“Work in Progress” motherhood!

Straight from heart story of making baby steps in motherhood.

Once upon a time, a mother was helping her seven year old daughter prepare for a scholarship exam. “Hyakutake is the name of the comet”, said mom to which the kid daughter replied: “When I grow up, I am going to name my kid that”.
Fast forward 21 years and here I am. This is my story of making baby steps in motherhood. And let’s start with few disclaimers. This is not an article where I justify the choices I made: like the ones you see on how great it is to be a stay at home mom or what a guilt ride it is to be a working mom or such stuff. I am also not trying to glorify pregnancy and motherhood here. This is just a light-hearted take on what I went through in pregnancy and after, laced with experiences that are made of same stuff as wonderful memories. Also, I did not write this in a day. I wrote this as a journal for several weeks of pregnancy and also after, and lot of people asked to read that. Now, that is too special and private to share, but at same time I want my friends and well-wishers to feel part of my journey. Then, it struck me, as to why I cannot condense it all in few words. And here we are.

# It all started in my head- I mean I conceived the baby in my head first (dubbed as project Plan B, B for baby, irony is it was always the no:1 plan). You know how it is for dreamers, they always have these references for what an experience is likely to be- I had a version myself- a concoction of what I saw in movies and read in books. I always thought when I do get pregnant, I am going to jump up and down with joy, my husband is going to sweep me off the floor- you get the drift. But, none of this happened. I was alone when I found out and all I did was sit there silently for some 2 hours- occasionally looking at the mirror, I saw a different me- one with a full heart and a tiny relieved kind of smile on lips- I  was content and I waited patiently for my husband to come back from office. That moment I realized this is not just a life changing moment, but I am changing too.

# The part of world I come from, everyone has a say on what goes on in your life- and I mean literally anyone you could probably run into. So, after marriage everyone asks when the baby is coming and when it passes 3 years of marriage people are no more subtle or dropping hints- they tell you things explicitly- like you are not trying enough or you have to meet a doctor. Many such occasions I swore upon God that when I do get pregnant, I am going to wave it on their face and say screw you (moms are not allowed to swear, but there are exceptions). But, when I did get pregnant, I did not bother because I realized this is not an achievement or a trophy. I chose to share it only with people who I thought cared. The other day when I was around 8 months pregnant this girl who often commented on why I am not having kids, while others who married later overtook me, pinged me. She wanted to know if there is any good news and I told her work is going on really well. What she wanted is to have a jibe at me and I let her have it.

# Love and support flew in from all directions: from unexpected people, in unexpected forms. I never knew so many people would actually care for me with their presence, thoughts, gestures, food. I mean just not parents, relatives, friends and colleagues, even total strangers like the auto rickshaw/cab drivers, house keeping staff at office and people I met in the super market were so considerate. It was overwhelming and to say the least the most humbling experience for which I will forever be grateful.

# Again, it differed. It was not hunky dory like you see in Bollywood movies where a pregnant woman is glowing, gushed over by husband and family, she is divinely happy and even invariably knitting a sweater. I mean you puke a lot- you look, feel and smell bad; you also have to do all the work because you have always been the strong independent woman. I also began to feel a difference of attitude towards me- I mean one day you are this strong, competitive, independent woman that all want to speak to and the moment you are having a baby, there is a gear shift- you have to mellow down, you are less competitive and also needs to settle down. Now, that was a bit disheartening because I really do wish people do not assume things about you and force it on you, rather support us to take the path that comes naturally to you. You know what is worse if you show some emotion- good, bad or neutral- people just call it mood swing- I mean, I wanted to scream at them- this is not a mood swing, but then I would only confirm their theory, wouldn’t I?

# And the fatigue gets to you. You are struggling to remain at top of things- there are so many doubts and you are second guessing yourself. It happened to me; I really thought I am not good enough for some responsibilities. Someone was kind enough to suggest I take a break, relax a bit and come back face the problem, which I did and with a bit of positive reinforcement, I got my steam back- my self-esteem improved. During this phase, there are lot of people who I reached out to- some said I am just cribbing and I need to buck up; some said pregnancy is such a normal thing, a phase and I just need to cope; some said I should let some things go and I cannot have it all. A note to self from my experience here is whenever someone comes to me with a problem; from now on at least, I am going to acknowledge that there is a problem and not deny them an opportunity to deal with it. Often, all people want is a sounding board- it is lame to think you can solve something for someone; you can only enable them to.

