Free Falling

So today I was diagnosed with positional vertigo. We are hoping that the condition or at least the symptoms ( spinning room, disorientation, nausea) will subside in the next couple of days. This is one of the multiple freak illnesses that decide to visit me once a year. To say the least, it throws a spanner in the works when it happens. And when it happens over the weekend, it makes me more pissed than ill. Which makes me more ill. And further pissed. You see how this goes?

It’s funny to some how I place almost “corporate levels” of significance on weekend, being a stay at home mom and all. Well, the idea being that you can go anywhere and do anything when you are home all day. *cue manic deranged laughter from me* I wish I could show these people a video of stay at home moms doing the “stuff they do” all day everyday. Not only can you not go anywhere and not do anything without a detailed plan involving feeding, sleeping time constraints, packing a thousand things for the “just in case” scenario and hoping you wouldn’t be driven to tears in a crowded mall/ hospital/ restaurant, it is still entirely possible (and highly likely!) that the baby will succeed in pulling a fast one on you regardless. Add to this the charm of this job being one with too many bosses (everyone knows how to bathe/feed/put to nap/play with/soothe the baby better than you – the person who will actually DO it. But all things considered, what gets you in the end is that the business of keeping a baby alive, happy, active and safe is a lonely business. You are never alone but you are lonely, and it’s not the sullenness or peaceful quiet of sitting in a corner and reading something but that of never having a spare moment with your thoughts within a cacophony of happy toys, blaring music and baby babbles. It is the brutal aloneness which if ignored for a while, surfaces as the realisation that you may now be metamorphosing into a person of zero ambition and worse, zilch ability to think. If you wallow too much in it, the guilt of grudging your child the time you owe him/ her catches up soon enough.

Why wouldn’t parents share this more often, you ask? Because it’s our old resistance to appearing weak, I reckon. Everyone wants us to believe that it was a breeze for them. That they did it differently. That they managed it all. That they didn’t overthink it.

We deal with it by magnifying the good parts (and there are many) in our minds, our narrative, our social media. I don’t criticise it one bit. It’s a coping mechanism as good as any. Filtered motherhood, selective moments, choosing happiness. Call it whatever.

It goes on like this. We fall freely, hanging by the tiny moments of love and beauty that undeniably shine. We fall freely, desperately wanting the hard parts to fade a bit more so our happiness shines brighter. Spinning out of control, just out of reach, dancing to its own tune, life carries on. We wait for the vertigo to pass.

These shoes are made for walking

Early parenthood, it seems, is a stage of life when the thought “the days are long but the years are short” rings the truest. I have no idea where the monsoon this year has flown by, for instance. Not for the lack of damp articles of clothing adorning every available flat surface in my home or the expressway that seems to have had a traffic snarl lasting four months by now, mind you. Monsoon has, however, passed us by without a single pakora being ingested and without me spending an evening with a bottomless pot of chai and a book, by the window. While one does rue the absence of such leisure in the crazed, chaotic and ever- surprising lanes of parenthood, it is also true that seasons are now all about remembering milestones and accomplishments of a little someone.

This rainy season, little Anushka took her first few steps on her own. With my heart constantly in my mouth as she wobbles towards a sharp corner or sneaks up to something breakable, I am just overawed by how she – our little ball of yarn that arrived last monsoon – can follow me around the house and insists on playing peekaboo every time I turn a corner. It is scary how fast kids grow up. Spending each day living life to the fullest seems like an urgent reminder, when I see her do something new. And she teaches me how easy it is too, by dissolving in to a fit of giggles about a funny face or our attempts at baby talk.

“What would you do if you could time travel to the past and fix one thing?”

Hello there, old friend. By now I have sort of admitted to myself that it will never be such that I will update this blog regularly and have a real account of my life. I still come back some days thinking that maybe even these random sporadic updates will give me a tiny glimpse of a younger me when I’m old and senile. So, dear old me, this current phase of your/my life is called Finally Getting to Know What Being Really Busy Is.

