Monday, December 26, 2016

Raising Prabir - A beautiful morning

Our househelp took a break from mopping the floor to have a cup of tea. While she stood with her cup near the kitchen door,  Prabir rushed to his room. He emerged with a little stool and kept it near her, asking her to sit.

Sitting at the dining table, sipping my coffee and simply taking in what just happened, I smiled as my eyes welled up. There's something somewhere I did do right as his mother.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Raising Prabir

Toddlers are fun and full of surprises.  As Prabir is growing up,  he's  picking new words.

We just returned from dinner.

A conversation that ensued just now verbatim.

Me- So, did you like the dinner?
Prabir - Yesss
Me- Is your tummy full?
P- Yesss
Me- What did you like the best?
P- zedzed
Me- I'm asking what did you like the best in dinner?
P- zedzed
Me- Red red? What's that?
P- Mummmaaaaaa zedzed......meethha!!!
Me- zedzed... You mean dessert!!!

Now,  that's some English, my boy!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Motherhood isn't all Giggles & Cuddles!

There.... I said it!

Yes, you have a tiny one to cuddle and play silly with all day, but motherhood is beyond that. While you bask in the endless baby talks and the sweet baby scent, you realize gradually that you are the sole one responsible for the well being of this little one too. And just when you 'think' you have it all figured and sorted out, the challenges change.

And the worst part is that there is no rule book to follow, no sage advice to guide you, and no precedence to look up to for a solution.

Is motherhood easy? Well, just yesterday morning, I was crying bucketful of tears and only wanted to go somewhere far far away. Somewhere where there'd be no one to calling out 'Mumma' every fraction of a second.

So, yes, motherhood is challenging! A few ways I cope, rather try to!

P.S: I'm almost always near the brim just about to sink in and yet managing to stay afloat!

  • Breathe! Yes. B........r........e.........a........t.........h..........e..............
  • Celebrate little moments. Your baby burped quickly? Dance a bit. Self fed without much mess? Do a little gig. Pooped in the potty seat? Now that calls for a big celebration!!! Rejoice. Celebrate. Smile. Laugh.

    The other night I was literally dancing after putting Prabir to bed at 8.30 pm, while my husband stared in amusement. Trust me, only a mother can rejoice and celebrate things like these!
  • Nurture a hobby or that long forgotten passion. For me, it's reading and writing. Not that you'll find the time to do it seriously enough, but a few moments away (mentally) do work.
  • Focus, prioritize and leave what's not humanly possible. Period. Let people think. Let people judge. You are doing your best and you need not prove it all the time. The laundry can wait and so can the endless cupboards that need dusting.
  • Delegate work. Hire help wherever possible. Gives you a little more time from the same 24 hours.
  • Look for support. Seek help. Online or offline...doesn't matter. Meet old friends and make new ones. Though I can't brag to have an awesome social life, so to say, I do have an extremely strong network of mothers who are my soul sisters now. Not a day can pass without their love and support!
  • Put on the music. It helps. It distracts. It changes the mood. And doesn't obstruct your work either.
  • Be easy on yourself. Yes, you are a mommy. Not a superwoman. That's another thing that your little one(s) see a cape and a halo around you!
  • Shut your eyes for a few moments every few hours. Even 30 seconds help.
  • Most importantly, love yourself. Get up. Take a shower. Get dressed, even if that just means putting on a pair of washed Pj's and tee. Brush your hair. Put on some moisturizer or even some kohl or kajal. And give that beautiful woman in the mirror a good admiring look every day.
Motherhood is beautiful. But equally taxing and nerve-wrecking. Every morning, I brace myself  for yet another day. But then, I remind myself that the days may be long while the years are too short. And these little cuddly babies grow up just too soon.

Love them with all your being, but don't lose yourself in the process :)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Teaching about Good and Bad Touch & How to say NO!

We, Prabir and I, were at a store looking at backpacks. While I was busy looking at the designs being shown by a salesman, Prabir was exploring the suitcases and bags kept nearby.

Suddenly, I heard Prabir say 'NO' pretty loudly. I turned towards him and he told me that the uncle was touching his cheeks and so he said 'No'. I immediately asked the salesman not to do it and picked Prabir and made him sit near me. Meanwhile, I also told him that he did a good job saying 'No' to that uncle.

If you ask me, I am a very proud mother since this incident. And I am happy that my son knows that he can say 'No' and that it's alright and that we have his back always.

