Hello everyone, especially mommies! Sara here and today in the run up to Mother’s Day, I bring to you Bhanu Singhal, an IIM alum, an ex corporate high flyer and now a stay at home mom of 3, who seems to have all the answers, beautifully worded and deeply thought of. Read on
#SaraChats: Mother’s day special! With an amazing mother Bhanu Singhal
Sara: Hi Bhanu,thanks so much for chatting with me. I understand you
have 3 lovely kids with you at home during lockdown. What are you
hoping for from Mother’s Day?
Bhanu: Hey Sara – How are you? And let me start by saying that you’ve been a big help in this lockdown keeping my kids engaged with all your lovely stories. Hmmm now about mother’s day – I think it’s very generous of that person who decided to dedicate a day to mothers, mainly because a mum would’ve never complained or even asked for it and same goes for dads too I believe, any parent/ nurturer basically. My kids are still too young (9,6 and 4 years) for me to say if I’ve done a great deal for them and for me to expect anything in return. Infact, I don’t even know if that day is ever warranted because we become parents well knowing the joys and purpose kids bring into our lives. So, even on Mother’s day, I’d love to thank my kids for filling my life with laughter, a new sense of curiosity, a fresh cycle of learning and also those tear-breaking, exhausting moments that push me to experience my own unexplored levels of patience and grit, each day. A mother matures as a human being because of her children, so, I will eternally remain grateful to my kids for bearing with me in this journey of my growth.
The biggest gift for me on Mother’s day or any day (and I speak for all mothers) is to always find that sparkle in the eyes of my children, glee on their faces and a heart full of compassion. I would consider my job done if I could open their minds to the limitless possibilities that this life encapsulates. The appreciation would inturn be in the lives they touch as fulfilled human beings.
Being in the lockdown isn’t easy but it will be an experience worth sharing years later. And it has been amazing to see kids adapt so well. They always shower me with self-made ‘thank-you’, ‘love-you’, ‘you’re the best’ cards and I am sure all your readers do too, to their mums. Let me tell you, we love getting these cards and in return I just want the kids all over the world to know that they are loved.
Sara: You went to an IIM and then had a high-flying career in HR at a big bank. How does it feel now to be a stay- at- home mom?
Bhanu: Yes, I did those. Would also be quite safe to say that I was one of the high potential members in my team and I loved my job and bosses/ colleagues a lot. But, quitting wasn’t a planned decision. It all happened suddenly after I returned one day from office and fell very sick to be hospitalized and operated upon immediately to save a near fatal situation. I was expecting my third child then and a few days of introspection just led me to decide a different course. I was advised against as I was seen as an ambitious person and was also given an option to take a sabbatical. However, a momentary realization of not being able to see my kids ever, led me to become a stay-at-home mum.
I think it has been a blessing in disguise. Managing 3 kids with love and care is a tedious task and I am fortunate to be able to that full time, without the pressure of earning a living myself. This isn’t to say that I don’t dream of doing anything else. But, at the right time for a deserving calling. I don’t crave to make a mark and create a name but I do want to explore my potential as a human being. I try not to look up or down upon anyone/ anything. So, I cherish having worked as much as I cherish being at home. It’s the quality of my engagement in anything I do defines me more than what I do.
Sara: When you read old traditional tales to your kids, how do you explain to them why girls always needed rescuing by the boys?
Bhanu: Sara, It is human tendency to apply one’s emotions or judgement instead of observing things as they are while reading into a situation. Much similar to what we caution our managers in organizations when we tell them to just note ‘human behaviors’ while conducting a performance review and not read in-between the lines or let personal prejudice creep in, unconsciously. It takes a bit of practice/ consciousness to do this, Now, kids are very perceptive and that makes it extremely important for the one reading/explaining to them to remain as true to the context and not apply one’s present inclinations to it. Stories esp as a medium have a great impact on kids so I remain extra cautious to use this questioning as an opportunity to allow my kids to build their own experience rather than relying just on mine. So, how do I do that? Take the context of females being rescued by males:
1. It is true a lot of stories esp in the past seem to have this plot. But ,there also have been a lot of female warriors. Like even in mythology, we have enough goddesses or deities that have been spoken of.
2. There has been an evolution in the cultures across the world, the way women have been dealt with has undergone / is undergoing a lot of change. In the recent past we have seen a lot of female heroes being showcased, awarded and being spoken of as role models. Aren’t we lucky to be born now?
3. Being rescued by someone doesn’t necessarily make you any weaker than the one rescuing. It is the situation/ role or job/ training that decides who gets to rescue/ rescued.
4. Bravery comes in many forms. It’s immature to define only physical prowess as ‘bravery’. Haven’t we all heard ‘pen is mightier than sword’ OR ‘brain or brawn’ etc. It is smart to choose your action depending on the need of the hour than only relying on one’s physical strength. Emotional Quotient these days is considered far more potent and women seem to be naturally endowed.
Thankfully, my kids haven’t raised questions of gender bias so far. But, I have also made it a point to explain all the above to my kids. Most importantly, I try and not view a girl being rescued by a boy merely as a gender issue myself. So, it depends a lot on the reader how a message gets conveyed. Who knows, if instead of Sita, Ram was kidnapped. Do you think she would’ve given up on him? Maybe she would’ve also garnered a big army to rescue her loving husband, after all she could defeat many proclaimed warriors in lifting up the heaviest bow even as a child. OR maybe she would’ve chosen a different path. How do we know that Ram could’ve managed to escape from an unknown place all by himself. After all he needed an army to rescue his wife. Feminism, shouldn’t be viewed only as promoting women as being equal to men. Maybe they are better in some ways and we are trying to fix them lower, unknowingly. I have always viewed males and females as complementing each other. What each brings to the table is individual and not at all gender specific.
Sara: What works for you in managing kids and home all by yourself
during the lock-down? Any tips for other mums and dads.
Bhanu: Can I tell you that I am actually enjoying the lock-down quite a lot. Well, managing fun in between the fights over increased screen times, sibling fights and modified sleeping/ eating behaviors and schedules . But still having fun. I would only like to say that our kids are watching us from even close quarters now, so be aware – there’s no better time to be a role model than now. You’re under surveillance 24X7. Live and let live.