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.

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5 Un-Parenting Principles

collage.swati.number.one.5.26.16.jpgThese Un-Parenting Principles come from my # 1 International Best Seller – Don’t Raise Your Children, Raise Yourself

The Book is an attempt to remind us of our role as gardeners in the lives of our children, as facilitators in their decision-making process.

1. Having a child makes you as much of a parent as having a guitar makes you a guitarist. (Click to Tweet)

2. Parenting is an emotion not possessed by all. Grow it or forget about being a parent. (Click to Tweet)

3. The extent of Patience, Discipline and Balance in the Parents define their intent as a Parent. (Click to Tweet)

4. Don’t take life and yourself too seriously to scare your children. Love, Limit and Let them be. (Click to Tweet)

5. Don’t grow cold as you grow old. Borrow some enthusiasm, creativity and curiosity from your children. (Click to Tweet)

The book is available for free download today – Don’t Raise Your Children, Raise Yourself

Don’t Raise Your Children, Raise Yourself

Madrat DRYCRY.png

This article was first published on MadratGames on 16th May, 2016.

http://www.madratgames.com/dont-raise-your-children-raise-yourself/

Though we might feel that we are perfect parents blessed with imperfect children, let’s face it- we need to learn to upgrade our abilities to parent our children.

ONE OF THE PARENTABILITY PRINCIPLES IS TO PREPARE YOURSELF TO HAVE A CRESCENDO PRESENCE IN THE LIVES OF YOUR CHILDREN.

Though Moon doesn’t slice itself away or grows the slices back, people on the earth see it as waning and waxing. Similarly, parents don’t appear or disappear, but they should make children perceive the presence of parents in their lives as waning and waxing.

Our presence in the beginning years of your child resembles the Full Moon phase. As they grow up, our presence should move towards the waning gibbous phase. Our kids will see our presence reducing and their freedom rising while we can keep our presence intact by being observant.

By the time they enter tween age, we enter the last quarter phase where half of the Moon is visible. We let them take minor decisions by subtly guiding them to choose the right alternative. We hand over the physical reins to our children while keeping the mental reins with us. As they enter college, our presence reaches the waning crescent phase in their eyes. They become more self-reliant and self-confident but we hang on as a moral compass, as a shock absorber, as a warning bell in this precarious phase.

Presence of parents reaches a new Moon phase once the kids become financially and emotionally independent. In the west, it happens early and in east, this phase might pass with a blink. But this phase should come for some time to see how children fare in life with the help of wisdom accumulated over the years’ sans the active guidance of parents.

In spite of rising nuclear families, Moon Parenting believes that grand parenting is genuinely ‘grand’ parenting.

The beauty of being parents begins now. We enter the waxing crescent phase by visiting them or helping them in the hour of need. Our presence increases when our children marry and become parents themselves. If our children saw us respecting, valuing and taking care of our parents, they would certainly value us.

In my opinion, our children can get the best return from their lives if they have us around as grandparents for their children. This is the first quarter phase where Moon is again half visible. We become a wonderful bridge between our children and grandchildren as we reach the waxing gibbous phase. With the foundation of right values and balanced life-style, we reach the full Moon phase in our twilight years. This is the time when we need the warmth of our children.

If we are a good role model, our children will certainly be with us emotionally, if not physically.

This crescendo presence parentability principle is based on Indian family system. The self-sufficiency of Indian family system gives amazing emotional security, day-to-day mutual convenience and value addition.

A child does not demand to be born. We choose to have a child. We should choose it when we are ready for it, when we can give our crescendo presence in their lives.

This is an excerpt from Dr. Swati Lodha’s bestseller book titled – “Don’t Raise Your Children, Raise Yourself

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