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Is slow-parenting edging out supermoms?

Bringing up baby is not easy. The stories about parenthood being the greatest adventure of your life are just smart window-dressing. Sanchita Sharma writes.

columns Updated: Feb 16, 2013 22:23 IST
Sanchita Sharma

Bringing up baby is not easy. The stories about parenthood being the greatest adventure of your life are just smart window-dressing.

Parenting is actually more like jumping into the deep end after reading instructions on how to swim. You survive all right, and feel like a hero later for living to tell of it, but while you are in the water insanely splashing around in your desperate attempt to live, it is not nice.

Whether you’re married or single, young or not so young, work or are a fulltime parent, have support or don’t, looking after one or more children is tougher than they ever told you. You’re stressed, unsure about every choice you make, and always short of time.

Everyone wants more of you, your children, your partner, your family and, if you work, your office, and being there for all of them is impossible simply because you have no time. Not even for yourself.

It makes you irritable, snappy, bitter and boring. Your friends and family see it, but don’t want to be the one to tell you. So they agree with you when they can’t avoid you.

Most of us think it gets better when children get older. It doesn’t. One way to enjoy parenthood is to accept that you can’t be Wonder Woman, the Amazon in tights who didn’t have to worry about diaper rash making Wonder Baby cranky.

The only one not bothered by parenthood would probably be Superman, but he would eat green kryptonite before whining about his life, so we’ll never know.

I realised I had no super powers pretty early on in my son’s life. I went through the usual working mom grind.

There were days I felt I was coping just fine, and then there many more when I was so overwhelmed that I thought things would never ever go well.

What’s finally worked for me was telling myself that there was just that much I could do. That I would do the best I could without trying to be a super anything.

That I would try to be around as much as I could without feeling guilty about the days when I couldn’t make it.

So when my son broke his arm while learning to cycle, I left work early to be with him for the plaster and surgery, but I did not feel guilty about not being there to have insisted on his using trainer wheels while biking.

I often miss school events, but I’m there if he needs help with schoolwork. I don’t mind tiger moms telling me they don’t see me around school much because they are right. And when I get caught up at work, I often forget to call home to ask whether he’s had lunch or dinner.

But on days when I’m there and he’s in the mood, we talk about things we like and things we don’t, things that bother us or simply stuff we’ve seen and heard. And despite my not being a great mom by all accounts, my son thinks I’m all right.

New studies show you don’t have to be helicopter parents who care too much. It’s best to feed babies when they are hungry and put them to bed when they are sleepy, with the journal Developmental Psychology reporting that babies should be allowed to fall back to sleep on their own when they wake up and cry at night.

All babies — like adults — move through a sleep cycle where they wake up every 2 hours and learning to self-soothe is critical to develop a regular sleeping pattern.

Much like Slow Food, Slow Parenting has become a bit of a movement, with several parents choosing to give their children room to fall without worrying too much about the bruises.

Sure, you can get them knee pads, but I don’t know of anyone considering scabby knees as a sign of bad parenting.