Why this?

I can understand why R’s Mom’s asked, ‘Why This?‘ 


We have had various versions of this conversation, many times.

Brat Three: “I am so black!!!!” (with a look of disgust at her own reflection in the mirror)

IHM: (Pretending to have missed her disgust) “Yes 🙂 Not black though, you are dark brown I think. Nice colour.”

She was shocked when she heard this the first time.

Brat Three: “It’s ugly. I like white.”

IHM: “White is nice too, but why don’t you like dark brown?”

brat three

Brat Three: “See? My arms, legs, face are all black… darkbrown. I am so ugly.”

IHM: “You are not ugly! You look nice. You have lovely dark brown skin…”

Brat Three: “If you like darkbrown so much, you take it.”

I tried telling her:  

“We are all various shades of brown, whatever colour we are born with, we live with that. Some people like their own colour, some don’t but it can’t be changed. Hair colour can be changed, and even eye colour can be changed. Why don’t you like dark brown? It’s a pretty colour.”

Or something like this:

“Some people like pink, some blue, some green, right? Some people like ice cream, some like pani poori, same way some people like dark brown, some black, some golden, some white.”

Also showed her pictures of good looking, dark skinned women, not always pointing out the skin colour, just letting her see for herself.

Then last week: 

Brat Three: “My face looks ‘lighter’ in hot sun, then I look nice.” (Looking very happy about this)

IHM: “Even if you play in very hot sun, you won’t get a sun burn, because dark brown skin has lots of melanin. Dark skin is made for playing in the sun 🙂 :)”

Brat Three: “Sun burn….? What is melanin?”  (Surprised but, surprisingly, delighted.)

She delighted me too with her surprise. Finally I knew what to say.

IHM: “The more the melanin, the darker the skin. Those who live in cold places don’t need melanin, because they don’t have strong sun. Those who need to face strong sun need more melanin in their skin, or else the sun can cause sun burn. You can generally play in the sun without fearing sun burn. Most probably you won’t get wrinkles till you are really old, maybe fewer spots too!” [link]

And for the first time she didn’t look disgusted 🙂

This delight was different from when she woke up one morning to find that Tooth Fairy had taken away her tooth and left her a blue pony she had asked for…

SherKhan loves Brat Three

When she had said in astonishment, “Tooth Fairy likes darkbrown!”

moon follows me, dark brown

Still earlier, sometime around October last year when she first noticed that the moon was ‘following her’ during our evening walks and said in astonishment, Moon follows me! Moon likes me…….   Dark Brown.” 

What would you do?

Related Posts:

Why This? – R’s Mom

Fat is Beautiful, Short is Sweet – Rekha

I am dark, hear me roar! – Sangitha

You don’t owe prettiness to anyone.

Introducing a new family member.

Two conversations with Brat Three

Learning with Brat Three.

Who likes mangoes?

Brat Three learns to argue, insist and convince.


Two conversations with Brat Three

Growing up with Brat Three.

So we are learning on the job, with support from, links from this blog, some instinct and from more love than imagined possible until we met this little someone who was a near stranger until she joined our family.

Here are two early lessons.

1. December 2012

In the annual function at her school, I had picked her from backstage after her dance was over and was planning for us to go out for lunch and then head home, as we looked for the exit gate, she noticed a large screen.

“What’s that?”

I was startled, “Your annual function… You too could be seen there when you were on the stage, dancing with the candle in your hand.”

She stares at the screen.

IHM: “Let’s go inside and watch the program.”

Inside she is stunned, staring at the stage and then turning to look at the audience. “Who are all these people?”

IHM: The parents and families of all your friends who are performing on stage. Like I have come to watch you, they have come to watch their children.”

Brat Three: “They are the mummies and papas of all these children?”

IHM: Yes, now watch the kids on the stage….”

Brat 3: All the children’s mummies and papas… so many children’s mummies and papas…? They all have mummy and papa?!!

IHM: Yes…

DSC_7061And she watched the ‘families’… toddlers, parents and children instead of the show.

Brat Three Eyes We are alike this way. Like us she is trying to understand why, when there are so many parents and so many children in this world, did some children and some parents have to be without parents and without children.

2. October 2012

“What can you do if children don’t study?”

One day when I was helping her with Maths, she asked, “What happens if children don’t want to study.”

