Lessons From My Three Moms

I Love Mom.jpgMy latest article on www.sheroes.com published on 23rd June, 2016

Don’t be startled. My father didn’t marry thrice. Still, I have three moms. Let me explain: I was born to one. We all are blessed to have this wonderful mother.

I was handed over to one. Indian women are married more to a mother-in-law than to a man.

Then, I gifted myself one. After being influenced generously by these two moms, I needed one to maintain my sanity. When I became a mother, I gifted my ‘mother–self’,  to myself.

I got my first mother 40-years-ago, and she still remains an influencer. I got my second mother 20-years-ago, and she is integral to my life. I got my third mother 15-years-ago and she keeps my head and heart in place, letting me adapt and evolve to balance the present, the past and the future.

Lessons from my first mom: This woman is made up of all muscles, bones and  tissues which shout-out “MOM”. Her personality is overpowering, and there is no madness in her methods. I wonder why she was not in the military,  and it costed me dearly.

I had my clothes ironed and laid out, a home-cooked tiffin, and polished shoes every-day of my school life. She stitched all my clothes (I never wore jeans as she could not stitch one). I ogled at dresses hanging in shops, but never bought a single one.

She managed her time so effectively that every watch in the world should be proud of her. A cleanliness freak, an exercising enthusiast, a nutrition messiah, an avid reader…phew, I am already tired half way.

I could never sleep till late on Sundays, as a child. I still feel guilty if I sleep till late. I could never get less marks, even in a regular school test. She expected me to excel everywhere. She had her own way of pursuing her own umpteen interests. She would focus on one thing at a time for a few days, and then focus on another for next few days. When I was growing up, I saw a ‘bookworm mom’ for five days, a ‘cleaner’ for three days, an ‘artist’ (she painted) for a week and a ‘tailor mom’ for a stretch. My doctor dad waded through these changing avatars every month and I absorbed her focus and enthusiasm.

She always talked about future and future readiness. She raised two girls, and always missed being a professional. So, we grew up dreaming of making it big professionally.

Her punctuality and time allocation for tasks gatecrashed into my personality. Her passion for excellence costed me sleep of many nights and dissatisfaction at many junctures. Her mindfulness is as permanent in my being as that vaccine injection mark on my shoulder.

At 68, she looks at a washing machine with disgust, and jumps at the mention of ‘junk’ as if she has seen a cockroach in her kitchen.

Her emphasis on working hard, managing time, sticking to discipline and updating knowledge all the time has stayed in the closet of my habits.

Lessons from my second mom: My second mother was a working woman. She worked for the state government’s welfare department, and had met with a severe accident before my marriage which incapacitated her movement a bit. This woman is full of courage, determination and will power. Her opinions border on the blunt, her responses meander between curt and candid.

Television occupied her mental space, and planning was quite an unwelcome guest. I went through tremors of cultural and psychological shock before understanding her psyche.

I saw her taking it easy, neither fretting over creased bed sheets, nor fuming over tasteless food (cooked by the domestic help). I could totally imagine her as someone who worked round the clock but not in search of perfection.

She was happy that both her daughters were married and not working. She never seemed to have high academic expectations and still loved her children. No regimentation, little discipline, and the straight forward communication rattled me for quite some time.

I loved the only son of this mother and we married very young. My first mom disowned me for some time, while the second mom accepted me with an open heart into her unorganised, flexible, unkempt lifestyle. Life became a head-stand for me, now I could get up late (my mother in law never gets up before eight) without guilt, I could study less (I was an MBA Student) and nobody judged me.

She started believing in positive acceptance of everything after her fatal accident when she was hospitalised for more than a year.

Gradually, I created a disciplined, functional home enabling me to work and enjoy.

Lessons from my third mom: In the first five years of my marriage, I encountered many tug-of-wars in my mind where both my moms pulled me in opposite directions. Their distinct life philosophies made me uncomfortable. One shouted achievements while the other watched television. One believed in hard work, while the other depended on destiny. I would stand in the middle, trying to be a daughter they both would like.

