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Equal Parenting, please!

I have married a mutant, like one of the X-Men. At least, that is what it appears to be, judging by the gasps, when he is seen publicly attending to a parenting chore. He has figured out basic skills of parenting – he can bathe T, feed her, play with her or put her to sleep. Let us stand up and give him an ovation! I have been congratulated that I have found a man that ‘babysits’ so well – even if the child is, well, his own. (Psst, it is called parenting.)

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My husband is a wonderful man and I am proud of him. He is loving, supportive and honest. But, let’s get real, OK. He is SUPPOSED to take care of his child, at least as much as I am supposed to. So, let’s say when he is busy with a conference or is chilling with his friends in a pub, it is my duty to take care of T. Likewise! Simple, isn’t it? Nope, let’s complicate it with gender priorities and archaic bullshit until it seems like good, attentive fathers are to be revered, just for existing! How is it that (more) men are not disgusted by this automatic assumption of their incompetence as a parent?

I belong to an educated and evolved circle. Therefore, it is all the more surprising, that well into the 21st century, I hear amazement and even a hint of sneer, when my husband proudly proclaims that he is an equal parent. Truth is that we have still not managed to wrap our heads around the idea of an equal parent. Men are supposed to take their kids on long drives, teach them fishing and play football with them. If they can manage to put a dress on their son (think of a new Vodafone ad), they are SuperDads!

We need more role models – men who proudly come forward as equal parents. Men who are proud to change diapers, not sleep nights, sit down at tea parties with dolls, put on makeup because kiddo wants. And that is why I think it is cool that Zuckerberg posted a snap while changing nappy or that many countries are now considering shifting from the concept of Maternity leaves to Parental leaves. I hope the culture of equal parenting pervades for the sake of equal careers and equal lives.

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Child-free Vacation, check!

I took off to the nearby hills, sans hubby and baby, last weekend, despite the guilt trip. I traveled with my friend to an obscure place on the Western Ghats, that offered very limited connectivity to the outside world. The trip deserves a separate post, which I plan to dish out shortly on my other blog (https://hungryfeetsite.wordpress.com/). On this one, let me relay to you, the plight of a parent caught between the lust for personal time and the helpless addiction to baby.

Let me begin by saying, I recommend the experience for all parents. It is the proverbial ‘cord-cutting’, that the parent needs leagues more than the baby does. But, the journey to being this evolved parent, with optimum time for baby and self, is much harder than I imagined.

For starters, I kept seeing kids, who looked remarkably like T, everywhere I went – in the airport, coffee shop, sunset point, the stinky public toilets, with their fading ‘Swachh Bharat’ graffiti – everywhere. All of them were calling out to their mums, endearingly. It took me a while to realize that some of the parents were creeping out at my unblinking stare at their darlings. So, that had to stop.

I had to remind myself to look cool and unaffected, so that the sissy mommy, who wanted nothing more than to cuddle up to baby at home, was not exposed. I tried hard to keep the conversation neutral and diverse – but baby came up ever so often. There was a couple of times I caught myself beaming with pride as I described her prodigious skills in scribbling or crapping. I am not so sure non-parents share the same enthusiasm about stories that involve shit and such!

Of course, I slept at my baby’s bedtime, despite my friend’s gallant efforts to keep me alive. That must have been fun for her, trying to coddle me to stay awake for just another fifteen minutes, at half past nine! But then, I had too much of the bed to myself. I have forgotten, clearly, how to sleep without being kicked in the gut. Because, I kept thrashing around in sleep and struggling with my pillow, almost smothering my friend one night. Ya, what a vacay for her!

My hubby was glad that the network was flimsy. Every time we spoke, I kept prodding him for more on her whereabouts. He got vaguer and vaguer with each passing conversation. After about the fifth time, he refused to send any further pics of her taking a bath or digging mud. He told me I could have saved a ton by just staying put, instead of living the same day in a different state.

That was that. I have checked an item off the bucket list – travel without baby, for fun. It was a thoroughly enjoyable trip. But next time, she’s coming along!

