What it Means to be a Supermom?

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“Definition of supermom: an exemplary mother; also :a woman who performs the traditional duties of housekeeping and child-rearing while also having a full-time job”

 

Last month a wonderful full-time mom of a toddler was sent this excerpt from Merriam Webster Dictionary because she chooses to call herself ‘a supermom’ despite being a ‘stay-at-home-parent’ and hence, the sender wanted to educate her better on the definition of ‘supermom’.

 

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Now the mom in question; she is kind of mother who spends hours playing, teaching new things to her baby. Literally! The toddler who has just turned three is almost ready to start reading (that tells extent of her involvement in child’s life). She’s educated, a professionally qualified woman who choses to sit at home and be there for her child instead of leaving him to servants/day cares.

 

Being an only daughter of her parents, she was spoiled rotten while growing up and wouldn’t even pick a glass of water herself to drink. But as a mom, she cooks homemade puddings and soups, has shifted her routine, changed her life style to suit that of her child’s. And she’s not someone who enjoys sitting at home and just taking care of a child. She has aspirations. She has ambitions to fly and do stuff of her own. She would like to pursue her professional career. She would like to go outside and make a mark of her own. But there is this child who needs her more. And she is happy just being a mother at the time. The initial years of a child’s life are so crucial. Those are the years which form child’s basic character.

 
“It is a fundamental truth that the responsibilities of motherhood cannot be successfully delegated. No, not to day-care centers, not to schools, not to nurseries, not to babysitters. We become enamored with men’s theories such as the idea of preschool training outside the home for young children. Not only does this put added pressure on the budget, but it places young children in an environment away from mother’s influence. Too often the pressure for popularity, on children and teens, places an economic burden on the income of the father, so mother feels she must go to work to satisfy her children’s needs. That decision can be most shortsighted. It is mother’s influence during the crucial formative years that forms a child’s basic character. Home is the place where a child learns faith, feels love, and thereby learns from mother’s loving example to choose righteousness. How vital are mother’s influence and teaching in the home—and how apparent when neglected!”
― Ezra Taft Benson

 
The biggest sacrifice is the one when the best thing a woman could do is to go outside in the world and do wonderful things of her own but instead, she chooses to sit at home and gets another human being ready for doing wonderful things. As an educated, a professionally qualified person, I understand how hard it could be for an educated woman to choose that path solely for well-being of a tiny new life.

 
I’m also a full-time mother and I love being a one. I have Masters in Business Administration, have B.Sc. and also B.Ed. But I love staying at home and just being lazy. I enjoy cooking and baking, keeping my house clean, be there for my kids when they come back from school, and I’m addicted to words, to books and sunny days; the simplest things as I’m a simple person and for which I have been taunted, laughed at. Did those taunts make any difference to me? No, not at all! Because the people who utters those things, I understand, are definitely narrow…sort of pig-headed (Guess what? They are raised by a full-time mom!What a shame!).

 

 

Now I don’t think I’m sacrificing anything by being a stay-at-home parent because I take comfort, take pride in being the one. But I know there are many others who would rather go outside and pursue a professional career. And those full-time moms are the ones who make the biggest sacrifices when they choose to sit at home, take care of their children and be happy.

 

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Now if we come back to earlier definition of ‘Super Mom’ in Merriam Webster Dictionary, a thing to note is that all Merriam-Webster dictionaries trace their lineage to Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, which is an American company that publishes reference books.

 
In 1960s, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) had gathered increasing support with the rise of the women’s movement. ERA is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution designed to guarantee equal rights for all citizens regardless of sex; it seeks to end the legal distinctions between men and women in terms of divorce, property, employment, and other matters (*source wiki). It was reintroduced in 1971 and passed both houses of Congress in 1972. That’s when it was submitted to the state legislatures for ratification.

 
The word “supermom” was used for the first time in 1974. Its origin in post second-wave feminism society of 1970s United States at the time when women’s career-oriented way of life was trending, was not merely a chance occurrence. The majority of the women in those times viewed the pursuit of a professional career along with managing traditional homemaker’s duties as a challenge.

