It’s a bit strange writing after so long. So far, I’ve always managed to find the time and energy to write about what’s going through my mind in a day or two after it first occurred to me. In the last two weeks, there were many would-be posts floating around in my head, waiting patiently for me to start typing them out. But now that I have actually got down to it, they all seem to have either disappeared or become too dated…
While I haven’t had the time to write, I did manage to keep up with my favourite blogs whenever I got a free moment. And I came across two posts that reminded me of how much my perspective has changed since I became a mother. The thing is that I could imagine having written either of these posts in my pre-Ayaan days and did, in fact, say and think these things pretty often.
The first post that I came across was this one which talks about this animal called an Uber Mom. It got me thinking about whether I am an Uber Mom myself. I sure do meet some of the criteria that have been set down in the post:
- I regularly inundate my friends’ mailboxes with photographs of Ayaan. To my credit, I have been shaving down this list of lucky people every time, removing people who don’t respond to my mails or those who show little or no interest in the most important person in my life. But what if, like Vijayeta, the ones who respond only do so to be polite and to avoid seeming like misanthropes?
- While my paranoia does not extend to clothing Ayaan in dye-free white clothes, I do obsessively check for the 100% cotton tags on any clothes that I buy for him. And though I don’t police my maids' deodorant usage, I do check the length of their nails and prefer them not to wear glass bangles around Ayaan.
- And the Uber Mom’s passionate cries of “Blow a kissie” in the post sound suspiciously like my urgings of “Ayaan, say ta-ta to Auntie”.
- Lastly, I often try to convince my married but child-free friends to traipse down the motherhood path - though my motivations are not quite noble as trying to convert other people to the wonderful joy that is motherhood. I just need some company and some friends who can actually get how bloody hard this whole thing is.
So have I indeed become an Uber Mom and crossed the line between crazy about my kid to just plain crazy?
The other post that got me thinking was this one. There is actually just one paragraph in this post that got quite a war going in the comments section between parents and non-parents:
Now I don’t know about you but for me the biggest terrorists abroad flights are those babies (from my experience, mostly South Asian) who keep on bawling like air raid-sirens and their ‘couldn’t-care-less’ parents, who seem to think that all of us are supposed to find their little cherub’s screaming as cute and hence obligated to grin and say choo-sweet. These are closely followed by those people who keep on kicking the back of the seat in front of them—just when you are about to doze off.
This post made me think about some the misconceptions that I had before I too had to undergo the horror that is air-travel with an infant:
- Bawling babies and their parents have gotten on to the plane for one reason and one reason only and that is to make my life as difficult as possible. I now realize that while this might be a plausible reason in some cases, it is much more likely that they are there because they need to get from Place A to Place B and air travel is the shortest and least traumatic way to get the journey over with. This is of course from the parents’ point of view – fellow passengers in the immediate vicinity of this family are likely to disagree vehemently.
- The baby is bawling with the express purpose of pissing me off. With a few plane trips under my belt, I know that this is not the case. Babies usually cry either because they are in pain or just seriously pissed off. Air travel is often hard on their ears and the ear pressure can be pretty much unbearable for them. My doctor suggests feeding Ayaan little bits of sugar every few minutes into takeoff and landing to ensure that he swallows and relieves the pressure. This usually works for us. What we find harder to deal with is the pissed-off part. The basic design of toddlers makes them prone to crawl, walk and run around during every waking moment. Any situation that restricts their activity (being held hostage in a cramped airline seat being one of them) is likely to really get their goat and then they won’t let a small thing like 100 other innocent bystanders get in the way of creating a ruckus, notwithstanding desperate efforts of parents to avoid said ruckus.
- These children are badly behaved because there parents haven’t made the requisite efforts to get them to shut up. Motherhood in general and air travel in particular has made me realize one thing for sure. There is no neat, mathematical equation that explains the input-output relationship as far as a child is concerned. On one occasion, the child might behave like a complete angel with little or no effort required from the parents to distract, amuse or comfort him. And yet on other, very similar occasions, the little monster (and we are still talking about the complete angel from the last sentence) might decide to scream his lungs out inspite of every human and superhuman effort of his parents to calm him down.
- Parents couldn't care less and are actually immune to the sound of their baby crying. I think it would take a really hard-hearted parent to be immune to the sights and sounds of their upset baby, who is after all the most precious thing in their life. I think the reasons why some parents might give the impression that they couldn’t care less could be:
- Nothing they are doing seems to be working. And one of the golden rules of dealing with a tantrum is to ignore it. After all, a tantrum is a performance and once you take away the audience, the kid’s incentive to keep performing is somewhat diminished.
- They are in the process of having an out-of-body experience so that they can cope with the situation without having a nervous breakdown.
So now not only have I been forced to eat my pre-motherhood words, I also find myself sympathising with and defending other mothers in their moments of paranoia or when their little tyke is bringing down the house in a public place. I want to go upto all the people who are judging this poor mother for her lack of control on the situation and tell them that she really is trying her best and it is harder than it looks.