Tag Archives: gender

Stop being a “mother” to grown ass men

This Mother’s day do everyone a favour.

  • It is not a matter of pride if he needs your help to wake up for an important job interview or for anything else for that matter
  • Rise above the feeling of being needed and let him know where things are around in the kitchen
  • It is not cute for anyone to leave their unfinished coffee in a mug next to their bed. Don’t let him believe it is okay
  • Same for drain hair and not flushing the toilet properly
  • Let him have the capacity to figure out where his next meal is coming from
  • Don’t sit and worry about his smoking and drinking habits. Accept that if he is fucking up with his body, it is his doing and not yours
  • If you don’t like how some chores are done. Ask for it to be done again. If you still don’t like how it is done, think about whether it is YOU who is unwilling to let go of something
  • If you think he is doing it to get out of chores, have an adult conversation and be willing to be seen as uptight/nagging/perfectionist/plain ol’bitch. Step aside and get the damned thing done again
  • Let him take your parents to the doctor if needed
  • Let him fold his own clothes and do the laundry
  • Let him buy his own clothes. PLEASE.
  • Definitely DO NOT buy his staple underwear. If you want him try something exotic – hey! I am not coming in between you both
  • Take care of him when unwell but please don’t cut his toast in tiny squares or rewarm that tea for the tenth bloody time.  A flu won’t kill him. He can learn that and so can you.
  • Allow your husband to put your baby to bed
  • Don’t be the only one who knows when the vaccinations are due
  • Don’t talk to him in a baby voice outside of the bedroom
  • If he wants to do a keto-diet, let him do the meal prep
  • Don’t let ANYONE tell you whom you can or cannot talk to
  • Don’t cover for your colleague who cannot keep track of an important meeting on an overseas trip. You are not being a team player by doing so.
  • You don’t need to bring coffee or tea or any fucking beverage to your large group of friends or colleagues. Get them to do it themselves
  • Don’t always be the note taker in team meeting
  • Don’t stand for an inappropriate joke. Don’t preach but don’t forgive either. He should know better
  • Make sure you get an apology when due
  • Stand behind your NO. Let it mean just that

The meaning of who is a mother has evolved with time. What needs work is the expectation from the role. Let the men in your life pick up their share of the weight. If it feels like you are doing this out of love or care, think about how true that really is. If it feels like you are giving up some sort of power, think about what it is taking for you to hold on to it. This is not just about you. This is about respect, responsibility and a fixing of a larger problem that is long overdue.

To the men, you are adults. You are not chilled out or forgetful or oblivious. You have simply grown used to feeling entitled to another person’s physical and emotional labour. Step the fuck up.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

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Anyone with a pulse can care better for my child

So I wasn’t really the nurturing, maternal type ever.  I could never see myself as a mother when I was a teen or even in my early (ok fine! even mid) 20s. I don’t think it is a default setting as a woman and I definitely didn’t find anything amiss.

So ever since I have become a mother, I have been plagued with self-doubt. Am I cut out for this? What if I am a terrible mom? What if my child realizes he could have gotten better? I am someone who revisits conversations from 10 years ago on what I could have said differently so I am no stranger to anxiety or self-doubt. But this felt different.

The difference was while I believed I was totally not cut out for this, it seemed like everybody else around me also had little confidence in my ability to keep my child alive, safe and raise him well. Take him out for a walk and someone would tell me to cover his head and ears. Next time someone else would tell me to not cover him up so much for he could get overheated. “Don’t carry him in wrap, it’s awful for his spine”, they said. “That carrier is not ergonomic maybe you should try a wrap?” someone else said. “How could you carry him in your arms to cross the road? It is ridiculously unsafe” said the nth person.

There was an entire phase when strangers would walk up to me asking if I am not feeding my child enough because he is reed thin. Eventually when I had to start formula, I cannot keep track of the number of people who thought it was their moral responsibility to tell me about the virtues of breastfeeding as though I wouldn’t have gotten the memo. I worked in Nestle for crying out loud. I once got breastfeeding advice from a man on a plane! I will do a separate post on breastfeeding itself but long story short, I really wish people who breastfeed chill out a little. There is no need to behave like vegans on this one. Ha! So many offences in one stroke.

Every time this happened, I would come back home and wonder how is it possible that everyone knows more than me. I asked my mom and she laughed it off saying as many mouths that many opinions. She asked me to trust my instinct and said I would know what is best for my child. I figured then would not be a good time to confess about how I don’t seem to possess any such instinct.  I google every movement of my child only to end up worrying that he might be in grave danger at all times if I believe parenting websites. I mean why shatter the good faith one person seems to have in me.

