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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Nails on Chalkboard

This is a bit of a rant, but, it addresses the very thoughts that plague me most often these days...

After 12 weeks of maternity leave staying home with Oggie, I decided to quit my job. Without my job, we can't afford to send Ana to full-time daycare and it makes no sense to send her away. So, she stays home most of the time - she does miss her social life/friends/play etc., so she goes to daycare part time a couple of times a week.

Now that I've been an SAHM for almost 6 months, tending to a willful and energetic 3-yr old and a cuddly little infant, with practically no extra help for the last 2 months, I am all the more convinced that it is impossible to get any personal/professional work done with 2 little kids to tend to at home - that in itself is a full-time job - not to mention loads of laundry, cooking, cleaning etc.

Well, I suppose if one mostly ignores the older child, and simply feeds and leaves the infant laying around, with little or no interaction or stimulation, one can manage to get other things done... but that is cruel - kids didn't ask to be born - it is my pleasure and responsibility to bring out the best in them with proper encouragement and interaction...

And therein lies the catch: If Nurturing and Raising the kids alone were my full-time job to which I am able to dedicate my skills, resources, and creativity, such as they might be, without worrying about keeping up-to-date on the professional front (dreading that someday soon I'd be forced to get back in the workforce to supplement family income), or indulging in simple activities like crochet, sewing, crafts, yoga, walking, cooking to allow for personal well-being, I suppose it would seem a lot easier.

I am sure there are supermoms out there who want to make it all seem easy, possibly being sugary sweet, exhibiting monumental patience and inexhaustible cheer, remaining perfectly sane, finding Music in their child's every howl. But, I am not one of them. I am every bit flawed as mere mortals are designed to be, and I do tend to get upset and stressed and ready to scream at times - especially at times when Ana gets terribly whiny as she can't have her way (like, play on the pool table downstairs, or go to the park) while Oggie screams his lungs out deciding to be fussy no matter what - well, those are the times I explode with the classic nails on the chalkboard feeling... and, am assuming this is "normal", whatever that is...

Isn't it ironic that Nature programmed it into us mothers to respond with such agonizing discomfort when our little ones cry that deep-throated wail indicating 'nothing you try is going to pacify me now and I am going to remain fussy and scream like this till I am satisfied, however long it takes'? As Shakespeare put it:
I had rather hear a brazen canstick turn'd,
Or a dry wheel grate on the axle-tree;
And that would set my teeth nothing on edge...
- Shakespeare, Henry IV

But, there it is, when Ana at 3 and Oggie at 5 months hit the right (I mean, wrong) frequency with their vocal cords, there is very little I can do to stop the grotesque noise from setting my teeth on edge. There. I said it. I must be a bad mommy for not finding Music in my babies' cries. It takes all of my patience and then some to try to locate and alleviate the discomfort that makes them caterwaul so.

Nope, it is not all bad. I do cherish the moments when Oggie flashes his toothless ear-to-ear smile when he sees my face, and Ana gives me an impromptu hug declaring, 'I love you, Amma'. And these more than make up for those harrowing times when I feel completely inadequate and wicked.

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At 3:50 PM, Blogger Kodi's Mom said...

omg, Sheela, huge hugs to you! i dont know what to say except, i can so so SO relate. and this with my mom here & the older one out of the house for half a day.
I completely agree that it is our responsibility to nurture and nourish - but no one decreed that we do it alone. i know you must have considered several options, but is there anyway you could send Ana for a couple of hours a day to a playschool? even if not on a regular basis, to a playdate at her friends' every so often or have someone cmoe over for company? just so 100% of her care is not on you 100% of the time. i have found that sometimes I need that distance from the ones i love the most to retain the perspective. and my sanity.
even if you decide to change nothing for now, it is supposed to get better. and more fun. and maybe, just maybe you might find some 'me' time, to pursue your hobbies. if not right away, a few more months from now. just hang in there.

no matter what, trust me when I say that I have always viewed you as supermom and that hasnt changed one bit. big, big hugs!

At 1:50 AM, Blogger B o o said...

I know it must have been a tough decision to make. And I so get the catch. I am so worried about how Im going to manage after my mom leaves. But at the same time, I feel stupid. Loads of women manage so beautifully with much more busier life than me. To me, you ARE a supermom Sheela! :)

At 9:56 AM, Blogger Sheela said...

thanks kodi's mom and b o o, you guys are too kind...

you are so right in that women all over the world all through the ages have managed to raise dozen kids of their own and not flinch; so, what is it that makes me constipate myself with such anguishing thoughts? what do i expect from myself as a mom that seems to bring out the worst in me at times? and, being terribly sensitive to words and tone, what makes me raise my voice at my little 3-yr old when she is being just a 3-yr-old and not the Little Miss Perfect that I badly want her to be?

i so agree with you kodi's mom - i need the distance too, from my loved ones to regain the right perspective

At 10:27 PM, Blogger salan said...

Hi Sheela,

I read all your blogs, especially this one because i can relate to them so much. your debates over being a working mom or SAHM were not very different from what was going on in my head. This particular post too was no different.

I think you are a fabulous mom. i have seen your earlier posts and the different games of creativity you arrange for Ana are amazing and leave me excited - wanting to try something similar with my little one.

thank you and wishing u the best,

At 10:29 PM, Blogger Charu said...

