THE MORAL OF THE STORY….

Yet another page from the mother-daughter diary

Mom, please tell me a story and put me to sleep,” my daughter requested. It’s a part of our routine. Sometimes I read folk tale books, and sometimes I play bedtime stories on YouTube (when I have a lot of things to wind up and anxiety kicks in thinking of the remaining agenda). But there are times when she demands stories freshly cooked up. She also hands me a few specifications, like certain characters, names of the characters, certain habits, and so on. Trust me, she plucks fruits of imagination from La La Land and lets me feast on some of the juiciest fruits. Once ingredients are given to me, the onus is on my shoulders to serve her with an enjoyable story, laced with a moral, of course.

So this time she wanted me to tell her a jungle story with a baby elephant named Daisy as the central character. To weave stories instantly is a difficult task, but parenting comes with additional features. Either you end up being a pro at multitasking or you nevertheless end up doing the job somehow. I fall into the second category. Let me go straight to the story. Don’t worry, I won’t make you fall asleep (the purpose of a bedtime story), and I will keep it short.

The story:

Daisy moved to a new jungle colony. Monkeys inhabited the area in large numbers. Daisy was delighted to make new friends. Her days would pass loitering around in the jungle, exploring every nook and corner while her friends were busy scaling high trees. Her mother was upset with how Daisy spent her days, doing nothing productive compared to her friends. “Why don’t you learn anything from your friends?” “You can give climbing a tree at least a try.” “You are giving me a lot of tension, mind you” her mother’s rant would go on and on. She even made Daisy participate in the area’s annual monkeys race. Daisy failed and failure has to some extent stirred resentment in her.

Daisy’s parents had to go to a nearby colony. They entrusted Daisy’s responsibility to neighbours. Everyone assembled on the ground, having general chit-chat. A rabbit named Bonny came running, breathing heavily. He had dreadful news to share. “Guys, I overheard hunters in the nearby fields; they are going to launch an attack on our colony.” “We need to think and act fast,” Bonny said, distressed. The gloom was in the air. As he was still speaking, a shot was fired into the air, setting off chaos. Monkeys were rushing to find a cover. A few of them were hopping on the treetops to locate the exact location of the hunters. Amid the chaos, Daisy considered using her strength to resolve the situation and help others as well. Creating hurdles for hunters, she uprooted trees and flung them over. That would buy time for escaping. A coordinated effort helped Daisy and her friends escape the hunters’ trap.

When Daisy’s parents returned, they learned about the entire fiasco. They were proud when everyone in the colony praised Daisy. Her mother patted Daisy’s back with her trunk. “I’m proud of you, dear,” she whispered. Daisy smiled and said, “But mom, I couldn’t climb trees as you would have liked it.” “I am sorry for that,” she said, leaving the place, leaving her mother pondering over her behaviour when she constantly compared her daughter to others.

As soon as I finished the story, my daughter made a quick remark. “Daisy’s mother is none other than you. You compare me to my cousins.

When I made up this story, I knew that she was smart enough to find real-life references, though I wasn’t creative enough. I replaced fish with elephants. Yes, as much as I boast of being a cool Gen X parent, I am sometimes guilty of being an anxious and overly enthusiastic parent. I have no shame in admitting that I do compare my kids to others (sometimes). When I notice my daughter repeating the same calculation mistake every three days, the paranoia kicks in. A matrix of future scenarios’ permutations and combinations dangles in front of me. I end up giving her examples of her cousins who have a vast syllabus compared to her and a rigid education system.

But going back in time, I, and perhaps a majority of 80s and 90s kids, have witnessed a similar kind of parenting style (talking about the Indian scenario; I am not aware of how things were then in the rest of the world or, say, outside of Asia). Blame it on the cutthroat competition in every field, parents compare their kids (mostly academically) to their peers. My mother, being not highly educated herself, always dreamed of giving her kids a good education. The only way she thought was right was to keep track of our marks and tally them with our friends. Whenever I used to have a bad examination, nervousness would consume me. Nervousness about how to convey how badly I fared at the exam and the results that followed I used to share my woes with my brother. He had a perfect solution up his sleeves. He used to say, “Simply say that you did well, and when the results are announced, you can have your share of reprimand from mom. Why double your trouble?” Fortunately, things changed when I started my graduation. My mom no longer compared my results; rather, she started to believe in the process of learning, that is, to understand the concept. More importantly, she believed in me and said that I was responsible enough to take care of my studies. A breath of fresh air! And, happy to say that I lived up to it.

