My mom’s baby steps in cyber space.

The times when a computer belonged to the whole family although the name suggested a Personal one, that’s when we bought ‘our’ first desktop.

I and my father used to hang a lot around the PC. He would draw comics and I would do typical teenage frivolous stuff while helping each other through the whole charade. Occasionally, l would ask my mum to learn a thing or two about our new love but she would always dodge us by saying that what was rush about.

The technology which was a young bird had already taken the big flight ,alongside the spring of internet had bloomed as well. In the following years, we bought smartphones to laptops and tablets but my mum was content with her push-button cell phone with the akin thought in her head.

As time would had it, my brother and I eventually moved out of our home and sort of from our parents’ lives too. My mum then realized how important it was to maneuver those funky gadgets to stay connected and relevant in our lives. But it was hemmed in realization only .The daddy dearest was always there to tend to those jaded nerves by religiously signing into hangout account for her.

Around two years back, when our daughter was born and the WhatsApp had flushed even through the creepiest aunties of neighborhood, my mum finally bought her first smartphone. Perhaps to stay connected with her grand daughter or perhaps to soothe her bruised pride off that murky phone.

Working that phone was another conundrum but she souped up. As a matter of fact, she learnt to run laptop, made a few accounts here and there. Today, she follows our Facebook updates together with a tab on my brother and myself by checking our last seen on WhatsApp. Every so often, she shares videos,links, pictures and sentimental messages laden with crying emoji.

When i shared the draft of this vignette with her, she was all emotional that how closely i heeded her transit about a tiny detail of her life.Also,it is so heartwarming that she learnt so much essentially by herself .

While i go and attend my mum’s phone call,please tell your mommy how much you love her,admire her and appreciate her presence in your life.

Good day my lovelies.

To post or NOT to post ?

I LOVE internet. This whole concept of connectivity at a mere touch is magnificent. I can stay in touch with who so ever I want to or I willingly choose not to( or stalk a frenemy, lol).Fundamentally ,I have an access to a ginormous amount of information which is ever increasing at the rate we fail to comprehend.

Howbeit, I am going so gung-ho about internet, I find myself in a conundrum when it comes to sharing the amount of information online and more so,when it is about my daughter.

Even before I had my daughter in my arms, I and my husband had a deal to not to share her pictures on line especially Facebook. Our reasoning was, those who ought to know about her will eventually know about her and also we were/are quite uncomfortable with the fact that who all were/are going to have an access to her photographs.

Facebook is very hard a temptation to resist and we did post her photos online but I was conscious of everything that I was posting. It had an impact not just on myself but on our daughter and our family.

I personally feel that nobody really cares about a cute photo anymore .One might get some obligatory likes and comments from friends and family and it ends there. Period. There are hundreds of friends getting married and making babies, nobody has time to see what you see in it. Making announcements is one thing and flooding the feed is another.

After having kids you run on different hormones i.e mommy hormones and daddy hormones. We all feel our kids are extension of ourselves which is true but it is also true that they are separate human beings with their individuality .It is not our prerogative to post their photos all the time. We ought to respect their space .Least we could do is to protect their anonymity.

We are only smartphone generation not the generation X,Y or Z as they put it. The lenses of phone is our eyes through which we see our whole world with. We want to record the tiny fellow on phone when we live in the same home, seriously and all the time? We want to capture everything first cry to first meal , from potty training to tantrums and then we want to share it .God help me understand Why are we doing it and who are we doing it for ?

I try to justify the battery of pictures/videos parents post but I can’t find a reasonable explanation. Is it just an innocent effort to suffice the innate feeling of sharing or getting an ego boost out of likes and comments or it means staying relevant in this age?

Now, like every parental debate this debate also has two schools of thought,one, where parents want to protect their children from the clutches of what-would-happen-if-things-go-berserk and others, who want to live and prepare their kids for the conspicuous reality of internet.

Whenever parents post a picture of their child going to day care or school for the first time with every nuanced detail, they are putting the kid in danger, whenever they are posting bath time photo of their kids online they are putting their children right in front of the eyes of creeps and perverts , and whenever they are posting a video about a tantrum or trying to shame the child they are increasing the prospects of cyber bullying later in life.