 
According to Collins Dictionary, the word “supermom” stands for an extremely capable and busy mother.”

 
Definition of ‘supermom’ in Collins is more in context with today’s times. The pressure on women- to prove themselves professionally no longer exists (superwomen squeeze), especially, in developed countries nor does the ‘superwoman syndrome’ and ‘superwoman complex’; where a woman has high expectations from herself that she can and should do everything.

 

But sadly, the closed-minded people out there lack the ability to understand this kind of concept; the very simple fact that every mother: working or not, is indeed a ‘supermom’. Poor bigots!

Neena has compiled ‘YOU left me, sweets two legacies:Famous Love Poems’, a collection of 61 famous classic poems under her pen name Avira N.

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“We Need to Talk About Kevin” – A Powerful Book About Ugly Things

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“You can only subject people to anguish who have a conscience. You can only punish people who have hopes to frustrate or attachments to sever; who worry what you think of them. You can really only punish people who are already a little bit good.”

― Lionel Shriver, We Need to Talk About Kevin

Those lines summarize the whole personality of Lionel Shriver’s protagonist Kevin in We Need to Talk About Kevin.

“Had I catalogued the downsides of parenthood, “son might turn out to be a killer” would never have turned up on the list.”

What happens when you give birth to a child who doesn’t have any conscience, any emotion to speak of, and who is downright evil? You got to recognise the abnormality and get medical help (that’s the best one can do as a parent). But, in ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’, Eva Khatchadourian despite recognising the tell-tale signs, failed to do anything about it and lost everything that was life. Franklin, on the other hand, seemed blindly oblivious to his son’s faults and failed to see the things shaping toward a doomed end. Kevin, he was evil: born that way. Some kind of medical help could have helped him (or may be not). But Eva, I disliked her as a mother: for being so cold and aloof; for seeing Kevin for what he was and not doing a single thing about that. Although, in the end my heart cried for her as well (what else a mother could have done?).

 

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If you are a parent, do read it. Once, at least. But I warn you it is a powerful book about ugly things – difficult, depressing, dark, and soul-dampening. It will stay with you for a long time.

Neena has compiled ‘YOU left me, sweets two legacies:Famous Love Poems’, a collection of 61 famous classic poems under her pen name Avira N.

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Thomas Hardy – The beauty of his writing and the gloom

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My first book by Hardy was Tess of the d’Urbervilles and the last one Jude the Obscure and then I knew I wouldn’t read another Hardy for a long time.

During late 1800’s, Thomas Hardy was the sole British author who dared to tackle several sensitive issues in his novels like sexual morality, legal status and holiness of marriage, the loss of religious faith, a person’s lone struggle to fight the isolation when he/she choses to go against the larger, accepted social norms (Sue in Jude the Obscure). I admired Sue Bridehead in Jude the Obscure for her unconventional ways but that was the extent of my admiration. His protagonists are born with bad luck and they carry it throughout their life with them like a lucky charm. In normal stories, some bad happens and people learn from their failures and rise again. In Hardy’s books, if something bad happens, you got to keep a box of tissues ready because that’s just the beginning. The worst is going to arrive soon and Hardy wouldn’t stop at that; Hardy is not the type of guy who would just stop at the glass half empty. He has to empty the glass completely.

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Despite loving his writing, his honest elucidations on things, I couldn’t just take anymore of his gloomy reflections on life, on love, on everything. But his poems…I love these. They are lovely. Maybe because a poem is so short and in a few, plain words explains all that which seems totally inexplicable!

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Here are three of my favourites.

A bleak take on love and a doomed relationship, Neutral Tones is a Thomas Hardy in every way —beautiful and soulful.

Neutral Tones

We stood by a pond that winter day,

And the sun was white, as though chidden of God,

And a few leaves lay on the starving sod,

—They had fallen from an ash, and were gray.

 

Your eyes on me were as eyes that rove

Over tedious riddles solved years ago;

And some words played between us to and fro—

On which lost the more by our love.

 

The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing

Alive enough to have strength to die;

And a grin of bitterness swept thereby

Like an ominous bird a-wing….

