Then comes that one day when I get so tired of having to pull legs and sleeves that I give up and organize the section. I award myself with four doughnuts and an ice-cream for the effort and admire my closet with loving eyes. Often, on such days, I also rest my head on the neatly folded clothes making them feel loved. My favorite tee looks at me with fluttering eyelids, and I pick it up. I smell it, the fresh smell of Surf Excel (the liquid one, to be precise) tantalizes me. I fold the tee back to its place. (No, Surf Excel is not paying me a penny to write this.)
“All day long, I sit at my sunny window, staring at the cerulean sky dotted with real birds and motor-birds. I look at the moms and dads who are forever running to work in their hurried best, and I feel so blessed watching them from my eighteenth floor balcony. All day long. When I’m not looking at the sky, I lounge on the sofa, twirling fresh hand-picked Red Globe grapes in my mouth, watching soaps on the tele and sipping on luxurious teas; the hedonism of my ‘housewifey’ life interspersed with peppery talks with my equally jobless friends about my MIL.”
That’s what I do being a stay-at-home mom.
Thank you for the amazing question, and yes, I do notice the enchanting disbelief in your eyes.
It would be a meaningless cliche if I tell you what the question is.
Stay-at-home mom. A term that a lot of people often use disdainfully while trying to figure out what these moms do the whole day, and while just shrugging them off as housewives who don’t know how to ‘kill’ their time. But that is not what I want to talk about here. The point that I’m trying to make here is that we often overlook the real strong women behind these mom-faces, and how we stereotype them as just ‘women with kids’.
Strangely, and sadly enough, what the world fails to understand is that stay-at-home moms have made a wilful decision of being with their kids at their formative years, a decision that is unparalleled in its own, and a decision that is a product of conscious deliberation and extreme gumption. They have not made a sacrifice. They have chosen to be with their kids wilfully. The sad part is that we often end up putting these women into a nondescript bucket without actually looking at who they are as individuals. We never ask them what they are capable of because we have already written them off. They are perceived as just the bearers and the rearers of babies.
I’ve personally tested two scenarios: the first, in which I’ve introduced myself as a mom only; and the second, in which I’ve mentioned that I’m a budding entrepreneur. The second introduction sparks interest and follow-up questions appear (obviously), but the first introduction dies a natural death at the mention of ‘mom.’ It is true that there is no intention to belittle, but not a single person has ever asked what I did before I became a mom.
Let’s face the truth that being with a mini-me 24/7 is taxing and emotionally draining. We all have been there, and we all have felt isolated at some point in time. On the positive side, this is when moms make friends; at the park, the paediatrician’s, at daycares or at nurseries. During the time when I was a complete SAHM, I’ve made a lot of new friends who are moms; mostly stay-at-home. And what I’ve discovered is that behind a lot of these moms are actual strong identities, strong people, intelligent minds. In the last 4 years, I’ve met mums who have been Professors, Lecturers, Illustrators, Biologists, Language experts, and Artists. It has been fascinating to know such wonderful people from different spectrums of life who have revealed gems of personalities beneath their frizzy uncombed hairs and faces tired with babysitting. However, the same professors, biologists, artists are often quietly put aside as just mothers, with no focus on who are as individuals, or who they have been.
Having said everything above, it is also extremely positive to note that most of today’s SAHM’s have ignored the naysayers and are not letting themselves just be moms. They are fulfilling all their motherly duties, and are actually carving out time to nurture an interest, or a passion, or a business right from their homes. They are still growing as individuals while being moms. That is exactly what can bring about a massive change in the way they are perceived.
“Two times today I was metaphorically slapped on my face and told ‘What a terrible mom you are,’ once by a total stranger, and once by someone close. Seeing tears in my eyes, my 5 year old hugged me, and we cried together.”
That’s what a friend told me today. It left me thinking. This is not just one instance when I’ve heard this from a mom, it is probably the n-th time.
She also told me how sentimentally stupid she felt to not control her tears before her baby, and how unhealthy it was to have broken down in front of the kid. She explained to the kid that sometimes moms are sad, and that was one moment when his mom was sad.
What kept me thinking was that, often, we are judged instantly, and a judgement is passed that makes the person feel how incompetent she is as a mother. She may not even fight back, considering that she is tired doing it over the years and has finally found it futile to give it back, or probably, she is really hurt about it. Especially when the judgement comes from someone close. For a lot of moms I’ve met, it eats into their confidence and drags them further into a slump. For a lot of them, they may silently cry when the kid goes to sleep. For a lot of them, it moves them one step closer to getting depressed. For a lot of them, they may go into a rage right in front of the kid. Whatever their reaction is, the end result is bad.
