A letter to my daughter

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/nov/03/letter-to-14-year-old-daughter

I owe a letter to my strong headed daughter and one to my happy little chatty cheeky son. No, I didn’t suffer like the woman in the article, but yes, I suffered too but differently. The differences between me and my children in terms of where we started and what we had were much higher than and may be just too different from what is described in the article, but that is what makes me think that I owe them a letter, sooner the better.

To my daughter:

Some say that I am this strong (I refuse to call myself “extreme”) feminist, may be because I suffered more gender discrimination. I thought so too. Then I observed others which made many things clear to me. No, I didn’t suffer more, but I could see the difference, I could reevaluate and reassess things constantly. Many accept what they get, what they see and what is around them. I don’t. That is what made me different. That is what made me who I am today. No, I didn’t suffer more, but yes, I suffered too.

Let us go back to where we started. My parents often commented that they had too little in their lives and we were given everything we wanted. I can smile now looking at you that now you hear us whinging the same words around you. My father didn’t have a bed to sleep in. My mother had to drop out of school to help  out her mother in childcare and then to help with her father in earning for the family, at a very young age. We were sent to school so yes, there were differences. I didn’t suffer the freedom as such, as I don’t remember any such suffocation, but yes, I was mostly housebound compared to my brother who was mostly street-bound, when growing up. I have to admit that I had been denied going to friends’ houses if I haven’t reevaluated the concept of freedom in my growing up. But, I am afraid similar levels of ground rules will be there in your growing up too, as it fears me when I see teenagers “hanging out” at take-away shops and similar “joints”. But the difference is going to be that the rules apply to you both, you and your brother. No exceptions.

I was constantly asked to be grateful for whatever I was given, which had its positive effects that I value things I get. I am afraid you will also be instilled to value things you get. I am very pleased to see that you are already learning it and working hard to earn every penny around the house 😉 .

I grew up without knowing any multiculturalism or any racism. We were the only people around. We were everything. Then I moved to the city were I faced a different world which baffled me such as fitting in, facing people who happily offended and idiotic boys, to name a few. You are growing up in a multicultural world. I hope to teach you about different races and things to be aware of. I hope to teach you to look after yourself, be strong and stand up for yourself. I see you now when you play with some dominating kids that you accept what they ask you to do. I hope you learn to stand up for yourself. I see you were looking forward to be with them and you are willing to do what they ask you to do. Nothing wrong with that. But then you have to learn to spot when they are bossing you around. But then, I am glad you are not mean like the other kid who deliberately did not give you what you liked and did such mean things.  I am sure those kids will do well in their careers. But look, your mother has not done bad herself. Your mother was never socially clever. But, it will make me happy to see you do better than your mother.

Yes, we didn’t have lotsa money to buy whatever we wanted. But the trick was, we didn’t know what can be bought if we had money.  You don’t ask for anything big yet. You had not remembered or did not complain whenever I had put the toys away when paying at the  check out. You had not asked us to get you what others kids are having. You seem a contented child. I am happy about that. I hope to see more of it when you grow up 😉

I know what your favourite colour is. Pink! Surprise, surprise! I do not know what my favourite colour was, or, is, for that matter. You have your own computer. You have a few boxes full of toys, some educational and some for play time. I did not have any. I did not have toys. I can’t remember having anything as mine except my school books. Wait, they were borrowed too. Oops! I had my own collection of seven little stones which we used in our little play – thattankal. I still have them.

I wanted to be a recipient of young scientist award to make my chithi proud of raising me. I failed her in that. I did become a scientist though. She was proud alright, which she seemed to have forgotten now. I will not forget your every little stars you get from your school. But your swimming certtificate last week was outrageous. I watched you enjoying the “floating” experience all the time in the class but you were given a certificate for swimming certain distance! That is outrageous and you have to forgive me if I don’t keep count of such “achievements”! Yes, I didn’t hide my feelings when I handed over the certificate without any awwwing and cooing at you. If you are going to blame me as a “hard to please” mummy, so be it. But, do know that you don’t have to make *me*proud. Do it for yourself. I hope to show that difference.

