I will tell you something that I witnessed 10 years ago and still do on a daily basis. I had just got married, moved to Mumbai and immediately started working at a well-known BPO. Now, I had a colleague who was married and had a two-year-old daughter. Every day, she would be carrying two candies to the office. Not for her consumption, or for any team mate’s, but for her daughter to whom she gave them when she reached home in the evening. One day, my curiosity got the better of me and I ended up asking her “Why do you give your daughter chocolates every day?”
“I leave her home all day with her grandfather and maid. This is my way of saying to her “I love you” as I am not with her the whole day.” Beautiful sentiment. But, what she could not understand was it was not love, but her guilt that was forcing her to bribe her daughter with chocolates every day.
One classmate of my daughter brings cupcakes every day to the school. Seeing her, my daughter demands for cupcakes in her tiffin too, which I of course, promptly refuse. So, one day when I met the mother, I asked her, “Why do you give cupcakes to your daughter every day? My daughter gives your example to me and thinks you are the greatest mama to live and breathe on this earth. She wants to exchange me for you.” I joked, but it was not funny to me.
“Cupcakes are the only thing she asks for, so I don’t deny her that pleasure. Also, it’s available in the nearby bakery, so it hardly takes any time.” Yes, but every day??
Remember, when we were small and went on picnics, how our mother would elaborately prepare chhole bhature, pav bhaji, aloo puri, halwa, homemade potato chips and all. We would always carry a giant-sized water thermos from home, because no packaged water bottles were available in those days. Now, when we travel, we mostly carry packaged wafers, juices and biscuits. Who would take the trouble of cooking when things are available so readily and conveniently?
I understand we are busy with our work and feel guilty of neglecting our children. But, why should that be a reason to spoil the health of our kids? Getting rid of our guilty by giving them sugary treats or junk food is not the solution. On the contrary, it adds to it.
We work for money, for better lifestyle and for self-esteem. All of them are positive things, aren’t they? Then why is there this guilt, and the need to redeem it by playing with the health of our kids.
Let me tell you this. My mother in law loves my daughter and whenever she visits us or we visit her, she spoils my daughter with chocolates, ice creams and what not. She doesn’t like cooking and so she prefers giving her outside stuff. My mother is an excellent cook and prefers sending homemade sweets for her (sukhdi, besan ki barfi, atte ka laddoo) and whenever we visit her, she asks my daughter, “What shall I cook for you today? What do you want to eat?”
Both mothers give her sugary treats, but they are vastly different, you see.
My daughter’s comments – “Nani makes such nice things for me. I love her.” And let me tell you, she loves chocolates far more than sweets, but even a small child like her understands and appreciates the value of homemade food. I still remember my dadi for the “gulgule” she made, and the “jawe” she would send in quantity to us. I fondly remember my nani for the awesome cook she was; for her parwal ki mithai, pickles, badam and kaju ki katli. They are long gone, but the sweet memories of their food have still stayed with me.
Agreed, our nani and dadi never worked in a stressful corporate environment, never had to board stuffy trains or crowded buses, didn’t have to meet targets or month end deadlines. But, then they didn’t even have access to 24/7 maids and very helpful electrical appliances. As a working mother, we don’t have much time, I understand and I agree. But we still take out time for Halloween parties, playdates, movie dates. Just a food for thought!
Just question yourself what do you want to be remembered for? Your store-bought cupcakes, doughnuts and chocolates or your once-in-a-week-or-month baked cakes, kheer, halwa and laddoo? No food is bad, even sugar, if it’s prepared at home and eaten in reasonable quantity.
Some people will argue that women of 21st Century is breaking the glass ceiling, they are not supposed to slog in the kitchen. I will tell them – preparing delightful meals for your child and for your health’s sake is not exactly slogging. Remember, health can never come out of a packet (however fancy)!
This article is not written with the intention of judging or putting down anyone, but to serve as an eye opener that our guilt is finding its way into our children’s tummy. We love our kids and look after the tiniest detail so that they are not inconvenienced. Then how come we ignore such a huge aspect of their lives – their HEALTH!!