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As parenthood becomes religion, marriages nosedive

How American parenting is killing the American marriage - Quartz

I have been saying this (directly/indirectly) in every single blog post of mine — we take parenting way too seriously. It is not good for average couple with average urban lives and barely-there marriages.

Quartz, a very savvy online news journal, wrote a very sensible essay on how parenting was affecting American marriages. But this not just an American phenomenon. It is global.

…sign of the parenthood religion is that it has become totally unacceptable in our culture to say anything bad about our children, let alone admit that we don’t like them all of the time. The origins of the parenthood religion are obscure, but one of its first manifestations may have been the “baby on board” placards that became popular in the mid-1980s. Nobody would have placed such a sign on a car if it were not already understood by society that the life of a human achieves its peak value at birth and declines thereafter. A toddler is almost as precious as a baby, but a teenager less so, and by the time that baby turns fifty, it seems that nobody cares much anymore if someone crashes into her car. You don’t see a lot of vehicles with placards that read, “Middle-aged accountant on board.”

Think about this statement. I’m surrounded by parents, to-be parents, just married couples on my social media pages. Yet, it is the ones with kids who almost never post anything about themselves or their partners. It’s always about kids’ achievements, their medals, their schools etc etc. Honestly, I too occasionally slip into this ‘parenting’ abyss myself.

I do get asked, “How can you write a rant blog about your boy? He’s so likeable and boys are naughty after all.” So, li’l girls are not naughty? Mommy doesn’t have the right to talk about real facts of motherhood? Or about the bad days when she wants to discipline her child for smacking another kid in the mall or worse biting another class fella?

We are allowed to say bad things about our spouses, our parents, our aunts and uncles, but try saying, “My kid doesn’t have a lot of friends because she’s not a super likable person,” and see how fast you get dropped from the PTA.

It is exactly this ‘i-will-boycott-you-socially-if-you-publicly-scream-at-your-kid’ attitude that makes us shudder and shove away all the bad mother days somewhere deep within us — including those when you have disciplined your child by not giving in to his/her tears after they commit a mischief that is not easy to overlook.

Children who are raised to believe that they are the center of the universe have a tough time when their special status erodes as they approach adulthood. Most troubling of all, couples who live entirely child-centric lives can lose touch with one another to the point where they have nothing left to say to one another when the kids leave home.

Dear Husband, where art thou.

Original Story Source: Quartz India

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I’m choosing to be a calm mommy

keep-calm-and-be-a-mom

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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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.

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And we are nominated…

liebster awardMommyBegins has been nominated for the Liebster Award, which is essentially a blogger award given by bloggers to fellow bloggers, in order to broaden the blogging community. Neat.

There are few rules to be followed once you get nominated. This includes:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you
(MommyBegins sends a BIG Thank You to fellow blogger, Lina (Blogs at Adventures of Mom Mom)
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you
(I will do so in the next few sentences)
3. Nominate 11 other blogs with less than 500 followers
4. Post 11 questions for your nominees to answer
5.Tag your nominees & post a comment on their blog to let them know you nominated them
Rules are rules, people. It is not a quick post to where you can cut-copy-paste all the blog links, get to the blogger pages and tag the ones you really want to be nominated. But then road to victory (good times etc etc) is seldom easy, they say. Right?
So here’s what I was asked by Lina.

1. Why did you start blogging?

I am a very talkative person. And when I could not find enough members around me interested in listening to me, I turned to blogging. Also, because it gave a certain global platform to go beyond the boundaries of my home, city, family and share my experiences with complete strangers.

2. Who inspires you the most and why?

Every day I come face-to-face with mundane to most extra-ordinary situations. There is no better inspiration for me than my own life & people in my life.

3. What was your favorite book as a child?

Mostly comics as they brought colours to my bedtime, playtime routine. And I moved from local comic strips in India to Archies.

4. List three things from your bucket list!

  • To acquire a lifestyle where gymming is intrinsic
  • Go to Europe on a country wide exploration tour
  • Have at least 19 designer wear in my closet that can ably mask celluloid

5. What is your favorite recipe/meal?

Hmm, anything that my mom will serve me when I get back home from work.

