Soccer mom in high heels

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Soccer mom in high heels

Let’s hear it from Reethika Azariah Kuruvilla on how to be a mom and still retain your sanity.

There is, apparently, a breed of mothers whose children never throw tantrums in toy stores, who drive spotlessly clean cars, look flawless, organise fantastic birthday parties with food they made themselves, know where the best children’s clothing store is, and still have time to do lunches with other equally fantastic people. I am, quite understandably, not one of them.  Not yet.

Numerous books have been written on parenting and the choices one makes as a mother. From tiger moms to soccer moms, you tend to think you know it all when you do actually begin the roller-coaster ride that being a parent involves.  You manage to read books on ‘what to expect’ each year and more importantly your kitchen miraculously produces three square meals a day.  This false sense of satisfaction lasts you, let’s say, about as long as it takes for you to drive your children to school and open your car door.

Personally, it does tend to deflate that huge imported helium balloon that your ego looks like into a more normal bazaar-variety that could burst on impact with flat ground.  One look at what awaits you outside the confines of your safe car, and you could feel like diving right back in and reversing all the way back home.  Of course, it does help that your child is the only one refusing to get out of the car, your car is blocking traffic while you drop a school bag and your car keys trying to pry clingy fingers off your neck and you are just generally a bit of a spectacle yourself in faded capris and crazy hair.

In what could seem like perfectly co-ordinated and deliberately timed moves, other mothers seem to be floating out of their vehicles with not a hair out of place, impeccably manicured hands and wonderfully well-behaved children walking like they have all the time in the world while you rush to get back, trying not to meet the teacher’s eye in case you are told off for having an antisocial child.

After much serious thought, a lot of procrastination, and much more reading, I have instead come to the amazing conclusion that the ‘perfect mom’ does indeed exist — only she doesn’t look like me.  She wants to look like me!  Jessica Valenti’s aptly titled book ‘Why Have Kids?’ taught me that and a whole lot more.  This eventually lead me, under our mango tree, to the ultimate five-fold path of ‘yummy mummy gyan’ that begins with changing the way you as a mother perceive yourself as opposed to how the world perceives you.  Easier said than done, but the whole ordeal gets a lot easier once a few things are set in perspective, ceteris paribus.

* Mother knows best.  As with all mothers of every generation, the general consensus always seems to be ‘mother knows best.’  This means you do know what is best for you, your child, and your family; and nobody dare contradict you. Stay strong in what you think is right and the way you run your family and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. 

* Leave the fancier stuff to the professionals.  Given that you neither look nor cook like Ms Lawson, there’s no point in trying.  For instance, when your child asks for cookies, it is not compulsory that you bake them yourself.  Biscuits and cookies from the bakery closest to you work even better for the simple reason that it’s nothing personal if visiting children don’t like them and they can be bought in bulk for those who do.  Outsourcing birthday parties and treats is not just a lot less work but saves you so much more time and energy, unless you do manage to spend time with your children making them together.

* Have your cake and eat it too.  Make the best of both worlds.  Not quitting your job just because you have young offspring in the house is just as sensible as quitting.  It’s your choice to make and choosing to stay at home or having a satisfying career does not mean you are neglecting your children in any way.  If anything, they are more socially adaptable and independent as they grow older; and face it, half-an-hours’ worth of undivided attention towards your child is worth much more than a whole day of irritation and exhaustion.  If you do choose to stay home while your children are young, try not to sack your home help within the first week — just because you’re home, it doesn’t mean you get to do all the housework on your own too.  Opt for part-time jobs or online courses while your children are still young so that as your children get older and have lives of their own, you have yours too.

* You do need help.  Whether general housework or just half an hour each day, having someone help you with chores or children goes a long way towards your balance on that fine line of sanity.  Start with having your spouse drop the kids at school; this could mean you actually manage to have a breakfast of sorts and take a deep breath before plunging head first into the rest of your day.

* Take time off.  As much as nobody else likes to acknowledge, you do need time for yourself.  Have your spouse or family babysit while you take time to go to the gym or just have a good gossip and coffee with your best friend.  Sometimes being reminded of who you are is important just so that you don’t get lost in the weeds that surround the garden of motherhood trying to be the best in the business.

The fact of the matter is nobody wants to be supermom, her outfit notwithstanding, given that she is probably related to superman.  Even if wearing miniskirts to your childs’ parents day is not your forte, we could all do with a healthy dose of fashion sense from Victoria Beckham — get rid of those old track pants and get into high heels and makeup before you step out of the house.  Give yourself a makeover every once in a while not because you have to but because you want to.  Your sense of poise and well-being only spreads to the rest of the family, and a happy and self-assured mother is directly proportional to a cheerful content family.

Good parenting, I’m sure, means a lot more than just picture-perfect children.  It means remembering who you are and staying with your identity through the years no matter how easy it might seem to just be known as somebody’s mother.  It means being a rocking soccer-mom and managing to stand tall in those high heels because you are who you are — well-informed, confident and smart. And you are, YOU.

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