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Please don’t call it labour pains

Child birth
Last week I had the opportunity to meet a mother to be at a family function. While I was congratulating her on her beautiful glow & how privileged she should be feeling with a life growing within her, all she talked about was her impending ‘labour’ and how anxious she was of the pain. She was fearful of even asking me how my experience was as she had already listened to frightful stories from other mothers!

Why don’t mothers encourage pregnant mothers with more positive experiences is beyond me! Why do women wear the length of their ‘labour’ as badge of honors & scare others is something I have not been able to understand.

Fine. Bringing a child into this world hurts. But doesn’t getting pierced or tattooed not hurt? Ok, there is no comparison between these two. There is absolutely no comparison between the two. One if for beautification & personal statement; while the other is the most life changing and selfless act. But I digress here.

This article is to tell all would be mothers to look at ‘labour’ as not laboring, but as ‘birthing’ or anything which makes it more positive. How about a ‘right of passage’. Birthing is as arduous a process for the baby as it is for the mother. But, by going through this process, the child receives many benefits.

Have you heard of the story where a small child watched a butterfly trying to come out of the cocoon, and after seeing it struggle, opened the sac to make the process easier. The butterfly did emerge, but because of the lack of the struggle, its wings had not developed properly and it could no longer fly. When you think of the birthing process as an enabler through which the mother is assisting the child to enter the world with dignity, love & strength, suddenly the mother is humbled & empowered.

If we only let our bodies and nature, do its job, pregnancy & birthing is a beautiful process. I wanted to tell that scared mom-to-be to trust, believe & be in awe of her body. Without being asked, her body would nurture the child for 9 months inside, and forever, outside her body. She will produce the best food for the child through her body for as long as the baby needs it. Did you know that the breast milk changes its formulation (actual constituents) according to the need of the baby!

Our first memory of birthing is old hindi movies where the pregnant woman is rushed into a room & is heard screaming; with the father pacing outside the door. Since then we associate birthing with pain. Pregnancy is not a medical condition that requires treatment. In older times, there was a loving dai who would comfort & assist the mother-to-be birth, as she had done for all women in the village/family/community. She knew the mother personally, attended to her throughout the pregnancy, offered advice, and loving brought her baby into the world. The western world is now waking up to this phenomenon, but we seem to have forgotten it, despite having given it to them.

A gynecologist friend practicing in the UK told me that NHS assigns a pregnant woman a mid wife for the entire pregnancy & through the birthing process. A doctor is usually called in only for emergencies. Why? Because our bodies know best.

When you receive forwards on Social media telling that child birth pain is equivalent to 20 bones breaking, please do read that during this time our bodies produce crazy amount of endorphins which give relief from this pain. And guess what, the amount of endorphins produced is good enough to give the mother a high! But we have started interfering with our bodies and the process, and scared ourselves enough to dread the final days. The doctors ask the already tired mother to ‘push’ the baby out, but did you know when we clench the jaw while pushing, we are closing the birthing path! We are doing it all wrong. The calmer the mother is, the more the endorphins get produced, and the smoother the process becomes.

So when you plan to book your pre baby photo shoot & your baby shower, do look up for natural birth & pre birth classes. There is inspiration and power waiting to be discovered which will change your outlook. Also, the next time you have your pre natal gynae visit, tell your doctor you want a natural birth and ask her to guide you to it. She may be shocked/surprised, but chances are she may view you with a new respect.

Just so you know, I was no different from the would be mother I met. But I decided to take help & make a difference.

Childbirth is the only time you will assist God in a miracle
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I was told my child could not color between the lines. And it made me happy!

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For nearly two years I was told that my four year child could not color between the lines. And, has poor handwriting? Can’t take instructions you see.

So what did I do? Did I sit with her practicing formations and coloring within the dotted lines?

Nope.

Don’t spend hours trying to make her fall in the line. Instead, explore what she is inclined towards. And you’ll be surprised (and mighty proud) of what you find. Did you know that sea horse is the only male animal/fish to actually give birth? And that the giraffe is the only animal which cannot make any sound. I learnt this with my child who is fascinated with animals.

It could be blocks, story reading, animals,… the possibilities are endless because a four year old child doesn’t know the lines to bind her. Its been fed into our heads that we are good at this or that; not hers, at least not yet.

