Second Child: Falling In Love All Over Again….

The thought of having second child terrified me. I was scared of not loving him enough. Lately I have heard the same thing from many other moms. It’s only natural to feel this way. 

Recently I came across this beautiful piece of writing by a mother who had the same doubts but learnt how easy it is to love your children irrespective of the order of their births. It warmed my heart to read my own feelings put into words, hope you love it as much as I did. 

“So, this is what it feels like to fall in love so hard, all over again….
I loved your dad with all of my heart. He filled up my heart from corner to corner. My heart shined every time I looked at him. I felt so complete.

Then, your brother came along…..
He rattled my heart. He stretched and shook it till I couldn’t breath. He made my heart bigger and settled himself right in, and every time I looked at him my heart skipped a beat. It’s a side effect of having your heartshaken so hard, I guess.
My heart was so full of love for your dad and your brother that it couldn’t possibly fill in any more or it will explode. There’s just no more room.

Then, you came along….
How can this be? My heart…. It’s beating so fast. How can someone so tiny have that much strength to open up my already filled heart and stretched it out even more? I thought I would need a new heart for each one of you. But mine just grew.

You looked up at me, searching…..
I took your tiny little hand and reassured you that all is right and that I would do anything in this world for you. You squeezed my finger and relaxed. I trembled and closed my eyes as my heart grew from out of me and shined on my face with the warmth of its sunrise.

– By Fam Chiem Saechao”

Mundane musings, Parenting

Stop Telling Your Daughter She’s Pretty

Ever since Darling Daughter’s birth, I am witness to people constantly telling her how cute she is. Everyone who met her commented on her appearance, her dress, shoes, hair style. Initially I thought maybe because she’s a baby people didn’t have much to comment on. Soon she was a smart and active toddler. She was a good talker and before long you could have a meaningful conversation with her. Still people continued to compliment on how pretty she looks. It sort of bothered me but I never took it too seriously until Darling Daughter started giving a lot of importance to how she’s looking. She was old enough to understand and smart enough to process that she received more compliments when she looked more girly. As a result there came a time when she refused to wear anything but dresses. She still refuses to tie her hair up because she feels she doesn’t look very nice that way.

I have been guilty of giving such compliments myself. I understand its a habit we get into because our culture expects women to look beautiful before they can be termed smart or intelligent or creative. Media also reinforces these stereotypes. Around an year ago Darling Daughter was watching a cartoon about a dinosaur family she had not watched before. She told me something the Mumma dinosaur said or did and I asked her how she knows it’s the Mumma and not the Daddy dinosaur and my daughter who was all of 3 years that time told me because she has longer eye lashes and pink cheeks!! 

We may think they are too small but they notice the tiniest things. I was so unhappy with the animators. Why did they have to beautify female animals for a show meant for kids? The books of opposites often have picture of a boy with shabby clothes under ‘Dirty’ and a dolled up girl under ‘Clean’. I am yet to see a book that has the reverse pictures.

This is what we are feeding into our children’s minds unconsciously and it’s extremely unhealthy. During my short stint as a Pre-school teacher I first hand saw many little girls’ aversion to paint, sand, mud… Anything that would make their hands dirty. Hardly any boy was concerned about dirt and appearance. It can’t be all genetic, somewhere we are responsible for it.

Seeing how Darling Daughter is affected by so much importance to vanity has made me change the way I talk to little girls now. I have also started requesting family and close friends to tone down their appearance-centric compliments and focus on her other qualities. Whenever she says something about looking pretty or beautiful I tell her that being kind and smart is more important than being pretty. On every possible occasion I drill into her mind that people who are kind and polite always look good no matter what they wear, but people who are not very kind don’t always look nice despite wearing lovely clothes. 

Thankfully Darling Daughter has started to respond, and is getting more open about wearing clothes other than dresses and occasionally tying her hair differently. I’m not against her wearing clips or frocks, but the reason why she makes these choices bothers me. I know how our society expects too much from a woman and I want my daughter to overcome those expectations. I want her to feel comfortable in her skin and not be vain. 

