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Finding ‘Inner Piece’

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Each morning when I leave for work, clutching my boi who is to be dropped to playschool — I make sure that have a good look (almost appreciative) at my living room, clean wooden floors and empty table tops. “Your space is clean, Momma,” I tell myself as I exit.

Every evening, when I turn the key on my door, I know what will greet me — visibly tired looking grandparents lounging on the sofa, sipping their evening tea, a-fresh-from-nap-and-thus-a-very-active toddler who has strewn his blocks (all shapes and sizes), books and some wooden alphabets all across the living room. I can barely see the floor somedays. I get the creeps. As I scoop my boi up and do my routine kissy-huggy, all that my eyes capture and transmit to brain is ‘this cleanup will be a killer.

So each night, before I tuck myself and boi in bed, sorting the wooden blocks, magnetic ones, odd pages of boi’s favorite picture books, scooping missing pieces from under the sofa/TV cabinet have now become part of my daily ritual. I can’t go to bed when my living room or boi’s room is not organised to it’s original state. In fact, if I had my way then I would eliminate all these darned blocks from my home but sadly, they are an integral part of growing up (and a steady route to turn mommy into a mumbling hag). Arts & crafts, and construction/building play  — I’m told — are ways for children to express their creativity, encourages focus and concentration, and develops fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination. It is said to allow children feel proud of themselves and gain a sense of mastery after they have created something. Perhaps flinging the blocks too has some deep psychological impact — only positive I hope.

Call me crazy but everytime I see my child throwing his stuff around, I fast forward the scene to envision an adult version of my child living with his partner, and throwing his stuff about with no regards about cleaning it up. It is cringeworthy. I want to raise a happy thoughtful boi who will grow into caring and considerate man.

“If a child is old enough to get out a toy to play, she/he is old enough to put it away.”

Now this sounds logical on paper but believe me it doesn’t always work. I have tried singing songs to have my boi join me in cleaning up, tried to cajole him with “fun stuff we would do” post-cleanup, and even tried scolding. It does not work. Finding those inner pieces sitting under the sofa or cupboards is going to be my nemesis.

UPDATE: I ordered big covered stowaway bins from Groupon and they have arrived! I am taking the easier way out, hereon. Stashing the toys in one bin, favourite books in another and current favourite blocks in third one. Boi will be given one bin at a time, without overwhelming him with too many things to play at once while encouraging his creative play.

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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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Flu, fevers, vomits and nose goop in all forms

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The title disgusts you? Well, I am living those moments and cleaning all kinds of goop, shades of vomit with my hands (well, even the spouse is doing his fair bit of goop-vomit-poop cleaning). And that — according to people around me — is to become an inherent part of my+spouse’ life or till the time boi is schooling.

Boi has started play school early this year and with that inaugurated never-ending-series of infections and high-low fever bouts every week. Medical bills are on the rise, and mommy’s BP too. But more than the high fever and random infections we are fighting everyday, it is the sight of a sickly child sitting listlessly on bed that bring heartache.

And I believe that this is a pretty predicted turn of events for every parent. Yet, there are no books, no guidelines, no friendly warnings that can prepare you for the gross-ness of things one has to do/face/handle as a parent. Adding to my list of woes is the fact that a sick child means reduced appetite (a restricted one too), leaving very few options for this mommy to whisk before rushing out for work.

Hat’s off to parents who do this multiple number of times (read more than one child) … You guys are Super Heroes in my book.

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They went to school. Now they are dead

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Nearly 130 children were massacred in Peshawar, Pakistan.

One-Hundred-Thirty children. And some innocent adults.

Many other children who survived the terrorist attack suffered injuries, were traumatised and witnessed brutal deaths of friends & teachers which may perhaps haunt them for years. Pictures of little bodies of students — some hurt some dead — have been plastered across internet. I can’t bring myself to look at them without cringing in fear (as I think immediately about my toddler), followed by disgust at the terrorists who thought this massacre was justified in the name of revenge.

Why am I writing about this on my personal blog where I have never discussed anything beyond motherhood and its challenges? Because I am terrified now to even let my toddler away from my eyes for even a second. I am glad that he has grandparents looking after him when I am at work because I do not think I could be at ease with a maid, at this point, to take care of this tiny & precious life, whom I created (well, me & and my husband created).