My family did many injustice to me (it still does), but it was not the family but the society that suffocated me. It still does. I hope you do not have to face that struggle. I will not take you back to your “roots” just for the namesake. I will, if you enjoy. I will let you go free when I sense you do not enjoy particularly. Tamil is a great language though. It will make me sad if you don’t speak Tamil ever. You do not now. I am partly to be blamed for it. But I hope to hear you speak in Tamil one day. Equally, it will make me happy if you make and eat food items such as idiyappam and paniyaaram.  I am sure you will enjoy too. You gobble up iddli and thosai now, which is a good start. Can you please learn to say “chutney”? I cringe when I hear you call it “idli dip”.

I grew up with girls wanting to prove themselves as “good girls” and boys constantly challenging girls to prove themselves as “good girls”. They are still around me. They are still bothering me. I am still fighting. Now that I am a mother there are mothers around me proving themselves as good mothers by drawing me as a chinna kodu just to make themselves as periya kodu. I hope you do not have to fight that, although it is universal and not restricted just to my bad bad Tamil culture. But, I have taken you out of that ugly caste system in that bad bad Tamil culture, although the local (local in UK) Tamils and the internet Tamils constantly throw such ugliness at us. I hope to teach you to protect yourself from that.

I grew up not knowing what an offense is and what bullying is. Not knowing what victimisation is and the victim psychology is. I blamed myself for everything. Bullies ruled and they still do in my culture. Bullying can be seen even in general social get-together in the name of “having fun”. You are growing up where it is at the least acknowledged and identified. That is a great help in itself. There are such differences I am glad I have provided you. I hope to provide you more. I hope to provide you a home to come to at any time in your life. Not like the one that my chithi has in which I was constantly told that I do not have any right in any inch of the floor or the wall, but now I am asked to “buy” to keep it in the “family”!  That is the difference I hope to provide you. Whether it has all your “roots” and communities around you or whether it has all strange different coloured people as neighbours, all I hope to provide you is a *home*. A home to come to at any time in your life. Same for your brother.

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Reading

Finally my daughter has found one thing that binds us together. Reading books! I am glad she did.

In which my feminism failed

I promised myself that I will not refer real incidents especially if it is about others. But I had already failed in another aspect, one can notice from the title.

A new mom-to-be was discussing about all the excitements, ifs and buts and all the theories she has in her mind about how she wants to raise her child. I just smiled for most of the discussion. 🙂 She doesn’t like advises, she said. Although another form of advise, I gave her my wisdom from my experience that people WILL advise her from now on, people WILL advise and insist on “good things” with “good intentions” that she will have to learn to ignore, and this “good advises” have only started and WILL NOT end as she enters the irreversible world of motherhood. She didn’t really absorb what I said for which I don’t blame her. I drew blank for most of the discussion as I was only required to smile and nod now and then which I seemed to have cracked. Then I heard something like “the husband watching football and the wife asking him to “help out” with the child”. Right, ok, so..? This new mom-to-be told me that she didn’t like the situation. I thought “good girl, you are on the right track”, I thought! She continued, “I didn’t like that the woman was fighting with her husband in front of the child. Can’t she do it herself? What kind of a home is she providing to that child? After all, it is her child. Ok, I agree it is his child too, but if he doesn’t want to take the responsibility why can’t she do it herself?”… woh, woh woh.. stop, “I don’t support that”, I feebly interrupted. “I am totally with you that you get your husband to do all the things, I am not saying you are wrong, but you know, if he doesn’t take the responsibility, why can’t she do it herself? I don’t like the fight in front of the child. I am more independent and I can do all the things for my child  myself and I don’t take help! My mother raised us like that. My mother did all the things in the house and my father worked outside. My mother did everything for us and I want to raise my children like that”!

I did not have any answer for her.

If you thought she is uneducated, from a remote village in India and/or from a “lower class community”…. You are wrong. She is British born, well educated, well earning  and a (very) well dressed middle class Brit!

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In another case, I was taking to an Indian man and we were exchanging information about where we are from and all that. The wife and the kids are sent to live in India in City-A as they have a small child (nearly a year old) and the older one is going to school. The guy sounded like from another state, so I asked him where he and his wife are originally from assuming that may be the wife is from the state where City-A is. He said he is from City-B which is in the state I guessed. There was a pause. I looked at him anticipating next sentence about his wife’s… it took me a few more minutes to realise that he has finished his sentences. Then I asked again. “oh right, the wife,… she is also from my place”, he said…. I felt sorry for the invisible being she has become. But I am not sure I am sorry for her.

