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It takes a village to raise a child

 

There is an old African proverb ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. And the sooner we acknowledge & work towards this, the easier and more meaningful parenting would be.

This village was in the form of neighbors, a large family, relatives, family friends, teachers & whoever wished us well & was willing to contribute in our parenting.

I remember when we were growing up in the ’80s, we were part of a village of our own. This village ensured-

– we were always someone’s pet & in turn always had a favourite aunt/uncle

– learnt something from everyone by observing dynamics of relationships, power, favoritism, unconditional love and other myriad feelings

– we were exposed to various cultures, traditions, festivities, cuisines and even professions

– there was always someone who had time for us, to listen to us, play with us, care for us, answer our questions

– we learnt from real experiences not only books, and definitely not simulated environments

– there was always a home with its doors open, a lady willing to lovingly look over us & feed us as/with her own brood

– playdates were not an orchestrated event, it was our whole life

– the mother was always assured that her child was safely in some other mother’s care, giving her the much needed breather to complete her chores

Today many households are nuclear, with a single child, and sometimes with both parents working. Making it squarely the responsibility of the two parents to play all the roles required to raise a balanced and happy child! They have to care for the child, feed him, play with him, entertain him; along with carrying out their other household, professional & social duties.

 

This requires mammoth organisational skills, time, resources, sacrifices and enough energy to power a whole village in itself. Jokes apart, it is actually asking a lot. No wonder tired parents take the help of technology from time to time to keep their children engaged. And themselves risk a burn out.

Today ‘Mamas, mausis, buas’ have been replaced by ‘maids and drivers’. It has made the process detached, programmatic and with trust issues.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a tribe to make this journey of parenthood easier & meaningful.

– A friend who is also the bus in-charge who will wipe away your child’s tears when he cries on the first day to school

– A mother who can receive your child from the bus stop if you are running behind schedule

– A friend who can send over dinner just because you don’t feel like cooking today

– A mother who can look after your older child while you take the younger one for vaccination

With collaboration comes friendly, well meaning advice, help & love; which makes the journey of raising children so much easier & joyful.

The village has one, and only one rule- Take with right, but it give back equally to the pool with love. So look for a tribe near you. Its joys will fill your and your child’s life. If you don’t find one, start one of your own.

‘Saying that I am not responsible for somebody else’s child, is like saying I am not responsible for somebody else’s air. In the end, the choices we make about our world and our children affect us all. No child is someone else’s child. A child is simply a child.’

This post appeared on Huff Post India as ‘Creating A Village To Raise Your Child’

Image credit Pinterest

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An apology to my first born child

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Yes I know, parents are expected to do what is right for the universe in general, and for their kids in specific. But, I didn’t know jack when I became a mom for the first time. In fact, I have no shame in owning up to everything I did wrong.

So here are a few things (I am pretty sure I’ll add more as I go along the parenting path) I would like to apologize to my first born child for!

1. Being overprotective

If some moms are called “helicopter moms”, I have been nearly Air Force One to you! I wouldn’t let you out of my sight for even a second. You’d sneeze and I would recheck all the layers you were wearing and trawl WebMD for information on all possible causes and effects. I’m happy to change five pediatricians until I’m satisfied I’ve found the right one for you.

2. Being a killjoy

Politely put, I was a killjoy for the first few years. I’d be overcautious of rolling down the car window, freak out about you jumping on the bed or sliding down staircase railings, make a big deal about letting you eat something not-so-nutritious… total killjoy.

3. You were my guinea pig

I cut my parenting teeth on you, and you’re the one I made all my first mistakes with. Right from when I took my first steps into motherhood to my entire journey, you were and will be the person with whom I do everything for the first time. And the success rate is not going to be perfect. From weather-appropriate clothes, most nutritious food, feeding patterns, right school, friends, play dates… trust me, my list will be pretty long with quite a few hits and misses.

4. Crazy expectations

Throughout your life, I will have high/weird expectations from you. Not because you are older, but because I will always believe you are capable of tremendous feats, and also because I know nothing better!

5. Hypersensitive to feedback

I will worry about and question my parenting skills when any feedback or advice comes my way. You see till now I had no experience, but I am not 100% OK with someone else’s either.

6. Going by the book

I read books, articles and blogs written on parenting styles, milestones, what to watch out for and what not. If you missed any milestones, you could bet on some of my hair turning white. You see it took time for me to be confident of my own motherly instincts and judgement.

On the flipside

So that was my guilt list of errors. But before you start wondering about why you were punished thus just because you happened to be born first, let me share some of the beautiful things about our bond.

1. You brought about the biggest life-changing event for me. I have never been more proud of what I as a human could achieve. You made me a woman from a girl.

2. All my first parenting experiences were with you. Your first smile, first full night’s sleep, your first tooth, first vaccination, first scraped knee… you bought in the first of everything.

3. I became obsessed with you. I am positive I have been called crazy behind my back because I have bored everyone with your pictures, anecdotes (which seem funny only to the parent). I’d give you weird funny names thinking they were cute. (Ok, this point might be better off in the mistakes list, but trust me I had only good intentions!)

4. You got the first and for the longest time, the best of me—my love, my patience, and yes practically speaking my physical strength.

5. You brought so many new relations to life—people become grandparents, aunts, uncles for the first time thanks to you!

As the adage goes, “Behind every happy kid is a mom who’s pretty sure she’s messing it all up!”

This post appeared on Huff Post India as ‘An apology to my first born child’

Image credit Pinterest