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May 2015

The Story Of My Mother And Many Mothers

A daughter reflects on her mother’s life, her love for her family and kids, her dreams, her decisions, her career and the tough task of balancing it all. In becoming a mother, we realize all the sacrifices, hardships and selflessness motherhood demands. Anindita Sengupta shares her mother’s story, up close and personal. 

As a young girl, I always pictured my mother as a panacea to the riddle called life, my sole life support system but often wondered why some mothers were not full time mothers while the others were; why some of us longed to see their mothers at the end of the day when the rest could hug theirs right after the school got over!
Now being a mother myself, I can read a mother’s life differently knowing that she is not just a wholesome lifelong caregiver, instead an individual with dreams and desires, failures and success and above all someone whose “ME” is just as vibrant as any other soul boxed deep beneath the layers of various other demanding roles. Talking of mothers, what better tribute can we pay to these eternal selfless beings without the tell-tale of our own?
Being married off at the age of 21, my mother hadn’t had a chance to start off an early career in spite of a commendable academic track record (the then gold medalist in her discipline/major)

”Tomar konodin bidesh giye higher studies korar icche hoeni maa?” (Didn’t you ever aspire to go abroad for higher education maa?).
I would ask her when I was in my 20’s to which she would reply with a hearty laugh “Na re, shei shomoy amar biye korar khub icche hoechilo” (No dear, I was eager to marry your father those days).
So was that all for her: education and the marriage? Not really, for she is resilient and a fighter, who could always begin from where she had left. She got her Masters and later had a fulfilling career in academics as well. But her career had to end way before it should have (mostly due to personal reasons), a sad incident as I come to think of it now; and I realize that sometimes there comes a crossroad in life where we have to choose between the two equally precious halves of your individuality!
Today my mother is over 60 years old and in my mental frame I believe she has given life a lot more than actually taken from it.
Even as I tell you her story, I know there are so many mothers out there with similar lives, women who did what they had to and somehow were contented doing it. On the flip side, kudos to all those who could and still are struggling to strike a balance between all the small compartments of their lives; those who have successful careers and are great home makers at the same time, those who make their offices a proud place and their homes a cozy one. They are in themselves a success story and a lot of them are happy with their lives. In short, they have it all!!

So it is time we celebrated motherhood every single day, for it’s a gift from God and a big shout of applause to all mothers out there. We are special!

The Good Parent

I read this somewhere “I was a very good parent until I became one”.

I always knew I wanted kids and 2 of them would be perfect. So once I was pregnant with my first child, I read up everything I could on the internet, asked at least 20 questions to my doctor every time I went to visit her, did Yoga, ate right, didn’t do anything that could be ‘risky’, the book “What to do when you are expecting” was like my bible/Gita for those 9 months. I had this whole plan chalked out on my mind – how I will bring her up, how my relationship would be with her, what I will teach her so on and so forth. In all this thinking I guess I was forgetting one very basic point – this baby will also have a mind of her own and may not exactly follow my plan for her life.

I sometimes think it is so surprising that even after all these years, those moments I spent in the hospital during her birth are crystal clear and vivid in my memory. It was like yesterday that I gave birth to her. I think this is what becoming a parent does to you. I am usually strong emotionally and do not cry easily. But the moment I held my daughter in my arms, a feeling of relief overpowered by love brought tears to my eyes. We went through all the fears of a new parent questioning everything we did or didn’t do, checking the internet and books, calling up the doctor like a zillion times, consulting our parents so on and so forth.

I quit my job to take care of my daughter. I never got tired of watching her gurgle, smile, yawn and sometimes just lie there. Her desire to have her own way started from day one we brought her home from the hospital. This baby who slept contently in her hospital bassinet without much fuss just wasn’t willing to sleep the same way at home. We had to take turns carrying her, rocking her and going round in circles before she finally slept. This wasn’t the preview we had at hospital! And then came the drinking & eating part. They were the last items on her to-do list.

Very soon I found myself feeding her, giving her naps, changing her, bathing her, talking to her and playing with her for the entire day. This wasn’t what I had envisioned. I thought I will have more ‘free’ time for myself too. I didn’t hesitate to hand over my daughter to my husband after he got back from work and do all the other household work. I don’t think I enjoyed cooking or cleaning before that, but I just needed a break from doing the same thing day in and day out the whole day. Now don’t get me wrong that I hated it or I loved her any less. I enjoyed all of it but the monotony of the schedule started getting to me.

