I remember my elder son’s first day of school. After a year of Mom & Me classes, the day had finally come when he would be attending school on his own. It would probably be the most emotional day for me as the mother, having realized that the time had finally come for my son to spread his wings. Choosing a pre-school for my son had not been a difficult task. My husband and I were always very clear on the kind of school we want for our children; a school that would focus on letting them live, make learning fun and focus on helping them experience their childhood. We were lucky enough to find a school whose philosophies matched ours. But this is now.
A video called 'The Kindergarten' by Innovative Global Education was sent to me recently and talks about Friedrich Froebel's (who laid the foundation for modern education) Children's Garden and about the US education system. The content of that video made an incredible impact on me and got me thinking about our children. Times are changing and the way children are being taught is contrasting compared to a few decades ago when the teaching methods were traditional and text book based. We as parents along with the schools are now focusing on changing what we want our children to grow up learning. The focus is less on WHAT they learn but rather on HOW they learn.
“I want my daughter to go to IIT when she grows up”, “I want my son to study Medicine and become a famous Doctor when he grows up”, “Why are you playing with a Chef’s hat and frying pan? You need to be sitting and doing a page from your workbook and not wasting time playing”, “Unless you can sit in this chair for a half hour and write the numbers 1-50, you are not getting up”. I think these and similar statements are ones that we are all too familiar with as parents; we have either said it ourselves at one point or another or have over- heard another parent say it. These statements are also nothing out of the ordinary. But if we dig a little deeper, are they conducive to helping our children grow? We all have ambitions for our children. It is natural to want to check off pre-defined milestones at each age of development. I am sure most parents when asked “what do you want your child to be when he/she grows up?” will answer “anything, if he/she is happy doing it.” It is also human to know from the day your child is born, which college he/she will attend, or have specific ambitions for your child – Doctor, Lawyer, Scientist and so on. Having said this, how do we make sure that we do not pressure our children very early on to meet certain expectations that we have set for them?
It is not an uncommon sight to see a childhood be taken over by homework, hours of practice workbooks, tuition and tests. For many, this is the best way for their child to learn and become successful in life. Often the discussion here is whether we are limiting the child’s overall growth by doing this. Children thrive when imagination and creativity is nurtured. They are built to learn by experiencing various touches, smells, sounds, sights and tastes. But sitting for hours in a classroom learning only from a text book does not achieve this. Evaluating children based on how long they can sit still in a chair without standing up, how long they can keep quiet and how they perform on tests, paints only half a picture of the child’s potential. The strengths are over-looked and sometimes take a back seat. We end up imposing a glass ceiling, which is an invisible barrier on their growth, not realising the long-term impact that this ceiling will create. We end up limiting their capabilities.
Learning was a rocky journey for me growing up. I was never a good test-taker and reading and studying from text books was something I never related to. Even at the pre-school level, I would find myself looking for someone to come up with creative ways to teach me a concept so that I could understand it better. Later however, the level of understanding was judged on material that was taught only one way and on test scores. There were never-ending parent-teacher conferences where my mother was told that I needed to get better grades and that I needed extra help with certain things. In my head, there was a voice screaming “I know my stuff!” but unfortunately it was a silent voice which would never be heard.
After having children of my own, I knew immediately that I wanted the world for them. I wanted to give them the opportunity to feel the sand slip through their fingers every day at the same time learning about different textures, watch centipedes inching along in the grass at the same time learning about how many legs it has, splash with all their might in a splash pool at the same time learning what floats and sinks in water. I was clear that as a parent, my energy, time and resources needed to be placed in the right places. Even though my elder son is only 3 years old right now, I have quickly come to realise that the best gift I have probably given him is free time, enabling him to discover himself and his passions.
