Mummy – kal, aaj aur kal?

kal aaj aur kal

This happened a few days ago when I was visiting my parents’ house in Ahmedabad. I was cajoling my daughter to finish her food. Being a Sunday, my father was at home and was observing the whole scene.

“You know, we never had our mother running around us to make us eat!” He commented.

I looked at him to elaborate on his remark, and he complied. “We were 11 brothers and sisters, and amma (he called his mother amma) was always overworked. She kept our food and milk glasses on the table – 11 plates and 11 glasses for each of her children. But, then she never stood there to see if everyone was having his proper share. So, there were a few who would drink 2 or 3 glasses of milk, and others would not get anything. No one went to amma asking for more; not that she wouldn’t have given us more, but no one had the heart to add on to her already big pile of work. And studies, well, being an illiterate woman, she could neither help us with our homework, nor did she bother. We sorted matters ourselves.”

A big insight into the days of their lives 50 years ago!!

We are three siblings. My mother made sure that we had proper nutrition, each one of us. Thankfully, processed foods weren’t that much in demands those days. Maggi had just been introduced, and breads (double roti) were consumed rarely. Having three kids and not having sufficient domestic help, she couldn’t sit with us and make us study, but she encouraged us to study ourselves.

I remember clearly the day, I must have been 6 years old, when I came home with a note in the school diary. I asked my mummy to sign it. She was busy with my 1 year old brother. She said, “Bring it later. I am busy!” Afraid to forget it later, I signed the note myself. Of course, the next day, the teacher realized it was me who had signed and called my mother to the school for an explanation. A big drama ensued!

When we went out to play, she never bothered to ask us where we were going. There were kids in the neighbourhood, and she knew we would be playing with them, however, we had to be back at 7:30 for dinner. There were no lessons on safety, no good touch or bad touch (in fact it was something I came to know when my daughter was 2 years old). Happier times they were!

And, then I see my style of parenting! My daughter being a single child, my whole focus is on her. Whether she has eaten enough, has she exercised well for the day, what’s her homework, has she prepared for the projects…!!!

And, of course, she is not allowed to go and play alone in the park or in the society compound. I know where she is at all times! Yes, gradually I am encouraging her to be more independent; she sets her own bag, bathes and brushes on her own, dresses on her own, helps in the house…but still I doubt she will be as independent as I was at her age!

So these are the 3 generations of mothers. My grandmother’s role was to provide food to her children. My mother saw to our health, education and comfort. While I am looking after each and every aspect of my daughter; from her nutrition to education, comfort and physical, mental and psychological development. With time, a mother’s role changes too! All mothers do the best they can do for their children, according to their capacity and understanding. There is no right or wrong, that’s what I have understood!

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My fight to go sleeveless

sleeveless

Image Credit: Pexels.com

I wore a sleeveless top today. It transported me to the day (of many) when I had an argument with my mom. In fact, whenever I wear sleeveless tshirts, I remember the times I had an argument with my mom. You see, I was not allowed to wear a sleeveless.

In today times, when city girls wear spaghetti tops without a moment’s thought, a sleeveless for me almost 20 years ago was a big big thing. All my friends wore sleeveless, but I could not. So I would argue regularly with my mom to let me wear one. I fought my case with so much convinction (or with so much persuasion) that she finally caved in. But, not without putting forth some conditions of hers like not to wear it before my dad and no thin straps. It was all acceptable! So, at the age of 19, in my second year of college, I wore a sleeveless shirt for the first time in my life. It was such a hurrah moment for me, a victory of sorts!

Today, however, I do not feel so! Because, today, I am a mom! You know your mom when you become one! And, being a mom I have understood that allowing your child to wear a sleeveless dress is not merely about clothing, but a small part of a mother’s deep philosophy. Will she start experimenting with her freedom? Am I letting her have too much of it? What next? What she will ask for next? Am I being a good mommy? Are the clothes too revealing? Will someone look at her with lustful eyes? Will someone take advantage of her?  

And, when my daughter wears a frock or a skirt, I am forever concerned. Is she wearing a bloomer or not under her skirt? Which places she will be visiting wearing a skirt? What sort of people would be around her?

