Power of appreciation

Often parents teach their children to not appreciate themselves or even they don’t really appreciate their children aloud as they fear it might sound boastful or the child might become overconfident/complacent. What happens eventually is that the child starts lacking self-esteem somewhere and as adults we see so many people around us, educated and well placed, lacking self-esteem.
There is a difference between boasting and appreciation. We tend to criticize ourselves, our children, people around us very easily. Then why is that appreciation doesn’t come to us that easily? Putting down our spouse or children comes across so naturally, especially in public platforms, in the vicinity, among friends; but why do we hesitate in appreciating them? I would say as women we need to pat out back more often. I see so many women multitasking, doing wonderfully, yet criticizing themselves all the time; be it their appearance, their parenting, their job, their home.
Along with all the values, let’s also instill the value of elevating self-esteem of our children. We guide them to work on their negatives and be critical about it, lets also teach how to be positive about themselves. As such, the world is ever ready to point out our negatives!

Strong Women

I blog and I also work from home on various things since the past many years now. In due course of events and training, I have met so many women from all walks of life, all kinds of backgrounds. Yes..most of them are mothers; mothers of kids of various age groups. Some have supportive parents, in-laws or spouse who take care of the children or keep the kids in daycare while the women are attending the event or training, but still these women multitask there!
On call and WhatsApp, they keep on checking their kids. Some days the spouse, in-laws or parents are unable to pitch in and the women somehow manage that day. They call the sabziwala to deliver the veggies at home,they call up the daycare in between to ask about their kids. Sometimes they get calls from the teachers of the kids in between, sometimes some relative calls. Some days the child is unwell and the mom is sad. Some days she had a hard time with her in-laws or parents. Some day she herself is upset or unwell.
But still such women keep going because they have the passion to do something, they want to learn and earn, they want their talent to get nurtured and recognized.
Women are strong, gifted, inspiring, talented..I am glad I have met so many..

Ask for help and don’t be scared to say #MujheSabNahiPata

All of us have often heard this quote, “Life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mother”.  But does motherhood come with a manual? No, it doesn’t. Then why does the society expect that a mother should know everything, have answer to every question, and solutions to all the problems related to her children? Why have we forgotten that she is as human as anyone else and is learning every day from experiences?

Recently, SC Johnson’s All Out has launched a hard-hitting and brilliant campaign with a message that encourages mothers to say #MujheSabNahiPata. A short film, (https://www.facebook.com/AllOutIN/videos/256425565275319/ ) which appropriately captures a mother’s dilemma when her child suffers from dengue, catching her off-guard, has touched a chord with millions of mothers, across the country. The ad which is relatable to all moms who have had to face the pressures of societal conditioning has gone viral and within no time garnered over 85 million views.

It indeed takes a tough mom to say #MujheSabNahiPata because we are always susceptible to judgement, if we don’t know anything related to our children, and it gets worse if god forbid, anything serious happens to them. To further discuss this topic, All Out in association with First Moms Club (FMC) and Mom Junction organised an event where moms from various walks of life, with kids of various age groups, gathered to discuss about motherhood and yes #MujheSabNahiPata.

The event began with a panel discussion comprising Ruchita Dar Shah, Founder, FMC; Dr. Samir Dalwai, renowned paediatrician; Ms. Rupal Patel, child psychologist and parenting coach; moderated by Ms. Chandrama Deshmukh of Mom Junction. The cherry on the cake was the presence of celebrity mom Sonali Bendre on the panel who is the voice of the campaign. Sharing her story of being a mother she said that people expected that as a celebrity, she would have it easy with an army of help around her. But like all other moms, she had her share of anxiety and guilt while raising her son. Speaking about how the campaign is a platform for mothers to feel empowered, she inspired all of us in the audience to let go of our inhibitions and share more, so that together, everyone can grow as parents.

The moms in the audience opened their hearts to share their #MujheSabNahiPata stories. Some women shared poignant incidences where they spoke about how they were blamed and shamed for delivering babies through C-section, their inability to breastfeed and how they were accused of being negligent when their kids fell ill. Shah, being the founder of one of the largest online mom community, shared that the motive behind FMC was to create a platform where moms could share, ask, and vent without being judged. Apart from sharing his experience of meeting anxious moms as a paediatrician, Dr Dalwai also shed light on the often-missed signs and symptoms of dengue and tips that mothers can practice for staying more guarded from the disease. He also spoke about the reoccurrence of the disease and myths people have around platelet counts, fluctuating fever and children’s activity levels during dengue.

To me, the film and the discussion on dengue brought back bitter memories. A few years ago, when my son was diagnosed with this deadly illness, I went through hell as it was my #MujheSabNahiPata moment.  Like all moms, I felt guilty as to why I couldn’t shield my son from this tough time. I wondered why despite me maintaining hygiene in the house, the virus affected my son. Something I didn’t know was cleared during the session when Dr. Dalwai mentioned that dengue-carrying mosquitoes breed in clean water and could infect even during daytime.

The crux of the discussion was that in a world of constantly emerging threats, it is okay for moms to not know everything and that they should accept this fact without fear and guilt. After all, parenting is an everyday learning process and moms discover new aspects of it with each passing day and year of the child’s life.

At the end of this wonderful session, all of us pledged to keep reminding ourselves and other moms that it is okay to not know everything, and it’s okay to admit #MujheSabNahiPata. We marked the pledge by tying a knot in our scarves and dupattas, a traditional practice followed by women to remind themselves of something that they may forget. I would urge you all to share your stories with each other in the comments section to be better prepared for the future.