Many of you will understand my dilemma. What was right? How I lived v/s how I am living v/s how do I want to live?

My third mom emerged gradually after my daughter’s birth, and I discovered my need to have a ‘family vision’. I needed to piece together my fragmented future visions. The famous churning of the sea led to emergence of amazing treasures. My churning, lessons learnt from these two dynamic, yet polarised mothers,  led to an emergence of valuable lessons for the third mom. These are my learnings:

  • I learnt to respect difference of opinions and to disagree with them. It has helped me tremendously as a working mom – at work as well as at home. Different opinions don’t annoy me, and I politely communicate my view without offending the other person.
  • I tried childishly, to keep both of them happy which was more difficult than climbing Mount Everest every day. Gradually, I shifted my emotional gear from pleasing them to living my life. Moms, even when unhappy, love you. If they don’t, unhappiness doesn’t matter. This revelation took two monkeys off my back.
  • I believed in the fundamental values like hard work, discipline and integrity but allowed myself discounts. My first mother focussed only on her family, while my second mother had dual responsibilities. Though I never saw my second mother as a young mother, I still wanted to fare better than her. I relaxed the perfection rule to some extent while keeping the basics intact. I don’t lose my sleep over every grade of my daughter but I don’t allow her to neglect her studies. I enjoy my work but family comes first. Since I wanted to spend more time with my teenage daughter, I have ventured out on own to be my own boss. I don’t live by the clock but I do love to see the sunrise.
  • I devised my communication plan after experiencing the communication wizardry of both moms. They are highly opinionated and convey their opinions unabashedly. One goes into silent mode for days when angry while the other erupts like a volcano. I took inspiration from a burger which has a soft slice of bun followed by a hard cutlet and topped again by a soft slice of bun. I begin softly, put the hard hitting or hurtful sentiments in the middle and cover it up with some soft, polite and positive talk. After all, everyone has something positive that we can talk about.

Today, my daughter loves all three moms and so do I. The first and second mother have grown fond of each other surprisingly. I don’t think they have any clue about all the heartburn they caused me. We all have evolved over the years and have morphed into a family that values each other more than the differences. My first mother talks about fate and chance at times while my second mother encourages my daughter to study harder. I, the third mom nod on both sides, smile and move on.

A Suicide Hotbed Called India

Suicide HotbedMy latest article on http://www.indianmomsconnect.com published on 14th June, 2016

Over 100,000 Indians commit suicide every year. One third of them are below twenty years of age.

India tops the world in teen suicides. Every 90 minutes, a teen tries to commit suicide in India and every six hours, one succeeds. While the global teen suicide rate is 14.5 per 100,000, a 2004 study by the Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore reported 148 for girls and 58 for boys in India. These are statistics from years before 2010. The current numbers will certainly frighten us further. Social media has turned our attention to suicide notes left by these helpless, frustrated, hopeless, angry, unhappy, defeated children who are not mere statistics but a ‘bloom-worthy life cut short’. An open letter written by D.M. of Kota district  in Rajasthan to parents of IIT aspirants is the tip of the iceberg.

Each teen suicide slaps us hard on our social faces, our self-assured over confident rigid parenting skills, our academic success obsessed mind-sets.

The number of teen suicides is alarming for sure. Each suicide leaves behind a wound which remains painful and unhealed always. Each teen suicide slaps us hard on our social faces, our self-assured over confident rigid parenting skills, our academic success obsessed mind-sets. Each suicide is a reminder of our collective failure as elders, seniors, guides, mentors, social leaders and parents. We have collectively achieved this feat of making India a teen suicide hotbed.

How do we manage to push the very people we claim to love to the wall? Why do we feel a sudden shock after the suicide if we knew the perpetrator closely? Why can’t we see it coming? Do we believe that suicide, like cancer happens to others only? What has made our country a suicide hotbed? I am merely listing my thoughts as reasons when there could be many others.