# I realized soon enough that by planning too much for future, we were not focusing on the present. I was letting go of all the beautiful aspects of having a baby. The only happy thing that I was doing was writing the journal which I totally enjoyed and also the ultrasound scans where I could see and hear it. But I wanted to feel a real connection with the baby, so I started reading stories to it. I and my husband also started discussions on little things, the sweet nothings. Stuff like what would baby look like, who would it take after, what features of each other we want the baby to have etc. I would say that it not only brought both of us close to the baby, but also brought us together as a couple. We also had so much fun planning and executing a maternity photo shoot and that was when I saw my husband the most excited. I understood that his way of connecting to baby and fatherhood came only when he did something that he enjoyed, and I should in future also let him find things that he feels part of, rather than push him to do things I do. But, one thing he unknowingly taught me was that we also need to be part of each other’s activities how much ever you dislike it. I read stories to the baby and often ask him to as well and he will brush it off. One day I had puked a lot and was very exhausted, lying down and he picked up this book and read a story to the kid. It was the happiest moment in pregnancy for me.

# Throughout you might have seen me refer to baby as “it”. That’s because I don’t know what the gender of baby is. I mean everyone I met had a guess on what it could be. I was always intrigued, not that it matters a lot whether it is a boy or girl. I tried to figure out based on popular myths, some statistics and patterns, Chinese calendar and what not. Everything threw up a different result. To be on safe side, I did follow some little kids around: boys and girls, tried to chat them up to see what are the latest trends and fads, what do they like and dislike etc. I feel fairly confident that I will be able to gel in whether it’s a boy or a girl, as this continues to be the biggest and sweetest mystery ever. We will know when we know 🙂

# Now, how do we name the baby without knowing the gender. Never a problem with parents like us who thought of it while sitting under a tree in college campus. If you have read ‘Love story’ by Erich Segal, Jenny and Oliver comes up with the name Bozo while thinking of having a baby. We also came up with a random name long back and it kind of stuck with us through out the years. So, that was pretty much easy, was it not?

# My weirdness quotient increased manifold during this time: from weird dreams, to being weirdest couple in the clinic waiting room or the weird jokes that I would crack and that no one got, I was totally on a full on crazy mode. Honestly, I enjoyed exploring this crazy side and I could mostly get away with it. My husband also said I was smothering him with love and attention, and I could not help but think if this is all due to hormones and if it stops when I deliver baby, I would indeed be missing a lot.

# If I were to look at everything as a whole, there has been so may ups and so many lows, there are so many things that I want to be exactly same and so many things I would like to change. I realize now that bygones are bygones, but it is never too easy to accept that- there are lot of things I wish I did and there are lot of times where I wish some people were there for me. But, life is such. I think as a person we will never ever be satisfied, best is to make best of what we have really. But it is not easy, we always think about what we don’t have than focus on what we have. Acknowledging this does not make someone selfish or needy. I believe a person can be only truly happy if first of all, they accept what their heart yearns and goes about getting it done. So if it means you need more time with your spouse or family or a little get away with your friends before responsibility comes in: that’s what you pursue. But trick is to find the right balance (I am still working on it I guess).

# I could go on and on, but I have to stop somewhere and I will with “mother of all motherhood feeling” I faced. So, some people: near, dear and those I really don’t care, walked up to me and randomly say: you are going to be a cool mom, awesome mom, tiger mom, moron mom, stay at home mom, working independent mom etc.
So what kind of mom am I going to be?
Let me tell you world, what kind of mom I am and will be are not for you to decide. It’s for my baby to realise over time.

My son, I can only hope that you understand that everything mom did, does and will do is with best intentions in heart and that I will strive my best to be the best mom I can ever be.
I will forever be a “work in progress” mom!

Little Mom

Little Mom is my compilation of few snippets from my mother’s childhood. These are bed time or food time stories that she shared to me and now, when I look back I feel that was how I got to know her better. These are stories which when I listened to as a child made me wonder if she was a little child too.

