Tag Archives: parenting

It takes a village to raise my child

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The baby yowled again. She sighed! She wanted to prepare dinner and was already running late with her chores. But the impish 21 months old would not allow her to perform any task and bawled the moment she turned towards the stove. She tried all the tricks to keep the toddler occupied but when nothing worked, she was left with no choice but to hold the tiny tot in one hand and cook. It was uncomfortable because she was making Koftas and hence, had to be tremendously vigilant to ensure there was no spluttering of oil on the child cocooned in her arms. Sounds like a typical day in the life of a mother? Well, yes it is, except that the child is definitely mine but the lady in question is not me, but is my close friend who lives in my neighbourhood.  That is the kind of bond my little one shares with my loved ones who reside in my housing complex.

Friends have always played a pivotal role in my life. Needless to say, my family means the world to me and I cannot imagine my life without them. But, my friends are my lifeline and they occupy a unique place in my heart. My friends have stood by me like a rock in every circumstance come what may. They have looked after me during times of illness or despair, when I was away from family. They have watched my back and instilled in me the confidence to be myself. They have brought out the best in me by invariably egging me on to tap and hone my abilities. They have always made me feel like a star. They have given me immeasurable moments to cherish for a lifetime. They have taught me lessons about life which no book or teacher could ever edify me on.

I have been extremely fortunate to have found wonderful people at every stage of my life. I lived in many cities owing to the nature of my father’s job and fostered deep connections with some friends at every place I set foot on including, of course, the six years of my hostel life. But once I began to traverse the conduit of the corporate world, I started to feel that I can no longer get myself to make those “special” kind of friends – the kind of friends with whom you don’t just have unlimited fun but you can bare your soul to; the kind of friends with whom you feel at home even in the strangest of surroundings; the kind of friends with whom you are connected through some invisible strings which last through the entire life span regardless of the number of times you meet or interact.  Once I took my nuptial vows, the workload at office and then the domestic responsibilities left us with little time for socializing. Gradually, without any real basis, the notion that I have probably crossed the stage when I can give my all to a new friendship, etched itself in my mind. Who has time in today’s fast-paced world for it anyway – I thought!

But, the universe conspired and we purchased our own apartment, which according to me has been one of the best decisions of our lives. The society that we live in is one of its kinds. There is a sense of belonging each one of us feels here.  It’s a lively abode abuzz with the energy and vibrancy of the residents and there is a positive, welcoming and affable vibe that is all around in the air here.  Though I warmed up to the place instantly, I still kept my distance when it came to making new friends. I enjoyed their company but did not make efforts to spend more time with them.  But, being a sucker for genuine love and warmth, how long could I stay away! My neighbour was my first friend here and through her I got acquainted with a few ladies, with whom I went on to build close ties eventually. However, the “unyielding me” would still say to my old friends – “Yes I have good friends but it’s not like how we were during college.”

Then, one fine day, I saw the two pink lines which transformed my world in more ways than one. Pregnancy made me realize how imprudent I had been all this while. My community friends made my pregnancy a smooth and pleasurable experience, so much so that I did not feel the need for the presence of anyone else from my family till a little before my due date. I was pampered in profusion in every way possible and was treated to lip-smacking delicacies throughout. My mother was also particularly glad and reassured to witness the manner in which we all connected with each other.

Since the birth of my daughter, my friends have become that village which is instrumental in raising a child. It is so relieving and soothing to be encompassed by a strong support system, especially when your husband has erratic working hours. I have never had to worry about any kind of emergency because of the existence of such obliging, accommodating and amazing people right next to me who never blink an eye even when they have to go out of their way to respond to a call of distress.  Like once I was not able to reach my husband when I was down with high fever, and a friend immediately offered to take my daughter to her place while I snoozed away to glory at home.

My heart wells up with joy and gratitude to see my daughter being showered with abundance of love by everyone. She is adored by all of my friends and their children who belong to various age groups. She gets to learn different things from different people and all this stimulation is aiding her growth positively. Having a village means I have a troop of folks to lean on for support and advice. Sometimes, it is not even about taking suggestions or seeking opinions. It’s not even about having deep, soul-stirring conversations all the time. Parenthood is a roller-coaster and during the lows, it is a huge stress buster to have someone who can listen to you without getting judgemental or someone who can make you laugh in a way only friends can. You get enough opportunities for a breather as you know your child is being watched by someone responsible and trusted during a gathering. There are times when my daughter refuses to even come to me because she wants to be with her amorous extended family, and I am delighted to be blessed with such moments. She also refers to a close friend of mine as “mummy” at times and I am indebted to God for bestowing her with such motherly figures in her life. I know that she knows she can count upon them always.