Being a mom myself, I feel these hard situations are rampant, and every mom has been made to feel terrible at least once for being the ‘kind of mom’ she is. Getting to hear one positive remark of being a ‘good’ mom is in itself almost rare. Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not asking everyone around to shower great words for a mom because of what she does for a kid. A mom very well knows her duties, and all she does for her kid is unconditional. It is purely out of her love for the kid that she keeps up all night when the baby is unwell. It is purely unconditional love when she can hold up her own calls to nature when the baby is crying, and it is purely her motherly love when she can hug and console a crying kid the way nobody can do it. Sometimes, not even the father. Yes, I said that.
Since we moms don’t expect to be tagged ‘good’ by someone, we also don’t expect to be tagged ‘bad’ by anyone. Making a judgement is easy, raising a kid is not. There are ups and downs that all moms go through, but we are still trying to give our best shot to the kid.
What we need to tell our judgement gurus is to hold the judgement before they let it slip across their lips, and look for a better moment to explain things to a mom if situations are really not happy. It is easy to say ‘hey, you are incompetent as a mom,’ but it is difficult to step into the same mom’s shoes for a mere 24 hours.
It is not just another mommy rant. It is a genuine feeling.
(Note that Im not writing this for extreme cases when a child is being hit or abused. Im speaking for balanced women who had been/are in a decent career, and who know what comes out of their mouths when they speak. Im also considering single dads in the same boat.)
Flash tales from Ryan.
This happened a few months back when Ryan had just started formal schooling.
Aware that any food that drops on the floor is supposed to be thrown into the dustbin, Ryan makes sure that his food remains in its container and doesn’t really fall. However, being a kid, we all understand how ‘things just fall down on their own'(I am quoting him) when he eats.
Let me note here that he is a chatterbox, and we come to know of everything that happens in his class, or anything new that he may have seen at school. Well yes, until now, he is a radio station for his class.
Apparently, one day, a piece of fruit had fallen down from his snack box. Ryan, strangely, picked it up and ate it. When he came home, he started telling his ‘school-stories’ with excitement. Suddenly, he came to the fruit story. This was how the conversation between us went on:
Ryan with eyes rounded and eyebrows touching the stratosphere: ‘Mamma, today, an apple fell down from my snack box.’
Me: ‘Oh, only one piece fell or did all the pieces fall down?’
Ryan: ‘No, only one.’
Me: ‘Ok. What did you do with it?’ My happy mommy hopes were rising up to hear the word ‘trashcan.’ I heard it, but with a twist.
Ryan: ‘I ate it.’
Me: ‘What! You ate the apple that fell on the ground? Why?’ My happy-mommy hopes already dashed by then.
Ryan: ‘Mamma, I picked up the apple, and looked for the trash. But there was no trashcan in the class. So I ate it.’
My heart melted. I wanted to laugh out loud. I wanted to tell him the alternatives to the situation, but for the moment, I hugged him and laughed.
I love him for his spunk creativity and innocent spirit.
Flash tales from Ryan, Part 3.
What do I tell you about this kid?
Though he is just 4, he is already a conversationalist, and it is really fun to talk to him. Especially when he tries to reason out his actions or statements.
The same guest couple mentioned in Ryan Tales-2 was enjoying talking to Ryan. We were the audience.
‘Aunty’ to Ryan: ‘Ryan, who is your favorite cartoon character?’
Ryan without thinking or blinking: ‘Me. I’m my favorite cartoon.’
Aunty: ‘But why?’
Ryan:’Because my mamma calls me a cartoon sometimes. Thats why Im my favorite cartoon.’
We all had the moment of our lives. We laughed heartily, and seeing us laugh, Ryan understood that his statement of truth was really funny.
Trust me when I say that the boy has his nouns, pronouns, and verbs in place, and I don’t have to rephrase his spoken sentences at all.
Flash tales from Ryan, Part 2.
A guest couple came home, and fascinated by Ryan’s oratory skills and vocabulary, the ‘aunty’ asked him a lot of general knowledge questions. Ryan paid attention to some, shrugged off some, showed himself as extremely busy at some questions, and played pranks at some more. However, when he had started to warm up to some questions, he gave answers which stumbled us all. Here’s one.
Aunty to Ryan: ‘Ryan, which animal has the longest neck?’
Now, for those fraction of seconds when Ryan was about to answer, all of us, the shallow tea-sipping general bourgeois, limited our thoughts to the poor nondescript giraffe as the animal with the longest neck.