This incident has also reaffirmed my belief that it is never too soon or early to teach a child about good touch and bad touch. I have always taught him the real names of all his body parts and keep telling him what is good touch and what is not and what he needs to do if anyone touches him where he doesn't like or any other place. We also have a little quiz session time to time where he asks me as to who all can touch or kiss him and I tell him a yes or a no plainly.

Call me paranoid, but I know that I cannot be with my son 24*7 always. I know that he will have to go out and meet new people and not everyone will be good, so to say. And I know that if my son knows how to deal with such situations, I will have to worry a little less probably.

On the other hand, I also do not like complete strangers pulling his cheeks and neither does he. Saying no to them probably sounds rude, but I'd rather be rude than polite at the cost of the comfort of my little one. Better still, I carry him. So, the closer he is to me, lesser chances of strangers walking up to harass him (Yes, I call this harassment! Would an adult like getting their cheeks pulled by a stranger? No. Then why a little child who can barely express their likes and dislikes?)

So, yes, when my son stood up for himself and said "No", all at 2.5 years of age, I was a happy mother. And I know that all those conversations between us, mostly one-sided, have been of use.

So, all parents reading this, teach your little ones about their bodies with the real names. Tell them about good and bad touch and teach them how to say No. Most importantly, respect them for saying it and listen to them.

It is one of the biggest life lessons we need to teach and learn too :)

Saturday, July 2, 2016

You're the Best Mom!

Why do we compare? Who do we compare with? What are the standards? Who set those standards?

No, there's so definite definition to being a mother. If there is any, that's being the best mother. Because all mothers are the best. None can be any less. We all fight for our children and love them to bits.

Can love be measured? No.
Can our struggles be less than someone else's? No.

Each one loves. Each one fights.

Then why put yourself up against standards that don't exist? Why think that what you've done may not be enough? You're doing the best you can. And only you know the best for your child.

So, sit back. Take a break from judging yourself. Look at the awesome marvels you've created. Aren't they just perfect? Yes. Because you created them. Because you're the best. The best mother for your children.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Working Parents' Dilemma - Who to Leave The Little One with?

When I quit my full time job, over four year ago, everyone had some advice for me. No, no baby was on the cards then and I had done it simply because I felt it was time to test new waters and tread forbidden paths. Of course, none of that was possible without the support of my husband, who stood by my decision.

Meanwhile, I completed another Post Graduation course and started a little venture in writing. At any given day, I was working at least 10-12 hours. Work flourished and time flew. Almost 2 years later, we were blessed with Prabir. However, I continued working. I have changed gears since and started another retail venture too. Yet, my primary responsibility is my son, with whom I stay 24x7.

While, I have the luxury to stay at home, look after my son and work as well, many others do not. After a stipulated maternity break, most have to join back work. You are ridden with fear, guilt and may be remorse. Yet, quitting your job may not be an option for various reasons.

To say that working mothers are not involved with their children completely would be unfair. I have seen mothers, and fathers, keeping a check on their children while at work. They ensure their children eat and sleep on time and even take leaves to be with them during exams etc.

With nuclear families on the rise, the most worrisome issue that remains is who to leave the child with, when you have to join back. A friend had asked me to venture on this topic a couple of months back. And after a lot of reading and discussions with friends in different situations, here is what I could come up with.

The options are immense:

  • With either grandparent(s)
  • At home, with a full time maid/nanny
  • Enrol in a creche or daycare
Each one comes with their pros and cons.

