Okay, Alanis Morrissette like every celebrity worth their maternal credentials, has now jumped firmly onto the breast feeding bandwagon by saying that she will breastfeed her 16 month old until he asks her to stop. (Here's where you can read the rest of that).
Coming hot on the heels of the rather perturbing Time cover which had a rail thin woman with a three year old attached to her breast, suckling away, this gains relevance in the sudden spurt of Super Mommydom which is hitting us unfortunate mommies wherever we turn. Now, of course, for us suckers who weaned our sprats off before, horrors, a year,we have to start saving the pennies for therapy we're told. Not that of course, I'm really holding my breath, because given the way things are, whatever one does for these kids these days is bound to have them run to the psychiatrist's couch at some point in the future and blame whatever right back at us. Ergo.
Seriously though, in my distant childhood, I remember an aunt from the paternal side of the family who was continuing breast feeding her son until he was well past five. I also remember how the five year old was brutally kidded by the rest of the cousins when he got older. And how he was was an adult mamma's boy when he grew up. If anything, that distant, recently dislodged memory is enough for me to thank my stars that the brat weaned himself off (abruptly and very painfully for me- engorgement, etc) at month three and refused all temptation from the maternal bosom and gulped down the unabashedly from the bottle when proferred in lieu of said maternal bosom.
I was pretty sad the child had declined my milch cow services for reasons apart from the obvious feeling of being rejected by spawn of womb, I had lost all my baby weight in the three months that I was feeding him, and now that I had stopped, I was piling on the kilos by the shovelful.
Given that I had been told by pediatrician that only mother's milk for six months of infancy and breastfeeding the child for the first year, I was already swatting away kilo loads of guilt and reading up horrified on the internet about how children on formula bulked up and were basically more prone to illnesses and a lot of other scary studies that I was soundly barked at by the pediatrician for having looked up.
So, I want to know, does it really matter. Is breastfeeding until the child weans itself really such a big thing in mother child bonding? Does it not get unhealthy after a while? I have, of course, had similar concerns with co-sleeping and considering the brat co-slept with us until the point that he was big enough to push us off the bed, I should really hold my peace on co-sleeping. Even today, when the brat is particularly upset or needing attention, he ambles into our room and insists "I am sleeping wid you."
What is attachment parenting as discussed in the Time magazine article? Is it merely breastfeeding and co-sleeping that gets a child attached to you. Is there no daily routine, play, feeding, etc that more than makes up for these. What, in your head, are the issues associated with the child weaning itself off? How long did you breastfeed? I'm curious. Tell me.
And here are some links on the Time Cover controversy:
The brat is walking somewhere on cloud 9, with occasional peeps down
at us lowly mortals for the past couple of days. It all began with the
pater deciding that he needed to perfect his swimming and dragging him
kicking and screaming in the dark hours of the morning to the pool.
With virulent resistance, read squawking, screaming, tears flowing
like the proverbial Ganges down his cheeks having proved to be of no
use, the brat finally caved in and began trotting down to the pool
dutifully and within the week had perfected his stroke, got rid of his
fear of the deep end of the pool and was doing start dives well enough
to make the maternal heart plump up with joy.
Ergo the pappa took him to Croma the other day and got him a PSP.
Something he had been whining about for a while now. Given that he got
his Playstation 2 just in October while most of his friends seem to
have cut their teeth on various gaming devices, he has been a late
entrant into the consumer category for said devices. And has much
catching up to do. And I have been a Cruel Mom so far, keeping him off
all such devices but the child goes to friends' homes. He sees them
there. He plays with them. He returns home. He wants them. He whines
For the PSP though, to be fair, he did not whine and tantrum. He
requested politely. He was told he would receive it for his birthday.
He was reassured by this promise and held his peace. Therefore when
his father took him to the store and bought him the PSP, his face had
to be seen to be believed. It lit up like a mall Christmas tree. He
almost turned cartwheels in the store. He looked chuffed enough to do
the rooster walk on part in any amateur performance, he was so
strutting around the premises.
PSP game cds were also procured, with my stingy self reeling and
collapsing at the cost of each of the damn little things, and veto-ing
the more expensive ones and looking for the ones on a discount.
Much joy and happiness and calling of the friends happened in order to
show off new acquisition and then, the next day we went to Nanna's
house. Where Nanna had, by fluke, kept her old mobile instrument out
along with the new. The brat pounced on it. "Nanna, dis yer ole
phone?" Yes, she replied. "Bud yer nod using it no?" She concurred.
"Den I'm tekking it fer me."
Put in such a spot, she had no choice but to agree. So now, he's with
a phone without a sim card. The SIM needs to be procured for it to be
activated and Pappa and Mamma are firmly against procuring said sim.
