Parentous is all about getting parents on the same platform to discuss all things parenting. A huge part of the identity of Parentous are the frankly wonderful articles that our Contributors send in. In a bid to give you something more, we we will now feature interviews at Parentous.
The first interview at Parentous is of the force behind ‘My Daughters’ Mum‘. A filmmaker, an entrepreneur, a trainer and a mother of three young daughters. Yes, Parentous interviewed the prolific and versatile Natasha Badhwar on motherhood, her family, her children and everything that binds these things together.
Q. You are a columnist, journalism trainer, communications coach, filmmaker, entrepreneur, examiner and much more. Is there any particular role that you identify with or enjoy more?
I’m very fond of being a photographer and an entrepreneur. These days I enjoy these two roles the most. Building the fashion brand, Ochre Sky, is fun and playful and my learning graph has been sharp. I love teaching too, it nourishes me and gives a platform to my inner performer.
Filmmaker, columnist and communications coach are the most emotionally taxing work roles for me. I guess I am still trying to prove things to myself in these fields, and won’t let myself relax.
Q. Tell us something about your children. We would love to know what they are like. When you were growing up, did you have any ideas or plans about motherhood? How close or far were they from reality?
When I was growing up, my main fantasy was that I would do things very differently from my own parents. 12 years of being a parent and I can tell you that it is a lot of hard work not becoming one’s own parents. Not doing things that come naturally to us takes a fair amount of effort and unlearning. And it is well worth it!
Q. How did you go from having a full time job to having many different roles, including that of a mother?
All of us are capable of and want to be so much more than what our work roles or family roles define us as. Nobody fits happily into the box provided to them. It is a natural progression in one’s growth to take on new roles and learn new skills. A full time job seems like a safe, linear choice, but any good job also demands that we take on new and braver roles.
Q. What does your typical day look like?
My typical day is 4 days rolled into 1. If any one person witnessed me switching and overlapping as many roles as I usually do, that person would get a splitting headache!
Q. What would you say are your biggest successes as a parent?
My children like me. It is my greatest success. I’ve winged it, somehow.
Q. Women generally feel a loss of identity when they quit their jobs to become a mother. Did you experience this? How did you deal with it?
I dealt with the black hole of loss of identity and structure in my day by lying flat on the floor of my room for many days. Then I picked myself up and began to take photos, and write gibberish in haiku form…and eventually I recovered. I really needed to break the mould and start from scratch again. I needed to lie fallow. It is the greatest gift we have from nature, our ability to re-invent again and again. To recover, survive and flourish. We would be boring and insufferable without challenges.
Q. Most working women would shudder at the thought of raising three young children and consider anyone who manages to do the same a supermom. What’s your secret?
Children are wonderful people. When we shudder at each other’s choices or realities, we are just being horribly unimaginative.
Also, this supermom tag is inane and dreary. We all have mothers who have raised us in far more trying circumstances than we will ever experience. Lets stop back slapping each other for nothing much, really.
Q. Among all the topics that you are knowledgeable about (are your forte), why did you choose to write about your daughters, family and relationships?
The sound of silence in our most intimate, personal spaces is deafening. I can’t live with it. The everyday lies that we feed each other, our denials, our looking away from that which hurts us and shapes us…these make me very angry and restless. I guess I channel my extreme sense of joy, disdain and anger into my writing.
Q. Which are the habits or values that you insist are instilled in your children without a compromise?
An equal respect for all people, irrespective of their class, gender, religion, race or financial status. An honest sense of one’s own privilege. My husband and I try to live these values, so that these are a lived experience for our children. Also eat well, take care of yourself, do not make friends with guilt and always be ready to have some fun.
Q. What do you do to relax when you get some free time?
I sleep. Then I sleep some more.
Q. Who do you consider your support system? What are the times when you’ve needed support with the kids?
My parents are my greatest support system. My brothers and their wives, my grown up nieces and nephews who have been the greatest babysitters I could have hoped for. Let me name Shireen and Fahad for sharing their energy and love with our children and us when we really needed both. The wonderful women who have lived with us and worked in our home when my husband and I were too scattered and overwhelmed to be able to cope on our own.