  • With grandparents
  1. Your child is in loving and caring hands.
  2. You can be rest assured they are fed well and a routine is followed.
  3. This also ensures a lot of quality time as children learn from their grandparents.
  4. It is financially beneficial too.
  1. Generation gap 
  2. Difference in parenting styles may lead to stress and conflict.
  3. Over-caring attitude may lead to discipline issues later.
  4. The child may be plonked in front of the TV, longer that you'd like.
  5. They may not have the energy and stamina to take care of a growing toddler.
What you can do:
  1. Have an open discussion before you embark on this arrangement on what is okay. Sleep schedule, food menu etc can be given in written so that there's no confusion.
  2. Grandparents love pampering and feeding little ones. However, occasional treats is different from giving candies or a piece of cake during lunch time.
  3. Most importantly, respect each other. Instead of telling them what not to do, you can always tell them how to do it differently. 
  4. Let the grandparent take care of the child while you're home so that they get a fair idea about the routine of the baby.
  5. Call often to check how things are. That gives you an idea how much the baby and the grandparent are able to cope with. You can even then think of hiring a part timer to help, without really offending the grandparents. Taking care of a baby is an exhausting job!
  6. Be flexible and take it easy. You might feel bad when the grandparent knows exactly what to do to soothe your little one when they throw a tantrum at dinner time or bed time. But then, that's because they are spending more waking hours with the baby.
  7. Have a consistent set of rules that everyone follows. This way, the child will not get confused either.
  • At home, with a full time maid or nanny
  1. Your child stays in the comfort of home.
  2. You are able to monitor their meals.
  3. There's more sense of control
  1. You may be left in the lurch if and when the nanny calls in sick or takes leave.
  2. They are usually not educated. They could know the basics of child care, but may be adamant on following practices that may be harmful for the baby.
  3. Supervision may be difficult, despite installing nanny cameras.
What you can do:
  1. Hire a nanny with very strong reference credentials.
  2. Try and work out some arrangement where a family member is home with the child and nanny.
  3. Do a very strong background check.
  4. Train the nanny for at least a month under your supervision.
  • A creche or daycare
  1. These are regulated and a bit more accountable.
  2. You can monitor activities through CCTV cameras now.
  3. The caregivers are usually educated and trained.
  4. Children get to socialize with other kids.
  1. Divided attention as there are more children to take care of.
  2. It is difficult to find day cares that would take infants as little as 6 months old.
  3. Children tend to get sick often in a daycare.
  4. The pick and drop timings can be pretty rigid.
What you can do:
  1. Look for a facility closer to your home or workplace, whichever is more feasible.
  2. Check the safety standards before finalizing. The place should be child friendly. You must also want to have a detailed discussion about meals, milk, naps, toilet training, screen time, play time, medical emergency etc.
  3. Again, look for a reputed place, based on feedback from friends/peers/colleagues who are or have taken their services.
Caring for a child is an exhaustive job. I know as I have been at it for a little over 2.5 years with not a single day leave as yet. Yet, I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to spend all my time with my little one.

Leaving your little one in another person's care is a difficult decision to take, and unavoidable to. But, if we consider our situation with the pros and cons, we will be better equipped to take the most suitable decision that will work for both the baby and the parents.

Hope, I have been able to help a bit here :)

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Letter to the Father of My Child

Dear Dadda,

That's how we address each other now, isn't it, as Mumma and Dadda?

If we had to go back to when we met, it would have been a little over two decades. And if we had to go back to how it all started, it'd be almost a decade, All that seems ancient history now though. But coming to our present, life has changed and how!

When we agreed to be together for life, I knew you were just the one who'd compliment and complete me in every way. And that you'd make the best husband ever. I wasn't disappointed either. You have always made that extra effort to keep things happy and smooth.

However, little did I think then about the kind of father you'd make. And here you just haven't surprised me, but simply bowled me over... yet again. The night of December 8, 2013, the day Prabir was born, you held him almost the entire night. You rocked and pacified him, as I struggled to get a hold on myself. And since then, it's just been a beautiful journey of growing together as his parents.

For him, his dadda is "Pustat Anand" and no matter how much we'd teach him to use the prefix 'Dr', he wouldn't. For, in you, he only sees his best playmate, his go-to person when mumma is strict, his caddy, his best friend! His eyes well up every morning as you leave for work and the sparkle in them is for all to see when you enter the room after a long day.

And again, you never disappoint him ever either. No matter how tired you may be, you are forever at his command, from the minute you are home. From bathing him to playing silly games to reading books together, you two are pretty sorted and just meant to be together. One hands-on father, you've never refused to change his diapers or even clean the mess that he creates. And it is these little things that make you his favourite (of course, that's after mumma!).

As he grows little by little every day, I see a lot of you in him. A Dadda's boy, he knows where his priorities lie already. He loves cars like you do and books and stationary too. And most of all, he loves his dadda.

So, while I may crib every day endlessly, be rest assured that I wouldn't have it any other way. As Prabir grows, he'll learn to be humble, to be kind and will have the zeal and determination to work hard, and all this and a lot more he'd inherit from his father- You! 

So, thank you, for every little thing you do, for all that you do, is for 'us'. Thank you for loving us so and for being the best and the most doting father I've ever seen or known.

