Finding roots again

Hey! It’s been a while. And things things look quite different around here no? Well, it’s been an impulsive revamp. I have been in a bit of a funk lately, feeling a bit out of control and unmoored; thus the impetuous changes in other, trivial aspects my life (hair, blog, screensaver, laundry detergent, tea bag, loofah….you get the drift).

The genesis of this virtual space is rooted in the singular loneliness of a new parent, especially a mother (sorry, I cannot be gender impartial at times like now). I have spoken of this before. Of how lonesome, tiring, and generally hard it can be. Of how nobody really tells you that is how it is going to be. People always warn you about any impending exams, tests, professional choices, homes, automobiles, phones even; but the act of having children is never reviewed or warned about, at least not until you’ve had them. Once in the club, people commiserate, but they would never tell you these things before you enter the hallowed halls of motherhood/ parenthood. Damn all of you!

I started writing on here as a mother of a newborn. The first one. The early posts were outrageously mommy- centric. And as I grew into my role, I starting writing about other aspects/ topics. There were even some attempts at fluff pieces (make up, bags, shoes), as I’d like to call them, but I have realised that at the end of day, this is one aspect of my life that is all- consuming. Therefore, it is a manic- mum- life (the title has greater meaning- I shall maybe someday share them).

I thought maybe it is the early days that are the hardest. Helpless bundle of cells and organs that human babies are. But I’m here to report (from the trenches no less), that it doesn’t seem to get any easier. Listening to Michelle Obama talk about it (how she was her own person, doing her own things and chasing life, even while in a marriage- until she had her first child), I realised- the resentments and feeling of helplessness aren’t entirely my own. My homemaker mother feels them, my working- mom friends feel them, our grandmothers felt them. Your other half generally gets to flit in and out, and contribute when they wish, but you have the major burden of responsibility- barring any unusual circumstance.

I now wonder about these things, because amidst the chaos of having young children and trying to have a semblance of a professional life, I had to move in with my parents for a while. Two years, in fact. And now that those two years are up, reflecting on them puts into perspective another thing that I’d heard from the Obamas – Mrs. Obama asked her mother to move in with them to the White House the entire duration they were there. For the childrens’ sake. For some order among the chaos.

Moving back with one’s parents has its downsides no doubt. Being treated like a child sometimes, when you are thirty and used to living life your way isn’t easy. Especially when you consider living in an Indian household. But the complete and utter freedom I felt of having my mother with my children while I was off to work (a surgical fellowship can be as taxing as a Presidency!) for long- stretches of time is unexplainable. You have to live it to believe it. I travelled to attend workshops, conferences; stayed away for days. I missed my kids, so did they; but not for one moment was I concerned about their well- being or safety. My children had another person to be ‘their person’, apart from me. A person to run to when hurt or sick. The next best thing to their mother- or maybe even better (the selflessness of a grandmother trumps the duty- bound cares of a mother). It was in short, a miracle. Suddenly, at least for a while, I had found an island of calm. I could learn my craft, be a good mother, be a better surgeon, work on projects and things that were important to me prior to becoming a mum; and generally find myself again.

Like all things in life, that too had to come to an end of course. Shorn of the luxury, moving to a new city, looking for a another job and trying to get used to ‘ the new normal’ again has been gritty. I am often left thinking of the early days with my firstborn, the utter all- consuming nature of them. The children suddenly bereft of their ‘people’ seem to cling to me with a fervour that I haven’t seen since they were nine months old. Staying at home with them full time for the past couple of months has amplified it all. And yes, I have lost my people too. The upside of being treated like a child by your parent is the care and attention you receive. Someone actually puts food on the table for you, someone asks you if you want a cup of coffee, the laundry gets folded (magically) more often than not, people fuss over you when you are even slightly under the weather- unfathomable luxuries while being an adult and parent. It is a gift and a bane, for you start to lean on a crutch that is likely not permanent.

Anyhoo, all that’s done and dusted. And now we move on to new adventures. New lessons. New troubles. The city now is Thiruvananthapuram- the capital of God’s Own Country!

Let the parenting conundrums continue.

Till next time,

J.

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