IHM: “We explain to them why they need to study, all the stories they can read, places they can travel to, things they can understand and do if they study…”

Brat 3: “If they don’t understand, then what can you do?”

IHM: “Hmmm ….maybe explain again?”

Brat 3: “What can you do if children still don’t understand and they say they don’t want to study?”

IHM: “Maybe we tell them they have no choice? Fun and work must go together.”

Brat 3: “If they still don’t understand? What can you do if children still refuse to do their work?”

IHM: “Maybe we can send them to their room? Or cancel TV time or park time?”

Brat 3: “If they still don’t listen, then what can you do?”

IHM: “What would you do if you were trying to make such a child understand?”

Brat 3:“I know such children are sent back to the orphanage.”

IHM: “No. We won’t do that. Cancelling ice cream for a week, or park time or TV time is what we would do.”

Not sure how this should have been handled. I wanted her to see this as a simple fact, not as an attempt to reassure her. I realize now that it would have been too much to expect her to completely believe whatever I said immediately.

This is a picture from around that time.

Brat III, Older Child Adoption

‘If you don’t mutter under your breath “I hate you” atleast once in your life, I am not doing my job properly.’

What do you think of this promise? 
parenting The words go:

“For as long as I live I will always be your parent first and your friend second. I will stalk you, flip out on you, lecture you, drive you insane, be your worst nightmare, and hunt you down like a bloodhound when I have to, because I love you. When you understand that, I know you will have become a responsible adult. You will never find anyone else in your life who loves, cares, prays and worries for you more than I do. If you don’t mutter under your breath “I hate you” atleast once in your life, I am not doing my job properly.”
Shared by Ashwathy this with this message:
“I understand the sentiment behind the message, but I am not sure that “tone” is necessary. You do not necessarily have to be a child’s worst nightmare and drive him/her insane to be a good parent. I felt this message is over rated.
But then I am not a parent. 🙂 So I could be having mistaken notions.
My parents used to drive me insane at different points in my life, and I didn’t particularly enjoy it. Nor do I understand why they were so, even now, when I am an adult. I prefer to remember my grandfather who was my friend and gave me a free rein. It didn’t mean I took him for granted, the respect always remains.
It’s about a certain style of parenting I guess.”
What do you think?
Related Posts:

“I waited for maternal love to overcome me – it didn’t… After my baby was born, I didn’t feel anything…”

Sharing an email and an opinion.

“IHM, I would like to share my experience.

My pregnancy wasn’t planned… I’m not a baby person and I never felt the need to have a child… Neither did my husband…Then some yrs. after marriage I got pregnant… I was scared… My husband wasn’t very happy… Anyway, there I was pregnant so we decided to have the child… I waited for maternal love to overcome me – it didn’t… After my baby was born, I didn’t feel anything… Neither did my husband… All the stuff about how a mother falls in love with her child at first sight was rubbish… In fact, when I saw my 2.5 kg baby,
I got scared… How was I going to take care of hen*? I didn’t know anything about babies… Anyway, to cut a long story short, the overwhelming maternal love came a few weeks later and now we are both so happy that we can’t imagine a life without our child… The thing is, we couldn’t talk about our feelings with anybody because it was a taboo subject… “

*Hen is the gender neutral term used in place of his or her.

And Sraboney Ghose shared these thoughts.

“Since motherhood has been the topic of discussion lately, there is
an aspect of it which is the ultimate taboo in most societies (and I
can’t understand why) – bonding… Mother-baby love is supposed to be love at first sight but a large proportion of new mothers do not bond immediately with their newborns leading to shame and inadequacy and since motherhood is put on a pedestal, these mothers cannot even talk about it…

Why is motherhood idolized and worshiped in all cultures but mothers not viewed as human beings in many? Why are mothers expected to bond with their newborns immediately?
Are images of motherhood a strategy to cover up oppression?
Does this idolization lead to many mothers being overwhelmed by guilt, blaming themselves for their children’s and/or their own shortcomings, feeling pushed to behave up to impossible expectations about what motherhood ‘should’ be?

