Saturday, July 23, 2016

I'm just...............my type of mother

I honestly don't know why I am writing this post.....maybe, because I know that there are some mothers who're our there, not being able to BE themselves..............maybe, because I am (finally!) comfortable with the 'type' of mother I am...........or maybe, because I want my son to know me for who I am, faults and all....... Mostly, it's the last. He will grow up, and some day, he will want to know what kind of mother I am/was. And I want him to get my version of the story - first hand.......

Now that I think back, my only reason for having a child was because I could. I don't remember having any deep introspective conversations about why I wanted a child (of my own), in the first place. It sounded like a good idea......maybe, I wanted someone to call my own blood, my genes........or maybe not. I don't truly know. So, my husband and I did. I was happy when I got to know I was expecting, but I didn't have a name for the happiness. Was I looking forward to being a mother? No idea! Did I know what it entailed? Nope! I'd never really "seen" an infant growing up (or maybe, the challenges associated with it). I guess, I was largely happy because my husband was happy. I know he LOVES children. I can say that about myself now (maybe, having my own has made my understand myself better!)...........but back then (7 years ago), I don't think I knew better..........

The first trimester was a nightmare! I can't deny that I wondered (many times) as to WHY I was going through the 5-times-a-day-throwing-up routine! It simply didn't make sense! I had a heightened sense of smell, hated the smells of tomatoes, coffee, cucumber, broccoli, wheat flour, cabbage.........it was pure torture! At the end of the first trimester, a switch flipped! My pregnancy was so trouble free second trimester onwards, that it was easy to forget I was pregnant at all! I followed the diet regime like my life depended on it. And at the end of 40 weeks (precisely), after a nearly 20 hours long labour, I finally gave birth (through C-section), to a 3.1 kg old, perfectly healthy baby boy!

I remember the ecstatic look on my husband's face as he exclaimed: It's a He! But me? I was exhausted. Exhausted to the point of not caring what gender the child was. All I could feel was a bit of relief and a LOT of hunger! The 'bump' was gone! And as I lay in the post-op recovery room (and shivered due to the infection I got due to C-Sec), I wondered. For the nth time........is it ALL RIGHT to not feel over the moon about becoming a mother? I had a raging headache and blazing fever.........I could barely open my eyes, or stay still, for that matter. As I drifted in and out of sleep, the thought, "Where is my baby and what must he be doing? was frequently giving way to, "When will I be able to eat?"

Puffy eyed and famished, I arrived in my hospital room (with a catheter attached to me, stomach taped together and a headache that refused to die away), to a screaming bundle that was going red in the face due to the strain of crying. Trying to feed him was yet another struggle, a struggle I didn't know will last a long time. He just won't 'latch' and there wasn't much milk coming anyway. His blood sugar was falling and the doctors had to feed him externally......but for the 2 days he didn't get fed properly, he screamed, screamed and screamed.........If I had any idea of why I had a child in the first place, it was rapidly vanishing. I wondered why I was here, in a hospital bed, walking with a great deal of pain around the operation area, trying to feed this screaming baby! Frustration built and ebbed over the coming few days. I tried telling myself, come on, it's YOUR child.......he came from YOU. I felt enormously guilty, for thinking such thoughts. Aren't mothers supposed to love unconditionally and forever? Every minute of the day? All the time? If giving birth made you a mother, I was one. And I was unable to love unconditionally! I was exhausted! Tired! In pain! In guilt...........it was so complex, that I wondered if I was a beast inside my outer shell..........

I'd heard about post-partum depression, but the 'holier-than-thou' mothers around me had convinced me that it's just a construct! They'd LOVED their babies right from the word go. Maybe, I was not human enough for loving another human being (even if that human was my own baby!)......maybe, I am a faulty mother..........it was so difficult to handle all these emotions (along with a newborn who wanted to constantly be held and cuddled and fed and burped), that I truly felt I was imploding.........

I was snappy, irritable, unfocussed.............for quite some time. Until, one fine day, I had NO help with my child. I was on parental leave and had no choice but to BE with my son. And I was! He slept a great deal...........around 4 hours a day. And I used those 4 hours for myself. For doing the house work, for reading, for quilling, for thinking..........the presence of sun in a Swedish summer helped me. But what helped me the most was: Lack of any other mother around me to tell me how to be a good mother. THAT did it for me. I realized that I had to STOP being a mother (I know, it sounds scandalous, but that worked for me). I had to start being a human, a sensitive one........a sensitive human who treated another human with respect and care. And suddenly, my son's face became my world........his laughter became my happiness............he became everything to me! Just like my husband was.........my everything..........

After I returned to India, there was another period when I had to live with (often unspoken) judgments of "She doesn't spend enough time with her child", "Her career is everything for her", "She's an insensitive mother"........I knew I was career oriented. And I've always wanted to work outside the house, or the realm of the house. The phase was back.......when I felt like a useless mother, the wrong person, the mean person, the selfish person......and all of that. Because every other mother was just so loving, caring.........