We have told him he can play with the handset if he wants, for a week
and it goes back to Nanna. And he does not need a mobile phone with a
SIM right now. It does feel like we're being antidiluvian parents
given that he has one friend with a Blackberry (who actually asked me
for my BBM pin to add me) another with an iPhone 4 S and such like.
The laptop stays in the office now because we found him playing too
many games on the laptop when it came back home. Maybe this attitude
might just bite us on our adequately padded butts in the future but I
feel there is still time for the brat to need a mobile, still time for
him to have a Facebook account, still time for him to grow up. What do
It was Mother's Day yesterday. I had begun prepping the brat from the past week that this was the day he was supposed to roll out the red carpet and do something nice for me and make me feel generally on top of the world and satisfied that the stretch marks and the little tummy overhang from the C-sec had been well worth it.
Given that in past years, I have been fobbed off with lined foolscap paper cards with scary creatures drawn on them looking more Medusa heads than what I imagine my gorgeousness to be, and inscribed at the top of the sheet would be "Happy Mudders Day to the Best Mudder in the Wirld.", I was determined that this year, I would get him to sacrifice from pocket money being duly saved for PS 2 Game CD and get me something.
Ah well, the sentiment should be all that mattered. But this year I was so done with sentiment and I wanted concrete evidence of the lurvv to be manifested with the breaking out of the piggy bank to procure a gift. I wanted the child to know that sometimes, at least once a year, it was necessary to show his appreciation of all I did for him, even though I might not be one of those mothers who never broke out into a sweat while serving trays and trays of the cool beverages and the yummy snacks to his gang of pintsizes. Ergo, every so often when the brat was lying comatose in front of the idiotbox watching his beloved WWE or some Japanese cartoon dubbed into Hindi with disconcertening adult voices speaking for the children, I would nag him just that wee bit. "Brat, what are you getting me for Mother's Day."
He would think hard. Adopt Rodin Thinker pose. Furrow the brow. "I'll get fer you something speshul," he promised me. "Something you laike."
Content, I rested me case except for an occasional reminder that the day was looming ahead, large and demanding its token sacrifice at the altar. The day before Mother's Day, I trotted off to the store with the brat and picked up some gifts for my mother and my mother in law. The brat grumbled about how he was not getting any gift and "Wai yu never gave me any gift on Chillun's Day." He had a valid argument, which I mercilessly swotted down and insisted that since I kept springing for Cricket Attax and Slam Attax and various Game CDs and such like on a regular basis those constituted gifts and Children's Day special gift was redundant in light of this. He could choose between one gift on said Children's Day or he could choose assorted gifts through the year, naturally he chose the latter and that was that.
The Mother's Day dawned bright and sparkly, made even more sparkly by the fact that we now have a couple of towers bang in front of our windows reflecting the morning sun straight into the house. I handed over the Mother's Day gift to my mother in law and packed the gift for my mother in my handbag intending to hand it across to her when I visited her in the course of the day. The brat awoke and opened one suspicious eye. "Happy Mudder's Day," he muttered. Thank you, I trilled back and looked around for something giftwrapped and shiny emerging. Nada. Anyway. It would I assumed.
Nothing did. We breakfasted and trotted off to Nana's house as is our routine every Sunday. Enroute, he muttered, "Gimme money. I wantu buy Cricket Attax." The two packets of Cricket Attax are his weekly bribe to get him to agree to sacrifice Sunday play to visit his grandmother. I handed over a crisp Rs 100 note and he scrambled from the autorickshaw, disappeared into the shop, emerged with two packets of Cricket Attax and one bar of Dairy Milk Silk. "Happy Mudder's Day, mamma."
I was hit with a sudden moment of deja vu and how.
21 years ago, his father had given me a purple cover Dairy Milk slab as a Valentine Day's gift barely a month after we had first met. He has since graduated to diamonds and Swiss watches in his gifting repertoire, but that wrapper still is carefully preserved.
"You like choklit no?" he asked uncertainly, maybe my expression was a little unnerving. "Yes," I hugged him, "I love chocolate. Thank you so much."
"When I grow up and get a job, I will buy for you many chocolates," he promised me. The cockles of the maternal heart welled up and spilt over in most inelegant, ruin the liquid liner manner.
And yes, I did my share of warming the cockles of my mom's heart by handing over her Mother's Day gift a few minutes later. Though, to be honest, I think she was happier seeing me taking a double helping of the prawn pulao she had made specially for me, that all the perfumes of Araby. You know. Like any perfume or gift could ever even begin repaying the debt I owe my mother.