From the moment they find out they are pregnant, expectant mothers are bombarded with messages all telling the same tale: that as soon as they hold their newborn child they’ll  experience a deep, unconditional love… So powerful is this love that it will make any monotony, isolation and exhaustion they may encounter on their journey into motherhood worthwhile… What if this doesn’t happen? Mothers are human beings and like all human beings they have their own individuality… Why is this not taken into account?”

Society benefits immensely from childbearing, childrearing, and caregiving work that currently goes unpaid.

Sharing some of Nandini’s comments in response to The Bride’s post – Why I wanted payment for labour and the associated work. Find the original comment and discussion here.

What do you think?


I really do think there is an urgent need for us to recognize that society benefits immensely from childbearing, child-rearing, and care-giving work that currently goes unpaid. But okay, let’s not pay them because that would open a huge can of worms. What we need to do instead is stop penalizing those who do this unpaid work.

–> Make it explicitly illegal to discriminate against mothers in hiring and wages.

–> Tax people and businesses in order to have government-funded mandatory paid maternity AND paternity leave for the entire first year of a child’s life (6 months each). This kills many birds with one stone: women aren’t forced to return to work because they can’t afford to care for their child/themselves, men are allowed the chance to be real fathers, the burden of unpaid childcare is more likely to be shared between both parents instead of just the mom, children are likely to be breastfed longer than they currently are, children benefit from parental care in their first year of life, employers have no reason to discriminate against hiring women because both men and women are going to take time off when they have kids.

–> Tax businesses and people in order to have government-funded free quality childcare for all children. This also kills many birds with one stone: women are no longer forced to quit their jobs because childcare is more expensive than their income, elders aren’t burdened with unpaid care of grandchildren as a JOB instead of a pleasure that they choose when they like, children are given quality and standardised care in early childhood which is shown to make an enormous difference in levels of achievement in poorer children especially.

–> Force all employers to provide nursing/pumping rooms and breaks without penalizing women for it. If people can have smoking breaks and coffee breaks, by god lactating women should be allowed to pump milk!

All this is obviously going to take higher taxes, and I’m all for that. We have a responsibility towards people who create the next generation of people!

I think, rather than making husbands pay wives to have children, SOCIETY should pay women to have children via taxation.


Allow me to use a comparison I’ve used in a comment:

Compare childbirth to being a soldier. We have no issues with paying taxes to pay soldiers, giving soldiers lots of benefits and real respect, right? Why not do the same for moms??

After all, soldiers and moms benefit society in almost exactly comparable ways. Procreation is as basic and essential a function of the species as protection. Both carry similar risks of death (women have always died in childbirth in staggering numbers just like soldiers die in war, and both rates of death are drastically reduced with better technology). Both are difficult, real WORK. And if overpopulation is an issue, too many wars is also just as big a problem…

Funny, isn’t it, how differently society treats moms and soldiers? All because one set is doing traditional “men’s work” and the other is doing “women’s work”.


I think this system of patriarchal-communism (or, best-case-scenario, anarchism) within families but capitalism everywhere else is what causes women’s oppression. Pick one economic system or the other, and apply it everywhere!

The way we have it now, businesses and people in power profit immensely from the unpaid labor that allows them to survive but which they never have to pay for. It’s this huge subsidy they get that we never acknowledge. They never have to pay fair wages to the people who created their most important asset – productive workers – from scratch! Businesses also don’t have to pay fair wages to the people who care for the workers they already “used up”… especially true when the whole concept of pensions, however meager, is disappearing. It’s no accident that women are the ones who do all this unpaid work. It’s the last socially acceptable form of slave labor.

But if husbands were to pay wives their half of the fair wages for the service of birthing children, the cost would be indirectly borne by employers who’d have to pay these men more. It makes this form of labor visible in the capitalist economy, as it deserves to be. The same could be done for breastfeeding, and for caregivers within families. Women (or men) who stayed home to care for children or old people would no longer be seen as ‘not working’ because they would be earning a wage and paying taxes and be part of the economy. This work would no longer be a gap in their resumes, but part of the resume itself.

Or else we could go completely the other way, and make the economic system we use within families apply everywhere else. Everybody does their work and everybody shares in the fruits of production 100% equally. Surgeons and CEOs and hedge-fund managers get the same standard of living as farm laborers and clerks and full-time parents and “non-productive” folks like those with serious disabilities. Pipe dreams, I know, but that would really be my kind of world.

