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#CoolestMoms: Shailaja and Shalini

Welcome to our countdown to Mother’s Day 2015! In honor of Mother’s Day, we asked readers to nominate the #CoolestMoms they know, the ones who admit to not being perfect—and not trying to be. Then, we reached out to those mothers to find out more about what makes them tick. Today, Shailaja and Shalini share their joys, struggles, and parenting philosophies.

 

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Shalaija, #CoolestMoms

SHAILAJA VISHWANATH

I live in Bangalore with my husband and eight-year-old daughter, Gy. I am a stay-at-home mom and also a freelance writer, content developer and erstwhile English-language trainer. I count parenting, reading, writing, swimming and social networking among my top passions. I share life lessons on parenting on my blog Diary of a Doting Mom.

TS: How do you think you’re keeping it real as a mom?

By being true to my limitations. I work from home, run three blogs, work with an NGO part-time, write creatively in my spare time and help my daughter where she needs it. I know that I cannot do justice to all these roles all the time and I am okay with that.

TS: What are three struggles you face as a parent that you aren’t ashamed to admit?

One is the tendency to yell at my daughter. I try to curb it every single day. It isn’t easy. The second is the idea that I may not be doing enough as a mother or as a parent. Watching other parents do so much more feeds my guilt. The third is the fact that all that I do as a parent may not be good enough to protect my child in today’s world. It’s a fear that has grown with every passing week.

TS: What’s the one thing you look forward to doing by yourself when/if you get the chance?

Oh, that one’s easy. I write. I look forward to the time when I have the entire day at my disposal when I can write endlessly- poetry, short stories, introspection, and my memoirs. Something tells me I won’t get that perfect day though. It has to be part of the daily process.

TS: Do you think there’s a lot of pressure on women to be perfect? How can moms help create a healthy role model?

Unfortunately, yes. There is a lot of pressure and most of this pressure comes from other moms. People pass judgements at the drop of a hat these days. As parents, we need to step away from this constant need to criticise and work towards a more empathetic and symbiotic relationship. With that, we have created role models.

TS: What is one piece of advice that sounded ridiculous before you became a parent but makes perfect sense now?

I heard people tell me that there is no force on earth more powerful than a toddler’s tantrum. I would scoff, raise an eyebrow and think, “Well, that’s because you don’t know how to handle it.”  Needless to say that feeling evaporated after I saw my offspring do it for the first time.

TS: If your child could put you in time-out, what would it be for?

For losing my temper or spending too much time on my phone. I am working on both of these, by the way.

TS: What is the one habit/phrase/trait your child has picked up from you that you wish they hadn’t?

My anger. I see spurts of it now and then in my daughter and I know I am largely responsible. She does forgive and forget a lot quicker than I can, so that is something I must learn from her.

TS: What or who was the biggest influence on your parenting style and in what way?

My own parents. My mom does everything with love. From her, I learnt to forgive quickly, hold no grudges and always encourage children. My dad is my pillar of truth and conviction. From him, I learnt to be unapologetic for my choices but to be open to other people’s point of view.

TS: Fill in the blank: I’d feel content that I raised a compassionate, good kid if …

… my daughter always puts kindness above judgment.

TS: If there’s one thing you could say to every mom in the world, what would it be?

There is no parenting rulebook. What works for me may not work for you. It has to be a learning experience as we grow on this journey of being parents, learning from our children even as we are teaching them.

 

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Shalini, #CoolestMoms

SHALINI BRAXHOOFDEN

I met my Dutch husband while I was living in Bahrain working for Gulf Air. We were married in March 2001 and lived in Bombay until 2005, when we moved to the Netherlands. In December 2008 I gave birth to a beautiful boy named Tristan.  Sixteen short months later we realized he was “different.” We involved early intervention and we realized our gorgeous boy had autism. We started Pivotal Response Training, and I tried to connect with him through play and dance and song and reading books. I learned long ago that our roles as mentor and student are interchangeable—my son often teaches me stuff! Do I always know what to do? Nope. Do I always make the right decision? I try. As Maya Angelou said, “You do your best with what you know.” The rest is just hope, faith, and a generous sprinkling of fairy dust.

TS: How do you think you’re keeping it real as a mom?

  • I have to keep it real as a mum to an Au-some kiddo. We cannot use terms like, “It’s raining cats and dogs”; he is a literal thinker.
  • I have time-outs for myself, too.
  • I make sure I communicate what the day’s plans are in advance.
  • I allow him to “help” with chores.

TS: Do you think there’s a lot of pressure on women to be perfect? How can moms help create a healthy role model?

I think mums should lift each other up, share their experiences and help one another. I think mums shouldn’t expect perfection. There is so much pressure on a child’s education, their clothes, and their outward appearance; that’s too much for them. We should let children be children. Encourage, accept, motivate, advocate and listen to your child.

TS: What’s the best parenting advice anyone ever gave you?

The best advice I ever got was: “Trust your mothers instinct always.” It has always served me well. We are intuitive and tuned in to our children; our instinct is automatic. We just need to trust it.

TS: If mom and dad disagree on a parenting decision, who wins?

If mom and dad disagree on a parenting decision, nobody wins. We choose another possible compromise that makes us both happy. Or we agree to disagree and let it go. We need to both be on board to work as a team and need to show respect to each other.

TS: If there’s one thing you could say to every mom in the world, what would it be?

If I could say one thing to every mum in the world it would be love your child unconditionally, not just when he’s good or an angel, but when he’s at his worst, too. And always believe in your child, build his self-esteem and confidence in himself. He needs to have faith in himself before he flies off from the nest on his own.

 

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Check back in tomorrow for more #CoolestMoms, as we celebrate Mother’s Day 2015. Lavanya and Anuradha are up next! 

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