That was my Mother's Day. How did you spend yours?
I've always been a great believer in that old maxim, Each one, Teach one. Now here is not the perfect soap box to get on my high horse and list out what I do to follow it, and to guilt prod you about how you plan to contribute to society, etc, but I do see my maid working multiple homes, slogging herself to the bone, only to ensure her son goes to a private English medium school rather than the municipal school because she wants him to have the qualifications to emerge from the socioeconomic circumstances they are in.
This is what I received many days ago, but didn't get around to posting back then because, errm, I was drowning in multiple things. (Everytime I get asked that awful question, how do you do all the things you do, I'm tempted to reply 'By not doing half the things I should be doing.'). Anyway, here it is:
"Hindustan Times is
undertaking a campaign called 'You Read, They Learn' - a year-long
initiative to promote quality primary level
education for underprivileged children in Delhi and NCR. Hindustan
Times will contribute 5 paise every day from every Metro copy of
Hindustan Times sold in Delhi-NCR to fund the education of over 10,000
children over the year. As a first step of the initiative,
Hindustan Times has printed a beginner’s textbook in every copy of the
newspaper in Delhi-NCR today."
I would really be interested to see how this campaign goes further. More than that I would be keen to see each and everyone of us, make an effort, reach out to at least one underprivileged child and help them with school fees, with tuition fees or even take time out and sit with them and help them with their studies. Only by spreading education can we hope to see them get out of the cycle of poverty they have been born into.
Gypsymom shared this with us on a Parenting group on Facebook. The writer of this piece has the cutest little dumpling of a kid and is not going off to a 40th birthday celebration because she wants to spend time with her kids. I completely get that. I still haven't gone out for dinner a deux with the spouse since the brat has been born. And that is a choice we took when the brat was little and now of course, we're old and weary and can't dream of going out without him hanging onto our coat tails, metaphorically speaking. We are now a family and we do things together.
But yes, I now do things on my own. I am travelling around to various cities to promote my book and leaving him behind was quite a wrench to the gut and the stunning realisation that I am now redundant. The brat can manage pretty well without me, his grandmothers and his father take great care of him, and if he misses me, there's no way he's letting down that Y chromosome influence and letting it show.
The first time I stayed away overnight from him was when I went to Lavasa last year for the Lavasa women's drive. He stayed behind most comfortably and didn't miss me for a twinge. Frankly, I was relieved. I had over estimated my importance in his scheme of things. He was being fed and bathed and taken care of. He didn't need me. It was time I grew up about leaving him at home too.
And so I did.
In the past few months, I've done more travelling than I've done in the past many years and the brat has stayed behind quite happily. Content with the occasional phone conversation and the promise to return bearing Cricket Attax.
I returned back from four days in Pune, in the course of which the occasional call home had the brat tell me he was too busy playing or eating to actually have a conversation with me. I entered the home, and the brat grabbed my bag. The maternal heart overflowed. "Wherez my Cricket Attax?" he asked me, promptly capping the overflow.
Ergo. The brat is now secure enough to know that he is not being deserted by me, and that I will return. I have my night's out, only for professional or networking reasons, still, where I return home post his dinner and bedtime, and occasionally he will be awake, watching out for my return. I've gone for the occasional tweet up, play and book launch. I can count the instances on the fingers of my hand. These are, I think, what I can do comfortably. What I've not done yet, is go out partying till late night, leaving him behind at home, though I know he's very well cared for, and really is now old enough to handle himself. Its a choice I make. If there is a social event I must attend, I do attend with him if it is such that is appropriate for children. That's my way of including him in my life. But completely focussing every activity with him around is a thing of the past, he's grown up now. He can handle me not being around. And I can handle him not being around, more importantly.
I now realise that being completely focused around one's child is being neglectful of oneself. Which isn't conducive to building up happiness, contentment and leads to a nagging sense of disatisfaction. I realise that one has to be a little bit selfish even with one's kids, and put oneself first. Because only when one is happy can one be a happy, giving parent. Little babies need their mothers. As they grow, children need to get independent and parents must start learning to let go, in little ways, to make them independent and secure emotionally about being on their own, doing things on their own and not relying on their parents to be there 24 x 7.I think the letting go is not something one does only for oneself, it is something one has to do for the kids too.
Today I have a healthy balance of time I spend with the kid, and time I spend with myself. And I realise the kid doesn't really even WANT me around much anymore. He's content to know that I'm there and I'm available if he needs me. That's it. It's time for me to let go. To take time out for myself. To do the things I kept on hold for so many years waiting for him to grow up a bit.
What about you? How old were your kids before you started leaving them? What sort of guilt pangs did you face? Any regrets?