So can you blame me for the occasional “look at them” behaviour? (Ideally, you can; I am guilty and have no qualms accepting the same.) But I have been privy to such an environment, and it makes its presence felt in my thought process sometimes.

Coming back to my situation, I train my brain not to fall into the temptation of making comparisons of any sort. But as the flawed character I am, I do fumble sometimes. I compare myself with other successful women (the definition of success is debatable). I have a specific set of problems, and the people I compare myself to have their sagas and woes to share. But everything becomes opaque to me, and I turn a blind eye to the obvious. This is where self-doubt takes good control over my senses and abilities as well. I want to make special mention of my husband’s role here. He never compared kids to others, for he had the same experience as mine as a kid. According to him, comparison connotes pain and misery. He is convinced that such a juxtaposition elicits (most of the time) negative emotions. It kills confidence. He clearly stated, “I wouldn’t mind even if my daughter decides to be a worker with the garbage cleaning department as long as she is happy and an honest person.” (As a child, she expressed an interest in becoming a garbage collector. Now her favourite jobs have changed for a while. He got his priorities straight, I must say. A lot to learn from him.

Let’s have a broader perspective:

Is comparison completely evil? Or can it be a tool to leverage better performance? The impact of comparison on our lives depends on how we are applying it. I believe we can not completely do away with comparison. It is omnipresent on both micro and macro levels, essentially dealing with quantifiable things. The purpose is to improve. We are a part of the social fabric, and comparison among us seeps through at one or the other point. If used as a tool of introspection, it paves a way for implementing a concrete plan of action to reach the goal. Comparison is a tool to leverage introspection only if we are ready to accept our weaknesses, identify our strengths and prepare a unique path to tread. We shall be able to enjoy the process of learning (from others) and understanding (ourselves). Customization is the key because of the uniqueness of every handler who is using comparison to optimize the results. Precisely every journey, destination and path is different. But what if the element of customization (understanding our own circumstances) is missing? You are either blindly fancying or ranting about someone somewhere in a better position and messing up with your own life. In my mother tongue, Telugu, there is a saying that translates to: “A fox burned its skin to have the look (stripes) of a tiger.” The underlying meaning is to imitate someone by being in their place or position. It will only lead to pain. If the purpose of weighing or comparing oneself is to achieve acceptability, to meet certain notions and standards, then pushing the envelope to reach there can lead to irreversible losses. For example, fashion influencers do a fashion haul every two days. They purchase clothes from brands and showcase (read: show off) them to gain traction online. The vanity of such behaviours rubs off on their primary target audience, which is young people. The clock of comparison ticks, “Let me get the same dress.” “Let me lay my hands on the same brands.” “I need to amp up my wardrobe just like the influencer/star.” Their actions therein without assessing their needs and circumstances could have rather serious implications. They could be mental, financial, and, in this particular case, environmental as well. Case study of how fashion haul impacts the environment: READ HERE

That is one off-beat example (out of the context of the current conversation).

Conclusion (moral of the story):

Comparison in a jungle colony as Daisy’s is completely futile undoubtedly. But for homo sapiens, the tool of comparison could be either useful or frivolous. It all depends on the acceptance of the conditions, the enjoyment derived from learning and carving a unique path to reach the goal. The aim of comparison should be to induce betterment and not to belittle or make one feel miserable.

Last but not the least, I shouldn’t be giving this heavy speech to my 7-year-old daughter. I better stop comparing her to others, for she is precious and carries her own set of capabilities. Mindfulness mode should be on default mode. For myself, I must concentrate on the path, customization you know!

