Monday, May 8, 2017

If You Believe You Are A Supermom, You are a Victim not a Victor



avoid socializing with women who cannot talk beyond their kids. No, it has nothing to do with them making me feel like a useless Mom. An alien who can’t even recall the name of the papers her daughter is appearing for in her final exams next week among a sea of women who know each chapter of the course-book by heart. Rather I am filled with dread as I hear them discuss their sons and daughters’ goals they have set and make plans for a future that’ll have them at the steering wheel.

Like any mother holding her baby for the first time in her arms, I too was overcome with a resolution of being the best Mom in this universe to my only child. The one I had birthed after 12 hours of excruciating pain. I read up all the books that were ever written on childcare in the history of humanity. I constantly exchanged notes with other Mommies on diets, regimens, early habits that should be inculcated to bring up a superkid. I slogged, stressed and worried incessantly. But somewhere along the line I realised no matter what I did, there were always tots who were brighter, better, chubbier than my baby.

Our neighbour’s toddler was a sterling example of everything my daughter wasn’t. All I had to do was step out on the balcony and our neighbour’s 2 and a few months old kid would start reciting the alphabet song with sickening accuracy. Two taps on the kid’s back he would start quoting from Shakespeare and three taps was when he’d launch into his take on quantum theory. It was as if his Mom had made it her sole mission to dazzle me with her son’s brilliance. My 3 year old daughter unmindful of her mother’s crippling feeling of inadequacy would continue caressing the utensils that she’d dragged from the kitchen with the broom.

It got worse when Tee started school. This is where I had my first taste of supermoms. This specimen was always found hovering near the teachers, could be spotted at all school events volunteering and never missed a PTM in its life. Its offspring was half a dozen chapters ahead of the class and usually had a super-achieving elder sibling in the same school. After school these alpha kids were carted to their theatre, dancing, piano, painting, gymnastics and math-for-genius classes.

These kids stood out from the rest of the class. They believed they were better than the rest and had this vicious need to assert themselves by ganging up their friends against students who couldn’t care less about their supremacy. It was as if they had internalized their parents’ aggression and anxiety to excel.

As a mother I understand this need of working ceaselessly towards making your ward outshine others. Then there’s maternal instinct that makes you do everything possible to protect her from despair, failure and hurt. But when this extends to micro-managing her life - treating her school projects, assessments, exams, even disagreements with friends as your own, you encourage the apple of your eyes to absolve herself of responsibility and accountably. You end up raising kids incapable of handling stress, failure on their own. And this extends to their adulthood when you are no longer available to fret and fuss around them.


It’s not as is if being a supermom is a cakewalk. You end up devoting all your time, your pursuits to orchestrate and fine tune your offspring’s life. So even when you take some time off to meet up friends, all you can talk about is curriculum, exams and results. Also, when you sacrifice so much, hoping your efforts will translate into success and happiness, you also expect your child to reciprocate as enthusiastically. But that doesn’t always happen, does it? Especially when they grow up and realise there’s a world beyond their Ma’s protective embrace. The obedient ones continue toeing the line. Some are unable to tackle the guilt being unable to live up to their parents’ expectations and others rebel.

So if you are busy congratulating yourself for being a multi-tasking diva, let me tell you, you are but a victim to the biggest con in this world. First of all there’s something inherently wrong with this title. It assumes that working yourself to exhaustion, donning multiple roles as a caregiver, decision maker, and crisis manager is normal. It is not. Also, parenting is not just a mother’s job. It is meant to be shared by both the parents.

So stop fancying yourself as a superwoman who can set the world right with a cape slung on her shoulder as she whizzes from one task to another. When you strive for this level of perfection and set unrealistic expectations, you end up being super-stressed. You put yourself last in the list of your priorities and pretty soon your family starts taking your superpowers to do everything right for granted, while they put their legs on the table and relax.

In fact it’s you that needs to relax and take it easy. Believe me, your child can manage better without you hovering over her like an anxious bee. It stresses her as much as it stresses you. And I have noticed, the more instructions, diktats and advice you give them, the less they listen to you. You become just an annoying noise that needs to be blocked.

Try being just a Mom. Be her friend. Let her know you will love her and support her no matter what. Listen to her.

