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It’s All About Survival

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He’s 2.4 years old and occasionally that ‘sweet agreeable baby’ whom I love to LOVE. But then comes this ‘wilful toddler’ to surface that leaves me wondering if this boi was switched at birth. This screaming “thing” is not mine — or that’s the public expression I wear.

Let me tell you upfront that there are no guidebooks/ blogs out there to help you with YOUR child — just like they say no 2 pregnancies/childbirth are alike. You will stumble through pitfalls of toddlerhood like “should I be using timeouts?”; “what’s the best response when my toddler is flat on his back screaming on the floor at Toys R Us?”; “when he thinks spraying his drink from his mouth is a fun thing!”

Think ‘Survival’, find the nearest Exit and BOLT.

I have locked horns (pointlessly) with the boi. I have tried reasoning with the screaming child (in the most ridiculously sweet motherly tone I could muster) while my ‘logical adult gauge’ shot through the roof of my head. I have tried cajoling him when he insists riding every Lift/Elevator in a mall on a loop. NOTHING WORKS.

What follows, instead is tear-works (that can melt) and makes her want to claw her way back to some cave. It’s no secret to my blog readers or friends, that I’m barely scrapping through this parenthood thing. It’s one heck of a job (not in a good way), metaphorical paybacks and severe mental paranoia at all times.

I figured — on my own — that anger too is a valid emotion, just like happiness. Mommy anger too is a justified thing, after all I have been a logical adult for 30 years (and couple more) before motherhood. Sometimes it feels like my squalling kid is stuck in a screaming vortex long after the issue has been resolved. I often wonder if he even remembers what he’s screaming and carrying on about and that when I try to marshal great patience, stamina, creativity, determination  — and a robust sense of humor to help me get me out mommy anger mode.

I am not sure if this will work for anyone else but … consider it my contributory drop in the ever-growing mommy tear ocean. If you do end up losing your cool, don’t beat yourself up, just try to use better tactics next time. It’s a tough gig, Mommy.

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All in favor, say Neomamma

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Scary Mommy is one of the parenting blogs I religiously follow. Reason being, the experiences and thoughts are almost a mirror to  mine.

In her latest post, Melissa Sher questions the Editors of the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary about their lack of acknowledgement on the new age mommy. While the dictionary has revised itself to include 150 new words, Sher feels they have wronged us mommies by not including on one of the biggest mutations of grammar & society – Neomamma.

A “neomama” is my word for a new mom. It’s a word to describe being a first-time, clueless new parent who doesn’t know what she’s doing and doesn’t yet have maternal instinct (but thinks she’s supposed to). She is scared of making a mistake. She is terrified of it. And she is tired. She is horribly, disgustingly, jaw-droppingly tired. This woman… This state of parenting… Well, there is no word for it. That’s why I’m making it up. And I’d really love it if you could add it to your big book.

Think about it. New age mommies are distinctly different than older generation mom’s. Compare yourself with your older aunties, mums or grandmothers. We are a breed of mothers who take parenting very seriously and more importantly are not scared about admitting our mistakes and writing about our mishaps for everyone else’s benefits (from Twitter to Facebook to blogs).

Experiences like this happen to us, neomamma’s.

If you need more evidence, I would like to tell you a little bit about the first morning I spent at home alone with my first baby. He was probably about six days old. My parents were gone. My in-laws were gone. My husband was gone. There was no one around to ask about potentially infected umbilical cords, weird-looking poops or strange soft spots. The big event on my first real day on the job was what should have been a nice, relaxing walk around the block. I had bought a sling that came with its own instructional DVD. But not long after I left the apartment, I decided that the fabric from the sling was smothering my son’s face and that he probably couldn’t breathe. So I took him out and just started carrying him in my arms. Of course, a woman walking down the street holding a newborn, wearing an empty sling is going to attract attention. An older lady stopped me. “Oh. How adorable! What’s his name?”

“What’s his name?”

His name.

What was his name?

I blanked.

Now in my defense, the kid and I had only met earlier that week. My husband and I had just named him. The name was still so new! After a couple of seconds – one second, two seconds – the name came to me. But do you know what a “neomama” I felt like?

