Of course the navel gazing is technically metaphorically speaking, you understand that. No navel gazing can actually happen unless through some mischance of being in the path of some gamma radiation testing type experiment all my limbs turn to rubber and I can contort myself to the extent that I could actually, well, navel gaze. I could navel gaze by looking at myself in the mirror but that has recently proved to be such a traumatic experience that I undertake it only under duress and when eyeliner needs to be applied. I still donot have the confidence to apply eyeliner without a firmly placed mirror sturdy on some flat surface. Car eyeliner happens everyday though, given my inevitable screeching out of the house on roller skates every morning, dragging freshly bathed child generally having forgotten random item of clothing on his person, and self having forgotten essentials like comb hair to ensure you donot scare the crows sitting on the compound wall. Ergo, looking into the mirror to navel gaze is an act of bravery these days, one that would inevitably be followed by me collapsing on any available nearest sturdy surface and bawling my eyes out. Anyway, I digress.
The point is that I had a navel gazing moment recently. It dawned on me when a dear friend squawked that she was going to be an awful Stay At Home Mom. Now this friend is the kind I feel I’ve been dragged in from the swamps when I’m in the company of, so this statement kind of shook me up. Well, more accurately speaking, this statement put me into the blender of life reflections and put me on express blend mode. If this girl, who is the most with it, organised and together person I know, feels she is an awful SAHM, I wont even figure on the rating scale. Unless they have a point marked any lower than this and you are an amoebic lifeform.
I emerged white and shaking and terrified. I had spent all my life pretending to be a SAHM. And had been and am a darned awful one at that.
To start with I dont do any cooking. Not unless you count making microwave popcorn, Maggi noodles and sunfeast pasta as legitimate cooking of the Maa Ke Haath ka variety that has the child licking his fingers and making O signs with the forefinger and the thumb which have yet not got into sexual innuendo territory in his mind. None of my son’s friends stay back to help him clear his room because his mother has made yummy pavbhaji. No visitors ever drop in at home in lure of my irreplicable mutton curry. In fact, when I actually get down to cook, the family shudders in fear. They cross themselves and invoke the food gods with bribes of offerings at temples to ensure I go easy on the salt and the chilli. They keep takeaway menus handy and restaurants on speed dial. They actually sit at the table with Digene right where the glass of water should be.
My house runs on auto pilot. If the cook doesnt come in for a day, I collapse. I spend all morning hunting for ingredients, and by the time it is actually time to eat the meal, I throw my hands up in the air and speed dial Uncle’s Kitchen. The day the maid doesnt come in, the house looks like a cyclone has meandered through and one never really got around to reconstruction and rehabilitation of the affected areas.
Cleaning the house is my list of things to do when I have a gun held to my head. Or when I have to find the child under mounds of dust. Or when I can write my instructions to the cook on the sediment on the platform. Ah well, I exaggerate. The house is relatively clean. But I no longer obssess about every corner being spit polished. It is honestly something I couldnt care a damn about now. Because no matter how much one spits and polishes, the damn dust flying in from construction site up front makes it a debris zone in a couple of hours. And as some wise wit once said, after a week, the dust layer looks the same.
I am the world’s worst hostess. I wait, smoking illegal substances, for guests to come at the appointed hour, and then push them into the kitchen to make my boondi raita for me. I ask them to help me set the table and clear up. I end up delegating tasks to everyone invited and swig down my glass that cheers in a comfortable armchair while directing proceedings.
And lastly, I am also, the world’s most laidback mother. The child doesnt attend a multitude of classes. He never saw a flashcard in his life held up by my loving hands. A far cry from these days when children at day care are calmed down by the sight of Capital A on a flashcard rather than pictures of their parents. He has no sporting skills. He cannot still ride a cycle without side wheels. He cant swim, he cant skate, he cant do a smidgeon of the things other kids around him are winning trophies for. At his own pace. When he develops the interest for something he will. Till then, Im not putting my back out being a soccer mom. And till then, I’m okay with him just being cute and precocious.
Gah. I’m such a fraud SAHM. I need to find me a new designation to live out my life.