We need to take a step back and put into perspective what it is that we really want for our children. Parents often have similar hopes and dreams for their children. As I always say, there is no right and wrong parenting style; it’s each to their own. Whatever pattern of learning each of us follow, I hope we can help our children unleash their utmost potential. I hope that we can help them rise above the expectations we have set for them, thereby breaking the glass ceiling.
When I was pregnant with my elder son, I used to often sit and wonder what values I would want to teach my children and ponder over the kind of human beings I would want them to grow up to be. Of course, every mother wants her child to be gentle, kind, caring, compassionate, strong and so on. But if I had to dig deep down and really think about not only the values they need to integrate into their character, but also the values they display in their everyday behavior, I know I want my children to be honest, forgiving, respectful, charitable, believe in themselves, committed and courageous. Frankly, I could go on and on! Not only do I hope they imbibe all these values but that they also use these values to make a difference in the world. But above all, I want them to exhibit equality in every aspect of their lives.
Whether you have boys or girls, the world we live in today demands that they are treated the same and taught the same things. Let me explain. Living in India, the question of equality is always a question mark. When I talk about equality here, I am referring to the equality between men and women or should I say the inequality. This issue of gender equality is long-standing and one where the progress is extremely slow, bordering on non-existent. The almost ‘inferior’ status of women even today is one of the many reasons for the rise in crimes against women. But is that the only reason why there is an upward trend in crimes against women, especially rapes, dowry deaths and honor killings? My answer is no. The safety of women in India has been at stake for a long time now and no law put down by the people running the country will ever make a difference. One of the main reasons that men even in the year 2017 feel like they have the power and the right to hold women back and mistreat them, is because growing up, they have not been taught otherwise. Now is the time to teach our sons to act respectfully instead of telling our daughters to be careful.
Let’s talk about what we as mothers as part of our parenting philosophy should be teaching our sons. Lessons in gender equality should begin early and be repeated often. It is never too early to start. But there is something else we as mothers need to focus on even before addressing equality with our sons. Boys are always taught to be assertive and aggressive. Rarely do you hear anyone telling their sons to be gentle, kind and sensitive. There is a popular ad by VogueEmpower with Madhuri Dixit which deals with domestic violence and how boys don’t cry. This ad rubbed many people the wrong way, but I think it clearly portrayed a big part of what is wrong with the world today and the changes that we as parents need to make to our parenting philosophy.
As a mother to two boys, I try every day to refrain from saying ‘don’t cry’. Ever. Of course, it does come out at times, but it is a work in progress. As I mentioned earlier, it is never too late to start. If my son shuts the door on his hand by mistake and cries, I say “let it out”. If he falls in the playground, I don’t say “be a big boy, stop crying”. There is no rule against boys crying and there never has been. It is a social norm that has been put into place by us. My elder son loves walking around in other people’s shoes (men’s and women’s). He also loves parading around with my handbag slung over his shoulder. I take pictures when he does that. He loves Pink. So, if he likes a toy or a shirt in pink, I buy it for him. He is also obsessed with cars and repairing them. He loves Tennis and Golf. Who took charge and said Blue is for boys and Pink is for girls? Holding back our sons from exploring their more gentle and sensitive side is what gives them the idea that girls are supposed to be gentle and sensitive, while boys should be anything but. There starts the gender inequality. I have heard of mothers saying “’boys will be boys” when the topic of their sons bullying others in class comes up. When gender is often used to excuse a certain type of behavior, a dangerous message is sent. It is time to stop attributing behavior to gender and help our children understand that everyone is the same. If we can spend some time at home educating our sons on this, we can help the world be a safer and better place.
We need to step back and think about the messages we send our children every day. The bottom line is that we cannot control what our children see and learn in the world out there but we can control what they are taught at home. We can encourage them to be their own unique selves despite what society tells them is appropriate according to their gender. We can empower them to knock down barriers created by gender differences, leading to an overall safer world around them.