In between all this, she was growing up fast – learning new things rapidly and exploring. When she called me “Amma” for the first time, I felt I won the Oscars. Her vocabulary improved and it was such a delight to hear her half formed, half broken words and sentences. After two years of been at home, I felt I was ready to go back to work. That would mean leaving her in someone else’s care. Finding this “someone else” proved to be a herculean task. It was very rough for her and us the first couple of months and during that time, I asked this question to myself every single day – Do I really need to go back to work?

As she became older, she started having her own opinions or way of doing things. It was hard for me to accept that and let go of what I think should be done. Her interests weren’t always aligned with mine. It is when these conflicts arise, my parenting skills are put to test.

Few years later, my son was born. With the second one, things were much more casual, call it the confidence of an experienced MOM. I didn’t refer any books on a regular basis except the occasional look up. Most of what I did was by instinct and prior knowledge. This time too, I was moved to tears holding him for the first time. We went through the same cycle of been obsessed with a new born where he dominated our entire lives for a while. But I didn’t quit my job this time as I had additional help and had flexible working hours. But now another myth was shattered. 

We assumed we have had experience raising one kid, we should be able to use that experience for the 2ndone. But no, my baby boy’s agenda was to teach us a whole new parenting style! We were astonished that how can two kids born to the same parents be so drastically different from day they are born. Even though he is toddler, he is so opinionated and many times I have to bend my rules to accommodate his needs and wishes.

Each of my children are so different but so connected. I cannot describe the pleasure it gives me when I see them play with each other or come and give me a spontaneous hug or kiss. Every night when I tuck them to bed, I marvel at these creations of God and seeing them sleep soundly, all the anger, frustration I might have had during the day just gets wiped out. At the end of the day, they are the reason who add so much meaning to my life.

At one time my idea of a good parent was someone who is always controlled, knows and does the best for her kids, does not yell, can inspire her kids to listen and obey, can motivate her kids to excel at what they do, can establish an environment at home where the kids can be honest, trusting and loving towards all, respect each other and the list goes on.

After been a parent for so many years, I realized that all the qualities that make up a “good parent” are essential for a healthy & loving relationship within a family but what is important to understand and remember is it isn’t possible for one to be 100% good at it. I need to give myself the liberty to make mistakes. No one is perfect. So best is to accept things as they are but work on them as a team.  Our kids will be children only once, so do not miss this chance being a parent whom they will love forever.

Written by : Anita Grandhi. 

Anita is a mother of two children and a writer who we just discovered. She has a very fun and creative style of parenting. This mother’s day post is a retrospection of sorts, taking a look back at her parenting journey so far and identifying what matters the most. The answer is simple – Our love for our children. Everything else is secondary. 

Motherhood Lessons From A Novice – Part 2

With Mothers’ Day just around the corner, I thought I’d do an upgraded version of this post. The kids are older with more defined needs. They are definitely  temperamental with moods changing like the seasons except in a quicker and more volatile manner. Precious learning continues as we slowly creep into presumably challenging years of adolescence.

I am torn about this next phase, it’s positively bitter-sweet, forcing Hubbs and I to accept the grim reality that the time we have with them is brief. Below are lessons learned and unlearned thus far. They are my truths about raising two demanding, flourishing kids, who bring me immense joy, happiness, worth, disappointment, pain, anxiety, all in equal measure.

