I remember, while growing up, the one thing that got me really upset was unfairness! So, every year, when my grandmom would ask my younger brothers to do the Diwali Pooja before me, I got really angry! Shouldn’t it have been by age?
I’ve always been a feminist, even when I didn’t know what it meant. It’s easy to be a feminist wife, or a feminist daughter-in-law when you’re married in a pretty fair family to begin with. The only time I have been struggling with myself is during this experience of being a feminist mom. I’m not a radical as I believe men suffer due to patriarchy too but as a mother, I’m starting to get a glimpse at my own hypocrisies, and they startle me!
I grew up hearing Fairy Tales about Princesses and loving Barbies, but I don’t want my daughter to! I read the stories to my daughter but with disclaimers: letting her know that life isn’t perfect and that fairy tale princesses are dumb! All they do is traipse about, curtsy and debut at balls so they can find their Prince Charming. I do this because I think Fairy Tales have ruined more lives than drugs (Ok- so I’m a tad radical about this!) But children will do what they want to do. Or maybe I have to lead by example more than by preaching.
My daughter isn’t great at sports. Everytime we play ball (with the princess ball she was once gifted, I may add), she throws and then I throw, and then she talks to me about throwing for 5 minutes. In between every ball exchange, she needs a talking break for 5 minutes before we can start again. Is it that she’s sports- challenged like me or that she doesn’t see me doing anything sporty: only telling her to be sporty?
When we see a female pilot, I tell her, “You can be a pilot if you like. If you work hard, you can be anything you want to be”, to which, pat comes the reply, “Really Mamma? Then I want to be a Princess or a Dinosaur”. *Sigh!* I’m tempted to say that I’d rather she were a dinosaur but that would make her extinct, so I’m left exasperated at the choices she has put in front of me. But I guess she looks at her mom, and wants to be like me! She probably views me as being some sort of a Dinosaur Princess who is as old as the hills, but lives a comfy life with a nanny, cook and mommy lunches (at which point she also assumes that taking care of her is a bed of roses that I joyfully lie in every day, and she’s unable to imagine that to be hard work).
For the longest time, I would keep telling my best friend that she should get her son more “feminine” toys but then someone gifted Baby A a dump truck, and my first primal reaction was to dump it on her head? A boy-toy?
And then I wonder why BabyA wants to spend hours setting out picnics for people, or putting fake nail polish in front of her pink dresser? The truth is that she’s like I was at her age. And as she grows up, she will be whoever she is destined to be, and I will have to accept it! All I can do is to teach her what I think I know, and besides that, I have to accept that she is a separate entity than me with her own, evolving identity.
Eventually, I must cut the umbilical cord and let her be whoever she wants to be, whether it be a Pilot, a Dinosaur Princess or a Fashion Diva! I can grit my teeth if she becomes a serial selfie-taking, bubble-headed, self-proclaimed, new-age Princess (images of a giggling Sonam Kapoor float into my head. *Brrrr!*) but I guess if narcissism keeps her light-headed and happy, then I will have to be happy that at least she’s happy!