Thank you, but it wasn’t about me

Well, this is a response to your overwhelming response on the last post. This and the Jasmine post had a lot of you praising me and I can’t help but feel like a fraud. Because they were not meant to be about me or about anything that I have done. Heck, I didn’t even think they had anything to with me or that my part was praiseworthy. So if any sense of pride came through in them, I must look deeper and rethink and rewrite, and beg your forgiveness, because that’s not what they were meant to be.

Both those posts were my tribute to the resilience and indomitable spirit that children seem to have. My son who took changes in school, teaching, life and much more until he broke under the pressure. For rising above everything and fighting his demons and getting back on track.  And much more praiseworthy than him, the two little flower selling boys who don’t have the privileged life that my son does. Who rose above their poverty to make a very sweet gesture.

Getting back to the Brat, I think his problem is something that I feared right from the start. He is gentle, sensitive and easily hurt. Perhaps I feed into it at some level by being the mother I am, constantly on edge, looking out for insults and barbs and being a prickly person, just so that I can wrap myself around his gentle core and protect him.

Perhaps our decision to take him out of that school was wrong too. Maybe I should have left him in that school to get whacked and scolded so as to toughen him up to face the real world. But I just don’t have the strength to watch him go through that rite of passage and if that makes me a weak, terrible, paranoid mother, so be it – it’s who I am. I don’t care for anybody else’s opinion on my parenting. There is only one person who has a right to judge me and whose opinion on my parenting him matters and that is my son alone.

Sadly, it’s only when he is an adult and looking back on his life that I will know whether my choices were right or wrong and I fret over it day and night. Perhaps I make too big an issue of this thing called motherhood. Or parenthood. But what bigger wrong can one do than screw up another human being’s life? It’s like awaiting my appraisal and knowing that by the time it comes, it might be too late to do a better job.

I wonder how I will justify my choices. If my son accuses me of making wrong decisions on his behalf, how am I going to beg his forgiveness? How will he know that I meant him no harm? That I did the best I could as  a first time parent. As a young mother fumbling my way through.

I gave it a lot of thought on those long nights I sat up holding a cranky colicky newborn, wondering whether to leave him in his crib or hold him close (in case you’re wondering, I kept him in my lap). And eventually I came to one conclusion. I might make many mistakes but the only way to go about it without second guessing and worrying over each step was to get one thing clear – decisions that concerned him in any way, had to ensure that he had the best deal, never mind how it affected my life or what it cost me in terms of personal growth or gain. It might sound regressive and it’s the kind of line that is sure to bring in trolls, but its the truth and nothing less.  So every decision that I took, was weighed in those terms.

Breast or bottle? Whatever is better for him. Never mind if my breasts soon get to be neighbours to my knees. Daycare or SAHM – (this one I admit was partly also because I am a possessive old cow who didn’t like the idea of anyone else having more of my baby than I did) and SAHM won. We had a choice of moving to Bombay – its the best place for an investment banker as well as a media person but we preferred Delhi for the larger homes, the parks and the green areas that give children space to play and so we chose it.  Yes, children will grow up just about any way and any place you decide to raise them, and if the OA went back to his transferable job, we’d just have to keep uprooting them every few years, which is nothing more than most army kids. But he had a choice to change jobs and we took the one that seemed to be the best for them.  For its stability. And so on – you get the idea…

Which is not to say other parents don’t or that we’re saints, but that we figured this was the best way to deal with the confusion that invariably comes when making choices that affect another person’s life. Why do we pick the children over ourselves? Simply because they don’t have a voice yet and it’s unfair to make a decision that isn’t the most beneficial to them after having brought them into this world.

I know it’s nice to take an afternoon off and go for a pedicure and it won’t kill them to be given one expressed feed a week, but each time I go to make one of those decisions it just seems like such a small thing to forgo when the benefits and losses to them are so much bigger than they are to me.  I don’t look at choices I make as sacrifices, I don’t feel guilt, I don’t think of it as duty. They simply seem like the right thing to do – for me, as well as them. Nothing more or less. And for me, simply because I want to do what I feel is best for them.

Am I making sense? I don’t know. All I know is that I should quit rambling now and give you guys a break! Again, thank you for the praise  – I don’t deserve it. Thank you for the wishes and prayers – we can never have enough.

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73 thoughts on “Thank you, but it wasn’t about me

  1. Don’t worry, at least till the kids are old enough to make decisions on their own, we have to rely on self to make those decisions. Yes, there is a possibility that every decision we take, every change we make can go wrong. But at that instance, we try to be as partial to the kid’s benefit than anything else. So, it is ok. You did something good and you got the brat back to his smiling, happy self. That is more important. Hugs.