So, you see, whether a 6 year or a 19 year old daughter , a mom is a mom…her concern never changes – even after 20 years! And, that is why my victory in letting me wear a sleeveless doesn’t seem so big today!

And I will let you know some thing – my father till date doesn’t like me (yes, even when I am married and have a kid), wearing a sleeveless, so I usually avoid wearing it around him.

Now, while I am it, I would like to share one more memory …

In my school, there was this cleaning lady, called ‘Balooben’ (it’s customary in Gujarat to use ‘ben’ as a suffix after an older lady’s name). She used to sit near the washroom. Now, can you imagine the washrooms of 90s, stinking like “you know what!”. Anyway, so this poor lady would always be found sitting near the washroom. And, I would always pity her plight – “Why this poor lady has to sit near this hellhole!” I would wonder!

In the wake of the recent incident where a 7-year old boy was murdered and his body was thrown in the toilet cubicle, I now get the wisdom behind stationing Balooben near the toilets.

We can argue to death that we are in the 21st century, we have the right to dress however we like….! But what we are forgetting is that the society doesn’t change just because we order it to. It might change tomorrow, day after or never…but till then we need to take care of ourselves and our kids !

A food for thought…!!!

Mumbai taxis and ME! My topsy turvy rides!

taxi ride

Image: pexels.com

Surprisingly, this post is not about me as a parent or I talking about my child. This is me as a Mumbaikar enjoying a slice of my adopted city every day.

For the last 2 months, I have been traveling a lot in app-based taxis. They are expensive, but frankly speaking, being splashed on with mucky water is not my idea of monsoon fun. Anyway, to cut down the cost, I have been opting for “share” and “pool”. Believe me, it’s an eye-opening experience every time I take one.

I have had some memorable moments – some enjoyable, some humorous and some, errr…crazy ones.

The social media addicts

Once when I booked a shared cab, a brand new brown Wagon R stopped in front of me. I saw a couple sitting at the back. So I opened the front passenger door, but what do I see, a huge 4-wheel suitcase on the seat. So, obviously, I sat beside the couple in the back. The couple was newly married, I could see a shiny chuda (wedding bangles) on the girl’s hands. The guy was sitting between his wife and me, and was mighty uncomfortable, as most “sharrif” (decent) North Indian men are. Anyways, a chatterbox, I started talking to them. Oh, by the way, the boot was full too with huge suitcases. On talking with the couple I came to know that they were visiting Mumbai on a fun trip. I gave them a few ideas on what to see, where to eat and shop. On the way, I asked the cab driver (who was a polite guy) to show them Bachchan’s bungalow, given that it is a huge draw for tourists. They were first excited, but when they actually saw it, I could see their faces falling down.

“It’s so small!” They exclaimed.

“It’s big by Mumbai standards”, I replied.

“Hamare Chandigarh mein to har kisi ki itni badi kothi hoti hai, yeh kya khaas hui!” – In Chandigarh, every other bungalow is huge, I don’t see anything exciting.

“But, it’s quite expensive!” I felt I needed to defend my adopted city.

“Ya, but we have expensive houses too in Chandigarh!” came pat the reply. I didn’t feel like replying to it.

It’s Bachchan’s house. The USP is – it is Bachchan’s house. Period.

We dropped them at Taj Mahal Palace and Tower. I just could not contain my curiosity and ended up asking them, “How come you took a shared cab!” People who could afford one of the most expensive hotel stays seriously don’t need to share a small Wagon R with strangers.

“Oh, it was a genuine mistake. It was our first booking on Ola, and we thought ‘share’ option was that it would share our status on Facebook!”

My mouth opened up involuntarily and my eyes kept on staring them incredulously! Later on, of course, I had a good laugh over it with my friends.

Seriously! The social media-addicted youth of India! God only save us!