Last night I slept holding his hands. I have been contemplating putting him in a play-school for a few hours. Now just keeping him out of home for a few hours, without me or any other family member around him, fills me up with cold dread.

He’s turning 2 in 4 days and I should be fussing about his birthday arrangements. But I can’t and I won’t. A lavish birthday party cannot express my gratitude in having my child safe besides me. There’s nothing in this material world that I can buy or offer God for keeping us safe, for keeping my child safe. I can only call Him out in my thoughts and pray for safety & peace.

A couple of days back, my boy banged his face into a chair, cutting his lip a little. Nothing serious. But the bright red blood that popped out from the cut made me panick like hell. His tears, his blood and his pain was unbearable for me. I wanted to do something. Anything to stop his pain. Overwhelmed by the feeling of what can I do to take away his pain, I started crying with him too.

What I saw last evening on TV and newspapers today, is the a zillion times the above feeling. I cannot imagine what mothers & fathers (brothers, sisters, families) of kids massacred in Peshawar would be going through. No one can. There are no words to offer. I am only more terrified of humanity.

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Working moms are awesome! And I’m not the one who is saying this

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How are they going to fit everything into 24 hours a day? How will they stay sane? And, most importantly, how will their decision to work affect their children? Mommy blogger Olga lists her reasons why she absolutely loves being a working mom and how it has helped her and her family.

She has some fantastic points and I believe most working moms (and readers of this blog) would nod in agreement.

1. Do what you love. My brother and I are always joking how our parents spoiled us work-wise. Both my father and my mom love their jobs and since this is all that we know, we won’t settle for anything less. I believe that everyone should have something that they love doing. This can be a job, a hobby, a passion, a dream– anything really, and it doesn’t have to be big, either. Because if we have at least one thing we love doing, our lives will be a little bit brighter.

2. Work hard. My mom was not only brilliant at her job, she also worked extremely hard at it, and made sure that everything she did was done well. And she was right, because hard work pays off for everyone. Maybe we want to be good at what we’re doing, or we work hard to support our family. But whatever it is we want to do, we should put lots of thought and effort into it.

3. Take care of your needs. My mom needed a lot of alone time and since I’ve had children, I do, too. It’s one of the reasons I send my children to daycare even though I don’t work. I don’t function very well without down time, and I can fully understand every mother who feels the same way. After all, every parent needs some time to switch off, regroup, and actually finish that cup of coffee. Our needs are just as important as the needs of our children, they’re just easier to ignore.

4. Never judge other mothers. My mother has always been the type who did her own thing and never cared what others thought of her. She just wanted to do her job, and to do it well. But she never judged other mothers whether they decided to stay at home or work. Her point is that everyone just does their best according to their circumstances, personal traits and possibilities, and that judgment never makes sense. I believe it’s a good philosophy to live by.

5. Be a role model for your children. A friend once told me one of the reasons she works is because she has daughters. It’s very important to show girls- and boys- that mothers can work, even if the whole world may tell them that they shouldn’t. I am a SAHM but I sometimes talk about gender roles with my children. Thanks to my mom, I can tell them: “Of course women can work; after all, your grandmother does too!” My mother has always stressed the importance that being independent has for women and I fully agree.

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This line of Olga’s blog: “If you are a working mother, please remember that not only will your children take no harm from you having a job, but will very likely to be grateful to have such a hardworking, inspiring mother,” should soothe all working mother’s. It definitely made me feel prouder of myself and my capabilities.

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When I stopped trying to do it all…

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I see acquaintances on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp making elaborate plans for weekends. Afterall, they are meant to be two days of pleasure, of not having to do anything you don’t fancy. Right?

Wrong. Weekends for me meant 2x times more pressure – social, parental, personal and domestic – to do something “fun.” I actively dread these two off days. Why? Beacuse, the mommy and wife in me, tried doing it all with military precision and ended up frustrated, angry, guilty, confused, super-tired and demotivated. I was annoyed with my husband. I was angry at everyone around me.

I am a Leo mom (zodiac sign) and suffer from a very bad habit of trying to do everything by myself with all my heart and with my head high in the sky. Motherhood is my biggest project (ongoing one) till date and I constantly battle with its growing ‘to-do’ list. To ease the chaos in my life, I tried creating a highly detailed and concise schedule for everything. I crashed and burned, again.

