Tag Archives: motherhood

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?

 

 

 

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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..

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Five Things Motherhood Has Taught Me.

Thanks Forever Mother for tagging me in this and making me think.

What has motherhood taught me? Agh. So much. But, here’s the thing. When I respond to a question like this on my blog, there is, almost immediately, a conflict in my mind – between what I think motherhood has taught me and what it really has. You know, we have a perception about ourselves, which is not always accurate, but we like to believe facts about ourselves anyway! And a question like this makes me stop and think about perception and reality. Agh. The truth is not always good!

Anyway, here’s a sincere attempt:

1. Children are born selfish. The first instinct is of survival and self fulfillment. It is for the parents to teach them about sharing and giving. Ever tried to take a toy away from a two year old? What did that result in? You know what I mean..

2. Having kids has taught me something about my own parents – that people are not perfect and we expect our parents to be. It’s only when you become one you realize that your parents are human too.

3. Children do lie, though they do it without malice. So don’t always believe yours, listen to the other kid too..

4. Every child is different, so comparison is really not a positive thing.

5. And now for some emotion! Above all, motherhood has taught me to thank God for my happy life. No matter how much I rant and rave, I am fortunate. Very fortunate. And I don’t mean only economically. I mean it in every sense of the word…

Has motherhood changed me?

Like hell it has. Some for the better and some for the worse. Honestly.

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Call me a cranky old crone..

Recently went for a birthday party of a five year old girl, Hawaiian theme. Mini wedding, really, that’s what it was and it irritated me. Actually, it did more than that, it made me sick. No, not the scale of things, or the fact that it was a theme party (I gave in to my four year old and had a princess theme earlier this year, so no, that was not an issue; lots of other things were), but the fact that the mother felt the need to have this tawdry, lavish affair that looked good but lacked substance. For one, there was a lucky draw where all the kids were given numbers and then some of those got prizes. Can you imagine a bunch of four year old’s waving their numbers to get a gift and then the disappointment after that?  As I was walking towards the bouncy, I heard one mother console a little girl about not getting a gift. I know that we must be able to train our kids to handle disappointments and tell them that it’s ok if they don’t win and all that good stuff, I do tell my daughter that, but, still I don’t think it’s a really good idea to have a lucky draw at a birthday party, which, for me, is more about the kids having a good time and going home happy.

But more than anything else, what I absolutely despised, was the pinata, or, what we in India call the “khoi bag” – absolutely despicable stuff, I hate it, hate it, hate it.  At least the way it’s done at birthday parties here in India. In theory it may have been a good idea – have a bag full of goodies, burst it and have the kids collect them all, happy happy. Except, not really. It’s just one of those things that do not translate well in reality. At all. Basically the way it’s done here is that the bag is filled with goodies, elevated and then burst, leading to absolute chaos and mayhem as kids scramble, push, trample over each other to collect the booty. It brings out the worst in human behaviour, and with this all-is-fair-in-looting-khoi-bag kind of culture there is such jostling that my daughter gets extremely disturbed, and yet wants to reap the goodies. As a result, she begs me to help, as do many other kids and there is much gnashing of teeth and maids, mothers, kids (ranging from ages four to fifteen), compete for Ben Ten pencils, Hannah Montana stickers, candies, assorted Disney nic-nacks, bubble bottles etc etc.  And the funny thing is that once we get the stuff, my daughter, much like the rest of the kids, does not truly care about it and it all gets lost in the brimming-with-toys Ikea baskets in her play room. Yet, at that moment, she wants it and wants to reap as much as possible. Like I said, it brings out the distasteful side of human behaviour and can be well avoided.

Then, there was the Shakiraesque Hawaiin dress that this five year old was wearing, or rather not wearing. Come on mother, take a look at your kid when you dress her. There is a fine line between cute and cheap, very fine at times, but you have to watch it. You make a five year old wear a bra like pink satin halter top and a skirt under the navel for a birthday? Jesus, is that your idea of cute? Then when she’ll be sixteen and want to wear the same stuff, you’d have a problem with it.