In the era of nuclear families, it is indeed a blessing to stumble upon friends who become like family with so much ease that you do not even realize when and how. I am pleased with the fact that I have got myself to let off my guards and make friends again, the way I have been doing all my life. When you have such fine friends in close vicinity, everyday is a party! I know there are many who manage exceptionally well without one, but for me, it takes a village to raise a child and also a mother, and I am glad I have been endowed with mine.

A letter to a Mom from her Toddler

Dear Mom,

It seems like I gave you a very hard time today like I do on most days perhaps, as I can sense by your exhausted and flustered state. I am sorry but I did not mean to do so. I know there are times when you are at your wits end because you are unable to figure out the reason for my tantrum or outburst. But trust me Mom, that during such times, even I have no clue about the cause of my tears or feeling of distress. I am still learning about a lot of things. I have just begun to acknowledge my feelings. I have just started understanding the ways of the world. There is still so much that I cannot comprehend.

I know that you get tired of my howling at times. “Why do you have to cry or scream for everything!” you say. I am sorry mom but I am slowly learning to express myself and don’t know how to handle my emotions yet. I can communicate but I have a long way to go before I can talk to you clearly about what is going on in my mind. When you refuse to let me do stuff which I am keen to do, I feel unhappy. I want to explore everything in this world which I have only recently begun to perceive with my own senses. But, according to you I cannot do certain things and I wonder why. You explain to me about danger on some occasions but I don’t really recognize the safety risks you speak about and even if I do, I am not yet capable of retaining it all in my memory.

D For “Do Not Judge A Child With Your Own Yardstick”

//This article has been sponsored by Dettol and was first published on mycity4kids. Below is the link to it:

http://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/d-for-do-not-judge-a-child-with-your-own-yardstick

It was a lazy, summer afternoon and the clock seemed to be ticking away at a sluggish pace. I was racking my brain to figure out the next activity to keep my toddler occupied as she wasn’t ready to shut her eyes for a quick nap. I am amazed by the stamina of these tiny tots who can tussle with sleep and stay hyper-active even when their body is signalling otherwise. The buzzing of my mobile handset jostled me out of my thoughts and I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by my friend who lives in the same locality. She had been keen to visit us since a while and apprised me that she would be arriving in a few minutes. I was eagerly looking forward to meet her and her infant, and rushed to churn curd to prepare a beverage for them. They were home soon and I was introduced by my friend to her mother-in-law who was accompanying her as they had arrived directly from a mall. After the typical exchange of pleasantries, I offered some homemade snacks along with iced buttermilk for them to relish. As we spent a while indulging in some general chit-chat, the topic of discussion steered towards parenting which was bound to happen with two children around. My 2 year old daughter was clinging to me, hence Aunty tried to garner her attention by engaging her in a conversation. After a few unsuccessful attempts, finally my daughter started responding but lost interest when Aunty began to ask her about what the various English alphabets stand for.

“Sweetheart, you didn’t tell me what does ‘D’ stand for? ‘D’ for…??”

To the Mother who was not revered

//This article is the winning entry for the Momspiration contest conducted by mycity4kids. It is also available at the below link:

https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/to-the-mother-who-was-not-revered-momspiration

Mother – the very mention of this word invokes deep emotions in our hearts. A mother is associated with veneration, strength, unconditional love and warmth. Our society places a mother on a pedestal, but does this same society demonstrate adulation and admiration for every mother who deserves it? 

During my stint as a volunteer with an NGO, I was fortunate to have had the privilege of meeting some extremely wonderful and inspirational individuals. Each interaction that I had with them has been a life lesson and has been instrumental in making me the person that I am today. That was the time when my friendship with Reshma, an employee of the NGO, happened. I believe that just like there are soul mates, there are also soul friends. These are the friends with whom we feel an instant connection; these are the friends who become an integral and indispensable part of our lives even before we get to know them enough. Reshma is my soul friend who is an inspiration in every sense of the word and she is someone who stands by me like a rock come what may. I thank my stars that I got an opportunity to bond with someone like her.

A pimple reminded me of a simple lesson in parenting

//This article has been published by Women’s Web and is also available at the below link:

http://www.womensweb.in/2017/05/teaching-kids-to-be-accepting-lesson-in-parenting/

For parents, their children are the most beautiful living creatures in the whole wide world. But after becoming a Mother, I realized that the reverse holds true as well. Can you imagine someone calling my “Aadhar card” picture beautiful? Well, yes that someone is none other than my 28 months old daughter. Because of the obvious shift in priorities, I have barely bothered about the way I have looked since the time parenthood happened. But, she never fails to shower me with accolades, more so on the most unexpected occasions.