I want her to love her body the way she is and not let anyone define the benchmarks of beauty for her. I don’t want her to look at others for approval where her appearance is concerned. The earlier generations have suffered enough, this generation needs to have healthy self-esteem and body image.

There is nothing wrong in making an effort to look beautiful and to dress well but there is a right time for that. This is her time to run wild, jump in muddy puddles, get her hands and clothes messy doing things she enjoys – not playing Miss Prim and Proper.


Mundane musings

When Your Misery Makes You Happy 

It’s common knowledge that some people derive happiness from others miseries, but do you know that misery can be pleasurable to the one who’s miserable too?

I was introduced to this concept during my graduation. I had a friend who was more like my soul-sister. She was wise beyond her years and knew me better than I did myself. She was also my room mate and we spent lot of time together. There was a time when I used to be very low and sad. She saw me wallow in my insignificant miseries day after day and possibly got annoyed. Having the good judgement that its a sensitive and explosive topic for a discussion, she wrote me a letter telling me how she felt about my situation and the way I was handling it.

In her letter she wrote that misery can also be a source of pleasure and I had become a person who wanted to glorify the tiniest miseries in my own mind so I could feel good and happy. Her words stuck a raw nerve. I read and reread her letter, mulled over her words and concluded that what she said was shockingly true.

Misery is self indulgent. Sometimes people find it hard to let go of things that make them miserable, or make efforts to improve their situation because misery is easy and familiar. Its always the same so you don’t get an unpleasant surprise. Happiness takes effort and can go away as soon as it came. The fall from a peak of happiness can be very painful, misery has no such risk. Happiness is unreliable, misery is more permanent hence comforting. These are few reasons why some people prefer to stay miserable than try to find happiness. 

You may be thinking that I am out of my mind but hey! I did my research. Here are a few snapshots of things people said about their relationship with distress. 

However, I feel there’s more to it than the comfort and security.

  • Sympathy. Even those who vehemently deny needing sympathy fall prey to this pleasure their misery provides. An off-hand remark about how others are better off that you, a perfectly timed sigh or a strong-looking expression goes a long way in making people feel sorry for you which is rewarded by kind attention and acknowledgement of your desolate situation. It indulges your ego in some twisted way. There is a certain addiction in the way people attend to you when they hear about your problems, the way they care for you because they feel bad you had to go through tough times. Most people don’t want to hurt or neglect a person who’s already in pain, while people who have a normal life and are happy are easy to abuse and hurt.
  • Misery makes you feel entitled. You can say that others won’t understand your pain because they haven’t suffered your loss and feel great about bearing it all with a smile. Moreover, there’s nothing special about being happy. It should be the norm, right? But misery, well, now that’s unusual, hence special. Being miserable and having something major to credit it to makes you feel like a martyr, something that separates you from the lesser mortals who are happy or are leading a normal life.
  • Misery is a bailout card. A miserable person can be selfish without feeling guilty. You can get away with hurting others, being rude or jealous because “you are so miserable you can’t think straight”. You can make rude jokes on yourself or compare your situation with another less unfortunate person to highlight your tragedy but no one can dare say anything that remotely reminds you of it, because that would be “rubbing salt on your wounds”. Yea, you are entitled to joke about it because its your tragedy not theirs. 
  • Misery is easy to talk about. Human nature is biased for all things negative. Most people rarely share their joys with others but readily share their sorrows, it is difficult for us to praise someone but easy to criticize, we crib more than we appreciate. I don’t know why that is but sad things are easy to talk about. Don’t believe me? Be conscious of your casual discussions for the next few days (not business talks) and notice that sooner or later the conversations drift to the sad state of society or the poor infrastructure or corruption or another negativity.

P.S. – If you have had a tragedy in your life that you are not able to overcome, my words may seem harsh and I apologize for it. I am not talking about people who are sad , but about those who have started to derive pleasure from it. It is a sensitive topic and has been written only for academic purposes.