Separate

Some of you wanted a Brat and Bean post and I know it’s been a while since you heard about them, mainly because their lives are slowly growing more private. They might not mind a potty training post when they grow up, but as they negotiate the real world, make friends and learn to deal with conflict I want more and more for that to be away from the public eye. That and the fact that milestones no longer fly thick and fast. Sitting up, standing, walking, talking, self feeding, first tooth falling, cycling without support…. I look back and it seems like their babyhood passed in a flash while I laboured physically to take them through each milestone.

But what has begun to fall by the wayside are the little leaps of mental evolution. The understanding, that I am a person separate from them. I realise that comes earlier to kids whose parents are workingΒ full time – they realise that mummy and daddy have a life apart from them. On the other hand, I’ve always been around to scratch an itchy back, soothe a fevered brow and rock a tired child to sleep while singing a lullaby so it is hard for kids like mine to accept that their mother has a life of her own and has indeed, even a separate body. I won’t comment on whether that is positive or not, but that is how it is.

The frustration that comes when they want something and Mama is *gasp* actually daring to take a shit (did I just say that on my blog?). The despair when they are upset over a fight in the school bus and Mama’s inability to make it better. These are little things that no one tells you about. Oh you read about them in books and now in blogs, but they don’t seem to amount to much. Unless you tend to feel everything 200% the way I do, and now I realise, my kids do too. I’ve passed my hypersensitivity on to them, through either nurture or genes and now we’re just going to have to deal with it.

I think it’s nice for kids to know that there is someone on earth who will always drop what they’re doing and be there for you – that is why you have parents, right? Someone who will always answer your calls. Someone who puts you first. And I don’t for a moment believe, that it gives them the impression that the world will do the same. They are, after all dealing with the real world on a real basis and seeing that it doesn’t cut it.

So yes, my biggest challenge has been to give them that limitless time and buckets of attention while still trying to maintain some semblance of a life of my own. Plentiful time and attention rarely spoil kids in my humble opinion. Trying to make up for the lack of either of those two with money or laxity on the other hand is what leads to terribly spoilt kids. I believe that all mothers must live their own lives and not let it revolve around their kids – technically. But I also know that it is a tough line to walk. Read this great piece from a son to a feminist mother.

Having said all of that I should admit rather shamefacedly that the intention isn’t always followed up by action. I work from home on a million and one projects at a time, and end up rather disorganised and flustered. So a cry for ‘Mamaaaaa!’ is usually answered with a snappy, ‘Okay, which one killed the other?’

But yes, should there be bloodshed, I’m there. If they come back from school and someone bullied them on the bus, they can talk about it over lunch. If they’re tired, I see it and sneak in an unscheduled nap. If they’re hungry and I’m not dying under the burden of a deadline, I can whip up something special for them. I don’t blame them for finding it hard to know where to draw the line.

Which is why I was pleasantly surprised a few days ago. The doorbell rang and the Brat helpfully ran to answer it, climbed up on a stool to open the latch, and knocked over a plant I had in the windowsill. I heard the crash and took a deep breath. It was okay, it was just a plant (and broken glass and dirt and a mess and more work for me!). And then he came running to me and said, “Mama, I’m sorry I knocked over a plant. I know you work hard to keep the house looking nice and we don’t have any didis to help you with the work. I’ll clean it up. And then I’ll help you plant another one.”

To say I was shocked would be an understatement.

1. He’d rushed to confess and apologise.

2. He noticed and appreciated that I liked to keep a good home.

3. He acknowledged that I had no help and did everything alone.

4. He wanted to help me and make up for the loss.

It was more than I expected from a 7 year old whose mother ran circles around him. And at some level I guess it is not so surprising. He might be quiet but he visits other homes, observes how they are kept, sees how much help is available and oh dear God – he might just be a sensitive human being!

I hugged him, told him he might hurt himself on the broken pieces and sent him off to get me the broom and pan. That was all I really wanted from him.

A few days later I was in the toilet (Yes, I know this is the TMI moment) and the Bean yelled out to me. Now I am sick and tired of people wanting to have long, complicated conversations with me, the moment I ascend the throne. I’m good for a quick yes or no, after which I get distinctly cranky and hostile. It’s the last refuge of the tired wife and mother and you have no idea how frustrating it is to find no sanctuary there either. But no amount of sarcasm or downright nastiness seems to shoo them away. I’ve come to the conclusion that actually dealing with the issue and solving the problem (unless it’s something like – Mamma! He’s pushing pencils up my nose) is the only way to get rid of them.

So when the Bean yelled Mamaaaaa a couple of days ago, I resignedly yelled back, What?

