Squeals of laughter. We were at the park and my daughter was thoroughly enjoying her time there when I was approached by a familiar face. It was one of the nannies who I see at the park regularly. She came straight up to me and said, "Is your daughter potty trained?" and I was about to say, "Hello, it's good to see you too."
For a minute after fumbling to find the right words, I said, "No, but I am trying." She went on ranting about how Kid X she takes care of, is already potty trained and is only a few weeks older than my child. I politely made some small talk and went to another play area.
I felt lost, a little embarrassed and also a little inadequate. Why do people always have the knack to make you feel that way? Why does no one compliment you on the fabulous job you're doing raising your child, but given an opportunity will come up with so many reasons to make you feel insecure and doubt your abilities? I never knew it was a "Mom eat Mom" world out there.
Having a child can be overwhelming, in every possible way. Especially if the child is your first born. You see, kids don't come with a manual. You have to mostly trust your gut, take some advice when needed and sometimes rely on the Internet for a huge chunk of information. I used the internet to Google "How to bathe a three-day-old" because I didn't have much help after my child was born.
You suddenly become the center of everyone's attention. All sorts of advice start pouring in. Some out of genuine care and some unsolicited. Your life seems to be constantly under a microscope.
Once they grow up a little, a different sort of torture begins in the form of questions. "Does she sleep through the night yet?" "Have you sleep trained her?" "Does she eat by herself, yet?" " Discipline them sooner, they learn quickly," "This clothing store is a must visit," "Daycare is the best option," "Are you feeding her well and on time? (this is particularly common with parents and in-laws)" "Oh, poor you, not going back to work. You had such a great future ahead of you," when I'm still there listening to all of it and trying not to let the pressure get to me. But it does, even now.
I ask myself to calm down, take a deep breath and relax.
Staying at home to take care of my baby was a collective decision, to maintain everyone's sanity. The elders back home welcomed the move, however a lot of people (both friends and family) asked me to rethink this decision. Of course I didn't know what was in store and it is a new challenge every day. But I opted for this because I had enough of juggling numbers and analyzing software requirements. I knew this wouldn't be easy but it was an investment from our end towards our child's future. Work will always be there and I will eventually get back when I deem the time is right, until then please don't hold your breath.
Bringing up a child involves a lot of trial and error. What works with your child may not necessarily work with another. So spare yourself all the unwanted pressure. Work at your pace. Sleeping through the night, potty training, feeding themselves, brushing, everything will happen, if you're willing to slow down, take one step at a time and try not kill yourself in the process. We turned out fine, didn't we? They will too. At their pace, don't rush them. If you feel like you need advice, check with whom you feel comfortable, maybe your mother or the child's pediatrician.
Along the way I've discovered these tips on battling the 'critics':
1) Watch your child from time to time. See how beautiful their mind is. Unadulterated, full of curiosity and energy. They are asking you to slow down and appreciate them for what they are. To let them be kids. They might be having a bad day. Or they don't like the colour of the dress they are wearing. Maybe their new shoes are hurting, or their diaper is feeling all weird. They are constantly needing your attention and trying to communicate to you in their own little way. They are helping to discover the inner child in you.
2) Trust your intuition; seek help when you determine so. Reciprocate their feelings. Love unconditionally, it surely does get better.
So, the next time I'm confronted at the park, and someone asks me, "Oh, is she potty trained?" I'm going to turn around and say, "Not yet, that is work is progress, but she knows the name of all the planets, does your child know that?"
Hah. I'm only kidding. Be confident and don't let them get to you.
By Shruthi Malur
Follow Shruthi @nonstopbakbak
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