We Expect A Lot From Others

Sania admitted with surprise that people messaged and behaved as if they had won something in five years.

Sania and Martina won 41 matches in a row and then lost a few championships. After that, they won Italian Open recently. Sania admitted with surprise that people messaged and behaved as if they had won something in five years. They already have three Grand Slam double titles to their name for this year. Our expectations are soaring before the Fourth and the Final Grand Slam of the year. Correspondents are already asking them about the Fourth Grand Slam prospects.

For Indians, love means expectations. If we love someone, we expect a great deal from him/her.

Apart from love and expectations, our children are juggling with information overload, multi-media interference and an ocean of options.

Wrong seeds are sown from the very beginning when our parents shout out their expectations from us pertaining to our academic performance, duty towards family members. We grew up balancing love and expectation in our two hands. We knew that if we fail to fulfill the expectations, our share of love would reduce and it made us unwanted and guilty. So most of us kept a balance. In this digital age, this balance has become a juggling act. Apart from love and expectations, our children are juggling with information overload, multi-media interference and an ocean of options.

Despite of so many options available to carve a professional life, we still sow the same seeds of expectations in our children’s mind. As these seeds germinate, they come in contact with other options, through lot of information from varied sources. The mental agony faced by the child is muted by expecting obedience from them. The more they languish under expectations, the more they strive to talk to others for a way out. They are further silenced as parents provide them with more facilities in the form of tuition’s, electronic gadgets and some emotional monologues.

It is a pressure that has been building slowly with no way to release it.

For us, B and C grades happen to other children, not to ours. A child who feels pressurized by expectations doesn’t start feeling it overnight. It is a pressure that has been building slowly with no way to release it. An observant parent, a considerate elder or a like-minded friend could have helped in releasing the pressure. We need to find out ways to communicate with our children who feel that they can’t handle it on their own. We need to listen to them rather than read their letters after they leave us clueless and shattered. We need to observe them closely – their body language, their sleeping patterns, their tone on phone (if they are away). Are we losing our alertness as parents? Are we losing our emotional connect with them?

We Compare A Lot

As a nation, we love to compare and criticize. It could well be our national game. This comparison damages the psyche of children in two ways. First, they feel that their parents, elders don’t love them enough. It gets indelibly etched on their hearts if they are compared with others continuously. Secondly, they always try to measure up to someone else and fail to develop self-awareness. This causes lot of frustration when other friends/siblings perform better. A self-confident child would neither compare himself/herself nor get influenced by such comparisons.

In each exam/competition, we ask our children, “How much did your friend get?” “What is the rank of the friend you spend most of your time with?” 

Wrong seeds are again sown much early. In each exam/competition, we ask our children, “How much did your friend get?” “What is the rank of the friend you spend most of your time with?” If we clearly state that we are only concerned with their performance and their improvement, we are saving our children from futile pressure. A child who is compared simmers with anger. He/she feels unwanted and unloved. We need to convey this message clearly, repetitively to our children that they can depend on us, come what may. We need to tell them that we are their permanent safety nets. Are we tuning our own children out? Are we taking too many things for granted?

We Are Not Changing Enough

We realize that our lifestyles, our life concerns are changing every day. Have we realized that our parenting actions are not completely in sync with these changes? Rather than telling our children to value their class performances, we need to tell them to ‘value life’. Our children are not developing the skills required to face this changing world because we are not emphasizing enough on ‘coping skills’ and ‘self-awareness’.

When we ourselves feel bogged down by pressure and can’t handle it well, how do we teach our children to handle pressure?

Technology has gate-crashed into our lives so subtly but completely that it has overpowered our day to day existence. With our professional & personal responsibilities, we have Wi-Fi responsibilities towards social media sites, online shopping platforms and 24×7 phone calls. Technology has sucked our attentiveness and mindfulness making us more stressed. Media channels further fuel the negativity by propagative life threatening instances as staple daily dosage. When we ourselves feel bogged down by pressure and can’t handle it well, how do we teach our children to handle pressure? Don’t think that I am encouraging a laid back, zero achievement childhood. I am not expounding that parents should mollycoddle and indulge the children and society should treat them with a kid’s glove. I am proposing three things to curb this # suicide menace which is trending and hence is being portrayed as a solution, not a problem.