Every mother has her own struggle with motherhood. From an identity crisis and a fear of the unknown to balancing motherhood with work, a social life and so on, the challenges we face as mothers never end. The entire journey from the time we conceive is filled with endless moments of happiness, joy, panic and fear. However, the one common fear among most mothers is the ability of others to care for their child.
As humans, we are programmed to question and over-think everything. As mothers, we probably do this more than anyone else. It would be impossible not to. Every decision from the brand of diapers to schools is scrutinized ten times over. But those decisions do not hold a candle to the decision of leaving your child with family or other caretakers.
Trust is a funny thing and doesn’t come easily to people. Our experiences determine how easily we can trust another person; it simply requires faith in human nature. In this case, however you can have the utmost faith and trust in a family member or the nanny to care for your child for a few hours maybe, but it can be daunting to leave them in the care of others for an extended period. Not everyone shares the same childcare philosophies and that is perhaps the biggest cause of concern for most mothers.
There is a first time for everything and of course many people have starting problems. It requires a deep conditioning of the mind to be comfortable with leaving your child and going on a 2-day vacation for example. It goes without saying that the dynamics of a vacation with children and without children are significantly different. I am and always have been a ‘travel-without-your-child’ kind of mother. Being able to re-charge, helps me be a better mother. The first time my husband and I left our elder son and went on a 3-day beach vacation, I was bombarded with feelings of sadness and guilt. I felt like the worst mother to walk the earth and wondered what must be running through my son’s mind just then. Would he think that his parents have abandoned him and would never return? Would the nanny forget to give him his milk? How will everyone at home manage if he catches a cold or has a fever? Will they be able to give the correct dosage of medication? Suddenly in my mind, everyone seemed incompetent and inefficient when they were anything but. I had this mental picture of my son standing near the gate howling and waiting for us to come back. Exactly like a movie, right? Well, little did I know that he was doing anything but that! When we spoke on Face-time, I realised he had sort of forgotten that his parents weren’t even around and he was very happily playing with the people around him at home.
Travelling without children is the best therapy in the world. We don’t have to feel guilty about saying so or not say it all thinking others will judge. After I made peace with the fact that my son was happy and content even without us near him, the vacation started doing its’ job. It was a long-forgotten but refreshing feeling to know that there was no one else to take care of for a few days other than myself. I could feel my mind slowly begin to unclog itself. I recently went to Amsterdam with my three best friends, after I had my second son. Everyone had their own reasons for wanting to take a break from life and what a break it was. We did things we would never have had time to do back home. We spoke about things that we would never have gotten around to talking about amidst our chaotic lives. Was it an excruciatingly difficult task to make the decision to leave my 2 month for almost a whole week? Yes of course! But the outcome of making that decision outweighed the difficulty I had with making it in the first place. I came back with renewed energy and a much happier person, ready to resume my responsibilities as a mother.
I know many people who believe that with help at home, motherhood should be a cakewalk. No one with family at home and nannies to care for their child should ever complain about the struggles of motherhood. There is nothing I disagree with more. You don’t have to be changing every single diaper, giving every feed and spending every half hour putting your child to sleep without any time for yourself, to know how hard motherhood can be. A mother’s mind-space is clouded with child related details most of the time. Whether we are physically with our children or not, they are mentally always with us. Even if there is nothing to worry about, we worry. It takes a lot to be able to finally say “as long as my child is eating and sleeping properly while in the care if others, I have nothing to worry about”.
Everyone needs a time-out from motherhood to try and reconnect with the pre-motherhood version of themselves; it is so easy to forget. So, go ahead and travel to your hearts content. Who came up with the rule that travelling is off the table when you have small children at home? Maybe the same people who came up with the rule that you can forget about sleep for the next 18 years once you have a baby. None of these rules are set in stone. Stepping out of your comfort zone is always hard and takes some getting used to but in the end, it is rewarding. Do whatever is good for your soul.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” – Neale Donald Walsch
The word ‘Love’ has various definitions and forms. Some define it as ‘strong affection’, ‘warm attachment’, ‘affection based on admiration’ and even ‘infatuation’ or ‘lust’. It means different things to different people. Needless to say, finding just the right way to describe love is difficult. I like to call it LIFE’S ONLY VITAL EMOTION.