Q. What inspires you? At work, in your business, at home, in life?
Connecting to the larger world, connecting to individuals, to the self. This is what I live for. I am inspired to create, to rearrange elements around us and invoke beauty in our everyday lives. To share the wisdom of the stories we live and experience. I love exploring and connecting the dots.
This is what made me choose to be a video journalist and a documentary filmmaker. This is what inspired me to start Ochre Sky with Rohit Bhatia.
Q. There must be a lot of well intentioned advice coming your way about raising your children, as it happens with many parents. Do you have a way of separating the chaff from the grain when it comes to advice?
It was hard in the beginning, as it is for all of us. The hardship has a purpose, I believe. I wouldn’t have picked myself up and created a new me if I hadn’t crashed so hard.
To be honest, I’m quite a raging activist when it comes to child rearing. I try to tone myself down and channel by ideas into action in my own life.
Q. You were already well known and established before you started blogging. What kind of recognition has blogging brought to you?
This is something I don’t want to think about at all. I pay no attention to the stats of my blog posts, I really don’t want my expression and writing to be influenced in any way by how it is being received. I try to keep the writer in me safe and cocooned from the feedback and recognition.
Q. How did you decide what faith to raise your daughters with? Though the values are essentially the same, the rituals and places do differ. Any advice you’d like to give inter-faith couples with kids?
I believe in God and in the presence of God within all of us. This has been my own experience of life. You can call it cosmic energy, personal conscience, spirituality…different words make sense to different people. I talk to my children about a God who created us, and one who protects us and gives us strength and wisdom when we need it. We accept the fun, games, presents and bonding part of rituals and religious practices and we keep out that which seems to defy logic to us.
This is my idea of faith. God is like an imaginary friend, and once you get the hang of this, you are in for some good times.
Q. You said that the happiest time of your life was also the most difficult for you. How did you find your way out of the difficult time? Why did you choose to talk about it?
Sharing is caring! Every individual and their story is a whole world in itself. Stories are for telling, for listening, for validating and identifying with. You are important, talk about yourself. We all need to believe this truth.
Q. You’ve written a manifesto for a working woman. What would a manifesto for a mother look like?
I have written a manifesto for parents also. It is called The Manifesto of Un-Parenting. Really, we need to spend a fair amount of energy in separating the grain from the chaff. So many hand-me-down parenting tools are redundant and downright dangerous. So many new age fads…are just that. They are fads that pass.
Children are very interesting little people and parenting is a two way interaction. When we watch them carefully and let them be, all the lessons we need, come to us on their own. Being a parent is hard work, but so is everything else worth having in life.
Q. What is your family’s reaction to your work, your blogs?
My parents recognize when I am speaking to them through my writing. We acknowledge what had remained unsaid between us, we heal together. My husband would really like to hold a book with my name on it. My children are happy I keep myself busy. A working mother is a happy mother and they appreciate that a lot.
Q. How attached are you to your blog? Are they spontaneous and casual writings or would you look at them years later as a chronicle of your children growing up?
Q. What are the things that you have learnt from your children? What are the things that you have learnt about yourself after becoming a parent?
I have learned from my children that innocence is an intrinsic human quality and it is incredibly precious and real.
Most schooling and parenting seems to be centred around knocking one’s innocence out of us and replacing it with mistrust, snobbery and cynicism. This is so unnecessary. We can retain our innocence, our ability for joy and be scintillatingly intelligent at the same time.
Q. Won’t ask for advice for parents, but any tips and tricks for parenting that you’ve learnt in all these years and would like to share?
Take it easy policy! Make happiness your manifesto. Be assertive and imaginative about finding it and creating it within the family. All the raw material is already there.
Much love and respect from me for reading this if you managed to come this far! Thanks.
We hope you liked reading Natasha’s interview. Do let us know your thoughts on the same through your comments!