Love you more,

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Toddler Tantrums & Us

Scene 1

Day - This Monday
Time - around noon

Prabir, now almost 2.5 years old, broke the remote back cover and started throwing everything off the bed, which included my novel and his toys.

I reacted pretty harshly and demanded that he pick the book from the floor right away. To which, I was met with an utter stubborn behaviour coupled with screaming and wailing at the top of his lungs. I stood my ground and refused to budge. He, being my blood and soul, stood his ground and refused to budge too. And this ensued over half an hour of screaming, wailing, coaxing etc etc. I did try to negotiate and make the situation a little more favourable to him as my temper cooled. However, he did not relent. Finally,  after about 45 minutes that seemed like forever, I had to pick him off the floor as well as the book. Phew!


Scene 2

Day- Today (Wednesday)
Time- around 11 am

A househelp needed a medicine for which I took out the medicine box. In no time, all the medicines were all over the bed, some being torn apart or in the process of being rigged out of their seal. The moment I reacted asking Prabir what he was up to, he threw the box off the bed.

I asked him to pick it up and yes, he refused again. So, I closed my eyes and pleaded a little birdie to come and help Prabir pick up the box so that we could play a new 'aim' game. The box was on the bed within seconds and then we both aimed all the medicines (tablets only) inside the box and kept it away.


Would seem just another day to anyone. However, to a full time, stay-at-home mother, any such incident is good enough to trigger an outburst (which was what happened on Monday). It might seem trivial, but not when you're required to keep your calm every second of the day.

With your patience and perseverance levels tested every minute, it's hard to just smile and go through your day. In fact, at such times, I really need to remind myself why I am following gentle parenting and why not resort to a little spanking to set things straight. Thankfully, the better part of my brain and heart knows, even in those bleak moments, that spanking will not help and only make it all even more traumatizing for both of us.

The fact is that I know the workaround. I even know, well most of the times, what will help and what won't. Yet, I let my temper take over. Who benefits? Neither mumma nor the baby. It all boils down to endless tears and cursing myself.

So, yes, we mothers aren't perfect. While you may see us handling our little ones pretty well and think we have it all sorted, the fact is we don't. We too have those moments when we want to hide somewhere, away from the constant wailing and endless tantrums. We too have serious meltdowns and we can cry for hours for seemingly no reason. When we go down the guilt trip after behaving a little strictly with our little ones, we'd love someone to tell us that it's okay and that it's absolutely normal.

I write this after almost 20 minutes of dancing and rocking my son for his afternoon nap.... preceded by 20 minutes of running after him all over the house... preceded by 30 minutes of lunch in which he only wanted to eat watermelon seeds.....

I'm tired and we're not even half past the day. And that's me, almost every day. Whoever said motherhood is easy! But again, we always have a choice as to how to react to a situation and handle it.

I think a cup of coffee might help now :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Confessions of a Mother

I have a small group of mothers around me and we regularly discuss things about our respective children and seek advice from each other. Topics range from breastfeeding to food, vaccinations, outings, medicines, illness, home remedies. Basically, anything and everything.

While there's so much to learn yet, there's one thing other mothers always ask me - How do I remain so patient with my son all the time? Do I never get the urge to pick the rod?

If I have to confess, then to say that I have the composure of a saint would be the biggest lie. I snap often, I get angry quickly and I don't forgive easily.

But when it comes to my son, I hold back that impulsive emotion. I tell myself that I need to work out the situation some other way that's amicable to both of us.

He's a toddler and he'll have his tantrums. To give in to them or not is my prerogative as the parent. However, when the head banging, hitting and biting starts, all the saner thoughts fly to a distant land.

Handling the terrible twos is definitely a bigger and lengthier test I've ever taken. And the downside is that there's no textbook to go by. Just one thumb rule - Be gentle and loving, no matter how big the tantrum or bad the situation.

The first thing I do, at such times, is to stand back for a while. Away from him, and observe him. Then, as he begins his rolling-on-the-floor phase, I go and cuddle him and then starts the mammoth task of distracting him or talking it out. Most of the times, this works.

At other times, when I'm clearly not in a very safe mood myself, I keep away for longer and let someone else, usually my husband, take the front seat.

So, these days, we're always running late for everything. The reasons are pretty simple. My son may not like the clothes I pick for him and would prefer to put on something absolutely weird. Or he'd want to try all the shoes and slippers and sandals before deciding that he'll wear one each from two different pairs. Or he'd simply refuse for a diaper change as we run out of time.