Oh, said she, ‘You’re in the bathroom? I’m sorry. I’ll ask you later.”

I have to admit I almost fell off the pot in shock.

A realisation that I was in the toilet and an appreciation of the fact that I might want to go about my business in peace and oh dear God – an apology!

I know these little markers whiz by in the dailyness of life but both made me stop and smile. I might have missed them if I’d got too upset over the smashed plant or just as usual yelled something rude from the bathroom. Yes, I might have!

Missed real, honest to God milestones where they slowly evolve from parasites into human beings. Aware, sensitive and willing, once in a while, to give their mother a break. I know I’ve written very often about the gradual physical separation of a child from the mother. The weaning, the self feeding… and now this, the final and hardest break of all. Becoming an individual. Ego, choice, concern, love…

I went to bed smiling. I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be home with them. It could be a year, it could be ten. But watching this, knowing this as I do, I can’t possibly look back in regret.

And while I’m here, let me share with you my current favourite song. The lyrics are awesome (check them out on the Coke Studio Pakistan site) and I love the way their voices blend. I’ve always loved Sanam Marvi’s voice and I don’t know if I can possibly love her more. And the Western influence towards the end is bang on. I can’t say enough, so I shall stop right here.

 

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58 thoughts on “Separate

  1. I work full time but cannot agree with you more on that the kids do need attention when they really need you in the growing up years. You have wonderful kids ( like you did not know) and may God bless your lovely family. Being aware of what you are *doing* to the kids is more important than what you are “buying” for the kids. I did have working parents but I am proud of my parents and what they have done for us, the trust that you can tell your parents everything and won’t be judged or reprimanded is something that they have achieved. I take examples from my parents and bloggers like you on my parenting than a shortlist of advices on parenting magazines. When you give the same advice in a context, it makes it more worthy, and that is what you do. Thank you MM

  2. Nodding along. Been a while since you posted something that resonated so strongly with me.

    “Plentiful time and attention rarely spoil kids in my humble opinion. Trying to make up for the lack
    of either of those two with money or laxity on the other hand is what leads to terribly spoilt kids.”
    ………..
    …….. “And I don’t for a moment believe, that it gives them the impression that the world will do the same. They are, after all dealing with the real world on a real basis and seeing that it doesn’t cut it.”

    How true. We underestimate our children and their ability to deal with the world.

    (Note to Google and wordpress, spoilt is a valid word and used extensively outside of the United States! Hate these self induced curly red lines when I know perfectly well how certain words are spelled.)

  3. Wonderful post..i have started working full time and understand and appreciate your post!!

    Couldnt hide a chuckle reading about your bathroom incidents coz i go through it daily too!!

    “But no amount of sarcasm or downright nastiness seems to shoo them away”-completely agree!!;)

  4. The Brat keels me with his sensitivity! And OMG an apology from the queen herself? You’re days are getting luckier, MM πŸ˜‰ A little curtsy to them from moi for being so lovely. And then a squishy hug.

  5. *shamefaced* I turn 18 in a month, and even though I dont live with her now, I still depend on my mom for everything.
    The toilet thingie with Bean reminds me of how inconsiderate I am.. when my mom takes a shower or is taking a nap, I still knock on the door or wake her up and and go all, ‘Mom where is my brown jacket/bag/toaster/a million other things’.. thanks to Bean, I’m never gonna do it again.. I need to remember that mommy has a life of her own and I dont encompass all of it. πŸ™‚
    And after reading this, I’m going to go give my mommy a big tight hug because it reminds me of how much she’s done for me (she gave up working when I was a kid, and now that I’m a little older, she works from home) and I need to stop taking her for granted πŸ™‚
    Here’s to all mommies like you, MM. xoxo

  6. Dude, youre turning them into HYOOMANS! I wasnt done reading all the cutesy one liner comebacks and signs of smart alec-ism, yet! bring it back I say!

    On a serious note though, every time you do a post like this (and yes, this feeling has happened before) I feel a sense of faith restored in parenting again. I have seen way too many messed up cases (in my family and outside too) of children just growing up like weeds, of parents investing sidelining their own lives for the sake of their children and still not doing a good enough job. Mostly because they dont understand it takes DOING and is not something that just “happens” and that a parents role is a lot bigger than just being around to “mind them”. Frustrates me beyond belief. And I have to confess it has contributed a large extent to the decision not to have any of my own.

    You’re right, the real world just doesn’t cut it, when you are a hyper-sensitive parent/person. And having inculcated that from my hyper-sensitive parents, it scares the bejeezus out of me to think about bringing a life into this world, which is basically pretty much always throwing one odd ball after another, in trying to desensitize children and turn them into uncouth, uncaring human beings. And in cases where parents dont have a clue what theyre doing, it works.