Moving to Bangalore was a blessing at so many levels that I don't even want to think about what would've happened if I didn't......suddenly, I "had to" devise mechanisms...........coping mechanisms. For coping with work, house, child-raising........it was a tussle beyond any I've ever known. I hated everything. Having to constantly juggle time, literally dragging my son to school (while he screamed the roof down), trying to squeeze in whatever work I could, managing some sleep in the middle of all of this..........I tried hiring a nanny and failed! I tried keeping him at home and that failed too! I was neither here, nor there..........I was always thinking of work while raising my child and thinking about raising my child while working. There was no income from work, I was a "burden"! On myself, on my husband and at one point, I felt, on the whole world..........questioning my existence, my sanity.....

They say, when things are the worst, they can only get better. February 2013 was one such month. And when I say, The best decision I ever made was to spend my life with Ananth, I wasn't exaggerating. Somewhere, sometime, he sensed what was going on in my head. Or rather, how MUCH was going on in my head! And he made the "dreaded" suggestion: Let's try Day Care.

And you know what? I resisted! Day Care is for mothers who refuse to take care of their kids. We can't afford it. What if my child isn't taken care of? And upon introspection, I found THE reason the very idea of Day Care bothered me so much! I worried about being labelled a "Bad Mother". Because good mothers stay at home, take care of their kids, don't go away from them at all, meet all their needs............and are NON-EXISTENT. In no small measure, it was my husband and my dearest friend Meghana, who helped me come out of this (nearly self-destructive) thought. My husband said the golden words: "You don't have to explain your mothering style to anyone". And Meghana said the other set: "Choose your battles".

These two pieces of advice turned me around! It took all my resolve to drop a screaming (and often kicking) Anvesh to School and not bring him right back with me. I sensed the undercurrents of "disapproval" in the family. But I persisted! Because in the bargain of being a good mother (read; approved by others as a good mother), I was becoming someone I was not. I was NOT their brand of mother..............I was NOT a usual type of mother (if there IS a type)........I was my type of mother. The kind who thinks her life doesn't begin and end at having a child. Who accepts that she has faults, just like the next person, the kind who doesn't believe that her child is always right, the kind who feels that she needs to give space to her child and not smother them with "love". Basically, the kind who empowers the child to think: "How can I solve this problem?" rather than: "I need to find someone who knows how to deal with this". The kind who is equipped to handle life, not feel burdened by it. The kind who will be independent, sensitive..........and confident. Pretty much everything I wish I was.

Once my son started Day Care, I had time! To do things I wanted to do. To work with focus. And guess what, I COULD afford it. Because I was WORKING. The sky didn't fall. He adjusted to the schedule...............and as for being a bad mother, I realized I was caring lesser and lesser about what others thought. It stung, of course, when veiled suggestions were made about my 'callous' attitude towards mothering. But when my son rushed to people's help, when he played with kids younger than him, when he smiled at strangers and was deemed "polite" repeatedly by his school, I knew I was doing something right. The kind of right I believed in.  And eventually, I was turning into MY type of of mother. Gradually, to free up more of my time, I hired more people. My venture flourished. Because it reflected what was happening inside my head - it was BLOOMING! I was becoming a happier person.........a person I originally was (with some age-induced changes, of course)......a person I was proud of being......

As my son grows, I am letting him imagine, letting him dream of the undreamt, thinking the unthought.........all the while taking care that he isn't hurting anyone. We have our bond, the bond of sharing our thoughts, our feelings..........he tells me what's going on in our head. My husband jokingly says: You can get him to do anything. I don't know about that one, but Anvesh and I once made a pact. If I ask him to do something, he can question me and I'll explain. If he isn't happy, he has to either suggest an alternative (open to further discussion) or else, do what I asked him to. I am trying to be particular only about certain necessary things and he's living up to his promise. His school tells me he's a bright boy, Everyone around me says he's a sweetie pie. And I? I think, he's a 5 year old with a 5 year old's thoughts. I don't expect great achievements from him. I just want him to be happy (not always!)...........and to be a good human being. In the mean time, I will just continue to be what I am - my type of mother..........


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Ramblings of a Mompreneur

Most times, I struggle. Sometimes, I struggle a bit more............

What more can sum up a Mompreneur's life in a shorter and more accurate way than this one line?

A lot has been said about being a mother and juggling a job. I'm sure a lot has been said about being a Mompreneur too, but I will go ahead and pen my thoughts nevertheless.

