On glorification

A few days ago I was talking to a friend who is in her mid-thirties, married, no kids. I love her. She has a great sense of humour, warm, intelligent, good fun to hang with. She loves kids, just doesn’t want to have any of her own yet. In fact, maybe never. Who knows and really, why should it matter to me.

The thing is, while I’ve fallen into the mommy blogger slot, I’m probably one of the few parents I know who doesn’t spend my time talking about my kids. That might be in part because I vent here and  get all my kid-related chatter out of my sytem, into this space. And for all of you who listen so patiently, I am duly grateful.

Anyhow, she mentioned to me that she is rather uncomfortable with the way mothers seem to be glorifying motherhood on various platforms like blogs and FB. Just constantly talking about their children. It made her feel like she had nothing left to say about them. I quickly ran a mental check on my last year of FB statuses and it was mostly about music, whining about my knee or work and least of all, references to my kids. That made me feel I was in a better position to have that chat. I rushed to reassure her because I knew exactly what she meant and where she was coming from. And I felt she’d misunderstood the whole movement.

So here’s the thing. I don’t think it is motherhood alone. We’re all living our lives out loud. Photographers are putting their pics up on blogs, professional sites, flickr, FB. Music lovers blog about music. People who are in to IT blog about IT. As a result just about every topic is now glorified thanks to the easy availability of platforms to wax forth on. Read this awesome piece by Anil Dharker on how ‘food, fashion and an unmentionable four-letter word’  have taken over print space. We’re all aware of the information overload. I write nothing earth shaking on this blog, yet so many of you read me every day. I have at least three friends who gives daily updates on their cats and another who has opened an FB account for her dog. They read this blog and I’m not judging them at all. These are things we love, and its only natural that they feature prominently in our conversations and our online lives.

As a society we seem to be focussing more heavily on things and this virtual existence gives us that space to obsess (if you must use that word) over them without harming anyone. Because this online focusing doesn’t impose on a person. A century ago people lead very different lives. You studied, you helped out at home, you got a job, got married, had kids, whatever. There was little space for hobbies and passions. You couldn’t say, “hey, I don’t want to get married or have kids or a permanent job. I just want to take photographs.” Today you can do just that and even find a platform to reach other to others like you. Today there is room for passion, specialisation, obsession and focus. Put that way, it seems like glorification. So why deny those who in a world of choices, choose to have kids and talk about them? More importantly, why single them out, or judge, or fear, or worse, be intimidated by them? **

Why is it that mothers, yet again, get the bad press? I know she meant no harm and neither do I. I want to reach out reassuringly and say ‘Hey, I can talk to you about other things too.’ Parenting does tend to take over your life in the early years. Especially if you’re the mother. Its a little tough to ignore your swelling belly and breasts. Your swollen feet. Your leaking bladder. The morning sickness. I could go on but I’ll stop.  If it’s acceptable to hear about a person’s scary accident or a new job, why is motherhood and any discussion around it so infra dig? Actually, I won’t even call if infra dig, I think it made her uncomfortable.

I’m probably preaching to the choir here. All of you who read my blog clearly don’t feel uncomfortable hearing me talk about my babies. But then I do talk about other stuff often. I think my nick was all a matter of timing. I just happened to start blogging when my baby was a year old. I was in a strange city, I had no friends, I had no househelp, and I was struggling with breastfeeding, teething, sleepless nights and dirty diapers, all while I did the sweeping and swabbing and cooking. If I’d started blogging 2 years before that it would have been about work, music, the OA, and books. It’s just a matter of timing.  There are plenty of bloggers who are far younger than me and were part of the internet wave at age 20 when they had no kids. At some point they began to blog about their kids too, but refuse to be called mommy bloggers. I don’t care either way. The point is, this is an important part of my life and I share it only with those who matter in real life, sparing mere acquaintances. And in the virtual world I get it out of my system knowing fully well that you will click the X on the page if it doesn’t interest you.

None of this is to say that my friend objected to people with babies or thought that people should never talk about their kids. I think she was intimidated by what she felt was the ‘glorification’ of motherhood – the status messages, the photos of babies, the blogs. To that I say, welcome to the culture of glorification of everything. Books, music, film, fashion, food, sickness, technology  – you name it, there is a group that focuses solely on it. And yes, most often it is about the good part. But I see no reason why you feel that anyone owes you every side. You don’t owe me your attention and I don’t owe you the three sides of the story. It’s a free world, the internet is free and so is choice. Unless its a magazine article or a desperate plea for help, most people who record stuff online, do it as a sort of record book. To look back on fondly, in the years to come.

It is in no way meant to glorify. As our lives grow more nuclear, we no longer have aunts and older ladies who can help us rear our children, give us home remedies on stomach aches and pat us on the head when we leak and say – It’s going to be alright. She is right. You’d never have come across this baby talk twenty years ago, because twenty years ago, when your friend had a baby, she fell off the social circuit. She lost her voice. She got relegated to the mommy group. Today even if I am tied to the house, I still have the internet at my finger tips and with no family around, its more imperative that I get a voice and an outlet. That I get to share.

And so friends, both male and female, parents and non-parents, bear with us as we prattle on about our children, just as we listen to you talk about work, that hot guy in the gym or anything else that interests you. Because thats what friends do. They are interested in each other’s lives. It’s not glorification. It’s just gratification. After ten minutes of talking about that part of our lives, we’re going to be back on common ground be it politics or literature or Bollywood. And because we’re good friends, we’re never going to judge each other on these matters. I’d hate to think that I have to guard my tongue and not talk about this important part of my life (and as a parent, if my children are not an important part of my life, I should be ashamed of myself) because it makes another uncomfortable. By the same token I can appreciate that there are plenty of parents who feel that being a parent is important yet don’t feel the need to talk about their children. Fair enough.

