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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Semblance of Perfection

"No Ana, we don't throw food on the floor."

"No Ana, I said, we don't throw food on the floor."

"ANA! That's Not Nice. We Don't Throw Food On The Floor. OK?"


"amma, inside voice please... no need to scream, amma..."

Deep Breath. Humongous Sigh. Suppressed Smile.

Trapped again by the little booger. Boy am I dense. Thick.

"Ok Ana, but, you need to be good. No throwing food on the floor."

"Ana all done eating, Amma. Play Horsie? Amma, get down on the floor. Play Horsie, Amma..."
The art of never making a mistake is crucial to motherhood. To be effective and to gain the respect she needs to function, a mother must have her children believe she has never engaged in sex, never made a bad decision, never caused her own mother a moment's anxiety, and was never a child.
— Erma Bombeck

Ha! I keeled over laughing: Erma Bombeck pointed out in her inimitable jovial style, how much I expect myself to be, well, infallible. To be Perfect. And, I couldn't help wondering how true it is.

No double standards, I keep telling myself. A toddler knows not the difference. Agreed, I raise my voice to mean business, not to terrorize, not to overpower, but just to emphasize. But, a raised voice is a raised voice, regardless of provocation or justification. Hopefully as she grows older she will learn to appreciate the difference. Meanwhile, if Ana is not allowed to scream unnecessarily, then neither am I.

It is not easy to discourage whining when I myself whine after a bad day at work to come home to a sink full of unwashed dishes. I get quite upset, briefly of course, when my plans to crochet or sew over the weekend goes phut because there are the usual household chores to do... But, Ana does not know that. All she sees is a whiny, fussy mommy asking her not to be whiny and fussy. Untangle that one, Baby!

However, when the irresistibly lyrical, Coffee Juice, please, Amma? starts the weekend mornings and sets the waves in motion, washing the whole weekend away in a magical journey, leaving me more or less disoriented like a spinning top wobbling to a stop before the Monday morning circus starts, I just ride along. And, I pack the memories away for those bromidic weekdays at the office, when nothing seems to go my way and I want to fantasize about being somewhere else, doing something else more meaningful and productive with Life.

D, it appears, has taken to parenthood quite well. He rarely, if ever, raises his voice. He seems very composed and relaxed around Ana. However, his schedule is such that the time he spends with Ana is only a fraction of the time I spend with her. So, am not sure if he will have it all together for extended periods. Plus, he has no qualms about letting Ana watch her DVDs all evening if that is what it takes for him to relax. And, he is fine just serving her grilled cheese sandwich or plain rice for dinner.

I, on the other hand, constipate myself with moral anguish, (borrowing the phrase from Terry Pratchett), letting Ana just get her way and vegetate, giving her bare essential foods with minimal nutritive value (in my mind, at least)... it somehow seems too easy, and therefore must be wrong!

If she is in the mood, I let her be. I let her play alone with her toys, stealing quiet glances and smiles while getting a fairly decent meal ready for her. If she seems restless, I try to get her to do some art/craft, or read to her, or even pretend-play with her dolls.

Wish motherhood somehow bestowed magical parenting skills. I wonder if I'll ever be that mommy who has it all together. I am too human and fallible to even pretend to be perfect. What is perfection anyway? It is terribly subjective and possibly over-rated.

As long as I am one step ahead of the baby, leading by example, accepting the inadequacies, recognizing the limitations, and swaddling her in unconditional love I never thought I was capable of before she arrived, while embracing my humanness with all its imperfect glory, I am sure it'll be alright...

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At 11:15 PM, Blogger Kowsalya Subramanian said...

Wow That was one good post, catching all dilemmas and ending perfectly :)

At 11:00 AM, Blogger Nisha said...

I can totally relate with you. Hubby dear can handle both kids, but then he'll happily let them watch DVD through the day which is ok by the brat. The baby, though is only 10 m old, she watches along with her bro and I think it is too much for her. Same dilemma and same self reprimanding after raising the voice / hand, but I keep telling myself to be patient with the kids and it is ok for them to be naughty. I still keep learning and unlearning things that sometimes I wish babies come with manuals albeit one for each baby.


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