Unbridled she will blossom. Good handwriting & coloring never created a masterpiece. Being unique & willingness to explore new things did.

What do you want to be known for? Impeccable handwriting? Ok, maybe if you are aiming to become a calligrapher. Who says a good handwriting is important for success in life? Communication is important, not the writing. It is merely for the readers convenience.

A fellow mom was one day hastily summoned to the school and told that her 5 year old child was not following the traditional/teachers’ way of writing the alphabets. She had apparently devised a shortcut to the formations. The poor mom was at her wits end figuring out how to overcome this disaster.

I told her to book a table & celebrate with her husband. Her small child had done what we at 40 struggle to do. Reinventing!

So the next time you are told that your child has poor handwriting, thank the person, leave the room, hug your kids & be happy. You have a unique kid. Don’t force the kids to follow. Be brave to see & nurture the uniqueness. It’s an admirable quality.

Be your child’s first, last & best ally. Tell her she is unique & polish her sparkle. She will meet too many people wiling to tell her otherwise.

 

P.S. I have been told I suck at parenting. So pls exercise discretion after reading this. You see I am just trying to raise individuals. Not mini-me’s.

And by the way, after 2 years, my child did color within the lines. But can make a mean dinosaur too.

‘The true sign of intelligence in imagination, not knowledge- Albert Einstein’

This post appeared on Huff Post India as ‘I was told my child could not color between the lines. And it made me happy!’

Image credit Pinterest

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Become Interesting

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Have you noticed how some people are always full of stories & anecdotes. How they become the heart/soul of a party/gathering, and draw people like a magnet.

Ok, so lets become interesting. But how? These are people who have experiences, not, merely possessions. A new place, a new type of food, a new experience, that they enthral you with! Have stories to tell.

If in your last 10 conversations you have nothing new to say/tell people, you are in big trouble…. Take that as a sign and make some stories, have some adventures, life life, else you will end up with life passing by without you having lived it.

Take baby steps.

The easiest is by travelling. The journey itself will give you few starts, then the food you discover on the way, the people you meet, the place you stay in, the new places you visit, the photos you click……

Books are another way to go places before you visit them in person, and peeping into people’s thinking & minds before meeting them!

Whatever you choose to do, just start having fun in life….. That’s the surest way of making an interesting personality. Do everything you did before you became wise (or so you think), when you were a child & didn’t care if you looked silly wearing mismatched socks, just because you wanted to.

But why is it important to be interesting? I’ll tell you why. Not only because this will come handy professionally, but personally too.

Harvard said in a report that an important characteristic it seeks from applicants is that they should be ‘interesting’. What it means is that academic & extra curricular excellence is now the baseline, not a merit. You have to have an extra dimension to your personality to make you stand out.

In the professional world, interesting, lively people are more successful. They connect easily, have a wider social network & can easily fit into newer situations & milieu, thus have more propensity to grow.

Personally, these people are more open to change, are adaptive & open to risk taking, as that’s the part of their nature which makes them interesting. They experience live more openly, are less judgemental, don’t lose their mojo, and don’t get hit by mid-life crisis ;-D.

But why are we discussing this here? Well, because we should start early right? Open up your child’s horizons. Give her experiences, not just possessions. Encourage fickle mindedness (but in moderation). Let her try her hand at different things till she finds her calling. The process of elimination will eventually lead to the best fit, and in the course give her stories from the various things she experienced!

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Birth order & personality

 

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/8_8/243089839/">hira3</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">cc</a>

photo credit: hira3 via photopin cc

Studies have shown that most leaders were rarely a first born child. Surprised 🙂 ? Can the order of birth, which means whether you are a first born, or a second born etc., can have a bearing on your personality.

Now that I have two kids, I can relate to this much more.

The first child receives the best of the parents & the world they offer to her. More time, more energy, material things, attention- all are showered on the first child naturally as a right. He never has to ask for anything. All is provided before.

The second child has to fight for his stand, & make way for himself. It starts with something as basic as toys, to the time & energy of his parents which is now divided. He also has to manage with parents also are lesser sensitive since they have learnt from their first experience. He is offered more space to learn, his tantrums are tackled differently, his habits are laid out better, he is dealt with more discipline; all because he is the second child.