 

Since then, keen lessons that love deceives,

And wrings with wrong, have shaped to me

Your face, and the God-curst sun, and a tree,

And a pond edged with grayish leaves.

………………………….

‘Thoughts of Phena, At News of Her Death’

Not a line of her writing have I,

Not a thread of her hair,

No mark of her late time as dame in her dwelling, whereby

I may picture her there;

And in vain do I urge my unsight

To conceive my lost prize

At her close, whom I knew when her dreams were upbrimming with light

And with laughter her eyes.

 

What scenes spread around her last days,

Sad, shining, or dim?

Did her gifts and compassions enray and enarch her sweet ways

With an aureate nimb?

Or did life-light decline from her years,

And mischances control

Her full day-star; unease, or regret, or forebodings, or fears

Disennoble her soul?

 

Thus I do but the phantom retain

Of the maiden of yore

As my relic; yet haply the best of her – fined in my brain

It may be the more

That no line of her writing have I,

Nor a thread of her hair,

No mark of her late time as dame in her dwelling, whereby

I may picture her there.

……………………..

The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate,

When Frost was spectre-gray,

And Winter’s dregs made desolate

The weakening eye of day.

The tangled bine-stems scored the sky

Like strings of broken lyres,

And all mankind that haunted nigh

Had sought their household fires.

 

The land’s sharp features seemed to me

The Century’s corpse outleant,

Its crypt the cloudy canopy,

The wind its death-lament.

The ancient pulse of germ and birth

Was shrunken hard and dry,

And every spirit upon earth

Seemed fervourless as I.

 

At once a voice arose among

The bleak twigs overhead,

In a full-hearted evensong

Of joy illimited.

An aged thrush, frail, gaunt and small,

With blast-beruffled plume,

Had chosen thus to fling his soul

Upon the growing gloom.

 

So little cause for carolings

Of such ecstatic sound

Was written on terrestrial things

Afar or nigh around,

That I could think there trembled through

His happy good-night air

Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew,

And I was unaware.

Neena has compiled ‘YOU left me, sweets two legacies:Famous Love Poems’, a collection of 61 famous classic love poems under her pen name Avira N. The book is:
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The Stories That Left Me Exhausted: Say You Are One of Them.

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There are stories you read that make you aware that you’ve known nothing, you’ve experienced nothing, you’ve suffered nothing. The stories that make your own sorrow look so meagre you feel ashamed to have named those feelings ‘sufferings’ at all. When you think your heartache is biggest of all, you come across a book, a story, a piece of writing and it makes you aware that your misery is nothing at all. There are people who have suffered more, suffered greatly, suffered ceaselessly, and have suffered pure evil.

Say You Are One of Them was one of those books that changed my whole perspective about life. This was the book that changed my thinking, taught me to differentiate between the real SORROW and a mere DISCOMFORT. This was the book that taught me to appreciate my life — as it was, as it is — a good life. This was the book that taught me to be happy because I had so much to be happy about.

In each narrative, each told from the perspective of a child from a different African country, Akpan: intense and vivid and yet simple, portrays the terror, the fear, the dreadfulness of the mundane details of everyday life. Say You Are One of Them is a collection of five stories — two of which are long enough to fall in the category of novella — of family and friendship, of betrayal and redemption. Akpan simply and straightforwardly emphasizes the tenacity and perseverance of fragile children. The horrors that each of those small children go through exist outside the realm of anything logical.

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All five of book’s stories are captivating, but “Fattening for Gabon” is the one that left a lasting impression on me. It’s one of the longest as well: over hundred pages and resembles a dark fairy tale in its slow and sinister build up toward an evil climax. The protagonists, a 10-year-old boy who, along with his 5-year-old sister, are sent to live with their uncle because their parents are dying of AIDS. Uncle makes a deal with devil and sell them to become merchandises in human trafficking network. Since an emaciated body will not achieve much at market, both of them are fed on feasts for the slave trade. Akpan uses a first person narrative in it; the story is told from the perspective of 10 year old boy and that’s where it drives its power as well. There is a strong disparity between the child’s utterly dim perceptions of what awaits them and us readers’ adult awareness that something evil is lurking in the shadow.