Experience has taught me that whatever the definition of Love may be, it may not always be permanent. There are very few relationships in life where we can say that the love never dies. This particular emotion is put to test in many relationships, more than any of us ever realise but when you come out of it with the ability to still feel that emotion, then you know that the relationship will stand the test of time.
According to me, the definition of Love changes for a person throughout the different stages of life. Growing up, this word is thrown around quite effortlessly and we tend to fall out of love as easily as we fall into it. It doesn’t take much at that stage in life to find fault with someone and immediately stop loving them. Those are connections that can easily be dissolved. Later on when we start forming intimate relationships, love takes on a more emotional role. Commitment comes into the picture and this is when we ask ourselves if this love is forever. No matter how much time passes by and obstacles faced, will this love endure all?
As a mother, I have learned that love knows no boundaries. I wonder in amazement sometimes how the meaning of love changes for a person before and after becoming a mother. The love I feel for my children is the truest and purest form of love I have ever felt and I did not know what it meant to love unconditionally until I gave birth to my elder son. Many people out there may not agree with this statement of maternal love always being unconditional. I remember someone asking me in the past if unconditional love is a pre-requisite for motherhood. Sometimes it does not have to be although I think most of us like the idea of it more than anything else.
The bond between a mother and child is formed from the time the baby is in the mother’s womb. Raising a child is not easy for any woman and there are times when I have wondered whether or not I will be able to do this for the rest of my life. In the midst of all the exhaustion and sleepless nights, there are still those magical moments where your child smiling at you even for a second makes your chest ache and makes the exhaustion slowly fade away. However, in those moments of exhaustion and frustration, I have questioned the emotion of love and wondered if that is enough to be able to care and protect my children. I am sure many mothers out there have thought this time and time again and maybe with extreme guilt too. How can we as mothers question this at all? Unlike when we were young, there is only one answer. The love we feel for our children is a basic part of our make-up. We are hooked for life. Despite all the tantrums and arguments, the love for our children goes beyond being addictive and sometimes bordering on obsessive.
The bond with our children will change over the years, but the strength never fades.
The statement ‘Friends like Family’ or #framily as I like to call it has always been a favourite of mine. When we are young, we learn that family consists of our own flesh and blood. However, over the years as we make friends in school and when we are 3000 miles away from our own family in college, friends start to become family. Bonds are formed which cannot be broken. Family, is not always blood.
Some of my best friends today are friends from school. We have seen each other through thick and thin and provide a strong support system for each other even now. It has been quite a ride throughout the various phases of our lives – from the then immature and care-free teenagers to the now responsible mothers. Every mother needs mom friends and non-mom friends.
Having friends who are like family when you become a mother is essential and therapeutic. There are all sorts of emotions a new mother feels; I think we are all extremely familiar and in-tune with our feelings as mothers. We are trying to deal with and get used to the unfamiliar territory of motherhood, at the same time trying to maintain some sense of normalcy. When a person is going through a significant change, it is always comforting to know that someone else is experiencing the same and can empathise. It is reassuring to know that a friend is also grappling with various degrees of uncertainty regarding being a mother and is waking up at all hours of the night to feed and change diapers. How much ever we wish things were easier for them, we feel a little better knowing that we are not alone. We feel a little better knowing that we have people to share our deepest fears with. Our non-mom friends are of course always there to lend a shoulder to cry on as well; they are also the ones we turn to when we want to shut down the mom brain.
