Tag Archives: life

Ran the Marathon again. Only this time it felt even better

Untitled

I ran the 21 kms (about 13.2 miles) marathon recently. Yes. I did it. And I can tell you, it was the most incredible feeling I’ve had in many, many years. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to portray myself as this obscure mommy plodding away at home with little to feel accomplished about, and the marathon as having given me that oh-I-can-do-it too feeling that I so lacked in my life.

I am a regular mother who pretty much centers her life around her three children – you know the type – stay-at-home, life is mostly about the house – the usual – dropping the kids, picking them up, only to drop them again, then pick them up, again; getting them to eat right, read right, talk right, play the piano right; clear up their room, do their homework before the owls come out, learn to appreciate what they have, not argue, etc etc – like I said, you know the type..(and you can probably relate to some, if not all of it!)

I am not going to get into why this is how it is (yes, I know taking breaks is healthy and that ‘Leaning In’ is hard but vital). This is the reality and that’s that. I don’t work (if you discount freelance work) and I like to be involved with my kids. There are both upsides and downsides to that.

Anyhow, I was telling you about my running. When I started, I suddenly felt like I had a purpose (for lack of a better word) and pushing myself physically felt very, very good. I trained pretty much by myself. I became extremely focused and loved the high it gave me. This is not what I had expected, because I am not the sporty-sort really. I thought I’d do it to see if I could really run, or how far I could go before I ran out of steam. It was a process, of course, and I am not going bore you about it. What I will say is that I did not give up, and before I knew it, I was running ten kms (a little over six miles) a day. The first time I ran a ten km marathon (without stopping), I felt on top of the world, like I had done something that deserved mention. It meant a lot to me, and I didn’t care what anyone else thought of it. That is when I decided to give the 21K a shot. I started to run every morning and it felt good (the weight I lost and the thighs I toned were a extremely happy byproduct!).

Physical exhilaration apart, one of the main reasons why I loved running so much was because, surprisingly, it didn’t mean that I was out there, unfettered, alone with my thoughts, free to take them to any direction that I wanted. The truth was that I didn’t want to think, period. It was really about reaching a no-thought point. Not sure how I can describe that better, but the fact that I wasn’t thinking while running was refreshing in many ways. I didn’t want my time alone to be contemplative where I started to over think and over analyze everything, because that can happen easily. I wanted to be free, mentally free, with nothing clouding my mind, nothing at all- if you can ever reach that point, it’s extremely liberating, especially when you are the sort who turns things over in your head till they acquire a life of their own. I didn’t expect this to happen, but it did.

I would put on my music and just run. It was me and the music in my head (made a mish-mash playlist of songs, everything from Taylor Swift and One Direction to Micheal Jackson and A-ha!). I cannot begin to describe the feeling. Kids safely in school, me on the track and Shuffle playing my songs. It was simply magical.

At the marathon, when I reached the finish line, I wanted to cry. Not because I ever doubted that I would reach it, but because it simply felt great and overwhelming. So yes, maybe what I said earlier about that whole feeling of accomplishment, maybe that’s true. Maybe that’s why I loved this so much, because I haven’t felt like this in a while. I don’t go to work where someone pats me on the back and tells me that I did a good job. Sure people always say the right things when you tell them you are a SAHM, stuff like “kudos to you, I could never do it”, or, “it’s so much easier to go out and work than to be at home with the kids constantly”. Ya sure, it’s nice to hear but honestly, it does not do much for my self-esteem. For one, (and this could be me) I always detect this, oh-you-don’t-work-so-let-me-make-you-feel-better-about-yourself tone when people say this. I know, what could someone say when they ask you what you do and you say “er, I am at home with the kids”? There’s always this uncomfortable silence which then gets hastily filled with somewhat forced laudatory remarks about the trails of motherhood and all the rest of it. I don’t care for it much. And two, even if it is genuinely said, it somehow does not have any uplifting effect on me. I would rather be applauded for something I did that did not involve being a mother, a wife, a daughter, or someone who has great taste, who keeps a good house, who has a green thumb, whose garden is never without seasonal plants etc etc. No, if I must be applauded, I want it to be for something that had nothing to do with the house and the life I lead around it. I know I keep a good house and am raising three wonderful girls, and I get told that all the time. But maybe right now I am in a place where what I am doing is already a given, and anything that I do over it is the one that brings me that feeling of accomplishment. (Oh Lord, this post has turned out to be exactly what I did not intend it to be about – analyzing my running!!)