People who don’t care for others’ time

On a Monday morning, I booked my cab at 7 am. I needed to reach my destination at 8 am. I thought I had ample time and I would reach on time. The driver came bang on time and greeted me ‘good morning’. I thought it was a good morning too. The next second sounded the buzzer to inform there was a second passenger. We took him in. And, then there was a third. His address wasn’t easy to understand. So the cabbie called him up. The person says, “When you reach this particular chemist, take a u-turn and then take a left from the pan-patti.”

We got to the chemist and took a u-turn, but couldn’t for the life of us find this pan-patti. It was 7:25. Which pan shop opens up at this hour.

So we kept on moving in circles. The person was not reachable as he was in the elevator or some godforsaken place out of reach of the call network. So after 15 minutes, we could finally get through him and got a proper address out of him. It was 7:40. And, so it was 8:20 by the time I finally reached my destination (thankfully, mine was the first drop).

The interesting conversations with cabbies

Apart from interesting co-passengers, you get to talk to the cab drivers too. Their was once this driver who ran a small time agency that provided junior artistes in Bollywood movies. But his once thriving business was hit hard by the demonetization, and he opted to be a taxi driver to survive.

Then there was a cabbie who humbly claimed that his track record was so good that Ola gave him maximum rides with women passengers. God bless him!

Then there are ones who are either exalting Modi government or cursing it.

And then, there are times you get some weird ones too! Like one time, there was this young lad who took me on the wrong route. When I pointed out to him, he didn’t reply. Just the day before I had read a disturbing post on someone’s Facebook wall about how a driver had misbehaved with her. I was about to raise an alarm when the taxi stopped and the driver looked back at me. My heart was in my mouth! And then he said apologetically, “Madam, it seems I am lost. Do you by any chance know the correct way!” Oh, and then I let out a sigh of relief!

There was this cabbie who throughout the journey was badmouthing Ola and Uber, and how they were sucking poor cabbies. According to him, all these app-based taxis would shut shop in a few months, as they were doing very badly. This was on the day when the news of Ola raising fresh funds were splashing all over the news.

Well, whatever said and done, I am enjoying these everyday taxi rides and wouldn’t have it any other way! What about you? Do you have some interesting taxi ride stories to share??

Mommies, why do we like to pull each other down?

woman by the water

Image: freestocks.org

I have a neighbour who is a Deputy Director in a reputed womens’ university in Mumbai. Before you roll your eyes and say “what’s the big deal?”, let me tell you something about her. She pursued her doctorate at the age of 45…! She got married early, had two daughter one after another. She concentrated on raising her daughters well. And, when the daughters became independent, she decided it was time she did something for herself.

Well, she decided to work in her 40s. But, not all mothers want to wait till then. There are mothers who prefer to take a shorter break for kids before resuming work. Then there are some some who never take a break even after having a child. And, then we have mothers who don’t work but decide to stay at home to look after their family.

Whether you are a working mother or a stay at home mother, there is nothing wrong. You are a good mother, and don’t let the world tell you otherwise. Mothers are questioned for every action. If you work and leave your children to nannies or in day care, there are people who ‘oh-oh’ it. You are a negligent mother. If you don’t work and look after your children all day, you are looked down upon.

If it only stopped here…

If you are a woman who doesn’t want children – People understand and sympthasize with you if you are unable to bear children. But, tell them once that you are child-less by choice and then see all the hells break loose. Eyes roll and tongues wag. You are too ambitious! And God alone save you if you prefer pets to children.

Let us understand these three things FOREVER:

A woman is a woman first, and then a mother.

A woman is free to make her own choices: whether she wants to work or not, whether she wants to have kids or not.

A woman can be a mother to a human baby, a pet or nature. She is still a mother!

Friends, there is no winning with the world! So let’s stop making the effort! Work for yourself and live for yourself! Let the world do what it does best – bitching!

At least, let’s stop questioning each other. We are, were or could be in the same position as others; let’s sympathize with other women even if we don’t fully endorse their idea.

Let’s not pull each other down – we have others to do it for us 😉 and seriously, it’s NOT FUN!!