1.It is not what you teach, it is what you emphasize, said basketball coach Don Mayer. Teaching once is not enough. State an important lesson, emphasize, repeat, and repeat again.  “Pressure is a privilege “– Let us teach our children to thrive under pressure by facing it and losing without guilt and shame. “Failure is sweet” – Let us make them strong enough to face failure. Let us celebrate failure with them so that they can confide their fears in us openly, not through letters saying “I am sure you will understand”. Emphasize on right lessons since birth to prepare them for bigger battles of life. We emphasize on smaller conquests and never talk about the bigger picture.

2. Observe them silently, closely, passionately, regularly, honestly. Silently, because we can listen to the heartful truth in silence. Closely, because there is more distance between two rooms sometimes than between cities. Passionately, because Parenting can be a pain and you might slip when you need to hang on the most. Regularly , because our children change faster than the next IOS software. Honestly, because you might be tempted to deny seeing the real child as compared to your “dream child”. This observation followed by clear communication will give you enough idea about the aspirations of your child so that you know which direction is his/her calling.

Encourage them to excel in the area of their interest. Don’t let them be careless and shoddy as a life approach. Mentor them to be an excellent homemaker or an amazing storyteller. You give birth to a life, not to a package ticking all the standard boxes.

3. Imagine a garden with different plants, shrubs, trees growing in it. Gardeners take care of all these plants, shrubs and trees by nurturing them, giving manure, water as per the need of each of them. Despite all the care, some of them don’t grow as quickly as others, some even wilt away for no reason. Can a gardener change a mango tree into a guava tree or can a gardener expect a jasmine shrub to grow straight like a coconut tree?

Parents are like gardeners who should nurture the gifts called children with unconditional love, silent observation, unending encouragement and strategic guidance.

My book “Don’t Raise Your Children, Raise Yourself (Amazon Bestseller) talks about ‘crescendo presence’ of parents in the lives of children. This presence is a mind-full presence that observes children and helps them align well with future expectations.

If maximum number of suicides in India happen due to family problems, if maximum number of teens commit suicide due to pressure, we need to push our ‘call to action’ button. Let us login to ourselves to grow old with our children, not their memories. Please add your thoughts about reasons behind more teen suicides in India in the comment section.

References:

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/teen+suicides/1/7170.html

Moon Parenting is all about Balance

swati new3.jpg
We love extremes.Extreme thoughts and extreme behavior are sensational.That is why, Tiger Parenting is widely discussed and Serenity Parenting also proclaims its increasing relevance.
Tiger Parenting is all about persistent effort on the part of parent to derive excellence (read Perfection) out of the child while Serenity Parenting is all about serenity on the part of the parent as they can’t influence their children in the long run.Parents who believe in Serenity Parenting accept that the lives of their children are shaped by their genes and not by involvement of their parents.

I believe that we need more balance in our lives than to get enamored by these extremes.

Moon Parenting is all about balance.The Moon stays up in the sky because it is in a stable orbit around the earth.The Moon is pulled towards the Earth by Earth’s gravity, but because it is so far away and is moving so fast around the Earth, it will never fall down.If the Moon were moving any slower,gravity would pull it down since the Moon is traveling at the right speed and right distance, it survives beautifully.
Moon Parenting strikes a balance between the internal temperament of the child and the external parenting style,giving equal importance to both.
Moon means Patience,Discipline and Balance.
Patient parents, disciplined parents and balanced parents are Moon Parents…

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I am an Author, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Parenting expert based in Mumbai. Having written Bestsellers like Don’t Raise Your Children, Raise Yourself (Amazon Bestseller), Why Women Are What They Are, Come On! Get Set Go

 I am running Life Lemonade which offers unique Training Programs on Life Transformation, High Performance Leadership, Women Issues and Parenting.