  2. Hi MM,

    Did you forget about all the trolls that hound you? If they thought you were trying to show your pride or were bragging then you would see that kind of comments. But all the comments were praising you because the post touched so many people. There is a brother or a son or a daughter or a father or a friend in everybody’s life who has some learning disability. Everybody could relate to your post. I as a new mom learn so much from your posts and the previous one was one of the best. I always have this fear that how my baby would be affected if I put too much pressure on her in the future and that I have to learn how to guide her in life instead of forcing her.

    Brat is a champ for regaining what he lost. But I am sure he couldn’t have done it without your support. What if you scolded him in the same way and forced him to go to the same school instead of moving to his old school? So you as parents should be praised for doing the right thing. So you should be proud of your achievement and more proud about Brat’s achievement.

    **commented after reading the first few lines. off to read the full post now.

    • LOL! one of the trolls is back. After ages. Although just like its nice to see old friends its also very comforting to see old trolls and this is one of the oldest I’ve had 🙂 And to think she started off as quite the opposite. Very sad.

  3. I’m coming to your blog after ages. Read the earlier post, and I read this one. You’ve heard it before, and I’m saying it again- you. ARE. incredible 🙂 I’m nowhere close to being a parent, but if and when I am one I hope to dig into your archives for answers, advice, inspiration, laughs and a sane voice.

    LOTS of love to the Brat 🙂

  4. I think you made a lot of sense and I must thank you for writing this piece. As for the previous post, I didn’t think it was about you or how great you are for doing what you did for the Brat so you shouldn’t think that way 🙂
    For someone like me who is gearing (!!) to step into the mommy/parent shoes this May, this post is an eye opener and it lays some of my sneaky fears to rest. R and I may not see eye to eye on some issues but this makes me feel that when it comes to the baby we’ll do what’s right by the child. I don’t know if you will trust me when you say, your writing will come to my rescue on many a sleepless nights.

      • I think there are two Gayatris here…I’ll just assume you’re thinking of the right one so I won’t worry about whether you “reallly” think I’ll make a great mom, LOL 🙂 Thank you for the wishes…Nitya is going to kill me when she finds out…

  5. Its a sad day when having a gentle and sensitive child is a worry.
    we’ve become such a dog eat dog world… each of us dragging the other behind to get ahead ourselves.
    I hope the brat stays sensitive and gentle as he grows older (to which i hope the worldliness that comes with age adds value.)
    we need more gentle and sensitive grown ups around here… and if the brat being this way ensures one decent person for the future…thats great!
    Let’s hope it’s contagious. haha!

    • yes it is. it is indeed. even two days ago I watched my son gently tell another child – Don’t push, its not nice, lets share. and the kid just kept pushing him and grabbing his toys. Decency is a waste these days.

  6. “I don’t care for anybody else’s opinion on my parenting. There is only one person who has a right to judge me and whose opinion on my parenting him matters and that is my son alone.”

    It is amusing to see that there is no mention of OA. Isn’t “your” son as much his father’s as he is yours? Isnt the father entitled to an opinion in the his children are raised?

    Funny, especially considering your famous quote, “… it takes more than half a teaspoon of sperm to make a father.”

    • Ah – you’re back like the proverbial bad penny!!! You’ve got a tongue lashing from me time after time, yet you shamelessly come hungering and thirsting back for more. Tell me then, since we’re getting personal – how do YOU live with so much venom inside you? Can’t be easy, can it?

      And as I’ve mentioned time and time again, this isn’t the OA’s blog. This is mine. If you feel particularly strongly about the OA’s position on everything – you’re most welcome to send in a request to him to start a blog. Although I must warn you, he doesn’t really take too kindly to people who can’t behave well with his wife.

      Anyway – to address your question – Its merely semantics when I say ‘I’, yes it means the OA and I, both. So yes, if you want to nitpick, WE dont care what others think, WE only care for how our children judge us, 20 years from now – happy?

      That said I suppose people like you, those who are LOOKING to find fault, will only read what they want to read, selectively. Did you miss the part where I talked about the OA and I, both making career and geographical choices to suit the kids?

      In this case I am talking about my choices as a mother and simply for myself. Does the OA have a say in that? I doubt it. I don’t think any father has a right to tell a mother whether she should breastfeed or bottlefeed – its a mother’s choice. Can the OA judge me on choices regarding our child that impact me more than him where? Nope. Thats only for each child to say …

      And finally – yes, the OA has a right to an opinion on how his children are raised but definitely not to judge or enforce. We raise them together. And I dont correct him, he doesnt correct me. We discuss our choices before we implement them.

      sigh – I doubt you have the ability ot appreciate the difference.

