18 Dec

Kiran Manral shares her parenting journey

How exciting it is when someone shares their personal journey of success, of trials and tribulations with us. We feel connected with that individual at a deeper level. We feel we have lived that journey with him/ her.

What if we have successful parents sharing their parenting stories with us? With this aim in mind, we have started this Interview section, where we talk about the parenting journey of successful individuals.

Kiran Manral

Ideas editor at She the People Tv, Bestselling Author of 9 books, named as top 20 women influencers by Sheroes, has been a part of numerous panel discussions on varied topics like Women Entrepreneurship, Writing, Blogging etc.

Manral published her parenting journey in a book titled Karmic Kids, describing her experience of bringing up her spirited son from childbirth to age ten. One highly positive review calls for the book “to be read by everyone”, not just mothers. Here’s an open heart discussion with Kiran on Parenting.

Q. What made you decide on taking the parenting plunge? Was it because well-meaning relatives and friends around suggested that it was about time or you were hitting the biological clock or you felt those nurturing instincts and therefore planned a family?

A. I’m not a very maternal soul and was only too happy to not have conceived for the first few years of my marriage. It was nice to carry other folks’ babies and be able to hand them back when they began bawling. But when I hit thirty it was like an alarm clock went off in my uterus and all I could see wherever I looked were babies and I became a giant ball of maternal mush.

I must confess I then became all singular focused Arjun ki eye on the fish’s eye kind of manic in my attempts to conceive a baby and hopped through various infertility consultants. I was told we had what was called Idiopathic infertility, which basically acknowledged that we both were idiots who couldn’t conceive. Seriously, it meant there was no factor that could pinpoint why we weren’t conceiving. So much trial and error, medication, ovulation monitoring and cycles of IUI later, thanks to the fabulous Dr Indira Hinduja, the second line went blue one morning in the bathroom, and nine months later, the offspring came bawling into the world.

Q. Did you suffer from Postpartum depression? Is it for real?

A. I think I did, for a fair bit. It is unfortunate we don’t really talk about the physical and mental issues that pregnancy and new motherhood brings. We create this massive halo about this entire experience that completely bleaches it from reality.

Pregnancy is uncomfortable for some, childbirth is an act of bravery and bringing up a child in the first year, that deserves a medal and a sash. Add to this the hormones going out of whack, the body looking like a dead ringer for Godzilla. Then there is the darned scary prospect of caring for this little creature demanding to be fed and changed every couple of hours, who wouldn’t get depressed.

The focus in most families is the new arrival and the mom takes a back seat. Any specific suggestions/ aspects that you think women should take care of regarding their health and fitness post motherhood?

I think women should begin by being selfish. I mean, they need to see to their own well being first because unless they are fighting fit and in a good place mentally taking care of a newborn is very very taxing. This could mean ensuring one has help in the first few months, to allow one to take an hour off for something one finds relaxing, getting enough sleep even if it means expressing and letting the spouse take over some feeds, and doing things to make one feel more in control of one’s getting back into form, exercise for instance that one enjoys. Body image takes a huge beating and this coupled with feeling tied down to the baby can wear a new mom down.

Q. How was your parenting journey? Share your highs and lows. Share some personal anecdotes and moments that were particularly challenging?

A. Ah, its all in the book -Karmic Kids. It was first all on the blog. I think getting the hang of breastfeeding was quite a challenge for me because I had never held a newborn before, and the offspring couldn’t latch on properly. It made me feel quite a failure given women everywhere were breastfeeding with ease and multitasking while their kids fed.

Right now I’m dealing with the terrible teens and this is karmic butt bite for the nasty creature I was to my mom while growing up. I’ll give you all a shout out after a few years if I survive it. Maybe that’s another book in the making.

Q. Were there any innovative solutions that you think our readers can benefit from?

A. Ah, each child is different. But I think when it came to food jags, I just let him eat what he was fixated on and after a point he himself tired of it. And as for the temper tantrums when he was little, I would pick him up and take him to a not so public place if it was in public and hold him tight, that kind of calmed him down.