Doesn’t matter how informed you are or how many books and articles you read about parenting, you are never prepared when inevitability strikes. With newer and tougher territories, oh crap becomes the “IT” phrase.
Somehow things tide over. Maybe not the way you expect them to. But they do with happily ever afters. Happily ever afters? Nah. I was kidding. Things end. They just do. And in a few days you will look back at the same instance and marvel at the hold some situations can have on you.
If you are one of those moms looking for details, especially about their day at school, get used to the “nothing much” response. Its starts in pre-school and shows no sign of evolving into an intelligent, detailed, exciting response for a long long time.
“I love you”, a term they learn to say very young and rather frequently or randomly. As they get older, the frequency may taper down but when uttered, it takes on a deeper, richer meaning, one that will leave you feeling incredibly blessed.
“Pick up after yourself” is like a company’s vision. It’s just looks good on paper. It’s downright lofty.
Chores are a hard sell. Unless you add an incentive, they will not get done.
Brace yourself for more laundry. And smellier clothes. Those darn hormones do their thing and kick up the unpleasant many notches up. The personal laundry needle moves from dislike to abhor.
If you want to be remembered as a “rockstar chaperone”, go ahead and knock yourself out with a bazillion after school activities. Also prepare to turn your car into a house and a McDonald’s into a dining room. Trust me, less is more.
Brace yourself for the vocabulary showing off phase. The spellings will remain dismal but catustropi, humeliating, sircastik, pursepective and such get used frequently and with much aplomb.
Hug them tighter, kiss them plenty. Even if they turn away disgustingly. The PDA’s take a whole new meaning for the mommy. One that makes her proud, happy, wistful and sad, all at the same time.
Conversations definitely improve in quantity and quality. You get ample opportunity to ramp up your listening, negotiating, conflict, questioning, probing, asserting and other such skills.  Most force you to reevaluate your credibility as a parent. Each reinforces the fact that learning is always a two-way street.
They may look annoyed with public display of affection but they still yelp like monkeys on crack when you volunteer at their school. They cling to you, show you off like a prized thoroughbred leaving you with an utmost sense of flattery and admiration.
The sibling bond gets tighter, stronger and fiercer with time. I dare you to say anything remotely harsh to one of them. The protective fangs come out in a jiffy to insulate against all things evil.
Mommy is the tech dinosaur. No matter how hard you try to keep up with the rapidly changing world of gadgetry, you are always two steps behind.
Mommy is everything. Nothing feels right or works without mommy.
They fight. They make up. They fight. They make up. They fight. They make up.
And oh, that game called Minecraft. Less said, the better.
“If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”
Tell us more about your childhood is a request that is on auto play. Stock pile your stories and be prepared to throw one at them at the most unexpected hour. Like “mamma, my poop is not coming out. Can you please tell me one of your childhood stories?”
Apologize when you need to. It humanizes you. They quickly realize you are flawed and they accept you without judgment.
The beautiful thing about kids is they allow you to redeem yourself. To make amends, to better yourself. This is how magnanimous they are.
 Written by : Sukanya Bora. Picture By :Sukanya Bora 

A regular contributor at Chatoveracuppa, Sukanya is a mother of two beautiful growing children and she blogs about her journey as a parent very frequently. If you have a younger child, don’t miss the first part of this post here at Sukanya’s blog. 

A New Mother And A Nanny

It is immensely difficult for a new mother to return back to work after having a baby. A tough choice made by many mother, which comprises of entrusting someone else, sometimes even a stranger to look after and care for the baby in the mother’s absence. This anecdote( which is part fiction) is written by a mother and revolves around similar circumstances in the author’s life few years back. We know mothers will relate very well to it. 

There are mothers and then are those who enable the mothers. This is a story about both.

It all started a few years ago when I sent out an ad in the local papers. “Live-in Nanny needed for a six month old” it read. Further adjectives like caring, experienced etc. were rightfully juxtaposed hoping the person who applied would live up to all of them.

For me, it was a tumultuous time. I was going back to work after a long maternity break. My heart was not in it. In the going back that is. But it was a decision I had taken after many sleepless nights. 

“You should hire a nanny,” suggested a friend who had similar arrangements for the last 4 years and balanced a successful corporate life with a happy home one.

I did not want a corporate life, successful or not. But I was not ready to give up the security of a financial income either. Finally, with a long list of phone numbers, couple of e-mail addresses, a bunch of local newspapers by my side, I decided to give the whole nanny thing a try.

After many phone interviews and subsequent screening we narrowed down our choice to an Indian lady in her late fifties, close to my Mother’s age, who seemed to be caring and homely and at whom my baby girl had flashed a gummy smile. We took that as a sign and hired her.

And thus one fine Sunday, “Aunty” as we called her, came to live with us, a single suitcase and a tattered copy of Hanuman Chaalisa in tow.

As was expected I wasn’t comfortable with having the Nanny around. I could not trust her with my baby even though she seemed very competent. I hovered around her as she gave my daughter an oil massage and I insisted that I bathe her myself. I still had a month to join work and so I did all the baby duties myself leaving Aunty little to do.

But “Aunty” seemed a conscientious soul and not one to sit around and be lazy. So while there was little child minding to do, she pottered around the kitchen inspite of my protests. She made me a hot cup of cardamom tea every afternoon and offered to make puffed up phulkas instead of the frozen rotis that I was heating and serving. 