      Now really – why dont you find another blog to haunt? I’m quite sick of you. Really.

  7. Hey MM,
    You know, babies don’t come with their how-to-raise-a-child manuals and like it or not, bringing them up is a trial and error journey. I know I sound preachy and I don’t mean to, I only know that for a lot of the stuff my mom did and made me do when I was a child that I just hated back then, I understand the whys and appreciate them even more and repeat them with my children. And to be truthful, there are a couple of things that I disagree with and do differently(life will come full circle when my kids grow up agreeing with grandma, but hey! they can experiment on their own kidcs, I won’t stop them!). What came across from your previous posts is the love you feel for your children and the sheet terror of wondering if you are making a mistake and it strikes something in your readers becasue we feel it too, all the time.

  8. Your sincerity as a mother deserves praise no matter what you think. The Brat deserves high praise for as you said fighting his demons. At his age, it must be a big thing to overcome. I completely relate to your post word for word. Even if the details of it are not the same. And Brat is so much like KB. I need to email you – I am going through so much confusion in my head about his next school. And this post leaves me wondering even more as to what my decision should be.

  9. This mommy club seems so much fun and awesome and exclusive, I can’t wait to belong, with all my 4 future babies! You make me jealous, MM 😀

  10. Coming from a 21 yr old, this might seem weird to you, but I have to realise that there is very little a child can do about their parent’s choices. But the way I look at it is that they did the best they could. I know my parents made some bad decisions, probably that could have changed my life forever. But none of us are aware of the consequences, we do what we can then.

    As a parent, I am very happy that you chose what is better for your child. But if he grows up and questions your parenting, it wouldn’t even once be your fault.

    We can only do what we can and what we know.

    I am sorry at most place, this didnt come out as I wanted and if it seemed rude. I hope he grows to understand that you truly love him. That is all that a child needs to know!

  11. Well said MM! LOL at ‘neighbours to knees’!!!

    And getting whacked is not a rite of passage, it doesn’t toughen, it breaks a child’s spirit. And I can relate to that worry that the appraisal can come too late.

    And the decisions you make are based on your priorities and your situation, right? Another parent would have made a completely different decision maybe like homeschooling! (Altho’ what you’ve been doing is also homeschooling!) What ultimately matters is how comfortable and happy you and your family are, not what everyone else is criticising you for (I know that now)

    • i would love to homeschool you know. but i keep wondering what the kids will do for company. they NEED that classroom environment, the friends, the healthy competition and that certain something that teaches you to work as a team

      • you bet that’s true…I’ve seen how my daughter toughened up to all the bullies in her school, …she’s learnt a lot of life lessons about how to get along with others, to stand up for herself (ALL without the teachers whacking anybody).

        And gentle sensitive kids don’t have a problem. Like someone told me, it’s better when a kid acts up, or shows visibly that he’s hurting or struggling, rather than a kid who doesn’t…how will you know that child needs help then? I think that it’s better to resolve these issues early like you did, than some kids I know who’ve reached 10th grade and fall apart or start self-destructing, because the school and their parents weren’t paying attention.

        The way you described the dialogue b/w you n the school sounds perfect, everyone was concerned and you discussed it and found the best solution for Brat that worked. Kudos to all of you!

        • yes, i’m lucky the school took it up as a problem instead of ignoring it and just failing him this year. It gave me something to think about. Years ago, when we were in school, it was common to have atleast 4-5 kids flunking. Even in junior classes. Now I look back and wonder what kind of families they came from, did anyone realise they were struggling in school, did they know what to do? As for the school – by class 11 we were close to 100 kids to a teacher in some sections. We all took tuitions and we all struggled. Teachers beat kids till they bled. And insulted us on a regular basis. Its a wonder we got out of there with any amount of learning.

  12. …this was the phrase that struck me the most in your last post’kids will find something to hold against us anyway..’ from my (by now) experience of (grown up) kids, I guess it something about the way we are ‘being’ with them, rather than what we are ‘doing’ with them that comes across and stays with them..

    having observed the work of my sister (committed to special education) over many years, my reaction to your last post was ‘this is exactly the kind of parent she would love to deal with’ 🙂

    and your ‘jasmine post’..i still remember it first as a beautiful piece of writing and second as a tribute to the human spirit.

    • wow – thats an awesome piece of advice. how we are ‘being’ with them. i hope mine dont just remember me as a fun but impatient mother 😦 I guess i must learn to control that.