I read this book before I become a mother. And I’m glad for that. There’s no way I would pick a book where small children are sucked down into horror of pure evil and the evil triumphs.

It left me depressed — for weeks. It left me exhausted and spent. I remember finishing it and then I went on to read Mists of Avalon which was equally exhausting but in a different way. I remember I was in this gloomy mood for weeks. I don’t remember how I came out of that melancholic slumber. I must have read something funny like The Princess Bride or something utterly sweet like Anne of Green Gables. Be careful if you decide to read this book. You will not forget it for a long time and you’re damned to remember it.

Neena has compiled ‘YOU left me, sweets two legacies:Famous Love Poems’, a collection of 61 famous classic love poems. The book is:

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“Hardships make or break people.” ― But what about kindness Scarlett?

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When I first read Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind”, I was completely blown away by this historical saga of a coming-of-age story of survival, of endurance. Despite the length of the book which was over 1000 pages, the pace never turned sluggish. I finished it in less than a week. Then, I eagerly waited for other members of my book club to finish reading it, so we could’ve a discussion. Everyone, as expected, loved the book but not for the reasons I imagined they would love. I was appalled to realise everyone else loved it because of Scarlett’s proto-feminist badass characters.

Surely Scarlett was strong, passionate, and brave. She was self-willed and a survivor. But she was also cold, calculative, and utterly manipulative. She was shallow and insensitive. She, for the entire part, could not respond to genuine emotions of those who loved her, pursued Ashley Wilkes throughout her three marriages for reasons that at most could be called inconsequential and vain. She literally seemed incapable of feeling genuine emotions. Her behaviour was considerate only in case of matters non-vital.

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Scarlett O’Hara was a spoiled, selfish girl in the beginning. The adversities of the Civil War turned her into a hardened, scrupulous individual. Whereas, Melanie never lost her humility despite going through the same set of adversities as Scarlet went through. It was really shocking to realise that many people dismissed Melanie’s goodness, her self-sacrificing nature, and her gentleness as a weakness of character.

For me, Scarlett came out as a negative character. I disliked her all through the book. I was relieved to know that even in the end, Mitchel didn’t change her. Because I don’t think a person can really change, not the soul at least. Change of attitude, behaviour, habits, interest do occur; that’s just personal growth over the period of time. But a person’s soul, the inner core deep down, it never changes. I loved Mitchel for that. She took a negative character and made it her protagonist. Now if we look at general definition of a psychopath, a psychopath is a person with a psychopathic personality, which manifests as amoral and antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, extreme egocentricity, etc. If not a complete psychopath, Scarlett, definitely, exhibited enough personality traits to be put in the category of partial psychopaths. Many people would argue that she was considerate enough, however, her consideration was limited to superfluous matters. The things that mattered most, she couldn’t care enough.

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In an interview with a Sunday Journal, broadcasted on radio in 1936, in answer to a question about Scarlett’s character, Margaret Mitchel clarified how hardship, poverty and sorrow of the war changed Scarlett from a selfish, egocentric, but otherwise normal Southern girl to a hardened adventuress. That officially should clear the matter for those who perceive and suggest that Mitchel wrote a flawless character in Scarlet.

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Until a few years earlier only the term ‘feminist’ was considered trendy; the era where a woman was celebrated for her accomplishments. Nowadays, the term ‘badass feminist’ has become a trend. The term ‘badass’ was originated in 1950s: from the adjective bad + ass. Badass is defined as either — a tough, uncompromising, or intimidating person or — a formidably impressive person. Nowhere, it’s defined as selfish, egocentric, corrupt person.

Badass feminism implies celebrating the women for their kick-ass attitude, but seemingly, it is purposely, insistently, and widely misrepresented and misunderstood. Instead of idolising a selfish and awful protagonist like Scarlett how about idolising Charlotte Bronte’s Jane of “Jane Eyre” or L. M. Montgomery’s Anne from “Anne of Green Gables” or Louisa May Alcott’s Jo from “Little Women” and of course Melanie! The list goes on and on. It’s disheartening to think how people in general prefer a Scarlett over a Melanie.

