Hi, my name is Lalita Iyer and I am a stay-at-home mother.
If that sounded like I am part of Mommaholics Anonymous, it was not meant to.
I just realised that the phrase stay-at-home mommy (also referred to as SAHM in cooler forums) is used like it is meant to reflect some kind of statis. Of someone waiting for her nails to dry. Of someone who ‘stays,’ waiting for her child to go to sleep, so she can venture out and get her upper lip done. Of someone who ‘stays,’ waiting for her child to wake up, so she can take him on that planned play-date. Of someone who ‘stays’ waiting for her child to finish eating, so she can get him to sleep. Of someone who ‘stays’ waiting for her child to finish with his water-play, so she can actually get him on to more serious water business, like a bath. Of someone who ‘stays’ on Facebook, waiting for a new mommy idea to emerge, so she has one more thing to do with her child. Of someone who ‘stays,’ waiting for someone, anyone, to call her over for a play-date. Of someone who ‘stays,’ waiting for her husband to return so she can plonk the baby on him and get on with her life. Or her nails. Or that book she finished reading 43 pages of. Or just herself.
The reality is, there is no statis in stay-at-home mommyhood. I blame the illusion on Physics, my favourite subject in school, which defines a body in a constant state of velocity as being still or motionless. It couldn’t have been more oxymoronic. My biggest role models, people I am in awe of, are mothers who have managed stillness. I am trying hard to get there, so I can wear the stay-at-home title proudly and not act flummoxed every time someone refers to me as one. My problem is, the areas of stillness have too much motion or flux embedded in them. It’s like being awake even when you are sleeping. Am I making sense?
Okay, let me put it in perspective. I am Gemini, I can often do three things at one time and do them incredibly well. I used to nurse, text, read and make to-do lists at the same time when Re was an infant. It seemed so much simpler. Now, I am a glorified ventriloquist’s doll. I just do as told by the boy. The key words these days are Mamma, thit! (which should be read as ‘sit’), Mamma, do! and Mamma, no!
I follow instructions. When I am trying to build a castle with blocks, I am told to ‘thit’. So I sit. And watch. When I am trying to catch 40 winks (and mind you, most times, it doesn’t make it to 40), I am handed over a pile of books, and told, Mamma, this! So I read. Once I start reading, the book is abruptly shut and I am handed over another and told, this! As as we reach 12 books, or 10 minutes of doing this, I am dragged to the next room, handed over a DVD and told, Mamma, this!
For the next half hour, I am the DVD deejay of sorts, shuffling between Finding Nemo, Madagascar and Ice Age with a speed that makes me look like I was on ecstasy.
Then, Re displays his low-attention span genes (a Gemini trait, ironically inherited from me) and says Mamma, come! And takes me to the bathroom. Alright, water-play it is! So we fill a bucket, get a variety of mugs and floating toys, and I have it all planned. We will fill some water in each of the little thingees, transfer the water from one to the other, pretend to wash the bath toys and I will stealthily give Re a bath.
NO SUCH LUCK.
In five minutes, Re suspects my intentions, looks me in the eye and says, Mamma, go!
Dude, you are too young for space, I tell him. His gaze doesn’t shift. Now, he is pointing a finger and saying, Mamma, no!
Talk about boundaries. While I am busy figuring out how to define mine, he has already defined his.
So, the result is, I have no ‘staying’ power even in my most basic activities. Like if I am eating, I could be asked to stop eating. And jump. On the trampoline. Which I bought. For him. As a birthday present. So he could expend some of his newly found testosterone. Or if I am having a bath, I could be evicted, because he wants to wash his socks (I am not into child labor, but he likes washing stuff, so, what do I do?). Or if I am on the pot, I could be asked to hurry up, since the husband has been woken up and doesn’t know what to do with him for the four and a half minutes that I am, you know, doing my thing. Or if I am trying to write this blog, the laptop could be abruptly shut down and I could be told, Mamma, bish! which loosely means enough in Hindi.
But I am a stay at home mom, and I agreed to do the lion’s share of parenting, so I can’t complain. The husband puts the bread on the table. And organic pasta and rice and gourmet mustard and feta cheese. He has late nights at work, so he wakes up late. Plus he is not a morning person, so how can I tell him that mornings are the only time he can catch up on quality time with his son?
This morning, Re woke up at his regular 7 am, and demanded his regular Nemo fix. He watched it for his regular seven minutes and then decided he wanted to visit the kitchen and pick out his culinary challenge for the day. Today was chapati-making. So he wrestled a ball of chapati dough from the cook and decided we had to do it the community way. I don’t remember watching any Karan Johar movies recently or while he was in my womb, but Re’s motto seems to be ‘It’s all about loving the family’. The cats are not spared either, as they too are yanked from their somnambulistic state to participate in whatever manner he wants them to.
I do as told. We roll the dough into three balls (again, it’s all about loving the family, so one for each) and Re then proceeds to show off the first rolled chapati to dadda. The husband, still dysfunctional and whiny, and someone who has never rolled a chapati in his life, doesn’t know what to do. So he whines some more about wanting to sleep, and Re pulls him back, asking him to ‘thit!’
I am just happy that he is fighting his own battles and I don’t have to lecture the husband on hands-on parenting for long.
PS: I quickly finished writing this blog while Re was sleeping. I don’t know what I will be asked to do next. I am sorry I have been irregular, but I promise to be more regular, even if it means burning the midnight oil.