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I guess I have to thank my parents that somewhere sometime they seemed to have allowed me grow up. I never thought I would say this, but hey, never say never 😉 that I hope I will be able to provide my children what my mother/chithi/father provided me!

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PS:

In another case, I heard a guy talking in Tamil with his friend over phone. I almost waited for him to finish the call in a curious interest to initiate a conversation with him… then moved away. I guess my love-hate relationship will continue for ever.

Change

What changes motherhood has brought? The good, the bad and the ugly? Many are interested in hearing,  “I have changed” and “I was all so wrong about not having to change after having the baby” from me.  It is like waiting to see the other contestant trip  and fall on stage. Nothing friendly about it.  Motherhood comparison is not a lot different from the beauty pageants except that the event never ends but has many many crown winners each one of them claiming to be the “Mother Universe” themselves.  There is no swim suit competition…. wait, how soon you get back to swim suit and you can be back in the pool after having a baby is definitely a competition there, but not much among the Indian moms, except among a few may be. And there are those supermoms who do extraordinary stuff, after doing all the regular stuff such as feeding the family with home cooked hot healthy meals and such.  Note that these regular stuff are mandatory, mandated by the regular moms and very much by the supermoms as their emphasis is on the “after”. If you are after getting back to work, beware you will be judged only by these mandatory requirements. Remember that you can go to work only “after” meeting the mandatory requirements and your going to work even “after” will only be seen as a damage to the…. well, I am digressing.

So, have I changed? Was I wrong about not having to change after having a baby? The answers are…….. yes and no. Yes I have changed. But, no I was not wrong about not having to change after having a baby.

Here is a beautiful account of what one mom feels about the changes that she has observed in herself after becoming a mom.  Here is what I have observed as the changes or otherwise that have happened to me after becoming a mom, not in any order of importance.

  1. I am more independent and less maintenance than I was before.
  2. less lazy than I was before
  3. I can recognise my stress-threshold level and can admit that I will break down after that level.
  4. news about death/missing of a child or death of a parent to a child disturbs me deeply.
  5. have very high respect for all the moms who go through this child rearing phase, including my own.
  6. I value work life even more now.
  7. other moms are not friends. They are other moms.
  8. I have no patience for the mandating moms and have no respect for the dads who do not do their share.
  9. love #5 “You don’t have to spring back to being the person you were pre-children, because even if you hadn’t had kids, three years on, you still wouldn’t be that person now. At least as a parent, you’ve got an excuse.”
  10. I have responsibilities. I am responsible for the two innocent lives I have created.

So, what is your list? Take up this as a tag and give me the link to your list. It will be interesting to see how the world changes through the eyes of a parent.

not loving your child

http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/01/not-loving-your-child/

kidadults

I have never touched a harry potter book and never knew anything about the movies either. I would have avoided lord of the rings (had to think for few minutes to remember the name. It is not the movie’s fault, i have to think for few minutes to get my memory right for many things these days, blame it on the kids, i say), but a friend (you know who, if you are reading this) forced down my throat one day. I must admit it was not bad. And I must admit that I quite enjoyed watching all three of them. But I still stand by my opinion on the kidadults who read harry potter books.

I never ever ever thought I may like kidadult thingys. But now I do, well, not the harry potter yet,, but i do not know whether the ones i like are any better than harry potter, because I just do not know anything about harry potter. Here  is my confession. Now I am an ardent fan of Gruffalo, Gruffalo’s child, 3rd & Bird, Timmy time, and Charlie and Lola. I even plan to go to the play of Gruffalo when they do it next time in our town! there! I have said it!

had a bad day

So, Mom left on Monday morning. Balan dropped her off at the airport, came back home, took Avni to school while I got Aaron ready and we all three went to got himself vaccinated. Then we all three went to pick up Avni from school and then Balan left to office. My life started with two little kids all on my own. I was determined to make it smooth and normal so that we can have a normal life with two little kids. I even made chapathi and cauliflower curry for dinner and settled in bed by 8pm well before Balan came home, not just to make it smooth and normal with two little kids, but also because I had a big day on Tuesday.

