When I asked her to lie…

…it was that moment of life which I wish hadn’t happened. Or which I wish would erase itself from the history of mankind. Or at least from my own life.

IMG_6327

Li’l Love. Honestly, I still do not know if she is my mother or I am hers. Because it is I who has learnt a lot from her. And the lessons continue every single day. For every life lesson that I try to teach her, she teaches me many simple yet forgotten ones.

My Mom is reaching her retirement age and has become extremely religious. From fasting to visiting almost all the temples in our locality after her school hours has become her routine. So much that even Dad gets annoyed at her absence many a times. Everyday is an auspicious day. It should be. But according to her we should not eat eggs or meat on such days. If you ask her, she’ll say we shouldn’t eat them on any day. I was a step ahead of her in being ‘religious’ till I married this meat-eating brahmin boy from the hills. His theory is simple. Either eat or don’t eat. Do not confuse with days. And I found logic in his argument and fell for it and became a pure non-vegetarian myself.

So, the other day was Chottanikkara Makam. Don’t even try to pronounce it if you are not from Kerala. It is an auspicious day. Period. For more details, visit Google Baba. I made the girls take a bath after their school hours and like “good babies” we went to the temple. We met Mom there. And then we took leave and went on to the market to buy some stuff for our upcoming travel the very next morning. And I saw tender coconuts which are a delight for Li’l Love. So mommy with the girls enjoyed one each. And then I saw Anu widening her whiskers and smiling. She said, “Momos. Hot hot momos. Yummy Chicken Momos.” Since the husband was to come back from a dinner and the mighty lazy me had not prepared anything for dinner, I decided to get chicken momos packed. Dinner was spared!

As we enjoyed every bite into the juicy momos, the mobile rang. As expected, it was Mom. She spoke with Anu who is now smart enough to change the topic at the right instance. Now it was the turn of Li’l Love. The saint in our home. So before she spoke, I whispered in her ears to not tell her grandmother that we were eating Momos. She turned and gave me a fierce look as fiery as Lord Shiva’s third eye. I was almost burnt to ashes when she asked me with a higher tone than usual, “You’re asking me to lie? Why?

I must admit that it was with great difficulty that I managed to open my mouth to answer her. I said, “Today is an auspicious day and Amma will not like that we are having chicken. She will scold your mom. Will you like it?

To this she responded abruptly, “I’ll tell her not to scold you. But I don’t think we should lie.

It was one of those days that I cursed being a mom to this little angel. I was so ashamed of myself.

A simple thing I had complicated so much. And what for? Because I didn’t want to listen to those one or two sentences from my mother that it was an auspicious day and I shouldn’t have brought or cooked non-vegetarian?  Just to avoid it, I was knowingly teaching a wrong lesson to my children. Shame on me!

I have promised myself that come what may, I will not lie or ask my children to lie for such immaterial reasons.

The trouble with our generation is that we aren’t assertive. Not because we don’t want to be. But because we choose to be people-pleasers. We are a scared lot. We have been taught to respect people and their sentiments no matter what. What was not taught was that while doing this we are actually forgetting life’s important lessons in the process unnecessarily complicating it.

A big thanks to the Almighty for having sent this little God’s own child into my life. I am deeply indebted to her for the way she corrects me every time I err. I love the simple way she prefers to explain her point of view, which in most cases is the right one.

I hope you did read another lesson from Li”l Love that I shared as a guest post on Gayatri’s Outside the Kitchen Window. If not, you can read it here: Lessons from my toddler.

Motherhood

Duckies

First they’re nowhere.
And then they arrive.
Take possession of your body that you were once very proud of.
After struggling enough within the pool of aminiotic fluid and feeling bloated, they finally decide to pop out.
You were wishing so hard for them to vacate your body so as to feel like yourself again.
But what awaited ahead was unanticipated.
Everyone told beautiful stories of mommyhood.
Of the cute and naughty little pranks.
Of the pride they felt as a parent.
Of the innocence.
Of the unconditional love.
No one prepares you for the actual roller coaster ride you’re about to experience for the rest of your lives.
Once a mother, you will only be a mother.
No matter how much you deny it, that’s what is the truth.
The unwritten rule of motherhood.
Worry forever.
About their health.
About their development; physical and mental.
About their education.
About their activities.
About their appetite.
About their friendship.
It’s alway about them.
No date with the husband goes without indulging in discussions about them.
And how can we miss the endless moments when they leave you speechless with their antics.
After years of them following you like the Vodafone pug, you realize that they have grown out of your wings and it’s now your turn to be the pug for the remaining years of your life.
Motherhood is an encyclopedia in itself.
Every moment is a new chapter.
A new discovery.
A new lesson.
Mistakes you make.
Every act is like a new experiment.
Each time the results are different.
Learning on the go.