We do not control anymore who sees our pictures/videos and who shares it where. The privacy policy of these sites is every changing and I can bet on it that half of us do not even care to read before clicking and not to mention everything is so obscure.

I am not telling anyone how to raise their kids nor I am judging others but there is a very thin line that I am trying to walk upon. In sometime from now my daughter will have an online presence where we together will decide what goes online and then later she is her own boss. If today I choose to post any or every photo online then I cannot claim holier than thou attitude with her in times ahead.

Besides why would I want to hijack her digital profile and pass her digital legacy of passwords and usernames than making her some beautiful memories and letting her live in the moment?

Let your hair down

Ever since we get married, things are in a rush and happen way too fast to be taken a hold off.There is a new family, parents , a job (or a lack of it), friends ,so on and so forth. The plate is already full and if you add a BABY to this with a life away from home, life becomes edgy and grim and lonely.

I have a lot of friends and acquaintances who whine and rant about how they have forgotten to take care of themselves and how life has become a vicious cycle of Poo-Poo and Pee-Pee and guilt trips. So if that is a problem there must be a solution to it, right?

I have been there and have experienced this up and close. So while I was at it I wrote myself a few quick fixes and tried to plan a bit for myself. I am still to fix the whole rationale  but I know I will be fine.

  1. Take Charge, Be in Control. Cribbing and complaining lends you a moment of peace but it is temporary. Try to do something for yourself because if you won’t no one will.Like, learn to drive. Till you do that, keep google maps handy and try to explore your neck of woods on foot and the city on bus/taxi.(Babies and toddlers like outings too)
  1. Communicate, communicate, and communicate. If you are distressed or upset , tell your confidant/confidante about it. Say your heart out. Talking and discussing problems always tone down the swamped emotions and help you lighten up.
  1. Ask for Help: If you think you are doing too much of household or any chore for that matter, ask for help. It would not come by itself, trust me. Men aren’t wired to read our minds, we are. So tell them when you need it.
  1. Develop a hobby. It can be anything you are or ever were passionate about. You can  read books, paint, do some DIY projects. Or you can also learn new things over internet. A language, some skill, anything. When are you going to use apps like course era and duo lingo, eh?
  1. Be independent. Make plans for outings and shopping or whatever you like. Drive the whole initiative. Husbands just like to plonk their asses on the couch over the weekend. If you want to go out, it should not be at their mercy but at your will.
  1. Learn to relax. It is okay to leave house, people, relationships in a mess, for the moment. We just get one life. Do not waste it by over cleaning the house or taking down every damn stain in that favorite onesie of the baby and neither by pleasing everybody that you know of. Expecting everything to be honky-dory always is a mistaken belief. Happiness takes turns ergo cheer up when it is yours.
  1. Invest in your appearance. If you look good , you definitely feel better. Buy flattering clothes, dresses, accessories or whatever that brightens you up. Get a new hair do.Try gyming , walking, hiking, yoga anything to burn that pent up energy, plus you loose inches.
  1.  Playlist of disposition. Start your day with the most hip track that u know of. It gives you a jump start. Make a good playlist for every mood and occasion.
  1. Socialize. Expand your friend circle. Make friends with varying zest and zeal. Somebody who is a fun to be around to a friend who babysits to a friend who is a great help, you know ,what I mean? Just stay away from people who are full of melancholy.
  1. Trust. Let your husband take care of the baby. It is okay. Both of them will be fine (or at least, I would like to believe so). The world won’t turn upside down if things do not happen the way you want them to. Deal with it afterwards but first enjoy the time while you are away getting a pedicure or gutting a drink or two.
  1. Satisfaction.Human being aren’t supposed to feel satisfied about their lives and we shouldn’t be because this is how the evolution works. We are always chasing one thing after another. There is always going to be a better figure, a better car , a better home, a better job, a better life . There is no end to it. So it is okay to feel low at times.It helps you to review and revise your goals and plans.
  1. Your happiness matters. When you get married or have babies, the ultimate aim is HAPPINESS. If you are not happy, nobody in the family is. It is a collective responsibility to make you happy. Do not take your happiness lightly and sacrifice everything that YOU desire in the way to achieve family goals.
  1. Schedule.Make a time table for your whole week ahead and do things even just for heck of it. It takes time to break the monotony therefore work for the target. It is of paramount importance that you stick to a healthy routine and be consistent with it.