I feel lucky that many of my friends whom I have known since I was a teenager are still my friends today, and now are my mom friends as well. But there may be many young mothers who are not so lucky, especially if they have moved to a new city and have to start all over. The whole process of making new friends, let alone mom friends is not an easy feat. However, we need to remember that all mothers are in the same situation and crave friendship at every stage. My friends who are also mothers were my reinforcement during the first few months of motherhood and still continue to be so today. I know they are available at any time during the day or night for me to call and vent to, and they know that I am there for them as well. From trying not to let our hearts break when our babies are unwell to managing frequent tantrums and stopping ourselves from wanting to run away, mom friends are the one-stop shop. They will never get sick of hearing you worry about the colour of your baby’s poop or the various methods to soothe your cracked nipples from feeding. They will never complain when you want to talk about the loss of your old identity, and the challenges in settling into your new one. Talking is therapeutic. Bottling up feelings is not.
Most of my readers are aware of the reason I started this blog. There are mothers all over the world who feel that they need to keep their experiences and thoughts to themselves, letting them fester deep inside. Many are hesitant or ashamed to voice their feelings as they think many of the thoughts may come off as negative, gloomy or unwelcoming by other mothers. But no one has ever said that motherhood is filled with all hallmark moments. There is also no 'right' or 'wrong' when it comes to how a mother decides to raise her children. More often than not, the reluctance to confide in another person stems from increased levels of self-doubt. My aim as always is to encourage moms-to-be, new moms and veteran moms to speak out and share their experiences, at the same time providing support to all those out there who need it. I cannot stress enough about how good it feels to confide in people.
So to all the new moms out there, if you do not have any mom friends yet, put yourself out there and make some. They will not only keep you sane, but they will also hold your hand through the ups and downs of motherhood for the rest of your life.
To all the fabulous non-mom friends out there, don't think that you don't have an equally important role to play as the mom friends! I think your mom friends would have an extremely hard time taking motherhood in their stride if it weren't for time-outs now and then provided by you. So keep planning those girls nights because at the end of the day, you are your friend's light at the end of the motherhood tunnel.
HUSBAND – Helpful Understanding Simple Brave Amazing Nice Decent
FATHER – Faithful Available Teacher Helps Encourages Reliable
If I had to describe my better half in his role as a husband and father, the above description would be the perfect one.
The way I saw my husband the day before I became a mother and the days following the birth of our elder son were strikingly different. What a difference a single day makes sometimes. Before our baby was born, my husband was my better half, my confidante and the person I chose to sleep next to at night for the rest of my life. After the arrival of our first bundle of joy, my husband was still all those things but he was now more importantly my partner in probably the most important job we will ever have; the job of being a parent.
The days that followed the birth of our baby were filled with sleep-deprivation, panic and fear. The joy and contentment I had felt were suddenly overshadowed by a fear of the unknown; a fear of not being able to take care of a tiny human being who was depending on me 100% to survive. But the minute I thought the word ‘me’ inside my head, I realised that I was being selfish. Just because I physically gave birth to the baby did not mean that there was no one else as involved or as important; a small but significant detail that many new moms tend to overlook. I realised that my husband and the father of my baby was as much a part of the baby’s life as I was.
I saw motherhood at its finest the first few weeks – dark circles under my eyes resulting from sporadic sleep at night, one bath a day, hair being washed on average once a week, non-existent make-up and accessories, and so on. The word normal was erased from my vocabulary for a few weeks and it took a lot out of me to get myself together. But I did it. I had an incredible support system and I could not have survived my first few weeks as a new mom without my own mother. She was up every night with me changing diapers and making sure I didn’t fall asleep while nursing. However my rock and the reason for my sanity being remotely intact during the first month was my husband and baby daddy.