The truth is (and I know this is true of many women around me) that mothers don’t do anything much for their own selves, really. I mean something that is exclusively for them – that involves no other family member. I can’t think of anything else that I have done in the past many years where I have pretty much been on my own while doing it. No I haven’t. And it’s not because I could not (well, that too, but that’s for another post) but because I simply did not. When you are in a zone, you tend to stay in that zone, till something pulls you out of it, or something changes – like when your kids start full-day school. That’s when you get the time to notice the world around you a little more. So I could say that I’ve been in this mommy zone, one in which there is little time (or mind space) for anything else (except, of course, if you are my mother who has some magic wand hidden away and refuses to give it to me, or admit to its existence).

Now, with my running, I seem to have opened a small window and looked out into the world, from my little domestic preoccupations. And it’s a refreshing feeling. I don’t want to open a door yet, because I am not ready to let too much come in between me and my home, but I do want to step out once in a while and see what life beyond the house is like. When I first went running (to a nearby stadium) I realized that there were all sorts of people, from fat middle-aged men (and women) to taut, muscular boys and super-fit and equally taut women who were out, having taken out that one hour from their chores and devoting to themselves. I fit right in, because there was no real “type” there. A runner, I realized does not fit into a mould – a runner could be a man who (just like a women) needs a new purpose in his life, or a girl who wants to tone her legs, or a seventy-year old man who has been running since he was thirty and has never stopped. A runner could be the person I meet in a bank, who I would never picture on a track. Runners, I now know, are not always recognizable from their appearances, but that has nothing to do with their abilities. I would meet women who would have woken up at five in the morning and cooked a whole meal just so they could spend those forty-five minutes for themselves. That was inspiring. I find such women – who work at home (I don’t because I am fortunate enough to have a lot of help) and still manage to get away from it all – very inspiring. A man works and he works only, but a woman, she does it all. No, it’s not a statement fraught with feminist tones, it is the truth. A man can focus on his work to the exclusion of everything else, a woman (mostly) does not have that choice. Even is she works, the home is still her domain.

Anyway, back to the marathon, I ran in 2 hours and 31 minutes. It was not great and not bad (for a first timer, they say it’s pretty decent – blush, blush). I loved every moment of being out there. I felt like an athlete (which I am not) and it was extremely uplifting to be there among other runners. The atmosphere was electric and it rubbed off on me instantly.

My husband and kids were waiting 400 meters from the finish line. The last few kms were a bit hard and all I wanted was to see their happy faces. I kept thinking of what my five year old had told me a night before “Mama”, she’d said looking at me with her large, innocent eyes and heartfelt words “if you tell yourself you can, then you can. So just don’t give up”. Her words and their faces where in my mind as I kept going (non-stop). My husband (who is the real athlete in the house) was so proud that he was beaming at me with his charming smile (the one that I fell for when we met) and giving me a high-five in his mind (he’d never do it in public). That night he told me that I had done something incredible. I cannot begin to tell you how great that felt. He’s given me compliments before, but this one, don’t ask me why, felt so good that every ache that I was feeling in my body seemed completely worth it. It was like I had done something remarkable (which it really wasn’t – there were thousands out there). But he had that “my-wife-ran-21kms” look in his eyes, and my daughters shared it in reflection time in school the next day.

Nothing, no other encomium can ever match that. I am runner for life.

2 Comments

Filed under mommyrage

Winning Is Important , Right Ma?

My daughter asked me this question the other day. She looked at me and said “mama, is it important to you that I win a competition?” and then after a pause she added “I really want to win the Spelling competition in my school this year”.

I’ve always told my kids to try their best and leave the rest to God. Not sure if that’s right or wrong – but parenting is as much about our desire to inculcate the right values in our kids than telling them what we think, because the two are often not the same thing.