6. What is your dream vacation?

Get my self and family to alpine villages of Gstaad. Some day.

7. If you could meet any celebrity, who would it be?

Richard Gere. How can I die without meeting the ONLY man who twinkles with his eyes.

8. You decide to write a book. What is it about?

PARENTING. The unexplained journey

9. What is your favorite hobby?

Reading and reading and reading some more

10. What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment so far?

Creating a human being and giving everything I have to make him into a good human being all

11. What was your favorite toy when you were a child?

Monopoly. I cheated and won every single time.

Phew. Now that I have done my bit of answering questions, it’s my chance to ask some Qs to my nominees. My pick of nominees are:

Ed Unloaded

Inside The Life of Moi

Geeta’s List

Mother, Inc

EVIDENCEBASEDTITSANDTEETH

Your Best Nest

One Crazy Mother

So Here’s Us

Home is Where Heart is

I am the Milk

Sweet Mother

My questions to my nominees are as follows:

  1. What’s/Who’s your motivation to blog?
  2. If you were not blogging, how else would you express your thoughts?
  3. If you could change anything (notwithstanding the technical expertise), what would you change about your blog?
  4. One blog, that you wish you had started?
  5. Why should you win any blogging award?
  6. Who will you thank in your blog award acceptance speech?
  7. If you had the option to take a selfie with 5 other celebrities, who would they be?
  8. Do you wish you had a secret weapon to make pots of money from your blog?
  9. If Facebook or Google or Microsoft wanted to buy your blog, would you have the heart to sell it?
  10.  One day you get up and realise your blog and all data (posts) you ever authored have disappeared from internet, would you have the heart to do it all over again?
  11. Have you ever copy-pasted from internet and used in your blog as your own?

A big bag of congratulations to all my nominees and hope you will pass the thread around to many more bloggers.

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Weekend dilemma

There are relaxed weekends and then there are weekends that demand one to be even more energetic than normal weekdays. The latter are more or less a regular feature for parents with young toddlers & tykes, who have to be taken to activity/gym classes, accompanied for play dates, enrolled in some parent-toddler workshop which has become a norm for most urban households, parent-accompanied visits to playground, etc. The list gets longer every weekend and just 2 days are supremely insufficient to cram in ‘stuff’ that one has to attend to.

Ever since I have resumed work, weekdays have begun to seem like cakewalk in comparison to what I am left to tackle with on weekends. Even if I turn a blind eye to the household chores, dirt balls lurking in corners, stained bedsheets & pillow covers, and make dead certain that no one dares to open the unkempt wardrobe of mine, it’s hard to ignore a child who starts his day totally aware that it’s your (and partner’s) day off.

By the way, I can’t contend that only working parents face the above quandary. Everyone who is raising a child must probably go through the same rut, with varying degrees of difficulty.

I am secretly just glad to see all around me that parent’s in general have so much work backed up that they probably would need more than 7 days and 24 hours everyday to get through the list regularly. I am not the only loser out there.

Many would gleefully highlight that children, like a lot of other delightful things in life, are usually a choice made by two adults. And the decision to have them implies that you’re willing to make adjustments and that the world doesn’t adapt to your needs all the time. I agree. I just need my body to listen to me too. This darned brain sends ‘I-am-bone-tired’ signals to all body parts and that’s pretty much the end of my resolution to get ‘things done’ on weekends. Hence the backlog and rants and the reason why this blog exists.

While I am at the topic, let me also emphasise why parents I put myself through these unachievable targets, week after week. You see, there is this gnawing feeling—unreasonable as it may be— that I have to stay involved in every moment of my son’s life or else I’ll miss out forever. There’s that little voice that tells me to be always present or I’ll be pushed into the fringes of his life.

My guilt demands that I push myself harder than what I can actually hope to achieve. That’s the biggest reason why on weekends when my son is awake, I’m constantly in his face trying to create memories. I keep talking to him even when I have an official email to send, I have stuffed virtual clouds with photos of his puttering and even when I cook or clean, I keep him close by so that I bond.

Guilt monster has a way of masquerading as maternal instinct. #FactofMotherhood