The Soap Story!!

soaps.jpg

Image: pixabay

Like all small children, I was fascinated with TV commercials. During the 80s, the TV telecast used to be for a limited time, and TV commercials were fewer, and that’s the reason they were all the more precious. I remember going green with envy at the flawless skin of the then reigning star, Sri Devi, in the Lux soap commercial. It was a pink Lux. I asked my mum to buy a pink Lux the next time she ordered at the grocer’s. She bought me one. But in spite of rubbing it all over, I was sorry to admit, my skin didn’t turn pearl-like ‘comme’ Sri Devi. Disenchanted, I stumbled over the ad of Moti Sandal Soap. I loved the idea of bathing with a round soap, when all that my mum ever bought were flat rectangular ones. I wanted it. Unfortunately, it was not available in Ahmedabad at the time. So my mum promised, she would buy it the next time we visited Delhi, my grandfather’s place. And, she did buy me one. But Moti Sandal Soap was like the pink Lux, it didn’t do much for my skin. It didn’t get me the glow it promised. ☹

From Hamam to Lyril and Mysore Sandal Soap, I pestered my mum to get each one of them. But, to no good! And then came into my radar, the cutest ad where a little girl (about my age) aspired to be like her mum. She wanted to have skin as soft as her mum’s. The ad was different, and struck a chord with mothers and their daughters alike. All girls want to be like their mother, and mothers in a very long time found something that made them feel special. No wonder it was an instant hit! And what’s more, it was a see through soap and made of glycerin (the first of its kind)… an absolute must have!

And this was the first soap, I didn’t need to ask my mum to get. It found its way to my home without much ado! The first time I took a bath with it, I remember putting the bar of soap against my eye and trying to see my mum through it, just as they showed in the commercial. We loved the soap so much that it became a part of our hygiene ritual. In summers, we would use Lux (pink, green, white, lavender or whatever new colour they came in) and in winters, it was invariably the brown Pears.

Now, a few days ago, I visited a supermarket with my 5-year old. As I was browsing through the soap aisle, she suddenly came to me with a pack of blue Pears. I raised an eyebrow. She had till date never expressed any desire in soaps. But, then she said, “Mama, I saw it on Disney Junior. It is good for little girls too!”

Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it? And, girls don’t change much. Brown or blue, soaps have a way of finding their way into the heart of little girls.

Do you have a story of soaps in your home?

Fathers, We Could Not Have Done It Without You!!

father's day

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In the parenting world, it’s not uncommon to see most fathers take a backseat. However, it does not mean their contribution is less significant. Along with mothers, they are also the ones who have witnessed the joy of birth of a tiny human being, have held her, burped her, cleaned and changed her, been urinated and shat upon, lullabied the little one to sleep, bandaged the wound, taken her to parks or the malls, driven her to school on the days when she missed the school bus, and many more such things. However, their contribution never comes to the fore.

I remember my mother saying that it was my father who looked after me during the first year of my birth; he would bottlefeed me, clean me and burp me. So this Father’s Day, I want to list all the wonderful things that my father did for me and my siblings, that only he could do.

Telling me stories: Every night before going to sleep, I insisted that he narrated me a story. And he did that, without a single complaint. All the stories that I know, of Indian mythology, Alibaba and 40 thieves, Aladdin and the magic lamp, cap seller and the foolish monkeys, I have heard from him. Long before I started reading, he was my storyteller, and what a wonderful job he did.

Visiting doctors: Whenever I was sick, and I was quite often when I was small, it was he who took me to the doctors and the pathology labs. He held my hands or legs when I took a syringe; and it was a big thing because I screamed, screamed and screamed and made the whole clinic come to a standstill. He wiped my tears and gave me the prescribed dose of the medicines.

Teaching maths: I was not good at maths, but he was. And, he taught me this godforsaken subject; how to solve complex problems and learnt geometry!

Teaching life lessons: Maths and history apart; he taught me something far more valuable. How to live life, work for your self-esteem and not to take shit from anyone!

I may be close to 40 now, but for him I am still his little girl, for whom he cares and worries all the time. He may not talk to me every single day, but I just have to call him, and he picks up on the very first ring.

Well, my husband too has been a wonderful father. Apart from the usual diaper changing and giving her a shower, there are times when he attends her PTA, makes her ready for school, prepares her breakfast, takes her out for dinner, and looks after her when I step out. I have realized that he is a more calm and collected person when he engages with our daughter. And, my daughter listens to him better!