And oh – even if after ten minutes I continue to talk about my kids and you about something else, maybe we’ve just lost our connection. I’m okay with you talking fashion all evening (even if it doesn’t interest me to that extent) and I hope to hell that as my friend, you’ll be as tolerant of my interests without letting it intimidate you. Now then, you can start talking about foreign cinema while I nod along and pretend that I agree and understand every word you just said.

** Edited to add: Okay so this is a bit I wanted to add and forgot, related to the choice part. The thing with choosing to have a kid today is that it is all the more wanted. This element of choice means I’ve chosen to do this, just like you’ve chosen to save Rs 7 lakh and buy a Harley. Is there any doubt that I am going to be excited by it? We plan our careers, organise our lives and then have the baby when we feel the time is right and we want one. So many of us go through so much medication and surgery and IVF and maybe adoption, to get the baby we hold in our arms. A far cry from the day when 20 year olds were having kids because life gave them no choice and they didn’t have any means of birth control. Kids just arrived when they did and you miscarried some and lost a few in childbirth and there was nothing you could do about it. They were taken in your stride. Today I can’t take my baby in my stride because I’ve actually planned this child, put my career on hold and done this because I wanted it so badly. Surely you can appreciate that I feel about this just the way you do about something you earned?

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86 thoughts on “On glorification

  1. Maybe your friend is trying too hard to tune the mommy-thing out, and consequently is hearing only that (as opposed to the tons of other things on the internet): another case of “we attract what we abhor”?

  2. I do think parents talk a lot about kids/parenting and we try to make conscious topic changes when we find that happening. I know that what my kids do is interesting to me, it does not need to be (IS not) to others. Even other parents.

    I find that too much talk of kids makes my horizons smaller and smaller and there was a time that I found I had very little to say as a new mom. And was getting ignored at parties. Neither situation was common pre-kids. And that was not okay with me.

    I can step into your friend’s shoes pretty easily. Don’t know about you but I have noticed that parents of older kids talk less about them than those of younger kids. We all get more uninteresting as we grow up, do we?! 😀

    • 🙂 well I often tell the OA that in some years the kids wont need us. We wont be a part of their lives – atleast not to this extent. we’re also very careful not to rattle on about our kids.
      I think kids are always interesting to parents, its just a matter of how involved in their lives you are. And naturally as they grow older they eat up less of your time. no longer needing to be fed every two hours or have a diaper change. So yes, to some extent lack of novelty is the answer.

      That said, my parents are very involved with us and given a chance can talk about us all the time because they know so much about our lives. they too consciously avoid talking about us. And this considering they are both young, working grandparents with an active social life and have plenty else to talk about. On the other hand I know parents who dont have a life, are retired, do nothing, yet are not really in tune with their kids. They honestly have nothing to say about their kids other than maybe rattle off statistics of age and job.

      PS: I added a bit to the post.

      • I remember once, when a school friend of mine had stopped by my place with her parents. We would have been around 21 years at that time. We went upstairs to my room and now n then we would step out to change music on the comp, or get some food or… and every single time..we heard our parents were talking about us. I remember she calling out “c’mmon you all do have other things going in your life?”

      • “That said, my parents are very involved with us and given a chance can talk about us all the time because they know so much about our lives. they too consciously avoid talking about us.”

        Same here.. My parents are just too protective.. they too consciously avoid talking about us with other people

  3. I have never had an issue with what people put up on their blogs, but FB statuses do get to me at times , to be honest. Not only when it’s about babies, but also when its minute to minute update about what’s cooking in someone’s life. There was this app that let you update where u are at and at one point a friend convinced my hubby to add it to his FB account and I was hopping mad, ‘coz friends and acquaintances knew where we were at even before we were there at times. It was crazy. Thanks to Fb statuses, there was nothing left to talk to friends with who I had weekly/monthly conversations. I knew all about their life thru’ FB. and somehow though I know that’s their space and their life and they can put up whatever they want, it bugged me. It almost feels like people are leading their life, so they can update their FB status. I saw a status “My wife delivered our baby a minute ago” n I was thinking, and all that the husband could think of is to update his FB status ?Gimme a break dude! and someone posts on their spouse’s page…who they stay with and meet every day “good morning” and “Happy B’day” and “loved ur present” on Fb! I mean I don’t get it? what’s the necessity for such public display of affection? It seems so fake!

    Now onto babies..A common rant from the women who are part of the fertility forum that I am part of, is about how people are so in-your-face when it comes to announcing their pregnancy and every li’l development thereof, inconsiderate to the rest of us who are struggling. I know how these women feel ‘coz I’m there, but I also realize that any friend can share your sorrow only for that much time, no one can feel it the way u do and also…how is it fair to ask them to not celebrate ‘coz things in our life is not quite right? The author of the book ‘an inadequate conception’ (which I’m waiting to read) has created a badge requesting people to not send holiday cards with only their baby’s picture on it and is requesting everyone to put the badge up….Frankly, I think that’s unfair, which parent doesn’t want to click and flaunt cute pics of their babies? The truth is, mabbe we would do it too, if we were blessed enough, but unfortunately we are not, so why deprive the lucky ones?

    I’ve realized the only solution to this, is to go into a shell until I can make peace with my situation. Or surround my life with people who are experiencing the same thing. I’ve even created a blog where I write about this, and don’t plan on giving anyone I know personally the link to that space as yet. Some of my very dear friends are pregnant and truly all they want to talk about is pregnancy. And I u’stand that. so on days that I can’t handle it, I just don’t attend their calls and then on my better days, I get all the updates and feel happy for them. A few friends were warned at the very beginning that I may be disappearing for days, ’coz of something that’s going on in my life…I can’t tell them what the something is, but I am getting this message across to them ‘coz the friendship is important and I don’t want it ruined. I felt this way ..I would yet have my true friends at the end of this journey…and not lose them ‘coz of miscommunication.

