27 April, 2007

Is child rearing Boring ??

Is there something abnormal if

Moms drop their child off at school and fetch their child from school everyday ?

Moms go to the park with their children and stay there the whole time ?

Moms do not entrust the responsibility of taking their children out to play to a helper or a maid ?

Moms do not entrust the primary caretaking responsibility towards her children – either fully or partly – to a helper or a maid ?

I, for one, have been told umpteen number of times by a lot of people that it indeed is !!!!

And surprisingly enough, most of the people who have chosen to air this particular view are SAHM’s.

Some of the views that have particularly stood out are

“Children are children and they grow up – irrespective of whether we are around or not – don’t they ?”

“We carried them around for nine months and then went through the ordeal of labor and childbirth. So now are we not entitled to some time of our own.”

“Maids are being paid, are they not. They bathe the children, feed them, drop them off at school, bring them back and this works for me because I don’t have the time to get into all this nitty gritty”

“Arrey what yaar !! The same routine everyday. Bacchon ko nehlao, khana khilao, park lekar jaao. Kaafi boring lagti hai mujhe tho”


By no means do I mean to say that I'm a saint. Far from it actually.

There have been innumerable number of days when my kids have driven me up the wall, when they have driven me to virtual insanity, they've driven me nuts so much so that by the end of the day I've had to hang on to sanity by the skin of my teeth. There have been a number of instances where I've pulled them up for some wrongdoing or the other. There have been plenty of times when I've had to grit my teeth and resist the urge to pull at my hair.

But I have to admit that life is anything but boring with them around.

Boring ??? Humdrum ??? Lackluster ??? – Are these sentiments that one would normally associate with bringing up a child ?

Many a time, I’ve been told by a lot of other SAHM’s that it is healthier to “let go” of the children and entrust their caretaking responsibility to a helper or a maid – partly or even better fully. The reasoning being that the children have to learn to live without their parents around. And the earlier you do that, the better. The younger the children when their parents leave them in the care of a third person, the better. One person whom I was acquainted with has even gone to the extent of saying “If the children get smacked around by the maid, let them – it’ll teach them to value and respect their parents better”.

I too am firmly of the belief that children should not be hanging on to the coattails of their parents all through their life. But to willfully entrust the responsibility of being a primary caretaker to a helper/maid while the child is not grown up enough to understand what is correct and what is wrong in terms of what other people do to/with them, while the child is not grown up enough to be able to verbalize and vocalize their feelings AND whilst the mom is very much a SAHM - is something I still cannot stomach.

Maybe this stems from the fact that I’ve witnessed a lot of children being ill treated by maids. I’ve seen maids sitting and gossiping amongst themselves while a toddler goes and licks the walls all around a rubbish dump. I’ve seen maids hitting children for not having heard them the first time around. I’ve seen children almost choking on food because the maids are in a hurry to get the feeding done and over with. I’ve seen children choking on food because the maids are too busy talking over their phone or talking to yet another maid whilst feeding the child and the topic of discussion is so interesting that the child is neglected. I’ve seen children being fed with spoons which have fallen onto the pavement (where scores of shoes and boots walk) because the maids just don’t feel the need to go that one extra mile in having to clean the spoon or get another one.

I remember with distinct clarity an incident that happened at the supermarket and this was when I was seven months pregnant with my first child. I stopped over at the supermarket on my way back from work and while I was at the fruit section I saw a maid repeatedly screaming at a child who could not have been more than 2 years old. No one else was paying any attention and apathy is a very common sentiment among the locals here in Hongkong. She repeatedly kept screaming at the child – all because she was busy talking on her cell phone and the child kept interrupting her because he wanted an apple. Finally, she just lost it and dragged the child roughly and pushed him violently, so much so that he stumbled backwards and banged his head on a trolley and fell down on the floor. Instead of backing off and ensuring that the child was not badly hurt, this particular maid decided to go one step further and she went ahead and started smacking the child for having fallen down.

And I guess that was when I lost it !!!

I very vividly remember standing there, all of seven months pregnant and looking it, thoroughly livid and screaming at that maid. I was totally beside myself then. I was fuming, outraged and totally furious and I gave that maid a piece of my mind. I threatened to call the police and the Social Services Dept right then and she burst into tears. Trust me, no doctor would have wanted to take a look at my BP right then.

Just a couple of weeks back, a child went missing from the park. The maid, instead of staying in the park and keeping an eye on the child, left the child in the park and quietly slipped out to carry on a conversation on her cellphone in peace. And the child disappeared from the park and no one knew where she had gone. The maid went hysterical when she got back to the park and a few of us who know each other spread out all around the huge park, looking for the child who is about 3 ½ years of age. She was nowhere to be seen. I still remember the cold feeling of frightening dread that I felt while searching among the dense thickets and bushes for the child. It was heart wrenching and never ever has my heart pounded out of fear like it did that day. She was found quite sometime later – she had wandered off all by herself to the lobby of the block in which she stays. All’s well that ends well – is what the adage says and in this case, fortunately, it stood true.

