Sunday, August 2, 2015

Maa ki Mamta, Pyaar Pita ka

'Equal Parenting'?
Hell, yessssss!

Image source:  श्री Google देवाय नमः।
Men carrying babies through the second half of pregnancy. Wooo hooooooo!
Men being scrutinized, poked, prodded and groped by so many medical 'professionals' for monthly exams. Ouch! Oh, you'll get used to it.
Men breastfeeding on alternate nights. Woot! Woot!
Men being made to wear ridiculous scarves over their ears and socks post delivery, even if it is sweltering Mumbai summers.
Men being fed *healthy*,obnoxious, ghee-laden gloop by well-meaning family members because what they eat is what the baby gets! And then being judged for not losing the pregnancy weight and advised about paternity shapewear.
Men being judged when their kids throw tantrums, fall ill or generally behave anything less than perfect model citizens of Planet Earth. तुम्हारे बाप ने कुछ सिखाया भी है या नहीं?

You betcha! I am all for and most certainly in favour of 'Equal Parenting'. Sadly, that doesn't look like it is happening in this lifetime of mine.

So, a lot of my feminist friends... And I am a feminist too! Not the bra-burning type, though. Good lingerie are works of art and marvels of technology. And I do appreciate both art and technology. So, coming back to my feminist friends- they believe in sharing responsibilities as equal parenting after the kid is born. I totally agree.

My problems, however, begin with how to quantify it? Parenting, as I see in the ideal, civil world that I appear to live in, is the direct consequence of love (the unprotected, 'with utter, absolute abandon' kind). So how do I quantify it and then divide by two for Equal Parenting?

Is changing 50% of the nappies sharing of responsibilities? Is picking and dropping the kid to school for exactly half the number of days sharing of responsibilities? Is preparing and feeding exactly half the food, the answer? That seems to me, like the equivalent of saying apartheid could be done away with, if everyone strived to achieve a universally agreed-upon shade of brown skin.
Ideal. And absurd.
As we've heard all too often पांचों उंग़लियाँ कभी भी बराबर नहीं होती।

No, I do not think that the माँ की ममता, or for that matter, ममता की माँ is the pefect picture of Equal Parenting either. 'That mothers cook and dads earn', I should love to believe we've evolved beyond that, although some school texts still continue to defiantly taunt me with their outdatedness. My husband enjoys cooking more than I do (that does not, however, mean that he cooks as a duty, or that he cleans up after cooking. And given that we live in a joint family, his culinary adventures are a rare phenomenon that occurs only during the prolonged absence of the elders). And I am certainly better with reading, studies and paperwork, social management and communications, than he is.

Equal parenting is about being happy around your child and consequently the child being comfortable around both parents. Both parents have personalities of their own, apart from from the masks of maturity that society (traditional or contemporary) would have us wear.

So, when I expect him to share responsibility, I expect him to nurture in her those traits that she has inherited from him. Taste-buds, for instance. A love for swimming and movies. A certain languid approach to life, unlike my tendency to take on too many things at the same time. I expect him to pamper her (not spoil her) when I am strict. To be strict with her in departments where I tend to slack (you are very naive indeed, if you think I am disclosing *those shortcomings* in this very public post that I am writing for a contest #ItTakes2ToParent hosted by First Moms Club and Himalaya Baby Care ).

Equal parenting is perhaps about achieving a balance. With all the dexterity of a double Ph.D-holding chemist working to equalise the precise micro-grammage required to create that super secret, omnipotent formula that will be sweet revenge on the rest of the world that labelled him a nerd and a geek.

And when that 'Sooper-Faarmoola' is ready, it will, expectedly, behave in the most unpredictable manner and blow up in the chemist's face. KABOOMMM!
That is how *any* sort of parenting will end up. Just wait and watch as the kid steps into the glorious teens :)

Parenting is only one (albeit, a very important) aspect that will affect your child's behaviour in the 'nurture+nature= personality' equation. Equal parenting can only help nurture what is inherently the child's nature. And the best approach to equal parenting is to help the child with what both parents are individually good at and comfortable with. And allow the child to parent you with what he or she is good at. We often allow the pressures of perfection and the burden of responsibility to take away from us the joys of life.

Appreciate each other for who you are and respect the child for what he or she is. Irrespective of what the world has to say about it. Take a chill pill. Enjoy parenting while it lasts. I assure you it won't be long before your kid starts finding you an interference in her life. My 6 year old already thinks her name is not good enough (It is a rare, unique, Sanskrit name that I spent *days* post a Caesarean, finalising on!) and thinks she can stay home alone because she can now climb the kitchen platform to fill water from the Aquaguard and knows what is where in the fridge. And she hasn't even watched the Home Alone movie yet.


  1. Ha ha ha.. I loved the dialogue, we rare to hear ;)

  2. The tears in my eyes must all be mamta ke aansu. Loved this very much.

    1. Yeh lo... Aanchal se pochh lo! That is what maa ka aanchal is for. And for wiping snot.


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