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
My little one spent the first month of his earthly life in a transparent, rectangular box measuring 60 x 40 cm, and attached to different machines by coloured wires of all sorts. I suppose it’s safe to say that, for the first month, we hardly heard him cry. Rather our association with a fully mature baby was the intermittent noises and beeps that these monstrous machines emitted. No one knew what was wrong. Or what had caused it to go all wrong. All we knew - was that something was very wrong. And so we hoped. Prayed. Cried. Comforted each other. And watched his little pink, tummy, gently rumble as he slowly breathed in the disinfected air of the Intensive Care unit that had become his first home on earth. But this post is not about him. This post is about someone else. No, not me. But about his mother.
His mother, who went through all the ups and downs of pregnancy. His mother, who despite often shedding a tear from the prick from a needle, somehow found the strength to keep going through the dreaded contractions. His mother, who bore the brunt of the eight-hour labour, when he decided he didn’t want to come out. His mother, who he almost bled out trying to escape from the womb. His mother, who put on a brave face, when the nurse said he had to be admitted to the ICU, within hours of his birth. And his mother, who spent sleepless hours sitting by the glass box, waiting for a positive sign. That thankfully came.
I still remember the first few days, after my little one came home from the hospital. All of my paternity leave had been exhausted while he was in the rectangular box, talking to us in beeps and numbers. I still remember how I woke up in the morning and almost called in sick. I just wanted to spend every single second with him. But such is life. As the sole earning member of a three-member family, I had to work. So fighting back emotions, I went to work. I’d call every hour to check on what he was up to and how he was doing. Over the next year, I cribbed as I heard about all his firsts - the roll-overs, the crawls, the holding fingers….every single thing. I think I might have even blamed his mother, for the fact that I was having to work while she sat at home.
And then a year later, the equation changed. I had the opportunity to stay at home (while working on a few bits and pieces, of course!) while she returned to work full time. In my stupid little head, all I saw was: yes, this was my turn to rub it in. To tell her every single thing that she had missed while she was slaving it away. But there was something that I never realised till much later. If as a father, whose part in the birthing process was largely one like the proverbial stork delivering the baby, I missed the kid so much - how would a mother feel?
I started to realise that every single time I mentioned about my son’s milestones, underneath his mother's smiling facade, was a heart - bleeding from every blow, my words inflicted upon it indirectly. So today, I want to apologise - to my wife, to the mother of my child, to every single mother - who works and has to spend time away from her off spring(S), by choice or not - you are truly are my #sheroes. And the full-time mothers, you too. Anyone who tells you that you’re sitting simply at home because you chose to spend more time with your family and kids, well, they’re idiots. You rule.
Before I continue rambling any further, I’m going to share this message to all obnoxious jerks who raise their funny-looking eyebrows at working moms:
Yes, you….I’m talking to you, right there at the back, smirking as you see my wife leave for office in the morning.
Yes, you too, who trivialize her motherhood just because she also chooses to have a career.
And you, let me not forget you, who thinks that she shouldn’t have a kid (or future kids) at all, unless she’s ready to forgo everything and sit at home looking after her little ones. Well, I’ve got news people. Whether you like it or not, she’s a mother. And a damn good one at that. So shut it!
P.S. This started off as a status and as I rambled along, ended up on the blog. It's unedited and may have typos and errors. Kindly excuse.
A very special guest graces my online abode today, with an extremely special post. She is someone who is very popular in this little "blog world" of ours and is one of the best things to happen to me over Facebook. You may know her as Dagny Sol of Serenely Rapt. You may also know her as a person who is highly resilient, eloquent and someone who can tell you to "get lost in a place where the sun doesn't shine" in such a manner that you would actually look forward to the trip. But here at iWroteThose, I love a bit of a challenge. Dagny is someone is prefers to keep to herself. Yes, she loves to listen to people and will always be there to lend a helping hand and listening ear, but not many people know her. So when I glanced at one of my prompts for Project 365 this time around, I decided it was time to put the serene and calm Ms. Sol in the spot. And guess what, being the sport that she is, she agreed. So without further ado, here's Dagny giving us readers a bit of insight into her childhood. Warning: It can be a bit of an explosive revelation.
I’m an only child.
It might be a fairly common thing now, but in the time I was born, it was as inconspicuous as a vibrantly colorful bird of paradise in a colony of sedate penguins. Striking, if you know what I mean.
Actually when I think of it, nothing about my life conformed to the rest of the beige fabric.
Only child? –Horror!
Only child in a Nuclear Family? –Double Horror!
Only child of a working mother in a Nuclear Family? --Horrors on top of horror!
Only child of a working mother like my mom? --Speechless! And Scandalous!
What a mother! One who called her husband by name in public (and, to do her justice, in private), taught post- graduate English literature, caught rowdy students by their collar and slapped them hard before sitting them down and making them read TS Eliot with reverence. Did you say kick- ass? No my mother wasn’t kick- ass. The word is too tame for her.
But this post isn’t about her. It is about me.
I am an only child who grew up in household which was nonconformist to the hilt. My dad not only brewed the perfect cup of tea, he often fixed my breakfast and packed my lunch. Of course his parathas didn’t turn out very perfect, but he made up in enthusiasm and love what he lacked in skill.
The neighborhood aunties of my childhood always reminded me of cats. They opened the floodgates on the many rivers of milk of human kindness that heaved in their collective bosom. They always expected me to be starved to death and revoltingly filthy. I think it aggrieved them terribly to find I was neither. They tried valiantly to look for other evidence to prove that I was a neglected child. It was self-evident to them that the child of a working mother in a nuclear family, passionately devoted to her career, would look, smell and behave exactly as an orphaned street urchin.
