“I am a mum but that’s not all I am” – Anu Menon Aka Lola Kutty

If you look at Anu Menon, you’d be hard pressed to say she’s mum to a five-year old. Theatre actor, insanely successful erstwhile VJ on Channel V (remember LolaKutty?) and stand up comedienne, Anu is also a fully-hands on mum to Ayaan. “My in laws are with me because my husband has a travelling job and he’s already growing up in Bombay, so if I don’t want him to be more Gujju than the clever South Indian sensibility I come from, then I better be hands on,” says Anu, tongue in cheek, as always.

Her stand-up routines often refer to her son’s mixed parentage (Anu is Malayalee from Chennai and her husband is Gujarati from Mumbai) and the differences between the two cultures that her son (and she) witnesses from time to time. “It’s completely different, isn’t it? In my family, we read, we go to plays, use specific words to sort out emotions, we say things clearly. It’s very loud talking, lots of business talk and tons of food mostly on his side. But they are also very cool and modern, totally open to me making fun of their idiosyncrasies,” she says, rather lightly.

Her husband, Anirudh, works in the merchant navy and therefore, the responsibility of being with her five-year old falls entirely on Anu. And like all working mothers who love what they do, she appreciates the fact that her parents in law take care of her son when she has to travel on shows. “I usually give up a show if I have no back up. But when I do travel, I set everything up before I go. I travel often now that I’ve gotten back into the thick of work, so my in laws take care of Ayaan. I haven’t had a nanny since he turned three,” she says. But when she’s home, she does the whole thing entirely by herself. From teaching him stuff, taking him to classes, playdates, running after admissions, sports, bedtime, social engagements with the family -- Anu does all of it for all the months that her husband is sailing.

“I’ve always been efficient and organised. It’s a little more difficult when a child is involved but it’s not impossible. You can’t not be organised if you’re working and raising a child. What I find difficult is the undetected stress that takes its toll on you when you are constantly doing everything two parents should be doing,” says Anu. Being in the shoes of a single parent even though she’s not technically one is a funny place to be in. But Anu has her own coping techniques.

1. Me time: She makes sure she takes some time out for herself every two days if not every day. “This is non-negotiable. Either a run (which isn’t possible anymore because yay monsoons), or meet a friend, or just quietly read while I have a cup of tea. I watch a lot of comedy on Netflix to unwind as well. I need some time for myself. It helps me understand how I want to be around my child. I am definitely his mother but that is not all I am.”

2. Enlist help: “I used to do everything on my own to make up for my husband’s absences when he went sailing. Then I realised if I did that, I’d never get back to work or do all the things I wanted to. So, I invested in finding a good nanny for the first three years when Ayaan needed it the most; when the grandparents offer help, I don’t hesitate to take it.”

3. Take your kid along: It’s good for kids to be exposed to their parents lives, says Anu. “Where possible, I take him along. It’s great because he sees his mother as more than just his mother,” she says adding that having grown up with a very busy working mother, she’s understood how being organised is very important.

4. Speak in your mother tongue: This tip is a great one for bilingual households. “It’s not like my son is going to pick up my mother tongue when he grows up or anything. It’s only now that I can pass this one to him. It’s really quite funny because now that he’s picked up a little Malayalam, if he wants to say something that he doesn’t his grandparents to know, he switches to Malayalam, it’s not much but it’s fun. But that’s not the point. It’s a great way to keep him connected with his heritage. All children need roots.”

Well said, Anu!

There are no perfect parents, only real ones.
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Feature Image Source: Indiatoday, Fireflydaily