    Yes, in our generation, we are able to make a decision about what at one time were obvious life-events, things like getting married, having babies and men being an (if not only) earning member of the family. But yet the change has only begun. And there are only a minority taking an alternative path as yet. And so this minority tends to feel left out and lonely, even if it was their decision to not conform to the norm. n that I think is one of the reasons why baby-talk and marriage-talk gets to people, while talk about IT, media, photography and other such passions doesn’t.

    Sorry for the long comment. N sorry for not posting with my name.

    • I can empathise…’Me’…I tend to feel that way too…I lost a child…and I’ve also adopted…and feel bleddy left out sometimes…there’s usually total silence, usually of the embarrased sort when I bring up my experiences of these whether on FB or real life …which is why what you’re doing is right…have your own groups of people with similar experience/choice and blog about it for that part of your life that most people want to blank out. I do it too…support groups are great that way…and I’ve reached a place of comfort abt my ‘differences’ that has me speaking out loud…people can get over their discomfort sometime…or they can choose to continue ignoring me forever!

      And I agree…that request to not send baby photos in holiday cards is OTT…why wouldn’t people want to celebrate the happiness in their lives?

      • laksh and Starry : Its ridiculous, how excited i get when i come across someone who can empathize. I hope i get over it soon! But thank u girls for calling out.

        The issue is now i don’t belong to any community. I obviously don’t belong to the mommy-group. But I’m not welcomed in infertility-group either ‘coz I’m questioning some of their frustrations(like FB updates about pregnancy/babies, holiday cards etc) tho’ I u’stand it.

        I hope i reach that place of comfort about differences sooner than later.

    • “But yet the change has only begun. And there are only a minority taking an alternative path as yet. And so this minority tends to feel left out and lonely, even if it was their decision to not conform to the norm. n that I think is one of the reasons why baby-talk and marriage-talk gets to people, while talk about IT, media, photography and other such passions doesn’t.”

      This is exactly right. I can understand why people who make “different” life choices like not getting married or deciding not to have babies are peeved with baby-related fb statuses. because they are usually in the minority and need to deal with a page full of baby updates. I have a 3-month old and I do talk about her a lot with close friends and family, but seldom on fb (since I was on the other side once and I know how it feels). Also, blogs are different from fb, imo. I can close a blog post because I dont know the blogger personally, not so on fb

      • i dont see why they even have to be called ‘different’
        they’re choices. simple. just like ours.
        and frankly I see no reason why i should NOT talk about my child on FB if XYZ speak about their cats, dogs, photos or anything else. Its so simple to let your eye skim over it and pass on if you’re not interested…

        • Agreed MM, or you can always hide the updates.

          I can empathize with “Me” about being on the receiving end. But, how is that different from the fact that if someone who can purchase the latest and greatest tech gadget anytime they want comes and flaunts it in your face when you are not able to afford it? Doesn’t that hurt too? You fret over it and get over it. Just that a kid hangs on for more time than a damn gadget and it elevates your status from the person who you are to caregiver. It changes you and you know it from the get-go, after you discover you are pregnant. So its hard not to talk about it when you meet a friend.

        • MM: What your talking about is an ideal world. About it being considered as what it is…just a choice, not anything new or different.

          But realistically it is a choice that not too many people make . Even when the choice is made, it is questioned. Some part of the family n friends simply ask “why the choice?” and let it be while the more traditional ones express their unhappiness over the choice.

          In our G’mom’s generation it may have been unheard of for women to work and so when one genration began to do that , I’m sure there were a lot of Qs raised. Just like how today when women are almost going back a full circle and some women who choose to not be employed for whatever reason are being questioned.

          I’m with you about your right to talk about whatever you want on FB.

          But don’t agree with how simple u think it is to let your eyes skim over it. When a certain issue is all that your mind is full off (be it marriage or children or employment)..all that you notice is stuff related to it. Its the way most humans function. I guess thats what empowerment Engineer is referring to as well.

          • No, its probably not simple, but I have to reiterate, that it would be a sad world indeed if people stopped celebrating for fear of hurting others. where is the simple joy of celebrating another’s happiness? Are we turning so mean minded as to not be able to join in another’s happiness even if its not something we’d choose? And here i’m not talking IVf, i’m talking of the women who choose not to have kids.

            • I TOTALLY agree with you MM, no one should be asked/expected to not celebrate their joy and happiness for fear of hurting others (with fertility issues or otherwise).

              Each one of us, have an equal share of joys n troubles, so its unfair to expect someone not to rejoice, when its their time.

              n well..some who expect others to stop their celebration are not being mean-minded, they are going thru a phase and once they get over it will most probably( and hopefully) look back with regret at this kinda behavior.

  4. MM, You’re right about it being the stage of life we’re in—we’re roughly all the same generation/same stage (kids careers, choices)and i guess that’s why we can relate to what you write here. Speaking of choices, your friend can simply choose not to read those blogs/FB updates (not trying o be snarky here, just stating the obvious!!?) if they make her uncomfortable. We do tend to seek out zones we are comfortable in and she can simply find friends who are where she is in life. Mums need a place to vent, and if not on their own sites, where?

    There was a time (before potty training that I was so harried I couldn’t think straight for longer than a minute (cliche?– maybe, but I lived through it) I wish I were blogging then– it would have made such a difference to have a support group. Point is, 10 years down the line the kids will grow up, we’ll move on and find something else to gripe about(!!!):D. I’m just happy to have found someone I can relate to. Not earth shattering, but you have me nodding along vehemently with almost each word you write. I’ve found my happy place– perhaps she needs to find hers.

    • yes i know you’re not being snarky and i agree with you. very often i am simply bored by a person’s updates. i just move on. everyone who has potty trained has known that sheer trauma of – what if my kid is the only one to go to college in diapers?!

      and yes, in a non-snarky way, we all need to find our happy places. i’m just sad that people are upset enough to move away.

