Reenita Malhotra Hora
ffering sympathy for dealing with my near-13-year-old is akin to offering sympathy for the devil.
It's a phase, everybody says, she'll get through her teenage years.
Yes, but the question I ask on a daily basis is will I get through it? On some level, Ilya has been going through 'a phase' all her life!
As per the basic laws of the universe, my daughter feels exactly the same way about me. In her view, the devil is channelised through Mom's eternal nagging, with its accomplices strategically placed, encouraging her to nag : her orthodontist, teacher, swim coach.....
But Ilya is learning to think through the issues. "Look on the bright side," she says, "by having me early, you successfully managed to avoid a situation where two women in the household are going through puberty and menopause at the same time."
I am not sure how to define the cutoff between wise and wise-ass.
Hormones were never the issue in our relationship. Rather, deeply ingrained drama queen genetics are the culprit. On a weekly average, I acquiesce to my classic wounded child syndrome as I beg my daughter for acceptance.
Why are you picking on me? I ask sorrowfully.
Why are you so neurotic? she responds confidently.
Why are you answering a question with a question? And it goes on. And on, and on. My husband stays out-volved as a matter of principle. As far as he is concerned, Ilya and I are but mutations of the same feminine conundrum evenly distributed. So, when we both leap at him to arbitrate, his predictable response is "Sorry, I didn't sign up to parent two teenage girls at the same time."
Leave me be, mom, she says. At least I let things out of my system. I'm not sulky and sullen like other girls at school.
In my youth, joi de vivre meant donning a ponytail that swished in step with jubilance at the thought of a free weekend. For Ilya, it's about living life completely unfettered so she can master photoshop skills or French, to have the choice to be a poor starving artiste- en-Paris or the next DKNY.
Atta girl, Ilya.. She's the kid I always wanted to be. So upon closer examination of her bedroom decor, it makes perfect sense how poster boy, Zak Efron, is a carbon copy of the guy I was madly in love with all through college.
So, I will turn a deaf ear to tantrums unleashed each morning as I relentlessly nag Ilya to comb out her hair from the frizz that makes a perfect fit with my own state of mind. If she can actually manage not to miss the school bus, then I think she's demonstrating that she is well on her way to Paris.
And apparently I need to be well on my way to Punjab. Ilya insists that my lack of parenting skills result from the fact that I have strayed from my northern Indian roots.
No offense Mom but a true Punjabi mother would have me stay inside on a Sunday with poori-aloo and an Akshay Khanna flick, because it's too cold outside to exert myself, she says.I grunt at the all-too-familiar description of my own mother. But you would insist that I can't sit at home while injustice is rampant out there in the world. Go for a hike up the hill Ilya, you would say, and consider it a metaphor for where you are headed in life. And by the way, wear a coat while you are at it.
Now, did I mention that I was a laidback Mom? Reenita Malhotra Hora is a Hong Kongbased Ayurveda clinician. She is also the author of four books, has written for the NYT, and produced for CNN and BBC. Currently, she produces the Sustainability Asia channel, Reuters TV. my grandchildren on my still unreplaced knees!
When Neha was all of 10 days old, the initial euphoria that accompanies motherhood and the miracle of childbirth, was still clinging to me strongly. As the weeks passed, with the great joys, tiny troubles also began to rear their little heads, and I began to understand that this whole parenthood thing was not a temporary business but an ongoing lifetime affair. I think that is one of the hugest shocks of recognition for any parent.
And then, when Neha was about 6 and Ira 3 years old, my mother-in-law told me the wisest words ever spoken. After a particularly difficult and taxing day with the children, I told her that I was just waiting for the kids to be older so that all these tiresome problems of childhood would be over, and I could 'stop worrying and start living again'. She gave me a smiling look full of much pity and told me gently that, alas, that was never going to happen .That as the kids got older their problems only changed in na- Lilette Dubey has played all kinds of mothers on stage and screen, and many other roles as well. On her own admission, nothing continues to give her greater fulfilment than the one of RealLife Mom
Reenita with Ilya