LET’S DELETE THE CURSE

Each child cries to go to school,
Wants to study for future goal.
Parents are circumstances-bound,
Not a single way can be found.

Though the situations are bit worse,
Cries of stomach shows time coarse.
He never stops himself from dreaming,
nor left behind from the new beginning.

Starts working for his daily chore,
To connect with his painful hunger.
At the tender age, starts labouring,
As a bread earner, the duty is carrying.

Age of study,dance, drama and dreams,
He is cleaning the dirty leftover utensils.
The hunger of the poor’s life is so awful,
Child labour starts like this, there’s no rule.

It should be now stopped by the society,
Little child is tortured all time,it’s the reality.
Enter to the world of education and liberation,
Erase the feel of suppression & add motivation.

Child labour is a curse, but the child is a gift,
Let’s delete the curse and give children a little up shift.
Make each child be adored like our own,
Give them wings, knowing the future unknown.

A MOTHER’S GUILT

Guilt is the feeling that comes when you fail to meet your own expectations. Understand that the feeling is an unmet expectation of yourself and not of the world. As a mother, I have felt guilty a number of times for leaving my son back home while I go to work. It is very common for a young mother to be tempted to quit her job and be with her baby at all times. I too had that temptation a million times. Well, but as they say feeling guilty is part of being a mother. Which guilt do you wish to live with, is the question to be rightly answered.

I have seen women who have felt extremely guilty for leaving their newborns in day cares or with maids so that they could work without an interruption. I also know of a lot women who feel guilty of leaving their shining careers because kids needed the attention at that time. So, when I became a mother I knew it is not glorious to do either of things. I need to choose which guilt is less and I am ok to live with.

And I chose to live with the guilt of leaving my son at home and focusing on my work.
Summer vacations are coming up and that is always a tricky time because it is impossible to keep the kids engaged at all times. Since last year my in-laws take my son to their place and he lives with them for a month or so during summer vacations. I have such fond memories of my summer vacations which were always with my parents and I want the same for my child; so it is a difficult decision for me.

However, I know that I cannot be at home for a month or even work from home for that long – and with that thought I let him go. The thoughts like “I am a bad mother, I am a selfish mother, and he is going to miss me so much, how he will stay without me etc.” are  devilish thoughts that I deal with every day. But I must do what I must do. My son is quite happy with his grandparents and he likes to be with them. He misses me but not as much as I fear. But the feeling still kills me.

I am sure there are many such moms like me who are struggling. But remember it is the quality of time that matters not the quantity. Kids grow up as long as they have right people to take care of them. So as long as you trust your child’s caretaker – go ahead for your take on the world. And if you are the mother who feels guilty of letting your own career down for the sake of the kid – believe in your choice. You know the best for your child and you will provide the best for him/her.

Choose which guilty road you are willing to take because I have learnt that feeling guilty is part of being a woman. Mother’s guilt is only natural and is the consequence of wanting to be a good mother to your child.

 

MOTHERHOOD AND GUILT ARE INSEPARABLE

Being a mom, you are going to be bombarded with so much guilt for everything you do to everything you don’t do.

Nearly, 90% of moms feel guilty- And yes it is not a surprising element. Right from giving birth, breastfeeding, parenting, helicopter parenting and much more, you will stumble every now and then with guilt.

When pregnancy starts, it begins creeping into the thoughts.

“Oh, I didn’t have this, my child would have got better eyes, lips..etc”

“Oh, I should have lost enough weight,so that I would not have gained this much during pregnancy, now how I am gonna take care of myself and my kids . . .”

Blah… blah… blah…

A lot many thoughts keep conflicting the mind, rather than focussing on the real thing.

Again, after giving birth, most moms around 10 % or so, struggle with breastfeeding, some do not have enough supplement, that they have to start on formula milk, some do feed enough that the baby is growing fatter… and much more..

The list just prolongs from then, there is never an end to it.

Again the common guilt which is prevailing is when a mother is back to work. The guilt is much heavier than an atom bomb, it just breaks away the confidence and the mother’s dreams, that finally she gives up, the hopes and be a dedicated mom.