Yes, I do believe that winning is important, but will I say it in as many words to my kids? Probably not. I will sugar quote it and ask them to try their best and not worry about the outcome. But do I seriously believe in that myself? Will I be unaffected if my daughter tries her level best, comes within spitting distance of the top spot, and then loses it? The answer is that while I will not be shattered, I will be disappointed. And that disappointment, let me add, may not necessarily be with her, but with the outcome. By the time you reach this age, you realize that winning is a combination of many, many factors, not all of which are in your control. You’ve seen enough life to know that those who win have worked hard, no doubt, but they have also always thanked God and their good fortune (the best of athletes are superstitious about many things before their game) So yes, if she tries hard and loses, I will be extremely supportive of her and encourage her to go on, but I will, in my heart, be a little disappointed. And at that moment, my focus will be as much on comforting her as it will be on masking my own regret (for lack of a better word). The worst thing that a child wants to feel is that she has let her parents down. I think that if a child goes into a competition knowing that her parents will take it on the chin if she lost and commend her for her effort, she will be able to face it better.

But this is not what her question was about. It was a very direct question that required a direct answer. Is winning important? And while I know that some questions cannot be answered in a simple yes and no, but still if I was to answer this one in either one of the two choices, I’d say yes, winning is important.

Now let me defend my answer (even though I did not give her a one word one)

The fact of the matter is that it is a competitive world out there. Children have to learn to take the stress of living in such a world (am not getting into ideological arguments about how we can go about changing such an environment and achieve some utopian world – that’s for another day). Wanting to win is not a negative emotion like we make it out to be at times in our kid-gloves parenting approach. Wining makes people feel good about themselves, so what’s wrong in wanting to achieve it?  If winning wasn’t important then World Cup and Wimbledon finals would not matter. But they do, because the people who are playing it, want to win. In the run up to the FIFA World Cup, readers were inundated with stories about how Brazil wants to regain its glory on the home turf and win to atone for the humiliating defeat to Uruguay in the final in 1950. The entire country seems to still not have got over the “loss”.

So, my point is, why mislead the child just to sound politically correct, or for some misplaced notion of cushioning the blow. I say misplaced because what will cushion the blow (assuming there is one) is not the fact that you’ve led them to believe that winning is not important, but your own reaction in the face of such a situation. You, as a parent, must handle the failure well.  The two are not the same thing. You can believe in winning, but that does not mean that you cant take failure.  Conversely, you could think that you are prepared to take your child’s failure and tell her that winning is not everything, but then not be able to stomach a defeat.

I think what matters more is how you handle the defeat than what you believe about winning.

In my humble opinion, if you tell your kids that winning is important, it makes them work harder. A win encourages a child in a positive way, there’s something about tasting success, no matter how small, that gives them a high. Hopefully that will make them want to keep it up. Yes, there are pressures of staying on top, but as you go through life you have to learn to deal with pressures.  No one can duck them, no one. And if you shield your kids from the real world, then the chances that they’ll end up disillusioned are much higher. In fact, I often tell my kids that people use the wrong means to win and while they should never do that, they must learn to stand up to those who do.

I don’t wish to over-prepare my kids for the world (and who knows, maybe I am) but my simple point is that I grew up thinking that everyone was good and followed the law, only to see otherwise. It didn’t make me cynical (I hope) but it did disturb me.

I want my children to excel at what they do. I think every parent does.  So, if my daughter wants to win the Spelling Bee, she’ll have to work harder than she has for anything in her life – and while she agrees with that in theory, she does not necessarily translate than into action.

One lesson that she needs to learn is that there is a deep abyss between the desire to win and the actual win. If she wants that Spell Bee trophy, she will need to cross that chasm.

 

4 Comments

Filed under mommyrage

Fifty Things I Do In A Day.

Someone recently asked me what I do all day. The stress was on the letter “what”, like what (on earth) do you do all day? I didn’t think he was worthy of an answer.

Here it is though. For you guys, who stop by and read me! Here are the fifty things I do in one typical day. If you can’t relate to them, that’s OK. At another time, I probably would not have either. This is for those who decided to lean out!

