Amrita was exhausted. She couldn’t manage the pick-up and drops for Nik’s activity classes all alone anymore. With a little baby to nurse to, Nik’s hectic routine was taking a toll on her. At moments, she wondered if she should discontinue with some of his classes. This she contemplated would give some breathing space to him and to her. But then I would have two kids in the house all the time to take care of, she argued mentally. That would be even more hectic, she reasoned shuddering at the thought of near future when the little Lucky would no more be constricted to the cot. As she envisioned herself running after her two kids all over the home, she had creeps about how she would manage life with two boys in the house.
Amrita really wished she had some neighbor who would have kids her boy’s age and would be willing to pool and take the kids to the activity class. Things would be so much more manageable then. The thought made her brood at the fact that they were living in an independent house and not in a residential complex where most of the activity classes happened within the premises and the kids could be left on their own within the safe confines of the complex. While her husband had grown up in the same house, where they currently resided and boasted of having a fun time growing up while playing with friends on the streets, she hardly ever saw any kids playing the roads these days.
“You will have to keep your eyes and ears open to look around for moms and kids who can be your buddies.” Amrita’s mother-in-law told her whenever she complained about not knowing anyone in the locality. So one day she decided to venture out and spend some time walking on the streets with her son. May be someone will spot us as potential peers and approach us. Amrita had hoped.
“Mom! It’s been a week and I have hardly come across any mums or kids in the vicinity spanning a diameter of half a kilometer around our home.” Amrita was exasperated. Where have all the kids of the world gone! She wondered. A fortnight down the line Amrita lost all hope of meeting any peers for her son. “It’s good that I put Nik in activity classes. This ways he atleast has a place to go and unwind and be with kids his age while learning some new skills.”, she reasoned with her husband not sounding very convincing to her own ears.
“We really are living in a concrete jungle. No one knows anyone in the neighborhood anymore.” Amrita complained. She recalled how she had grown up in a neighborhood where all the families had their source of income from the same employer and everybody knew everybody. They had grown up playing on the streets and often took turns to spend the vacations playing at one of the kids homes. It was also a pleasure for the mother to host this summer get-together once a week. As she reminisced about her childhood, she realized how the times had changed. The mother’s of her generation were engrossed with their kids so much as to not have any bandwidth for any group activities. Hosting a birthday party that was a once in a year affair itself sent chills down their spines for the effort it took.
“Hosting a birthday party takes a real toll on you. You have to have a special caterer to deliver kids’ food. Then the decorations have to be as per a theme and the return gifts have to be well thought.” When one of the mothers’ of Nik’s classmates said this at a school meeting, Amrita had felt so nostalgic about her and her sister’s birthday parties. The only effort that her mom had to make was to cook halwa poori and assemble sandwiches. The decorations were taken care of by her dad and during the party all work got done with no one being really tired because the neighboring aunties would willingly volunteer to help. She realized that if today she were to ask for help from a neighbor she wouldn’t know who to turn to.
But then she realized that parenting had changed in so many other aspects too. Today she and her friends relied more on the information put up on the internet than listening to what the old wives and their mothers had to say.
“My mother asked me to put kajal on my little ones eyes. The doctor has strictly barred me from doing so. She, I mean my mom got so upset.” one of her friends living across the country once mentioned during a group chat session.
“Haha! My mother-in-law does not get the idea of how honey could do any harm to my 4 month old. How do I explain it to her that nothing but breast milk for atleast 6months.” quipped another friend.
“Our mothers go by the old methods. There have been so many new observations in science due to which the parenting methods have evolved over the decades. They don’t seem to understand. My mom is always taunting me for raising my child by the internet.” complained yet another mother of a 3 year old girl.
“Our mother used different methods to raise us. May be they were less evolved or whatever. But we’ve grown up fine, isn’t it?” Amrita’s response had put every young mother in an uncomfortable zone of comparison and contemplation of relevance of parenting methods.
One day she broached the same subject with her mother-in-law. The old lady smiled, “When we were in your situation, we did not have so many gadgets and appliances to help in our domestic work. Nor was the idea of hiring domestic help this common. The most affluent of mothers, spent their days in the kitchen or in the upkeep of their home. We just did not have the time to hassle over our kids. We were dedicated towards their upbringing, but nothing got to our nerves because we completed one task after another without rendering too much thought to anything that was not required in the daily routine.” Amrita nodded at the truth of her mom-in-law’s words. She knew that with almost everything at home taken care of mothers today are busy swooning over their kids and are obsessed with proving that they are THE BEST MOMS in the world.
The spirit of compassion and togetherness seems to have transmuted to the online parenting communities. In the real world, the village that boasted of bringing up its kids together had probably ceased to exist.