Breastfeeding Audience

I need some space, and so I am moving out.“, I exclaimed.

She said, “Your generation is extremely selfish. You don’t value relationships.

Yes, Ma! I am selfish. I don’t value those relationships that do not let me feed my newborn privately and peacefully for a few minutes of the day.

What’s there to hide if you’re breastfeeding your child? Or is it something special that you have that others don’t have?”, she asked.

Forget it Mom. You’ll never understand this.

She was the one who taught me that I should keep my body protected from prying eyes at all times. On that day when she told everyone that I ‘have become’ a big girl, she shared many lessons with me, which were probably shared with her by her mom. One of the lessons was to stay away from men, including my father. She dismissed my ‘why’ declaring that I was back talking and was becoming rude and manner-less day by day.

I do remember having lots and lots of arguments with my own mother because I could never find a few minutes of solace to feed my child. Every time I began feeding the baby, someone or the other would enter the room on the pretext of one thing or the other. And no, locking up the room was not an option because ‘our people’ had their stuff kept in the same room, as if there was no other place left in the house.

Today, after 15 years, I told her that I cannot feed my baby peacefully in her house because of the careless intrusion into the room by her male relatives forever staying with her. She said it was ‘ok’ to breastfeed a child in front of anyone. She said if I loved my child with all my heart, nothing should matter to me, not even exposing my bare skin in front of absolutely shameless men. What hurt me more was her comparison with a cow who gets milked irrespective of who all she is surrounded by.

Mom, the cow does kick when annoyed.

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We all are aware of how important breastfeeding is.

Breast milk is best for your baby, and the benefits of breastfeeding extend well beyond basic nutrition. In addition to containing all the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs in the first six months of life, breast milk is packed with disease-fighting substances that protect your baby from illness.

Read the full benefits here at How breastfeeding benefits you and your baby?

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Pregnancy is a biological process and many of our ancestors have been through dozens of deliveries with absolutely no medical assistance and no major issues. But we also need to understand that with the current day lifestyle and the stress related to it, the average female health is becoming worse.

Mothers and newborns are prone to newer and scarier infections. The immediate family must ensure the safety and comfort of the mother and child much more than maintaining relationships. A separate neat and clean room must be provided if possible. First time mothers are anyway hesitant in feeding the baby in front of anyone. So why add to her misery by crowding the place with insensitive relatives who comment on everything from the size of her nipples, to the colour of her breasts, to the amount of milk she produces, to what and how much to eat and when. You are forgetting that you’re intruding into someone’s private space.

I agree that there are mothers who feed the child in front of the world at a railway station or a construction site. But should that restrict you to let your own child/grandchild suffer because his/her mother feels uncomfortable by making her open up her assets in front of everyone. And then you blame it all on her. Is that fair at all?

Breastfeeding is a basic civil right. However much I would want to say that exposing my breasts to feed my child is my right, I cannot shy away from the fact that it is the most uncomfortable and awkward feeling any mother can have. Asking for a few minutes of solitude with your child to let him/her suckle enough of the only food they are allowed in those first few months….is that selfishness?

This morning I saw a young mother trying to cover herself up as much as possible and feed her baby sitting at the bus stop facing the wall. And there were lots of men and women shamelessly staring at her as if waiting to get a glimpse of her bare skin. She finally quit. The poor hungry baby kept crying loudly. When will we learn to let the mother and child be by themselves.

Or is asking for space and time to feed your child really such a huge sin?

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#WeekendDiary – This and That

We love going on long walks or long drives with the girls. It helps us spend time with them and also helps us make them gather learning experience from the various transactions, incidents, people we meet and places we visit.

This weekend was one such. We went to the dry-cleaners to collect some of the garments that we had given the week before. The otherwise quiet firstborn immediately asked me, what dry cleaning was. I told her that the clothes are cleaned using spirit or petrol. The shopkeeper who is a retired lecturer from the Delhi University overheard our conversation. He then explained to her the entire process of dry cleaning in detail. He told her that it is not petrol but PERC (perchloroethylene) that is used to clean the clothes instead of water.  He also told her about the huge hydrocarbon dry-cleaning machine. This was also the first time I had heard about dry cleaning in so much detail.

And then in the evening, we planned to have dinner at my in-laws place. It’s almost 40-45 minutes drive from our place on a heavy traffic day. We were having random discussions when suddenly the husband asked, “Did you throw away that triangle-shaped cheese pack from the refrigerator?” I immediately couldn’t recollect what he was talking about. But the firstborn picked it up. She said that the stinky cheese is still in the refrigerator. That’s when I understood that the subject under discussion was the Canzona Danablu (Danish Blue Cheese) packet. I immediately exclaimed, “Who needs your smelly cheese? We are better off without it.

The husband: “It’s not stinky or smelly. You have got to acquire the taste for it to relish it.

