Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Towards a guilt-free mommyhood.

Like a gadzillion other things I didn't know before I had my Puttachi, I had no idea that being a mother involved lugging around a huge sack of guilt. A totally unnecessary sack, I should add, which, even if you try to avoid, creeps stealthily up behind you and attaches itself to you.

Oh well, I've thrown a few things out of the sack from time to time, and a few things get added to them along the way - let me bring it all out into the open.

Things I've felt guilty about, but not any more:

- Eating before I feed Puttachi - There have been times when we've come back home late for lunch, and both Puttachi and I have been starving. I'd hasten to feed Puttachi first, fighting the rats in my stomach, and lose my patience and sanity on the way. S~ pointed out to me that two minutes of extra starvation won't hurt Puttachi, two minutes being the time I need to chomp on a banana or down a glass of milk - enough to give me energy to feed Puttachi with calm and patience. That was one of the best pieces of advice anybody has given me. I now eat guiltlessly even when Puttachi is hungry, because I know that I can be that much better a mother when not hungry.

- I'd feel guilty about wanting to read or go for a walk, or wish for some time of my own when Puttachi was demanding my attention. I'd attend to her, while every fibre of my being wanted to do otherwise. But now I realize that if I'm happy and content, I can give her the quality time she wants. So I plonk her down with a favourite toy, tell her not to disturb me, and lose myself in a book for some time - even five minutes - just five minutes can do the trick.

Actually, I tell this to all those working moms who feel guilty - think about it, which is better for your child? A happy mom they see only in the evenings, or a grouchy, grumpy, dissatisfied mom that they have to put up with for 24 hours? Do whatever makes the best person out of you - all for the happiness of the child.

- Making Puttachi miss naptimes or mealtimes, or feeding her with less than a balanced meal, because I need to do something else. One day without proteins will not malnourish her. One missed nap will just make her cranky. But it is worth it if I can feed her with something convenient, make her miss a nap and drag her along with me to go out, visit people or places and have fun. This attitude stood us in good stead when we had to do all the travelling around UK.

Guilt I've been working on removing:

- Not being the perfect mom - I have had to step out of the shadow of my perfect mom - who, in spite of soul-deadening problems, was always caring, patient and loving with us - who gave up her other interests for us, who tried to shape us into confident, independent women. I'm trying to tell myself that it is okay not to be like her, and that I can be a good mom in my own way.

- Pushing away the guilt I feel when I scold Puttachi or give her a little whack on her little bottom. Her crumpled-up face immediately tugs at my heartstrings and makes me feel miserable, but I have to force myself to remember that this is for the best - for making her a decent, thoughtful part of society.

- Not feeling guilty when I lose my patience with her. I am human, after all, in spite of the endless spring of patience I've discovered after I've become a mother.

But there are a few things in which I'm still neck-deep in guilt:

- The state of my house. It is just a functional home, with all necessary things. I keep the kitchen clean and hygeinic, but many other surfaces around the house that are reeling under dust cannot say the same thing. Stuff needing to be picked up, cupboards wanting cleaning, shelves needing organization - my house is all that and more. I've always dreamt of a pretty and clean house - but I'm only just able to manage running a sane house.

It is not like I don't have the time. But in that time, I'd rather read or write or spend time with Puttachi. These "non-essential" things come last in my priority list, and they just remain there. Last. Undone. I feel terribly guilty about this, especially because S~ likes a spic and span house, and so comes back home after a long day at work and tries putting it all in order.

- I feel guilty about putting Puttachi first all the time. I know it is natural, and I know that nobody carries any grudge against me for that. But yet, I feel guilty. That she takes priority over everybody else. That her well-being is more important to me than that of anybody else. I feel rather like a traitor to my other loved ones for feeling this way.

Things I've never been guilty about:

- Being a SAHM. I've never felt bad that I've been wasting my BE and MTech degrees, that my brains are rusting. It is probably because I've never been too happy being a working woman, and I enjoy this life. I have a thousand interests, more than I have time for, and my day is always full, without a dull moment. I do things I love and keep my brain in working order. And if anyone asks me, "Are you just a housewife/mom?", I tell him/her that I am much more than that - I am a -
Cook
Dietitian
Nutritionist
Tailor
Teacher
Technician
Chauffeur
Psychologist
Doctor
Nurse
Caretaker
Housekeeper
Event manager
Handyman
Cleaner
Artist
Musician
Hairstylist
Beautician
Counsellor
Librarian
Entertainer
..... and so there. And if any of you is suffering from SAHM guilt, hit yourself on the head with this list.