But again, it is not the end of the story – the guilt is inseparable.

When kids grow up, the mother again feels lonelier and again guilty of giving up her career, and then finally not able to give a kick start to it, because she keeps blaming herself for all the decisions she took in her life.

So what’s the story now?

Why do women, especially moms feel the guilt?

Is it because she doesn’t do her things well enough? Or,

Is it the society, who is grading the moms?

People tend to forget that moms are also humans, they also have their share of life. All they need is some time on their own, a job to make them independent to boost their self-confidence. And they just need slight support, not huge though.

So moms, just chill, if you are feeling guilty;

  • Firstly you do an excellent job, being a mom.
  • It is not easy just being mom, it takes up so much effort and you are the best at it.
  • Remember that your happy mind keeps everyone around you happy. So smile, take your own time and chill out.
  • Not breastfeeding is not the end of the world. Somethings are not in your hands. There are thousands of women who are not able to lactate, and it is not their fault.
  • Parenting is indeed a mess, you fall in uninvited, but yes, you might take your time to gather around and swim across to the shore.
  • Do not compare your parenting with others, you need not be guilty for your choices if you know you cannot control it.

Moreover, it is not in your hands that, the people around you are beguiled by the traditional patriarchal child-rearing setup, which is mostly triggered by maternal guilt rather than parental guilt.

Leave the idea of perfectionism, rather than focus on what is good for the child.

Just ignore your guilt and then focus on your child. Guilt gives you nothing, your child will give you the universe of happiness.

MY LOVE STORIES WITH NURSES

Hospital has never been a place that people love to stay in or even want to hear the word in their ears. It is place which has always created panic in the hearts and minds of people. But just imagine about those terminally ill people who have no other options than to stay in the hospital or visit it regularly… I am one of them, ironically. But I had some beautiful memories associated with all those hospitals wherever I had stayed and I am going to share all that with you today…

In 1978, when I underwent my first surgery in CMC Vellore, I sparsely remember one incident which I love to explain. I was almost three years old then and there was another kid in the ward who used scared of me… Why??? 😛

A nurse gifted me a yellow paper mask which I used to wear and walk around the ward. And when I face that boy, he used too scream looking at me and cry. So my Mom and the beloved nurse used to take that lovely gift from me and then I used to start yelling at the top of my voice. This is how my love story with nurses started and I still cherish that love gift, that yellow paper mask in my memory.

I don’t remember the year exactly but between the year 1980-82, I had a small surgery for urinary tract infection in Kalunga Catholic Hospital. I was admitted there for two days only. But I fell in love with a kind hearted nurse who used to take me with her for rounds. She gave me chocolates and a toy as well… I don’t remember much. I was hardly 7 years old. I wept so much missing her when I came back home. You won’t believe she had come to our quarter one or two times as well afterwards. Probably, she fell in love too with the kiddo me. 😛

In the year 2001 on 20th of February I had my second surgery in Manipal Heart Foundation, Bangalore. This was the best ever experience I have in a hospital. I have some awesome memories associated with a couple of nurses during that stay in the hospital. I got discharged on 27th February 2001 from the hospital. But I made my home there in that ward, as we both Shyam (a patient) and me walked around with the nurses, meeting all the patients, sometimes encouraging them, sometimes translating from their language to English for the nurses. We had so much fun.

When I got discharged I asked my cousin to bring few packets of Cadbury Dairy Milk . There were 31 nurses in the tenth floor ward. I gave all of them one packet each. The head of the nurses, sister Patricia asked, “why did you spend so much ?”. My answer was “the service and care I received from you people is more expensive than what I spent for you, thanks a lot.” I waved my hands and came out of the hospital with my mom and cousin with a sense of victory given to me by God.

All the time if I expect love and care from the nurses then it’s definitely not possible. And when I fell severely sick in 2005, I was admitted in one of the hospitals at Kolkata. I literally had to shout at them to get their love and attention… while my health went on deteriorating.