This list looked whimsical back then but it panned out.

The phase we are in right now is a transition-upheaval from a carefree-independent girl to a Know-it-all-responsible-dutiful woman. And, transitions, like we know are messy, scary and life shaking. But we will get through it , together, on day at a time.

We are far-far away from our homes  and if we can’t even be happy, what is the point of this whole strive? Remember, We are our best friend, not our husband/mommy. We know our worth, we know who we are. So, get a grip of yourself my darlings because It is always going to be our choice to hide in shadows or stand in sun.

A very dear friend once shared a poem which always makes more sense than the last time I read it.

For a star to be born, there is one thing that must happen: a gaseous nebula must collapse.
So collapse.
Crumble.
This is not your destruction.
This is your birth. ”         

— N.T.

 

Chasing beauty or seeking acceptance ?

Today, size identifies with happiness.

Last night, I saw a very graphic picture about a perfectly fine baby trying to cut the flab off her body. It was a personification of the idea of the profound impact of negative body image and the urgent  need to get over the whole façade of beauty.

We are not born feeling bad about our bodies. We take cues from the society and specifically, media. When our ideals are size zero with a perfect butt and hair well in place we ought to draw comparisons and feel bad about ourselves.

Every girl wants to look pretty, it is wired in them but when the standards are racking and society so judgmental, they feel bad about their weight, shape, height, color, and God knows what not. When you have this in your mind all the time (or, being reminded of ) you miss out on bigger things in your life. The vision kind of gets blurred and goals get narrowed.

My weighing scale and I have always been at loggerheads. I was a fit child but Chubby, healthy, motto is what I was referred to as for a good part of my life.  With time, my circle of influence began to increase and what grew more intense was the realization that I was not having a body like all my friends. As I entered teenage, those names and so called standards of beauty started taking a toll on me. I was shy to go out at first then I gave up wearing jeans and felt under confident most of the times even though I was doing well in my academics.

In my late teenage, India was under the grip of size zero and so was I.I just wanted to be thin more than ever at any cost. The long and short of it is that, I gave up eating healthy food and started to count every damn calorie .All that I had on my  mind was a skinny me. In one year. I had almost dropped 3 dress sizes and all the charm off my face.

That was a happy time. I could wear anything I wanted to, nobody was calling me those names for once in my life and to beat it all, it looked as I was expected to. My parents had never seen me with those spectacles of beauty with which I used to see myself and the world around. They tried to reason this whole expedition of weight loss and negative body image with me but I had been through a lot ever since my schools years that having a slimmer self at the expense of health looked like a fair  bargain.

I was not alone. There were and still are hundreds of Malvikas doing same on some turf round the globe.

This feeling struck me quite late though I always was conscious of my outline but in this new age girls as young as 6 year old start complaining about weight and feel bad as why do not they look like their friends/dolls.

When I see in retrospect, I see scarred memories and lonely times(I see good times too, but that is not the point here).Nobody realized it had something to do with BMI and my genes but  nothing with my fitness. Now, that I am all grown up and a mother of a girl, I feel more responsible about the cause.

To me, It makes little sense being told by some X designer firm that you need to lose weight to get into their clothes or some random personal shopper telling you to wear boot cut if you are “pear shaped” to create an illusion.I really would not like her to hide behind Photoshop either.

Why not just be happy with our selves? Why so much obsession with perfection when the term itself is so vague?

This issue is already being debated at multiple platforms but it warrants more attention. I absolutely adore Mindy Cling for being vocal about her “chubbiness” in this size zero age and how it has nothing to do with her being courageous or unfit. Precedence like this matter.Open letter like this helps too.

