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Shawshank Redemption (For Mothers)

If you have not watched this iconic movie, go do it right now. I can wait. Go on. This post will wait too.

If you’ve watched it, you surely remember Red’s admiring tone, “Andy Dufresne – who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side”

Is it just me or have all moms at one point or another felt this way about parenting? On some days, literally. (Remember the diarrhea days, endless diaper routines and the wonder? Oh the wonder of how such a small creature can produce such huge stinky poo!). Then again, nights and days pass, earth rotates, and brings you good tidings.

This post is to assure all the fairly new moms who cannot wait to see light at the end of the tunnel and tell them “My dear friend, it does get better. It most certainly does. Hang in there

I’m not one to give empty assurances. I come bearing proof.

When my child was 2+

Everyone seems to be worried about what adults want. There are contests to figure out what men want. There was even a movie on what women want. Not many seem to be bothered about what kids want.

Honestly, I don’t either, I just want solutions. I mean why would I ever bother amidst the chaos, I have a kid myself. A tyrant that makes me run for covers. The same me, the brave heart that once did bungee jumping and came out alive; the adventurer that used to immensely crave for and enjoy roller coasters, is now a timid wuss that is now afraid of a tiny monster in the body of a 2 and a half year old.

This is the first time I’m going to admit in public. Ready? I have 30 mins scheduled every day. For crying. Well, no I’m lying. It’s not 30 mins. It’s not scheduled. Most days it’s close to an hour: at a stretch or on and off. Now my neighbors finally know where this low droning comes from, as the day ends. Sometimes early in the morning. Sometimes mid day. A mild noise that resembles a snorting wail coming from a pig crossed with a monkey.

Most of my anxiety about child care is based on one main thing: my child, of course. My little toddling wrecking machine. I have spent many nights (and days) wondering what it is that my kid wants and where it is that I’m failing miserably. I can’t seem to figure out what my kid wants. How is this possible? Am I not supposed to know everything about my child and do everything right? Shouldn’t I be able to figure out the needs, comforts, fears and all the little tantrums thrown by the kid and make them all right?

Then I did some reflecting a.k.a banging my head against the wall. I did much thinking as well a.k.a pulling out my hair strand by strand.

So here’s what I came up with: most stories and to-dos about raising a kid is plain rubbish.

  1. What works with one kid may not necessarily work with another. You’ve got to rethink your strategy and hone your skills every time you have a baby.
  2. Kids are unpredictable. Deal with it. What other option do you have anyway?
  3. A full time child caretaker has to forget about her career and aspirations even if it is temporary.
  4. Kids are full of fun and laughter and mischief. But they are also full of tantrums and trouble. Acknowledge your powerlessness over them.
  5. Be happy, be cheerful, love life. Kids learn not by doing but by seeing and who do you think they see the most?

Finally, if nothing works, be patient till your kids turn 18, kick them out, change locks and get back to your passions.

Well, relax, I’m only half-kidding!

When my child turned 7

I had the best day with my kid today. We stood on the terrace and made fun of people’s heads as they passed by. Half bald, full bald, bald-but-doesn’t-want-to-admit-bald, short hair, braided hair with flowers, boy cut, girl cut, curls – so many people, so little time. It started raining, so we ran around in circles singing Gene Kelly’s ‘Singin in the Rain’, one of our favorites.

As we came down, I made tea for the adults in the house and hot chocolate for the kid. We snuggled and decided to read. I picked a book to read to my kid and I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least, “You have your tea and read your book; when you’re done you can read with me. I know you like to drink your tea first”.

There are times when I feel 7 is a magic number. My child can now understand jokes, make jokes, figure out what is going on around, articulate choices and decisions and still be the cuddly-wuddly baby I yearn for during bed time.

At a communal dinner, a friend saw my child struggling to find a spot to place the undesirables (as in, curry leaves, peppers and other healthy (?!) vegetables picked out of a vegetable dish). He asked “Who don’t you put them in a corner and continue eating?”. The friend didn’t realize that the plate was round. We had missed it too, like most adults do. “Circles have no corners, didn’t you know that?”, came a prompt reply. The room burst into laughter. Indeed, a proud moment as a mother.

After several minutes of struggle and laced with disappointment during a drawing session, “I am not that good at drawing. I don’t like the way this hippo looks”, the kid uttered. “You’ll get better with practice. I really like the way your hippo’s eyes stand out, it’s funny and sweet. I like it”, I was trying to be supportive. Then came an angry reply, “You will always like it because you are my mother. But the drawing is not that good. That’s all”. A lesson in objectivity! I was dumbfounded.

After witnessing a rather nasty street fight, “If we see bad people, we have to stop going there. We should stay safe and move away from them whenever we see them.” I realized the need for simple solutions and naivety, which adults tend to forget and lose focus in the long run.

This is not to say that the days of tantrums are over. This is not to say you will come back from a short grocery run and not find soap bubbling in the bathroom. This is not to say you will not discover a bump in the head and get a reply “I bumped my head again, but I didn’t want to tell you.” This is not to say holidays will not be filled with thousands of “I’m bored, what can I do now?” in a span of 10 minutes turning you into a cranky zombie.

This is not to say that. This is to give you hope. Hope that things get better. Hope that you will have time for a romantic dinner with your spouse. Hope that you will have time to reclaim your body. Hope that you will have time for hobbies. Most of all, hope that you will get a glimpse of the wonderful human being you have the privilege of raising, nurturing and inspiring.

Remember, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.

Sowmya describes herself as a Flamenco lover, Zumba instructor, secret diary writer, fitness gossip monger, eating-disorderaholic, optimistic cynic, adventure seeker in the body of a mother. She blogs at Searching for my rhythm…