Some parents are faced with a situation wherein both the husband and the wife have no choice but to work for a living. In such cases, they have no choice but to leave their child with a helper. My heart goes out to such parents who have no choice but to continue working and much against their wishes have to leave their children under the care of helpers/maids, whilst all the while wondering how the child is being treated or taken care of.

There are mothers who have chosen to work after having had children and as I have gleaned from them, they know exactly what they want and what they are doing and there has not been a single instance wherein I have heard a working mom saying that she puts her job ahead of her child. Not One !!!

Parental responsibility does not end when a child is brought into this world. Rather – it begins when a child is brought into this world. And bringing children up is anything but a dreary routine. There is nothing humdrum or boring or monotonous about it. Quite the contrary.

And leaving children in the care of maids/helpers just because “child rearing” is a “mundane chore” which can just be handed over to someone else is something that is totally beyond me.

I cannot help but recall here a quote from "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

19 voice(s) said so:

Shruthi said...

Good post... beautifully expressed.

GettingThereNow said...

WOW! That there are parents who think taking care of their own kids is "boring" is something I would never have believed. I don't think it is abnormal for you to want to do everything for them - from dropping them off at school, to picking them up and taking them to the park. I don't understand the argument that kids need to be "weaned" from their parents. Agreed you have to let go some time. But when they are so young, they need the confidence that their parents are always going to be there for them. During their difficult pre-teen and teen years, no matter how much they resent your "interference" in their lives, they will still need the assurance that you will be there for them. Only then will they grow up into confident young adults. And that would be the time when you let them go to be their own persons.

My God, Gauri!! It must be so frustrating to be in the middle of such indifferent parents!

Sandhya said...

A friend of mine once said- 'You enroll your child in the the BEST daycare, and your child will enroll you in the BEST old-age home'. It doesn't obviously apply to everybody, but it sure does if parents think raising children is tedious and boring.

A helper is a helper, not a parent. There is only so much even the best helper can do. When i was a kid, one of my mom's cousins babysat me sometimes. She was super sweet when my parents were around and bitchy & rude when they weren't. I didn't even know how to react at that age. Neither would i have told my parents if they had asked me. Because there is a certain insecurity and fear that is typical of that age. I feel terrible about it even now, but i comfort myself with - 'Atleast i wasn't molested or beaten'.

The point is, leave your kids with helpers because you cannot help it, not because it's boring to raise them. Nobody said kids are fun 24/7.

B o o said...

Wow! A post I can so relate to Gauri! I hear this a lot from SAHMs I know as well and Im embarrassed to tell them that I quite enjoy being a mom. So I keep quiet. Just today I was watching Ashu play in the park and for 30 mins I was watching her and all the other kids play and I could nt take my eyes off as it was so much fun watching the kids. But if I share this with "those" moms, I am a loser! Some moms have this "I have better things to do but Im stuck with thi kid" attitude and I want to slap them! Yes you are stuck with the kid so why not make the most out of it? Another mom I recently met said "I am of no use to her and shes of no use to me" referring to her one year old daughter. I was speechless at that callous remark! I dont understand these women. I just dont!

Moppet's Mom said...

Honestly, there are times when after stacking blocks for the 50th time or reading the gingerbread man 5 times a day for the last 2 weeks, I do feel bored. The routine does get to me.

But everyday there is also something special, something fun, sometimes something sad or scary - and I would hate to miss that one moment because I was too busy avoiding all the other routine moments of the day.

And maybe I've been living too sheltered a life - but wow! the quotes you've got from parents are unbelievable!

Orchid said...

I mostly echo what Moppet's mom and Boo say.....it's o.k ift the routine gets to you but to make such remarks....after all it was their own choice to have the kid in the first place!!
well written.

Poppins said...

Oh I see this in the park all the time.. Young girls with extremely young looking ayahs as their caretakers. Sometimes when DH and I go to the park together with poppin, he strikes up a conversation with some of the kids. And they talk and shake hands with him etc. While the ayah couldnt care less.

I mean the DH is obviously a decent guy but it could even be a pervert who talks to your girl and the ayah couldnt be bothered to notice. WTF?
It's an even bigger sin if a SAHM does it, I mean you sacrifice your career for this?

Great post.

The Mad Momma said...

:)

ok.. was going to leave it at the smiley.. but had to add... said so much more calmly than my regular rants and received so much better..:)

you rock .

Gauri said...

[Shruthi] Thanks ! For the comment and for stopping by. Hope to c u around more often.

[Cee Kay] I totally agree with your "weaning" policy.

[Sandhya] Very True - There is only so much that a helper can do. End of the day - the question is - why will they need to motivate themselves to go that one extra mile ?

