Mother’s Day: You’re Worth It

alatterdayvoice.blogspot.com

alatterdayvoice.blogspot.com

Before I became a mother, I found celebrating Mother’s Day a bit contrived. Off all the 365 days you want to appreciate your mom on just one day? Shouldn’t she be treasured and marveled at on the other days too? Well, we all know how that goes. 😉

My son was born on May 31st. Considering the graveyard shifts, it’s safe to say that I’ve been a mother for 365 days. 365 days of putting him in the front seat and keeping him as top priority. Priority. Children crave routine and to make sure that we didn’t disrupt it too often, we took turns running errands. Casual strolls in the mall, browsing through grocery shelves and weekend trips to COSTCO were a thing of the past. We zipped, zapped and zoomed.

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The Big One

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The Big One It was the first week of May and we were delighted to finally catch some sunshine. As we relaxed in our patio, admiring the flowers that were in full bloom, we started talking about our son’s first birthday. It was a big milestone for him and for us. How did we want to mark it? A quiet dinner so we could do away with a party or a big bash inviting the whole world?

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Gift from the Gods

My baby’s skin was soft and radiant, fresh from his bath. His wet mop of hair was jet black and silky. I stared at him mesmerized with my mother’s stern instructions ringing through my ears. Oil bath twice every week and use only coconut oil. It was the purest and most natural lubricant for his growing limbs and agile muscles. The only chemical free moisturizer and toner fit for his tender skin. The market was flooded with oils from almonds to aloe vera but she would hear none of it. Only the best and most reliable for her precious grandchild, so my son was treated with this coco wonder from infancy.

Tropical Spa
(Pic Copyright: http://www.healthycrush.com)

As I finished drying him I recollected the days when my grandmother massaged my scalp with coconut oil. A Sunday ritual, she applied the lightly warmed oil into our scalp, kneading, scratching and rubbing. While our eyes drooped, our tresses would drip from the excess oil. If we protested she lectured on how the oil cools our system, soothes the mind and frees the body from stress. As children the need for such an elaborate cleansing mechanism was lost on us but now with our hectic lifestyles these therapeutic rituals are what we beg for. We splurge good money to relax and rejuvenate while our ancestors knew that the spa was right in our backyards.

coconut-oil-massage
(Pic Copyright: http://www.prestigemed.hu)

Looking at my cooing baby, his velvety cheeks were irresistible. Instinctively, my fingers traced my own cheeks and wondered when I started to neglect them. During my teens, I was breaking out with acne and pimples when our neighbor from Kerala came over and prophesized the goodness of coconut milk on the skin. It was a gift from the gods and was miraculous, she whispered. She rattled out the benefits – Anti aging, anti bacterial and hydrating. So every week, coconuts were plucked, milk extracted and infused with rose petals. The acne and pimples disappeared and for years I was blemish free. Why had I given up this natural magical mantra for store brought madness?

Thoughts came rushing back to reality as my baby wriggled and reached out for the moisturizer. I slowly yet surely moved it aside. There was no need for that today. I picked him up and opened the cabinet. It was filled with moisturizers, toners and exfoliaters. The coconut oil and the coconut milk moisturizer were hiding in the rear. Why did I resort to traditional and natural nourishment for my baby yet settled for artificial chemicals for myself? This was the essence of our earth, the promise of generations, goodness from our garden and the most organic and chemical free cosmetic that nature had blessed us with. Did I forget this age old wisdom in the arrogance of modern day living? I picked up the coconut miracles and placed those on the counter, right in front –From today, the best was not just for the baby but also for his mother. Maa ka pyar, Maa ko bhi!

(This post is an entry to the Goodness Of Coconut contest hosted by Parachute Advanced)

Savita Halappanavar: The Ugly Math

A woman’s life is hard as it is. Why would we want to inflict more pain with politicians and laws deciding what to do with ourselves when we go through a single life transforming event like pregnancy? Frankly, Mr, No Uterus, No Opinion.

The recent US elections enraged women and made feminists delirious. With Senator Todd Akin’s ill informed remarks about rape and abortion and Mitt Romney’s circus dance around women’s rights, Republicans were doomed to lose. On the other hand, when Michelle Obama took the stage on the Democratic National convention and declared that her husband trusted women to make that crucial choice about their bodies, she not only won the crowd’s applause but their votes as well.

We live in the information age and women are raring to go places. There are very few aspects in life that impedes us. Biologically, pregnancy affects only the mother. Therefore, deciding to go with it or end it should be a personal and private choice taken within closed doors. It is surely not a political point worthy of debate neither should it be a legal binding that encompasses all.

In talking pro life, who’s life are they talking about? When the couple decides that they do not want to bring another life into this world, why does government want to decide otherwise? The acts of personal pleasures are not an agenda for political reform. And most definitely not a topic worthy of debate just to amass vote banks.

The trauma that Savita Halappanavar underwent in the Irish hospital is a nightmare for women everywhere. This was a joyous phase of her life where she was nurturing another life within herself. But when things went downhill, the medical personnel should have showed better judgement. We trust our lives with doctors and when they hide behind religion and laws, it is a sad day for mankind.

