Editorial: What happened to the fun young girl you were?

Every week, I wonder what I can write to you that you will want to read me more, that will allow me to get to know you, that will let me into your lives and you will see my letters as those of a friend whom you are getting familiar with.

The one thing I do know is that all of us find being a mother hard. Day to day, we don’t know what we are doing with great clarity. With the world opening up on the internet like it has, we learn and read new things everyday that challenge and change us. Like the Vitamin N video that was doing the rounds on Whatsapp. It was a great check for me to see if I was spoiling my kids too much, if I was setting them up for disappointment and failure later in life. The sheer number of times it came to my Whatsapp from so many sources told me one thing: we are all wondering if we are doing the right thing, and that we truly don’t know what we are doing as far as parenting is concerned.

To the outside world, we have our houses, our  jobs, our summer vacation photos on Facebook; we have our friends’ lunches and family dinners. We entertain our in-laws when they come home and we also dress slightly differently then -- some of us wear our taali/mangalsutra, others avoid wearing the flattering top that is scooped too low in the front. We fight silently with our husband when they are around, and loudly when they’ve left, accusing our partners of feeling no love for us. We do our best to get along, too, with our in-laws, whenever possible. And we try hard to get our parents and our partners to get along too. We are either balancing this or that. We are the first ones our in-laws reach out to when they want their son to do something. “You tell him, no. He’ll listen to you. It would be so much nicer if you moved to Bangalore with us,” say the in-laws, looking sad and lonely. Your first reaction is to run, but you politely say, “Okay, Ma. Bolke dekhti hoon. Pata nahi what plans he has; he doesn’t tell me anything.” And you pacify a mother-in-law who has made great effort not to look like she’s lost all her pride when she’s asking you to ask her son to listen to her. And no one, I mean no one, sees this delicate balancing act. Except maybe the really tiny group of friends, or a couple of friends, who act as your sounding board. To whom you just let it all flow and they understand and say, chal, let’s go for coffee. Or, “Husband back. I’ll message you later.” And then she does. And you pick up where you left off, complaining about how it is so hard to stay married and you still feel like the young girl who was sparkly-eyed and excited about this new adventure called marriage.

Most women in their 30s that I know have done all that was expected of them, all that they expected of themselves. And, suddenly now, with so much time on their hands, their minds are whirring. An old classmate suddenly pops up on Facebook and says, “Arrey, yaar, you look exactly the same! No difference.” And this pleases you for an instant because who doesn’t want to pretend the last 13-14 years haven’t happened? Then, when you’re having your chai alone, thinking, scrolling through your Facebook or Whatsapp, it suddenly occurs to you, yaar, but I am not the same. I don’t look the same. See the tiny laugh lines that are beginning to form, see how much less hair I have, see how I laugh a lot less than I used to. And then you go down a road and wonder what happened to that carefree girl who loved to eat chaat outside her college, who laughed a lot, at small jokes, big jokes. The girl who loved to dress up and the girl who loved to love life. Now you smile for photos that others see, but when you’re on own, you’re perfectly happy, sure, but something is missing. That liveliness, that ability and willingness to laugh, that carefree person that you enjoyed being. And you wonder how to get back to being that girl. If that’s not possible, at least how to get to being the fun person you are inside, when you are with your siblings, or your close girlfriends, or with your parents, without the pressures of your acquired family, your husband and even your own kids. How can you laugh more, how can you dance more, how can you feel a little less bored with life?

I hope, for your sake, you find the answers to these questions. I hope, in the race to lose weight, buy a house, get your kids educated, raise them to be good individuals, you don’t forget that inside you is a little girl who doesn’t care so much about what’s happening in the world, the little girl who likes ice cream or pani puri, the little girl who wants a compliment from her husband without asking, “Do I look okay?” The little girl who still has the ability to be shocked by the ways of the world, the little girl who still has quiet, innocent crushes. I hope you never forget that this life is for you to love too and not just to dedicate to making others’ loveable and beautiful. In this new year, I hope you find her and I hope you cherish her.

But before we head to the new year, there are a few things I’d love for you to spend time reading. The angst of a newly married woman who discovered that marriage in India is not gaining a new family being rendered helpless. It’s heart-wrenching and if you had struggles fitting into your family when you first married, you will recognise yourself in this. Earlier in the week, we featured another post by a mother who found that her older child was smarter than her younger child. This is a hard thing to admit but it happens to so many of us, no? This week’s sex column tells you about the most lethal weapon of them all: sex, and how to use sex when you and your husband are fighting. Ahem. And finally, if you, like me, don’t like to use sex as a weapon, here are five ways to have a roaring fight with your partner without yelling. Impossible, you think? Read on and find out if you can do it!

Have yourself a very merry Christmas, parents, and I’ll see you once more next week before we head to the new year.