Finally, I was taken to Narayana Hrudayalaya, Bangalore where nurses were professional and know how to take care of people like me. I remember there was one young girl, who used to walk around taking care of patients including me as well. She was a fresher but her hands were steady like any other experienced nurses. She never used to look gloomy while taking care of us. But one day she was looking down. When she held my hand to check my pulses, BP etc., as routine check up… I asked her, “Hey, what happened to you… Looks like your boss is too irritating and shouting on you unnecessarily.” She smiled and said nodded in agreement to what I said.

And this cute little girl never stayed gloomy afterwards till I got discharged from the hospital. Her service and smile was her gift to me and in return I gave her that warmth even if I was just a patient like any other for her in that hospital.

When I suffered with Dengue in 2017 September, I was in a private room for better care and attention of those beautiful nurses in Kolkata. The doctor under whom I was admitted once asked the nurses, I don’t think you will be having any problems taking care of this jovial and handsome patient!?” They just smiled and kept quiet without replying anything.

If you would have marked, throughout this article I have highlighted the word – nurse(s) because from the very childhood they have been a part of my life and might be there in future as well. I was admitted in the hospital more times than the times I’ve mentioned here and I have a greater sense of love, respect and honour for the nurses. May God always bless them for what they do.

I hope you all enjoyed my love stories with those beautiful nurses… Keep reading and keep leaving your valuable feedback…

Stay blessed!!!

FIRST TIME I DREADED HOSPITAL

You must be thinking why did I give such a heading to this article. This is because of the simple reason that earlier when I was admitted to the hospital (twice) was for the best reason- birth of my two sons.  Before that when I was hospitalized, I was too young to remember, which I already mentioned in “Who Was That Guy”.

Visits to the hospital with my elder son, Arjun, wasn’t new to me as he has gone through staples, stitches, fracture, etc. Yeah! Quite an adventurous life he witnessed already before the age of 5. 

But this time it was different. He got high fever which refused to go even after giving Paracetamol. His pediatrician suggested to get his blood tests done as Dengue fever was on outbreak. However, his body showed no symptoms of of Dengue except high fever, so my husband and I were keeping calm and positive. The blood test reports however proved us wrong. His platelets were 1.2 lakhs and Dengue NS1 Antigen came out positive. The pediatrician suggested us to admit him to the hospital straight away so that his platelets could be monitored. 

Arjun dreads going to the doctor, even though he hardly cried on getting immunization shots. Breaking down this news to him was very difficult. As we started packing up the basic stuff for going to the hospital, I couldn’t control my tears and started crying. Just the thought of watching my son getting admitted scared me. Gathering myself, I got determined to stay strong so that my son could stay that way. 

As we got into the car, we told Arjun that we were going to a different doctor and as we entered the hospital, he started questioning hysterically- “ Why are we here? Is the doctor here? But, shouldn’t he be in the clinic? Am I getting another blood test? “

We calmly told him that he had got Dengue, which was a serious illness if not taken care of. So, for better care, we were at the hospital, assuring his mumma being next to him all the time. 

We were taken to the emergency ward where some blood test samples were to be taken. As we waited, we saw a serious case where the patient was being put on a ventilator. My heart sank as I was hearing the sounds and talks of the nurses, doctors and the attendants. I immediately wanted to leave that area. 

Soon, Arjun was taken to ICU. Electrodes were pasted on his chest for monitoring heart and a Cannula was to be injected in his veins, before which, the nurses asked me to wait outside to which Arjun immediately shouted- “No, mumma will stay with me.” I smiled and told the nurses to go ahead with the insertion, while I held my son tightly. 

The blood samples were needed every morning and evening. Every time the blood was taken out, Arjun would hold me tight and hide his face, while l just watched the vials of blood being filled. 

Since the time he was admitted, there was only one question in my son’s head- “When will we go home? “ And with that question, he lost his smile. His favourite books, games or even mobile videos failed to lift up his mood. 

Every two hours his blood pressure and temperature was observed, thankfully both remained in limits. 

