To All Moms: You Don’t Know a Thing! PS: I Love You

To All Moms: You Don’t Know a Thing! PS: I Love You

Alas! I’d just had yet another row with my 14-year-old, and the closing banter, as always was, “You don’t know a thing! I hate you Mom!”. Feeling drained out, wretched, and eager to make things normal, all at the same time, I heard the loud thud of the door closing. She has shut her bedroom door as usual. I have the key with me, but I never try to open it. Wishing that she would come to me and apologise, I too, went to my room trying to take a nap. I put on the Brian Weiss regression on YouTube, yearning to relax.

I was now a teenager.

My individuality was slowly developing, but I was not there yet! I didn’t want to be under the shelter of mom and dad. Aged sixteen and completing my Pre-Degree (equivalent to 12th grade), I thought I knew everything better than my mom. It was the time of our farewell. Having decided to wear a Ghagra choli (Indian traditional wear) for the event, I found a good design from a magazine, and mom got it stitched for me. Unfortunately, the cloth was insufficient, and the dress did not look as beautiful as I imagined. The tailor consoled me saying that she could get it altered if I brought some more of the same cloth. I was disappointed, but mom reassured me that we would get it changed.

A day or two passed.

I didn’t see any sign of my mom getting the cloth for alteration. Concerned and having decided that mom was not going to do it for me, I kicked up a massive fuss and fought with her. That evening when mom was away at work, I went to the textile shop all by myself in an auto-rickshaw. I still remember, it was a maroon coloured Ghagra choli and I wanted some more of the same coloured cloth. The lady in the shop showed me so many variations of maroon colour and asked which maroon shade I wanted. Sadly, I realised that I hadn’t brought the dress with me to buy the exact maroon shade I needed. Never mind, I was a teenager, I knew everything, and I had the same maroon in my mind! So, I didn’t wait for anything, just bought the maroon material and came back home.

When I reached home, mom had returned from work, and she was waiting to question me.

Furious, I told her that I had bought the cloth all alone since I knew she wouldn’t do it for me. Then mom asked me if she could see the fabric and the dress to confirm that the colour was the same. Proudly, I took out the cloth I bought and the dress. God, the colours didn’t match!!! What should I do now?!! I felt miserable.

But what happened next was even more painful.

My mom took out a cover and handed it to me., I was almost in tears when I opened it because it had the same coloured cloth I needed for my dress. She had gone to buy it on her way back from work. Did I ever think that this would happen? How could I? I was so naïve, and my mom was so thoughtful! Wanting to hug my mom and say sorry, I wanted to stop fighting with her after this incident. But did it happen?
In my mind, I might have apologised a million times, but my ego never allowed me to tell mom that I was wrong and I did not know a thing!

I completed college, found a job, got married and had kids.

Travelling along the same roads as her, I got to know her better. I met with her struggles and faced her challenges. Then, someday, somewhere, without me or her knowing, I realised that her love towards me was the purest I ever received! No wonder, for my relationship with her was nine months ahead of everyone else!

The YouTube video stopped playing.

I was awake! I heard the creaky noise of the door opening. It was my daughter going to the kitchen to get something to eat. She didn’t bother to see what I was doing. Did it hurt? No, I am a mom, and moms never give up on kids. I blessed her in my mind and wished that she would grow up to be a brave and graceful woman and a mom who never gives up on her kids!

Do you recollect your childhood experiences and reapply your parents' parenting approaches in your family? Or do you think your kids need a totally different approach?

This is an original guest post written for World Moms Network by Rohini Pillai in Oman.

Author Bio:
Rohini Pillai was born and raised in Kerala, God’s own country, the southern state of India. She considers her trust in God and her family as the biggest strengths of her life. She loves to be around people, and if not, you will most likely find her around her sweet brown and white Shitzu, Polo.

World Moms Network

World Moms Network is an award winning website whose mission statement is "Connecting mothers; empowering women around the globe." With over 70 contributors who write from over 30 countries, the site covered the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Most recently, our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan was awarded "Best Reporting on the UN" form the UNCA. The site has also been named a "Top Website for Women" by FORBES Woman and recommended by the NY Times Motherlode and the Times of India. Follow our hashtags: #worldmom and #worldmoms Formerly, our site was known as World Moms Blog.

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Kyle Rittenhouse: Was The Verdict Fair?

Kyle Rittenhouse: Was The Verdict Fair?

In August 2020, a 29-year-old African-American man named Jacob Blake was shot in the back multiple times by police, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. This incident resulted in Jacob being paralyzed from the waist down. On August 25, 2020, during the protests that followed, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse left his hometown of Antioch, Illinois, and went to Kenosha, Wisconsin. Armed with an AR-15 rifle, he fatally shot two men and wounded a third. Mr. Rittenhouse and the three people he shot were all Caucasian.