I hear you, mamma. So Merriam Webster, please listen up.

 

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Everyday is Mother’s Days

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Another Mother’s Day is round the corner and buckets full of marketing fluff is being advocated by retailers, urging us all to “celebrate your mother.” I am sure many many many of us will actually use this ‘one day’ and paint the town red with their mom’s. And really there’s nothing wrong in celebrating good times with people whom you love and who love you back.

What is wrong is commoditising mother’s love and restricting it celebrating it on just ONE day. Don’t insult the woman – who took stitches (in case you were a C-section child) & intense physical trauma to bring you in this world; for years went on with back breaking menial household tasks for which no one appreciated her; or perhaps doubled her workload by getting a job making sure that money was never a limiting factor while you grew up – by taking her out for a dinner or buying a diamond brooch on Mother’s Day. She deserves your time, attention and efforts every day as you live the life she gave you.

Talking about me, I’m now a 16-month old mom and some day my son will be in that ‘Happy Mother’s day’ card-making phase and possibly even whip up some hand made gift for me (goaded by his school or friends). But the lesson that I want him to remember is that I’ll rather take his “please” and “thank you” for all the chores I do in my household, behave & respect his parents every day over a random day of breakfast in bed.

I have never celebrated Mother’s Day by getting gifts for my mom. But I have been with my mom (and dad) when they needed me. I talk to them almost once in 24 hours and whatever geography or time zone we are, it is no deterrent. They know they can call me and I will be besides them, in emergency. Mom knows how I value her advice and how I love going shopping with my parents. Gifts, we buy for each other through the year, but seldom because it’s a Mother’s/Father’s/Daughter’s day, instead always because we like to see good things adorning loved ones.

This Mother’s Day, as I stare at an entire letterbox jammed with catalogues covered in slogans like ‘Make Mum Smile’ and battle to delete never-ending ‘special discounts for you & Mum’ emails, I hope that my son grows up and see’s through this gobbledygook built by brands and celebrate his parents & relationships every day.

 

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I’m choosing to be a calm mommy

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I was out mall-walking with my 15-month old when I saw (and heard) a super upset toddler and a harassed momma. Instantly, I felt grateful that it’s not my own child. The scene was toddler throwing herself on the floor, kicking, screaming, arms flailing, completely unaware of what’s happening around her. Momma, in turn, was truly patient as she un-hinged the child from mall floor and balanced her oversized tote bag.

How I admire that momma! I have been lucky until now for not being caught in her situation, but my toddler is also showing signs of tantrum-ness. He stays home with his grandparents while me & husband go out for work. Even though I come back in time to take my boi out for his evening walk, there have been times when if he doesn’t get what he’s fishing for or rejects the alternatives offered, then he switches on to a more ballistic mode. Till now, I have been able to contain him, coax him and cajole him out of a showdown. But I couldn’t hide my head in the sand for long.

More than the whole toddler meltdown situation, it is Me who I fear the most. What am I talking about? I am NOT a calm person. Nor am I a patient human being. Thus, I turned to find reason & rationale in books & parenting blogs. Empowering Parents website made most sense with this statement.

Understand that when you need something from your children, you become vulnerable to them because they don’t have to give it to you.  That’s when you begin to feel overwhelmed and powerless, because you’ve handed that power to your kids. Your anxiety goes way up, and you feel out of control, so you try to gain control over your kids. And as your anxiety increases, so does your reactivity. You react to your anxiety by yelling, hovering, controlling, ignoring, giving in, criticizing, and blaming. You try to control your child—and in his own way, he’ll fight back.

The logic just fell into place in my head. Anxiety breeds reactivity and calm breeds calm. Yet practical life remains a little less-than-perfect.

I have to teach myself (very early days for me) to look at a ‘tantrum-like’ situation from the eyes of my boi. We all know kids don’t always behave as we’d like when we’re out and about but it is hardest to ‘look & feel calm’ when boi decides to threaten mommy with a meltdown in front of an audience! An audience that is ready to judge me as bad parent. It doesn’t matter whether it’s grandparents writing me off as Permissive and Clueless or supermarket cashiers judging me as Yelling and Mean.