    Im sorry if I’m coming off as heavily opinionated, for someone who doesnt have children. But maybe, I am. it just makes me happy to see there are people who still believe that parenting takes effort, and even iwhen the world is doing everything it can to turn your efforts upside down, if you have the faith and the conviction that what you’re doing is right for your child, it will pay off. I like it that you have such an honest and no-nonsense approach to the changes you’re seeing in the brat and the bean. I think thats really what parenting is about. Holding them close, and letting go all at the same time. So few people manage the balancing act with as much class as you do.

    Ok lecture, khatam.

    • On a totally-related note, at the rate theyre growing up, we better work on that trip soon no? Lest they turn into full blown ADULTS by the time I see them next!

    • Actually I don’t believe you need to have kids to have an opinion – I dislike parents who make that distinction. It might open us up to nuance, but on the whole, my kids are growing up in a world they share with you, your world too. So you’re as invested in their upbringing as the next person. A generation of entitled kids will eff up the place for everyone.

      I agree – I know lots of parents who say, Bachche toh pal jayenge. Yes, kids will grow up, they will adjust. But will that be the best you could have offered them as the biggest influence in their lives? I think not…

      Thank you for the compliments. It means a lot, coming from you and knowing the person you are.

  7. congratulations on your newfound peace on the pot MM – but wait, knowing you, you’ll probably be straining inside (no pun intended) to hear them ask for you. I must admit, my patience is down the drain these days and any cries streaming through bathroom doors leave me yelling in a flush and I feel like shit soon after.

    And ah, your Brat – much love.

    • Yelling in a flush, feeling like shit.
      You’re in a scatological mood I see πŸ˜‰

      I have to admit I’m very happy to not hear from them. Although the father is making up for it. Now that they’ve shut up, he’s begun through-the-loo-door conversations. *insert eye roll*

      • my mind thrives in gutters, so the mood is fitting.

        Asking the father to hand you a tampon might put a stop to it – not that marriage leaves much room for embarrassment, but at least it’ll say, “now is probably not the best time. hon.” Or might I suggest hanging a mirror outside the bathroom door? I’ve found both kids and grown men to be endlessly amused by their own reflections.

  8. Hi MM,

    you are one of the bestest (!!) moms I know πŸ™‚ when I started reading you I already had a preteen daughter and my son was a toddler.. In spite of my experience, I will say I learnt a lot from you – most important being to be open and demonstrative about the love for your children..
    Nice post… my hugs to your 2 B’s and to YOU.

    Sujatha R

  9. You know the phrase “heart turning over” – I never quite understood it growing up. But sometimes, when i am bone tired and fall asleep late in the evening while DD is reading or watching TV and she admonishes her dad as soon as he walks in with his booming voice and loud hallos “Shhh, mama’s sleeping.She worked very hard today and she’s tired” I swear to God my heart does not just turn over, it does a belly flop. I am so proud of these achievements that may never go into a baby book but tell me I’m doing something right. Kudos MM, we’re raising decent individuals. Hugs to the Brat and the Bean

  10. For two children that I know almost entirely through the internet (spare the few precious minutes I spent meeting them), I am always konjam amazed and konjam embarrassed, by how much claim I want to stake on these two babies of yours. Thank you for sharing them with us – we are all made that much richer (and provided with so much laughter and joy), in knowing the Brat and the Bean.
    When the trolls come-a-calling, I wonder where they get their venom from,given that we don’t know MM the person in entirety, to be able to direct such personal digs at you. Of the many roles you play, we’ve all known you largely in your role as a mother and I personally think you do a stellar job of it – at least, when I become a mommy, you’re the kind of mommy I wish I turn out to be (of course, having a daughter like the Beanie and a calming Buddha- like Brat baby would help, much-ly! :D).
    Give them both a big, squooshy hug from me.

  11. Love the song you posted. I must have been living under a toadstool (or being a “tobe da daddu”) as I hadn’t even heard of Sanam Marvi. She is awesome but it is Coke Studio that I will reserve my unbridled love for.

    On another note, this is for the Brat: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/nature/what-animals-thinking.html

    Also, if you haven’t seen Luv Shuv.. you should go see it. You have often said how you love the Punjabi culture and it shines through in the most adorable way in the movie

  12. Such wisdom and polished talking at such a young age… Surely you know you are “the rockstar” mom right? RIGHT? Reading your blog has made me take a closer more introspective look at parenting and it has def improved it, although much of m parenting revolves around nursing & putting the kiddo to sleep πŸ™‚ but when the time comes, I have your archives to free load upon!
    On a diff note, I love open air concerts…. We went to pink Floyd and shakira(?) and lived them! Keep the music on….