Here goes..

  1. Wakeup, get the kids ready, shove food down their reluctant mouths, drop them to the bus stop/school.
  2. Come back home. Have a cup of tea. Try and read the morning paper while thinking of a plausible excuse to not have lunch with your husband’s Taiji (aunt)
  3. Cleaning lady saunters in. Attempt to get the house cleaned. Disapprove of her cleaning techniques. Pull around the furniture to prove your point. Dust the foot mat (because no one else will)
  4. Attend to the doorbell. Sign for a courier. Put the magazine in the will-read-soon pile.
  5. Come back in. Door bell again. It’s the garbage collector. The trash has not yet been tied up. Now it’s time to give the maid a sermon on the merits of preparedness.
  6. Come back to read the paper. No better luck, door bell again. Take the milk man’s bill. Tell him to return for the money. You can’t give a definite time.
  7. Think about lunch. What, possibly, could the kids eat without a fuss? It’s summer, there’s not much. Sigh. Wish you were in some office, doing some real work, talking to some real people. Miss the vacuous office banter that can be so uplifting.
  8. Somehow work out a lunch menu that leaves out the spineless summer veggies like ghiya, tinda, kaddu, karela, parmal and tori (beats any analyst report, I can tell you that). Inform the maid of your brainwave (egg curry). Try and be calm when she tells you that you’re out of oil.
  9. Rush to pick up the phone. It’s the tele-sales lady. Be firm in your refusal. You don’t want the magical Mutual Fund that will put you on the path to financial freedom.
  10. Call the electrician. The AC has been gone for three days. Inquire about its whereabouts. Call him eight more times before he picks up and you explode.
  11. No you can’t be calm. It’s freaking 42 degrees (107 degrees Fahrenheit)
  12. Taiji (aunt) is calling. You don’t have a plan. Panic. Don’t take the call.
  13. Think of something. Call her back and express deep dismay for missing the lunch. Yes, you don’t work, sure you could’ve come. Next time. Pucca promise.
  14. It’s noon. You haven’t had a bath, the op-ed is lying open, the maid is hollering for oil, the driver has not turned up, the cleaning lady is sulking and it’s hot as hell.
  15. You shut your eyes and take a deep breath
  16. You give the maid money for the oil. And, oh, while you’re on the topic, the rice, butter, chocolate spread and cheese is almost finished as well. So are the organic eggs that are sold at the far-away grocery store. You hand her a wad of notes. She can walk to the market and get regular eggs, you’ll survive.
  17. Now you can’t go for a bath because the maid is out and no one will be able to attend to the door. Some eight more couriers will arrive by the end of the day. Cash on delivery is a good idea when you’re ordering something, no so great when you are in the bath and the guy arrives wielding your precious packet.
  18. While you wait for the maid, you read the paper. The cleaning lady now wants to clean where you are safely and most comfortably ensconced with the remains of your op-ed. She’s, however, in no mood to hang around. Fruit-fly genetics can wait.
  19. You get up with a huff, but not a very irate one. You do want her to show up again tomorrow.
  20. You move to another spot, finish off the op-ed.
  21. The maid returns. Now you can have a bath. Hop in and hop out.
  22. It’s almost time for the school-bus. But you have 15 minutes. Too early to leave, too late to start doing anything substantial. You wonder if you should read the article you abandoned yesterday or answer that e-mail. By the time you locate the paper, you’ve lost eight minutes. Now you can’t read with attention for fear of losing track of time and getting late for the bus stop. So you leave seven minutes early. Then you twiddle your thumb at the bus stop and wonder why you didn’t carry the paper with you.
  23. Bus arrives, kids are home. What remains of the day can now be written off.
  24. There’s some pressing issue with the homework. We need ribbons and stencils. Can’t we do without them? Use something else? Do they have to be ribbons? No, no and yes.
  25. Sigh. Wish for frivolous office talk. If only..
  26. It’s Tuesday. It’s piano day. She’s not practiced. There’s going to be a scene.
  27. Yup. There’s a scene.
  28. That out of the way, you can now leave for the piano class. Ok, you promise not to say anything to the teacher. For the last time.
  29. Piano over. Homework beckons. Ribbons. Right.
  30. Ribbons and veggies bought in one shot. Stencils were bought last week.
  31. Everything is under control. We should make bed-time without a shout. Seems too good to be true.
  32. It is. Turns out we also need chart paper. And glue. Not the regular glue. The real one. Whatever that is.
  33. You explode. Defense is prompt. How was she to know we don’t have chart paper and real glue?
  34. Back to the market.
  35. Dinner will now be rushed. Not very conducive to overall peace.
  36. Somehow the project is done. Dinner is wolfed down. Beds are made. Stories are read. Two are ready to sleep, one is not.
  37. Negotiations and (no, not love songs. You wish) more negotiations.
  38. Sigh.
  39. So you put the others to bed. She stays up. Day is not over. You wish.
  40. You emerge, half-asleep, from the dark room. You put up your feet and try to read. She wants to talk about school. So you do.
  41. You put down your book. She tells you stories. This part you love.
  42. Husband returns, tired, from work
  43. Should we eat? She’s not asleep?
  44. You eat. She sits with you, fighting sleep. The other two asleep in their beds.
  45. Why can’t she sleep in time?
  46. You don’t have an answer. You’re tired.
  47. Dinner over. Now she wants to sleep. You don’t wan to go back in to put her to bed.
  48. There’s a scene.
  49. You hold your ground. You need your downtime.
  50. What exactly is that?

