Stay at home grandparents – A thing of the past?

They say it takes a village to raise a family – and it truly does. But these days things are different. Gone are the days of everyone contributing to the ongoings of a household day in and day out. Typically, the more westernized daughter-in-law’s and sons were the breadwinners of the home. And their completely eastern parents stayed home and did the child rearing. The eldely filled their days with changing diapers, stroller walks, and fitting in their radio listening time in between.

But now everything’s changed. We’re meant to make a life and a living, all while our parents are doing the very same, just with completely different agendas. So how does one check all the boxes necessary without losing ones head? You call in the reinforcements. You seek help by any means necessary. There’s a reason the recent trend of hiring domestic caregivers or enrolling your young in preschool much earlier than most of us joined has sky rocketed in popularity.

But still there’s something missing. There’s something that just ultimately connected all us 80’s South Asian second-gen kids with our roots by the way our bibi swooped her chunni around her neck, and managed to fill the house with the scent of “thurka” at the same time every evening. We’re missing that magical touch of our own true culture.

Our parents have now completely assimilated into the Canadian way of life. The “bibi-era” is long gone – and we have no one but ourselves to blame. We forced our parents to drop their accents and their baggy salwaars. We cringed when our Caucasian friends came over and we heard the cutting board and haldi can come out the drawer. We didn’t want ANYTHING to do with our strong roots then, so why complain of their absence now?

Each way of life has its benefits. With more breadwinners, comes less stress on the youngins to be the sole source of income for the household – but they also have to think twice about child rearing. Another thing not going in our favour is just how much knowledge is now out there about parenting.

When we were babies and slightly beyond our parents just kind of played it by ear and we ended up pretty alright. Nowadays, new parents are being held to such a standard that we drive ourselves nuts, even when our kids aren’t, that we aren’t doing it right. We’re constantly trying to perfect our parenting skills only to cause more stress and less fulfillment in our new roles.

Maybe we need to take a page from our good ol’ bibis book and just take it one stroller walk, Sikhism story, or radio talk show at a time – and just go with it.

All in all both ways of life – with grandparents of home and with grandparents out the house has its pros and cons. Each family just had to figure out what works for them. Accept help when it’s offered, and seek help even when it’s not. Because the days of having young with strong demands, and raising them in today’s day and age is something challenging but brilliant – if only you aspire to this role in the best way you know how.

Parenting 101 – Lessons Learned

 

Having a baby? Be prepared, be very prepared. Being a type A personality I normally have every single detail regarding any major life event pre-planned and organized to the T. Oddly enough no matter how many diapers I stacked up or how many times I organized and reorganized my sons clothes, bibs, and socks prior to his arrival when he finally did grace us with his presence I was completely caught off guard. There were a million and one things I had overlooked, forgotten, or just hadn’t known about.

So here’s a few pointers for any mommas-to-be out there. Or maybe just anyone who would like to be über prepared to expect the unexpected before they’re even expecting!

So I’ll start off with the basics. The actual physical things that you will need to care for your child. This list is not exhaustive by any means but just any items which have stuck out to me as super useful over the past month and a bit.

Receiving blankets – you can never have too many. I am not sure why they are called this. Perhaps because you receive a whole lot of them during your babyshower. Keep them all. They will not only act as a shield between your baby’s precious little mouth and people’s clothing as they eagerly hoist him or her upon their shoulder or against their chest but it will also protect you and and your back from dripping with inevitable copious amounts of spit up.

A large size diaper genie – because although shit will most likely get real when your little one arrives it doesn’t have to smell like it. And I say large because there’s going to be a lot of poop, like I am talking loads and loads – no pun intended.

A nasal aspirator – don’t get those weird contraptions where you suck the boogers out. I don’t know how that works and quite frankly I don’t want to, the concept grosses me out. Just get one of those automatic fancy ones, they might cost a little more but trust me when your little angel can’t breath right you’ll be grateful you invested in one of these bad boys.

A rocking chair – you’ll most likely live in it for the first two weeks. Especially if you are breastfeeding (shudders at the memory). Make sure it’s a comfy one and add some pillows for extra back support. As odd as it is sitting can become mind numbingly exhausting when you’re not allowed to stand, not to mention when you’re in too much pain to do much else.

This brings me to my next item – the postpartum “goodiebag.” If you listen to anything from this list grab these items beforehand. They’ll save you a whole of pain and grief. And your husband the stress of running out last minute on a hunt for these items because you will definitely be begging for them. Buy a donut seat cushion. You just squeezed out a watermelon sized mini human out of your “area” so naturally sitting on that “area” doesn’t feel all that fantastic. Witch hazel, tea tree oil, and a sitz bath to mix it all in. Sitz baths will be your little five minutes of nether region heaven. This is the ONLY thing which will make you feel better and heal quicker. Make time for them several times a day, I used to refer to it as a mini spa treatment for my stitches. Ah yes, the lovely stitches, side note just don’t bother asking the doctor how many, and don’t look, I repeat, do not look at them no matter how tempting – there’s just no need.

It seems as though anyone I spoke to had a problem with “low milk supply.” Something I hadn’t even heard of let alone considered to be a potential challenge until it was one for me. I had close to no milk come in, which meant my little baby boy wasn’t getting the nourishment he needed, so he dropped too much weight too quick and wasn’t putting it back on as he should’ve been. This led me to vigorous googling and nurse harassing to see what I could do to avoid giving the all feared formula to him. So I discovered some herbs (I was very skeptical about their efficacy but they proved useful). I took three supplements: blessed thistle, fenugreek, and drank mothers milk tea three times a day – religiously. This boosted my supply and allowed me to continue on without formula, mission successful.