During the subsequent trial, Mr. Rittenhouse and his legal team argued that he had been acting in self-defense. Now 18 years old, he has been acquitted of all charges.

I must be honest and share that I was not surprised by the “not guilty” verdict handed down to Kyle Rittenhouse. I have learned through observing numerous courts cases that Caucasian males are seen to be innocent even when they are guilty.

When the judge threw out the gun charges against Mr. Rittenhouse, I knew that he was extending to him the judicial courtesy that so many Caucasian males in his position get. The Judge wouldn’t even allow the three men to be labeled as “victims” although the terms “protester” and “rioter” were permitted.

How can you charge a person with a crime when the weapon involved in the crime basically doesn’t exist and there are no “victims”? This judicial bias that was shown to Kyle Rittenhouse rarely gets shown to non-white males. This directly reflects the fact that even though non-white males represent approximately 29% of America’s population, they represent over 57% of the incarcerated population (Morgan, Smith, 2005).

Though I wasn’t surprised by the verdict, I was still enraged by it. The interpretation of law always seems to lean in the favor of Caucasian Americans, and that same law or rule is enforced fully in the cases of any male that is non-white. According to the United State Sentencing Commission (USSC), non-white males receive, on average, prison sentences that are 20% longer than those of their Caucasian counterparts.

I am enraged that a 17-year-old could walk around with an AR-15 rifle and not be stopped or apprehended by one of the many police officers present. This demonstrates the ongoing systemic racism that continues to plague our country. How are we ever going to correct a problem when the system that governs the problem is the problem?

Sources

Morgan, K., & Smith, B.L. (2005). Victims, Punishment, and Parole: The Effect of Victim Participation on Parole Hearings. Criminology and Public Policy, 4(2), p. 355.

Uggen, C., Larson, R, & Shannon, S. (2016). 6 Million Lost Voters: State-Level Estimates of Felony Disenfranchisement, 2016. Washington, D.C.: The Sentencing Project. Available at:

https://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/6-million-lost-voters-state-level-estimates-felonydisenfranchisement-2016/

United States Sentencing Commission. (2016). The federal sentencing guidelines : a report on the operation of the guidelines system and short-term impacts on disparity in sentencing, use of incarceration, and prosecutorial discretion and plea bargaining. [Washington, D.C.?]: https://www.ussc.gov/guidelines/2018-guidelines-manual-annotated

This is an original post for World Moms Network by Dr. Denetria Brooks-James.

World Moms Network

World Moms Network is an award winning website whose mission statement is "Connecting mothers; empowering women around the globe." With over 70 contributors who write from over 30 countries, the site covered the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Most recently, our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan was awarded "Best Reporting on the UN" form the UNCA. The site has also been named a "Top Website for Women" by FORBES Woman and recommended by the NY Times Motherlode and the Times of India. Follow our hashtags: #worldmom and #worldmoms Formerly, our site was known as World Moms Blog.

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Parental Burnout: Getting Help to Get better

Parental Burnout: Getting Help to Get better

“I can’t do it anymore!”

I said it. It was not easy but I needed to let emotions go and tell the truth. I didn’t know it but I had hit parental burnout. It did not come out of nowhere but I had kept the situation at a distance for some time. I did not want to show my weaknesses. I did not want people to see this side of me. 

For months and months I kept repeating to myself that I could manage, that some other women had more than one kid, some had more issues, illness, parents to deal with and they could make it work at the end of the day. Therefore, I could too. 

The breaking point

Then, one day, I found myself locked in the bathroom, crying. Tears were heavy and on the other side of the door was my kid but I could not come out; I could not find the strength to make a step towards him; I could not get past my anger and pain—like I had many times in the past—and give him a hug.

I was not myself anymore. In addition, after every crisis, I hated myself. I was afraid of my violence, of the words, of what my own body and mind were able to do towards the most precious person of my life. I even asked myself at some stage if I really loved my son and if it would not be better to let him go live with other people. Home wasn’t safe. Family life felt like hell. 

Mama Burnout

Shame

I was so ashamed I could not tell other mums or even family or friends. How can one say “I don’t like being with my child?” I was thinking that if I tell, Social Services would take my child away from me; or worse, give him to his dad. I could not imagine this.

I kept smiling outside, and the worst is that people told me I was a good mum. They didn’t know how awful these words made me feel, even guiltier than I felt already! 

I kept crying indoors. I thought about my son, the one who helped me get away from an abusive marriage. And, here I was, making a mess of his life. 

I cried for a long time this day and when I got out, I made myself only one promise: ask for help.