  5. OK.. this may turn out to be a long comment.. atleast by my standards..

    I come here for two things : one for these kind of posts and the second for kids related posts (where I can learn from yours/OA’s experiences). It helps, sometimes, when one find out that other parents are doing the same things to their kids (for their betterment) against what is concerned taboo in this new world. My parents are here visiting us here, and more often than not, I end up having a fight with them (especially my Dad) about how I am treating/behaving with my kids (specially my son).. and this coming from my Dad!!

    OK.. I lied partially.. the real reason I come here is for the way you write 🙂
    Not sure, if you are also good at conversations ( sinking feeling coming here based on your posts with 121 ineractions), but kid, you do have a knack of writing.. keep on doing that. On that note, write a book when you feel like writing it, do not get pressured… somehow, I feel you are more spontaneous.. and that is what is stopping you from writing.. good or bad? who knows.. in the long term.. but what I do know is that if you were an English teacher for kids in their 4th/5th grade (for even 6-7 years) .. you will give India atleast 4-5 good writers.

    To quote you “and as a parent, if my children are not an important part of my life, I should be ashamed of myself” ..
    I feel the same way and I am sure their multitudes of others (otherwise the world will cease to exist).. but at the same time, I have seen too many parents, even before I got married, ( every where in India/UK/France/USA) where they would talk about their kids in office ( no grudges here), but you can make out that this is what they feel obliged to say/do rather than they enjoy doing it. This, I think is what makes the difference. More often than not, I have seen broken marriages with these office colleagues.
    And then there is alltogether different species .. you would know for example, the one from your commets section.. one person was obsessed.
    At the end of the day, I feel that I/we ( me and my wife) have a liability.. and we should take care of them.. if it means telling others about the kids.. so be it

    • arre.. the pressure. you guys realise i can only hold a thought for 2000 words? not 20 chapters, right?!

      good to know others fight with their parents over parenting. my parents and i almost come to blows!

  6. Very valid points. It’s an era of specialization. I am particularly overwhelmed by how much each topic is done to death on Twitter and blogs. I might be speculating here but what I think your friend meant was that there seems to be a little bit of glorification of ‘being parents’ going on and babies are usually portrayed as medals of living life ‘the right way’ for a lot of people. BUT this is not specific to mothers or fathers. There’s single versus married where both parties seem to constantly be stressing the bettertobenostringsattached or bettertobewithyouroneandonlysoulmate points. There’s the usual working mom and SAHM stuff. There’s north Indian south Indian. And millions others with everyone trying to show how their side of the fence is where it is at. Your friend, unfortunately like me then, seems most in the line of fire with the parents and non-parents tug of war, maybe because of her life stage or peer group. So I guess she didn’t mean for people to stop talking about their kids but to stop talking about the idea of having kids at a certain age/ time as the one thing that matters and should matter to everyone and oh how much fun it is and how only stupid people can’t see it – it’s real patronising shit. I don’t mean this comment to offend anybody. I’m just talking the liberty to speculate because I find myself in a similar position pretty often.

    • Agree with Neha.

      It’s not so much the talking about kids – it’s the subtle (and sometimes, not-so-subtle) digs at how you are not covering the milestones at a certain age in life – in mails, conversations, on Facebook in response to something you have said. I am tired of the tch- tching that goes on. I have had a good friend tell me that ‘Christian boys are all taken, early on in life. You should have got yourself a good boyfriend back in grad school’. And this was in response to a compliment I gave her (she is married to her college sweetheart), on her gorgeous baby. Motherhood is perhaps the most amazing thing that can happen to someone. I am all for that belief ‘cos I believe in it too, but the fact that you got there first, doesn’t give you enough reasons to rub it in. Surely people don’t boast about their cars and houses and whatever other possessions, so why tote the kid as some kind of a trophy?

      My point MM is, people talk about their kids in many ways – we like the way you do it, which is why you have many non- mommy readers. But that is not to say everyone does it that way. And I have noticed that the mothers who bother me with their baby talk are usually the ones trying hard to compensate the presence of their child, for the absence of other things in their life. Careers, good spouses, happy children, grandparents, a good economic status – these things need not be mutually exclusive. It can co-exist and it does. I don’t wish to generalize but I have had the ‘you chose to better your career at the cost of your personal life (personal life being getting married and having babies)’ argument thrown in my face way too often now and by way too many mommy friends of mine.

      Now go back and tell us what the B&B are upto 🙂

      • R, you said it much better. It is exactly that subtext: You may have your career/travels/hobbies, but I have something more important.

        In one way, it’s an objectification of their babies as something they won. Gets me!

      • well people who are deliberately nasty to you need to be cut out of your life. life is too short for toxic people to be a part of it.

        but those who are living their lives… i mean hell, am i to take offence each time a friend who doesnt have kids puts up pics of her foreign holidays? should i believe that to be a – oh-you-chose-to-get-tied-down-with-kids-so-kiss-my-hairy-foreign-travelling-arse type put down? not at all. i just look at her pics and soak ’em in and enjoy them.

    • no, in this case its simple statuses like – all the moms who traded their eyeliner for diaper bags, here’s a heads up or something.

      its no biggie when you post it – most of us unmade up faces are just seeking out company. its ridiculous to believe that someone is glorifying what they’re really trying to come to terms with!

  7. Hi MM,
    The last para..you hit the nail…having gone thru the list u mentioned of IVF etc..yes I spent close to 3k USD to get my first baby and the 2nd happened naturally. Maybe because I wanted them badly and they are precious to me more than anything else in this world. Period.

