The Moniker Mother

I have two kinds of friends: The amazing mothers who know exactly when it is time to transition their children from a sippy cup to a spoutless bottle with prospects of being working mothers when they want to and the super successful career women who are flying high, and I know would become wonderful mothers if they choose to some day. And here I am (and certainly not selling myself short), freshly off the B’school boat, unemployed and trying to be the best mother I can possibly free.

If you ask my two year old, she will tell you that I could be better. While I have overdone in the kisses department (3 million and counting? I don’t keep track really), we are yet to achieve sufficient potty training points and the tantruming is off the charts terrible. I am sometimes so preoccupied with my phone that when she points to something and asks me to identify it, I mumble something like “muffimifn” just to get her off my back.

Yet, this morning, while I was driving her to school, I was mulling over a conversation I had had with a couple of friends earlier about a career and motherhood. I am ashamed to say that I let myself think “yep, they all have a purpose in life and look at me, driving my daughter to daycare at 8.30am with an empty schedule for the day.” How dare I? How dare I?

As a woman in the postmodern world of feminism, I have been led to believe by my misguided ideas that my career is what defines me. You can imagine my shock when I arrived in USA and realized that I had to stay home all day mulling over dinner menus and which room to clean today. This is what led me to do my MBA with a year spent on prerequisites. While these are choices I made for myself, becoming a mother changed all that. When we bring a baby into this world, whether we like it or not, we start living our lives based on them. If you don’t believe me, try sleeping through the night when a newborn brings the roof down with her unabashed crying and try doing this once in 40 minutes. Whether we like it or not, we change our clocks according to our baby’s whim and fancy.

On this particular day, I looked at my baby through the rear-view mirror, pretending to be talking to one of the monkeys that fell of the bed and felt guilty for thinking there was no purpose in life. The thing is, I am going through a trying phase in life, trying to find employment and putting my education to use but I haven’t hit anything yet. That doesn’t give me the right to belittle anything in this world, especially not being a mother and taking care of my daughter.

Some day soon, I might find that job and become professionally active. That would not mean I would be any less of a mother than what I already am right now. For now, I should probably sit back (at designated times, of course) and become better friends with my daughter. If we conquer pottyland on the way, well, more power to us!

On Judging and Being Judged

Our previous generation is correct- we take this parenting thing a little too serious these days. Okay, I do know that bringing up a child is a matter that requires utter most seriousness but that doesn’t mean we must refrain from having fun, does it? It probably does and I have only one thing to blame this phenomenon called monster moms on- peer pressure.

Before you judge me, let me tell you this. My instincts are conflicted by fellow mothers everyday and I am not generalizing or snap judging anyone. Have any of you ever given sugary food to your children with a clear conscience? Mhmm? Neither have I. Apart from knowing that sugar is not a babe’s best friend and justifying it by telling myself that I *hardly* ever give Aarabhi baked treats or candy, I also cringe at the knowledge that health-conscious mothers would never give their children sweet treats every week. Why do I do that? Because internet.

Any parenting website I go to tells me I am wrong if I get my child to bed any time after 9. It tells me I am a bad mother if I give her the iPad, let her watch Monster Math or paint her toe nails when she begs me. I should probably stop listening to the condescending voice in my head but how? How especially when the voice has my best friend’s modulation and my cousin’s accent? So I probably should tune it out, try to go by my instincts. I should practice zen and listen to unwanted advice with as much patience and good grace as I can muster but if the voice gets condescending and passive aggressively points out my shortcomings as a mother (no, I don’t need you to do that. I have myself.), I am done I tell you.

I don’t judge, I will not judge. But I will not sit patiently while you hack my credibility and you shouldn’t either when someone else is. There is enough crap this world throws at us mothers, pitting against each other is not the best way to ride this BS out. We need friends and not frenimies!

Hello Again!

It is so weird, how I have been composing posts while I am awake, driving, taking a shower and on the brink of sleep and yet never managed to post a single word in the past year! I cannot say that I have been extremely occupied because that would be a lie. So I am going beyond reasons. We just got back from a trip to India three weeks ago and it took me all this while to settle down, nurse multiple viral infections around the house back to health and catch up on all the “constructive” work that were shelved when we left.

That’s one of the weird parts of long overseas trip. No amount of preplanning and organizing is good enough to make the settling down process easier when you get back! There is the jet lag- fueled strangeness about everything in the house. The bathroom you had lovingly (that’s the best word for some of us lethargic cleaners in this world) deep cleaned is back to looking like a corporation public restroom and the kitchen is too sparkly clean to be your turf. Then there is the strange case of your bedroom. You want to change the linen but you try to convince yourself that you had just done that before you left and no one technically used it in the past three weeks (the husband joined me two weeks after I landed). This is when the guilt of co-sleeping with the toddler catches up with you and you realize that you just have to change the sheets before you sleep. But it is 1am, come on!

