I was tired. Exhausted after a month-long SAP implementation at the office and days of missing house-help, which left me with a million household chores to attend to, despite my demanding work schedule at the office. I was also in denial. I kept telling myself every time I had a headache or stared in horror at the chapped winter skin of my hands and feet that I did not have time to indulge myself. I had to be a ‘super-efficient super woman,’ the epitome of a demi-goddess at the helm of a nuclear family. With my hus-band staying abroad on a project implementation, I literally had no one to share my burden with.
But well, my boss was happy with the implementation, and he gave me an extra day off! ‘At last!’ I told myself, ‘I can enjoy a much-needed break!’ I started planning my day off even before leaving my boss’s room. After dropping Ahaana at the creche, I intended a trip to the spa and salon, every bit of my tired limbs needed serious pampering, and then may be a coffee date with friends – we had not caught up for months. The evening would be for Ahaana and me. We would spend a quiet night watching movies or reading fairy tales. I loved Ahaana’s colourful books, they gave me so much peace by taking me back to my childhood – to simpler times.
However, when the day arrived, if I had plans to look like Cinderella going to the ball, Ahaana had totally different plans for me. The minute she saw me wearing a flowery dress ‘to office’ she realized I was off for the day and she promptly declared she was not going to her creche and school. As much as I love Ahaana and wanted to spend time with her, a week day off was a golden opportunity to grab some “me” time. It was like getting to eat a piece of chocolate cake and not have the calories added to your day. I was in a fix! I tried talking to her about having a day off to do things “mommy needed to do”, but my toddler was intent on spending her day with me. My heart melted a little bit. I tried reasoning with her that the evening would be ours together. However all my efforts were in vain. My toddler dramatically declared she would spend the day with me trying to search for all the toys she lost under the couch in the past week. Hey, at least I could get some exercise in with all the bending and reaching behind tiny gaps!
So there it was, my salon and spa had to wait, but I got an impromptu stretching session! Determined to not let a minor setback upset my day off, I joined my daughter on a toy rescue mission! Fortunately or not, that’s also when I discovered our maid was not clean-ing the floors properly or dusting the furniture.
After four or five of her toys were discovered from every nook and cranny, Ahaana de-cided to give me a break. She said: “Mommy you sleep, I want to paint.” I was so touched at her maturity. I decided to settle on the couch and rest my tired limbs. I took a deep breath, feeling a bit accomplished after having got that impromptu “yoga” session! I was asleep in under a minute. I started dreaming.
My few minutes of peace was shattered by a strange yelp! I jumped up, with all the nightmares of what could have happened to Ahaana while I was dozing off, from electric shocks to getting caught in the window latch. I rushed to the room where she had settled with her drawing book and paints and nearly fainted at the sight that greeted me. Well, Ahaana was all in one piece, but the room was not! She had decided to give it a colour-coordinated makeover, with walls painted, bed sheets messed up with motifs of leaves and flowers and even her chair was staring at me with painted eyes! And Ahaana was squealing in delight at her handiwork. I froze. I thought to myself, “Was a trip to the mu-seum on my list of things to-do today?” Well, now it was.
I had to gather all my senses as I started to panic, seeing the state of the room. I was wondering what to say when Ahaana pulled out a semi-crumpled paper from below the bedsheet. On it was the picture of me with a note: ‘I Love Mommy.’ My heart melted right away. I hugged her close and gently told her that she was allowed to express herself as much as she wanted to but while she was doing so, artistically, to keep it limited to pa-pers and wipe able surfaces! She gave me a sheepish grin, and asked me what I wanted to do next. “What else is on my list”, I wondered to myself. “Aha, the spa!” I gave her a broad grin and said, “I was going to visit the spa, but you look like you’re in more need of that right now.” She squealed as she realized I was heading to the bath-room. Yes, my little artist needed a bath. Desperately.
Thankfully, our afternoon escapades had tired Ahaana out. So after a bath and a quick meal, she was more than willing to close her eyes for a couple of hours. I smiled as I saw her fall asleep. Then my smile grew wider as I realized I could finally grab that cup of coffee (even if all by myself) and my book, and curl up on the couch! Well, for a few hours, until Ahaana woke up and we continued our adventure in the evening. “What would that be like”, I wondered, as I felt my eyelids close – coffee and book long forgotten.
With children out of school, physical distancing as the new norm, and children’s rights under threat, the new world order has “turned back the clock” on years of progress made on children’s well-being. However, it’s not all bad. As a human race, we’ve been built to adapt: we’ve seen a tipping point in technology-enabled education and the promise of a new education policy in our country.