And another year rolls by

… And here I am – 31 years old!

It’s been a year since I started work too and I figured it might be a good time to take stock. To begin with – I don’t feel like writing this post. Or any post at the moment, for that  matter. I just seem to be so busy living life that the posts can’t keep up with the life. Kids, husband, family, friends, job, home, reading, partying, – just… living!

Last year this time I was high on my new tattoo, nervous about leaving my life as a freelancer and excited about my new flexi-time job. This year, my tattoo is as much a part of me as my eyelashes and nails. I often forget I have one until someone points it out. I still miss my life at home and I have slowly begun to settle down in the new job. Part of the joy of being a journalist is in meeting interesting people. And of course in the world we live in today, things like fastest, biggest and youngest are often feted. Which is why I often find myself talking to people who are the youngest achievers in some field or the other. I admire them. I listen to them and live through them. Dive with them to see the sharks, roam the hills as they work with the underprivileged and stand by and clap as I walk down the aisle with them to receive their awards.

And yet, the moment I shut my notebook and wonder if this is the life I should have chosen, I feel this ache in my belly which is about more than my skipped lunch. It’s an ache that reels me in, that reminds me of two pairs of shiny bright eyes. Of two little faces that recognise my code when I ring the bell. Two pairs of fists that beat down the door waiting for the maid to come and let their mother in. Two little faces that bury themselves in my sweaty kurta, my filthy jeans, hang on to my ink-stained fingers. Two little voices that go ‘Mamma, mamma, mamma, mamma…’

And mamma shuts the door and leaves the world and its achievements behind. All of them somehow paling in comparison to the joy she feels. The beauty of it being that unlike scaling a mountain or winning an award, I can do this everyday and still feel my heart begin to race as I take the last two flights of stairs to my door.

The last time I had a full time job (albeit not flexitime), I was a young newly wed. Meals were out of Bombay’s famous dabbas, our furniture consisted of a few cane chairs, bean bags and mattresses on the floor. All I had to do was look out for myself and the OA fended for himself just fine. This time I’m back at work, almost 5 years later and I leave home each morning with a frown.

Not because I don’t like my work but because I’m ticking off lists in my head. Have the plants been watered? Did I remember to put the Brat’s homework into his bag? What about that boiled potato the Bean’s teacher wanted for their fireless cooking class? I must call the plumber for the leaky tap in the nursery. I hope the new maid doesn’t do something silly while I am away. Even at work, I call up to check as the kids are picked up from school and taken home. And then twenty minutes later – have they had lunch? They’re fussing? What’s wrong? Too much chilli in the dal? Then quickly add some curd to it. And so it goes on.

By the time I get home, there’s homework, a little playtime with them and then it’s back to work for me. Models to check on, photographers to chase, celebrities to keep track of, pages to make, artists to beg… the list goes on.So yes, if I look back on the last  year, what is new and special is that I have begun to work out of home. That I am back outside, meeting new people, putting my best foot forward, talking business, being an adult.

Except, that the more I think of it, the more this year has reminded me that there is nothing like rearing my kids that makes me feel like an adult. The rest is window dressing. There is nothing that tries my patience as much as the Brat putting his pencil down and just refusing to pick it up and write the alphabet. Nothing makes my forehead crease as much as one of the kids falling ill. No well written story brings as much pride to my face as being told that my children behaved well at a party. I’ve often had women tell me that they just don’t have it in them to be a mother. I’ve not judged it, but I’ve not understood it either. I nod understandingly and search deep within for a streak that says I am not made to do this, and I don’t find it. Even at my most frustrated, when I rush out to the balcony to take deep gulps of the fresh air, wondering what insane impulse made me tell the OA that I wanted to have a baby… when I eye the ledge greedily, wondering if one little step off would solve my problems, I know deep within that this is just a test. It’s not that I can’t do it. It’s just that I need to put in a little more effort.

All my life I’ve dropped things that I haven’t mastered. In a petulant childish way. Like driving and swimming. They just don’t interest me because I couldn’t master them. This mothering thing is one thing I couldn’t afford to drop. Every time I fail at doing something for the kids and I want to give up in that spoilt way of mine, I know I just can’t. This is one time I don’t have that option. And so I persevere and struggle because I am a perfectionist and if I don’t have the option of dropping it, I have to keep trying until I meet my own standards.

Some months ago I found myself slipping up. I looked around at other parents who were more driven by their professional aspirations than personal and I was slowly influenced enough to let go a little. To let the kids alone a little more, to not come rushing home the second I got off work. And then I read this post by Tharini. She and I come across as such starkly different people through our blogs and yet deep down we’re driven by the same things and have the same values.