Little Mom’s day out in car

It was not just one of those days for Little Mom. Today was special. How can she not be thrilled, after all, it was her first car ride ever. She was all charged up!! Alas, how can she show it out!! She was supposedly the meek calm one who opens her mouth only when she’s asked to (Some even teased her about being an oyster.  Of course, she clammed up, the pearl within was not for all to see).

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They were visiting her paternal house, and she climbed onto the back of the car, clinging to her mom. It was a delight for her eyes- the long winding roads, trees falling behind, and out of the blue she saw it- the ceramic tile factory, standing tall with long brown-tiled exhaust pipes jutting into sky. She followed it with her eyes, trying to size it up- it was definitely the tallest structure she had ever come across, definitely taller than her house and was it bigger than her school? As they were about to go past it, terror gripped her-what if it just falls on her head?  She ducked her head and waited for the moment to pass- nothing happened. Slowly, she lifted her head up and peeked at the tall chimney through the rear glass. Her eyes became wide with delight- there it was becoming smaller and smaller, as the car trotted its way up the road.

Little Mom’s Cameo Appearance

It was annual day at Lion’s school and Little Mom was all set to go to the function with Big Bro as chaperone. It had not been easy to get permission to go to annual day and after lot of promises to Mother that he will never leave her out of sight, Big Bro and Little Mom set out on a bicycle all excited. At school Big Bro left Little Mom with her friends and went on a round to meet his gang. After all, it was her school compound and Little Mom had sworn not to move from her seat.

It was hardly two minutes since Big Bro left and her class teacher spotted her and beckoned her to join backstage. Little Mom thought for a moment- Big Bro had asked her to remain seated at the same place, but her class teacher was waving at her. Big Bro or class teacher? She took a chance!!

When Big Bro returned, Little Mom was nowhere to be seen. He looked around lazily thinking she should be huddling with her friends somewhere. No sign of her! And then panic hit him and he searched frantically, asking random people if they had seen Little Mom. People had no time for him and nodded absent mindedly, eyes glued to the stage! Mother’s angry face was flashing before his eyes and sweat broke on his forehead. With all hopes gone, he took a sweeping glance across the ground and his eyes locked on someone for a moment. Was it really her or is at delusion due to fear? He took a double take, when it finally sunk in!

From the stage, Lord Subramanian was smiling at him!! Little Mom had pulled a cameo act in the drama as a last minute replacement!! Relieved he had found her; Big Bro went back stage and rushed her to go home, as it was well past the curfew time.

He took Lord Subramanian back home who for a change could not shut her mouth all the way back home on her acting experience!!

Little Mom’s Kind Heart!

Raja Mani was part of Little Mom’s childhood as long as she could remember. She was an all in all staff at her household: cook, housekeeping and caretaker of children.

It was raining cats and dogs that day!! Little Mom had forayed into kitchen to find Raja Mani’s children to play seven stones; they were her play mates. Raja Mani was hanging on to the iron grill of veranda looking at rain clouds forming dark shadows that balmy afternoon.

Little Mom looked enquiringly at Raja Mani’s anxious face and Raja Mani started a litany of her worries- it’s going to rain, then water will leak into her house and they will get drenched. It went on and on. Raja Mani asked Little Mom if she could help her with cleaning the kitchen, so that she can finish up early and leave for her home.

“”Poor Raja Mani””, felt Little Mom and she nodded. It was years later and several excuses later that Little Mom realized that she was being played.

Still when rain clouds form in the sky, she thinks of leaking roof of Raja Mani.

And there are many more stories..

One when she listened to their cook Govindan Nair and tried to befriend a puppy with a piece of jaggery;  then about the kukkoo which comes to their neighborhood trees and sings around the time exams are about to begin. And there is another one about the cow herd Appu Kuttan who though illiterate would copy notes for her and sister by carefully drawing alphabets like a piece of art.

After Note:

I can go on and on…such are the stories from her childhood!! Now for those who have listened to me and said: Shruthi and her stories!!!

Tell me!  How can I not?? I was lucky, I grew up on stories. 😀

I feel a happy child becomes a happy adult- a happy parent, a happy friend and a happy person.

Happy Mother’s Day Little Mom 🙂 🙂