Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mommy Guilt And Me

This is a post that I wrote as an entry to the Mommy guilt contest hosted by Women's Web

When I drive to work with my daughter in the backseat, she is grumpy on some days; after effects of watching TV first thing in the morning, while I hurriedly try to pack my lunch, take a shower, pack her school things, get her ready etc. (Yes, I know I could have accomplished this, the previous night, but there is nothing thrilling like a challenge in the morning).

When I drive to work with her slumped in her car seat and we pass the park, she says on some days “Mommy, I want to go to the park”. And my heart breaks…..heart breaks at having to make her sacrifice whims and adhere to routine, she is too young for that, isn’t she? Don’t all of us feel on a beautiful summer day to drive out to a state park and go on a walk/hike/swim or go shopping with friends or go see a movie? Anything but go to work and sit behind a desk?

But then there are also other days when I let her stay at home from school and in a matter of hours, she wanders around the house bored and misses her friends at school and her teachers and her swimming classes and actually asks to go to school. It doesn’t matter if I play with her, in a day or two, in an hour or two, she wants to be surrounded by her friends and have her activities.

I have strongly begun to realize that as women we punish ourselves with guilt. Some of us are also generous enough to pile on some of our guilt on to others – stay at home Moms criticizing work outside the home Moms and vice versa.

Kids don’t need routine, let them be kids, let them be spontaneous and free as the wind.
Kids need routine, it helps them know what to expect and makes them more grounded, lays the foundation for successful maturity and growth.
Kids need their mothers every second of the day, nobody will nurture and love their kids as much as mothers can and will.
Kids need to interact with other kids, adults, caretakers; some of them are specially trained to deal/teach/guide kids.
Let them cry it out and eventually they will learn to sleep through the night by themselves.
Kids are kids only once, why should you make them cry alone into the night, go cuddle up with them and co-sleep.
Potty train on a schedule, wean off bottle/nipple asap.
Let the kid take his/her own course, do not try to go by the book on everything…

You will agree that there are a thousand “for” and “against” on every single decision relating to kids. Every mother has experienced this, be it by way of disagreements with your mother/mother-in-law/husband or your friends might be doing it one way and you prefer something else etc. Each kid is unique and you know your child. If you are a sane, reasonably responsible, non-drug taking, non-alcoholic, non-abusive parent; then you have the absolute right to decide what’s best for your kid. And the rest of the Universe should let you be.

So the next time you are in the park with your kids and watch a Mom drive past with a kid looking out of the window, do not judge that Mom. Do not pity her or do not pity yourself. For all you know, she could be judging you back, pitying you or pitying herself. Let’s forgive ourselves and forgive others. Lets all just celebrate the fact that we are all mothers, we love our children to death and will always always think of the best that we can do for them. And let’s trust the Mom on the other side to have that awesome wisdom which you think you have and believe that she has chosen the best course for her family and herself. Live and let live. Smile and sympathize and learn from each other. Extremes are not healthy in any circumstances, for anyone; let’s all try to reach some middle ground. Live and let live and put down that load of Mommy guilt you carry around. Love your child and be there for them and you have been the best Mother you could ever be.

Friday, June 18, 2010

And just like that.....my employer let me go :(

Yesterday my boss stopped by and said that she wanted to talk to me. She said my position has been eliminated and she was very sorry. As I thought I was prepared to hear it, I said "Thats fine". She said "No, thats not fine". We talked for a long time, finally somewhere in our conversation I couldnt stop the tears.

HR came and talked to me and took me through all the forms. I was in a daze, at times I didnt even hear what she was saying and asked her to repeat a few times. It was so unreal staring at the Separation forms.

I should be grateful that I have a seemingly awesome deal. My last day of work isnt until the end of this year and because I will be on maternity leave then, my last day of work will be the day I choose to come back to work from my maternity leave next year. So effectively I still have a good six months and more to stay on my employer's payroll. I guess I should be grateful for that. Right now my brain cant process anything beyond the sadness.

My colleagues who have worked for the same company for 18 and 34 years respectively were also let go. Can you imagine working for a company that long and then being told to go? What kind of message does that send in today's world? Do not be loyal to any company because at the end of the day, all they will think about is their bottom line?

One of my colleagues had been proactive and has already started interviewing. I do not have that option - who do you think is going to hire me when they take one look at my pregnant tummy? In these times of job competitiveness when the job market is just about starting to open up, I doubt if any one is going to say "Come work for us and you can totally go on maternity leave right after you join". And then "Yes, we know you will need special considerations when your child is young and we would be happy to give it to you". I dont really have any super super rare qualifications, I am easily replaceable :( So I feel like that is atleast out for now.