She was right. She IS right. We ARE parents. To me, that is my first and foremost job, definition, role. All else comes next.  And as I turn 31 I realise that it’s going to be a looooong time before motherhood ceases to define me. If at all it ever does. To quote her, my first and foremost duty is to raise my children and if it means staying at home to do so, I will do it, no matter how it hits our bottom line!! In this one matter, I am very free from conflict.

Her post reminded me of all I’ve been working towards in the last five years. All that I was allowing to slip away. I am not a very ambitious person in my professional life even though I have many personal aspirations. But being the perfectionist I am, I tend to push myself harder at work too. This directly impacts my personal life. As I struggle to make contacts, attend events and do more.

And it was around this time that I realised it simply means pushing myself further on just these two fronts and letting all else go. My friends have suffered undoubtedly, but it’s also shown me who my true friends are. The ones that make the effort to still call. Who know that I have a five year gap in my career to fill. A full time job even if it allows me flexibility with regard to timings. A husband who travels a lot. Two children who are undergoing allergy treatments. A bum knee that makes negotiation stairs difficult. No permanent, safe childcare solution. And no family in town. They don’t guilt trip me. They realise that I have to slowly figure out a balance and this is a tough time for me. They understand that if I don’t make regular calls its simply because I’ve spent the day on the phone coordinating a shoot and have cell phone fatigue and really don’t want to be on the phone while I help my four year old write the alphabet or my two year old put together a puzzle.

This might make me sound like a helicopter parent, but I think turning 30 set me free. I don’t care what people think of me or my parenting.  All I know is that this is the one chance I get at parenting them right and this is the one childhood they get. I can’t afford to screw it up for them. Besides I am NOT with them all day. They know I am at my desk working and they run in and out, only bothering with me if they something in particular. And then there is THEIR time when I don’t even bother to take calls and I don’t care who is calling – everything can wait.

I’m afraid this has ended up being more about parenting than my 31st year but I guess that is what my 31st year has been about. Learning to finally juggle. And boy has it been exhausting.

This is how work panned out while balancing motherhood. My kids covering my arms with stickers as I work. That and of course working with sick children spread out around me on the floor!

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At the end of this year of being in my thirties and being a working mother, I still have more respect for the mothers who stay home. I still feel that work is a bit of an escape from a bigger responsibility. That staying home was braver and took a lot more out of me and my reserves of strength than this getting away for a break and leaving the daily grind that TRULY tries your patience, to hired help/daycare/whatever else.

On a more positive note it’s taught me to stretch my day. To extend my self. I’ve ended up tired, frazzled, cranky and frustrated with the system, but I come home to the bliss of excited children and a smiling husband and unconditional love. Yes, there are days they throw tantrums and I am tempted to leave them at the door with the garbage, but mostly they’re my refuge.

I thought of digging up last year’s wishlist but you know what – this year I just don’t care. I have all I want. And yes, you guys and the blog are part of it. Yes, yes, you awful, nasty, cranky trolls too. You’re the kala teeka on it all!

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PS: I just found this old picture of me  – I always got a pavadai for my birthday until I turned about 10 so this is probably my 9th or 10th birthday. And the girl in the blue tee-shirt behind me, with her sleeves pushed up, has probably just turned 30 or 31 the day before – my ma who turned 51 yesterday. I look twice as old as her today and my kids aren’t half as old as hers were! And yes, I had a Barbie cake – that’s the sorta kid I was. Come on, gimme a break – I’d never seen one and an uncle got it for me from UK!

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133 thoughts on “And another year rolls by

  1. Happy Birthday! I hope you spend more time with your beautiful babies and your husband.

    “I still have more respect for the mothers who stay home. I still feel that work is a bit of an escape from a bigger responsibility.” — I love this quote, i couldn’t have said it better.

    I have never seen a barbie cake.. nice 🙂

  2. Happy Birthday MM 🙂 May god bless you and your family with eternal bliss, happiness and prosperity 😉

    I love that instead of writing about your wish-list, you focused on the topic, realms and challenges of parenting. I am already 30, with no kids. I have a lot to catch up. And fast 😀 Happy 31st! Bask in your parenthood glory!

    http://shop.kirantarun.com

  3. Ah, I looked at the lady in the blue tee and thought “That’s MM… no it isn’t… let’s read anyway – AH! THAT explains it!” You do look very much like your mother, MM 🙂

    Congratulations on the newfound freedom, Supermom :).

  4. Happy Birthday MM!

    I was having a cup of my special darjeeling as I was reading your post and it felt like a relaxed chat with a friend over chai (yes, even though I am mostly a lurker, your blog has come to be endearingly familiar to me). I just wanted to come out and say it on your birthday. That is one nice birthday cake btw!