These days, I am prone to joking that I now have the answer to the question “What would you do if you could travel back in time and fix one thing?” Except I have two things to fix. One: I would like to deliver a loud, resounding slap to my past self who, while lying prostrate on the bed, eating a bag of chips, watching some meaningless show or the other, would whine but-where-is-the-tiiiiiime about so many things/activities/meetings/fun things!! Probably things weren’t exactly that bad, but old me was definitely, undoubtedly lazier than the me of today. Today-me is a mommy and whoa, does this biatch know now to multi-task. No day can be complete without it, and there is no way to survive without it either. I guess I should be happier that given my old ways, I had it in me to find a way to make things work but I can’t help rue the years that have passed me by. Well I am only 30 at the moment but learning some efficiency at 25 would have been so much better. For this reason alone, I believe one should have (if planning to, in the first place) kids earlier in life! It also doesn’t help matters that even though my new self has learnt a thing or two about time management, the things to manage are actually pretty monotonous – baby nap times, baby feeding schedules, baby food prep, my meals, baby play time, walk with baby, baby bath, baby massage, my shower (yes, planning to take a shower is a thing), my TV time/ reading time/ surfing time which I collectively refer to as my preventing-insanity time – well, you get the drift. Wouldn’t have been the case pre-baby, right? I know this sounds like I think of my baby and mommyhood as work, but it IS work and well, I did not say that putting in effort into this monotony does not provide satisfaction or fun. Like baking a perfect cake or reading a book or knitting a pair of socks, it is the kind of work that pays nothing but there’s something to look at and feel good about nonetheless. Only it’s a breathing, jumping, giggling human being and every feeling of marvel is amplified 100x. I don’t mean to sound like I am glorifying motherhood because of course there are some terrible days – feeling fat days, feeling worthless days, feeling bored days, days filled with insomnia-fueled exhaustion, days when just a single replay of that same toy’s jingle can send you over the edge – and yet, I do not lie when I say that for most moms, the sound of the baby’s giggle just because you made a funny face sets things right for the most part. (Can’t say that any of the problems I faced as a non-mommy ever had such a simple fix :)) 

I know, having reliable help changes the game in many ways, but as of now, I have not had a lot of luck with that. In fact, my trusty old house help who was efficient but prone to tantrums (more so than the baby) has also quit recently and all the ladies know what I mean when I say it’s been a shitstorm of work lately. 

About the second thing I would like to fix: Thank my mom more and be less of an asshole to her in general. I mean, she did this too! With two kids less than 3 years apart! With no driving skills/ people to drive her around! Fewer maids! Cooking 3 healthy meals for the family every day and so much more! I wish there was a way to know then how I would feel one day in her shoes. We have it so much better and we still struggle more. How did you do it, mom? Just, how?

mommy

A day to forget

It’s been an exhausting day for me. The kind of day that brought issues enough to wipe me out for the week. While dealing with a crisis or five at the domestic front, I’m also currently the sole confidante for three people on three issues. I have no idea how I have landed here. My bitching about it like this online makes me feel guilty and selfish. But I need a vent too. I wish there was someone to share my own problems with. Without judging. While listening attentively. Sans the eagerness to provide quick and dirty advice.

It’s hard being optimistic for others all day when you feel anything but.

Well, tomorrow is another day and I am hoping to be up early and tackle it head on.

Decisions

Everyone tells you just how much this parenting gig asks of you, in terms of physical and emotional commitment, fortitude and financial planning. What they omit to tell you, in my case at least, is the good use to which you will be putting your decision-making skills at almost every step of the way. Up until getting pregnant, I thought that despite some big (controversial and well-documented) issues aside, everything about being a parent works by learning from people around you and how they may have gone about certain things at the relevant stages in their children’s upbringing. Oh, how mistaken I was.. of course, you can learn from them but chances are there’s not one parenting method that will suit you to the T. It’s as simple as you not being them and your children not being theirs. So, on most nights, I count sheep and agonize over something or the other. Here are some of the things keeping me awake just the past few months:

