They may not be wearing a cape, but each of them is a supermom. Whether it be striking a work-home balance, trying to teach the right values through action or choosing a parenting style, it is their quiet resilience and nerves of steel that make us salute them. We introduce you to three mothers in Vizag, with each sharing a unique experience of motherhood.
Notes on Motherhood:
Raising kids is really a full-time job, and more so for Gayathri Sreeramaneni, a mother of three daughters Sree Aadya, Siva Manasi and Satviki Medha. “I always wanted to have three kids”, she shares, pausing the telephone conversation, as the second child insists that she can’t find her toy. Parenting, after all, takes time, energy and patience, and Gayathri gives us a glimpse of that.
“I take my kids wherever I go.”
This software engineer is taking a sabbatical from work right now, because bringing up three kids aged 1, 3 and 5, can consume all that time and more. However, this hasn’t stopped her or slowed her in any way as she continues to do things she loves. Teaching at Speaking Chalk, she shares that she takes her kids to the classes, and to wherever she goes. Also a participant at the Pinkathon, she carried the youngest kid on her back, as the other two walked along.
“My day begins at 4am.”
Gayathri is an early riser, both out of choice and reason. While she used to get up early in the morning to go skating with her brother during her childhood, now it’s for the children. The youngest one wakes up for her feed in the morning, and after that, it’s a constant chain reaction of work. The tiffin box has to be packed, kids need to be readied, diapers changed and meals need to be made along with everything else.
“My kids do not ask for gadgets as much.”
Not adamant about TV and gadgets yet, Gayathri shares that they do watch programmes at their grandparents’ homes. However, they do not ask for any gadgets at home, and are happy doing other activities. With this, there hasn’t been any inherent need to set screen time in place as yet.
“I feel that a Montessori approach at home helps tremendously.”
Freedom within limits, following the child and giving them a prepared environment form the crux of Montessori, an approach Gayathri follows. So, when she’s struggling with parenting, she believes in fixing the environment. From open shelves to let children choose their work, teaching them about boundaries, responsibilities and working together or independently, are areas where she focuses. Also, she believes in giving them the freedom to do anything, as long as they aren’t destructive.
“I want them to learn empathy more than anything else.”
More than brilliance in academics, Gayathri attaches importance to their emotional and physical health. She hopes they will continue to be inquisitive about the world around them, and wants them to learn about kindness towards one another. The school she chose for her eldest one was Bethany, for this reason.
Parenting style: mine or yours?
Having grown up in a defence household, Sayantika Adak Ghosh reflects on how parents in the 80s perhaps had it much easier as compared to today’s times and its choices. Working with Jyoti Book Depot, and a blogger who shares her motherhood experiences through her blog ‘Raising Pickle’ and ‘Being Theta’, she reflects about bringing up her son in today’s times.
Parenting back then
“Parenting, as I have come to notice, is greatly influenced by one’s surroundings and specific situations. I grew up in a defence household, where we would be expected to be up at 0400 hours, would change rigs, and would be given timeouts for not following proper table etiquettes. Our parents had it easier. They could let us play outside without worrying about pollution, safety and, our “holistic development”. When it came to matters inside the house, there was just the one ‘screen’ which was switched on for news, Chitrahaar and later on, half-an-hour slots to watch
our favorite cartoons, either Tom and Jerry or Captain Planet. Food was even simpler. We ate what we got in the market. There was no talk of keto, paleo, no allergies of unseen substances and definitely nothing that could be labeled as ‘organic’.
Now, take a breath and step into our shoes in this day and age. I personally own two laptops, one for work, and one for personal use. Then there are the phones, kindles, TV and tablets that are all in use for various valid reasons. Around me, is the mini version of a ‘rat race’. The million extracurriculars have suddenly become ‘essential’ and food has labels like ‘gluten free’ and ‘lactose tolerant’. Things are definitely not easy.
Then there are the various parenting styles. Some go by plain instinct, while others research their parenting style to its untimely death. Household structures have changed. While our parents’ generation had just mothers and fathers, we stand divided with distinctions like working mom, stay-at-home dad, working from home, and so on. However, the fact of the matter is that we are all trying our very best to be good parents. I too am doing my best, the best way I can and I know how.
Before my little one came along, I did not really have a game plan. Given our lifestyle though, I knew I wanted Pickle to be involved, disciplined and in sync. I have worked hard at setting boundaries for him. I have taken him everywhere in his carrier, to restaurants, parties, marathons, hobby classes etc. Because I did not want an unruly child running around mindlessly to blow off steam, I have actively involved him. It took a lot of time and energy ensuring that he sticks to basic routines, rules and principles. But now, 5 years later, I can take him anywhere, and not worry about a tantrum or a melt-down.
Parenting is difficult, period. Joint family, nuclear family, single parent, helicopter ones or even for the chilled out ones. Whether you talk about our parents bringing us up or consider us struggling in this day and age, at the end of a tiring day, parenting boils down to the health and happiness of the child and the parents.
Learnings as a Parent
Having worked as a Programming Head for Radio Mirchi, as an entrepreneur with a home business, Sree Karuna currently volunteers with Speaking Chalk, is a Pinkathon Ambassador, an Environment Activist and an aspiring parenting consultant. Blessed with two daughters Vennela and Vismaya, she talks about how motherhood has changed over the years, and how parents actually learn from children.
Don’t worry too much. Eventually, things will fall in place
As parents, we tend to worry a lot about every small thing. From growth milestones to a healthy diet, everything is a cause of worry. So, when my elder daughter, who was born healthy, did not start walking by her first birthday, I started worrying. However, one fine day, at a friend’s place, she just started to walk impromptu. I analysed that the cause was perhaps the rougher texture of flooring in my friend’s house as compared to mine. I learnt to stop comparing my child with others, and to stop worrying about milestones as it only sends negative vibrations.
No amount of telling, or lecturing them, will work unless they make up their mind
Our frustrations as parents start when we want our children to listen to everything that we want them to do. We list out what we want them to eat, watch, whom to befriend, how to dress up and even when to sleep. We forget that the child is an individual entity with a mind of his or her own. As parents, we can win them over, only with love and understanding, or else we may lose them.
Children need our undivided attention
I had an online business that kept me busy on Whatsapp throughout the day, coordinating orders with customers and dealers. So one day, when my little one said that I was always on the phone and unavailable to them, I just winded up that business. I realised that the amount of time and stress was affecting my children. Also, I wasn’t setting the right example by asking them to stay away from gadgets, while I was on the phone myself. I don’t say that all working mothers should give up their jobs. However, keep work away from home, as children need undivided attention.
They do not learn from what we tell them but major learning happens by watching us
I want them to become responsible for the planet and the country. So, I try to carpool, refuse to take plastic bags, carry my own cloth bags and water bottle. I throw trash only in the dustbin, never jump traffic signals and park only at the designated places. The other values that I would like them to have are to be courageous, to stand up for what they believe in, and have integrity. They should have empathy and grow up to become women of substance; equally beautiful inside. They should learn to never give up on their dreams or goals, get up after they fall down, and believe that the show must go on.