So that’s one part of it. The head-in-the-clouds part that’s never going to happen. [Which is why point one in needed.]

Related Posts:

Woman you are not doing anybody a favour…

How are mothers treated in Indian culture?

If Indian society and culture does respect mothers, then how does it show this respect?

Do we make an effort to understand how a woman’s life changes forever when she becomes a mother, how her health, body, emotional health and independence is affected? Or do we remind new mothers to make sure they remain attractive for their husbands?

Do women hear of examples of women who didn’t ‘whine‘ and who got back into shape and who got back to working in the fields within a week/month of child birth? Are women advised not to start looking like ‘do bachchon ki amma’?

Before a child is born – is there an effort to tell a woman how her life would change forever once she is a mother? Are women allowed to choose if and when they want to be mothers? Or do we start asking questions if they don’t get pregnant (with male children) when they are expected to?

Do we treat mother’s bodies with respect and care – by making fathers equally responsible for contraception and pregnancy and child-care? (And not just married fathers)

Do we allow mothers to add their own name in their children’s names? Are mothers seen as natural guardians of their own children? Do we complain when workplaces make it easier for mothers to continue working?

Do we ensure mothers (like all other parents) are not forced to choose between self reliance and good health, and motherhood?

Do we realise that the society needs mothers and fathers so that we have a new generation – and realizing this so we make it easier for women to choose motherhood, by ensuring they do not have to give up more than they need to, to be mothers?

How does the Indian society show it’s respect for mothers?

Do we make it difficult for women with children (mothers) to work, divorce or remarry, more than we do for other parents?

Do we penalize women for motherhood by making statements like ‘Pregnancy makes women workers cost-inefficient’?

Edited to add: Please also consider, Kunti’s relationship with Karan and Sita as a single mother.

And, how many empowered mothers-of-daughters can you think of in Hindu mythology?

Related posts:

Woman you are not doing anybody a favour…

What does it mean to be a mother – Shail

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s body and Willow Smith’s hair.

Belong to themselves.

Here’s what Aishwarya Rai Bachchan said on the TV.

This is reality, this is who I am, I am a mother, this can happen, and it happened with me and it is fine. That’s life you know, I have never been the one who endorsed size zero anyways, you guys speculated I was pregnant way before I was so many times, so this goes to show that I have lived the real live in the public eye and that continues, and there are a lot of people out there who realize that and share that energy with me and that’s what matters really.

I hope we see more women who refuse to mold their lives and bodies to fit into prevalent notions of what is acceptable. It must be annoying for Aishwarya to watch her post pregnancy body being dissected, but she hasn’t missed that a huge majority is supportive of her.  Maybe a huge majority is sick of being told exactly how much to weigh to be considered beautiful.

How different is this from the young woman in Jean Sasoon’s ‘Daughters of Arabia’ defiantly refusing to show her teeth for inspection to her prospective in laws?

And then one hears about how her being thin is important for her career. But why do some careers require women to look unreal? I think, Aishwarya Rai, like Vidya Balan might discover that there’s a huge audience for movies with beautiful women who look like real women.

For example, in the TOI article the comment on her weight gain has thumbs down while the supportive ‘Go Aish’ has got thumbs up. 🙂

Nandini shared this inspiring link. This is for all parents.

Here’s Will Smith describing why he let’s his daughter do anything she wants with her hair.

“We let Willow cut her hair. When you have a little girl, it’s like how can you teach her that you’re in control of her body? If I teach her that I’m in charge of whether or not she can touch her hair, she’s going to replace me with some other man when she goes out in the world. She can’t cut my hair but that’s her hair. She has got to have command of her body. So when she goes out into the world, she’s going out with a command that is hers. She is used to making those decisions herself. We try to keep giving them those decisions until they can hold the full weight of their lives.”

Do you disagree with him? I think that’s how we teach children and future women, to claim their own selves – bodies and minds.

Related Posts

How do you celebrate yourself?
Foot binding – Part 2/3: The pain and the pleasure
Foot binding – Part 1/3: A search for perfection
Footbinding – Part 3/3: The End of an Era

An email: ‘What do you think I should be doing which would please my Mom…’

Sharing an email from a-sad-daughter.

