. Today, I wish to confess - I too am a member of that species. I am a work-from-home dad.
Click here to read the rest of the post on the IMC Website.
P.S. - I seem to have a problem replying to the comments there, so kindly leave your comments here too, so that I can reply. If you, intend to, that is :P