A father’s role in the parenting process is often overlooked and sometimes devalued. The mother has always been known as the primary caretaker but in today’s ‘new age’ parenting, the father is as pivotal as the mother. I don’t mean a father’s influence because in the infant and newborn stage, that does not play as big a part in the baby’s development as it does later on. However I am referring to the added responsibilities a father takes on. Gone are the days when only the mother is expected to change diapers and feed the baby. We see more stay-at-home fathers now compared to even a decade ago. They are not only there to shoulder more responsibilities, but also to provide emotional support. I remember a distinct sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach every time by husband had to go to work in the morning leaving me to my duties as a mother. For me, it was not so much the added responsibilities that he took on which made me want to hang on to him, but more the emotional support and mental stability he provided me with. He forced me to paste a smile on my face which at the time seemed to prove most challenging. He proved to be a rock then and even more when our younger son was born in March this year. Now with our younger son having just completed the first 3 months which are more often than not the hardest, I realised that I felt more human this time around due to my husband having taken over most of the responsibilities with our elder son.
Post birth, the process of reconciling your old self with the new is an endless one and sometimes never complete. But it becomes easier with each passing day if you can include the people around you in your journey and not feel the pressure to do everything on your own. That is where my husband played the biggest role – in letting me know that I did not need to have sole custody of the parenting responsibilities. The bravest of mothers who think they can do it all still need help sometimes.
Sometimes you have to just let someone hold your hand.
“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” – Billy Graham
Popular theory is that our children are reflections of us. We are their mirrors in which they look and see themselves, at the same time also mirroring our behaviours and actions. There is a famous quote by David Bly that says “Your children will become what you are. So be what you want them to be”. Everyone has their own perspective of this. Do I agree with this? Before I became a mother I may have said yes. Now two children later, I don’t believe I agree.
We all come with emotional baggage from various aspects of our lives and mostly, from our relationships. From the time we are children ourselves till we become adults, we experience various ups and downs. Whether it is a broken heart or the death of a loved one, there is always an imprint that is left on us which helps mould the kind of people we become. No one survives life by just floating through on a silver cloud. Everyone has their own challenges to face and hurdles to cross; some more rocky than others. How each person handles those challenges and hurdles is also very different. Some approach the negative situations in their lives with anger, clouded minds and unclear plans, whereas some approach them with reason and clarity. A person’s emotional and mental state is challenged when a negative situation occurs. But what we learn from and how we come out of those situations are what our children will eventually learn and will reflect on them. The impact from our past experiences is what will help us parent our children today.
I have always believed that our pasts should not affect our children’s future. Should we think twice and make conscious well thought out decisions about which elements from our experiences should be passed onto our children? Yes, that goes without saying! We all love our parents. Many times I have opened my mouth to say something and my parents’ words come out. It shows that they have shaped me and my approach to how I parent today. However everyone has things they have experienced in their own past that they would rather not re-create with their own children. It would be denying reality to say that a person’s childhood was all smooth sailing. The relationship between mother and child is the most pure and at the same time the most volatile relationship. You don’t agree on everything and every child has a moment where he/she believes that he/she has the best and worst mother. I know I did. There are always countless elements of my relationship with my mother that I would love to pass onto my own children and which will help shape their future in a positive way but there are also some which I would like to keep at bay. In other words, while everyone has aspects of their parents that they hope to re-create, there are certain things they also hope to avoid. I think every mother out there can resonate with this. This could be because we want very different things for our children compared to what our parents wanted for us.
My children are their own people. There are many things in my past which I know I could have handled better. I don’t regret making the mistakes I have made because I have learned from them. However the lessons learned are what I would like to pass onto my children and definitely not the uncertainty I have faced and mistakes made. They will have their own mistakes to make and lessons to learn. I lost someone very close to me when I was young and still in school. The impact on me at that point was of epic proportions and I promised myself that I would avoid any form of attachment going forward. Making a decision like this and especially when still so young was not something to take lightly and this did have an effect on many of my relationships for the next few years. Till today, there is still a part of me which raises alarm bells when I see myself becoming attached to anyone or anything. But this is not an element of my personality that I would like my children to imbibe. Forming attachments is healthy and essential for both emotional and social development. It helps you grow. I do not want my children to prevent themselves from giving and receiving the love, happiness and closeness they can experience from various relationships in their lives, and definitely not because of any negative experiences from my own past.