 

 

 

10 Comments

Filed under mommyrage

Someone Has To Fix The Mixie.

I am feeling a bit metaphorical this morning.

Nothing unusual has happened. The day, so far, has not gone according to plan (nothing odd about that) I’ve not written the article I need to write. Instead I’ve just returned from the local market where I’d gone to get the mixie fixed.

Why, you could ask, did I drop work to get a mixie fixed? And what’s with the metaphor? The answer to the first question – because someone has to do it, and that someone is me. And the second – because the fixing of the mixie, I’ve realized (while I was on my way to the market) is a great metaphor for describing my life right now.

I am a fixer. I fix everything, from the stuff in the house to the lives of my children, from their projects, homework and broken toys to the washing machine and the problems of my domestic help. I fix it all. Yes, the irony is all too apparent, that I can’t fix my own life. Or maybe, that’s why I can’t fix my own life, because I have not the time or the mind space left for it.

Why am I feeling this way? Allow me to tell you (I am bursting with it). Let’s see, what have I done since the morning so far? Woke up at 6, dived straight into the tempest of sending the children to school (one twin had severe Monday morning blues and simply did not want to get out of bed, so that was fun). Anyway, somehow we managed – it was a collective effort of getting them up, bathing them, dressing them, feeding them and then dropping them off. Then I returned home and read the paper with my two cups of strong tea, as I tried to ignore the post-it on my desk that was bleating at me incessantly. It listed the six things I absolutely had to do today.

1. Get swimming costume changed (for the kids – 3 day exchange policy)
2. Get the mixie fixed (falls in the kitchen no-go category)
3. Give the clothes for darning and dry cleaning (summer is here in full swing, need to put away the winter clothes and bring in the summer ones, but can’t put them away till they are darned and dry cleaned, hence cannot put the summer ones in the cupboard. But, it’s too hot, so need summer clothes, which lie in a heap, and the heap moves around the room, from the bed to the chair, to the piano, to the chair, to back to the bed. I can’t stand the heap anymore, it’s bleating at me too)
4. Give the kids’ clothes to the tailor for minor (yet extremely crucial) tinkering that will make them wearable. Summer skirts’ elastics are loose, some buttons have fallen off, don’t have the buttons, so need to go to the market and then to the tailor.
5. 3G on my phone is not working – this is not on an essentials lost, but I miss What’s App.
6. Buy black shoe polish (for the kids and the husband)

Looking at my list, I decided not to let the article hang on me. I’ll burn the midnight oil and sacrifice my candy crush tonight, I thought. I was unusually calm today while I went about doing the chores I hate to do. I wonder why? Am I finally coming around to accepting my role as a SAHM? I don’t think so. It’s a phase, probably.

