Bane of Today by Indu Balakrishnan

I would not call myself domesticated in any way. I always thought of myself as a fab parent, though. That’s because I never really connected the two. 

I spend a lot of time with my kids. We play. Have fun. Yank each other’s legs. And once in a while, I remind them that I am the mom. Because more often than not; it does not always show from the behavior. I get called ‘bro’ or ‘dude’ more than ‘Amma’. 

And then the lockdown happened. 

I did not expect to be locked down with them all the time. At first, I thought that it would pass in a week. And then I gave it a month. Now, the light at the end of the tunnel is so far away; I cannot see anything other than the walls. 

I resigned myself to the confines of the four walls. In time, I realized that there was only so much of the kids I could see. That did not, in any way, make me a bad mom; but a normal one. In order to try out different things; I tried out cooking and cleaning. 

It wasn’t so bad at all. Kids and I made anything we could, provided we could get our hands on the ingredients. Pizza. Lasagna. Donuts. Pies and cakes. Icecream. And whatnot. I cleaned the house regularly as well. I’m not just referring to the washing vessels or sweeping and mopping because the house-help was not allowed inside. I was starting to become a clean person. 

I went out of my way to add small yet significant decor to the home. I pushed kids to clean up after them. It wasn’t so bad. I started referring to myself as Martha Stewart. Felt nice too. And it made me proud. 

And then during a conversation with someone, when I proudly raved about my newfound desire to cook and clean; I was called a good parent. I was stumped. I did not understand the correlation between the two. 

Why is my ability to cook and clean a factor in my being a mom? In fact, I thought it was the opposite. My plate was so full between my office work and housework; I barely spent the kind of time I used to with them. But apparently, the fact that I cooked and cleaned made me a better mom. 

That, to me, is what I think is the bane of today. We, as a mom, are expected to do everything. And be good at everything. I should be able to cook fancy and healthy stuff. French fries – a Big no-no. Ordering-in made me incredibly selfish. I should know how to read and write every language that is being taught at school so that I can teach my kids. I should be able to solve high-school math and be aware of how Robert Clive governed India in the 17th century. 

The endless list of demands from a mother is not just unjust; it borders on abuse. We, as mothers, should draw a line somewhere. I do not have to spend every waking moment doing something beneficial for the kids. If I give them some TV-time simply because I want to catch some z’s or watch TV, I should be able to do so with pride. If I prefer reading a book to playing with the kids or cooking broccoli soup for them, I should not have to feel guilty. If I give them curd rice for dinner because I do not feel like cooking at night, I should not have to explain myself. 

I love my children, and I choose to show it the way I want. It could be with chocolates, TV or a day of playtime. Don’t tell me that I am spoiling my kids or being a bad mom. 

Like the first-wives club, we should have a mom’s club. This is us. We are doing our best. And we also prefer not to give it our best all the time. 

It is our right. 

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