As mothers we only want what is best for our children and nothing less. A mother’s natural instinct is to shape her children to be exactly like her; its only human. I have seen this personally. However do their lives need to be turn out exactly like their parents? Do their experiences have to be the same and their futures determined by our likes and dislikes? These are the important questions which we as mothers need to think about and which will help determine the kind of people our children will turn out to be.
One thing that I always pat myself on the back about is my ability to still go out, have fun and party like its 2012. I think my friends all know that as long as I have a glass of rose champagne in my hand, I am good to go. I remember that there was a time when some of my friends and I after a gruelling day at work, used to go out every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night! Those were good times and we somehow never seemed to get tired. Waking up at 6 am the following day to kick-start the day and get ready for work didn’t seem like much of a task. We behaved like robots. This was all before my first little bundle of joy came along.
Now after a night out, my friends who are mothers as well and I wake up in the morning grumbling about how one night out has destroyed us completely and all we want to do is spend the entire day in bed. Ok maybe age has something to do with it as well J but a large part of is that we now have little human beings running around depending on us for their own day to start. At this point I know that I sometimes stare at my children with absolute wonder trying to figure out how my life before them had flown by so quickly. I have mentioned in some of my previous posts that many mothers struggle with their new identity once they have children. For me, it definitely has not been a struggle, but I do sometimes reminisce about the freedom that comes with life before children. You are able to wake up in the morning with the entire day ahead of you but with the ability to change the way you want to spend your day. My friends and I often discuss what changes we have experienced in life pre and post children. The changes post children are not all undesirable of course. Here is what I have come up with.
Among all the crazy days, hectic schedules, lack of sleep and minimal amount of alone time with my husband, there is not a thing I would change about my life. I can hardly remember what my life was like before we had our children and I cannot imagine what it would be like without them now. I always like to say that my children make me see things clearly; things that they see with perfect clarity. They are my eyes and window to the world. I am a better person today because of them.
This post is particularly long, so to all my new as well as regular Bubbly Blogcast readers, please bear with me through it :). I have dedicated this post to all mothers out there who are thinking about taking the plunge into motherhood a second time around, already pregnant with their second bundle of joy, or who have just given birth to their second child.
My younger son is 8 weeks old today. Raising a child is hard and has countless hurdles we need to cross, however raising two has its’ own challenges as well. How ever much you prepare yourself for motherhood, you never know what hit you until it actually rolls around. Being a new mother is terrifying and confusing, not knowing whether what you are doing is right or wrong. I remember receiving enormous amounts of information from my family and friends on what I should and should not be doing. I made my life more complicated by Googling every small doubt which more often than not, contradicted what I had already been told. But over a period of time I felt myself get clarity on the various do’s and don’ts of motherhood. I finally saw a light at the end of the tunnel.
The thought of being pregnant a second time was even scarier than being pregnant with my first. I was confident when it came to the day to day activities like diapers, feeding etc; after all I still had the experience from my first. Putting aside my crisis in confidence in my ability to care for two young boys, what kept me up at night was whether or not my elder son would accept the new addition to the family. How would he treat his younger brother?
My mom raised my two sisters and me during a time where nannies were almost unheard of. However I think we all turned relatively normal. I salute my mother. A close friend of mine has three children and I always tell her that she is a super star. Looking at her calm and composed exterior, one would not even think that she has any children at all. I realised that maintaining that peace is an acquired trait which not everyone can accomplish. Many mothers have a head full of grey hairs solely from trying to prevent any tantrums from their elder child around the new baby. This was my biggest fear.
I was lucky enough to have friends with multiple children who were able to guide me on how to handle the dynamics between my elder son and baby, based on their own personal experiences. I owe them my sanity!