    Regular Reader occasional delurker (as u would have seen:))

    -Bhavani

  8. Agreed that there are always some over-enthusiastic people who kind of rub it in your face. But from my own personal experience, what I feel is that when you are missing or waiting for something and someone goes and talks about how happy they are about it, it kind of leaves this sad, angry, left-out feeling inside you. When I was waiting for my wedding to happen (which took quite some struggles), I used to get little mad whenever I saw the wedding pictures of my friends, though I was happy for them 🙂

    But there might be other angles to this as well.

    That aside, I like the way you talk about the increase in exposure on all fronts, just not motherhood.

  9. Very intresting perspective… I started blogging mainly for an outlet, since I decided to have kids early< i really didnt know if the problems/ excitement/ issues/ achievements my baby and I had, were our own. It felt reassuring, that there are others like me.. connected via the net!
    Like you said, its gratifying. Its releiving.

    For other aspects. We are as normal as people with no kids or people with ten kids. We have a lief, we strive to maintain it, we love our kids, we let them be independent… and above all, we smile about the day gone by in our life. And blogging is a medium of self-expression… I have two personal blogs, one for my mommy adventures and other for everything else. ….. It keeps me sane.!

  10. I SO agree with the last edited part babe. You know what all I went through to have Chinni, and somehow, having children is so much more of a choice than like 20 years ago. We are planning to have another one, and its requiring so much planning that it ain’t even funny. And when we have kids after going through so much, I no doubt will be super excited about seemingly mundane things too. And that’s not glorifying anything. I am celebrating my child. You know what I mean?

  11. I try very hard NOT to talk about my kids. Especially with first time moms because I feel that they would think I am being a know it all. 🙂

    I always avoid telling people I have 4 kids. I only pretend to have the number of kids with who are with me at that time.

  12. I totally agree with Sangitha and can understand your friend too. My kid’s progress (positive/negative) interests only me and I dont think the whole world (rather the small world) needs to be audience for it. I find it annoying & irriated when my acquaintances writes on and on about their kids on FB.(Thank God my friends dont…ahhh there is the difference)!! I just ignore those comments and scroll down…(how long can I write “wow smart boy/girl”)
    Even in real life, I maintain an arm’s distance with moms who braggggggs about their kids non-stop.
    Well, that is who I am!

  13. I eventually had to block one of my acquaintances status updates on my FB since all it ever comprised of was her daughter’s teething problems, her bowel movement, her Halloween costume, her upcoming birthday party, etc.

    Fuck, I wonder if she ever watched a movie or ate at a new restaurant or, I dunno, read a goddamned book, for instance.

  14. Yup, that is the point…we have the Internet giving us a voice and we use it, because the adoring aunts aren’t around anymore. I remember when I had Div in the US…there was no FB, and I used to write emails and send pix to all my family all over the world, and wait desperately for them to oooh and aaaah all over her….I was desperate for that loving…any new mom needs it. Every child needs it too….but they’re not getting it much in real life unless family is close by and regularly involved in the child’s life.

    But somehow my FB statuses and pix of kids (and blogposts abt kids!!) always get a lot more response than anything else I write!! Maybe it’s the crowd I hang out with! Besides I don’t blog or FB-post much about work…don’t find it correct somehow!

    I’ve become pretty boring at parties too…can’t relate to most of my younger cousins…who somehow do not even hear me when I talk about my writing work…writing isn’t work, you see 😛

  15. Hi MM..first time delurker, love your blog ! And so true about all obsessions, passions being up there – thanks to social media networking mostly. Its great the way we have means to find like- minded ppl.

    On the mommmy note, I do think, most of us are also smart enough to tune our frequencies based on ppl’s responses. If someone is not interested in my kid (be it a mom or not), I really don’t want to talk about him to them. But if someone (who is not a mommy) likes talking about kids, we do have a great conversation around kids. e.g. I have a friend, who is not a mom, but has a niece – same age as my son – and she loves to talk about her niece, so we obviously swap notes ! No one feels intimidated. And I have friends, with whom the child is never discussed, and yet we can gossip for hours 😉

    Similarly I can admire the great photographer friends work for 10 mins and then we can talk about other common topics, no one imposes…

    But that said, my social-dos are restricted to places and people who can handle me bringing my son along – coz I have nowhere to drop him off.

  16. Oh my God MM I was almost hopping on the sofa in agreement. What an interesting thought. And you know what I’ve been on both sides. We decided to have kids when I was in my thirties.. which means I’d put up with umpteen freinds who ‘talked about nothing but kids’. Then along came my kids and I promptly jumped onto the other side becoming ‘obsessivemom’ :-). I so get what your friend is saying yet kids are such an important part of my life now I cannot not talk about them? Thank God for blogs that give us a place to vent and lead near-normal lives outside of blogworld.
    Keep the posts coming.. you articulate what I think.

  17. Ok, I am probably one of those (rare?) non-parents who actually loves hearing about other people’s kids. I don’t mind at all my friends yakking about all the small things their kids said/did. Of course, I may get a little bored if that’s the ONLY thing they talked about, but that rarely happens.

    What I find harder to take is when my friends with kids don’t talk to me at all – when they can find time to meet other moms, but not me; when they can find time to do play things with other kids and their parents but not for a call to me; when they can attend mommy blogger meets but not have time for a coffee with me – their friend from the pre-blogging world. When every call to me ends with, “Oh, I have to go now, the kid is eating/waking/sleeping”. At such times, I feel sad. I don’t blame them – I understand it must be difficult, although I wonder why a mom can never delegate it to a dad even if he is around. But as a 30-something woman who doesn’t have kids, it feels sad when all your friends have moved to a club where you’re not invited.