The path to becoming just a Mom is simple. You need to accept the more you protect her from vagaries of life, the more you cushion her fall, the less you allow her to mature and reach her full potential. You wouldn’t want to become like that tall leafy tree that dwarfs the little plants growing under its shade, would you?

Don’t be afraid to let her fall. Let her know, mistakes are normal and failure is not shameful. As a mother there’s no greater satisfaction in seeing your child make her own decisions and take responsibility for it. Help her choose her goals, let her chart her own path to happiness. The more you loosen the strings, the higher she will soar with confidence.

And always remember, just because you think you know her best doesn’t mean you’ll live her life for her.




57 comments:

  1. Fantastically written ! I just loved this ! Keep writinng Purba

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  2. Sometimes I wonder if I loosened my grip too soon, too much. But it's too late now.
    Moms who are obsessed with their kids make me very uneasy.
    Well written, as always.

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    1. Better than tightening your grip so hard that you let him slip away.

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  3. This is so true.. just being a mom in itself is much bigger feat that many a super hero combined...and what is with all nicknames -Super Mom, Tiger Mom and god knows what else.

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  4. Absolutely agree with every word. I once heard from the coordinator at school when I complained why the children were getting holiday homework in Diwali that some parents had asked for it. What kind of maniacs do this to their kids? I thing people are living their ambition vicariously through their kids killing themselves and their kids in the bargain. And Supermom -- I detest that term. Even superwoman. Ever wondered why there is no such term as Superdad.

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    1. SuperDads exist too. And they are as annoying.

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  5. Frankly, I do not aim for the title. Though, I love to be present for my Toddler whenever he wants but that's not possible for me with full time Job. I do not punish myself for this but try to spend quality tie with him whenever possible. Great read.

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    1. Our love, caring, and a gentle prodding towards the right direction is all what a child needs.

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  6. Pearls of wisdom here ! Amazingly written as usual !

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  7. I ld give myself a prize if I managed to be decent enough to pull off being a regular mom!

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    1. Exactly! Being a Mom is hard enough.

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  8. I am not a mom but just a bad Indian parent. I confess I never sent my children to coaching classes, didn't enrol them for advanced physics in prep nor brainwash them to become a doctor (though with the rising health care costs I might have made an error in that one). Instead we did sports on the weekends, choosing to be cab drivers for the entire Saturday. Does this qualify us to be Super-Parents?

    Fortunately my daughter, out of her own free will, chose to do an Engineering degree and thereby redeemed our status in the Indian samaaj. At the moment it also looks like the younger one will follow her footsteps in a couple of years. My wife and I are quite happy now to claim all credit for their success.

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    1. Like many other Desi parents, I envy you 😁

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  9. Absolutely brilliant read! I was nodding all along, as I read about the over achieving next door kid and his obsessed mom. There really are quite a few specimens like them around, specifically aiming to undermine not-so-super-moms!

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  10. Very nicely written and some hard hitting facts which we must remember but we tend to forget.

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  11. So beautifully expressed Purba! Though I am a father to an only daughter but just like you have believed in making her learn and don wings to fly in the direction she chooses. The over protection is not a shield that will hold forever.

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    1. It's a much needed investment for a happy future. we can't always be around them to protect and guide them.

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  12. Hear hear, all mothers! It is so sad to see mothers fretting over their kids so much so that they hardly think about themselves. Oh, the sacrifices they make to be with their kids at all times! It is almost as if their interests die when children are born. Glad that you made this point here. :)

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    1. And what happens to the Moms once their child flies the coop?

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  13. Defiant Princess09 May, 2017 17:11

    You should write a parenting book you know. It'd be a bible for new moms like me ;)

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    1. Darling, it's not just a child that grows under your care. You learn as much if not more as a parent.

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  14. 'The more you loosen the strings, the higher she will soar with confidence.'
    What a brilliant piece of advice Purba.
    Goading a poor kid for excelling in every conceivable sphere begins early these days.
    Since I live in this hub of coaching craze,I see such moms all around me.They sacrifice the comforts of their home and live in a room or two with their kid for a few years.Yes,they sacrifice a lot,but then I am overcome by thoughts about the extent to which their kids will reciprocate their labor.And the plight of the kids too evokes a lot of sympathy.If they are in this tussell because of their ambitions--fine,but if they are coerced into this regime then the results can be tragic.