    ~EE

  5. Dear MM,

    wishing you loads of happiness with your family on your birthday. May god bless you with the happiness and joy in abunndance.

    Happy Birthday.

    Avery beautiful post, you have poured your heart out 🙂

  6. Oh i could identify with so much of this post, the letting go of things i couldnt master, the realization of how difficult staying at home with your children actually is etc. I loved it!
    Have a very happy birthday and many many more. May you never be tired. May God bless and keep you always and may you stay forever young.

  7. Hi there,
    A very Happy Birthday MM and touch wood for you have all you want..
    wish you and your family great health in the coming year and always.. I like the honesty with which you do this parenting job.. which isn’t easy.

    lol, you got that sticker full hand clicked 🙂

    i am really touching wood now.

  8. May all your dreams (crazy ones too…;))….come true…!

    many many happy returns of the day….have an unusual one….:)

    ..Shi

  9. Happy birthday MM.
    Loved your post and identified with it. Even though I have made such different choices.
    Because I have been having the same thoughts recently- there is no wish list any more.
    I too have all that I could ever ask for. I understand the feeling.
    May it always stay this way for both of us 🙂

  10. happy birthday.
    i have one kid, live abroad where keeping the job/family/house together is mired with a whole different struggle..i sometimes wonder if returning to india would ease my life at all- reading this it seems not..yr post just made me think aloud

  11. Happy Birthday MM! I wish you all the clarity and confidence you look for on the other side of thirty!

    And then…Barbie cake??? LOL! Somehow I find it very hard imagining you as being a barbie person even as a little girl!

  12. Hello Mad momma…

    You have made me realize that I have been following your blog for more than a year now…:D Anyways without digressing I want to wish you a very happy birthday…Hope you have a great time with your family!

  13. happy birthday, MM! Wishing you lots and lots of happy, quality time doing the things you enjoy best by yourself and with your family…the fun and rewarding things you care about…which you already have figured out and you are not even well into your 30s…seriously, figuring what you want out of life doesnt come easily for many! 30s is the new 20s as some like to think…30s are the best because you tend to get more comfortable with who you really are…

  14. Happy Birthday MM! Loved the post, as always…

    My personal fav line – “…Dive with them to see the sharks, roam the hills as they work with the underprivileged and stand by and clap as I walk down the aisle with them to receive their awards.”

    I think this line only goes to prove ur not simply doing journalism as a job but ‘cuz you truly listen and feel the life of the person you are interacting with. And it also shows in all ur responses to people who write comments on ur blog. Love how you take out personal attention to answe each and every known or anonymous comment.

  15. hey mm,
    it is liberating isnt it..gets better at 40 ;oP

    i was amongst the people who thought i wd not be able to be a “good” mom. been trying to get it right for a while now…self critiquing being a hobby!!
    and oh yes…being a sah mom is definitely tougher. everytime a well meaning friend asks me to “get out there, and get a job”, i evaluate and come up with “this is it at the moment”, and as you said wisdom is knowing what you want!

  16. Awww such a sweet,classic MM post.
    Happy birthday Sweetie..Wish you all the happiness…have a great birthday with OA,the babies,and everyone you love..

  17. happy birthday tmm!

    You have the strength, in your head and heart, to go out and follow your dreams. With your children in tow! They are a part of your dream, as you will be a part of theirs, na?

  18. Many happy returns of the day MM…Just like you even I was reading Tharini’s post and trust me at my stage of madness of handling a sick baby, balancing it with tons of office work I have realised that my first job is as a parent more important than anything else in the world…Thank you for just re-enforcing what Tharini said and thanks for just reminding that to me all over again…:)

  19. Happy birthday! 🙂
    I totally agree with ur point “I still feel that work is a bit of an escape from a bigger responsibility. That staying home was braver and took a lot more out of me and my reserves of strength than this getting away for a break and leaving the daily grind that TRULY tries your patience, to hired help/daycare/whatever else” …being a working mother myself, I can so relate to what u said.

  20. Happy Bday MM.Have a great year ahead.
    Barbie Cake and all:-) Back home in Ghy, we still have those same old round cakes..sigh..

  21. Happy birthday MM. So you’re a virgo huh? I’m one too 🙂
    And that was one lovely and honest post. How as we grow up, our priorities change.. but I don’t even know what my prioritites are. I think its ok as long as you are loving what you’re living 🙂 Just like you.
    And you are so skinny, I was very skinny at that age, I am still. 😛 Probably after two kids that might change.
    Love and hugs to the kids.
    So where s the party??