Now I’ll just give a random jumblement (yes I made that word up) of advice just from the top of my head which I wish someone had told me.

Address any apprehensions you have BEFORE you have your baby, because quite frankly afterwards you’re going to be too emotionally and physically drained to deal with extra bullshit. So make sure any issues in your life are resolved beforehand.

Either go stay with someone who can take care of you while you care for your baby, or have them (like your mom) come stay with you. You might think you can do it all, and you probably can, but you’ll only exhaust yourself and make things all that much more unnecessarily difficult for you and your child.

Follow your gut and do what works best for you (and your baby). Don’t listen to relatives, don’t listen to your peers, and most importantly don’t listen to that little voice of guilt or uncertainty in your head. Just do what feels instinctively right. Whether you think so or not you do have motherly instincts and they will kick in the moment you see that precious little face.

Follow the medical guidelines of how to care for your baby but don’t kill yourself trying to do it perfectly. I am guilty of always trying to do everything exactly by the book. And sometimes this backfires. I consulted with nurses a lot in the first few weeks. Some of their advice saved me and some suggestions from the medical world are just plain ridiculous. Like have “nursing sit-ins” and nurse around the clock? Don’t sleep? Nurse through the pain? It’ll get better. Yeah, no, it doesn’t. Sorry to be blunt but as beautiful as it is breastfeeding hurts like a bitch. And maybe it’s NOT for everybody and if you CAN’T do it don’t beat yourself up over it. Or allow the nurses to bully you into keeping up with the agony. If breastfeeding is important for you for the nutritive value and not solely for the “bonding” aspect then you do have other options. You can pump. Albeit you’ll feel like a cow (literally) and it’s double the work it is another avenue you could explore should you have the need to.

Overall my most important piece of advice is to just know all hardships with motherhood do pass rather quickly. You will jump hurdles, feel despair followed by triumph, and joy followed by tears. It’s just the way it goes. But embrace it all because before you know it those little fingers grasping yours and those big round eyes looking up at you for love and guidance will no longer be needing you for sustenance, or much of anything at all. And you will miss the sleepless nights, the seemingly endless feeds, and the countless diaper changes. Another strange aspect of parenthood is that sometimes you miss each stage of their growth as they reach a new milestone. While at other times you may find yourself yearning for the next because it seems like THAT’S when it’ll get easier, that’s when it’ll be more manageable. But the truth is it’s all about perspective. Just keep hold of the big picture, and you’ll learn to soak in and love every minute of the little details too.

Are you corrosively codependent?

Until recently it never really dawned upon me how so very odd it is when you grow up with your finances being taken care of you. I used to receive flack from my university classmates and peers because my parents paid for my post-secondary education. Growing up I never had to have a part time job. In fact my mother viewed it as a thing of shame if one of her kids had to go out and find a job for some extra cash. I now realize that this mentality is one that’s setting you up for failure.

Even if you’re financially secure it causes mental insecurity to have “everything taken care of for you” and the eventual potential for mental instability will arise. Not to mention the fact that in this scenario you are not operating as a true independent adult and living life as it’s meant to be lived. You’re forever in the shadows of the fruits of someone else’s labour. You don’t truly realize the value of a dollar, you don’t truly realize the meaning of hard work and sacrifice. The only truth you live by is that of one of entitlement based on family name.

What most “grown ups” feel is the fear of survival, the fear of not knowing how you’re going to pay for not only luxuries which you want but necessities which you need. This makes life very real and clear. Until you experience that you’re not living in a clear true perspective of what REAL life is. You’re living in the comfortable little bubble your parents created for you with nothing but good intentions but what they may realize all too late is this safety net ultimately ends up “handicapping” their children from realizing their true potential.

Falling into this cycle is to most definitely follow the easier of two roads but it’s one which if chosen doesn’t command a whole lot of respect from not only others around you but from yourself. Self-respect is a little hard to achieve when you’re having everything in life handed to you on a silver platter with little to no effort of your own.

Indian parents mean well and they’re doing all of this because in Indian culture (like many others) money is equated with love, comfort, and prestige. In the eyes of our society if you can provide for your child to the level that he or she never has to struggle as their parents did when they were in their youth then they feel they have done their jobs right. What they are over looking is the fact that their offspring are now incapable of doing any job right themselves – so not only does it leave to question what this means for their own life trajectory but also what kind of parent does that pave the way for THEM to become? One cannot be a leader of their offspring if they are still subordinate to their own parents.

This entire tendency creates a false illusion of adulthood. Simply because funds are transferred from one account to another or bills are paid from one person to another does not mean you have earned your keep. Just because you share the same last name or they brought you into this world does not mean you are entitled to all they create. You must create your own financial stability, you must stand on your own two feet in order to move forward. Parents aren’t doing their kids any favours by keeping their children’s love by balancing their bank books. It is not a sign of failure in your duty nor should your relationship with your child be so feeble that it rely solely upon your ability to financially support them through life without any true effort of their own.

Another factor which sets the stage for this downfall is the tendency for Indian families to make their living through family businesses. Now sure if every family member is truly contributing as they would to any other place of employment then yes, you are entitled to what you receive. However if it is just a cover for not actually having a real career and just riding the tails of your mother and father’s success – well then eventually this way of life will collapse in on itself. In some form or another you will find yourself at a crossroads in which you’ve either made several life decisions to become a individual you just can’t be proud of or you just feel invalidated and unimportant leading the way to a plethora of other personal issues.

This tendency in Indian culture just paves the way for people to grow up as individuals in society who are living on the crutches of their parents who unfortunately aren’t going to be around forever, so when those pillars of support disappear – whether or not the money is still there, won’t all those relying upon them just crumble and fall?