Having been through motherhood and "job" together, I knew how to rope support in on hard days. When there were holidays at Day Care, when I needed to stay a bit extra or go early to work or these minor calamities. Because there was always this "someone else" I could delegate to. Someone else who could pitch in with paper-work, someone else who'd stop my experiment in time, someone else to run that odd errand..........come entrepreneurship, that changed. The mysterious "Someone" disappeared, for one. No Finance department to handle money, no colleagues to handle communication..........and as if life wasn't tough enough, I don't have a cook. Meaning, I cook most days, thrice a day on good days. Suddenly, there were no "holidays"........because how much you earn depends on how much you work.  Take holidays, lose pay. Not days, hours become important. And what does a typical day look like? THAT becomes a joke! There is no such thing as a typical day in an Entrepreneur's life, let alone Mompreneur's......

My life is roughly divided into three types of days:

1. Smooth sailing: Namely, school's open. Day Care is open. All the colleagues come to work. Child is feeling well. I get enough sleep. Clients give reasonable deadlines for work completion. Husband comes home in time and most importantly, maid comes. As the name indicates, "smooth sailing", such days are rare and make me question the 'reality' of such days...........

2. Rough weather: One or a few of the above criteria aren't met. Most days, it is child sick/day care closed/maid absconding. I'm used to my husband turning up at any unexpected/unspecified time, so that's no biggie. Maid's absence hurts a bit, because she keeps the house/kitchen clean. So, I've to do a bit of an additional cleaning, which is ok. A colleague out for some reason is also ok, I can handle with a bit of a late night. Child sick is a true setback (damn Bangalore weather, I receive my fair share of these). Going to a doctor knocks out a few hours off my working day, child getting clingy just upsets the work schedule.............so all in all, this one makes me bleed a bit.

3. "I'm ready to retire" days: These are the days that make me want to quit, throw away all the work stuff and cry myself to sleep. Mere survival becomes a struggle. I recently had one like that. Husband: Missing. Two colleagues: On holiday. Child: Sick. Maid: Absent. Sleep: Practically non-existent. Backlog: Insane. Client deadlines: Shrunk so hard that I could feel them on my skin. These are the days when the proverbial last straw (that broke the camel's back) seems eerily close. Seeing clock tick so that it reaches the next day (hopefully, a better one) feels like the only way one can go on. And I feel like chanting: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger (REALLY?). I guess, I could do with some less strength.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Some battles chose me

Some battles chose me

Swirling in fluid, dreaming an unseen dream
Tiny limbs and features, with a naughty gleam
Eyes opening and closing, dark all around
That's how it looked, my soul on being found......

Then came the birth, slow, steady and long drawn
A blissful night ended, and came a reluctant dawn
Being born as I was, was not a happy thing, I see
I chose some battles, but most battles chose me........

Trotting on my feet, not a care, no worry
I walked out in the open, but was taught to scurry
Being a boy was a privilege, a girl wasn't to be
I chose some battles, but most battles chose me......

Dolls walked in as gifts, after dark strolls off bounds
"You're a girl", I heard, world is full of hounds
Rebelling just reaffirmed, what Mom had told me
I chose some battles, but most battles chose me...........

Being in a bus was a battle, and so was being in a train
Being at work was a battle, so was being in rain
Groping hands all over, eyes that mentally stripped me
I chose some battles, but most battles chose me........

Working extra hours unwelcome, laughing out loud too
Dignity, grace and poise ok, being carefree a taboo
Moment after moment, just learning not to be me
I chose some battles, but most battles chose me........

Then comes one day, a snapping point of some sort
When I see two paths, Do or Die, in short...
I choose to do, to be who I want to be
I chose this battle, although many had chosen me.......

Tongues wag and people tut, but this life in mine
Being alive, to live and love, is nothing but divine
No one takes this right to live, away from me
I chose this battle, although many had chosen me........

Bus journeys are not battles, as I swing the shoe when I must
I am not the one out of control, it's that guy's lust
It's HIS battle to fight, and to win, to keep his hands off me......
I refuse more battles, simply thrust upon me........

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Heads and a lot of Tales - A Mompreneur's world

Hello All,

This post can be treated with a bucket of salt.......or with oodles of criticism but I so needed to write this down that it has ceased to matter what I hear after I write! I guess, I am getting into Aunty Acid mode now ;)


So, rolling back to what I was saying.......

Being a Mom comes with its set of responsibilities. Being an entrepreneur comes with its own set. Cross the two and we have something at hand! Let me just start with how a typical day in life is:

Wake up at 6 (sometimes at 2, 3 or 4 am), work till 8, make breakfast, feed toddler, bathe him (amid cries that wake the dead), get him ready to go to school (he hates the uniform and then follow the golden words I am going to be hearing for a long time to come: I don't like you Mumma), then  somehow squeeze in making lunch (and snack) for his tiffin, drop him to school (once again, amid cries that make me sound like I am the modern Hitler parent!) .......and time to work. Manage whatever work you can until something "more important" pops up - like the plumber, geyser repair guy, computer fixing guy shows up, or you need to go to send courier, buy crafts supplies, or meet X, Y or Z, e-mail the clients, reply to queries, discuss customization.............and voila, before you know it, it's time to pick the toddler up! Go to school, pick him up, feed him again, teach him cycling, run and play with him, manage cooking the missing parts of dinner, feed him dinner, eat your dinner (with 3-4 interruptions as the toddler would go toppling chairs, or will need to pee, or try to poke you in the eye with a toothpick!), and when husband arrives, get to work till you feel like you're dropping dead!