Child Care and Working Mothers

Image Courtesy What To Expect.com
Image Courtesy: What To Expect.com

Motherhood they say is the best experience. True for most of us. At least for the majority I have interacted with. To many, it was a well thought of decision. While for many others it was accidental or forced by family and societal pressures. But all in all, motherhood is an experience in itself. You learn most of life lessons from this lifetime project.

And how much ever we debate a father (even if he is willing to) cannot do as much as a mother for their child in the initial years of birth.

I am a mother of two girls, aged nine and six. I had a full-time job and was a middle-level manager. So you can understand the responsibilities I had at work. During my first pregnancy I had 56 days maternity leave. I had to take a month’s extension on without pay basis to take care of the newborn. During the second pregnancy, the company had revised the policy and I was entitled for 86 days maternity leave.

I left both my girls when they were around three months old with young girls (20 years and above) whom I hired from various agencies. Total strangers with not much prior experience. Some of them were true gems. Here I would like to mention about the hefty commission amounts that the agents charge you. While the house help’s salary was as low as INR 1800 in the year 2006, the commission we had to pay the agency was about six months salary of the maid. This went up to INR 10-15K as the help’s salary and about 35-50K as the agent’s commission by the year 2013. The money I have paid to agents and domestic helps in the last 8-9 years could have helped me pay off my home loan in entirety.

I loved my job. While it kept me up to date on the subjects of my interest: Computers, Science and Technology for professionals and researchers, it also took care of my medical expenses through the insurance scheme for employees. Motherhood along with the job was managed pretty well with lots of help from the husband and the parents (all working), the house helps and understanding managers. I am much more at ease with this considering my younger sister who is in the Mid-East and cannot afford to even have a house-help due to employment policies prevalent in the region. There aren’t many good child care centers too.

Sometimes, the house helps we employed were not so helpful or trustworthy or clean or were not comfortable with childcare. There have been emergencies when a maid left on a holiday and didn’t come back. The agencies never provided a replacement immediately and so I have never had any leave encashments all through my career spanning 15 years. But nevertheless, my work spoke and so I still had my job. Of course, like most females I have had to listen to comments/remarks on my leaves from managers, friends as well as colleagues.

But this post is not about any of this. This is about how important childcare is and should be to any parent, any family or any country. Imagine having well-managed child-care centers or government-funded agencies that provided trained and trustworthy domestic helps or child care centers managed by the companies. I as a female can assure 100% dedication and commitment from every female employee. If you are sure that your child is in safe hands, you can concentrate on your work and help the company achieve its results efficiently. If not, you’ll always be divided between your workplace and the place where your child is.

For my second-born, I even tried a child care center named Roots to Wings. She was just 18 months old. One of the most difficult 12 days of my life. I left my daughter at 7.30 a.m at the gate of the center and tears rolled down as my kid refused to leave my hand. This I accepted because my job too was important for me. But on the twelfth day as I picked up the kid from the center she was crying in severe pain. The center manager told me that she seems to be unwell as she had been crying since afternoon.

I reached home and checked her nappy. That’s when I saw blisters all around her bums. She was in so much pain that she refused me to pick her up. I can tell you no pain is as unbearable as seeing your child suffer for no fault of theirs. The ayyah at the center had ‘used her marvelous brain’ and washed the used nappy and made her wear it again instead of checking for a new nappy which was inside her bag and was informed. Neither the teachers, the center manager or the ayyah bothered to check why the child was crying in pain since afternoon. They didn’t even bother to inform me. I thought I could never forgive that lady. But I understand, she wasn’t trained well for child care. I wrote to the parent company and within months the center was shut down. I understand from other parents that they too have had similar or more grave complaints regarding this center.

We keep reading and listening to horror stories of how domestic helps and child care centers harm young and innocent children. Childcare definitely the most responsible task and one must not take it up if they aren’t ready to put their 100% into it. Opening a childcare center is the most easiest way to make money these days. But what needs to be understood is that it must have dedicated employees who help it strive for better.

Information sourced from Reuters India: In U.S. President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, he says he will triple the maximum child care tax credit to $3,000. “In today’s economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever. It’s not a nice-to-have – it’s a must-have,” Obama said. “It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us,” Obama said. “And that’s why my plan will make quality childcare more available, and more affordable, for every middle-class and low-income family with young children in America – by creating more slots and a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year.

A country can progress only if it’s children get proper development atmosphere. A happy and healthy child means happy and healthy parents who in turn prove to be valuable resources for the country and the world. High time we take childcare as a serious issue and find solutions to tackle it. Company sponsored or subsidized childcare centers within or outside the premises, government-funded or privately managed trained domestic help providers are a necessity for double-income families. I wish we see this as national issue and work towards the necessary solutions.

What are your views on this? Do let me know.