In my 15-months as a mother, I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I can only change how to react to my child, but can’t really change him. If he’s an active boi who will not nap for over 1 hour, there’s little I can do. Or the fact that he loves to be outdoors and will be by the door in a jiffy if he sees someone stepping out of the house. Leave him behind and the tear works begin.

Most children, experts claim, grow out of the need for tantrums when they have more language and understanding. But the way you deal with them in the toddler years is important. If they are handled harshly, with responses like yelling and smacking, or if you constantly ignore their feelings and need for comfort, they may well become worse and carry on for longer.

I have begun to use calming techniques to lower my mommy stress levels – deep breathing, relaxing my muscles, positive talk inside my head: ‘I will keep calm, he’s my little one’. Once done, I approach my boi for a comfort hug.

PS: I’m also totally inspired by Cool, Calm Parent: How not to lose it with your kids by Hollie Smith. The book had some handy case studies of kids-parents which were pretty relatable. I am also beginning A Calm Brain: Unlocking Your Natural Relaxation System  by Dr. Gayatri Devi

 

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Mommy facts we should start quoting

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Mommy’s, did you always had a gnawing feeling that you were doing more than your partner when it came to raising a child? Well, you were correct. Here’s what Happy Worker , who are into custom made toys for everyone who likes toys, found when they scoured World Wide Web for statistics and facts.

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Diaper facts: 7,300 diapers will be changed by baby’s 2nd birthday. While moms take 2 minutes, 5 seconds (please do the math for how much time is spent in a year) , vs. 1 minute, 36 seconds for dads

I disagree with the fact that mom’s take longer, because it’s just not right. Further, the time taken gets shorter and shorter as mom gets her nappy rhythm and many more seconds are saved when introduce pull-up pants in your diaper routine.

Attention & care: Preschooler requires mom’s attention once every 4 minutes or 210 times/day. Also, preschooler moms spend 2.7 hours/day on primary childcare, vs. 1.2 hours/day for dads

So, that’s why average mother is not a social being. They just don’t have the time.

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Above is the reason why parent’s start wearing sacks and eat McDonalds and instant noodles. And that lousy weight gain is the reason why average mother starts ignoring celebrity moms/any other mom who shed their pregnancy pounds instantly.

 

 

 

 

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Surviving the “kindergarden admission” ordeal

I have been bugging Surabhi Pande Pant to share her motherhood experiences on MommyBegins. And she finally conceded. Yay.

She has 2 beautiful and absolutely adorable girls who keep her on a spin 24×7. Her younger daughter is about to start school and we all know how difficult the process of search-selection–preparation-admission is. So here’s how this mommy cracked the school admission ordeal without traumatising herself or her daughter.

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Our search for a school began when our dear daughter (DD) was just about 1.5 yrs old. With forms submitted, we eagerly awaited an interview call, which would be sometime – a year later. Fast forward- YES, the day finally did come.
We were going to have an interview, for which my now 2.5 yr old was all prepared for — nursery rhymes to alphabets to colours to shapes and many more such ‘ must know’ things. But, of course being an international school, it turned out to be an observation based interview.
I walked into the nursery classroom, holding little hands of my daughter in my nervous sweaty hands. My daughter was greeted by a teacher with a big warm smile and a ‘ hi-five’. The kids were encouraged to play with the various options that were placed in front of them – play dough, water play, blocks, paints, toys etc. The teachers just sat at the far end of the class making observations. With fear gripping me about what my daughter would do next, I looked around for her. She had comfortably seated herself by the blocks and begun making a tower. She even managed to exchange a few smiles and play along with a couple of kids.
At the end I walked out of the classroom like a proud mommy. No, we didn’t get through the interview (actually results are still awaited), but only a toddler’s Mum would know that it’s like a battle won, if your child didn’t fight for a toy or throw a major fit over some insignificant thing.
That day indeed was more like a test for me, but for now as I write my experience down, it only brings a big smile to my face- a smile of relief indeed.

You did good Mommy. Keep us posted on that admission call.