Sleep training or no sleep training?
Sleep training: emotional crutches like blanky, a feed or patting/ rocking vs cry it out?
Co-sleeping or crib? (We were too late thinking of moving her to a crib, so co-sleeping it is, and not unhappy with it thus far)
Bottle or sippy cup or trainer cup? (And this when I escaped the big one: Breastfeeding vs Formula. I was able to breastfeed her and have only started to wean her)
How much water intake? (Believe it or not, there’s a limit on how much water should be offered to babies, that has to do with absorption of nutrients + electrolyte balance and other stuff BUT no water in this heat is bound to make them dehydrated and/or constipated!)
Baby-led weaning or traditional weaning?
First foods: Fruits or cereal? Store-bought cereal or home-made cereal (While home-made cereal might seem like an obvious choice, pediatrician recommended store-bought because it is fortified with iron and vitamins)
Salt or no salt? (No salt recommended for babies till 1, but all food tastes so bland without it. Docs argue that babies are not accustomed to salt yet, but I feel there’s no point in feeding children absolutely unsalted food when the goal is to get them eating normal table food one day)
Veggies: Sweet Potato or Potato, Carrot or Broccoli (she hasn’t taken a liking to either as of now)
Go organic or feed easily-found mass produced food to build immunity and not over-protect child
How long to breastfeed? One year? 18 months? 2 years? When to supplement with other milk? What if she doesn’t accept other milk later on? What if she does and self-weans? Is it too early?
Cow’s milk as supplement or formula?
When to potty train?
Tonsure hair or not?
Pierce ears? When?
Teething homeopathy meds?

I’m sure I’m forgetting some. I haven’t even added the traditional vs medical conflicts that plague new mums. Invariably, your elders will be at odds with what the doctor orders. I also haven’t gotten into the numerous behavioural worries that come up. (Does my child shriek too much? Why does she not understand a NO? Do I yell too much? Am I not assertive enough? Why doesn’t she learn to play by herself? Will this resolve itself? ad infinitum)

We all make these choices and hope they turn out well. There’s no blueprint. There’s no map. There’re only instinct and hope and love.

Mumspeak

WTF, WordPress. I wrote a post last night. I’ll tell you I risked life and limb to get it done (okay, I risked just my baby waking up as I typed noisily and her waking up = no sleep for me = RISK TO MY LIFE). And this morning, all I see is a hanging title with my wonderful post (I can call it wonderful since you can’t see it, heh) missing. Sob. The rare times I blog, why you do dis to me, WP? Anyway, it was about a Hindu Businessline article: here. The summary of my post was to please not let this lady get you all tube-tied because while it is exhausting and frustrating and maddening, this business of parenthood brings with a special kind of love which deserves being experienced by everyone who doesn’t vehemently NOT want kids. We can talk about it over coffee some time if you still want to discuss this. In 18 years though, because I have no time these days for coffee. Or going out. Or getting out of my PJs. And yet, my little daughter sends me one gummy grin and I’m ready for another brilliant day. You get the gist?

That aside, I’m turning into that person who can only talk/ write/ read about kid-related stuff. While pre-pregnancy me will look at this new me with a lot of dread, I am quite *so what* about it. Throw in a shrug and swagger. In fact, I am getting *so what* about many things and have so far attributed this world-dominating attitude to a) having given birth to a human being – it’s like once you have that out of the way, many things about your appearance and likability to others just cease to matter; b) turning 30 – I have this distinct feeling of being out of some kind of race I might have imagined myself to be in earlier.. it’s like a switch was flipped and I just refuse to partake in any sort of activity that’s the new measure of coolth and c) being housebound for the most part – being out of work and not having any kind of routine for yourself can just make you go with the flow – whether you like it or not. Now, the third of these is what I am on the fence about.

I am not new to being a stay-at-home person, and let me tell you stay-at-home mom is WAYY more productive than being stay-at-home non-mom that I once used to be. I do not feel even for a moment that I am whiling away my time. Consequently, I have little to no concerns about me never returning to work. It is depressing to people around me and their worry kind of rubs off on me, but every single time I introspect, I find no sense of wanting to go back desperately. I am confused about whether I should be happy about my having accepted my situation surprisingly easily (I did not expect this before) or sad about my subconscious lack of ambition. I do realize that once the wonderful days of babyhood and toddlerhood are over and baby goes to school, this nonchalance might be regretted by me and make me a bigger mess (I will be a mess whenever she has to go to school, that’s a given!) Ofcourse, all the other aspects of this working mom vs SAHM mom debate also apply here: I have no permanent support system to leave baby home yet, I do wonder about ever being able to get back to work after having been out of touch for years together, financial independence is important to me but not a decider but here’s the one that I most worry about: Am I really choosing this happily, because I will have to explain it to my daughter one day. That girls can be equally happy working at home or out of it. This includes teaching her that being a stay-at-home mum is as valid an option to her as being anything else her heart desires. Will it be holding her back? Will I be justifying my choice through her? Will I unwillingly make her feel guilty if she chooses to be a working mom? I mean no disrespect, these questions just swim around in my undecided mind. All answers seem like a calculated compromise.

More later. She is napping and I gotta eat :)