Curious Inkpot- Beyond a Blog

Stories from an Indian Millennial

The Great Expectations- A note from a young mother's diary

When do they start? When do they stop? Do they ever stop? The great expectations! You think it will stop once you have scored high in board exams! Or may be when you get into an excellent college! Or or..may be when you get the 'dream job'! Well, it doesn't! It continues to creep, in questions on when you should get married or when you should have babies! I was naive to think that that's probably the worst of it. Well, it isnt! 

Because now the burden of those great expectations shifts to your offsprings! And it starts even before they are born! From gender to the prospective looks are debated! And God forbid if your baby doesn't fall in the top fairness scale that was once shown in fair and lovely ads, you are doomed! Every visitor will ensure in someway to convey 'thoda sanwali/sanwala hai', 'wheatish banega iska rang' and if your baby is 'fair', well they would make sure to convey that too. As if they can't see anything beyond color! 

How can our society be so blind ? How can you not see this beautiful child and the happiness he/she has brought to a family? The endless possibilities ahead of him/her than just being 'gora ya kala'. How can you not!

But this is only a beginning, I now realise as a young mother. You probably wouldn't bother but the society will put your child under the lens! 'Accha itne mahine ki ho gayi fir toh roll karne lagi hogi!', 'Arre abhi tak tali (clap) bajani nahi sikhi? Yeh toh bacche sabse pehle seekhte hain!', 'Ghutne se chalne lagi kya?', 'Kitna khati hai?', ' Kya kya khati hai?'. 

One of the most ridiculous discussions has been about the 'the speed of her chewing'! 
And the question is presented as 'Abhi khaane mein natak toh nahi karti?'. Like seriously! Is this for real? What do you expect from a child who is experiencing so many textures and tastes for the first time! To eat like an adult from day one?
Well dear adult, food is supposed to be chewed slowly! You are at wrong if you are hurried when eating. Also, just because you shoved it up your baby's throat when they were little, doesn't mean it is a good thing or it makes them a better eater or you a better parent! So unless I am not forcing you to feed my child, why don't you mind your own business for once!

While you might feel that today's educated experienced moms would be a bit more kind to you. You are in for a disappointment. They suddenly become an expert in child raising and wouldn't take a second in dumping their 'knowledge' on you! Most of the times, unsolicited. If raising a child or two makes you an expert, I am just wasting my money on paedtricians!

Ps: It doesn't matter how old their experience is or how much progress the world has made in between. 'We want to compare our teenage child to your 10 days old baby! Just because we can!'

Now that you have gone through my rant, I want you to wonder why do we as a society do this? 
Why do we mount this ever increasing burden of the great expectations on other people and innocent children?

I know some of it might be just careless commenting but it hurts. I am not one of those moms who track a baby's milestone or get worried when they don't achieve them. Still it pinches me when somebody makes these uncalled comments about my child! Can you imagine the pressure on young moms who are already so concerned or whose child might have a different growth graph?

I know some of them and I empathise with their everyday struggle. The expectations, the societal pressures of fitting in, add to that the vulnerability of being a young mother and everything that comes with it. It just gets to them.

So why do we do that? 

My best guess is because we are so used to putting everything in a box. Boxes are our comfort zone, we can't let the nature, flow! We want to build a dam on a beautiful river! We want to pluck a fragrant rose and let it wilt instead, in our drawing room. We want to cage a beautiful free bird to its misery! Because we as humans cannot handle and appreciate beauty, rawness, nature! 
We don't want to see this beautiful child, the twinkle in her eyes, the way she touches your cheek to convey her warmth. We don't want to see the innocence, the carefreeness, the love, the godliness these little beautiful humans represent.

Instead we see boxes! The boxes of looks, behavior, growth they need to adhere to! We see assembly line where babies aren't just babies, one of god's amazing creation but they are products. They need to achieve a level of finishing in a fix time schedule else they will loose the rat race we all are trying very hard to get out of! How ironic! How sad! 

We take everything beautiful and suck the beauty and rawness out of it. And it isn't just the careless visitors, insensitive relatives, we parents are culprits too. But remember it's the same societal pressure that our parents faced which influenced their opinions. Its the same expectations that didn't let you pursue the degree of your choosing or marry the girl you loved! I can see it because I can see life come a full circle with the birth of my beautiful child! The great expectations is a circle too and ever mounting one! 

But here I refuse to follow the norm, I refuse to tread the line! My child will not be burdened with these mindless expectations! I see her beauty, her sensitivity, her spark. I wouldn't let it diminish to a box! I wouldn't! 

But can I do it alone? May be but probably not for long. Nor can so many young parents like me. So here I am requesting: 

If you are that visitor, visiting a young child's home, please don't burden his or her parents with your opinion of how well their child should be doing in life or academics. You can bitch about it to your partner when you get home. You are anyways gonna do that.
So please be a little thoughtful when you still can.

If you are the relative, please respect the boundaries and please give opinions when asked. For you that passing comment on their child might be just a conversation starter, trust me it isn't for them.

If you are the elder of the family, please give the young parents space to raise the child as they want. You had your time, you had your way. Its their time. Support, help and guide but please don't dictate. 

If you are that 'experienced mom', can you be a little encouraging instead? Or may be not comment at all? If your generation behaves in the same way the previous generation did, how are we gonna ever progress?

If you are a young parent like me, please be kind to yourself. And know you are not alone. 

If we can try to do even half of what I wrote above. We can help built a world for our children which isn't burdened with these great expectations. We can build a world where every child is truely unique, where possibilities are endless and no rainbow too far! 
Are you with me?

This is for you my child, Navdha! I SEE YOU ! Even when this world would be judgemental or will see only what's outside. I will see you and will always have your back! 
Also, God forbid, if I ever fall in this trap of 'great expectations' , please make me come back and read this note :)

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