Feed, Love, Pray

The relationship between Food and Love runs very deep in India. If you love someone, you take them out to fancy restaurants. When you want to make up for a fight, you cook something special for your love. When you want to pamper yourself, you binge on food you love (not necessarily food which is good for you). Food is such an important part of our lifestyle that I sometimes wonder about the adage, “We live to eat or we eat to live”.

This love for food or rather the love to feed can be observed at its peak in a mother and child relationship. I agree that during pregnancy and the first year of infancy, weight gain of the child is one of the important parameters tracked by doctors and parents alike. Consistent body weight gain indicates that the child is growing well. Since food is an important contributor to weight gain, mothers take extra attention on what they eat (during pregnancy) and they feed the child (post birth). After the first year, body weight as a parameter of wellness loses its significance. But Indian mothers do not seem to know this. We continue to focus on weight gain of the child till the child allows us to do so.

In one of the recent visits to my sons pediatrician, I tried to ask him casually, “Do you think Yogs weight is appropriate for his age? He has not gained any weight for the last 3 months.” The doctor, one of the most respected pediatricians in town, let out a sigh and looked at me straight in the eye, “You know you are just like my mother. I weigh 98 kgs today. But my mother worries that I have not gained any weight in the last one year.” I quickly averted my gaze in embarrassment. I knew he was right with his blunt remark. I knew my sons weight is fine (if not slightly over), but I needed an assurance from the doctor to tell me that my son was fine. I needed an assurance from the doctor that I was a good mom. I needed that assurance to believe that I was doing well in the most important job, I held.

As urban parents, I honestly think, we should be more worried about obesity as a serious problem for our children in place of undernourishment. When I see parents fussing over food with children who are already close to being obese, I want to step in and caution them. But, I don’t. In my heart, I know that I fuss over my children and my husband’s food habits, more than I should. No matter how hard I try, I too believe that ensuring good food on the table is a way of showering love on them.

The only thing I avoid, since that conversation with the pediatrician,  is measuring the height and weight of my children. As long as they are active and free from infections, I take it as a sign that I am good mom. The only person who uses the weighing machine in our house, is me. Again, like most women out there, I want to ensure my relationship with weight gain continues, but in the reverse order. 😊

P.S. I do not have significant data points on this aspect from other regions outside of India. Does this apply to most countries?

“Parenting” when you are 50

I used to think that being a parent is one of the most difficult roles, one can ever play. You are literally responsible for the health, wealth, happiness and attitude of young minds. Over the years, I have changed this view. I think there is one more role that is even more challenging, which most of us end up playing as we get older. That is the role of a “parent-in-law”.

Consider this – at about 50 years of your life, you are finally done with your responsibilities, you have also managed to give decent values and direction to your children, you have saved enough for your retirement, and now you think you can relax and spend the rest of the years spiritually. Looking forward to it, you happily marry your child (or children), be it a son or a daughter and start planning for your retired life. The bubble breaks when you realize that in place of handing your loved one into the care of someone else, you yourself have ended up adopting another child in your family. The bigger challenge is that this child is about 25 years old.

Nonetheless, quickly accepting reality for what it is, you park your own dream of retirement for a while, and welcome this addition in your family. You shower them with all that you have – love, care, space. In return, you wish that this child will carry forward your family legacy, follow your values and support you in your time of need. But alas, you realize, that this child is significantly different from your own children and at the same time not so open to change. Even though, you love them as your own child, you cannot be as open to them as you are to your own children. You see them making mistakes, getting hurt but cannot offer open advice as it might be misinterpreted. Differences in culture, values and attitudes adds up even more complexity and spice.

Imagine, how painful it must be. At an age, where all you wanted was to be free from stress and responsibilities, you end up adding to those, because you have one more rebellious, and stubborn child that you are now responsible for.

Though I have never experienced this pain myself, I know I have caused enough of it. My heart now goes out to all parents playing the role of a parent-in-law. I salute your perseverance and maturity. I pray that one day when I step in your shoes, I remember your ways and try and follow them for my adopted children. Amen!