My employer is a fortune 50 company so it doesnt really make sense to go take outside chhota mota temporary contract assignments; I would rather keep my employer on my resume. My manager will not give me any new assignments to work on so its essentially career stagnation until I find another job next year and start working.

How will things be post baby? Will I be able to find a job that would not be too demanding? I know right now that I do want to continue working. I was so lucky when R was born, I could switch to a part time flexible hours position for 2 years; so lucky. I guess I should be grateful to my employer for that.

(As if on cue, when I walked downstairs to make my early morning snack for myself, I noticed my old time fighter - an old tiger barb, dead and floating in my fish tank. He had been amazingly resilient and would terrorize the other milder fish in the tank. All the other barbs had passed away over a period of time and I replaced them with non aggressive fish but I hadnt had the heart to do away with this one. It felt like the end of an era, I worked for six years for my employer, it feels like the end of an era for me too. I just sat down and cried, I dont know for whom - myself or my fish, I think it was for both of us and all the other hundreds of people - young and old, stressed, and forced out to venture into a tough tough job market)

Well, I will focus on the positives and believe there is a reason for everything to happen. I will clean my fish tank this weekend and buy more peaceful non aggressive fish :) I will ask to work from home alternate days now; why bother tiring myself out everyday when I can work out of my Pjs. I can drop R off later, she can sleep in and will pick her up earlier. I can do all the thousand pending things that I need to do to get my house in order. I have the time for it. My current project deadlines are for end of August so I will try to get excited that it is a blessing in disguise and I can chill out and get ready for the baby as I wont really be doing any work in September/October timeframe. I just dont see the peace and happiness in it right now but when the time comes, I will be so grateful; I am sure.

I will believe that I will have a smooth delivery and we will have a healthy baby. I will find a reliable loving nanny and I will look for another job. I will get another job and my new employer will be sympathetic to working mothers. Next year same time, I will be a mother to two and working at a new job and enjoying the summer with my family, I am sure of it. I just need to keep the faith and stay happy. This too shall pass....

Thursday, June 17, 2010

An apple a day keeps the doctor away....

And in my case the same apple makes me go to the doctor!

Over the last year I had noticed that when I ate an apple, my whole mouth, inside of my ears and throat would itch. It would subside after some time and I had stopped eating apples. During my pregnancy, apples looked appetizing to me so I ate them with the normal itchiness etc. But since last week, the reaction has been a bit more stronger. After eating apples, peaches and more recently yesterday I took three four bites out of a pear and my throat closed up. It still isnt quite back to normal completely. It feels like my entire food pipe is swollen. I couldnt swallow, then slowly I could swallow with pain, every gulp felt was painful :(( Its been twelve hours since I ate that damned thing and something in my throat still hurts :((

My gyne thinks its a reaction to pesticides and I should eat organic only. I am going to take an appointment with my family doctor to go in for allergy testing or whatever.

Over the last couple of years, I had also developed spring allergies, I also suspect that I develop flu like symptoms when the pollen count is too high. What fun!! Prospective diabetes and now prospective food and pollen allergies. Someone is nazar lavofying to me is my scientific explanation so I am apologising to all parties who I must have even remotely annoyed :) (I just shot off a Sorry email to depressed friend's husband to whom I had sent an email saying she really needs help, please make sure she sees a psychiatrist and received no reply from him on it)

I am now telling my family and friends to keep those apples and especially pears away and forgive me if I look at your fresh fruit salad with extreme suspicion ;)

Do any of you have such allergies and any advice?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Updates and updates

1) I had my 20 week ultrasound appointment yesterday and we told the doctor we didnt want to know the sex of the baby so zip it. It was soooooooooooo cute to watch the baby. He/she is very active, he/she kicked the ultrasound scanner when the doctor pressed it on my tummy, maybe the baby thought it was a game and participation was required :)
2) I gained weight and am at 157 pounds now. At this rate I will surely be 170 by the time I deliver. Then its just a matter of losing 60 pounds over next year to get back to pre pre pre pregnancy weight (pre this pregnancy, pre last miscarried pregnancy, pre pregnancy with R). Is it too much of a lofty goal?
3) Our darling neighbors had another party and their yard was full of teenage boys and girls living it up. We moved to the guest bedroom in anticipation of another restless night. But at 10.45 PM, it was pin drop silence. The party had broken up and everyone had gone home. They are so nice! Or maybe many neighbors complained after their last party and they were shamed into behaving...
4) I am so tired everyday and my boss still hasnt told our group our fate, our company is going through an internal reorganization and everyone was supposed to know where they stand. Some days I feel like I wont even feel bad if I am let go, I will immediately gather my things and go home and take a nap. But just tell me already, I hate the suspense!
5) Thats it.........too tired to type.......when will it be five o clock?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mushy Mom alert

Our baby is growing up.....