    • Hi anon-to-avoid-offending — you beat me to posting this comment, which captures exactly the position I am in right now and my feelings about it. We are no longer such a rare breed, are we? 🙂

      Hi MM – While all the points you made were valid, there is also the other side presented by the (now, not that) rare breed of non-mother women who would have loved to have kids but are not able to do so for various reasons (including failed IVFs, divorces coming through just before adoption could be taken up seriously) would love to talk about kids, who love kids for being kids and want to be invited for every kiddy party (and not necessarily a kitty party – I abhor those) but are constantly told “oh i thought you might get bored” DESPITE having made it explicitely clear that I would rather spend time with kids than anything else in the world.

      One of my acquaintances (refuse to call her a friend after she told me this) actually put a gag order on me – I could relate only 1 story of my niece per conversation with her – all because she was tired about talking about kids. Fair enough, I have very little to say to you then, I thought to myself.

      On the bit about glorification – 100% agree with you. It appears as though nobody can do anything wrong anymore. I keep wondering am I the only idiot who does not know how to “make it” in life? And then I am reminded about this little scene that occured in the first season of Desperate Housewives -where the SAHM (who was earlier working – sorry I am really bad at remembering names) dumps her 4 kids with the neighbours and runs away to hide on the football field. When her friends finally catch up, she confesses to not doing anything right whereas it appears that her friends can do no wrong. One by one, all her friends begin to relate their respective horror stories and she says “See, this is what we should be talking about and not the seemingly perfect life we lead” (I may be wrong, this was the gist of the dialogue).

      Phew! end of long comment, finally.

    • This I relate to… I listen to all the stories & with interest. They are my friends and what goes on in their life, I like to know & keep in touch. But then, they go ahead and have a birthday party and not invite me bcoz I dont have kids. They will invite others who do have. Makes me sad 😦

    • N this…i.e not being able to hang out with the same set of friends that your used to being around with..is one of the reasons why a person who chooses(or maybe they didn’t really have a choice) an alternate path feels pressurized. The pressure is not only from parents/friends but also from the self. There is that desire to belong and be a part of what one is used to being part of, which is why it’s easier when life events like marriage and having babies happen at the “normal” age that they are suppose to happen.
      And more often than not, people tend to choose a group of their kind to hang out with. They feel comfortable with people who are in a similar situation I guess. And so a single is not invited to an outing which couples plan or a no-kids-couple is not invited to a kiddy party.

      N thinking about it, no side is wrong in this situation.

  18. i think one tends to be consumed and involved with whatever it is that of foremost importance in ones life at any given point of time. it is the same for mothers. no matter what their past/present situation is, being a parent IS for some peopple very consuming and tends to take over all other aspects of their lives. i think its perfectly okay for mommies to prattle on about little else. much the same way it is for the kind of mommies who are lucky to have help or sustain their other interests, and have so much else to talk about and go about doing. i think theyre both too distinctly different kinds of situations, that one cannot sit on a particular side and choose to hate the other.. its a subjective matter i suppose 🙂

  19. I am a mommy too – and I find myself posting quite some about my kids. But I cant stand too mcuh of details, for example, every time a baby pooed and peed is NOT hot news. I get irritable when people just dont know where to draw a line.

    I get irritable in equal measure when I see people posting abt their lunch menu and what they ate for breakfast etc.

    Some sensitivity please.

  20. This glorification bit is SO true MM. 5 years back if someone had an arranged marriage, it would not have been documented on their blog, one phase at a time. Or a trip. Or college. Relationships. Or family. Or motherhood. It’s the new age “obsessing” over whatever is new and taking up most of our time. Come to think of it, I generally write absolutely random things on my blog. But I have been told I am obsessed with being married. Yes, it shows. The fact that the marriage is a happy one shows and it takes up most of the space on my blog. But there obviously is more to me than being a wife in a happy marriage. It’s the new age. The internet. The real democracy. Duniya hi badal gayi hai!

  21. Hey. Interesting topic and well-written too. Here’s my take on things. My husband and I made a choice of not having children. However both of us love them…and they, us. We have loads of fun with our friends’ and relatives’ kids. I have no problem at all with people talking / blogging about their kids. In fact I follow your blog and another mommy blogger’s blog since I like the way you write, what you write and also your child-rearing philosophy.

    My one grouse, like ‘anon-to-avoid-offending’, is that some girls/ladies can’t make time even to answer your phone call to chat casually for a couple of minutes. I understand that bringing up a child must be difficult, but I know of other mothers in very similar situations who can manage it. Then I feel, why not you ?

    Also, parents do talk a lot about their kids, but isn’t it natural ? Wouldn’t anybody talk a lot about something so important in their lives ? It only bothers me when that is all they talk about…and this particular complaint isn’t just about parents…it is about all people who talk about only one thing all the time.

    • Oh, this one too. I am still mad at a close friend who turned down a farewell dinner invititation, cos she wanted to be home with her 5- yr old. She is on a work break for a month and stays home with the kid, all day. Her husband returns from work, by late noon. And we even went all out to adjust timing/ venue, to make it easier for her to attend. And this is not the first time. Surely, once in a while you cn make time for friends? 😦

      • Perhaps she took the break to be with her kid and is trying to make the most of it? Time is one thing that parents of young kids definately don’t have! New age working parents are trying hard to make time for their kids. Freinds, sadly, will have to wait 🙂

        • just to clarify – I don’t mind at all my friends being busy with their kids; having seen plenty of young kids in the family, I know how hard work it is. What I feel sad about is that they prefer to spend their time with only those who have kids and completely shun people like me who don’t. I can’t “mind” this – it is their choice, but I do feel sad about it, because I thought that our friendship went deeper than each person’s choices/ life stages.

      • Sometimes its not that easy. For instance the Bean threw up in school a few days ago and has been rather clingy since. I have no idea why. Now even if the OA is at home, I still dont have the heart to leave her. I may not go into the details of explaining this to someone when I turn down an invitation though.. and now I am wondering if they think I’m a bitch for saying no too! But the truth is, she’s only three and she’s upset about something and between work and the home, I am so worried that I spend every waking minute with her, hoping to get her back to her normal cheerful self.