On Monday itself I did a few things in advance so that I will have few less things to do in the morning. I had packed Aaron’s bag and kept my things in it as well so that i will have one less thing to do in the morning. I had asked Balan to leave Avni’s bag in the car itself so that i will have another one less thing to carry. I had cooked lemon rice and boiled egg for Avni. we had left overs in the fridge for that day, so i didn’t cook anything for us. As most nights, it was a rough early morning night, meaning, Aaron wakes up around 2am and then either he stirs up a lot or i lie awake for two to three hours and then he wakes up for his next feed. On Tuesday morning Balan had to leave town to attend a  training (and won’t be home for three days) so he woke up little early, got Avni showered and he started getting ready. I packed bottles and hot water in the baby bag and kept it ready for Balan to  leave it in my car so that I will have one less thing to carry. Balan left for training. I got ready. remembered few more little things and did them all. We all three were ready y 8.40am. The plan was to leave Avni at her school and then Aaron and I go to community centre where I was going to start a baby group as the one running it. Baby group should be over by 11:30, go and pick up Avni and we all three should be back home for lunch. then lunch for Avni, feeding for Aaron and something for my tummy was the plan. It might sound like how a normal mother with two kids life will be. the little problem for me is that I live in second floor, and both my kids need to be carried. I don’t remember that I had Csec just ten weeks ago. So, I am overly worried and was trying to be super organised so that I can manage. So, I was going to open the door, which has self locking lock at the slam of the door, and leave the house. I just asked myself the question whether I had taken everything, and then I realised that my purse, wallet, key were all not with me (they were all in the baby bag which I had asked Balan to leave it in the car  for me) , so I thought I must remember to take everything since I will not be able to get in if I forget anything. Then it flashed in my head that I did not have access to those items at all as the car was LOCKED! Balan used his key to open the car and locked it. My key for the car was inside my purse which was inside the baby bag which was inside the LOCKED car!. Thank God that I hadn’t slammed the door. But Avni was already going down the stairs and Aaron was inside the house, well packed in his car seat. I left the door open, locking the self locking system so that it wouldn’t lock, ran and grabbed Avni, ran back in and sat shocked. took a couple of breaths to compose myself and then started thinking. Things could have been worse. We all were safe and inside our home where we have food and blankets and everything.  I have a crappy mobile phone which does not retain charge, and thankfully we all were inside our home where we have landline for outside access. Luckily the door did not get locked when I ran to grab Avni back, otherwise Aaron would have got locked in while we both would have got locked out. Thank God I remembered about the keys before slamming the door otherwise…. . Things could have been worse.

Then I phoned a friend asking for his advise and tips to handle the situation. He suggested that we all stay inside as that was the safest option. I wanted to push myself and go out and start the group as I had already postponed the start by a week because I had bad cold. It was going to get me very bad reputation. But, as luck would have it, we were all locked in.

I started visualising what and all could have gone worse. I broke down and cried for few minutes. Then composed myself again.

Avni was upset for not going out. But I managed it. I called up the community centre and informed the situation. And I took it easy for the rest of the day.

I thought we managed it and the day was going to come to an end.  nope.  we had power cut. I think it was around 7pm. I  can’t recollect well of the time. But it was dark. light from the laptop helped us as an emergency lamp. Phoned the friend again. He suggested that I go and look for the emergency lamp as the laptop won’t last for more than three hours. I needed the laptop light to help me search, but I couldn’t leave the kids in the dark. Luckily the power came back while I was onthe  phone itself. So relieved.

I got the idea that balan was not going to come back home (the training place was just 1 and 1/2 an hour drive) to get me the keys from the car and I also thought that I may not need the keys as I decided to stay put inside the house until he comes back after the training. But the power cut situation made me rethink. I told balan that i might need the keys when he phoned to check up on us.

then I thought that was it. nope. Avni started vomitting badly after we all had settled in our bed for the night. I cleaned up everything and felt strongly that I needed the keys, in case I need to go to the hospital. Avni settled alright. Balan came home and got me the keys from the car.

Oh did I mention that Avni took off her clothes and poo nappy when I was not looking and made a mess which I had to clean? also, did I mention that i was having throat infection that I was coughing all day? or did I mention that it was one of those three days in a month that I just wanted to be in bed?

But managed to click a few pictures of the kids that day.

It was just a bad day.

Guess what I did after that, I have been browsing youtube all three days, feeding and nappy changing  both the kids in between my browsing. I have even found a “judging amy” page.  last night was fine with me alone handling both the kids. Hope to have some drink tonight when the other child minder of the house returns back home.

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