      • That is indeed great advice! It IS praiseworthy if parents are able to proactively find solutions for problems their children face in spite of all the other demons that plague their own lives. After all, it is natural to feel bogged down by career, money and a host of other issues, and feel sapped of energy to deal with the smallest symptoms their children might display.

  13. Trust me, no matter how resiliant children have, if they don’t have parents who support, encourage and nurture them, they can’t bounce back fully. There are so many screwed up people out there, mostly because their parents didn’t give them all they deserved. Your babies seem well balanced (how can two kids who love each other so much not be well balanced?) and all embracing of life and that is a reflection of everything you guys have done. I’m not a parent so I can’t even come close to imagining how it must have been for you, but for what its worth, here’s two thumbs up from me. Hugs!!

    • So so true. Parents complete a circle that will always remain vacant without them.. And support from a parent goes a long way into developing a child’s self concept. Thats why i love the memories MM strives to make in their life… How I would love to be the brat or the bean 😀

  14. And yeah, kids will always have something to hold against you. Just the other day, I added one more to the list of 467 things I hold against my mother 😀 . I have a feeling though, that when he is older and he reads it, he will feel like he is the luckiest son in the world, knowing what his mom went through and how much she and his dad, gave up for him.

    • no yaar. we didnt give up anything in the face of what we gained. someday if you meet him and see his sunny smile, you’ll know what i mean. it makes me go all warm in the tummy!

  15. Hey, mine tells me I am a good loyal friend and a lousy Mom! But he still loves me totally and completely! So like they say in 3 Idiots “Aall Is Well”. Dont worry, just be there for Brat and Bean and it will be totally okay.

  16. Yes MM, Brat is the STAR here, but isnt is his success yours? Would he have been able to reach this stage without your support? Now ‘Never Mind’ might reprimand me for saying its only ‘your’ support….its both OA and MM ok? 🙂 Gosh, how people have this wonderful talent of ‘reading between lines’?

  17. I know all parents want the best for their kids, even if its not so good for themselves. It’s one thing to make those decisions and it’s another to impose something else on the child later saying they made the sacrifices. How just or fair is it to give the kids a guilt trip for saying that they want to make their own decisions now onwards? I know you’re not one of that kind, but still, would you feel betrayed if your son said that he wanted to decide for himself henceforth?

    • 1. i dont think of it as a sacrifice, its much more a joy – so the question of that coming back as a guilt trip to the kids is not relevant to us atleast
      2. its unfair on any child to have to bear any burden of their parents’ choice – they didnt ask to be born. which is why i am happy to see people choose not to have kids, rather than have them and burden them and guilt trip them
      3. i won’t feel betrayed when my son makes his own choices. in fact i think i’ll be relieved. its not easy to bear the responsibility of making the best choices for another person
      4. similarly, i’d appreciate it if my son saw those choices as the best i could possibly do with what i had in hand.

      • But I think thats something most parents miss out – that after a point of time they need to be able to trust their own upbringing and let the children make choices for themselves.

        Sorry – a little off topic but something thats been on my mind for long. Wondering when is it that parents are rightfully supposed to stop making your decisions for you and let you live ‘your’ life?

        • i dont think theres a cut off date. you slowly let them start deciding which colour PJs they want to sleep in and it grows from there until you prove yourself fit to make decisions. i think once you earn your own living you have a right to make your own choices completely. until then its a little rich to say – well pay for me and i’ll do as i please… no?

          • *sigh* I wish that was the case…despite the fact that I earn my own living…i’m still not entitled to make my own choices…and in fact if i do, I get accused of having a huge ego of the paltry money I earn! (which btw is enough for me to survive on – havent taken money from home for 2 yrs almost!)

            • This is exactly what I was talking about too. When you want to go make your own decisions (and not by being rude) when you earn, it is implied that money has changed you. So somewhere I think the solution lies in ignoring and doing what you think is best. And of course, you are as I thought you will be MM 🙂

        • ‘…parents are rightfully supposed to stop making your decisions..’
          well, again as a parent of grown up children, I have thought about this a bit. though I have tried doing things in stages exactly the way MM writes below, having been used to doing things for the kids/taking decisions for them for a long time, many times we say/do things unconsciously out of habit. This vacation with my son I realized that though I have stopped imposing any decisions on them, I still feel free to give my opinion on everything to my grown up sons, while I treat my nephews with whom also I am very close much more sensitively (making me a more popular aunt than mother 🙂 So now I am consciously trying to bring that into my relationship with them.

