When looking to make mommy friends would you rather go with perfect know-it-all moms or the slightly inept lot, who make mistakes and learns on the job? Nidhi Raichand thinks she’d rather go with the latter.
My childhood is full of many memories, most happy, a few traumatic (periodic tables, integration and differentiation, pimples.) One incident I recently recalled had to do with exams. I remember coming out of the classroom after a particularly tough paper (most likely 12th standard math), and desperately looking for my group of friends.
I knew I had botched the thing up badly and just passing would be a miracle. And now all I wanted to hear was how badly my friends had done. Failing is awful, but it’s so much easier to bear when you have good friends doing it with you. Who knew that years later, I’d need this in my mom life?
What brought on this sudden recollection was a seemingly routine evening in the park. As my son was running around, I got to chatting with a bunch of moms about this that and the other. As the conversation veered from the topic of regular colds to irregular nannies, I started feeling a sisterhood forming and began opening up about some deeper concerns. “My son is obsessed with the TV and the phone and the iPad,” I lamented to a mom standing close by, “Kids nowadays and technology, huh?”
Like the aforementioned memory of the bad exam, the response I expected, and needed, to hear was, “Oh my God, mine too!” Instead, I got a puzzled look and a slight shake of the head. “We have a no-screen time policy in our house,” said the mother-of-the-year, “We encourage our girls to play and do activities instead.”
Somewhat discouraged but undeterred nevertheless, I turned to another mom for support, and whispered, “No-screen time! Can you believe this? My son is more up-to-date with MasterChef than I am.” “MasterChef? Isn’t that at 9? My son is fed, bathed, brushed, and fast asleep by 8.30,” responded mommy number 2 with a look that managed to convey multiple messages including scorn, a touch of disgust, a smidgen of pity, and a warning to never talk to her again.
Standing in that park, surrounded by perfect moms and their award-winning progeny, I felt like an outcast. Wasn’t motherhood supposed to be this super tough gig where everyone makes mistakes from time to time? And yeah sure, we’d all read up on the dos and don’ts of raising a child but who would have followed each and every point on the list? I suddenly started to feel like an Indian athlete at the Olympic Games-we’d somehow made it there, but quite honestly, we were completely out of our leagues.
As I sidled away from this convention of supermoms, to sit by myself and Google “sleep training – tips and shortcuts”, I heard a loud hiss from behind the jungle gym. “My daughter is obsessed with Peppa Pig,” whispered a female voice, “and sometimes when I need some time to relax, I put it on for her and go inside and check Facebook.”
“My son was supposed to get off the pacifier a year ago, but when he wakes up in the middle of the night, I sometimes use it to make him go back to sleep.”
“Yesterday, the only thing my son ate all day was two Twix bars.”
As I turned to the direction of these voices, my heart rejoiced at the sight in front of me. Here was another group of moms that I hadn’t noticed before, possibly because the glow of the halos of the first group had been blinding me.
This harum-scarum group of mothers was neither shiny, nor perfect, but rather a wonderful work-in-progress. Moms who loved their kids with all their might but also made mistakes in their upbringing. And one feature they were thankfully short on was judgement. Here was a group that didn’t chide you when you shared a slip-up, but rather nodded and smiled and let you know that it was OK.
As we stood in the park, chasing after our kids, and chatting, I remembered school and my bunch of less-than-perfect friends. Friends I could count on to whine with after a particularly tough exam. Twenty years later, I’d found my group of less-than-perfect friends again, and you know what, it was just perfect. This mom life is just what I’d been looking for.