[Boo] Until recently, I used to take my kids to the park and watch them play. Of late, I've started playing too :-o Just the other day I was running all around the park after them playing "tag". I got a lot of weird looks from the other ladies there but then who cares !! As far as I was concerned, I was having fun and so were the kids and that in itself was a Win Win situation. And as far as all those self-righteous, judgemental moms go - I have just one thing to say - Please feel free to go take a walk and while you are at it - do make it a long one !!!!!!

[Moppet's Mom] It is a challenge, I admit - doing the same thing over and over again without losing it. But then again, to divert the little minds and get them occupied with some other activity is pretty enjoyable too, in itself.

[Orchid] Ditto !! and Thanks :-)

[Poppins] Yes indeed - the scenario that you mentioned is one that truly makes me break into a sweat. There are way too many perverts in this world :-(

[MM] Thanks dear :-) and I am just going to leave it at the smiley ;-)

Usha said...

very well written. And parents who want to have no part in child rearing do not know what they are missing out on! I agree that every ionce in a way the stress can get a bit too much and you want some time to yourself. But the minute you are by yourself you want to be back and be with them.

Rohini said...

Actually I have seen a lot of SAHMs exhibit this kind of an attitude. They have more manpower than most working women and the maids' are respnsible for food, naps and baths. I can't understand it. If I am at home, I feed Ayaan every meal and bathe and change him. And I do it because I enjoy it. And I am quite sure that I would do it even if I was a SAHM.

The other thing that bothers me is how casual people are about hiring maids that look after their maids. I took me almost a year (I started looking when I was pregnant) to find one, because I was hung up on references - something that virtually no maid in India is able to provide. Finally a friend of a friend was moving out of the country and her baby's maid came to me highly recommended. Most people are quite okay with hiring maids just based on the snap judgements they make when they meet the maid for 5 minutes...

itchingtowrite said...

wow!!.no way child rearing is boring... kids hav a wonderful way of making each day different.. though i am a working mom .. and keep maids, they r the helper, rule is my kids will never be alone with the maid.. a,ways a family member around. if the kids are with maids all the time they learn their language, style etc... we r parents by choice right!! therefore prime responsibility is ours

Fuzzylogic said...

Wow,this is so well written. I can't understand how any parent can call child rearing as boring or lacklustre. Routine can get to anyone but the joys our kids bring can parallel to none. I applaud you for giving your piece of mind to that careless maid.

Lavs said...

A well written post, Gauri!

karmickids said...

That really touched a nerve. I drop my son to school and pick him up. If I am not around he is left only with my mother or mother in law or at a stretch, a sister in law. No maids. I am told I am obsessed too...but having heard so many horror stories about maids, and believing that this child is my responsibility until he is old enough to take responsibility for himself, I refuse to have a maid parent him. Yes, this does mean I have no social life anymore (this from a person who a page 3 columnist)nor a career left to speak of, but thats a choice I feel was never a matter of choice but a matter of priorities for me. And as for childrearing being boring...that says a lot about the parents who say that doesnt it? When the child is growing day by day, discovering the world through his eyes is the most exciting thing ever for me....

Anonymous said...

Hi Gauri,

That was a very good post. I am a full time working mother of a going to be 6th grader and a 4th grader. I read your blog and love it. I also read many other Indain blogs, as it makes me feel connected to my roots. I have to consciously limit myself to a couple of hours a week on the internet - as there are so many good posts and just not enough time to read them all :) You as a mother of slightly older kids write beautifully and with experience. I have been reading quite a bit about the SAHMs versus working mothers. If you really look at it there are mostly good parents and some that are, how do I say it - bad parents... A SAHM can waste all day on the phone, on the internet or on TV and feed the kids chicken nuggets when they come home as she had a really busy day. On the other hand a working mother can come home and prepare a healthy dinner for her family. I have many friends in my age group with older children and whether you are working mother or a SAHM - we all have our challenges and we all do our best for our families. You give some, you take some either way...and nobody has a perfect day every day. It is only very sad when you see a neglected child - sometimes by the sheer ignorance of the parents and many times because the parents could do no better. Every child deserves to have a happy, safe, nurturing and loving home - and that is what most of us strive for, be it a prince or a paupper, a SAHM or working mother.

My mother's day greetings to you Gauri and to all great mothers out there!

Anbudan,
From San Diego, California

mommyof2 said...

wow! I felt silly writing about school serch for A thinking peolw will think its a bit too much but I wanted my kids to know that I did put lots of thoughts before sending them for those long hours. And now after reading thsi I think I wasn't wrong or obsessed because what if I had chosen the wrong school with wrong people. I guess you have to spend time & feel good when you decide to leave your kid with someone. I feel so bad for those kids, you mentioned in your post.

Just like that said...

ah Gauri, have lost a gem of a maid that I was comfortable with, am in the search for another, and your stories amek me go cold with dread.
But then again, there are compulsions behind me working, and I can't stay with Sonny boy much as I would love to..

I totally cannot get those people who have the privilege of staying with their children and yet don't.

namvor said...

its hard work, its fun, its exhausting, its rewarding, its back-breaking, its soul-uplifting,.. definitely NOT BORING!