You could ask why I am questioning the peace in my head? That’s because it could be the first sign of the fact that I’ll remain a fixer. If I lose my angst, what on earth will I be left with?

Leave a comment

Filed under mommyrage

Marathons, Mid-Life, and All That Jazz

Apparently, I am smack in the middle of a mid-life crisis. That’s why, it seems, I ran the marathon. It’s got to do with hitting forty (no one lets you forget it, it’s almost like you’d be disappointing your generation if you declare you’re fine).

It’s when the whole mortality, existential stuff hits you, and needless to say, you can’t deal with it. You search for meaning in your life and look for answers, but there aren’t any (or they are, but you don’t like the sound of them). So you panic, somewhat. You wonder if there’s anything more. You wonder if you were meant to do something else, or if you should write that book, go for that start-up idea, learn a new language, or take a trek to figure things out – you need meaning in your life. The whole, if-not-now-then-when syndrome biffs you on the head pretty hard. Then you panic some more. Now you need motivation and positivism, so you read about people who did incredible things in their forties, fifties and sixties. That encourages you, but you still don’t do much about your angst. You start running and it makes you feel better – them endorphins do the motivational job. They fool you into believing that the crisis has passed you by, when all they’ve done is sedated it (but it helps). All this, of course, conveniently comes at a time when your children are young and they need you, when your parents are old and they need you, when your work is not that exciting (or too tiring) but you need it (to me, this is precisely why it comes)

So, if you have the money, you buy a Porsche, as they say. Lesser mortals like us run marathons, or get a dramatic, image-altering hair cut, or just die it blonde. I think what you do and how far you go is directly proportional to the level of the crisis. I am guessing the I-am-going-to-be-blonde ones are the hardest hit. Either that, or they just really want to be blonde. Actually, I take that back. Maybe it’s ok. I mean, who am I to judge why someone should or should not dye their hair any colour; if someone wants to pretend to be somebody else, who am I to pronounce it as a character flaw or wave it away as a mid-life identity-crisis? Who can say that I am not going to be that person in the future? The one thing that you learn by the time you’re forty, is that life has a strange way of coming around. Never say never (or forever) – it’s pretty darn true.

Anyway, I’d wanted to talk about my marathon (you know, blow my trumpet a bit). I still feel good about it, but I have to admit, linking it to mid-life is a bit of a mood killer. I didn’t realize it could be a sign of the crisis that I am pretending has passed me by.

I called my mother the other day and asked her if she had had a mid-life crisis when she was my age, or is this one of those new-generation things that she laments about often – you know, like children were better behaved in those days, parents didn’t agonize over minute details of their kids and just let them be, they didn’t splurge as we do, rents were low, politicians were less corrupt, there was no tawdry display of wealth, teachers taught for the love of teaching and the like.

She said that she was too busy for it. Now, that wasn’t the answer I was expecting. I wanted to be told that she had had it too but it really wasn’t that bad and that it passes (without taking it’s toll). It left me wondering if I am feeling this way because I have too much time on my hands. But then, I thought of my husband, who has the reverse problem – too little time and too much work. He’s not running any marathon (because there’s just no time) but he is turning to philosophy, doing yoga and questioning why he’s working so hard. So, I don’t think it’s about the time one has to ponder over things. Having said that, if you’re neck deep in work or anything else, in a strange way it helps, because you then focus on the task at hand and leave the larger questions for later (the definition of later is not a constant)

I don’t have the answers to the questions in my head. I am not sure anyone does. That’s why, I guess, there’s faith. That’s what my mother told me – to just have faith. It’s what, she says, is gong to help me through my anxious moments – it helped her raise three kids with not much money.

I am not sure I can be my mother. Actually, I am pretty certain I can’t, but I can try and take her advice and learn from her. Have faith, bury yourself in something and keep going – it’s a tunnel, this age, you just have to keep going till you reach the other end. Just focus on the light at the end of it, because it’s there.  This is our rite of passage.