Connect with me on Linkedin, Twitter @drswatilodha Facebook

Also read my best articles here!

I can thrive for two months on a compliment.

Emoji.pngI did not say it. Mark Twain did.

When he said it, he must have believed in it because compliments were gems – rare and gleaming.

Compliments were not emojis – omnipresent

We compliment and get complimented with the same speed as Virat scores his IPL runs. Art of Complimenting has lost its charm when we dole them out like popcorn.

My parents always believed that their parents never appreciated or complimented them which was the right way. They never expected a pat on their backs from their parents who considered it a sure road to failure for their children.

I remember arguing with my parents on many occasions that it was unfair that they found faults but never appreciated anything. I would give an arm and a leg to receive a compliment from my Mom.

I would give up everything but will never receive a compliment from my mother in law. Her iconic compliment that I have received on cooking a dish is “This is not bad”. It has never reached “good” and it never will.

I remember the joy of counting number of “Good” and “Excellent” mentioned in our notebooks. That was two decades ago. In my daughter’s school, her report cards are full of praise and criticism if any, lurks on periphery ambushed in positive words.

If you read all the twelve zodiac signs’ daily forecast for a week, you will get the same feeling as you get after reading the analytical report cards of all children of a class.

Compliments encourage us and brighten our mood but Mr. Twain would have revoked his statement after looking at our smartphones laden with virtual and verbal appreciation.

Let us compliment sparingly or apologise to Mr. Twain. I can’t survive on these raining emojis even for a minute.

What do you think?

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I am an Author, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Parenting expert based in Mumbai. Having written Bestsellers like Don’t Raise Your Children, Raise Yourself (Amazon Bestseller), Why Women Are What They Are, Come On! Get Set Go

I am running Life Lemonade which offers unique Training Programs on Life Transformation, High Performance Leadership, Women Issues and Parenting.

Connect with me on Linkedin, Twitter @drswatilodha Facebook

Also read my best articles here!

Technology for MOMs – Create your Digital Presence

Technology for Moms.jpgNothing has helped woman more in last decade than this great enabler called technology. Nothing has opened more frontiers for women in last few years than a magical opening through a tap or a click.

Men could always go out any time, reach out to new set of acquaintances and friends, communicate informally and reap benefits of all such associations while women would be fulfilling their domestic responsibilities full time or after office hours.

Even working women would get to meet a particular set of colleagues only and be a part of some coffee break gossip.

Not anymore.

Technology is the greatest leveller if used judiciously.

It is the greatest gift for every woman, especially mothers.

If you want to ask why, read on:

  • Confidence booster: When young mothers are busy changing diapers, their world shrinks to the cries and sleep patterns of the baby. As they spend more time with the baby, they begin to feel out of touch with the rest of the world.

Not anymore.

The digital world is at their fingertips and keeps them aware and involved. They don’t feel that the whole world has said good bye to them and moved on while they were singing lullabies. It gives so much of confidence to be in the thick of things and not feel ‘written off’.

  •  Opportunity Giver: When mothers are busy raising their toddlers, they want to keep their ‘individuality fire’ burning. It used to be full of guilt pangs in office or frustrated siestas at home. First one to three years of young mothers can be utilised through online courses to learn new interests or expand the existing interests. Visit Udacity/Coursera/EDX and explore a new world of opportunities.

  • Unifier: Business opportunities through networking online have infused women with new freedom.

Blogging, selling products, forming groups online, teaching through webinars are some of the working options which engage women completely and offer satisfaction. Online shopping if used judiciously can save a lot of unproductive time.

While I rave about a positive tryst with technology, I cannot forget the unnecessary use of social networking sites which has become an addiction, a lifestyle menace.

Dear Moms, use technology not to forward recycled, overused and futile messages but to improve your lives.

Use technology not to post innumerable pictures and click ‘react’ button but to create your digital presence.

I will talk about creating your digital presence in the next post.