  22. hey many many happy returns of the day.
    May the next year and years to come be even more joyous or fulfilling than the last.

    have a blast 🙂

  23. What a wonderful post MM! Wishing u even more energy and enthusiasm for life this coming year. Much love and hugs to u – have a great day!

  24. Happy 31 MM. May you have many many more happy ones to come.

    I so agree with you about the stay at home moms..it takes a certain nerve to leave your job and stay at home with the kids. End of this month i complete 13 yrs of my work life..dont know if there is something called a 13 yr itch..i just dont feel like showing up to work anymore. i hv refused attending dinners/team outing..anything and everything and use the first available oppurtunity to run home coz the feeling of guilt kills me. Feeling that my kids dont see my face for a good part of the day..feeling that they are forced to be a part of my routine..which means getting up in time so i can get them ready and run out to work..even during their holidays. Sure i have family support, but nothing like the mother being around. And with time grandparents just dont cant match the enery levels of 2 hyperactive boys 😦 A lot of women at work tell me that it gets better once you hit the 40s..not sure if it is because the kids have grown up and they are so used to not having you around and they have no such expectations going forward or you have gone too used to your routine and the guilt doesnt bother any more. lets see how it goes. I will hit 40 before you do..so if you are still blogging a few years from now..i’ll let you know the 40 feeling 🙂

    Sorry for the long comment/rant. Enjoy your day with the OA and the babies.

  25. Happy Birthday MM!!! I love how you’ve accepted the thirties, and even welcome the changes they’ve brought in you and your life. Me, I’m so stubbornly childish that when I turn 30 in 5 years I’m probably going to go into denial mode and become one of those awful women who lie about their age. Sigh!!

    And your Mom…..I can’t believe how young she looks in that picture. Heard to believe she had a 9/10 year old kid. * Shaked head in disbelief *

  26. Happy Birthday MM!!! I love how you’ve accepted the thirties, and even welcome the changes they’ve brought in you and your life. Me, I’m so stubbornly childish that when I turn 30 in 5 years I’m probably going to go into denial mode and become one of those awful women who lie about their age. Sigh!!

    And your Mom…..I can’t believe how young she looks in that picture. Hard to believe she had a 9/10 year old kid. * Shaked head in disbelief *

  27. Hey MM, I look up to you when it comes to juggling things, being a smiley, friendly person, and for writing the way you do! And I have noticed whenever I could, you are a terrific mom. I am not saying this because you are my friend, i am saying this because I have seen that you are genuinely happy as a mother! May God bless you and all your near and dear ones!

    Happy Birthday!

    Love and hugs,
    Anjali

  28. Happy Birthday Sweet MM! It’s been a hard and yet rewarding year for you. I think you’ve done a terrific job and yes no doubt SAHMing is much harder than this even with all the juggling that one has to do!

  29. lovely post 🙂 have come to love your blog, though i don’t comment very often…

    wishing you a very very happy birthday, and many more years of happiness with your wonderful husband and your lovely kids 🙂

  30. Dear MM,

    Wish you a very happy birthday, and many more wonderful ones in the years to come!

    Look what I got you as your present…

    :p
    Belated birthday wishes to your mother as well. She has an uncanny resemblance to a Hindi/Tamil actress in this particular photo. Not quite able to place it properly.

    Me: LMAO!!! THIS IS THE BEEESSST gift I’ve received. Thanks 😀

  31. Loved the troll spray- lovely birthday gift.
    Great post- may you manage to happily juggle everything you do this coming year.
    Happy birthday and God bless you.

  32. Happy birthday MM!
    Wishing you happiness always!!

    As for this post..its lovely and I can connect to most things you have written here..

    “And mamma shuts the door and leaves the world and its achievements behind. All of them somehow paling in comparison to the joy she feels. The beauty of it being that unlike scaling a mountain or winning an award, I can do this everyday and still feel my heart begin to race as I take the last two flights of stairs to my door”…absolutely adore this!

  33. happy birthday MM. I think part of the reason we all play this juggle game is that its challenging. Good luck with everything. I remembered you a lot last night when I was watching Rock On on a flight (don’t know why, but just did remember you strongly).

  34. bon anniversaire, babe!
    How about you a get a new tatoo every year…It’d definitely make for a quirky feature story in papers by the time you are 60 😛

  35. a very happpppy buddddday to you, Madmomma! may be have many,many more!!! 🙂

    i think life is about prioritising and once you know wats important to you, you really dont worry so much about the rest. the kids are obviously a priority and so the job is important in its own way but not as imp as the kids. it can never be..and i totally understand that…my mom was like that.. chucked a couple of good jobs because she either wanted to be home for me or refused to bend her principles to climb up the ladder. and nope,i dont think motherhood would ever cease to define you.. its a permanent state.. and a nice one, i believe!

    you know wat those stickers remind me of? mt dad! he would always “decorate” my arms with used electrict/scotch tape after a session of “lets fix everything at home”. i loved the game till 6 or 7. ofcourse the used tape wasnt as colourful as those stickers adorning ur arm!

    i think u look like ur mum….