Asking for help

A week later, I was spilling my guts in front of a psychologist. I told her all the things I could not tell myself. I said out loud that I was scared to go home, that I was scared to cause harm to my son, that I could not go on like this, exhausted, feeling empty and mentally absent. I told her I was just surviving, doing the things that needed to be done.

Week after week I let go, I told her the chaos, my violent outbursts that I could not control, the fear in my son’s eyes when I was shouting and knocking on the walls, my wish, many times, to kill myself as it was becoming too hard and harmful for both of us. I was losing confidence as a mother, as a woman, as an individual. My life was slipping out of control. 

Naming it

This is called parental burnout. It refers to a prolonged situation of emotional imbalance, where the burdens of stress overcome personal resources to deal with life as it is. It can be compared to post-partum depression but it’s mostly linked to one’s parenting role and tasks. 

Asking for help saved my family. I started writing at the same time, sharing my story with others, as guilt and shame were slowly fading. It’s not something I like to remember but I know that personal experiences can be of help. When facing such hardships in one’s life, loneliness is a killer.

We should all be strong together, being able to listen, without judgement, but with an attitude that will help women to open up before it’s too late. Parental burnout is a real and scary reality for many parents, especially single moms.

Have you heard about parental burnout before? Have you been there or do you know someone living such an experience?

Marie Kléber

Marie is from France and is living near Paris, after spending 6 years in Irlande. She is a single mum of one, sharing her time between work, family life and writing, her passion. She already wrote 6 books in her native langage. She loves reading, photography, meeting friends and sharing life experiences. She blogs about domestic abuse, parenting and poetry @https://mahshiandmarshmallow.wordpress.com

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Parenting Don’ts: Advice to My Future Self

Parenting Don’ts: Advice to My Future Self

I had the privilege to be born in Bahrain and imbibe the various cultures around me. Raised in a nuclear family, my parents tried to give my sister and me everything that a big, joint Indian family would provide for a proper balanced upbringing. That was a lot of expectations from one dad and one mum who worked almost 10 hours everyday to make a good living for their family.

Educated in a co-ed Indian School (boys and girls attend the same school) in Bahrain, and given the choice of subjects I wanted to pursue, I thought it was a privilege and responsibility. Having completed my Engineering degree, I, like any fresh  graduate, wanted a chance to work at an IT firm in Bangalore. But dad wanted me to stay back in Bahrain. I didn’t have to struggle too hard to find my first job – selling software programs. However in their minds, I was supposed to be making them, and not selling them. Also, my parents had their own plans for me. All they wanted from me was to complete my Engineering studies and ‘settle down’.    

This was when the first bubble of the ignorant started to burst.

The ignorant being ‘me’. And bubble? These are gigantic balls parents build around their child to protect them from the harsh realities of life. It was very easy for a child brought up in the Middle East to live in such a bubble for a very long time, at least in those times.

Lesson Learnt: My kids will have a choice on whether to marry/work/earn/live independently before ‘settling down’.

Soon, dad arranged for a meeting with the boy’s family. Dad was so excited to get me a salwar kameez of his favourite colour. I wore the yellow suit and smiled at all the family members sitting in front of me, hoping dad remembered the three important points I discussed with him:

I didn’t want to live in the Middle East. My preference was someone who was settled outside Kerala. Being the eldest I didn’t want to marry the eldest son of a family.

But of course, nothing I said was heard.

Lesson Learnt: Listen to your child. Is it that hard?

Should I be throwing a tantrum now? Or should I trust dad? Dad said that my life would begin after I got married and I could work like I wanted and everything would be okay. How far that was from the truth, neither he nor I knew.

Lesson Learnt: When you are not sure of something, don’t say it.

Newly married phase began.

I felt that if I told my life partner I wanted to work before we started a family he would understand. Luckily I found a job in a reputed university in Saudi Arabia. But then again, my partner was in a hurry to start a family and I had to quit my job before it started.

After my kiddo turned 1, I began working as a software developer. This was the only way I could sponsor my child in Bahrain. My husband decided this was best for the child and I couldn’t agree more. But for that to happen, I had to stay with my parents, and living with parents after marriage was a whole new ballgame.

Suddenly, financial balance became an important topic and mum felt I was not doing enough at home. I hired a helper and tried to assist financially. I never left my daughter home to socialize with friends. But then, dad had a problem if I came back home late with her. Mum reminded me that I should be staying with my husband. She said it was embarrassing to let her colleagues know that her daughter stayed with her after marriage. I didn’t know where I belonged.

Lesson Learnt: I would ensure that I made my child feel 'at home' when she was home. Home was the safest place for them, no matter what others say.

Work started taking up most of my time.

I worked hard, changed jobs, and was now responsible for the Information Technology Department. Big role, but dad and mum didn’t think much of it. Why? Because I was not earning in 4 digits in Bahrain.