Pro life and pro choice are terms that look fancy on campaign flyers but are warrants of life and death for women involved. Even when the decision to end a pregnancy is made it is not a happy day but a day filled with tears and heartbreak. Let us not worsen it by muddling it up with politics and religion. To state that this is a Catholic country to a women’s plea for life is not the way God intended mankind to treat fellow humans. Show some respect, some remorse and more compassion. A life could have been saved, instead we lose two. No matter how we look at it, the math is indeed ugly.

(An edited version of this article was published in Women’s Web.)

Motherhood: A Song For Life

As I look down at my baby feeding hungrily, pain jolting through my entire body, tears cloud my eyes and stream down my cheeks. Amma is stroking my hand reassuringly. I look up and she dries my cheeks. “It is going to get better. You will learn to love him!” I close my eyes, draw a deep breath and lean back. Will I?

The day we found out we were expecting will be etched in my memory forever. We hugged each other with tears of joy and called parents and siblings to share the “good news”. Everybody was ecstatic. The fact we refused to find out the gender and wanted to be surprised added to the anticipation. We cruised through pregnancy and they were the most cherished days of my life. My parents guarded me with fierce love and watched every step I took with eagle eyes. My husband was my rock. He did not miss a single appointment, always carried chocolate bars for instant energy, took me on long leisurely strolls and kept me sane. He weathered my hormones and cooked my favorites. In many ways he had already began his journey of becoming a great father.

As the due date came closer, we realized that we had one stubborn child. He was so happily cocooned inside my belly, he refused to show up. Finally after a week the doctor decided to induce me. I was nervous since I wanted a normal delivery and this was slowly beginning to look different. Then my child read my mind and calmed my nerves. I had my first contraction. We drove to the hospital frantically, exactly the way I had dreamed it would be for nine months. After 23 hours of labor with the magic of epidural and countless popsicles, he made his appearance. I was nervous, were we ok with a boy? They placed him on my chest and he peeped at me with his barely open eyes. With my eyes filled with tears and his mop of hair, I could hardly see him. And I was wailing more than him glad that this was over. But little did I realize that the journey had just begun.

For the days we were in the hospital, I remember being a basket case. I moaned in pain, I cried because it was not hot or cold enough. At one point, my husband stood in front of the thermostat waiting for divine intervention. Should I turn it higher or lower? Even after we came home, I was completely consumed by the demands that motherhood had physically that I had failed to acknowledge the miracle of this tiny person in my arms.

Breastfeeding was painful and demanding and I did not feel the overflow of motherly love. In fact I cried a lot. I cried because I couldn’t sleep for more than 2 hours. I cried because I couldn’t walk more than a few steps. I cried because I couldn’t do anything without worrying about the baby. Was he hungry? Should I change his diaper? Is he getting a rash? When will his cord fall off? Amidst all this there were no moments where I proclaimed that I was his mother and I shall protect him from the evils of this world. After a couple of months I began to worry that something was wrong with me. Why did I not feel those emotions? Why did I not love him with my entire being? In Tamil cinema, there are several rolls of film dedicated to these emotions, several songs in glory of the relationship. Yet, yet, here I felt zilch. I had waited anxiously for months to become a mother. But now that I was one, I did not feel it. Surely, I’m a bad mother.

But as my wounds healed and my baby started cooing and gurgling, things changed. There is not going to be one aha moment. But as stranger anxiety fills him and he finds me amongst the pool of people and whimpers, I begin to love him a little more. When suddenly he open his mouth wide and grabs my entire cheek and wets it, I know he is telling me something. When I try to burp him, his hands encircle my neck and tighten, his face nestles on my bony shoulder and I smell his hair. The soft baby scent intoxicates me and as I rub my cheek against him, I begin to love him a little more. As I feed him with a spoon and he is blowing bubbles covering both our faces with cereal and chuckles effortlessly. We both grin like fools and I begin to love him a little more. Through these little moments I’m learning to love him. Love him unconditionally.

Cuddling him through sleepless nights, cajoling him through endless feeding sessions, cheering him even he trails the races, feeling pride even when he doesn’t ace his milestones, soothing him through sick days and struggling to put his needs above my wants, always. It was not meant be a platonic love at first sight relationship. This is heartbreaking and traumatic yet exciting and heartwarming. This will always be a work in progress because this is hard and life consuming.

Loving him comes naturally to me now but the time it took prepared me for being a parent. You have to choose what kind of  mother you want to be. This journey is going to have dead ends, sudden turns, heart-on-your-mouth bumps and screaming highs. It is going to require epic amounts of endurance, patience and love. Do I scream at him or walk away calmly? There is no such thing as a good mother. But being a mother is a commitment. A promise filled with toothless grins, stubby fingers, smothering kisses, breathless hugs, unscented aromas and heartwarming surprises. As he wraps his fingers around mine and tightens his grip, I know that am hopelessly in love and I’m ready for the ride.

Also,

Women’s web has a contest based on the journey of motherhood. Since I wanted to chronicle it myself, this works great. They have a wonderful video illustrating the anxiousness, insecurities and challenges of motherhood.

The Business of Procreation

I have often wondered whether Americans feel the noose tighten at the big 30? Do they get desperate, does every family function involve awkward responses or do they live every day with fresh hope? While their lives are not as perfect as it looks from the distance, Indians do battle to break free from the tentacles of age.

http://www.the-nri.com/index.php/2012/07/the-business-of-procreation/