1) She calls me Mom instead of her babyish cries of Mommy. Daddy is still Daddy though :(
2) She shuts the door when she goes to the bathroom and if we open and poke our head in, amused, she admonishes us with "I need some privacy, can you please close the door?".
3) She puts soap on herself and rinses herself off and refuses to let me pour water on her saying "I did it already, my bath is done".
4) She can put on all her clothes by herself.
5) She can go to the bathroom - start to finish - sit on the toilet, wipe her bum, wash her hands, turn the tap on and off all by herself.
6) She can take her blankie by herself, doesnt need to be tucked in anymore..
7) She can turn on the tap and fill her glass with water when she is thirsty - no more, I want paani cries.
8) She can eat well by herself when its her choice of food.
9) She is polite 70% of the time using her May I please....and Thank yous
10) She can open all doors and stomps off angrily outside the house when she is mad at me!

At night, she goes to her room and lies down on her bed like a big girl. But at the end of the day, she comes running back, her pillow and blankie streaming behind her saying - I need to sleep by Mommy :))))))) And that still makes Mommy happy some days :)))

(We have told her terrifying stories of how strangers might take her away in a car if she goes out by herself and we dont know that she has opened the door and walked out etc in a bid to stop this behavior.)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lost youth

I have a friend - we went to the same high school, same college, we got married one after the other, moved to the US so basically we have been friends and in touch for a major part of our lives. Over the past 25 years or so, she has progressively become more and more frustrated and depressed with life. And one would think that she has faced insurmountable difficulties or something and tragedies all her life. That is so not the case.

If you look at her on paper, she is a Chartered Accountant, she is a merit holder CPA here, she is smart, she is talkative, she has an extremely loving-fun loving-friendly husband, her in laws are quite nice, her mother in law is proud of her, she has a younger brother, parents, friends......would you say she is lacking in anything? She has really not faced anything earth shaking or horribly painful in her life apart from the usual stuff that millions of others face.

But fast forward to today, and here she is at 33, quit her job, stays at home all day and even on the weekends, doesnt pick up the phone, doesnt talk to her friends, sends her husband away even on her birthday, has put on a lot of weight, her family still thinks that she is working and all is well with her.

I don't understand depression. When I am depressed, I am incapable of doing anything. I will sulk on the sofa and sigh like Meena Kumari. She has met all her milestones successfully, managed to hold down good jobs, get promotions, study for and pass difficult exams, get married to a good dude. Depression has never gotten in her way. Some days I feel like she gets depressed at her convenience.

I remember this one time when we were studying for our tenth standard exams; she told me over the phone that she was depressed and felt like killing herself. So I ran over with my books - I was always a last minute crammer and hadn't finished studying. She, on the other hand, had not only studied the entire material but had finished revising it twice!! So while she sat and sighed and looked pitifully outside, I sat next to her and desperately studied. Doesn't it seem like a case of "An empty mind is the Devil's workshop"?

Anyways she will never commit suicide, that I am sure of, and she has also told us. But I dont like how she is wasting her life sitting at home all day, locking herself up, even on weekends, her husband goes out by himself while she continues to stay home. I have a cousin who passed away at 30 of blood cancer. So what she is doing to herself is frustrating me. What wouldn't his family/or he have given to trade places with her? He was so full of life and life was so cruelly snatched away from him. There are so many things you can do in this life - if you dont want to work, volunteer! There is an unending list of volunteer opportunities and relatively fewer people who can give so much of their time and efforts. Why does she always look at the glass as half empty? Is she being fair to her husband by destroying every shred of their married life together?

She never wanted to have children but her husband adored them so they tried to get pregnant; unsuccessfully, and now she has added that to her list of things she doesnt have. But you never ever wanted kids in the first place and fought your husband for years on it. Have you forgotten it? My sister has fertility issues too, but she is diverting her energies somewhere else and is staying happy and content.

I dont know what to do with her or how to help her. We have told her over and over, pleaded with her to get some medical help. I don't agree with her husband's approach of "Leave her alone, she will come out of it". She hasn't come out of it for 25 years, how do you expect a miracle overnight?

Well sad to see youth wasted this way, instead of being grateful for this healthy life that God bestowed upon us, why is she spending her time moping away! How can I help her? Or does she even want to be helped?