Child free vac

Pic Courtesy: Ray Sawhill, Flikr, http://bit.ly/1TtwLUF

 

 

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An ode to my favorite Bibliophile

I am inordinately proud of my love for reading. I would read anything, even product labels, when nothing meaningful is handy. I harbour avarice towards people with huge libraries. It’s my animal instinct, I really can’t help it.

I belong from a family of moderate to ardent readers. My parents read as much as middle class working parents could, over the years drifting to other media. Older siblings and cousins were great influencers, unwittingly opening doors to the forbidden parts of the ‘printed’ world prematurely. I also happened to pick up like minded friends with literary inclinations.

But if I try to think of one person whose obsession with books made me look at them differently – it has to be Mamoni!

Mamoni

To Mamoni, with Love…

Mamoni is a variant of the word ‘Mother’ in Bengali. As the eldest ‘mother’ to my generation, she earned the title. Mamoni is many things – she is an avid traveller, an elegant lady, a young-at-heart romantic. But if I am asked to close my eyes and think of her, the dominant image is that of a curious mind buried in a book. I can vouch that Mamoni has not spent a day of her learned life without a book in hand. Her infinite curiosity coupled with her surprisingly sharp memory makes her a great substitute for Google. I would not want to face her in a quiz competition!

I have learnt from Mamoni to have a relationship with books – to explore and flirt. To sleep with them! She reads multiple books at the same time, a habit that has gotten engrained in me today. She haunts libraries, book fairs and book stores to mine out the unread. She tears pages from magazines that publish novels in instalments and binds them into a book. I worship all of it!

This is a thank you note to you, Mamoni, for being an aspirational bibliophile. Happy Birthday…

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We are not teaching ‘Tolerance’

My mother is a pious woman. She is loyal to her daily ritual of coddling 330 million Hindu Gods, goading them to secure the uncertain future of the Ghoshs of Soukalin Gotra. Over the years, she has rationalized her efforts as an act of benevolence. She offers prasadam and then distributes it to the less privileged.

But despite her obsession with the Hindu Gods, mom did nothing to limit my brother and me to the confines of Hinduism. Which is possibly why we turned out to be agnostics.

Id treats were consumed gluttonously at ours. Stockings were hung and filled by Father Christmas. Neither Santa nor the children in our Hindu household raised the question of religious allegience at such times.

Christmas decorations

Christmas decorations

This is probably why the concept of ‘tolerance’ bothers me so much. The word tolerance presupposes an inherent disdain for the other, which I had never been exposed to as a child. I am extremely keen that Baby T is either completely oblivious to the differences that religion imposes (improbable) or is, at worst, amused by the best of all worlds. I hope there is no situation wherein she needs to merely ‘tolerate’ another perfectly honest and amiable human being.

Therefore, we are sending out our letter to Santa, putting up a Christmas tree and keeping milk and cookies out for the old man. Merry Christmas ya’ll!

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Mommy’s Men of the Year 2015

In mommy world, doting fathers are IT! The absolute pinnacle of sexy is a hot, successful Daddy in full swing Dad duty. The three men below are on this mommy’s bucket list! Cheer on for Mommy’s Men of the Year 2015.

#1 Mark Zuckerberg is hitting it out of the park, with cuteness to spare. His latest photo with Max on the changing table is going to make it to every mommy’s little fantasy book. The goofy, billionaire nerd who is ready to change a thousand diapers – look no further ladies, the man of the millennium is among us.

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Pic Courtesy: MZ’s public FB profile

#2 Benedict Cumberbatch: Then there is Cumberbatch. The (self-proclaimed feminist) new daddy is making us swoon all over him. The 39 year old apparently wants a truck-load of kids and writes heart-warming notes to Santa to throw in some magic in the life of our children, as thick clouds of reality swim over their little lives. <multiple awwwwws>

#3 Justin Trudeau: The new Prime Minister of Canada is married to his childhood friend and is a proud daddy of three sweethearts. He is a liberal and a feminist, besides being obnoxiously good-looking. This video captures him standing at the airport, welcoming Syrian refugees to their new home. Can’t. Get. Enough!

Fellow mommies, anybody I missed?