The man is extremely fond of experimenting when it comes to food. And I for that matter am absolutely happy to just order a dal makhni or dal tadka with breads. Not because I don’t like other dishes, but I am very careful experimenting with food.

At this point the mischief bug bit me. I said,

Girls, see! Your Dad eats stinky/smelly cheese and loves his smokey single malt, but doesn’t like the smoke-cooked baigan ka bharta (brinjal) and says he can’t eat at the my relative’s place because the food smells of coconut oil. Kitni naa-insaafi hai!! (How unfair is it!!)”

And then I just sat back and enjoyed the one-sided sermon.

I have this habit of telling the girls (and their father) that I’ll not talk to them when they don’t listen to me or act difficult. But the chatterbox that I am I also have this habit of forgetting whatever I said about not talking. As I told the firstborn for some reason that I’ll not talk to her, Little Love jumps up and says, “Mamma, leave it. Aapse naa ho paayega (That’s not something you can do)! So why do you keep using this same line even when all of us know that it’ll not work?” I simply put a finger on my lip to remind myself not to talk. And trust me I started chatting again within five minutes. Even my threats aren’t working anymore. They never did.

This time when we went walking, we took my parents along. It’s fun to watch the grandparents hangout with their grandchildren. And I absolutely adore the way they teach children some wise lessons through simple stories or anecdotes. I also got an hour and half for myself and my parents all alone after a really long long time. I could sense their joy when they opened the door for me and were surprised to see me. I wish to give them such surprises regularly from now on. I need them more than they need me.

I also took out some time to read Rasana Atreya‘s The Temple is not my father. It has kept me glued so much that this morning I woke up around four and started reading again, to find out what happened to Pullamma finally.

So that’s how I spent my weekend apart from visiting the nearby Krishna temple with family, smacking on chicken biryani from Kerala Cafe, feeding bread crumbs to my birdie friends who are much friendlier now and at least thirty occasions of repeating ‘I’ll not talk to you now.

And by the way, I completely forgot that there was a role play act done by the girls. Both advocating for Mamma. Yay! Here’s Little Love’s fact file against her father.

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So how was your weekend? Did you have fun with family and friends? 

Parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world.

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Picture Credit: Joy of Mom on Pinterest

Now why is it so?

I am a mother of two girls. I have asked myself a hundred questions on parenting. And I have also answered them myself a thousand times. Every time the answers seem to be different and conflicting. And then I start doubting myself as a parent.

Last week has been a tumultuous one. I have been noticing that this daughter of mine has been avoiding a friend for some time now. Recently the other child’s mother also highlighted this. Sudden rifts are part and parcel of the tween and early teen years. I ignored, but my concerns leaped up. What if my daughter’s funk got more serious? What if she didn’t make another friend at all? What if this turned out to be just the first in a series of traumatic childhood incidents?

“This time is when kids are figuring out who they’ll be as adults. They’re separating emotionally from their families, identifying more with other kids. They often change friends until they find a good fit.”

…says Elizabeth Hartley-Brewer, author of Making Friends: A Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Child’s Friendships.

I tried talking to my daughter to understand the problem first hand. I even spoke to the other child based on the little clues I got from mine. When I found out how silly the matter was, I tried talking to my girl and making her understand the importance of forgiving and moving on. And then I found out that how she had been hiding all her emotions within since a long time and that has made her so negative towards the other child. It took me and the husband almost four days to bring her to a level that she finally broke up and let out a few of those incidents involving her friend that had hurt her in the past. For the father, it was a silly matter, but for me it was something that was making my child struggle within and making her rude. How could I let her become a bad girl?

Was that all that was disturbing me?

NO. The main reason was that I had broken up a long-time friendship a few years ago because I chose to listen to another common friend and trust her word about this good friend bitching about me. I still feel shameful about how I confronted her and what all I said to her. The end result is that I have no friends as on today. My trust from friendship has been broken so many times that I am now scared to be close with anyone. And at this instant, I see my child getting into that mode. I want to protect her from getting hurt again and again. I want to save her from losing trust from relationships. What I am not realizing is that she cannot be protected under my wings for long. She has to move out and learn to handle the world all by herself. She has to learn to fight for her survival. She has to learn her lessons by herself. And the best way would be to let her do it alone.

While I chose to create a mountain out of a molehill, the husband just told her this,

“Before you behave in a particular way with someone, ask yourself if you’re right. The best person to answer this is you alone. And before complaining about someone look into your own behavior in that particular situation.”

Parenting becomes more difficult because every parent is reliving their own childhood and trying to make amendments to their own mistakes through their children. We are knowingly or unknowingly asserting our expectations on them. We burden them with ‘I made this mistake so I’ll not let you make it’ instead of ‘You must make your own mistakes in order to learn your own lessons’.

Parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Period.