        • I agree with both of you, but like I said, this wasn’t the first time. It has happened many times before. And the child is usually pretty ok with it (have known the lil fellow for a while now and we are the best of friends, which is how I know :)); its always this sort of cold feet she gets when a plan is made. We have even asked her if we’d rather not include her in the plan (for instance, she made it quite clear that weekends are a no- no for her, so we avoid any group celebrations over the weekends), but she gets upset if she is not invited. It kind of leaves everyone in a bit of a tight spot. But yes, I see both your points 🙂

          • oh I was totally like that..with my boys even though I stayed home with them all day, leaving them and to go out with friends never existed in my dictionary, I dont know what it was mommy’s love, mommy’s guilt or ???.But could never do it and I got all kinds of taunts from friends who used to tell me that they too had two kids just like me and they were fine going out without kids.Surprisingly after the kids got a little older and less dependent on me, I go out now without them and have my fun…

            • i have never thought of it as guilt. i love being with the kids. and yes, i’ve picked my kids over friends at times, but i weigh the occasion. if its a random dinner and i havent spent time with my kids in days, i skip the dinner. if its a birthday or an anniversary, i ensure i attend unless the kids are unwell.

  22. At the moment, I don’t have any life outside the kids. So what else can I talk about? I’d love to discuss the current blockbuster, but you know what I don’t think I am getting to see it till the DVD comes out and I am going to see only 50% of it in bits and pieces with all the interruptions in between.

    • true. its as GB said – in the early years you really dont have much of a life beyond the kids because they take up so much of it. the only parents who seem to have a life inspite of young kids are those who are comfortable leaving a lot of that work to others.

  23. You know, when I was getting married, one of my closest friends, who lived in the same town, and wasn’t even working at that time, barely made it to any of the ceremonies. I was very upset. Afterwards she confessed to me that because all her friends were getting married at a time when her parents were struggling to find a match for her, she couldn’t bring herself to make it to any of the events.

    Another friend of mine recently got very depressed when her friend announced her pregnancy. She was like ‘people are moving on in life, getting married, having babies, while here I am waiting desperately for the right guy to turn up’.

    The thing is, there is so much pressure to conform – get married by a certain age, have kids by a certain age – and when (voluntarily or otherwise) one doesn’t conform to those norms, one can feel very very left out.

    And this is possibly one of the reasons why your friend and other people are put off by the ‘glorification’.

    That said and done, I’ve no clue how I’d react if my friends did that. I have only one friend who has a kid – every time we talk, I ask after him, she talks for a few short minutes on what he’s upto, may even put him on the line (he’s three), and then we move on to other things. We hang out with the kid sometimes, and often without the kid. She’s somehow managed to balance her son with her friendship and other commitments perfectly (it also helps that she’s self-employed and has parents to help out with the kid).

    • you know, i understand that there is pressure to conform. and that pressure works in many ways. there is a lot of pressure on me from my family and friends in the real world to go back to a full time job or write a book. i’m not interested in either. but i cant stop talking to them for that reason. neither will i stop celebrating friends who are doing all of that. you have to be comfortable with your own choices to be able to deal with the pressure.

  24. Totally agree with you. In a way this medium is a place where we all can learn from each other. I have a two year old, and as I was telling my husband, have learnt/made aware of so many small things from your blog, that sometimes might go unnoticed.

    • yeah.. even FB is a platform to share. its so easy to say – my son has a runny nose – anyone got a home remedy?

      i’m not really doing it to rub it in for someone who doesnt have kids you know…

  25. Hey MM

    My first comment on your blog 🙂

    Typically, friendships are developed on a common interest or just by being together say at school or work – in that, they are unplanned. Two friends will run through different milestones or similar milestones but at different points in time. Your friend probably needs to develop / rediscover good listening skill sets, and focus on partaking in the current milestone of your life and ditto for you wrt her life.

    Time is the true test of friendship and being there for each other through the highs and lows is the real stuff be it kids or a painful boss or a maid who does not turn up:)

    Agree with empowerment engineer – we attract what we abhor. Maybe you have just scratched the surface, and further chats with her will reveal whats really bothering her…?

    Love!

    • welcome here 🙂
      very true what you say. i have friends going through infertility and i’d hate to think that my kiddy stories upset them. just as i ache for them and want to be there for them as they go through this tough time…

  26. Amen MM.
    I am proud to call myself a flaming mommy blogger at this stage of my life. my blog is just about my kids. this was my intent when i started it and will continue to be so as long as I have something to write about them. my blog will be one of the treasures i leave behind for them. my 6 year old has started following it and is quite interested about what i write. and it is always heartening to see how he reacts to them.

    • yeah. i think the mistake people make is by imagining that you are your blog. just because you choose to blog about food, or your kids, doesnt mean that you dont have other facets. so i’m okay with being a mommy blogger. i dont have to take you to a rock show with me to prove that i can do more that wipe noses and talk about politics to make my point.

  27. MM..there are 2 kinds of parents…those who think their kids are the center of THE universe & those that think their kids are the center of THEIR universe. The first kind i must say are annoying…i personally know at least one like that. The latter kind ( where I think you belong) are just fine. You have the right to feel that way & blog about it or FB about it and i dont see why it should offend anyone. Don’t read it if it makes you bored or uncomfortable. I for one love all that you write…be it about kids or anything else. You are so gifted!

  28. Nice discussion. I have been on both sides of the fence going through infertility related depression and now a mommy through adoption. Based on the state of mind at any given time, I compartmentalized myself and associated only with groups I felt comfortable with. It was a mode of self preservation. Now, I look back and say I wish I had done things differently but back then, it is what kept me going.

