Feb 6th is one of the most memorable days of my life. It is not my birthday, anniversary or my kids birthday. This day is special as I accomplished something in my life. Now, did I get a promotion? No. Did I get a hike in my salary? not at all. Did my husband gift me a cruise trip to Bahamas? No, not yet…I am waiting for that one. Did I win a lottery? No not that lucky. What did I do that big, that Feb 6th 2013 is a special day of my life!. My kid learnt to swim, float and jump in water independently. What!! You must be thinking I am some sort of nerd or something. I am a proud mom for her every single accomplishment, I think that is a very positive technique of raising a kid. But just swimming….. is that such a big of a deal!! Yes it is in this case. My kid had water phobia. She never could bathe in a bathtub full of water. We always used a mug or a hand shower. She would walk a around the block if she ever came across a water sprinkler in the garden. Whenever my husband and I took her for swimming in our pool, she would scream and run away from pool, such that our neighbors asked “Is everything okay with the girl”. We talked to our pediatrician about her fears. He asked if she had any bad experiences such as drowning which could have raised such fears in her. But after an analysis, he said this is very common, some kids get it genetically (Must be from my dad :)). Also, suggested us to not take her to pool again until she is comfortable in our bath tub. I tried to sit with her in our bath tub with water toys. She would scream and get her toys and me out of the tub as if we all were sinking and she is trying to rescue us. We tried at a few local swim schools. Didn’t work. The night before her swim class she would hide her swim suit, cap and swim glasses. I spent all my time looking up for her swim gears. But my husband and I were determined to help her face her fears. Then we enrolled her in a professional swim school, it has been almost an year now. We saw that she was getting better, at least she was getting comfortable in water. My kid is very brave, I am not saying this just because she is my daughter. But based on my un-biased analysis, she is brave to face darkness, she is not afraid of heights, she is not afraid of strangers, she is brave to manage people, make a place for herself in a big atmosphere in between strangers. Then why was she afraid of water!
One fine day, Feb 6th 2013, after a friend’s surprise birthday party, my kid insisted on going for swimming along with our neighbor friends. I took her simply not to discourage her. Even if she just dipped herself and swim with barbel and noodles or some floats I’d be happy. But suddenly as if somebody pressed a switch, specially ON button…. or something triggered her or she got enlightened just like Buddha under the Bodhi tree, she started to swim . She swam about 5 feet by herself. Started floating on her back, flipped and swam forward. She did NOT stop there started jumping in water which we have been trying since weeks. She totally stopped listening to what I was saying. Her reception was completely turned off and she repeatedly jumped in water, swim then float and flip and swim again. This was really an accomplishment given the challenges she had. I felt as if I faced my own fears. Her accomplishment was beyond my imagination. The key to her accomplishment is persistence, determination, and professional guidance. After this experience, what I have learnt is each person has her own strengths and weaknesses, passion and fear. If we want to work on our weaknesses or fear just be persistent in your attempts. Some fine day things will fall in your place and will feel like an accomplishment.
When my parents demanded me to answer some of their questions I busted out, when my brothers questioned me about my whereabouts at school and college, it pissed me off, when somebody told me after marriage I am answerable to my husband and parent-in-laws I was mad and made it very clear I am answerable to myself and nobody. Then comes this little creature that shares my blood, my genes, my features, my views, my personality too, who demands and questions each and every step of my life. But this time I did NOT get mad at her, nor got upset about it. I figured it out, that is THE ONLY WAY to handle this little creature who I gave birth to and for all the sacrifices I have made to just have her. I realize it is time to make those sacrifices worth it.
Wondering what am I talking about!! My kid doesn’t understand the language must, should, have without a reasoning behind it. If she is shouting at the tip of her tongue, I got to tell her why she shouldn’t scream, if she has to go to school, I got to tell why she has to, if she has to eat food, she wants to know why she has to eat food, if we are celebrating Indian festivals, she wants to know why we do that, why I go to work, what do I do at work, why does her daddy has to travel a lot, why did we not have a Christmas tree, why are we vegetarians, where do we get money. It took a while for me to understand why I should explain her everything. I underestimated her, simply you cannot understand this yet, this is too complicated for you honey. But she was and is always clear. I don’t understand mommy please explain me why. She is going to be six soon and I realize justifying my act is THE ONLY WAY to handle my kid in a smooth way. I have other ways to handle her too, shouting, bossing, forcing her to do whatever I want. But I know it is NOT going to work for long.
And, asking for justification seems a fair deal. Why would I do something without being told why should I do! If the six year old is asking for the same privileges, I think she deserves it. It took couple years for me to respect her request. Honey here you go, your first request taken care. I will always give the justification for everything I demand you to do. You have the right to ask a justification.
In a judgmental tone, one of my neighbor says “My sis-in-law, a doctor, you know what she did… she sent her one year old baby to a day-care. I do NOT understand what will she do with all the money she earns, I do NOT understand why does she have to get back to work so early right after delivery. Kids are the first most important thing in life.”