While we were just waiting for him to utter what our mind was speaking, he popped out ‘Dinosaur. Some dinosaurs.’
Alas, we couldn’t prove him wrong. As the mom, I could see that a Brachiosaurus was walking in Ryan’s mind.
Kudos to his creativity.
If you are following the ‘Ryan Tales’ series, here’s the first one – Ryan Tales.
Our sofa set is a treasure trove with the ownership of the treasure clearly identified. This has been a recent serendipitous discovery for us. Now, if anything is missing in the house, the first place to hunt for it is to rip up the sofa seat cushions and the headrest, and viola! You may find what you have lost!
It all started with the hunt for the seed of a grape that fell at the conjunction of the sofa seat and the armrest. Ryan was eating big grapes that had big seeds. One of these seeds popped out of his mouth and fell into the invisible slot between the seat cushion and the armrest of the sofa. Now, since my kiddo is a really ‘nice’ guy, he wanted to pile up all the seeds at the corner of his snack box. He couldn’t take the daring obstinacy of that one seed that fell in there and almost disappeared into the black hole. Down he came from the sofa, and fought with the sofa seat to pull it up. It was almost a wrestling scene in there. I remained a silent spectator. He grunted and groaned; I also overlooked a few episodes of his falling back on the ground with the futile impact of pulling up the seats. Slowly, the headrest was thrown on the other side of the sofa. Gradually, I could hear the ripping of the velcro from underneath the cushions. And then he did it! One huge pull, and the seat bounded off.
That one pull of the sofa seat unravelled treasures unknown, that were once owned and loved, and forever forgotten when these precious gems of possession had suspiciously vanished. Now they were right before their owner, and the expression of surprise and joy on the face of the kiddo was remarkable.
‘Mamma! See what I found,’ came a joyous cry.
Still silent, I went to see what exactly he had discovered. Here’s a quick list:
A green jumping frog, a batman figure, two cars, a toy nurse with a huge head, a host of crayons, a play-doh jar cover, a building blocks window, a plastic spoon, a Kinder Joy surprise toy, a block of Jenga, and a lot of things which I have removed from the photo above to avoid mommy-shame. Some of these include a lot of puffed rice pieces, unused crumpled tissues, a few coins, a dehydrated piece of what seemed an apple slice, two candy wrappers that were beyond recognition, torn crayon covers, and a broken plastic fork. But the lost gem that won hands down was a Yakult bottle still sealed and still intact in its fermented glory. You can see that bottle on the right side in the picture above.
The boy gave gasps of joy as he handed out each of his once lost toys and victoriously held them out. I seemed ecstatic too, though surprise was probably the chief of my expressions!
And then out came the nondescript colorless grapeseed that had initiated this treasure hunt. Ryan picked it and safely placed it in the middle of his empty snack box. Just as expected! Take my word for it. He had piled them up, not me.
Happy to have found more than what he was looking for, the boy remained busy for the rest of the day with his rediscovered toys, and I didn’t dare to see what lay hidden under the other seats. I kept that as a surprise for another day. I was still trying to calculate how that sly Yakult bottle had slid down under that seat and remained there happily.
#ThrowBackThursdays and #FollowFridays are passe. Its the era of #SpidermanSaturdays. Or so as the kiddo makes me feel.
This Saturday was a ‘I’m a Spiderman’ wake up call for me. There was an early morning demand for change of clothes to the Spidey costume. Let me tell you that Ryan’s love for Spidey is not new. It is a three years old love. Im counting from the time he turned 1. Also, so well known is his love for the tight-costumed red guy that he inevitably gets a Spiderman gift every year on his birthday. Not only that, his Spideys accompany him on car trips both long and short, to the park (mostly hidden in a tiny bag that he never wants to part ways with), and on the bed too. The guys are often lined up near his pillow, and they dedicatedly cast a watchful glance at him all night when he sleeps. Sometimes they often find a space on his pillow as in here:
Coming back to #SpidermanSaturdays, there was an early morning change into the red costume, and out tumbled all the Spideys that have overtaken our house these years. They were made to do some ‘stretching exercises’ as Ryan mentioned. Like this:
Then, they were made to sit together. All the men. All the Spidermen. Including Ryan spiderman. Also, there was a rendering of ‘Ryan Man, Ryan Man/ Friendly Neighborhood Ryan Man….’ when off I went to brush. Yes, I had not brushed while all of this was happening. That is called being a mommy. There was also a photo session soon after.
After all the morning hubbub of Spiderman, I did have a peaceful afternoon. Thanks to the dad.