They tried desperately to pity me for being left alone at home when my mom had to be at work. From the time I was three, my parents and I had this mutually satisfying routine. They would lock the house from outside and leave me alone at home. If someone was daft enough to knock on a locked door, I didn’t owe them the courtesy of telling them that my parents weren’t home. In other words, until my parents returned, I needed to please no one but myself. If that isn’t bliss, what is?
For a few hours every day, therefore, I was mistress of the palace. Never a naughty child, there was nary a danger of me setting the house on fire. I knew how to tune in the radio and I had plenty of toys and picture books. To say nothing of a very active imagination that created larger than life, intricate stories.
Each of my toys took on multiple roles as the script of the day demanded. The mechanized blue and white airplane filled in as the hero’s lance, the groom’s best friend or the mango tree in the yard from which rope swings were hung. Don’t ask me how I managed to assign such diverse roles to it and to the other toys. I just did, that’s all. And had a marvelous time in the process!
The truth is, I loved… just L.O.V.E.D…. my hours alone with myself - still do. I have always loved my company best. I am sure you’ll find it strange that in all the years of my life I have never felt bored. The only time I’ve used that word - and used it deliberately for some other purpose than to indicate ennui- is when nosy people (who also remind me of cats funnily enough) have asked me, “Why did you get divorced?”
I’ve happily grinned at them (even while I’m chatting online and they can’t see me) and said, “Oh I got so BORED!” I’ll let you imagine the pure joy I have gleaned out of their uncomfortable silence. Of course it takes them many weeks to figure out that they had been royally but gently insulted!
I’ve never been bored in my life. Who on earth has the time? I can sit alone for hours and hours on end- sans electronic gadgetry or reading material- staring into middle distance. I can spend many solitary hours with the river, the moon, the sky or a blade of grass. I hope you would think it an affectation, but I have honestly wondered how people get bored. I seem to lack the organ with which to acquire/ experience boredom.
When the neighborhood aunties turned on their milk of human kindness full force, I always knew that they have geared themselves to ask a biggie.
“Don’t you wish you had brothers and sisters, specially brothers?” they would ask me, putting a crocodile to shame.
Duh! Brothers and sisters! As in, 24x7 pestilence?! Were they nuts or just sadistic?!
No, I did not wish I had brothers and sisters. I was very happy alone, thank you very much! What did I need THEM for? I had friends who, as everyone agrees now, are the family God forgot to give you. They also (thank God) went to their own homes at night and stayed away until such time as I wanted to play with them again. That’s like having a wonderfully supportive and loving family- in another town.
Imagine one of them daring to co- own any of my toys and books! And worse, imagine them calling my Ma and Dad their Ma and Dad!! Uh huh! The thought makes me feel ill with disgusted outrage! Nope. Not happening. I don’t like people getting underfoot, especially little people. And I hate them muscling in on my parents, books and toys (not in that order).
No, no, NO. Get out and stay out was just about IT for me. I don’t share my stuff or my loved ones. Yup! I’m possessive. Put that in your pipe and smoke it! Brothers and sisters indeed!
I really wish one of those neighborhood aunties could read this post. It would render them cross- eyed and curdle all that milk forever.
Alas, milk of human kindness is wasted on some!
[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. The prompt for today was "Tell us something most people probably don’t know about you. ” Oh, and in case you are wondering, it is Dagny (aged THREE years) in that picture]
Quite honestly, I don’t accurately remember when I started reading Rachna’s blog. I do remember that it was during one of my crazy blog-hop frenzies. And I was glad that I’d stumbled upon this little treasure trove of interesting posts. A multi-faceted writer, there is one clear word to describe Rachna’s approach to writing, be it her personal blogs or her other literary contributions - Professional. The posts on her personal blog can vary from parenting to social issues and emotional to hilarious, and in her own words “is a strong reflection of my thinking, opinions, perceptions and wisdom”. So needless to say, when she asked me for a guest post, I was more than happy to oblige. And being the very patient person that she is, she waited. And waited. And waited. Until one day, out of the blue, I decided to pen it. Truth be told, the only reason that I delayed the post was to make sure that my post would fit in with her other top-class pieces of literary artwork.
So without any further ado, here’s a snippet of my guest post for the lovely Rachna Parmar.
“So, what do you do?” asked my first cousin’s wife’s sister’s husband’s father whilst he sipped on some lovely coffee that my wife had served. I almost spat out my coffee in surprise. It was the first time that I’d met this person and this was the question that he chose to start off the conversation with.
“Umm…Well, I am an aspiring writer. I also do a bit of content writing for some websites. And some basic graphic designing too” I reply. “I work from home, so I get to spend time with Rishi too” I quickly add, pointing at my little one who’s busy in the corner, trying to uproot a potted plant. The only reason that I’d added that last statement about working from home, was to ensure that I wasn’t asked a follow-up “why” question. But that didn’t really work out.
“But, aren’t you an engineer? That too with a Masters degree from abroad? And so many years of experience working in London? And you want to make a career in writing?” queries the man, seriousness oozing from his every word.
Flashing him a grin worthy of a toothpaste advert, I reply, “Yes, I am. And this is what I do!”. Though I sense that he is quite dissatisfied with my answer, he returns to reading the newspaper whilst I rush to stop my little one from uprooting another plant.
I'd love to hear your thoughts about the post. Feel free to drop your comments either here or on Rachna's blog and I promise to reply soon :)