Another neighbor, who couldn’t wait for the other lady to finish, adds to it ….”Do you know, a new family from California just moved in. She is very seriously looking for a pre-school for a 2.5 year old kid!!! Now, where in the world will you find a school for a 2.5 year old kid. Also, the kids MUST stay at home until they are 3, anyways they have their entire life to slog at school or office you see . I don’t understand why mothers don’t realize they need to spend a quality time with their kids to RAISE THEM BETTER…….in a sarcastic tone. I control my cunning laughter and giggle in my mind thinking….you dumbo, Montessori enroll kids as early as 2. Explore the world outside rather staying inside the four walls the entire time. Things have changed kids doesn’t want to stay at home anymore, they want to explore the outside world as early as possible.
Bottom line, a myth, you got be a domestic goddess to raise a better kid.
I would like to refer to stay-at-home mom’s as domestic goddesses…..derived from the novel – The Red Hat Societies’s Domestic Goddess. I like the fancy name for the most thankless job ever. And of-course undomestic goddess for a working women.
How many domestic goddesses do this in a day?
- Watch TV shows or movies when the kids are around and playing. Especially, TV shows like Kyon ki saas,bhi kabhi bahu thi, desperate house wives, Sex and the city, weeds etc.
- Show their frustrations on kids as they are taking care of them 24/7 themselves.
- Bitch about husbands or in-laws or even their kitty party friends on the phone in kids presence.
- Talk on phone or even a video chat with family, friends and others for long time when the kid is either playing by themselves or licking whatever he/she finds on the ground.
- Sink in the computer for hours browsing something that might not add any value to the kid nor self.
- Nap for long hours with kids.
- Work in the kitchen cooking a 3 course meal everyday or wrapping up household chores when the kid is all by self.
- At the end of a day domestic goddess is so exhausted , such that taking the kid out to a park or riding to a museum is like next to impossible.
Most domestic goddesses do some or all of the above. And I get it, we are all humans, though we call ourselves super moms, it is one of the most tiring and endless jobs on the earth. I do NOT say doing things from list above is wrong. Every individual irrespective of their choices have a limitation and needs space to just survive. I question how a domestic goddess can raise a better kid in comparison to undomestic goddess given the time gone doing some or all the things from above? Working parents are blamed to have NOT spent quality time with kids, neglected or ignored their kids. It bothers me especially when a working mom is questioned for her ability in raising a better kid. I have lived a life of domestic and undomestic goddess. In both the roles what I think has been critical is taking out a dedicated quality time for kids. It could be 30 mins or 3 hours in a day, doesn’t matter. Staying-at-home or working is a personal choice. It has nothing to do with raising a better child. Staying at home the entire day does NOT mean more quality time with the kid. One does NOT have to be a stay-at-home mom to raise a better kid nor one has to be working to ignore or neglect the kid.
On women’s day 2006, at my work place, Hyderabad, India we all girls, ladies, women gathered in at the convention center in a corporate office to celebrate the special day. The organizers initiated a conversation….. what are some of the challenges women face for power, note this question is mostly applicable for working women because for a home maker this was not an ideal question for a conservative society we have in India. Most women expressed the fair share issues like, I got to juggle at home and office alone, I get little help from my husband, my in-laws expect me to do everything, I have to take care of my kids alone though I am working full-time etc. Then a white women (from west) stood up and said, as a women we are equally responsible in deciding a fair share. Most women complain that her husband does not share work at home and outside, but how many ask their husbands to do chores, how many sit and talk about owning responsibilities in and around home and child care. That kind of triggered my thoughts too……. I agree, there are some jerks who need slave wives, but in 21st century there are men who understand and agree for a fair share of responsibilities given women express them.
The secret of successful marriages in the western world is the fair share. Husband and wife decide on sharing responsibilities way before the baby is born, rather way before the couples start trying for a baby. However, rate of
successful marriages, so-called successful marriages is higher in the east than west. This calls for another post on this blog :). Back to the fair share discussion, a good example is a new mom and dad decide on who does what, after the baby has arrived, such as mom feeds for the obvious reasons which dad can’t do, and dad cleans the poop that happens usually after a feed. This is just not limited to parents but others too on a daily basis. Wife cooks and husband cleans or vice versa depending on who does or wants to do what better. This is just something my husband and I have decided to have a fair share in the house-hold chores, I cook he cleans, that way we are happy in what we are doing. He hates to cook and I am a passionate cook. The bottom line is fair share. Fair share also plays an important role in finances. For whatever reasons a home maker tend to lose economical independence as she is not the bread-winner for the family. But, it is a home maker’s responsibility to make it clear to the husband that taking care of home and kids is a full-time 24/7, never-ending job and definitely, definitely she has the right to the finances to save and to spend.
How many women demand their spouses, partners or special someone about a fair share in finances, chores, parenting or anything in life that is meant to be shared?