Finding me in mommee

The first movie that Re and I formed a bond over was Finding Nemo. It’s a story about an ocean fish who one day, finds himself in an aquarium and how he and his friends mastermind his escape. For a long time, I watched it at face value, making appropriate exclamation sounds when Nemo gets trapped by the deep sea diver, his dad’s search mission with the absent-minded Dory, aided by the turtles and finally, Nemo’s grand escape.

But one day, close to Re’s second birthday, it hit me. I was Nemo. I was the ocean fish who had been moved into a tank. I had actually walked into the tank with my eyes open, thinking that I would really love it there.

Till I became a mother, I was always a get-up-and-go girl. I had quit the comfort of my parents’ home, jobs, hostels, apartments and boyfriends to break free, to pursue my dreams, however short-term they were. So the one thing I was missing the most in this whole motherhood business was me. The me that took off to Pondicherry or Gokarna on a whim. The me that wanted to open a bookstore and cafe at Thekkady. The me that wanted to grow coffee. The me that wanted to go to Jomsom so bad that I checked into the Kathmandu airport six days in a row hoping to hear that the weather had improved enough for flights to take off. The me that joined salsa, taichi, capoeira, dance meditation, pottery and film-appreciation workshops because I wanted to. The me that quit advertising to run an animal helpline.

Now, even going for a book reading or a tea-tasting is a multiple-backup project. It was hard to live life with a little person always to account for. Even if that little person was something you birthed and loved dearly. And it was not about finding help, or a day-care or calling your mother. I remembered something someone said. “The day you have a child, you are finished. Your life is no longer your own.” At the time I heard it, the free-spirited soul that I was, I brushed it off. That can never be my life, I thought.

My new universe was full of women who lost themselves after they had children and then blamed motherhood for it. I didn’t want to be that woman, but for the first year or so, I found myself drowning in the quicksand of motherhood. I was no caterpillar, but I was struggling in my motherhood cocoon. If you are a working mom, you legitimately claim it back as soon as you can. But I had let that universe go. And there was no turning back for me. I realised I hadn’t thought it through. There would be enough left of “me” after a whole lot of “me” had been spent by motherhood. And that “me” needed to be nurtured as much as my baby.

I found my ways. I wrote a book. I started a blog. I started tweeting my highs and lows. I was writing and reading more than ever before. Morning shows were my new thing. I found coffees and cupcakes. I found graphic novel libraries. I found every little place that set me free.

When the husband asked me what I wanted for my recent birthday, I said, “I want a real holiday.” “Okay then, why don’t you firm up the dates and book us tickets?”

“You got it wrong. I said I wanted a holiday, not we.”

He looked a tad disappointed, but then, I reminded him that political correctness was never my suit. He smiled. I plotted.

Someday I may want to go back to school. Or just backpack for six months. I didn’t marry spontaneous, so I know it’s going to be tough. I’ll figure out how to make it happen. And if I want it real bad, I can.

A few weeks ago, I joined a street jazz class. I am now learning to pirouette and have just mastered the choreography of 4 minutes by Madonna and Justin Timberlake. Most of the class is half my age, or perhaps younger. Sometimes they call me aunty, sometimes ma’m, and sometimes, when I take Re along, they don’t even look at me. It’s only about him. They have lean, fit bodies, shapely legs and they move with style and attitude. I am having a tough time keeping pace with them, but feeling inadequate has never felt this good. It’s not about getting my body back or shedding that flab or getting into a bikini. It’s just about feeling free, feeling me. I practise hard, it takes me longer to learn the steps that the youngsters have such a natural flair for. But for the first time, I am not afraid to say “I don’t know.” Or “I didn’t get it.” Every Wednesday and Saturday, I put on my dancing shoes and I am out of the house, in a world all of my own for two hours. I am trying to find my inner Nemo, and I must say, I still love her.

 

This post was first featured as my column for the Freedom Special Issue in the Indian Express Sunday Eye on 12th Aug, 2012

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11 thoughts on “Finding me in mommee

  1. Hey Lalita..
    The freedom of choice post is nice…
    I follow your posts in Eye (weekend is the only time I get to glance thru newspaper as my 5 month old njoys with her papa) and can relate to it being a new-mom.
    Keep writing!

  2. Bang on Girl. Yup I know the feeling *hugs* sadly no one around seems to understand . No doubt my kids are the apple of my eye, yet I crave to have some”me” time where i am just “me” with my attitude, my wants,and my dreams. Wow, you have taken up dancing, luv your spirit. Enjoy the “me” time its so precious.

  3. i identify so much with ur post… i ve a 20 month old who s always on the go… i m a doctor but work part time now cos i jus dont ve time to work full time!!! i want to join a pottery class & dance & a fashion designing course…. n so on…but kept postponing em.. after reading ur post i ve decided i ll jus go ahead n join at least one of these…. cheers 🙂

  4. Hi Lalita, I ve been following your articles in the express Sunday eye for a while now, but on reading this article, I knew I had to finally let go my laziness to visit your blog and tell you finally how much I relate to your experiences , and how much I enjoy your writing. This time, you could have been me, writing what I am thinking, feeling, NOW – being a first time mom since the last 6 months! Keep them coming!

  5. same here- my first year of “..drowning in the quicksand of motherhood” I dont know where i get the energy from to go on n on even after im dead tired. I’m discovering myself…I’m guilty of not paying attention to “me” after reading ur post I guess I’ll think about it a lot 🙂

  6. Pingback: The best posts from Indian Bloggers on Freedom, Anurag Kashyap and more

  7. Hi Lalita,
    You r right. Since I have been a mom I have never forgotten myself and tried hard to maintain my official work from home. But, I couldn’t maintain it for long. I couldn’t balance my kid’s care with the official work and finally, decided not to work any more. Now I am happy but still trying to find ‘me’ in the midst of my busy schedule at home with my little one….

  8. Wow! That did resonate – but it is the first few years that is particularly hard. As they grow more independent, you find there are ways in which to carve out ‘Me’ time even while ferrying them up and down classes and play-dates. All the best to you in reclaiming you.

  9. Hi Lalitha,
    i love your articles.As children grow up you will get a lot of
    me time.Meanwhile enjoy your ‘our family’ time as you will start
    wondering how fast children grow up
    Deepa

  10. Dear Lalitha
    Its 1:55 AM IST,I had read your articles on a random earlier but now after 4 years of stay at mom phase I m finding my NEMO as U so aptly word my situation and my reasons are as shallow as yours were of being able to dressup and likes.I have done my PG in advertising and Media mgmt but only after a short stint got married n quit it for a more domesticated life that I so want to break free.I love the way u have put across your feelings and I so relate to them,thanku for making me feel that I m not being unreasonable by demanding to reclaim my life .
    Discussing simple feelings in such an engaging manner is a real art.
    Vasudha

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