It was a boring party where a lot of money had been spent (upwards of $1500) , a LOT of money in India, and the result was that kids didn’t have much to do, with no games to engage them.  I miss the good old days when birthday parties meant treasure hunts and home made sandwiches. I didn’t do that for my four year old but did do it for my twins this year, as they turned one. And I can tell you, (at the risk of  blowing my own trumpet) it was a great party, the kids had a blast and the mommies (daddies are exempt from these affairs!) sat around chatting and picking on finger food..yes, that is what birthday parties are meant to be like and if my older daughter didn’t want to invite half the world and more for her birthday, I’d do hers at home too..

I know I am in the minority here, because most parties I attend are lavish, over-the-top affairs. It’s amazing how much money a certain segment of people have in India and how they are willing to spend it. Another birthday bash (four year old again) I went for was eerily similar to the Hawaiin theme one, where the birthday girl (all of four) was dressed top-to-toe, much like her mother, aunt and assorted clone-like female relatives, in designer stuff. When her grandmother commented on her dress she chirped “it’s Burberry” and ran off, while the granny went weak in the knees recounting the retort to anyone who was patient enough to listen, like she was some child prodigy who had  recited a line from ‘The Merchant of Venice!’.

I could  go on, but I think I’ll stop. I’ve vented enough and I feel better. I do. Plus, babies are asleep and I’d better turn in too..

Blogging helps and I should do it more often. Sooooo therapeutic!

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Drop the baby mama!!

My four year old has been an angel since my twins were born almost ten months ago. She’s been caring and, mostly, patient. That, however, has changed. Was too good to last I think.

It’s happened because of multiple reasons. One, the novelty has kind of faded and she has realized that they are here to stay! Two, and more importantly, the twins are now asserting their will, demanding my attention, crawling into everything, including her toys. She sits down to do a puzzle and they want to grab at it. I can understand her irritation but with the two of them around it is difficult to stop them all the time.

From the beginning I have given 90% of my attention to my older one, just so she does not feel left out. I often leave the twins crying and come to her, but now it’s getting very difficult. She’s become extremely moody (the fact that summer break is on and her mind is idle has compounded the problem!) and tells me not to pick them up. To make matters worse I had  gall-bladder surgery and was away to the hospital for a couple of days. In my absence she cried her heart out and was inconsolable, to the point that I decided to return home a night before I was scheduled to! Am recovering now but cannot do much right now.  But it seems that my leaving turned some switch inside her, she’s sooooooper clingy now, does not want to leave my sight and does not want the twins anywhere near me.

For now, till I have recovered fully, I have moved the poor babies out to the other room with my mom and the maids, and my older one is with me and my husband. But that is going to change soon.  I am handling it, and she does love them too, plays with them a lot, but when it comes to me, she wants me all for herself..sigh..I know it’s something I have to deal with, but ti’s going to take some energy and patience and with just three days having passed since my surgery, I am a little tired and can do without tantrums!

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It’s Late and I am tired

It always happens. I sleep late after a long day and she wakes up just as I am drifting into sweet sleep. When I have a good day and am not tired, she sleeps like a baby (who ever invented that line?).

So I get impatient and by the end if it I also get a headache.  Then I feel guilty for being impatient and get an even bigger headache. Guilt is the worst thing, it really is.

Motherhood is not easy and it’s the toughest at night, but your snoring husband will never understand that.

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I just want one peaceful day, just one..

I am not asking for much, just one day when I can put my feet up and not have to tell my toddler it’s wrong to do this and it’s not good to do that and all the rest of it and not hear her scream in my ear.

She’s going through the screaming phase and they say it’ll pass. My question is when? No one can tell me that I know, so I am not really asking that question…I am just taking one day at a time and hoping she gets over it soon.

It’s not that she’s doing it all the time but it’s just that when she does, all I can think about is shutting her up somehow and that’s the one thing she will not do.

So for now, it’s Tylenol.

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