So, a nasty pimple popped up on my forehead yesterday, and my little one was enamoured by this irritating bump on my face. She exclaimed with exhilaration – “Mummy ka pimple sundar lag raha hai” (Translated to “Mummy is looking pretty with the pimple”). Only a child can find a pimple on the mother’s face beautiful! I was evidently amused by her compliment and laughed uproariously. But she seemed a bit vexed with my laughter because she was expecting a heartfelt “Thank You” from me for her admiration, as that is how I usually respond to her praises. I was about to reason with her by saying – “How can this pimple be pretty darling?”, and then refrained from doing so as soon as realization dawned – the realization that I was unnecessarily feeding in the ridiculous notion in her head that a pimple is ugly; the realization that however much we want to believe that our soul is what truly makes us beautiful, certain perceptions are too deeply etched in our minds and subconsciously we pass them on to our children.

Super Short Story – Theme “Sports”

This micro fiction was written for a contest which was conducted when the Rio Olympic games were on. The theme given was “sports”.

Super Short Story 11

Yes, I Am Still Breastfeeding My Toddler. No, It’s Not A Bad Habit.

// This article was written as a part of “Stop Judging” campaign carried out by www.mycity4kids.com and is also available at below link:

https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/yes-i-am-still-breastfeeding-my-toddler-no-its-not-a-bad-habit-stopjudging

If you are a breastfeeding mother, then you must have heard the following questions or advices umpteen times.

“Are you still breastfeeding your toddler? Stop doing it and wean him/her quickly. It’s a bad habit which they need to get rid of soon”. 

“Your milk is not sufficient and the child needs top milk for nutrition and strength. “

“Breast milk is just water after a year.” 

“You still nurse to sleep? Don’t be lazy to put your child to sleep by other means.”

“Isn’t is embarrassing when your child tugs at you for a feed at a public place?”

And so on and so forth. Phew!

Well, my daughter is almost 26 months old and we are still having a strong breastfeeding relationship. I nurse her to sleep most of the time and though the frequency of the feeds has reduced, I have no intention to wean her off my milk anytime soon.  While there is so much noise and judgement surrounding formula milk and formula feeding mothers, the ones like me aren’t spared either. I met someone a couple of days back who casually inquired about my daughter’s diet. The conversation steered towards the brand of milk I use and I informed the lady that I still primarily rely on breast milk for my daughter along with the usual solid foods, of course. To say that the lady was aghast would be an understatement. She chided me on being a careless mother by depriving my daughter of good nutrition. She also didn’t hesitate to cross the line and stated that I am responsible for developing the bad habit of breastfeeding and nursing to sleep in my daughter even at this age, by giving in to her demands. Honestly, I was in no mood to debate so I just cut short the conversation and moved on.

Personally, I don’t get affected by people judging me for my choices as I take complete responsibility for what I do and I do it because I feel it is right. I also do my own research when it comes to parenting, hence I take such comments with a pinch of salt. But, I know there are many mothers out there who are constantly judged for everything they do as a parent and this takes a toll on them. There are many who don’t have the luxury of a sea of information at their disposal on one click. Such mothers, who are unfortunately not so well-informed, start losing confidence in their parenting skills after being the target of unnecessary and harsh judgements. Why do we need to do this?

Dotty, You do not need to fulfil my dreams

//This article was first published on the popular parenting platform ZenParent and is available at below link:

https://zenparent.in/zencorner/i-dont-expect-my-child-to-fulfill-my-dreams/

This article has been published by Women’s Web and is available on the below link:

http://www.womensweb.in/2017/05/let-our-children-live-their-dream-not-ours/

A fun part of parenting is sharing your little one’s antics with your close friends and family members. It is a great way to make the people who adore your child a part of the child’s growth journey. Recently, I shared an entertaining dance video of my daughter wherein she is grooving to the tunes of one of the latest hits of Bollywood. I cherish the moments when my daughter and I dance together and it is lovely to bond with her over something that I am passionate about. It also helps keep her occupied for a good amount of time because once she puts on her dancing shoes, there is no stopping her.

Now let me come back to my point before I start digressing.  When I shared this video, everybody enjoyed watching it and I received the customary heartfelt reactions. While everyone had some nice things to say for her, it was the comment of one of my friends which got me thinking.”

Wow, she is good Anu. Looks like she will fulfill your dream of becoming a famous choreographer.”

Well, why do I need my daughter to fulfill my unfulfilled dreams? I can do it myself and am already doing it as best as I can. Yes, I will be ecstatic if she becomes a renowned choreographer, but I will be equally elated with whatever else she chooses to do, as long as she is blissfully traversing her chosen path and is taking responsibility of her actions.