Q. Any regrets/mistakes in parenting that you think others can learn from?

A. Always. And I think every parent has their own regrets.

Q. What did you miss the most about life after becoming a mom?

A. The freedom to be able to take any decisions without factoring in another person.

Q. Tell us a funny ‘Guess what my kid did’ story? 

A. Oh, too many. All in the book. But his latest was, which isn’t in the book, while learning for his English literature paper, an exasperated cry of  “Why do they talk so long speeches in Shakespeare, why can’t they talk in English!” I tend to agree.

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Q. While writing a review for your book, jayabhattacharjeerose says that – “the most sensible advice that seems to be stressed in Kiran’s book, though never stated explicitly, is that motherhood and parenting do not come naturally. It needs to be learned on the job.” Do you think parenting partners like WOWparenting programs can make the journey more fun and less stressful?

A. I think women need all the support they need when they become mothers, because like it or not, mothers are still the primary parent in most cases. Anyway, a mom can get handholding, support and information without the tons of judgementalism that often seems to accompany such advice is always welcome.

Q. With the proliferation of videos on good touch n bad touch all over the net, parents are under pressure to educate kids about these things as early as possible. The challenge is not to instil fear in the young minds yet make them aware. How to strike that balance because incidents like the one that happened in a Gurgaon school shake you completely?

A. Well, you start age appropriately and build as the child grows older, but what happened at the Gurgaon school is nothing we can control, there the price the child paid for resisting was murder, something like this completely shakes you up as a parent. If a child isn’t safe at school, what does a parent do?

Q. They say that you should give some time for the child to get bored as it makes him more creative? Do you believe in unstructured play? Did you see your child benefiting from it vis-a-vis others kids who went from one class to another?

A. My child only had unstructured play, primarily because I couldn’t be arsed to run from one class to another, blame it on my laziness or being someone who grew up on unstructured play. I think both have their own benefits and one needs to aim for a healthy balance between the two, ideally.

Q. Working mom or homemaker – who is a better mom? If on a break, after how long should a mom ideally join work post delivery? Please share some examples from personal life.

A. I hate such judgemental statements. Every mom is a great mom. I began work 3 months after I had my baby, and then stopped work to be a full-time mom. It was just what worked for me. Everyone finds what works for them. A lot of moms don’t have the luxury of taking a break from work, there are bills to be paid, EMIs that come in. I think we all do our best given our individual circumstances.

Q. What does being a parent mean to you?

A. It means having your heart outside your body and running around free in the world, while you can only look on in anxiety, fear, and terror.

Q. What does being a parent do to you?

A. It keeps me aware of the kind of world my child will grow up to inherit and it isn’t looking very nice right now.

Q. How to ensure parenting does not affect marriage in a negative way? (this one answer I look for wistfully because I grew up on Hindi movies where the mother-in-laws would lovingly tell dear daughter in laws -“Having a child brings the couple closer”Ouch)

A. Well for the first year or so, forget nooky. But having said that I think if you just remember to keep your marriage before your child, you will do fine.

Q. A constant debate in today’s nuclear families is: to have a single child or two. What do you think? Did you ever feel a single child can feel lonely when he/she grows up? (Your answer may affect someone’s family planning)

A. I was a single child, my husband was one of five. I think for a single child it can be terribly scary that when one’s parents pass away they’re really all alone. But I have one child, so well, to each their own. Don’t have a kid to keep the other kid company I would say have a second kid because you want one, because, hell, kids are expensive to bring up these days.

Q. How do you make your child deal with peer pressure?

A. I don’t. He deals with it on his own. I just make my boundaries very clear, this is something he can have, and something he can’t. Like it or lump it.

Q. How do you make your child select friends?

A. I don’t. I let him take his own decisions. He’s a teen now and not going to listen to me any which way.

Q. With so much uncertainty about the future, how do you make your child ready for it?

A. Can you really make anyone ready for the future? You just live out life one day at a time and do one’s best while at it.

Here are some one-liners-

Q. Biggest wish 4 ur child…
That he finds his purpose in life

Q. One memory of your child that makes you smile…
Him dancing to Om Shanti Om’s Dard e Disco

Q. A message for other parents…
Trust your instincts, you know best for your child.

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