Saturday, March 30, 2013

Being An Equal Parent

This Post was first published on Parentous - the Parenting blog.

‘Equal Parent’ – I first noticed this word in the book Raising Boys’ by Steve Biddulph. An ‘Equal Parent’, as the term suggests, is a parent who shares the parenting roles and responsibilities equally, believing them as his own and not as doing favours or helping out his other half.
Read on and may be you would find resonance of your own thoughts.

Case 1
The other day, I told my friend (also a stay-at-home mom to a 19 month old toddler) that I went for a movie and shopping over the weekend, and reached back home only after 7-8 hours.
She was bewildered that my son stayed with his dad for so long without crying for mom.
I told her, ‘And why should he be crying? He was with his dad after all.’
In her household, she is the one who is on 24 hours beck-and-call of the sonny boy. She feeds him all his meals, massages, gives him bath, takes him for stroll and puts him to sleep. All that over and above cooking all meals herself (that includes giving dabba to hubby dear).
Case 2
Another friend is a working mom to a 20 month old little girl. She depends heavily on her in-laws for taking care of her baby when she goes off to work. She confided in me that her husband would play with the little one but only when he felt like it, otherwise he would not help out in any baby-related work. Had it not been for her in-laws, she would not have been able to continue with her job.
What is it with dads really? And of course, I am not talking about ALL dads but SOME dads who choose NOT to be an EQUAL PARENT. And of course, my judgement is not on the basis of these 2 cases but I have come across several of them. I see women getting miserable trying to manage everything on their own, with little help from their husbands.
I would not dwell too much on what used to happen earlier because we are all aware of that. But right now it is the need of the hour to share equal responsibilities of raising children between husband and wife or partners. Both bring different things to the table.
The main issue which I find in several households is that fathers assume that mothers know how to do everything for the baby perfectly, and they would not be able to do those things well themselves. But the truth is except carrying the baby and nursing, there is no other thing in which a mother has an edge over fathers. But the dads first need to believe that they can do it.

Several men from traditional families also believe that what women do at home – like keeping house and raising children – are easy. Of course, not true again! I have been a professional and a stay-at-home mom at different times, and I can say without batting my eyelid that raising a child is much more difficult. All your days are not hectic at work but with a young child you always have to be on your toes, whether you are feeling up to it or not. You get tea breaks and lunch breaks at work. But mothers don’t have that luxury at home until the time the little one naps. How to sneak into bathroom also requires strategic thinking. You have your food at leisure, while the mother bangs her head to many failed projects of making the young one eat a proper meal.
Over and above everything else, being a part of your child’s every day routine is rewarding and a matter of pride. And it is also an opportunity to live the lesson of equality rather than just preach.

Note: This post is dedicated to my husband who has been an equal parent from Day 1. From cooking for a nauseated wife during pregnancy to taking over baby care in the early days immediately after delivery, from teaching me a thing or two on how to put our baby to sleep to doing everything with deft to this day for our ‘star’, he has risen up to every occasion. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Why not Loiter? [the 'me-time' day]

Warning: This is going to be a very long post, and may seem like I am making up for all those posts which-might-have-been!

I have been feeling a little stressed lately. Call it stress or boredom or whatever, but I wanted a break from the everyday routine. It is not that I ever regret my decision to be a Stay-at-home-Mom. That has been one of the best and best-timed decisions ever, but we all need a little break, now don’t we?

My husband, as I have mentioned often, is quite cooperative and accommodating, and he has been asking me to go out with friends. But I say, what friends?! I don’t have any (more)! The only friend who is around is my next-door neighbour but I can’t expect her to drop everything and go out with me all the time. I have been to movies and shopping with her a couple of times after the little one turned one.

So, this time I decided, I need to go out alone and just wander, do nothing. Just like old times. During college times, I went for a play and a movie all by myself. The play was ‘Vagina Monologues’ and the movie was ‘Bride and Prejudice’. Nobody wanted to go with me for either. I even went for film festivals alone or sometimes with another friend (not from my group). It used to be fun.

To come back to the day in question, I was super-excited about venturing on my own after I don’t even remember how long. I am sure not less than 3 years. I had decided I would wander inside Phoenix Market City which is quite near my home. I wanted to spend a lot of time at Crossword (which incidentally has a Sale going on since yesterday), Landmark (which has been running the fabulous 3-for-2 offer for such a long time now) and of course Café Coffee Day (for my relaxed cup of Cappuccino). I also wanted to check out some stores to pick a few activities stuff for the little one. So the plan was set.