I am a 29 year old woman, married with a kid.
This is regarding my Mom.
I do really adore, love and respect her. She is a strong and confident lady who will never think twice about what she wants to say and that is the only thing which is making me loose my peace whenever I meet her.

A little about my Mom here. She comes from a big family and she got married at a young age of 18.
Her thirst for education made her finish her graduation after marriage; while she was also busy having kids.
My father ; though a good person; is not a very ideal husband (nobody is ofcourse). He never allowed my Mom to stay at her Mom’s place even when she delivered kids for more than 11 days.
My mom slogged and brought us up. She was never taken out on fun trips by my Dad.

Time flew and my Sister who was doing her Masters abroad fell in love and got married without the consent of the boy’s parents.
We didn’t get to attend her marriage.
Much more years passed and I graduated. My Mom started to have doubts that I would end up in love like my sister. She was not happy if I spoke to boys.
I didn’t go for MS in USA for the same reason.
Finally I agreed upon marriage at the age of 22 just for the sake of making her happy. (I do agree that I am happily married now but marriage was not on mind at that age)
She selected the boy and the wedding happened. I had to move to another city as my husband worked there.

So the issue is my Mom is always upset about her daughters.

Is it wrong for my sister to choose a person whom she loved? But I didn’t go my sister’s way and married according to my Mom’s choice.
Nevertheless she seems to have issues with both of us.
That we both do not love her. She says that accusing me that I never called her to my city and showed her places around.

I did call her and my dad multiple times; invited them. She says I didn’t book her flight tickets and insist that she board the flight and come.
Now this thought didn’t hit my stupid brain.
She did visit me thrice though. Once when she had to drop me when I was newly married; once when my husband was flying to USA and one more time. She accuses that I didn’t take her around and cared for her enough these three times. But the truth is I was not in a situation myself to take her around those three times.The timing was wrong.

She keeps comparing me with all my neighbors, cousins daughters who take their parents around.
Once said is enough. I even apologised to her.
But she keeps tormenting me with the same issue again and again; whenever I visit her.
She also accuses me saying that I only visit her when I NEED her.
I was recently at my Mom’s place for 7 months as I was pregnant and we moved to my mom’s city. (Also my in-laws are already in their 70’s and they cant help me).
She says she helped me with my 3 months pregnancy and 3 months daughter only because its her duty.
She says she doesn’t love me because I don’t love her.
She keeps digging the past and the small mistakes I made when I was a fresh graduate.

She keeps saying all these but still keeps thinking about us.
Also my mom has an orthopedic issue and she cant walk and run like others; that doesn’t mean she cant walk at all; she just needs help.

When I ask her on phone if she is doing well; she feels I am faking it and only asking because I need her to be healthy only to help me again.
All in all I am, according to her, a selfish bitch who does not care or love for her Mother.

Another sad thing is her hatred towards her daughters has increased her love towards my brother (younger one).
He recently started working and is single yet.
He is a Momma’s boy and hence he hates both his sisters thanks to my Mom.
She thinks he is the only one who loves and respects her.

All these accusations make me sad and I am scared to visit my Mom’s place.
It is a sad situation which no daughter should experience.

What do you think I should be doing which would please my Mom and which would make her realize that I do love her.
Please do post this on your blog.
I would like to hear others’ perspective as well on this issue and try to learn from my mistakes.


An email: Is it selfish to not want to be parents yet?

I am sharing an email from An IT Professional. I know of other couples who have faced the same dilemma.

Now coming to my question, we have been married for 1.5 years now (and have been living all by ourselves in USA ever since). We are busier than we would like to be. But that is because we take extra care of our health. We spend a lot of time at the gym and cooking healthier food vs quick fixes. We do not have rules or any particular pattern during weekends. We do not eat a fixed no of meals everyday or limit any food to any particular time of the day. There are weekends where we party thru the night and sleep thru the next day. Highly unacceptable for most of the people.

Our parents have been supremely disappointed in us that we never got pregnant. First  three months the mothers would ask about my periods, I was irritated and told I will tell you guys when something happens. That stopped the explicit questions for a while only to resume in different forms. Most of my girlfriends have kids, which do not help! None of his friends have kids, but that does not help. Now they seem to be frustrated /angry… They have actually commented that after marriage we have been behaving such that we just need ourselves.