  18. Enjoyed reading your post and agree to what you say. The choice that we make for our kids until they can make theirs is such a huge responsibility and a test for both the parents and the child. But tat’s life.

  19. Obviously, your parents have supported, encouraged and nurtured you in creating this beautiful person that you are. Right, MM?

    Clarity in your thoughts, sincerity with which you share your opinions, parental wisdom, sprinkling humor in between(neighbors to your knees – that was BRUTALLY LOL!:-), and the healthy discussions in your comment box, ..gosh, not to miss the unhealthy trolls – boy, you deserve a huge round of applause, MM! Standing ovation!

  20. I have to agree with what someone already said here. Beating a child never, ever does anything positive to it. Although I used to be guilty of smacking my child once in a while when nothing else worked, I know how it affected her and at the risk of 300 mommies here calling me completely terrible, I did it because I really had no more patience left.

    On another note, you write extremely well.

  21. I knew there was something on my to-do list that I was forgetting… turns out I haven’t disagreed with you in a while so here goes.

    I have a slightly different take on life and kids. While I have needed to change stuff around to ensure that my kids are happy, healthy and well-cared for, I do believe that it all works best if they fit into my life and dreams, without leaving me feeling like you gave up ‘what could have been’ for them. Because the best kind of mother is a happy mommy.

    And I think my benefits and losses are equally important. One expressed feed and a pedicure might just make the difference between me being a grumpy, over-worked mom and a relaxed, happy one…

    • ugh. why do you have to put it so well. i must be having a bad day because i’m going to agree with you in principle. on the whole its the way i live my life. and the little joys too. but when i feel conflict arise, i know that i’m going to pick the less easy path if i have to, if its the better one. and yes with you all the way – no thinking of it as something given up. damnit Ro – go back to work so that we can find something new to argue about :p

  22. Hi there, MM. Dropping in to say hi.

    You said:”I know it’s nice to take an afternoon off and go for a pedicure and it won’t kill them to be given one expressed feed a week, but each time I go to make one of those decisions it just seems like such a small thing to forgo when the benefits and losses to them are so much bigger than they are to me. I don’t look at choices I make as sacrifices, I don’t feel guilt, I don’t think of it as duty. They simply seem like the right thing to do – for me, as well as them. Nothing more or less. And for me, simply because I want to do what I feel is best for them.”

    Yes, most true. As a parent, you do what you have to do to ensure that the kids get what’s best for them. After all, if the parents don’t put the children’s interests first, then who else will?

  23. I do realise this is rather late in the coming, but somehow I don’t think the Brat will be very upset at you when he grows up. Because whether or not your choices were right or wrong, he’ll know that you did the best you could and that matters more than anything else.

    *Hugs*

  24. MM

    You often say that you worry and hope that your children don’t blame you for the choices you are making for them. Here is another angle of looking at this : If you saw a child of parents’ who you know have done EVERYTHING with the best interest for their children, judge/blame them , what would be your reaction to the child? Don’t they come across a li’l thankless and un-appreciative?

    I know when I see children accuse their parents of doing or not doing something for them, I feel they are being very selfish and forgetful of how their parents bent over backwards to make some things happen. Most parents want the best and the child should know that, right? N sometimes, just sometimes, when things backfire and don’t work out the way the parent had imagined it to, they hurt, as much as the child. And I think it’s very very important for us to inculcate that in our babies , rather than letting them think that they can grow up and in sit in judgment of their parents. Know what I mean?

    BTW.. I am more than sure that the brat and bean will dote on their parents for all their life…so this is not a personal comment, more so a generic thought.

    • No, PV. I don’t think all parents do everything with their childrens’ best interests in mind. Very often they do it because it is convenient. I don’t think anything I do is above criticism and if my kids criticise me for something I’ve done as their parent, I have to take it calmly and in my stride because they’re the people most affected by it. They’re the only ones in fact, with a right to judge me.
      I think its very important not to take ourselves so seriously as to assume our kids can’t debate, argue or even tell us when they think we’re doing something wrong. If we’ve brought them up with honesty, I think we’ll only hear what we need to.
      My son for instance is very particular about me saying anything about the OA’s parents. Often a bitter remark slips out in some context and he looks up at me with his huge brown eyes and says – Mama, that wasn’t very nice.
      And so I think I’ve left myself open to judgment from both my children. And I better learn to accept it with grace. And no, I don’t think the Brat and Bean will dote on us. We’ve always asked them to critique, debate and argue if they think we’re wrong. They’re not allowed to be rude or disrespectful -but they’re most welcome to disagree and tell us if they think we’re wrong.
      Yes, even at age 7 and 9.

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