Now the question was how would I reach the destination! The last time I was driving on my own was sometime in 2010. So you see, I did not want to stress myself on whether I would make it to the mall, on the day I wanted to relax! So, I booked a cab for myself.
The next problem was I did not have much cash with me and no change. I just had 1000 bucks, and a single currency. Ok, I was going to the mall but I still had to pay the cab on both sides. Besides, I hate going out without enough cash on me. It is my habit to always, always have atleast the cash to pay for whatever I may want to buy and for the cabs, especially if I am going alone. I hate it when the stores tell me that they don’t accept card, so you gotta run to get cash. That is not my style. Well, anyways, there’s an ATM right across our street. But somehow my card was invalid. I guess, because of months of no usage (physical usage, I mean; of course I do online shopping). I panicked and started calling up my husband to come outside with his card, and with every ring my temper was flaying because he was not picking up the phone, conveniently forgetting the hundreds of times I have done the same. At such desperate times, the shopkeepers also refuse to give change.  Somehow I pleaded to my kirana-wala to loan me Rs 250. Then I finally left for the mall. I must admit, I was not happy with how things were shaping up.
Once I was settled inside the cab and telling directions to the drievr, I started calling up family and friends to catch up peacefully. When I am at home, I am never able to talk properly on phone because, as all parents of little kids would know, my baby would not let me. And since I always keep my eyes on the road no matter who is driving, I averted a small accident. Just the second, my driver decided to peek inside his shirt pocket, an auto moved in front of our cab because of road repair work. I shouted just in time to get his attention. Well, things were not looking too good, were they?

Once I reached the Phoenix Market City at Nagar Road, I had to march the length and breadth of two floors to finally locate Crossword. I decided to check out Crossword first because they have a Sale going on since 23rd March (Saturday). I went to Crossword after very long, but I must say, they still disappoint me. I find a huge difference in the staff of Crosswords and Landmark. In the former, several books are kept on wrong sections (sometimes, horribly mismatched sections) but at Landmark the staff usually know their books. I still managed to buy 3 books for Rs 1005 at 25% discount (plus I had a GV of 100 bucks from some contest on FB), which I think was cool. They had slab-wise discounts for different MRP books. The books I bought were:

My next stop was Landmark. Though I fell for 3 books to make the most of their 3-for-2 offer but I dropped them. I bought 6 books from Landmark just 2 weeks back and add 3 from Crossword today, plus all the review books. I should not be buying any books in the first place! I ventured into the stationery section and picked up a 300-photos’ Album which I wanted to get for a long time. The Album is quite simple but there is space to write something next to each picture. I have been planning to develop the little one’s pictures for so long now, before this project becomes too much to handle. We already have a hard disk full of his pictures. Hail, the digital cameras!

I also picked up a Monthly planner (to write day-specific plans and commitments) and a diary for myself. I also bought one more miniboard book of ABC. Have you seen these books? Why do they put such big words like Aeroplane, Ambulance, etc. In my opinion, it should not be beyond Bat, Cat, Rat.

I also got a Bubble maker for him.

Then I went to Café Coffee Day. I settled with Capuccino, Bruschetta and the book “Why Loiter?” [pun unintended]. I spent about half or quarter of an hour there.

I went to Star Bazaar at the end to pick up some groceries and look for some interesting stuff for the little one to play with. You know how kids like to play with anything that is not a toy! I picked up colourful paper cups for him; mushroom, corn etc for pizza toppings (since we were planning to make Pizza today); some other veggies; cakes (I can never resist cakes) and then there was no stopping me till it dawned on me that I will have to carry all the stuff myself [I will dwell more on this point a little later]. I asked the billing guy if I would be allowed to take the trolley outside otherwise I was planning to remove half the things.
Getting out of the Mall with all those stuff, locating the taxi and lugging the entire stuff into it was another ordeal.

It was an eventful day, and it made me realize a lot of things:

  • I need to get back to driving as soon as possible. I have no patience for cab drivers. They are the worst kind of drivers on the roads. Plus it is convenient to take your own car. 
  • I need to start going out alone more often. Today, surprisingly, I was feeling a little nervous because I have got used to chaperoning. I never go on my own, so never have to bother about parking, getting cab, carrying stuff, etc. I was a little lost today. I used to be such an independent girl! 
  • It gives me the ‘me-time’ I crave for. It was not a scintillating experience today but I am sure there will be new experiences, and I will not be going to malls every time. I am not too fond of them. I like quaint little stores.

NOTE: I am going to do ‘the Reluctant Cook’ series soon. I have been doing few experimentations in the kitchen, and we also made Pizza, Pasta etc. Pizza turned out extremely lip-smacking. I am never going to order Pizza any more. More on that later.