So, Fight that Mommy Guilt!

[Written for this. ]

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Take my breath away

I've been postponing writing about my vacation in the UK, and was just running out of excuses, when Manish's mom, who is also back from a vacation in England, (and who gave me wonderful tips on travelling with a toddler - you can write to me for them), asked me, "What is the one place that took your breath away?" And I thought, this is the right time to start writing about my experiences.

There were many places that made me catch my breath, but Scotland is the one place that is seared in my memory. It keeps coming back to me, in my dreams, in visions, catching me by surprise when I'm doing the most mundane things.

But it isn't fair on all my other experiences to name just Scotland. So here are a few instances that took my breath away.

1) Spring had just arrived in England. Ever since I landed, I'd been seeing bare trees, and spring was an entirely new experience. The green was greener, there was fuzz on the trees and pretty flowers popped out from behind every green hedge. We were driving to a neighbouring town. I was entranced by the countryside and was looking out of the window. Suddenly, the road rose, reached a summit, and then dipped. At that vantage point, the countryside spread out in front of me. A clean green. Gently rolling hills. Farms on either side of the road. Little lambs gambolling about. Neat fences and hedges. Trees with fresh new leaves. Patches of flowers here and there. A blue, blue sky. The sensation of pleasure was very physical. It literally took my breath away.

2) Shortly after that, my aunt and I were driving, when from nowhere, a tree bursting with blooming magnolias sprung into view. It was so sudden, so magnificent that it made me feel glad to be alive just to see that wonderful sight.

3) With spring came these sudden, striking patches of yellow in the fields, amid the green. The first time I saw this yellow was at a distance. It looked like a giant's picnic mat, or as if someone had spilled a huge bucket of bright yellow paint in the middle of the green fields. It was absolutely lovely. The first time, it made me catch my breath. I never tired of the sight. I later found that they were rapeseed fields.

Rapeseed fields, near Stonehenge



4) While travelling in London, we got down at Westminster underground station, climbed up, and came out onto the road. "Ok, where are we?" I said, turning left and right to get my bearings, and then casually looked upwards. We were standing right below Big Ben. It is one thing looking at photos of something all your life, and another thing seeing it up close, that too when you don't expect it. A lovely feeling. Definitely a breath-taking-away moment.

My first view of Big Ben, London

5) We were driving upwards towards the Scottish Highlands from Glasgow, along the endless banks of Loch Lomond. It is not that beautiful compared to the other lakes we saw, but something about it, or probably the drive past it, moved me to tears. Sobs, actually.

6) Glencoe - I can tell you about it, I can show you pictures, but nothing can convey the feeling of awe you experience when you are there - like the mountains have a life of their own and closing in on you. Prehistoric, almost. This did not exactly make me catch my breath, but it made me forget to breathe.


Glencoe, Scotland



7) Loch Lochy - My favourite Loch amongst all those we saw. Made me catch my breath each time we passed it.

Loch Lochy, Scotland

Friday, June 11, 2010

Rolling heads

So I told Puttachi the story of how Ganesha got his elephant head with the help of an Amar Chitra Katha. As always, she listened intently.

Me: .... and so... Parvati's young son proved so strong for Shiva's forces, that Shiva, seeking to put an end to him, cut off the boy's head with his trident.

Puttachi: (Face crumpling up...)

Me: Wait, wait, listen to what I have to say.

She: Othay

Me: Parvati was angry, and to appease her, Shiva ordered his forces to go north into the forest, and bring him the head of the first animal they found. They found an elephant, cut off its head, and brought it to Shiva, who attached it to the young boy's body. And then.....?

She: (Her face lights up with extreme delight) And Ganesha got an elephant head! Yay yay!! Othay, so that's how Ganesha got that kind of a head! (Then she loses herself in thought)

Me: (Leaving her alone to digest the information)

She: Amma....

Me: Yes?

She: And whose head did they put on the elephant's body?

Me: Gulp.
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