The doctor strictly told my son to drink lots and lots of water if he wanted to get discharged soon, which Arjun religiously followed. 

For the next two days, we stayed in the hospital and the third day my son smiled because he was getting discharged as his platelets showed improvement. 

Getting back to home was nothing less than a celebration. Those two days proved to be very long for both of us. While my son was full of joy as he entered the house, I thanked God for embracing him. 

THE ONLY PLACE IN THE WORLD WHERE WE WANT THINGS TO BE NEGATIVE…

During my childhood, the hospital was almost like my second home. I never had fear for hospitals, nor I am scared of visiting one. I have good memories associated with hospitals. As an 8-year-old girl, I used to go alone to take my vaccination. Of course, my parents used to be waiting outside the room, as I always insisted on going through the process of injections alone. For almost 3 years in a row, when I was 12, I had typhoid. Trust me when I say this, I always had the most severe attacks of typhoid. Even a spoonful of water intake resulted in vomiting. So, I had 3 weeks of hospitalization once, and I still remember how I used to enjoy my stay there. My parents were working full time in an organization that also owned hospitals for employees. They have to go to work ( I understand that), and I had so much fun with the hospital staff. Hours of time on IV fluids restricted to bed, refusing to eat the deadly idly (that is south Indian comfort food), reading my school books to pass the time in the night – Ah, lot of memories.

Recently my visits to the hospital have become very frequent. I am on diagnosis for symptoms that are pointing towards a weak heart. It all started 3 years ago, during a trek, when I experienced a very high heart rate. Not that I was climbing too fast, but I had discomfort breathing. As always, I thought I may have been too tired, or as my body is not adapted to exercise for some time then, maybe it wasn’t able to cope up climbing the height. This happened two more times, and that’s the much-needed alarm to schedule an appointment. Echocardiograms and blood tests showed PAH (Pulmonary Artery Hypertension), and that is something that won’t show up on the Blood Pressure readings. It is almost a year, I am going through several tests that really have not given conclusive results. I have lapses of dizziness, shortness of breath, and pain – so, there are symptoms. Doctors say I have a weak heart ( I wonder how ??) and should be careful. There are no blocks as such, but I am on the higher side of the risk factors of my heart giving up. Does that scare me? Of course. Who wants to die early? But, the bright side of it is I am aware of the shortcomings of my heart. All the diagnosis is only possible because there are hospitals.

Okay, so that’s about diagnosis what about emergencies? Few months back, I had very severe pain in the abdomen while I was at work. Post lunch I started having sharp pain in the right side, which was only increasing exponentially. By the time I reached home, I felt so weak, helpless and my whole body started sweating. I was out of energy when the cab arrived. The cab driver was very supportive to leave me till the emergency section. The pain was so excruciating that I could not even lay on the bed in one position. I suspected it might be appendicitis, but the pain was too much to bear. After several rounds of pain killers and my screams in the emergency room, the pain subsided 7 hours later. Until then the doctors could not perform CT because I am unable to stay still. An hour later, I underwent CT and ultrasound, which depicted a stone in the kidney. When I was going through this trauma, I had no idea whom to talk to. The nurses were very caring and supportive. Maybe, I should write a dedicated article describing how scared I was. I was in so much fear until I knew what the problem was. The only relief was I am in the hospital and for anything that happens there are doctors around. So, for emergencies also, we are helpless but to visit a hospital. 

The very word ‘hospital’ scares a lot of people, but I feel that is the place that gives us solace. Hospital is not always for bad. How many mothers go for birthing to live those happy moments holding their newborn. How many families feel relieved when they get to know their loved ones are completely healthy when they suspected something wasn’t right. How many people with chronic illnesses are getting better only with the help of hospitals? We are scared because of what’s happening in our bodies. We are scared when we are unaware of what it is. We are scared to learn something that may not be right, but hospitals are the go-to places to recover. I have massive respect towards doctors, lab technicians, the nurses, and, most importantly,  researchers who are in the constant quest to understand human anatomy. Without them, the hospital would have been a really scary place to be.