  13. Lovely post, MM. I enjoy your parenting posts despite the fact that I am not a parent. But I do deal with children (4-5 year olds) on a daily basis being a kindergarten teacher.

    “And I don’t for a moment believe, that it gives them the impression that the world will do the same.”

    I will however, disagree with you on this sentence (even though it might be true for your exemplary kids). I have many kids in my class who have been spoilt rotten (mostly parents being parents of the “my child is a special unique snowflake and how dare you not applaud their mediocrity” variety and/or overcompensating due to guilt (working parents, recent divorce etc) Because Mommy Daddy are wrapped around the child’s fingers, catering to his/her every whim and fancy, it does affect that child’s view of the world. Namely, why that world (school is, in that sense, a microcosm) isn’t revolving around them. Why the teacher is not throwing down everything else to attend to them and their needs. I spend the first semester basically repeating this: “This is not your house. I am not your mother.” Basically, this will not work here. So cut it out. You WILL have to get along with each other. You WILL have to share toys. Temper tantrums are a no-go. I don’t really care what a five year wants to or doesn’t want to do, so you are going to have to finish that math worksheet. And slowly, some of them will get it. Really, it’s not the five year old’s fault. It’s the monster parents that are the worst. The ones who come in at ten in the morning, pull you out of your class and proceed to yell at you. How dare you asked their child to take a nap? How dare you told them to finish their lunch? How dare you ask her to write her alphabets in order. It’s too much… blah blah blah. And this is the parent who thinks nothing of straightening her 4 year old’s bouncy curls into stick straight strands.

    I love my job really, but some days those parents make me want to slit my own wrists and weep for the world.

    • I see your point and I agree – that is why I said, that you cannot make up for it with money or being lax. I am always there for them, which means I watch every move with an eagle eye and check any misbehaviour.
      Dropping everything to be with them and tend to their needs doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to their faults or rowdiness. In face I remember once doing a post saying that I’d skin my kids alive if they are rude to older people and it brought the trolls out saying I was a cruel mother. To hell with them. I don’t care what trolls say. I spend every minute I can with them doing what I can for them and making sure they stick to the straight and narrow.
      I’ve also always said that the biggest issue i have with the next gen is the sense of entitlement – like the world owes them. Mine are not exemplary kids (thanks anyway!) but they are kids being brought up by parents who know that upbringing matters more than an education, money, travel, educational or expensive toys, hobby classes or anything else.
      I don’t understand parents who don’t give the teacher space to work. If you don’t want the teacher to do her job, take your beloved kid out of school. I feel sorry for teachers today. I wouldn’t do it for the world. Simply because I refuse to have anyone looking over my shoulder and monitoring my every move.

      I totally see why you want to slit your wrists. Someday I look at the kids around me and I’m tempted to do the same.

    • I’m totally not adding to the conversation, but I must say, “How dare you ask her to write her alphabets in order?” is hilarious (not for a teacher I’m sure). I for one have a weakness for the magic of scrambling letters, that accidentally turn into words. I’m also quite tired of the ol’ ABC song, so send those monster parents over and we’ll work on a remix.

  14. I have written this before, that i sometimes just skim through your longish posts not reading them completely. But i read this one (and one other post) twice. It touched my heart and reminded me of my childhood and how my parents have groomed me into the kind of person that i am.
    I think it is not that your kids are now turning into individuals with their own thought processing. It is you who has always treated them as individuals, which is now showing in their personalities.

  15. This post so resonates with me.. Little nuggets of care, concern ..and when it happens when you least expect it.. it is really awesome..

    The other day, after a hard day’s work, I was mindlessly rushing through my dinner, and trying to do something else at the same time. My 2.5 yr old girl, looked at my plate from where she was playing.. and said ‘your subzi is over, here have some more.. ” and came to serve me at the table, and went back to her toys.. πŸ™‚ Was really overwhelmed, I’m sure you know the feeling…

    Thanks, MM for all your lovely posts and sharing your moments with your kids…

  16. Loved your post as usual and identified with every word. I think the best thing that we can gift our children is our time and it is nice when they learn to value it too.
    Need to thank you for putting my link on your blog. Cheers.

  17. Pingback: Pooped « The Last Byte

  18. Apologies for referencing this post on a less than wholesome post of mine, but credit was due. Do let me know if you’d prefer to not have me link to you.

    Writing posts without poop or fart references is getting increasingly hard. I think I might have turned into my sons.

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