The concept of having ideal bodies has been here for centuries and is here to stay perpetually . No wonder the concept itself varies from culture to culture. But the question still remains ,is this the degree of seriousness it needs to be taken with. Is it worth all my attention and energy or beauty really is just skin deep?

May we raise our girls in a place

Where being a better person makes more sense than anything else.

May we raise our girls in a place

Where these naive parameters do not hold anymore.

May we raise our girls in a place

Where boundaries hold no meaning

and they have a whole world to ride and sky to swim.

AMEN.

Malvika

Raising a girl child

When we hear about the birth of a new baby, the first thing that strikes us is if it is a boy or girl. Gender becomes the key topic even before birth.

When I first sat to write this post, I wanted to ask questions, seek answers and somehow nudge the brains of the readers that how we stereotype girls’ (and boys’) behavior from the very beginning. While doing some research over the topic I came across a lot of articles and blog questioning the Color coding of babies and then differentiating toys for them but ultimately the question remains is this the way how we want our children to grow up and especially girls for that matter?

I have just became a mother to a baby girl and when I first went to a babys’ store, I saw the world divided into pink and blue. Pink for girls and blue for boys. But this was not always the case. For centuries, baby were dressed gender neutral in plain whites up to 6 years of age because white could easily be  bleached. With the turn in century (20th) came a trend of dressing boys in pink (little brother of red) because it symbolizes danger, fierceness and hence, masculine. Girls were dressed in blue because it is considered calm and passive. This trend was majorly contributed because of an infant department’s issue in some magazine setting rules for both boys and girls. The attempt did not work as expected. It was in mid-80s that these strict color gender norms set in.

I once read in my Marketing class during MBA that one of the very important marketing strategy is Segmentation. It is the identification of the portion of the market that are different from each other. So color coding was a marketing ploy by retailers.

Believe you me, My husband and I still get into an argument when we go to buy clothes for our baby. He does not like me buying anything from boys’ aisle. Earlier I used to feel offended but then I realized it is  the society/environment talking not him.

What annoys me the most is the gender based toys. Are the children going to play with their hands or what part, seriously? All boys toys are wild and fierce which signify force while on the other hand all that girls can lay their hands on are Barbies and soft toys to signify domesticity and cosmetic beauty .Is this what we want to teach our girls? At least I don’t and neither did my parents.

I was a tomboy till first 15 years of my life. I had chopped hair, and I used to play with my brother and cousins with almost equal wildness as one could imagine. I am not saying that I did not play with Barbies and a kitchen set but I had a choice: To choose my toys. I was not forced or influenced by anybody to take that decision. But things have changed for worse.

My girl is growing up in same society with similar stimuli. I would rather have her play rugged and dirty than sitting pretty and neat with her Barbie. But then that is not my choice to make. What I can do is to make her understand playing with Barbie is okay but playing with cars and star-wars toys is fun too. I can tell her it is nice to be prim and proper but it is also fine to be puckered and crumpled at times. I can tell her it is important to know how to cook food but it is more important to know how to change the tire of your car.

I have been a feminist all my life and when I say feminist, people mistake Feminism for hatred for Men. I am not against men or anybody for that matter but I do believe we live in a not-so-fair-world, where at times we pick our battles but when you are a girl there are some battles that you by default are supposed to fight no matter how good you are. To raise our girls in way that helps them better adapt to the society and help them change the world a little for better, is all we are supposed to do as parents.

If we keep on color coding and differentiating toys , we are molding their brains for specific likings and interests and limiting their exposure to universe out there. We do not have any right to deny them that and trust me,we do not even want to do that.

I want to conclude today’s post with a few lines from the famous poem of Sarah Kay, “If I should have a daughter”

“Baby,” I’ll tell her “remember your mama is a worrier but your papa is a warrior and you are the girl with small hands and big eyes who never stops asking for more.

Your voice is small but don’t ever stop singing and when they finally hand you heartbreak, slip hatred and war under your doorstep and hand you hand-outs on street corners of cynicism and defeat, you tell them that they really ought to meet your mother.

 

(this post continues with how this impacts boys and how they can contribute from the very beginning in bringing a change.)

 

Malvika