A mother and child’s relationship is unique, but that doesn’t undermine or overshadow the relationship a father and child share. For every father out there – you may think your kids prefer their mother over you or you may feel your kids don’t understand the hard work you put in in raising them up, just relax – they will realize that one day! Fathers are equally important! Believe me when I say, we could not have done it without you!

So let’s raise a toast to the awesome fathers of this world – Have a wonderful father’s day!

7 Observations I Have Made In Five Years Of Motherhood

child and mother

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In the last 5 years, as I have fed, cleaned and nurtured my baby, I have made quite a few observations which can be useful for all mommies! Let’s see them one by one.

My tummy is not a bin for leftovers

I had seen my mother doing it. Initially, I did too. I would eat my meal and then eat the leftover from my daughter’s plate. Of course, because we are taught right from the beginning, there are many kids in India and Africa who don’t get two square meals a day, and so it is not fair that you throw away precious food.

I don’t want to joke about it, but what kind of a rationale is that? How stuffing my stomach is going to help any kid, let alone the kids of Africa? On the contrary, over eating was only helping my waist line increase.

The wisdom is in serving smaller portions to your child, rather than stuffing yourself with leftovers.

I need to put myself first

Again, something I tried to do after my mother. She would feed her kids first, then her husband, and lastly she would eat. That’s the Indian tradition. But, the tradition doesn’t understand hunger pangs.

Thankfully, with time, I understood that I was not the cog in the wheel, but the wheel itself that was important to the smooth functioning of my house. If I fall sick, the whole house will fall apart. Hence, I made a promise to myself that I would put myself first. So, if I am hungry, I do not wait for anyone, I eat. I take out time to exercise, read and socialize. It keeps me happy. If you are happy, your household is happy too. Try it out!

Slow down, there is no need to hurry

My daughter was just 2 or 3 days old, when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I had a sudden attack of anxiety. “She is so small, when will she learn all these things – to sit, eat, go to toilet, walk, speak”. The journey seemed long. But, as my daughter started covering all her milestones one by one, I have realized that she will learn. Yes, with time, she will learn all she needs to learn. And, the road doesn’t seem as ominous. So quit worrying or pushing things.

Kids don’t demand much

I have heard this hundreds of times if not more. Kids are an expensive affair. Well, in 5 years, I have come to know, that it’s really not. Kids don’t demand much, we give them. They don’t ask you for expensive toys, education, tuition, clothes, birthday parties or supplies. They are happy with cheap ones. So if you believe in buying them a Polo or a Burberry, blame it on yourself, not the kids.

Smile and touch are the best therapy

If someone asks me what works the best with your child, I’d say my smile and my touch. My smile makes her smile and my touch comforts her. When I go to pick her up after her school, my smile makes her light up. When she is upset and I kiss her, I know her world becomes alright again.

Self control is very difficult

You can pride yourself in being extremely self controlled, but when it comes to your child, your self control is tested to the core. When you are weaning your baby off her nightly feed and she is crying, or when you want her to sleep in her own room, but she comes knocking at yours or when she is standing at the edge of the swimming pool refusing to enter the water and pleading with you to make her quit her swimming coaching, it takes a heart harder than the rock to not give in, but stay impervious. Yes, it is a mother’s heart that can melt at the slightest smile of your baby, but also stays firm when it needs to be.

Lying is not such a bad thing

With time, all mothers become accomplished liars. At least, I have become one. So when your daughter catches you popping M&Ms into your mouth which you don’t want her to have, you say you are taking your medicine. When you need to go out leaving your toddler behind, you don’t tell her you are going for the movies, but that you are going to see the doctor.

In Bhagvad Gita it is said, “If you are lying for a higher purpose, that lie is not considered a sin.” I remember this line everytime I lie to my daughter and hope it will absolve me from the sin. And hope she doesn’t read this post of mine! 😉

I am sure you might have made some observations of yours along your motherhood journey, which are different to mine. Care to share with me?