Neena has compiled ‘YOU left me, sweets two legacies:Famous Love Poems’, a collection of 61 famous classic love poems. The book is:

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Let your child learn that unhappiness is Ok too…

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The best thing I experienced as a first-time mother was my son’s endless devotion to me; I was his need, a want he couldn’t do without. It was a blissful feeling. By the time, he turned two, he pretty much grew out of his dependence on me; he didn’t mind my absence for a couple hours. My daughter was another story though. After she turned six months old, I realized she depended overly on me. During the first few months, I thought little of it but after she turned a year old, I realized she couldn’t do without me. She wouldn’t even stay with her dad for a few moments if I wasn’t there. We were not ready; we were caught off guard. Unlike her brother who passed through his period of separation anxiety with little complain, she seemed engulfed by it. Every time I left (to cook, take shower, or just leave the room) she would crumble to pieces. During those months, I worked around the house carrying her with me. My husband thought I was spoiling her. I knew she was too young to be left alone to cry on her own. It wouldn’t have achieved anything other than making her more anxious. She was just a baby. Once she started walking, she spent lots of her time playing with her brother, but only in my presence. I knew her biggest fear was the realization she and mom were two separate individuals and mom could disappear anytime. I never sneaked out of room without telling her. I would ask her if she wanted to come and watch mom or just play with her brother upstairs in the family room while mommy cooked or did some chore downstairs. The approach worked. She learned to have faith in my words. Reluctantly at first, she started staying with her brother. I would make a few trips to their play area on the pretext of doing something (Don’t let your child see your apprehension; the children, babies and toddlers alike are so sensitive to parents’ emotions, they can pick their concern in a jiffy and become more insecure), and that would always reassure her that mommy was around. Soon I started leaving her home with dad and brother while making shopping trips—initially, the 1-2-hour grocery trips and later, some little longer ones. Instead of sneaking, I made sure to say goodbye. She learned mom wouldn’t just disappear; she didn’t have to be on her guard always. Even if she cried (which she did in the beginning), I would make a joke of the situation and leave. Feed your child’s apprehensions too much, and she would definitely sustain on it. She was old enough to understand. As a parent, the feeling of guilt is something I’m well aware of. But it’s important for your child to learn that everything wouldn’t be picture-perfect always; it is ok to be unhappy sometimes. By the time, she turned three and half; she was ready to explore the world. After she turned four, I could be absent for whole day and she wouldn’t care (as a book addict, sometimes on weekends, I spend hours in bookstores browsing books). She’s a quiet, reserved, and a secure little girl now and love school, parties, playdates, and has quite a few best friends. How did you deal with your child’s separation anxiety? If you have any tips, you are welcome to share in the comment section below.

Neena has compiled ‘YOU left me, sweets, two legacies: Famous Love Poems’, a collection of 61 famous, classic love poems under her pen name Avira N. the book is:

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Being A Mother – A Short Prose

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I love my kids.

I love their laughter and their voice, their thousand little questions about anything and everything.

I love smell of their bodies and touch of those little hands, the thousand kisses and the big bear hugs.

I love how they love everything I do for them — make a cake or read a story, massage their heads or bake an apple pie.

I love how they trust me to fix anything and everything—an aching ankle or the bad dream, a bad day in school or a broken heart.

I love how they think I’m always right—be it a disagreement or an argument, a war of words or a real quarrel with their dad.

I love how they awakened the emotions—raw and deep and sharp, I never knew existed inside me.  I love how they were part of my body once, connected to my soul.

I love how they taught me the meaning of selfless love and putting others first.

And most of all, I love how they gave birth to a new me; a Mother who was not there before and how they taught ‘that new me’ to stop judging my mother and father and recognize their selfless love.

Neena has compiled ‘YOU left me, sweets, two legacies: Famous Love Poems’, a collection of 61 famous, classic love poems under her pen name Avira N. the book is:

AVAILABLE AS E BOOK & PAPERBACK ON