But the gnawing feeling does not really vanish ever. On good days, the voice in my head says, “this child is too good. He deserves better than you.” On the more trying ones, it doesn’t have to say anything. The “I told you so” hangs in the air.

When I step back and think about where any or all of this is coming from, I am also struck by how this happens only to me and not my husband. No one ever walks up to my husband to tell him how he can do better. The mere fact that he is choosing to spend time with his child is more than good enough. So many people mention to me how lucky I am that he is such a good parent. I am truly grateful and yes he is exceptionally good with our child. But the bar feels low. It is like you can be a great dad but whatever you do as a mom, you do because you are a mom.

I was not expecting a medal or recognition on a regular basis for what I do. This is not like how I say I don’t want gifts but expect them on my anniversary and birthday. I am being honest here. I am not ranting about how underappreciated mothers are because I know how much I have taken my own for granted. Yes universe I hear you. You can stop laughing now.  I am just pondering out loud on how while I didn’t want constant praise, I never really signed up for the best mom award either. And yet, here I am in a race that I didn’t know I was running.

I am not looking for praise, but I am looking forward to a time when someone doesn’t think I am fucking up my child.

Till then, “come on anxiety naanum neevum kai kothundu nadakalam” (Translation: Come on anxiety, let us hold hands and walk together)

Tip #2:

Don’t go and creepily appreciate some mom extra just because of this. It is incredibly fake and there is a month of May to do just that. So save it. Unless someone is harming their child (literally harming. Not in the ‘in 20 years from now he will need therapy because he fell asleep while nursing’ kind of way) don’t say anything. Trust me your silence will be so valued that you might even be offered a pedestal in the temple they are building for my husband.

 

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Normal or…

One of the most often asked in the first few months after giving birth has been “normal or…” It’s a question left hanging where many don’t even want to take the dreaded C- word. I always found it very strange that it is perfectly all right to ask such a private question and I can explain why. Whenever I have been asked this question and I have replied back saying “yes I had a vaginal birth” people immediately broke eye contact and/or changed topics. If you cannot handle hearing the word vagina, why would you ask this question? But it is incredible how an assumed shared experience makes it perfectly all right to suddenly ask someone a question about their nether region.

My problem with this question stems from the intent. If you were asking me this out of concern for my well being and recovery, it is a different story. But we all know that in most cases, it is a question to evaluate if someone has suffered the right amount and is worthy of the respect given along with the title of “mother”.

The conversation around this began around the third trimester when conversationally I would be asked if I had a birthing plan. And my response had always been “my plan is to get this thing out”. After a laughter that clearly indicated no amusement, would begin this conversation on how these days women just prefer a C-section because it’s easier and can be fit into a busy work schedule. This would be followed by a tsk tsk and how doctors also just prefer a C-section. The unspoken message in the air being how women these days don’t have it in them to bear the pain or prioritize their lives over this miracle of birth.

Important side note: There are many reasons why one would choose a birthing experience over another. I am not advocating for any one way. What I am assuming is that women are capable of identifying and gathering information they need to best make a choice that would suit their needs. Novel concept?

Post birth is the next competition of hours in labour. I have stopped answering the question on hours of labour simply because every single time I have, the response has been how someone else had x + few more hours of pain. Then there is the epidural conversation. Now I am someone who is not embarrassed to say I am pro-drugs. I am in favour of the medical advancements being made and if there is a way to manage pain without causing significant harm there is nothing like it. I have absolutely nothing to prove or so I thought. But when the time came, I did feel like a lesser mortal asking for help.

I was left wondering how we ended up with such an idealization of birth. How did we come to make gold standards of many things that are particularly difficult for many women especially for those who choose to maintain an identity outside of motherhood. Of course, if you want to visualize that your body is opening up like some flower while listening to some Tibetan chants, you should be free to do so but what is unfair is for anyone to wield their choice with exaggerated benefits of a method that is impractical, unpleasant and quite frankly impossible for many women.

Yes “natural” is good but not everything that happened in the olden days is necessarily the best (infant mortality and maternal mortality rates can probably attest to this). The movement around this began with the intent of giving women the choice to make informed decisions pertaining to their bodies but has become another way to control, dominate and judge women. What this results in many a time are unrealistic expectations and a feeling of guilt even before the parenting journey has begun.

We need important conversations around abuse during birthing, informed consent, taking women’s pain more seriously and empowering women to feel their best while focusing on the health of the unborn. Instead what we have devolved into is a slugfest of wearing pain as honour and a sense of martyrdom to justify inadequate support.

Now as promised:

Handy tip while visiting a new mom:

When you are about to ask someone if they had a “normal or….” delivery, pause. Think about why you want to know.

  • Is it out of care?
  • Is it to share your birthing story when it is not warranted?
  • Is it to share some new found nugget of gold on child birth that you cannot hold in?
  • Is it in any way shaming the person for the choices they may have made?