Neither of us has decided not to have a baby. We have only decided to do it later, may be in
another year. We both realize that it is a life changing event. But not sure how much of a change it would be. We have never been with anyone going thru pregnancy/delivery/and raising a kid. We treat this whole issue as stepping into the unknown territory. Neither of the parents would come and stay with us.

Our jobs keep us away from the places they chose to settle down. Now even if we were to have a baby now, it would be only us going thru the whole thing and they may just visit us for couple of months. We don’t want to have a baby because they want a grand kid. We want to have a baby when we totally want a baby. That’s the only way we can endure the whole process with grace and love the baby itself.

Though I feel we are doing the right thing, there is a bit of a doubt somewhere that makes me want to hear a third person’s thoughts.

What I want to is understand their feeling.

What makes them crave for grand kids whom they can’t see or be with?

What makes them pressurize their own kids for something like this?

Also if you could help me… What exactly does parenthood bring with it?

How does sex life change post parenthood?

What else should I be aware of?

How does it change ones work?

I like to be aware of pros and cons before leaping into something.


An IT Professional

‘Bill seeks to let 12-yr-olds have non-penetrative sex’. Does it really?

I would watch any intimacy – even if it’s not very obviously sexual, between an adult and a child. I have blogged about how I had made sure my kids knew they had a right to complain if an adult’s touch, behavior, jokes or just looks made them uncomfortable. [Link] But if two young children (say ages 12-13 or younger) are found to be involved in non-penetrative sexual activity I would rather question the parents and other care givers than ask for the children to be treated like criminals.

There is a chance that they have been exposed to sexual abuse or some activity they do not quite understand. And even if it is felt that the children do understand (ages 12-15), I wonder if it’s a good idea to empower ‘the authorities’ to handle young children at this sensitive stage in their lives.

One has seen enough examples of how our police and some of our media handles any activity where sex is involved (Not to miss how this news has been reported, and on the front page). I remember the time when some of our media, used one such opportunity to ‘recreate the scene of crime‘… and their TRPs.

Here’s more reasons.

1. We are averse to Sex Education, so we refuse to guide children about anything related to sex. We’d rather change TV channels. Most Indians learn about sex from rape scenes in Bollywood movies, cheap porn and through their peer group.

2. But we are fine with 12 year olds being seen as criminals for something we are not comfortable even talking to them about?

3. And so, we are unhappy with the idea of decriminalizing an activity they are too young to completely understand the implications of being involved in. (taboo; social stigma for girls; emotional, cultural and moral issues involved; family-honor; responsible behavior etc).

4. Criminalizing such activity increases the risk of children being blackmailed into sexual abuse (by adults who ‘catch‘ them, like teachers, drivers, neighbors, ‘authorities’ etc) with threats of not just parental anger, but now also, legal action against them.

And this when they don’t really understand how seriously our society takes any activity related to sex. 🙄

Aparna Bhat, a Supreme Court lawyer who was part of a National Commission for Protection of Child Rights group that drafted the latest Bill said the gradation of age down to 12 years was to decriminalise sexual exploration by two children.

I don’t think the ‘Bill seeks to let 12-yr-olds have non-penetrative sex’, it simply wants to ensure they are not treated like regular criminals for something they can’t completely understand.

Under the existing law, if two 12-year-olds get physical and if one childs parent complains, the other can be pulled up by the Juvenile Justice Board. The panel felt such minor things should be decriminalised, she said.

This does not make 12 years the ‘Age of Consent’. An adult will still be seen as a rapist if they have sex with a 12 year old, but if two 12 year olds are involved, they will be seen as two 12 year olds, not as regular criminals.

Raaj Mangal, chairperson of Delhi Child Welfare Committee said the Bill could prove “disastrous“ if it comes into effect. “Twelve, given the mind and maturity of a child, is not an age to give consent, be it penetrative or non-penetrative sex. In the name of decriminalising, you can`t keep sexual acts between children out of the notice of the authorities,“ said Mangal.

Should the likes of those who see Sex Education as ‘Blue Films’, have the power to judge sexual activity between two 12 year olds? Why not let the parents deal with non penetrative sex,  just like they deal with most other issues related to their children? (including Sex Education)


Related Posts:

Teenage Pregnancies – not our culture.

Sex Education is not Blue Films.

It’s child abuse, not an affair.

When life ends at 12.