There is alot you can do to help your elder one adjust to a new baby in the house without there being any jealousy, hitting or regressive behaviour. Here is a list of measures I took to ensure my elder son did not lose the feeling of security he had –
So to all you rock star mothers our there pregnant with your second child or have just had your second child, don’t be afraid and don’t expect only negative and regressive behaviour from your elder ones. Hold their hand and stand by their side while they get used to the idea of sharing their mother with someone else.
I hope my post has been of some help. I know I couldn’t have done it without some help from my own family and friends.
Marriage and parenting are two of life’s biggest commitments. Every girl is ‘expected’ to grow up, get married and have children. Every married couple sets their own timeline in terms of when they want to take the plunge and become parents. For some, that is sooner than later. There is no right or wrong time to have children. Whatever those timelines are, the reality is such that balancing marriage and parenting can feel like a constant struggle for many.
My husband and I took a conscious decision to wait a few years before adding a child into the mix. Apart from not being even remotely ready to have another tiny human be 100% dependant on us, we also wanted to take the time to get to know each other again in a new setting. What do I mean by that? In India, the concept of living together before marriage is almost non-existent. I think most of you will agree that a relationship pre and post marriage is not the same. To be completely honest, some relationships change for the better and some for the worse. Getting to re-discover each other in the new environment and each other’s living habits takes time, energy and complete dedication and focus. I don’t believe that I would have been able to achieve that with a baby around so early on in our marriage. In short, we wanted to live life as only husband and wife for some time, and not as parents.
It is extremely easy to put your marriage on the back burner once a baby arrives, without even realising it. Many people believe that having children ruins a relationship. My view is that it definitely does slow things down a bit but it doesn’t knock you out. You can bounce back. It is a mother’s instinct to prioritize her child over everything else in her life; sometimes to the extent of letting the role of a parent take over her entire life. For some, being a parent becomes their main identity since taking care of a child is all-consuming.
For me, my marriage has always come first. I am a proud mom of two healthy and happy boys who take up most of the space in my heart and head. They have a good amount of structure in their lives and are content children. But would they be happy and content if their family life at home was not? My first thought would be no, they would not be and it would have a profound impact on them.
In most homes, the husband usually bears the brunt of an exhausted mother. I won’t lie by saying that I have never taken out my irritation towards my son, on my husband. In spite of there being multiple shared responsibilities between my husband and I, there are still moments where I am the only one who can provide my children with what they need. Occasionally, you need to walk away without saying what you really want to say, stemming from the irritation or situation with your child. Being a parent isn’t easy, and sometimes there is no point in bringing up some annoyances which could lead to dredging up other things, which in reality isn’t really bothering you at the moment. In other words, pick your battles.
Having been married for 8 years now and 3 of those as a mother, I have learned that there are many ways to maintain the closeness in a marriage while being a parent. Date nights (try to talk about things other than your little ones), weekend getaways and spending some quality time with each other lying in bed and watching TV are only a few of the many ways to give your marriage some much deserved attention. I also make it a point to go out with my friends and WITHOUT my husband! Friends night is as important as date night. I strongly believe that space is key in any marriage and being glued to each other 24/7 is never the answer. The point is to re-discover who you were BEFORE you had children.
If there are mothers out there who feel enormous guilt in putting your marriage and life ahead of your children, it’s OKAY! We need to keep reminding ourselves that happy parents make happy children, and happy parents come from a continuous nourishment of the marriage.
One of my all time favourite quotes is by Howard. W. Hunter, who said “One of the greatest things a father can do for his children is to love their mother”. There is a reason the quote says father and mother, and not husband and wife.
Hi! I'm Antara and I was once a 'let's get the party started, consume a bottle of Rose Champagne on the weekend' kind of girl. Now at 33 and a mom of a teddy bear looking 2 year old boy (with another little bundle on the way), I am still that 'let's get the party started, consume a bottle of Rose Champagne on the weekend kind of girl.'