Think about these questions before asking. Irrespective of the experience they underwent, the person is healing. They don’t need your bullshit.

P.S: This didn’t fit in the post but I needed to get it off my chest. Your birthing experience doesn’t have to be about absolute suffering. Neither does it have to be magical or pure or <insert any word typically used with getting high>. It can be – meh, whatever, okayish or even I really don’t recall. It is FINE. There are shades in this spectrum my friend and you pick you.

 

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The bullshit of “mild discomfort”

So as a part of this quest to diagnose why we are not pregnant yet, the doctor suggested a HSG test. As any brave woman would do, I asked her how painful it would be and if it can be done under sedation. She casually mentioned I would feel ‘mild discomfort’ just like regular menstrual cramps. Now as someone who has gone through menstrual cramps over 200 times (quick Math FTW!)  I was like I can totally deal with this!

By now you would know that for any procedure, I prepare as though I am the one performing it instead of being a patient. So I began by reading up on the dye, the mechanics, possible side effects and everything suggested mild discomfort but also most websites had this sort of weird declaration about how different people have different pain thresholds. Only WebMD mentioned serious pain but then they are also the ones who suggest cancer or Lyme’s disease anytime I key in a symptom so…

Warning 1: The billing lady

As I was paying for the procedure, the woman at the billing counter asked me who I had come with. I was of course by myself since I don’t typically expect the husband to stand guard for such things. She looked a little taken aback and asked me if I want to reschedule when he is available. I held back my wise-ass, “my uterus waits for no man” comments and handed over my card.

Warning 2: Declaration signing

As I was waiting in the hall, another staff member came up to me and called me on the side. She asked if I had come with someone. When I said no, she looked at me nervously and pulled out a declaration form for me to sign. The form basically stated that I was completely aware of this procedure; I have chosen to be unaccompanied and shall not hold the hospital responsible for anything.

Warning 3: Painkiller injections

I was then sent to receive painkiller shots. While I am happy to share that I am a firm believer in drugs when it comes to pain, but two painkiller injections? That left me wondering why we are trying so hard for “mild discomfort”.

Procedure: The unhelpful helper aunty

The procedure happened in an X-ray room and here also there were three other people in the room apart from the doctor and one helper aunty. The doctor asks me to relax (a hard thing to do in that position) and begins injecting the dye. Now let me tell you that I have had some pretty severe menstrual cramps, I suffer from frequent migraines and I have walked into a solid concrete wall and a giant tree (not making this up), so no stranger to pain. But this was someone twisting my insides like tying a water balloon for Holi. The worst thing was the helper aunty chuckled and asked me that if I cannot handle this, how I will endure the labour pain.

Realization: HSG was designed by men for women

As with how I deal with most of my issues, I came home and sought revenge by Googling to see if there are ANY tests that involved injecting anything into a penis and don’t hold your breath – there are none. No surprise there so I then looked up on Wiki to answer the question who the fuck decided it was a good idea to check for blockage in fallopian tubes like you would add Drainex to your sink. It then dawned on me that this was once again that time in history when two men got together and decided to devise a test for women because you know…who understands plumbing better.

Things I wish someone had told me:

  • Take someone with you. Someone who is okay with snot, tears, cursing and holding hands.
  • You will read that it sometimes is easier to get pregnant just after the HSG test. Unless you are into Immaculate Conception, this will not happen since you will hate men for a while and sex will be out of question
  • The “mild cramping” after the HSG will feel like you are carrying four women’s uteri during their period
  • Visit forums instead of generic websites with Getty Images photos. Women tell women things when things get shitty (not the helper aunty though – she hates you!)
  • If you are mad at your non-existent baby and are questioning if any of this is “worth it” – it is normal and you are not a monster

I know…you are welcome.

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The Day After

It is the next day.
Pink pamphlets torn,
Full price mani-pedi &
Fewer floral messages
On my phone.

Their job has been done,
Their purpose served.
What more do you want –
A pat on the back or
For me to lower my gun?

Stop whining and playing your card,
Waving your flags fighting for a cause.
You have it easy at every turn on the way-
Climbing the ladder,
Sleeping your way.

Go back into the box I drew for you
Say the words I spoke for you
Feel the feelings I told you to feel
Give me your body,
To choose for you.

You are afterall defined by me
A wife, sister or daughter
Or a slut if you are free.
Come on my dear, don’t ask for more
You have a whole fucking day that I don’t.

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The hurt of being a woman and seeing the results of the U.S elections

I spent an entire day yesterday in sadness and quite frankly bewilderment. I was torn between thinking about writing this and wondering if it is my place to do so – considering I am an Indian citizen, an able-bodied, cisgender, Hindu, upper-caste, heterosexual woman in a same-race relationship where both of us are college educated, employed and come from privilege in a country that is going through its own tumultuous growing pains.

