Editor’s note: Of single kids, self-care and mother’s spirit

Editor’s note: Of single kids, self-care and the mother’s spirit

I am a month away from turning another year older (37, to be exact) and around this time, whether I like it or not, my mind automatically starts taking stock. It goes back to the past year, and a few years before it. It also projects into the future, at where I am going, how many more years I have before I hit the next milestone age, and these days, how many more productive years do I have before my kids can take care of themselves. Invariably, then, all my life decisions revolve around my kids. I am also in the fortunate position of being the sole decision maker for my children, with minimum resistance and conflict from anyone else.

All these thoughts were going around in my head when the news of the Angelina Jolie-Brad Pitt divorce surfaced. Their biggest conflict, as I mentioned in my piece earlier this week, is the health of the family. While both the spouses blame each other of behaviour that is harmful for the kids, no one will really know what the truth is. And indeed, it is no one’s business either. But I couldn’t help thinking that when you make the health of your family, the good of your children, the first and foremost priority, then you must also think how a toxic environment at home affects them. I say this because most couples who say they stay in their marriages for the kids actually mean they retain their marriages because of stigma, afraid of how it will affect their child, how the child might be singled out by society. But what of the harm you are causing your child with the toxicity at home? Instead of shielding a child from the world outside, create an environment at home that will contribute to your child’s self-confidence and strength. And if your marriage is beyond repair, that can only be done by leaving your marriage and finding your peace of mind.

Speaking of peace of mind, the other thing that has emerged in global conversation about women and health these days is self-care. Sure, we go to a salon, or take some time to get a massage, but self-care is so much more than that. And young mums probably have it worse, with very little time to spend on themselves, what with tight work schedules, possible minimal help from spouse (for whatever reason) and never-ending chores at home. All this aside from managing the little one(s). Somehow, I think the biggest emotion that governs most parents, especially mothers, these days is guilt. The impossibly high standards that are set for us prime us for constant guilt. Well, I think it’s time we stop now. As Priyanka Wade, in her very relevant post, said, it’s time to take care of your Mind, Body, Spirit.

What really is spirit? Irrespective of your belief system, a spirit is essentially that one unique thing that makes you you. And where does it come from? I don’t know clearly, but I think it comes from the sum of all our experiences. Some of the most important things that happen to us happen in childhood, and the memories that we carry from then, shape our lives. Earlier this week, I wrote a piece on how I am bringing festivals back into my life so that the kids can have memories that fill them with unadulterated joy and immense nostalgia, lit with lamps and magic, just like our memories of festivals are.  

And finally, one of my favourite stories this week was my colleague Maitri Vasudev’s exploration of the kinds of stereotypes that single children have to live with. I will admit that, in my 20s, I myself was one of those who said single children are dependent, spoilt and don’t know how to share. Well, all that’s changed and now I can’t imagine how I thought like that. The story talks of the many assumptions we make of parents of single children too. Do give it a read if you haven’t.

These were my learnings this week. I hope there were some new things, new thoughts for you too.


(The Editor’s Note is a weekly round-up of current parenting issues and original stories on ZenParent that shape thought, opinion and guide parents in their journey)