Lesson Learnt: Any job, big or small, would be celebrated. 

Once, Boss called at nine in the night and when I answered the call, dad reacted like there was nothing worse I could do. I calmly explained that Boss was travelling and wanted to know why he was unable to send out an important email, whether it was a server issue. But he didn’t care for my explanations. Nothing dad said made sense anymore.

After two years, husband successfully found a job in Bahrain. We shifted to our own place and everyone seemed very happy. I still worked till late evenings, and my husband came home earlier. He waited till I served dinner every night and reminded me that my primary job was at home. He informed me that soon he would sponsor our child and I should make arrangements for the transfer. Mother- in- law joined us and that made everyone in the house happier.

I worked for the same company for more than 3 years with no pay raise. Wanting to do more, I enrolled for a course to learn about web applications. I came home late after the course and worked hard to transfer the current website to a web application. That was a success after a few trials. But still no raise.

While we planned for our second child I decided to shift my career to something lighter. I resigned and took up a teaching job at a school. This gave me more time with my daughter and I made peace with it. Blessed with a son, our family was complete. I quit teaching and stayed with my children.

Lesson Learnt: If you did not have a proper support system, then it was impossible for a woman to have a good career and family together.
Faced with a similar situation, what would you have done differently? 

This is an original guest post written for World Moms Network by Rashmi Roshan in Bahrain.

Author Bio:
I am Rashmi Roshan - mum to two lovely children, juggling the roles of wife, daughter, sister, friend, computer science engineer and teacher. Born and raised in Bahrain and still here, I experienced different cultures and living styles here, which has helped me understand difficulties that children in the Middle East face. Having said that, there is still so much more for me to learn; and to be able to pen down my thoughts and share my perspective with my family and readers has helped me listen to the tiny voice inside, instead of letting it get lost. So, I'm thankful for this opportunity, and I hope to read and learn from the experiences shared by other mothers.

World Moms Network

World Moms Network is an award winning website whose mission statement is "Connecting mothers; empowering women around the globe." With over 70 contributors who write from over 30 countries, the site covered the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Most recently, our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan was awarded "Best Reporting on the UN" form the UNCA. The site has also been named a "Top Website for Women" by FORBES Woman and recommended by the NY Times Motherlode and the Times of India. Follow our hashtags: #worldmom and #worldmoms Formerly, our site was known as World Moms Blog.

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Love Thy Neighbor

Love Thy Neighbor

Amazon Prime released a series called “Them”. It is set in the 1950’s, and it tells the story of a Black family that moves into an all-white neighborhood in Los Angeles. Watching this show reminds me of the fact that my parents were the second Black family on our street. This was well before I was born but I’ve heard the story all my life.

The female neighbor next door told the other neighbor on the opposite side that since N-words lived there now she didn’t want “their” plums falling in her yard. So the other neighbor cut the plum tree in our back yard down in the middle of the night. My daddy, being who he was, burned the man’s storage shed down and cut his fig tree down. This kind of thing went on for a few years.

By the time I was born, there was another plum tree, fig tree, and storage shed. The neighbor who didn’t want the N-word’s plums in her yard ended up babysitting me after school, and her grandchildren who spent the summer with her stayed in our house and back yard most of the time. We played,fought, and got spankings together too many times to count. We even painted them black with charcoal and dog poop once and all ended up in the bathtub together.

Over the years, TWO men who originally hated one another got older and sickly, but by this time they both had spare keys to each other’s homes in case of an emergency. The man who had cut our plum tree down at one point had the pleasure of cleaning up after my dad after he had soiled himself, and he stayed there with my dad until my mom got home. He also cooked for him on dialysis days.

My dad would sometimes ride his wheelchair down to the other man’s house to take a plate of food my mom had made, or they would have a cup of coffee standing out on the property line they once cursed at each other over.

Both of those neighbors are long gone now. All I have are fond memories of them both. When my brother passed, the male neighbor was the first person to hug and kiss me and tell me he loved me. The female neighbor left me my favorite one of her tea cups that she used to use for sun-tea and allowed me to use for my after school snack. Until the male neighbor was well into his 80’s he helped my mom in any way possible without her having to even ask. His family still sends her greeting cards and gifts from time to time.  

The show “Them” is a trigger for many reasons, but from a cinematic perspective, it is very suspenseful, and this can make it easy for us to forget the advice to love thy neighbor. If we all put ourselves in our neighbors’ shoes and committed to truly loving them, imagine how much greater we could become as individuals, families, and communities.

How diverse is the neighborhood you live in? Are your neighbors a big part of your family’s life?

This is an original post for World Moms Network by Disha Ellis. Photo credit to the author.