Saturday, 14 June 2008

Motherhood and apple-pie, of course

The writing of the monster's birth story made me think a wee bit about ideal, perfect, beautiful, serene mommies, and myself. Who is nothing of those things. Usually the first reaction of people when I tell them I have a four year old daughter is disbelief. Part of that might be because they are being polite, I do it too, you know. I always tell women that it is very hard to believe that they have such grown up children, and sometimes, I am being only partly truthful and partly saying it because I like the smile they give me when I say that. But I have to admit that part of that disbelief might have something to do with what I project myself as. And what a 34-year old, much married, mother of a child is 'supposed' to look and behave like.

I was supposed to climb into the back of a Sumo yesterday. There was slush all around so one had to step from the pavement to the little foot-place on the Sumo directly. The girl who was ahead me hmmed and hawed and finally heaved herself in. When she saw I was behind her she offerred me her hand, you know, to pull me in. I should have felt insulted. Heck! my daughter could have climbed in yaar, and you are giving me a hand? Poor thing looked quite shocked when I just un-lady-like-ly hitched up my salwar and literally bounded in. My neck hurts some in recent times. My abdominal muscles have sort of given up the fight, I do moan and groan about how old I feel. Sometimes. Most times I run around like a headless chicken (I have absolutely NO economy of movement. Its sad. With age one is suppose to acquire that poise and that stately regal bearing. I am on my toes so much, literally).

So that stuff is all when the monster is not around. When she is around with me, we pretty much always hold hands. Most times if she jumps across something, so do I. People laugh at me, I suppose, but I don't care. I talk to her using giant big words, virtually no coo-chie-coo things. I have conversed with her since she was even more little. She has always nodded wisely, repeated the strange sounding words out loud, and used them in the most inappropriate of places leading to a combination of embarassment and pride (for us, as parents, who let their child say things like 'I am sufferring here' at the age of four). I avoid some of my vocabulary in her presence, but few, countable words - idiot, stupid and fuck mainly. I say shit a lot, sometimes soften it as shoot, though not always, but nowadays she scolds me saying that is not nice to say. Pretty much no other barriers here.

Sometimes we drink at home, without making a big deal about it. Many of our friends, and some of our relatives drink too. Some smoke, though they walk out onto the landing when they light up. It is not a big deal. No one really hides their drink. We don't call it 'juice for adults.' We tell her its beer or whiskey (or coffee or tea), and thats the end of it. She is hardly interested beyond that. There was one time my husband and she were in the store and he suddenly discovered that our friendly neighbourhood supermarket had started carrying alcohol. He went 'Slurp, maybe I should pick up some B E E R for myself' (spelling the word out, that is). She promptly went at the top of her lungs 'Appa you want to buy beer?' much to the chagrin of local aunties out shopping. In a way I was glad I wasn't there since surely they would have all looked disapprovingly at me, this bad mother. I would have been obliged to smile at them at that. They would have further thought me mad. Well, maybe it would have been interesting. Anyway the husband burst out laughing.

So here is the madmomma, from her recent post -

"And yet, the moment you become a parent, you are supposed to stop being the person you were and just fit this stereotype. No more bad language, no more TV, no more listening to the heavy metal (only Mozart) and no smoker friends hanging around. And then some. Suddenly you’re a homogeneous bunch of women who are supposed to lose all other interests the moment you begin to lactate."

Her plaint really made me consider the truth - that while I love my child immensely and feel real lucky to be her mother, it has never crossed my mind that I have to change myself, now that I am a (drumrolls) MOTHER. There has been no pressure, virtually. I continued to hang out with the men at work, who, fathers or not, did not seem to particularly alter tendencies of drinking chai endlessly or complaining about the accounts department, or whatever. Our friends (few and far between as they are) were the same ones we had before parenthood took us by storm (or whatever). True, I had to lie low for a bit, catch up on much needed sleep, avoid alcohol when I was pregnant/feeding, and such other things, but I do think that nothing has changed at the core. Or, for that matter, on the outside of me. The clothes I feel comfortable in, the shoes I normally wear, not liking to get wet in the rain, these things are the same.

It is, of course, true what they say. Having a child changes your life entirely. Of course. Starting a new job changes things dramatically too. Having a parent come and live with you changes things. A new city makes your life feel very different from that other one, for one, the traffic is much more crazy, and the streets are really not clean at all, and the weather is just nuts. And we all grow up, from not liking aviyal at all, turning your nose up at it when mum made it at home, to making it yourself with full enthu, and sitting down and eating a second round of it. But this stuff about re-inventing yourself (into mommy-mould), shunning old friends (maybe because they drink or smoke), changing your religious beliefs (so you can give your child something of that), and whatever else because you are now a mother, sorry, I just could not do that. I suppose I considered it for a bit, but four years out, I think the discovery is really that it is impossible for me. I am just the same old Kenny, only older, and cooler, because I now have this monstrous side-kick of mine, this mini-Kenny to inflict on people, in addition to myself.

Which is all fine and dandy, but sometimes, I would give a body part away for the pleasure of an evening out at Totos, without a care about the time or place.


choxbox said...

no wonder she asks you to tell her abt evolution and all.
btw did you find that book?

dipali said...

I think the nicest part of motherhood was simply enjoying my kids and their company and their growth. I don't know if I ever consciously or unconsciously adopted a different persona as a mother. Maybe I was just too bindaas to do that. I suppose it's important to interact with people who go beyond stereotypes themselves. Sometimes young mothers are very susceptible to any kind of criticism , overt or implied, about them in this new role. I guess being self-contained helps!
Its fun reading about you and your monster! Enjoy:)

kbpm said...

nope couldn't find the book. found some videos on and an illustrated science encylopedia or something in crossword. have some answers for her, but still not satisfied myself (she seems happy, wants some more pictures to see though).
but now she has asked me how babies are made. whether mummys and daddys put them together bone by bone. tell me what to say to her, please.

absolutely. i occasionally tend to enjoy less and worry more (not about what people think of me as a mother, but just internally, my own self). i am really trying hard to avoid that. Of course, it helps to hear from others!

I do wish the society would stop torturing us with the stereotypes. About C-sections and breast-feeding and working mums and those that stay at home, its like you cannot ever win. thankfully, i was (somewhat) insulated from it all. but then i was thirty, and had explored myself well, though there are at least a hundred occasions when i wished i had had my child when i was younger for various reasons!!

SrgntPepper said...

choxbox said...

kenny, will call ya up tomorrow and give gyaan on how/what i said on the topic. on the other hand, you tell me what you are telling her, i expect it'll be brilliant stuff. also i have to ask you some stuff n3 asked me for which i couldnt think of an answer.

the best bit abt the 30s is that you no longer care abt what the rest of the world thinks. of course we all turned 30 while we were still on campus.

kbpm said...

funny. i could just change it from Kmart to Bigbazaar. :)
thanks. we will talk. i told her sperm and egg and fertilisation. she got very excited to hear about eggs inside. so, as opposed to brilliant, quite silly, i must say.

Sraikh said...

I was nodding and agreeing with most if not all of your points.
we dont call happy juice, We call it wine, beer and told them they can have when they are older.
My dh used to smoke but gave it up now.
I never used silly words, but used penis, vagina(my girls called it virginia) and breasts.

But I recently went out to a club and I didnt enjoy it much. The smoke was too much so maybe I have changed :)

kbpm said...

aah the v word. have not used it yet. its a good idea, she loves to swill words around. well the question about how babies are made is coming back to me once a day. have to go forward with it now. i diverted it a bit by talking about chromosomes and how boys are boys and girls are girls.