I am writing this from the core of my identity as a woman because that is the part of me that feels most beaten and bruised right now. I am at a stage where I am yet to get to thinking about how we will explain this to children in schools or at home because quite frankly I do not think I understand it enough for me to be able to explain this to anyone else with that level of conviction or hope.

I am feeling a deep rooted sense of disgust by how this win has legitimized sexual assault. It makes my skin crawl to read Nigel Farage’s statement which mocks at the idea of Trump being a sexual predator when he says, “don’t touch her for goodness sake” when talking about meeting with Theresa May. It is NOT amusing to hear this when you are a part of a group that experiences microaggressions each day around touch, consent and space. I am not saying that all of this didn’t happen before this election but it has now become the new “normal” and that makes me sick. I am appalled by how “guy talk” is now an openly acceptable defense for conversations that actually could be construed as criminal offense. I am extremely worried for friends who may now need to think of getting an IUD before January 20th

As someone ensconced in their own bubble of beliefs and values, I take full responsibility for not connecting with the other side and being blindsided by the ideological divide that runs so deep. But I definitely do not shoulder responsibility for signing up for this – I was ready to have arguments about pantsuits, being “emotional”, how being a woman doesn’t excuse you for corruption, on why anyone should not be expected to smile more to be “likeable” and more such. I was not ready to go back redraw the basics tenets of decency.

To all those in India who are reading this and wondering why I am taking all of this so seriously considering I don’t live in the U.S or to those who take pride in us electing Indira Gandhi and therefore do not see this as our issue – I am equally disgusted and sickened when Mulayam Singh Yadav makes comments on how boys make mistakes (while referring to rape) or when I hear senior members of the police force talk about how if during rape fighting back is not an option, it is best to lie back and enjoy the experience. It is just as bad when you express a political opinion not aligned with the popular view and the trolls immediately threaten sexual violence or begin the diatribe with body shaming, slut shaming or any form of abuse that belittles who you are as a woman.

I am not one of those who looks blindly to the West in aspiration on issues of gender but it truly sucks to be a woman and see all of this play out across the world in far harsher degrees than what it ought to be in 2016.

Fuck breaking the glass ceiling – it is back to feeling grateful if your body, your voice, your intellect, your being is respected as human and not some second rate “creature” and if you can escape each day feeling unscathed or a little less dirty.

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To Kausra

Dear Kausra

We met the other day at your school and spending those ten minutes with you changed a lot for me. I felt I owe you an apology and hence I write to you.

Before landing in Srinagar – J&K, I like most other people from India came with my baggage about what I thought of “Kashmir”. I was also excited about the Dal lake, shikaras, phirnis and unabashedly voyeuristic about wanting to know more about the conflict. When I exited the airport, I saw a sign reading “Welcome to Paradise on Earth” and right under that was a soldier with a gun. I was uncomfortable to see the army presence, I was even more uncomfortable to acknowledge that the fundamental right of freedom of movement is curtailed and most importantly I was acutely aware of how different my India is and how I had no business discussing how this part of the world should be “India” as well.

I am embarrassed to tell you that reading a couple of books and editorials I thought I understood what your daily life looks like.  Nothing prepared me Kausra, to live sharing the surroundings you grow up with each day. Waking up listening to gunshots of the army doing target practice or being stopped for checking in the middle of the road or even that flurry of panic, thinking of sudden firing that is happening 1 km away from where we stood – Kausra, I do not know how you do it.

Your school teachers tell me how girls in your village are not confident, very quiet and not participative in class. Your school principal congenially told me about how girls are generally reticent. The boys in your class overcompensated for your silence. You looked down with your head bowed when I asked you a question. I accepted your silence for your shyness. But when you stood up and shared what you thought in a shaky yet confident voice, I saw some bit of myself in you.

I do not think you are shy or “under-confident” or reticent. I do not want to make any more assumptions on your behalf. But if my three days can leave me without words to describe what I am feeling, I empathise how speechless you must feel seeing what you see day in and day out. If I were you, I would bow my head down too. It is just easier to find answers within than look outside to spell it out for everyone else.

I am sorry Kausra for being one of those many strangers who trapeze into your life thinking you should open up and start “sharing” your life story.  It is again the same mistake of thinking that you are waiting for this amazing miracle from outside to save you.  It is absolute bullshit and you caught me on that one. You owe me nothing.

I hope you and I can become friends some day. I think we would hit it off quite well – I saw you snigger about my haircut to the girl beside you. I would have done the exact same thing! 🙂

Till then,

Much love

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