The toddler. The baby of the family, the love of your life. The brat who forgot the meaning of booster seat, car seat and structure and yet you don’t really want to go all parent on her because she is missing everyone back at home so badly that she cries in the middle of the night for a week! So yes, it has taken me very long to settle back down and contemplate writing again. This time, I want to stick to it and do some real writing and not the kind that makes you obsess over what picture you are going to add to the post and if it has been styled right. I know I am done with that presently.

It indeed is hi again- hi again, writing, my old friend and the source of my living in the past. Hi again, wordpress, I have missed you. It sure is good to be back!

The Conflicts of Writing a Review. About a Bra.

This is a problem every woman might face at some point of time in her life; the innate, self-validating act that could bring extreme shame or glorious (self) recognition for a deed well done for the sake of other fellow women: write a review for something personal on a very public website like

If you are an online shopper like me, you would understand why I ponder extensively over a simple thing like writing a review for a bra. We all need those reviews, we make that extremely vital and time-consuming decision to buy a bra only because of good Samaritan reviewers who have taken time off and boldly typed pros after cons about a piece of undergarment. Yes, the one piece of garment that would save us painful moments while working out, walking to the car or even while being a bum, sitting on the couch and surfing through Netflix (pretending to study, of course) every day!

Why do I care? It is not like I am writing a hate message about a prominent member of the society to fear the Big Brother crowding my doorstep with deportation papers or losing the interest of a potential employer who might consider me an “invaluable potential addition to their organization”. It is a simple review and let’s face it, I am not a thriving young author who is looking to make her big break into the literary world either. I am a simple reviewer who is going to ensure her peers avoid a crappy bra day. Yes, that is a thing like bad hair day and I am sure every red-blooded-bra-wearing-individual would agree!

So really, why do I care? Everyone in this world knows that most women wear it. They don’t acknowledge it because it is not their darn problem, but if it stays up, they automatically know that we have some sturdy action (sometimes aided by metal) going on. If I want to sing the praises of a piece of bra on a public forum in a less dramatic way, I should. If I want to write a poem about the awesome piece I purchased last week and got it delivered to my doorstep, I should rethink the idea since no one really writes a poem for a piece of garment, but I must express my tears of gratitude I mentally shed while doing my circuit training this morning in words. I certainly should get on with it shamelessly and feel extremely proud when my review appears online with my name next to it.

Yes, that is freedom!

Coffee Ninja

*This post has been sitting in my drafts, all lonely and forlorn, for the past three days so I decided to revive it and get it up on the blog. Editing happened, yes.*

I made coffee twice this evening. I didn’t have visitors, I am not a caffeine addict. My first mug tasted perfectly wonderful- nice slight caffeine kick since I am still getting used to drinking coffee regularly, perfect amount of sugar-free (I bid adieu to sugar during my gestational diabetes period and haven’t gone back to it) and slightly cooler than I normally drink- something I have been doing since Aarabhi started moving around the house.

After making my cuppa, I sat down with a very teething-induced fussy baby and tried to calm her down by rocking her. Since she loves her grape juice (a beverage we started giving her since she turned three months, to combat constipation) and finds the sipper soothing to her troublesome teeth, I put it in her mouth. I had a pot of milk boiling on the stove. It was on low heat and I assured myself that I would be able to finish my coffee before I had to switch it off. I was obviously wrong, stupid old me.

The minute I propped Kohl on a pillow, sipper in her mouth, the stove started sizzling- a sure-shot sign that my milk was going to overflow everywhichway. I had to rush, of course. In the confusion, I forgot that I had left my coffee around the living room area and that Kohl loves mugs, plates and every other kind of flatware there is. I am pretty sure you have already guessed what happened in those two nanoseconds I spent on rushing to the kitchen to save the poor milk. My little ninja, the eight-months old baby somehow hoisted upper body from the pillow, glided towards the coffee cup and toppled it. Needless to say, she cried the Ganges. Although the coffee was very warm to me, it probably felt piping hot to her.

She did not burn her hands or any part of her body but I washed them with cold water and a good batch of maternal tears to make sure that it did not cause her any discomfort. She finally managed a smile through her watery eyes and I was convinced that she was alright. The white Onesie she had on was ruined, of course. I put her in her bouncer (with a lot of resistance from her) and took stock of the situation.

Then I spent 30 minutes trying to control the extent of damage our carpet had endured with very little success. Ditching the useless exercise, I made another cup of coffee, with Kohl perched on my hip. I drank this lukewarm of course. I was not going to trust myself, of course! People prepare us for this crawling phase, I know, but what about the warning that children turn into ninja warriors the minute they become mobile? Why haven’t we been prepared for that time in life when the little crying, pooping baby we shot out of us a few months ago becomes an agile little centipede who moves million times faster than our thought process does?