The reasons are endless. And trust me, there's a lot of cajoling, negotiating and bargaining that goes on here, day in and out. The objective, however, is the same - a happy toddler.

So, yes. I usually run out of my reservoir of patience, more than a few times every day. I get firm and even upset and angry. But I don't let these emotions get the better of me. For my son is just being the baby that he is. He's entitled to his tantrums and the dramas. My only goal in those moments is to make him feel loved and understood, and reassure him every time that mumma has his back, always and all the time :)

Saturday, January 9, 2016

8 Things Never to Say to Any Mother

"Why do you feed this way?"

"Why do you let your child do this? "

"Your child doesn't eat!"

"Don't bother. All children are this way."

"Whatever you may do, the child will always do this/that."

Now, just replace the "this" and "that" with all the advises and things you've been told right from the beginning of your journey as a mother.

We all have been there, all the mothers. Yet, so often, we forget how we can hurt another mother, unintentionally, with our words. No, we mean no harm, but the other mother out there is usually not happy.

1. "Your child looks so thin. He/she's  lost so much weight?"

My instant replies to such people is - "I'm eating all my son's food and starving him. Yes. Really!"

My son is a human and not a goat to be measured by how fat or thin he is! What's important to me is that he should be active and meeting his milestones well.

2. "What's happening to your little one's complexion? He was fairer when we last met."

"Yes. We've been going for regular tanning sessions, mommy and sonny. And then we're yet to try those instant fairness creams. Which one have you been using?"

Again. Why can't we see beyond looks?

3. "You know my child reached this/that milestone well on time. You should check with a good doctor."

While l appreciate someone being concerned for my child, yet one needs to know that even a little mention like this is enough to give mothers anxiety attacks and sleepless nights, especially first time mommies.

Moreover, there's a good window period for every milestone and every child is different and unique. Why compare?

4. (On your little one falling and getting hurt) "Don't worry. It's nothing. They keep getting hurt all the time."

Yes, they do. All the time? Well, almost.  Yet, a mother cannot just sit back and not worry. She'll be there to comfort and console her little one and needs to check if there are any unseen bruises.

I'd appreciate physical help at such times, like getting me an ice pack or an ointment. No?

5. "What? You aren't sending your toddler to a play school yet?! You'll have a tough time if you make it too late!"

I really feel it's the respective parents' personal decision as to when they want to send their little one to school. I spend all my time with my son and would rather that he enjoys his toddlerhood at his pace rather than be set into a routine, just to fall into the never ending rat race.

Again, I do not judge those parents who send their children to school earlier. Their child, their decision. But being judgemental on my decision is not acceptable either.

6. "You're spoiling your child with the kind of time and attention you give him. Let him be. Let him cry. It'll make him understand what's good and what's not."

Really? How can one even think that way for an infant or a toddler?

My son needs me more when he's not in the best of his spirits. Call it pampering, but I'll be there with him and for him always. No, he's not throwing a tantrum. It's his frustration that he needs to vent. And I'm the mother. I know better :)

7. (When a breastfeeding toddler isn't keeping well and hence has zero appetite)
"Oh my God! He's barely eaten anything. How will he get through the day this way? Your breastfeed is merely for comfort now. No nutritional value there!"

First, there's enough study out there proving that breastfeeding is good for toddlers, especially when they are unwell. Go, read. Second, how much do we like to eat when we are down with a viral, a flu or worse, a stomach infection? Why do the rules change for a baby?

Moreover, saying such things only makes the already stressed mother more worried. Give her a break. Get her a cup of tea as she sits all day tending to her little one. Yes, that will help more!

8. "Your child barely eats. Doesn't even finish a full chapati!"

Again, where do these standards come from? Most adult females around me start hyperventilating if they are even offered a 3rd chapati. And people expect children as little as 11 months to eat a bowl of rice or a full stuffed parantha! Wow!

I could go on and on as this list is endless. But the fact remains that such things only go on to annoy us, however well meant they could be.

While we appreciate others' experience and so-called expertise in bringing up children, we proudly follow the motto - My baby, my rules. Simply because we know our babies the best. We read, we research our bit and we're capable of making informed decisions for our little ones.

And we worry a lot and fret over them. We might also seem to be spoiling them silly. Yet, to comment on another one's parenting style or even showing our concern the wrong way, is not usually welcome.

Show us and we'll follow the good examples. :)