So I am going to continue running. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment. And if it’s a sign of the existential torment in my head, then so be it. I am forty-two and I am going to act my age. Besides, there were some twenty-somethings who I left behind in the dust at my marathon and it felt good.

Now if I write that book, I’d have put my angst to pretty good use.

1 Comment

Filed under mommyrage

The Fights and the Make-Ups

My older daughter and I seem to be arguing a lot these days. Actually, it’s been more than these-days, it’s been going on for, well, if I think about it, since she was about four. I guess since she found her will and realized that she could assert it (it starts way too early).

So the other day I was trying to put some eye drops for her. She’s got something called Blepharitis, which is the swelling of the eyelids, usually happens in kids with dandruff, but in her case it’s not the reason (we could not arrive at one). It’s mild and can be treated with some drops and, believe it or not, shampooing of the eyelids! Now, every morning, as we try and make the most of each minute, as the school-bus looms large over the household, we have to shampoo her eyelids. And, as always, it’s not as simple as it sounds. Try waking up an eight year old at six in the morning and then scrubbing her eyes with shampoo (anyone who has washed a child’s face can tell you how they are about putting soap on their faces). So she screams, of course, and I try and tell her all the parental stuff about how it’s for her own good, which, she does not care about. All she wants is for me to stop lathering her eyes. There’s no magic, I tell her. If she can’t allow this then she loses all right to complain about hurt in her eyes. I wish it worked that way, but it doesn’t.

Anyway, somehow we managed to make the bus. She waved from the window but had that I-don’t-like-what-you-did look. I chirpily waved back and saw that the twins were tying to make her smile. Next battle at 4:00, I thought. And man was I right. She came back from school, we had little time because she had to go for her tennis lesson and I had to put eye drops before that (because after the lesson there were more drops to be put). So after her snack, I announced that the drops had to be put. She revolted and I lost it. It’s for your own good, I repeated my morning words. She wanted to be left alone, which, of course, was too much to ask. I did the opposite. After trying everything – from sweet goading to open threats (ya, I know) – I had to pin her down and put them forcefully (in my defense, the last time she had Blepharitis we had to abandon the treatment half-way because she didn’t let me put the drops and I ran out of steam, so it reoccurred and this time it was worse).

That was that. She was very upset, as was I. She told me that I hurt her hand, I told her I had no choice. I walked away looking hurt, which I was. She gazed at the ceiling (a recent habit she’s acquired) and held back her tears. I was not going to make-up, of that I was sure. She sensed my mood and about five minutes later, gave me this (rolled up like a scroll)

The front and back of the note:
Image

Image

Most of our fights end with notes and apologies. She wrote this one hurriedly because she knew she’d upset me for no reason. Then she said “mama, can we forget that this fight happened? Please, let’s be happy” It made me think. A child reacts very differently to an argument than the mother. She took our fight to mean that she and I were not happy. For her it was vital that I forget the unpleasantness that had occurred, however fleeting or trivial.

I sat her down and explained to her that fights didn’t  mean we were not happy. It shook me up to think that she was sad to an extent that she wanted me to erase all that happened and pretend that we’d not fought. I wished I had been more patient, but in this case it was difficult because she was resisting all efforts to put the drops and since her infection had reoccurred, I was at my wit’s end.

I am still unsure of what I could’ve done differently. But it made me sad to think that she took our fight so literally.

And to think that the teenage years have still to come. It’s going to be fun, three teenage daughters at the same time. Can anything prepare me for that? I doubt it.

5 Comments

Filed under mommyrage

Why Does It Get To Me?

Does any mother not yell? No, seriously, is it possible? – leaving aside the Swedes, of course, who apparently don’t believe in using the word “no” to a child, let alone raise their voices ( my mother thought I was kidding when I told her that) .

I try as much as I can to be patient, but sooner or later the tantrums, the wailing, the sulking and the pestering gets the better of me and I find that the only way of making myself heard is by raising my voice.

