Dearest ma, you have a secret and I need you to share it!
You are just a phone call away, but I felt like writing in to you today. I know you don't like reading emails and call yourself technologically challenged, but this modern age daughter of yours types out better than she speaks especially when she’s confused, so please make an exception.
I went to a garments exhibition the other day and bought you a beautiful sari. It was supposed to be a surprise but since the cat is out of the bag anyway, let me also add that its maroon, your favourite colour. It reminded me of a similar one you wore on my thirteenth birthday. Remember, that day when I refused to even look at you for baking me a chocolate cake instead of vanilla?
I recollect being a rebellious teenager, and our relatives never miss the opportunity to remind me what a cranky baby and a fidgety toddler I was. So it must’ve not been easy parenting me. Yet you managed not only me, but my brother, your husband, a job, the house and your in - laws and still looked impeccable always.
I have just one child, a cook, a maid, a husband who mostly picks up after himself, a flexible job and yet don't seem to have the time to smile or shower, let alone look presentable. Please tell me ma, how on earth did you manage all?
Back in those days, we were a struggling, middle class family with a tight budget and no phone or TV. Toys and books were hand me downs, the maid was a luxury and travel was always by public transport.
Today, I have the TV, Ipad, diaper wipes, bouncers, tons of people around the world advising me on how to raise my son but I'm still nervous and tired all the time, not knowing if I parent right.
If it has supposedly become easier, why is it so difficult to keep up?
You followed your disciplining techniques regardless of what others said. Food was only ragi porridge (millet flour and milk) till we were two. Later it was what was cooked and seldom what we asked for. Today, I question the repercussions of every little disciplining method before trying them on my child. And eating? I made rainbow-coloured meals for him when he was a baby, yet worried if the diet is balanced. And now he is the boss of his food choices or he doesn’t open his mouth for even a single morsel. Power of choice to empower them, they say. If this is the way of modern parenting, why am I still unsure?
We were mostly left to fend for ourselves during playtime while you worked, and you didn’t really bother whether we had scraped knees or sunburnt faces as long as we were back at sundown. More than recollecting you being away, I recollect you spending quality time with us. Today when I work, I feel guilty that I’m not doing the 100 Pinterest projects with my child like the other mums or imagine the worst when my child gets even the slightest cut. And when he steps out, I smother him with sunscreen with the fear of the UV ray monsters. Raising kids has become more of a worry than joy for me.
Did you ever feel judged, inadequate or guilty during your parenting journey? You did not use grandma’s parenting techniques and had your own. So how were you so sure that you got it right?
If it makes you feel any better, sorry for being mad at you on the thirteenth birthday party. I enjoyed the cake though I didn’t admit it. Sorry for being such a prude through my life. There, I said it. But now, I need you to be kind and let me in your secret. Please tell me what you ate, drank or did to stay sane while raising us. I need you to tell me this before I fizzle out in this parenting journey. Should I parent my way and care two hoots about what the universe thinks? Ah, I can almost see you smile in agreement.
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