One day she got a bunch of methi greens and next morning for breakfast piping hot methi parathas graced our dining table. I slowly started warming up to her presence and found myself looking forward to what she would cook next. Being a Gujarati she was not comfortable with cooking non-veg but she had a vast vegetarian repertoire to make up for that. I really did not mind. I had little time to cook elaborate meals and hot piping Gujju dinners instead of my Bengali fish curry and rice did not seem like a bad idea. 

Through the crisp bajri rotis, the spicy ringan nu shaak and soft daal dhoklis, I slowly came to trust her even with my daughter. I found myself turning to “Aunty” when my daughter had a fit of bad cold and asked her for advise on baby food. No longer did I think of her as an arch enemy who was here to share my daughter with me, instead I found in her an ally, a grandmother figure who could help me in child rearing with her years of experience.

The bond that happened over piping hot food grew stronger with the years and today when I look back I can only be extremely grateful that she came into our life and gave me the support when I needed it most.

Written By : Sandeepa Mukherjee Datta. 

Sandeepa needs no introduction, she is the author of the book “Bong Mom’s Cookbook” and the very popular blog Her recipes are simple yet delectable and there are stories woven around it. Heart warming stories are told while she stirs up one delicacy after another. 

What Money Means To Different People

I was at a Target store this past weekend buying art supplies with my daughter. We found what we needed in a record 5 minutes, we did not wander around and instead proceeded to the checkout lines (that is a rare thing for us when in Target). We meant to dash in and out of the store so we looked for the shortest checkout line. We ended up spending 20 minutes in a queue of only 5 people. But those 20 minutes proved to be valuable in just observing what money means to different people in their respective lives.

If you are looking for a climax or a moral to this story, there is none. It is a mere sequence of observations. This isn’t even an opinion piece.

We stood at the end of that five people queue. From where we stood, we could see the four people before us and their purchases stacked on the checkout stand.

The lady at the beginning of the line was paying via food stamps. I believe some of the stamps were giving an error, not getting accepted and thus the store manager had to be paged in. It took the store manager about 5 minutes to arrive. My daughter and I looked at the other lines and decided to stay put in the same line.

A woman before us grew impatient and walked towards another line. As she walked out, she murmured in a pretty audible tone, “Why would you come to Target if you were on food stamps?”

All heads turned towards her. “Someday it could be you,” said someone in the queue. She couldn’t care to listen.  The store manager arrived by then. We had one less person in front of us now.

The food stamps went in.

“Is this also yours?” asked the person at the check stand showing a small jar of Nutella.


“But there are no more stamps left.”

“Oh! Don’t worry. I have a coupon and I will pay for it.”

“Two dollars and 59 cents.”

The lady held out the coupon and then cautiously began counting the change in her hand. Another person in the queue left and walked towards the Starbucks located within the store.

“I need a Latte,” he said.  He showed no annoyance unlike the previous lady. He clearly looked caffeine deprived and it appeared he could no longer resist a steamy frothy drink with two extra pumps in it.  A drink he could comfortably afford or may be not. Who knows?

The cashier took a few extra seconds to count and validate the quarters, dimes and nickels.

“My little boy loves Nutella on his bread. I save for it, you know,” said the lady most apologetically to me and the lady before me.

A conversation triggered.

“Absolutely, my children love it too.”

“We should let them have one favorite thing of their own.”

“Yeah, we got to keep them happy.”

“Things change in life quickly. It’s difficult for little children to understand always.”

“Yes, it can happen to any one of us. We understand that”

“I am sorry, you both had to wait so long.”

“Don’t be sorry. Hope your boy enjoys his Nutella.”

“Yes, hope he enjoys the Nutella. And you are doing a great job Mom!”

We said goodbyes. It was soon my turn and I noticed my daughter had a small notebook in her hand. She loves picking up stationary from the dollar section in the store. She returned it back to me saying she did not need it. I did not insist either. We paid for the art supplies and got out of the store.

As we drove home, a question emerged from the back seat.

“Can we ever become poor Mom? Does it happen for real?”
“Yes, we can. It does happen to people for real. That is why we save. That is also why I tell you we have to be thankful for what we have.”
“I save Mom. I saved today. I returned the notebook back because I did not need it.”
“Yes, you did.”

Sometimes life’s greatest lessons are in the little moments of life. Sometimes they are even in the check stand line of a departmental store.

Story By : Piya Mukherjee Kalra 

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