    I do agree with your friend though, if all of your friends/circles are talking about the one thing you are not interested in, it is hard to keep up the pretense of being interested. Perhaps it is time to build another circle for herself. 🙂

    • yes, that is an option. although its sad to lose friends over a change in phase. for instance when i had my son at 25, i didnt walk away from all my single friends because they didnt understand what i was going through…

      • I agree. The way I handled it was having separate circles to associate with depending on how I felt during that time. Its not like I disassociated with my mommy friends. But then, I was lucky to have mommy friends who understood when I declined invites or said I was not feeling up to making it to kiddie birthday parties.

        Blogging has been and still is a great way for me to find a group going through what I am going through at each phase of my life.

  29. God I wish I had found your blog earlier. I was going through this phase where i felt a sense of trepidation every time i wrote something about my child/being a mother/pregnancy in my status update or my gender column Chickwit. Would it make me less cool in the eyes of the non-mommies, singletons, DINKS, men (who were a huge part of my readership)?
    After battling it for a year and a half, sneaking stuff in pretending it is a gender issue and random stuff like that, I realised I wanted a space to just write about the mommy stuff. Just like it is. Unapologetic. So, i have allowed myself to be relegated to mommyblogger now, i feel at least i have some space to document stuff. And yes, while the rest of them are documenting their love lives, travels, partying, social networking, movies, plays, what have you.

      • actually relegated simply because when you see all the comments above, you too can see that a lot of people have a problem with you celebrating your child’s first tooth while they’d be okay with you posting about your new phone or car.
        So its not that mommy blogging is infradig, its more that you assign all your conversation about your child to a place that is more obscure – where you are not afraid of giving offence to someone who is unable to be part of your joy. And in that sense, it is relegating, right? because given a choice those of us who are enjoying anything, would love to chatter about it all day or shout from the rooftops the day the baby gets potty trained!

        am i right, mommygolightly?

        • absolutely.. it’s like one has legitimised a space to talk about mommy stuff where it is still cool. and i meant relegated in a tongue in cheek way, i definitely don’t think it’s infradig. some people post their travel pix, or which page 3 party they went to, or what book they read or song they heard, others write about their kids. but while the former seem to have license to do that, the latter seem to have some explaining and apologising (I just can’t help it, he is the centre of my universe, etc etc)to do. so why not find a space where you will not be surprised to see people talking about their kids and just do it?

          • MM and mommygolightly, I see what you mean but perhaps because I was once someone who was a tad too sensitive to kiddie related status updates or posts simply because it was the one thing I yearned for that I felt was not happening when I wanted it to happen, I can ‘see’ why such celebration of motherhood can be different from posting travel pix or posting party updates. I am now a mommy and I still feel guilty when I write posts that spill with happiness about being a mom. I somehow feel it might hurt someone who is my shoes from five years back.

            Having said that, I do understand that we shouldn’t have to tread lightly all the time for fear of hurting others’ sentiments. The same must be true of a whole slew of things but is not somehow.

            • i see what you mean, but i think we’re also becoming a society that is far too quick to take offence. someone poor might be upset at your pics of foreign holidays, cars and new phones no? so where do you draw the line? because then as a friend i who have only one childhood of my child’s to celebrate, am silenced for no real fault
              i have friends going through IVF and they have always celebrated, asked after my children and taken their joy through all the children in the friends circle. they spoil them, buy them gifts, take pictures and generally celebrate more than us.
              which is why i am surprised that someone who doesnt want kids, is taking offence.

  30. I am going through the entire IVF today/adoption tomorrow rigmarole for some time now, and your post actually made me sit back to think about my experiences.

    1. Whenever I meet friends and coworkers who have children, our conversation always centers around their kids. But, there are times when I feel whether I am weird for checking on their kids when I have none, or if they find it offensive that I ask more after their kids and not so much about them. How’s that for perspective?

    2. Sometimes sensitivity may go far and turn into isolation. Like a friend did not tell me about her “news”, because she feared I may be low, given all my struggles. And she broke down when she told how horrible she felt about it.

    3. Anyone who talks obsessively, endlessly about anything is a turn-off. Like the uncle I met who kept talking of how awesome Gurgaon is (oh their tribe is increasing!!) or my friend’s husband who just talks fitness all the time. Then, why single out parents who talk about their kids?

    4. A recent conversation with my sister. We had gone to a designer to order some bespoke linen, and she keenly accompanied me, along with her daughter. After the meeting:

    Me: I thought you were right keen to come and give your suggestions. But you spent all the time like a paranoid mother, hovering over baby S.

    She: It’s all very well for you to label me paranoid, but did I have any choice? I didn’t want her to mess up the lady (designer’s) sofas or break her crystal. Hell, I’d be labelled a careless mother otherwise.

    5. I am so engaged with all things “baby”. Have planned umpteen kid parties for friends and family, know the best baby stores, have done baby shopping for bff’s first cousin’s second daughter during trips abroad :-), know which furniture is the best choice for each stage. Dammit, my husband is a premium member of Mothercare UK, because of the stuff he buys for our niece.

    All I can say is that there is glory in being a parent. Believe me, there definitely is! Ask someone who wants to be one, and is unable to for whatever reasons. If I become a parent in the future (I so hope!), I will celebrate, without any guilt, without wondering what others think about me.

  31. As we go through life, we grow in different ways based on our life experiences and our openness (and closedness as the case may be:-)to them..so some of our really close friends from our earlier life may just ease out of our lives because we have less and less in common as the years go by..(note, I say ‘some’) and then of course, we make new friends too along the way too..

  32. Hi, as a single person person who definitely doesn’t have children, but as someone who has interacted closely with Baby Kalyani (my friend’s daughter) right from her birth, I can see and understand both sides of the story. The problem is, like you rightly nailed, the fact that we now have a platform to showcase everything we do, including the pets we keep and the vacations we go to, and certain things we don’t associate with stand out more than others do 🙂

    Hi btw. I was recently introduced to your blog 🙂

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