So, what’s different now?

Do a lifestyle audit on your schedule. Are there too many things being jammed into a short period of time — so much so that it’s practically unavoidable for you to go crazy?

I have redefined the term ‘Good Mom’ in my head. I think, a good mother isn’t necessarily a person who gets the most activities done in the least amount of time. Many moms, like me, get over-scheduled because they feel they have to be the most efficient, most giving, most sacrificing, highest achieving, “best” mother they can possibly be. (Anyways, I sucked at all of these) But moms don’t give themselves any downtime and that does no one any good. We want to excel in everything – including socializing, child rearing, domesticity and the works but it also stresses us to our roots.

My weekend stress sprang from my conflicting needs i.e. wanting a social life and a tidy house at the same time. Conflicting, right? So, last several weekends, I have tried to delegate my set of ‘to-dos’ or overlook the ‘cleanliness issues’ in order to spend some quality time with family and my toddler while giving myself an opportunity to relax. This also includes the accepting help — as humbly as possible, to manage miscellaneous mundane chores and a squirming toddler — without feeling guilty. I also had to control myself from hovering or micro-managing a task, once delegated to another family member.

My biggest struggle (even today) is finding time on weekends – the number one issue that I believe all working moms need to tackle. In past, whenever I found time to do any non-child-related activities, I ended up feeling super guilty while doing so. In my heart, weekends were meant to be dedicated to my toddler and family since on working weekdays, I had little energy to spare. Any minute I spent on my own led me to the Mommy Guilt Land.  Today, I do not allow guilt to take over. I learnt to mitigate it.

On Weekdays, my “being mom time” and “me time” go hand in hand. I take my boy out for a walk every evening (after I’m back from work). I make it a point to listen to my selected collection of audiobooks, music, or anything that will help me unwind, on my smartphone. Once at the park, its playtime for both boy and me.

On Weekends, I HAVE to have my time outs. Be it watching a movie in solitude, or tucking in a relaxed dinner with spouse fussing over the toddler, or walking all around the city, or perhaps just being out with family/friends & letting all those bath-nap schedules go to hell. I had to cross some things off my schedule permanently because I CAN’T DO IT ALL and it helped a good deal in cutting back my weekend stress. Occasionally, I also make an appointment with myself, get out of the house, away from everyone and do what makes me happy.

What on earth was I trying to prove by being a dedicated mother on weekends, a zealous house cleaner and family schedule organiser? Was I trying to prove to myself or to the world that I could be a Supermom, with Red Bull energy levels?

I don’t know.

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Why I Love My Daily Escapes From Motherhood

Yes, I love Mondays and every other weekday. There I said it.

Why? Because it gives me a Break from my otherwise all-encompassing motherhood chores, duties and must-dos.

I began work early this year with a sense of guilt. Or something similar like that. At one point, when I had to travel out for work, the feeling ‘I am neglecting my child for the next 48 hours’ swamped me.

And then somewhere down the line I have stopped feeling terrible about leaving my toddler every morning for work. I actually look forward to work now. To put it in a word, I feel Exuberant. Really. It feels so good to think about normal human things, to feel my brain kicking into gear and having longer than five minutes to really think about something.

Just keeping up with toddler’s meals, household laundry, and other chores takes all of my weekend. And it is not funny how much time I spend running after my toddler on off work days. Being a mom can be incredibly isolating, even though you are often surrounded by your family. But there’s only one mom in the house and that role remains undivided.

When I leave for work every day, I have goals to meet, plans to achieve, and finally accomplishing them is a definite high on many levels. Multiply this by 10 if your work serves a purpose you’re passionate about, which is the case for me. Sitting in office might not actually qualify as a meditation chamber, but “going to work” means exercising some control over my space. Why would any one not love this way of life?

Sure, there’s still a sense of physical cleaving that occurs when I cannot hold my child for an extended period. But guilt it is not. After nearly 2 years, I am still growing accustomed to the paradox that is Motherhood.

It is now very clear to me that becoming a mother does not erase the human need to achieve something for themselves, which is truly theirs to show & cherish & be proud of. I am no different.