What all this subtly results in is a stronger personality for the second child. He learns to make the most of what he receives, learns to stand up for himself, voice his feelings. He also gains confidence as he learns & equips himself since the parents are not the over eager & anxious lot they were as first time parents 🙂 . Aren’t all these traits that make a leader ;-D ?

This no way to say that the second child is less loved, since I feel it’s humanly impossible for a parent to differentiate between their kids. It’s just that because as parents we also grow in experience, we pass it on to our kids as we learn on the way. The second child therefore, gets the best of our learnings.

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10 values with which to raise children

We are a sum total of our upbringing, our environment and our choices. I have realised the magnitude of the effect all these ingredients have on me, only when I became a parent myself.

Here are some 10 things I have consciously done in the hope & belief that it will give my kids a good environment.

 

1. Don’t pre-empt everything for her or let her experience new surroundings, new textures, new everything. How many times do you say ‘No, this is not good for you’, ‘No, you’ll hurt yourself’, within the limits of sensibility, (you have to be dense if you let your toddler to injure herself with a knife to learn its sharp), how many times do we let our kids foray on their own. I am guilty of this, and have starting checking myself before I stop my child every time. She’s a child, and she WILL NOT be as sensible as someone 10 times her age, so why do I want her to have my wisdom? She’s a child. Let her learn by finding out. Trust me, kids are in no rush to grow up, we are.

2. Let her fall. Don’t rush to catch her to avoid a fall. A grazed knee is a small price to pay for the loads of confidence and experience that she will gain from falling. By letting her fall, and letting her pick herself up, you are giving her & yourself (very important) the confidence that she is capable of navigating & taking in her stride the challenges she is encountering. After falling once & hurting herself, you will be surprised at how careful she becomes. You don’t have to hover around her all the time with worry. As a parent I know I can’t & won’t be around her all the time protecting her. So I want her to at least learn these basics in my presence.

3. Encourage curiosity- Show pleasure when they ask a question while reading a book or watching the TV, or anything that catches their fancy. This single trait will take them far, when they are writing entrance exams and are judged on their thinking-out-of-the-box capability.

4. Teach them to question authority, in a respectful manner. I know that’s walking a thin line, but don’t we want to raise kids who are confident and not afraid to call a spade a spade. But this is a tricky one, since a child who has been raise to be fearless & righteous, will keep everyone around her to follow the same values that she has been asked to live with 🙂 . Very often my daughter reminds my husband mid-sentence that he is not doing something right, or, objects if she is talking to someone & I interject, reminding me that its rude to interrupt when two people are talking 🙂  .

5. Let them participate in decision making- Small decisions like whether she would prefer to watch TV, or do craft, or help me in the kitchen (that’s what she calls it 🙂 ) let them know the meaning of choices & slowly help them connect the dots that with a decision comes the responsibility of actions & repercussions. Let her make a decision and teach her the value of choices, and the fact that you trust her.

6. Ask questions & see how they open up. They have a valid explanation for everything they observe, and you will be amazed at their creativity.

7. Don’t limit her. Make her believe she is the best. Stop before you say she can’t do it, she’s too small. Instead tell her that it requires her to be a little taller/ little stronger…… Don’t ever tell her she can’t be something. Children are born confident, we rob them off it, a little each time we tell them they can’t do something. Didn’t we all start out wanting to be fighter pilots, racing car drivers & wildlife photographer before we succumbed to the conventional career choices 🙂 .

8. Don’t pass on your prejudices to her. I have built my likes & dislikes over these years, and for some reason. Lizards & creepy crawly insects make me uncomfortable. But other than the basic of what’s dangerous & hazardous, I want my kids to decide what they like & what they don’t independent of me. May it be cuisine, career choices, sports & everything.

9. Older is not always right. Just because I or someone older is saying something doesn’t make it right. Have the grace to accept & apologise when wrong. It will set an example that elders & anyone can make a mistake.

10. Mischief & misbehaving are two different things. Everything is allowed so long as it is mischief and fun, that’s what separates a child from an adult, BUT, bad behaviour should not be tolerated. Personally, I feel, 3-3.5 yrs is the age when a child should be made to understand and respects boundaries. This is the age when their social interactions increases, they get exposed to their peers & many older people at pre-school, and this demarcation is essential. But enforced any earlier, and it affects their self confidence.