We Do Formula in this Household

After multiple attempts, most of which ended in one of us being sprayed with liquid or hit on the head with the feeding bottle, we finally got Kohlrabi to settle down and drink her formula. Emotionally, it has been a roller coaster ride for me. If you know me out of this blog, you would be aware that I was never a fan of filling my daughter with formula. I had, as every credulous first-time mother does, misplaced faith that I made enough healthy milk to feed my baby and I wouldn’t hear otherwise. But that didn’t happen.

I was doing all the right things- drinking super human levels of water, taking lactation supplements, chomping down on fenugreek seeds by the truck load and getting high on nutritious food. The thing is, ever since the beginning of this motherhood thingamajig, I have been a moderate milk producer. I have had my share of frustrated tears deep into the night, while attached to the breast pump, manual and automatic. I was tired, I had a lot to study and the breast pumps Were. Just. Not. Working. On. Me.

Although most people I told this to refused to believe that every pump I bought off Amazon failed me (that is impossible, someone claimed. The middle finger was shown, of course.). But I trudged on, feeding Kohlrabi straight from the boob. I was sub-consciously waiting for her to turn one so that I could get started on the weaning process. During her sixth month appointment, her pediatrician broached the subject of formula for the second time. Thankfully, she isn’t a huge cheerleader of formula, hence I knew that it was vital that I consider it.

Kohl has always been a non-chubby baby. She is not thin or anything but she will not stand a chance if she auditions for the Gerber commercial (not that I want her to, so phew!). Since she was not gaining weight as science expects her to, our pediatrician suspected that my breastmilk wasn’t healthy enough. So I stood there, looking at my nemesis, the can of formula powder that was going to replace me. After thinking for sometime, we decided to do it. And failed.

She spat it all out, she was enraged that we gave her this vile tasting iron powder thing when she wanted her usual milk. Ah, creatures of habit these babies are. We needed a new plan. So we started masking it with rice cereal and other baby foods she was taking by that time. We started off with mixing a quarter spoon into her dinner and gradually increased it until she started eating a full feed quantity of formula powder in her dinner. And then we began mixing it with water.

She tried to resist but then thankfully, Aarabhi’s parents are stronger than she is so her little paws had to fall off, all tired out after clawing us for a few minutes. The process was gradual and sometimes painful but it needed to be done. Sadly, my milk production has decreased quite a bit since January but then, I was at the risk of that happening anyway when she started daycare.

Kohl still comfort feeds in the nights and in the morning. Although I am plagued by thoughts of inadequacy regularly, I know that we are going the right direction with her. I made peace with formula because it does have a lot of nutrients that thin breast milk lacks. Ultimately, we want our children to be healthy, happy and not throwing a tantrum due to hunger issues.

I know Aarabhi goes to bed, full and content after that one bottle of formula at night. It gets her to sleep peacefully and it sure keeps me sane! Isn’t that how it should be?

Food Issues

I admit it. When it comes to food, I am like a trash can. I eat everything that is put on my plate and I make sure I finish them good. This was how I was brought up at home. If we said no to a dish, we were sure to get double servings of it. Although Amma took mercy on us sometimes, Appa was pretty rigid when it came to Booah aka food.

I am, and my husband would vouch for it, a deal hunter. Although I am not at the risk of being featured on The Coupon Addict (or Extreme Cheapskates) anytime soon, I feel immense excitement when I find something that I want on sale. I love WalMart and Costco. Not many people would say that out loud about the former but I cannot keep it in. See, WalMart is like the period. Everyone knows about it but no one talks about it. So yes, I do make my weekly trips to the nearest outlet and stock up on store brand stuff.

So when this whole organic lifestyle became popular, I did not take heed. I felt that the damage to my system was already done. I grew up on fresh vegetables from the farmer’s market behind our house in India. Although we got fresh stock of produce every day, who knows what went into cultivating them, right? So apart from those summertime farmer’s market trips in the Alabama home, organic food pretty much stayed out of the house. Until Aarabhi.

See, with our children, we hate taking chances. We worry about unknown diseases and wonder about what chemicals go into mass cultivating crops. This routine regularly keeps me up at night. To top it all, I extensively read about an extensive number of subjects on the internet. At the end of the day, comments like “I don’t want my daughter to get her period at four,” and “I don’t want her to develop boobs at seven,” on Organic Foods forum really get to me. In a funnily horrifying way! Would I be compromising my daughter’s health and her childhood by picking up that Beech Nut bottle of baby food instead of Earth’s Best at the store? I might.

I hate leaving things up to fate because fate is still something I have my reservations about. I will contemplate later. So we have consciously chosen to go organic with Kohl. Not us. Only her. I make my weekly trips to our local Publix (ugh) and Earth Fare (which I love, btw). I choose the green tab range of Gerber foods and blindly pick any five vegetarian choice that Earth’s Best has to offer. So what if I get funny glances from snooty shoppers, like I don’t belong here? And so what if I realize that I have my cami on the wrong way under my sweater (a result of getting dressed in the dark) only after the billing clerk pointedly stares at it?

I know I don’t belong here and I really don’t give a sh!t about it. But for Aarabhi, I will make peace with it all.