I would like to sign off by saying, “Moms, if you don’t know, the thing to do is not to get scared, but to learn.”

Let’t take charge..

The horrific and shocking murder of a 12-year-old boy by 2 class 12 boys in a school in Dehradun compels me to write this. No child, here let me talk about boys, is born a criminal. Then what happens as he starts growing up? In a male-crazed nation like ours, parents allow the boys to get away with everything right from the childhood stating “bachcha hai” or “ladke to aisa karte hi hain.” I see so many new moms scared to discipline their children, crying or getting sad if their children insult them. Aggression is thought to be a “boy” thing and hence never corrected. Rules are imposed on girls but rarely those rules are applied to the boys. Values of compassion, love, forgiveness, empathy, sympathy are thought to be “girlie”. Boys don’t cry, can’t be vulnerable, can’t show their weak side, can’t fail, can’t be wrong. They are “mard” after all.
I have a son too who is now 16 and he has turned out to be a good guy. No, he wasn’t born like this, me and my husband took great efforts to raise him like this. I have the same set of rules for both my son and daughter. I have taught both of them love, compassion, humanity. I have rebuked and reprimanded both of them when they have faltered or misbehaved. I still am not shy of scolding or punishing my son if he is wrong. I am the parent and I am not scared that he will hate me. He must have hated me many a times in his childhood when I was strict and even now, but if that temporary hate allows him to be a good human so be it. I talk to him, try to analyze and watch his behavioral changes, aggression at times, and correct them as and when required. Today when people compliment for my son’s values and behavior, all I say is it wasn’t easy, but as a parent it was and will be my responsibility so that tomorrow some other parent/child doesn’t get affected by his behavior.
We are the parents, lets keep an eye, talk, love, take charge..

The ever smiling maushi (ayah)

My daughter Ishani got promoted to class 7 today. She has been studying in this school from nursery, so it will be 9 years in this school now. When she was in nursery, there was a particular maushi (ayah) with whom Ishani was very attached to. The maushi was a mild, middle-aged lady who was very good with little kids and was very fond of the little chubby Ishani. I have never seen her annoyed in all these years. Today my daughter has grown taller than that maushi who has now grown a little more older yet her calm demeanor and lovely smile remain the same. Whenever she meets me she smiles and greets politely. Ishani still loves this maushi very much.
Some people leave a lasting impression even without actually uttering any word. She is much better than many educated, well-placed opportunists whom, I am sure, we all have encountered who don’t acknowledge or communicate once they feel we are “of no use” to them.
Ishani is out of the nursery section years back yet that maushi never fails to acknowledge me with her smile. I will be of “no use” to her ever, still she smiles..
The world needs more noble souls like her..

Bitter realities of life

Some bitter facts of life:
1. Nobody wants to handle a child in the infant and toddler years but want to spend time with him/her when he/she has grown up all nice and strong.
2. No one wants to teach the new bride anything but once she has learnt everything everyone wants her to help them.
3. No one wants to be near an unsuccessful person, but you should see how they change their colors when the same person becomes successful.
4. Parents can treat their kid badly or humiliate them in public but don’t want their kids to do the same when they become old.
5. Everyone is ready to blame the mother when the child falters but no one appreciates her when the child turns out fine.
6. Not generalizing, but parents are partial towards the more successful kid.
7. Same rules don’t apply for daughter and daughter-in-law.
8. Bad treatment and circumstances make a person bitter, harsh and strong, still people say “You have changed.”
9. Most people avoid poor and “not-so-good-looking” people, unless they want a favor from them.
10. Everybody is an actor, that’s the reality.

Changing times, change in movies

Last week, I was watching a movie from the 1960s.  Some character mouthed the lines “Pati ke charnon mein swarg hain.  Ab tumhara pati hi tumhara devta hai.”  In the movies till 90s if a girl was raped or thrown out by her husband in a movie the only way out for the female character was to commit suicide.  A female character who smoked, drank whiskey or wore provocative clothes was the vamp.  In many movies, a working woman was shown in a bad light and was given lecture about “Indian sanskriti” and by the end of the movie the woman would be serving food, quitting her job, and shown to be “sanskaari naari.”

But of late, the movies don’t portray women in this way.  I agree that “item songs” still objectify women, but any change in the society or movies takes time.  In recent times, movies with female protagonists have been appreciated both by critics and masses and have become hits.  Movies with strong female protagonists like Queen, Mardani, Piku, Pink, English Vinglish, Mom, Badla, Manikarnika, Raazi and such have worked wonderfully at the box office.  Earlier we could cite only Mother India as one of the movies where the female protagonist was strong.

Today mainstream heroines are shown to be working, drinking and smoking without guilt, living-in, living independently, and women with strong mind.  The fact that these films work is a good sign, sign of changing times.  I agree still our country has a long way to go in terms of women empowerment, emancipation and gender equality.  But let’s appreciate the positive change.

On the hindsight, many people are worried that our daughters will go “astray” by watching such movies.  It is against our “Indian culture.”  Okay..so being subservient, obedient, not expressing opinions, not living their dreams, working, exercising their choice is Indian culture..is it?

Also, today the female leads don’t shy away to get married or become mothers at the peak of their career.  Acceptance is much better now.  Most actresses are good businesswomen and many of them are self-made.  I am happy that film-makers and the female actors are being bold in their choices and are not scared to take risks, both professionally and personally.

A lot needs to be done still, but a lot of positive signs are there..