Dear sheela,

I could see so many people can relate to you. I read your post and called you next day coz the same exact thoughts cross my mind all the time.

You are doing an excellent job raising two kids and managing everything with so much dedication (which includes your kitchen receipes).I dunno how many new moms has time to make such variety of dishes as you do. Though my cooking time is now between 9.30pm to 12.00pm , I enjoy it immensely. I consider that time to be my own time. I am in own space with hubby and NR either playing or sleeping.
But I can't find time in the morning to do some sewing. The whole day is spent taking care of NR and during the time he naps , I do little bit of house keeping (tonnes of laundry to fold ,yikes..). I do envy the indian mom who have so much help around but at the same time at the end of day , knowing that I am becoming strong and making of use of time so well makes me happy and content.

Looking back I am happy that I managed first delivery on my own with no help around except for hubby for first three weeks. I got lot of advise and motivation from friends thru email and you were one such special friend. I drew my strength from you lot of times knowing how well you doing as Mom of two kids.

You are an inspiration of lot of moms out there .Thanks for sharing such personal thoughts with us .
Hope we will meet soon.

with prayful wishes ,

At 1:04 AM, Blogger Mdm Zee said...

Hi, I was looking for Aappam recipes and landed here. But I found much comfort in this post you wrote - at least it gives me assurance that I am perfect being imperfect as a mom and the status of supermom need not be mine. There's nothing wrong with being just plain old fallible 'MOM'. Being mom is good enough without having to save the world!! Our home is our world..and that itself takes all our time, energy and patience ( I agree with you 100%!)

As a professional turned to SAHM this year, I can empathise with both ur fears, worry and anxiety. But I must say, you are tremendously brave to have voiced them out.

Thank you for giving me the solace from reading this post and knowing that there are others like me out there.

All the best. I am sure these challenging times will pass. And you will emerge a victor for surviving the trials and tribulations. Then maybe you and I can claim that Supermom title..:)

Hope my fav quote is meaningful to u:
Yesterday is history
Tomorrow, a mystery
Today, a gift. That's why its called the present.

Cherish it..:)

At 12:23 PM, Blogger Sheela said...

thank you, Sarita, for your kind thoughts!

charu, thanks for taking the extra effort to call me and talk to me - I really appreciate it- especially because I know how tight your life must be with little NR and no extra help from anywhere... we shall plan to meet at least before this year end :)

mdm zee, very kind of you share your thoughts here - sometimes, the men I know (even close family) seem to think I am over complicating things and that being a mom is just an easy job and i shouldn't needlessly pick at it like a scab and JUST BE!! I mean! And, i always try to remind them - the biochemistry, the hormones, the nurturing spirit/instinct are all involuntary and not easily controlled, so, they you haven't experienced them, then they probably don't have the right to talk about them, let alone dismiss them... i might sound harsh to them, but, until I had the second baby, I didn't realize how demanding life can get!

At 3:15 PM, Blogger Tharini said...

Dear Sheela..

This post reached out to me, as I am sure it will to every mother who reads it. When will the guilt ever leave? I don't know.

I know how tough it must have been to make the decision to quit your job. I know how crazy it gets at home tending to 2 little people, nearly ALL THE TIME. I was overwhelmed by it the first week after I got back from India, and the thought of school in 2 weeks had me going.

Yes, with 2 kids more or less at home, it is very difficult to get in some me time and that is an everyday source of frustration for me.

Upshot : You are a very good mother and please do not judge yourself by your failures alone. I don't know what else to say that will be of comfort to you....but just remember that you are not alone in any of this.

At 9:32 AM, Blogger Sheela said...

welcome back, Tharini... i tried following your trip at Winkie's Ways... wonderful that you can look forward to another grand celebration and get together in 6 months!

At 12:31 PM, Blogger Dee said...

Sheela..even with one kid my life looks like a mega confusion most of the time. Don't put too much expectations on yourself...just be yourself. From what I can my eyes you are already a supermom!
Pick your battles and relax in your mind the rest of the time. Make a rule to have 'me' time atleast twice a week....even if it's just half hour.

At 9:21 PM, Blogger ranjani.sathish said...

I happened to read this post of yours yday and it has been playing on my mind ever since and infact I quoted these words of yours to Sathish today morning sayiNG how true it is ....

"Well, I suppose if one mostly ignores the older child, and simply feeds and leaves the infant laying around, with little or no interaction or stimulation, one can manage to get other things done... but that is cruel - kids didn't ask to be born - it is my pleasure and responsibility to bring out the best in them with proper encouragement and interaction..."

It really takes a lot of effort and energy to do that. Along with this when we have the other household stuff to take care of , it can really drain us at times, btoh physically and emotionally .

At 12:57 AM, Blogger the mad momma said...

Hey Sheela,
I am late on this post so I hope you're feeling better by now. I had the same sense of wanting to bang my head against a wall when i had my second one.

a 22 month old and an infant. and my mother left on the 8th day. the good part is that it took a year (yes I know that seems endless right now!)and they turned into great company for each other. i dont need to bother with entertaining them because they do a lot of it themselves....

all the best with whatever you decide to do .. stay home or go back to work. i am sure you and the kids will be happy with either choice.


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