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    1. I am not sure why Kota is allowed to flourish. Young boys and girls are treated like robots with no thought given to their mental health. And nobody wants to talk about it.

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  15. When I was a child I had my parents set rules for me and shadow me very often. Of course, they meant to protect me, but I ended up becoming very dependent on them, to such an extent that it took me years after graduation to attain some degree of independence and control over my decisions. So you're right, letting kids make their own mistakes and then being around to help them bounce back confidently will help them become confident human beings who are capable of helping others as well.

    But yeah, I think it's immensely important for me as a parent to set certain ground rules and value systems, and most importantly to live by them so that I set a good example.

    We're so used to seeing you write humour ma'am. Loved to see yet another facet of your personality. 😊

    Cheers,
    CRD

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    1. Then you should read my blog more often. I have written quite a few serious pieces :-)

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  16. Just knowing there are other mothers out there who haven't byhearted their kids' study books makes me happy and relieved...

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    1. I hope for the kids' sake, there are many more

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  17. Those are sobering thoughts, Purba. Every individual is unique and we must give space to our progeny to prosper, which includes allowing them to stumble. I am happy to report, at least I believe it is so, I never tried to be a super-parent.

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    1. I am sure your daughters appreciate your non-efforts :-)

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  18. Just reading about what supermoms do gave me a headache! I'm thankful that I am following your advice but for the most selfish of reasons - I just don't want to! Too tiring and I am too lazy! So, my poor kids are pretty much on their own! :D

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    1. By the way, sorry for being MIA for so long!

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  21. Your thoughts are brilliant Purba on this whole competitive life where kids cannot breath but see competition to be the best. Honestly, it scares me a lot with this whole comparing kids on who is ahead. The innocent ones tend to lose in the rat race where parents should encourage their creative side, be it music, writing or the arts. Parents need to take a chill pill.

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    1. They should stop trying to live their life through their kids'. Breathing space and trust is all they need from their parents and definitely not the burden of expectations.

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  22. Some Moms should just let their kids be themselves without forcing them or constantly being behind them. And most importantly, Moms should realize they have a life too and it's equally important to take care of themselves and follow their interests too.

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    1. And what happens when their kid flies from the coop? They are left bereft of any purpose and interests.

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  24. What a presentation !!!!…simply superb one.

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  25. I was reading about this three -year-old child who remembers the name of 10000 cars, knows the components of soft drinks hence doesn't drink them. Can talk about Iphones like this life depends on them, all because his mom read somewhere that ' there are special cells in children's brain when activated under 5 years of age, can do wonder to them '. Woaaa
    And then I also know of this another 3- year-old who got her head shaved. When I asked her where her hair gone, she sheepishly told me ' Kauwaaa le gaya'
    Child number 1 stays at home most of the time with this gadgets and goes for tennis coaching thrice a week.
    Child number two keeps looking for excuses to go out and play in the park next to her house.

    Which one has a better childhood is not even a matter of debate.

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    1. Time to go back to the age of minimal parenting and let our children breathe.

      I just hope Mom no 2 is not dying of guilt for not doing enough for her progeny.

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  26. Agree with your parenting style a cent percent. Not to sound judgmental but it's almost heinous to be a mother who tries to project her own ambitions on her child. And selfish!

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    1. A lot of it stems from insecurity, I feel.

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  27. all this time away from blogging I kept thinking what was i misisng and THIS .. this is what I been missing .. lovely read and good to read something on return :)

    Bikram's

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    1. Welcome back. It's now me who has taken a longer than I had anticipated break from blogging.

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  28. 'Two taps on the kid’s back he would start quoting from Shakespeare...'
    It's so funny. But no, very thought-provoking post.

    I totally agree when you say, 'I realised no matter what I did, there were always tots who were brighter, better, chubbier than my baby.' Just like no matter what you Do, you will always find someone more talented, more intelligent, more successful than you.

    The pressure of doing everything (best) for your child is so much that sometimes it makes you wonder if you are doing enough. It's a feel good article. :)

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    1. I am glad you liked. Thank you for reading.

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  29. A thought-provoking read. Thank you!

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