I am not a patient person by nature ( it took me years to admit this) but with the kids, I try. A few months ago I told myself that I’d try to be more patient with them, no matter what.  So, when the other day when my eight year old made an unreasonable demand,  I declined gently, explaining all the reasons etc (all that textbook stuff about dealing with questions in a positive manner) but, the demand persisted. I counted to ten and explained it again. This happened about three more times. I continued to explain the reasons while holding my ground on my decision.  She didn’t take to it well and started to bolster her argument with talk of equality and fairness. It’s a time-tested strategy – when in doubt, bring in justice. Kids are clever enough to know that this usually puts the parents on the back foot.

Well, not this parent. I told her my reasons for my decision and expected her to understand.  I also wanted to make it clear that if she could not fully comprehend my reasoning then she would have to sort-of lump it, because sometimes parents have to do what they have to do. I always think of my own parents when I over-explain things to my kids in an effort to be the modern, involved (read evolved) parent. I cannot help but feel, at times, that their method of dealing with us was far better. My father had two pet phrases : ” you will know when you grow up” and “because I said so” as an answer to many questions . End of story. That was that.  My mum would try and tell us more, but only so much. I know that every generation glorifies their age and loves going down the how-things-used-to-be path, but my parents’ method did give them a lot more freedom than we give ourselves.

Anyway, that’s a whole different post. Coming back to my tale of patience, I tried as hard as I could to make her understand my point. And to be fair, she did get it, except that she still didn’t accept my ruling. Then the tears started. I took a deep breath and told her that she was overreacting. This seemed to open a can of worms and she went into previous arguments about this and that and how I never let her do blah blah blah. So, it finally happened . I caved and blew a lid, high drama followed (I am telling you, this teenage thing hits about five years too early) and more tears and apologies later, the matter was laid to rest, for the time being that is.  It ended, as it always does, with sorry notes from my daughter for the things she said in the fight, and apologies from me for losing my cool and making her cry. After having sworn, during the fight, not to take any more notes from her, I wiped her tears, kissed her, put the note in my cupboard (with the numerous others) and told her I’d never scold her that way again (this happens about once a week). What didn’t help (at all) was my husband’s comment about my handling it.  So I sulked and he didn’t address it, which, you can imagine, made me madder than ever (more on that in a later post, because man, that needs some venting)

With remorse comes guilt and with guilt comes introspection. I regretted the way I spoke to her and wondered, again, if I was being too harsh with her. I’ve never been able to decide this one,  does she react this way because I am too harsh? or does she react this way because I’ve not handled it right earlier? The guilt lingered and I thought about my own actions, of why I got so worked up and yelled. I started to question my reaction and look for a deeper meaning into my angst.  Surely I wasn’t so angry just because my daughter had cried.

Well, yes and no. Yes because the tears get to me. I can’t handle them beyond a point. I know it comes with being eight, when things that seem of little consequence to me, are matters of great importance to her and thus, when they are denied, there’s much gnashing of teeth. But when the tears flow so freely (with all three of them) I reach my limit and let my anger get the better of me. There’s only so much wailing one can take in a day and with the twins preferring it as a form of protest, I look to my older one for respite.  And no, because my anger is not only a reaction to her crying, it’s a symptom of the bigger problem (for lack of a better word).

I know I’ve said this before, but I wish that I was one of those women who was content being at home with the kids, or at least one who could make peace with it. But, I am not. And I am not even sure if such a woman exists.

I am reading The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friednan – it was a book that addressed, head-on, the real truth about the picture-perfect life of the suburban American housewife, about her angst and and of how she felt unhappy in a life that she’d longed for in a mistaken belief that that was what a woman must aspire for – a life of domestic bliss filled with a husband, children and a nice house. The book is said to have started a second wave of feminism ( don’t care for that word).

Here’s the opening paragraph:

“The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night — she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question — “Is this all?”

My life could not be more different from the American suburban wife of the fifties, and yet, I can relate to her  “strange stirring”.  I guess that’s the stirring I need to address, because it’s whats causing the yelling. From what I hear from other women (and it’s comforting to know that I am not alone in this) it’s the way a lot of them feel.

So, what’s the solution? Not sure. But I know the problem, and that’s always the first step..

7 Comments

Filed under mommyrage