Repeat the next day!

And mind you, I am not complaining. Just outlining for my own sanity's sake.

In the middle of all of this, sometimes I stop and ask myself, why can't I give up on work, or work less, or work differently? After all, I see a lot of women around me having done that, namely, given up work for family's sake.

For starters, I LOVE WORKING. It is as simple as that. Motherhood or not, I would've worked. Managing a house, cooking meals, keeping the remotest corners of the house sparkling clean and waiting on my family forever was NEVER what I wanted to do. Throw in a husband who has forever viewed my dreams like his own and work gains even more importance.

Yet another thing that has kept me fuelled and still does is striving to create benchmarks. Too many people are busy existing and I sure am not about to join the bandwagon. I love to live! And live it to the fullest. The mere fact that my body is alive when morning arrives is testimony that a miracle has happened. I've been granted some more time and I am not about to lose it. And definitely not to the negativity of wondering if I gain someone's approval. Sure I am not the best cook, wife or mother, but the question is, who wants to be? I certainly don't.

I don't eye any trophies no one is about to give to me!

So, life goes on, just how I like it, madly busy but oddly satisfying..........

There are pleasant breaks, like a steaming cup of coffee (strong and sweet, just how I like it) made by husband, yummy Spanish omelettes, late night Coffee Day/Corner House visits, long drives.......and THAT is what makes an Mom entrepreneur's life worth it all. Someone has said, you won't know the value of water until you've been so thirsty that you felt like your throat is cracking up. I don't think I need to..............I've too many blessings to be worried about energy sappers.....An occasional hug and a heartfelt thanks from my son is reward enough for me to tell me I am hanging in in there. A husband who can talk for hours with me and I can return that favour is what makes marriage worth it all.

So amid the whirlwind of life, love and work, I've made a conscious choice. To be ME. To be that pajama clad, PhD holder, enthusiastic cook and passionate crafter me.............unapologetically ME

Monday, June 30, 2014

It's not about the sun, it's about the sweat

It's about what you build
Not at all about what you get
It's not about the sun, girl
It's all about the sweat
***
It's not about what you follow
But the examples you set
It's not about the sun, lady
It's all about the sweat
***
It's not about the fair skin
So, don't you at all fret
It's not about the sun, sweetie
It's all about the sweat
***
It's not about the silks on you
Or the shoes or hair, I bet
It's not about the sun, honey
It's all about the sweat
***
It's about your grey cells
Not about a pretty face yet
It's not about the sun, dearie
It's all about the sweat
***
Tomorrow won't remember you
For how you looked, my pet
It'll remember you not for the sun
But for all the sweat
***
Don't let them tell you ever
Or judge or issue a threat
For you are not a girl of sun
But a girl of grit, and of sweat
***
Dark or fair, thin or fat,
Well dressed or not, don't fret
Whenever the sun is out
Just go ahead and sweat......
*******

These will be my words for my daughter, whenever I have one! Life is not about shying away from the sun, but for sweating in it and building her life the way she wants it! To Hell with all those who tell her that her beauty is her identity!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I want to be a billionaire

I want to be a billionaire
Collecting it all, as I procced
Billions of talents & skills
Each one leading to a good deed

I want to be a billionaire
Seeking billions of eyes
Glued to what my hands create
With every one of it, expectations rise

I want to be a billionaire
Looking for faces that smile
Billions who learn what I teach
Teaching others all the while

I want to be a billionaire
Of not notes and many a coin
But of smiles, joys and sharing
And of everything helping our hearts join......

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Fading into Oblivion

The dust of my star sparkles
Death is imminent but who will kill me?
My ambers are fading away
But who will douse the fire in me?

My ambers have kindled many a fire
Lighting up the cosmos with a golden glow
My star has burnt bright for long
Guiding many a walkers through grass, rain and snow

All around me remains as it was
Merry and bountiful and splendid
But my star and my ambers are dying
Unnoticed, unguarded, untended.....

As weeds grow under my feet
I look up at the sky and see
My star fading into oblivion
My ambers lying among the ashes peacefully

A star is a star indeed
Till it glitters and shines
And one day each star fades too
But while fading, it whines

I wish the world was fairer
And a star could die in grace
And not fade into an oblivion
A black, dark, lonely place..............