  36. hi…happy b’day…
    i too am a working mom n absolutely agree with u…when my sis had her first kid, her dr. told her,”ur child is ur responsibility”…what a truth ,right…..but i always say ,the way my kid luks upto me n with that sweet smile calls me amma, i tend to 4get everythng….my son turned 3 las mnth…he has taught me so many things…( i am not that much into automobiles n hardly cud identify a santro from i10…but not anymore…i cant help it….my son is so much into it…he was asking me yday pntng at a car, “amma is that a punto or palio”, thank god all these cars has names written on them..)..

    hurrah to motherhood..

  37. Happy Birthday dear MM !! I raced through all that you have written and kept nodding my head and I am not even a mother yet 😛 But I got to give all the love and time I received from me mom 🙂

    U see I would want them to love me, feel the same way abt me as I think of my mom 😉

    Happee birthday again !

  38. Happy birthday MM,

    One of your very well written pieces. though I am a complete working mother 🙂
    And ditto about the tattoo- got one last year, would wanna put it onto everyone’s face ( difficult since it was hidden on my back) but I dont even remember I have one.

    cheers

  39. you are doing the best you can and that is all that matters…happy birthday, sista!!!

    btw, your mom is gorgeous!!! i love her skin tone!!!happy birthday to her too! she must be so proud of you!

  40. Happy Birthday MM! I hope you a fabulous 31st year!! Hope the allergy treatments are going well for the B&B. Did you get a cake this year? Please tell me you got cake, atleast one piece?

  41. Belated Happy Birthday fellow Libran! I love this tagline on one of the T-shirts I saw “I am a Mother, therefore I am!!”

    This touched my heart and next is your post. Both carry the same message. My husband always wonders why I rush out of work, when he can pick up our kids from Daycare if required. But I have to do it myself, because I love them coming running to my arms and I have to feed them on our way home in the car. Sing with them. It is that 15 mins I love for some reason.

    Hope you live long and happy life with Grandkids surrounding you like your little puppies are now 🙂

  42. Happy birthday, MM 🙂 I hope the years ahead keep getting better and better.. so much that i want to say. Will reserve it for a mail..
    Was going to ask you how you managed pavadais in ur part of the country… i am guessing your mum/ grandmum made it for you. That’s a lovely pic of your birthday…
    hugs and god bless.

  43. many many happy returns of the day, MM 🙂

    may you have many many more 🙂 and always your post is absolutely fantastic!

    love
    snippetsnscribbles

  44. That was a beautiful post. My belated birthday wishes to you!
    Most of your posts have always been an inspiration to me. This was definitely one of those 🙂
    Wish you a wonderful year ahead!

  45. You know sweetheart…I may have blogged about it, but you’re the one that’s living it every single day of your parent life. I don’t know in what words to show my respect for that! I am glad you havw figured you are exactly where you should be. God, its huuuuuuge that you’ve figured that! I envy you that peace. I hate to feel envy, but I really do now.

    That said, today, I am in a position where I have to stay home again. Work is very quiet and the boss wants me to take longer to come back. So am basically on call and gosh!…things couldn’t get better than this and I am secretyl happy. 😀

    Me: well I envy you that return to staying home so two envying people cancel each other out 😉 yeah, this is mad math by the mad momma. as for the peace – could anyone be more peaceful than Tara? hugs

  46. Happy Birthday 🙂 I have been lurking a while. Love your writing. You have described your emotions about being a mother and having a career beautifully. I have tons of conflict within me about this myself. Never been able to express it this well. Loved it! You are doing great MM 🙂

  47. I guess this is the best time to de-lurk…Belated B’day wishes. It took me more than a week to get back to reading your blog. But as usual you have expressed best what a fellow ‘thirty-oner’ like me only plays in the mind with! Wishing you a great year ahead!

  48. Finally catching up on some of the blogs. Glad you had a nice birthday dinner, MM. Love the last pic (and yes, I was smirking at the Barbie cake, heh).

    You realise you’ll be a wise 40 while I’m still a giddy young 36? Now there’s a thought. 🙂

    Make a wishlist anyway.

    love,
    Sue

  49. Pingback: Learning to be still | The Mad Momma Online

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