I know the comment was well-intended or probably said in jest, but it is quite common in our culture to expect children to accomplish the dreams of their parents. Whether it is fulfilling our own unfilled dreams or the new ones we start weaving for our children once we become parents, it ultimately boils down to making us proud or gratifying us. But, it is not about US, it is about THEM!

The Blues of the Flu!

//This article has been sponsored by Dettol and was first published on mycity4kids. Below is the link:

https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/the-blues-of-the-flu

As I caressed and cuddled her in my arms before placing her on the bed, I hoped that this time she would sleep peacefully for a longer duration. I had been awake for almost 40 hours at a stretch, barring short power naps in between, and I just didn’t have the energy and vigour left in me to be up even for a minute. I wanted to shut my eyes and stretch my legs. I wanted to give my back the rest it craved for. I wanted to get over the exhaustion that had seeped into every inch of my body. And more than anything, I wanted my daughter’s discomfort to end soon.

Aah, the blues of the flu! This is the scenario every time my toddler is down with it. The last time this happened was during the monsoons and needless to say, it was a gruelling time for both of us. Apart from the physical uneasiness and sickness associated with the seasonal flu, there is a lot more that comes along with it in a package deal. Kids become clingy and cranky, their appetite goes for a toss and they find it difficult to sleep due to the congestion. Also, there is a high chance of the infection getting passed on to the other family members. In our case, all 3 of us invariably fall sick when one catches the flu. And then begins the series of strenuous days and sleepless nights till everyone recovers from it.

It has been a relief that we survived the winters without getting affected majorly by infections, but it is not yet over. The spring season is here with beautiful weather and pleasant vibes in the surroundings. However, the weather change is also a seedbed for all kinds of infection due to the pollen in the air. This is the classic flu season and I am doing all that I can to keep my child protected.

Balanced and wholesome diet – You are what you eat! Undoubtedly, the most important contributor to overall health and well-being is a balanced and nutritious diet. It’s essential to offer variety of foods from all the food groups to not only the kids but also to adults. I include different fruits and vegetables in our diet to ensure adequate intake of vitamins and minerals. Since deficiency of vitamin C is known to affect body’s immune system, I try to include food items rich in vitamin C and iron in our menu. Vitamin C aids in the absorption of Iron in our body, hence it makes sense to group them together in a meal as much as possible.

The “wonder” herb Tulsi – While there are numerous home remedies to improve immunity and fight infections, I personally can vouch on the goodness of Tulsi. It is a powerful herb with medicinal properties and I have found it to be effective in battling against viral infections. Tulsi is known to contain hundreds of valuable compounds which possess strong antiseptic, antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral and immunity enhancing properties. Tulsi can also help in purifying the atmosphere. For centuries, it has been used in Ayurveda due to its diverse therapeutic properties. We either directly chew washed Tulsi leaves or drink Tulsi decoction obtained by boiling Tulsi leaves and then draining the water. Inhaling the vapours of tulsi leaves works well for clearing congestion.

Welcome to Toddlerhood

//This article has been published by Women’s Web and is available at the below link:

http://www.womensweb.in/2017/05/terrible-twos-8-tips-manage-toddler-tantrums/

Do you often oscillate between “Aww my child is such an angel” and “Did I really have to procreate”? Do you have a heart-melting moment with your child at one instant and a meltdown due to an irrational tantrum the very next minute? Is wrong color of cutlery for food one of the biggest catastrophes you take care of avoiding at your home? Is your child upset because he/she does not want to go out, but the fact of the matter is that you are actually not going out? Is your child annoyed because his/her pair of socks will not fit you and you cannot wear them? Welcome to toddler-hood! That phase when your child throws tantrums for the most bizarre reasons and at times you feel you are on the verge of losing your sanity; that phase when your little one surprises you and expresses love in the most endearing ways everyday and you cannot stop feeling blessed for this beautiful experience of life.

My daughter has recently turned 2 and I now realize why the term “Terrible Twos” has been coined. Toddler tantrums can make your hackles rise and can be really exasperating. There are times when I want to scream my lungs out or even spank my kid when a tantrum becomes unmanageable. There are also times when I feel like leaving everything and running away to the Himalayas. But, the only thing that helps me be a gentle parent is the constant reminder to myself that however much the tantrum seems irrelevant to me, it means a big deal for her. This is the age when kids go through myriad of changes developmentally and they start exercising their independence. If it is hard for us, it is also hard for them.  In my experience, being firm yet gentle is much more effective in handling tantrums than yelling though the natural temptation is to react with the latter approach. I am not an expert but I would love to share few tips with fellow parents based on my experience which may be helpful during this roller coaster called toddler-hood.