I know many parents who wanted to have a second child but stopped at the first. The reason – they were too exhausted in raising their first child. That is the reason why Tina Trikha’s What I Didn’t Expect When I was Expecting is special. Tina is mother of three children and she is a working woman too. What I Didn’t Expect When I was Expecting documents her journey of parenting three children.
What I like about the parenting books of present times is their honesty. They do not portray some idealistic picture which will raise the bar for the reader parents, create tremendous pressure on them and the resultant disappointments. So the author honestly writes that with her first child she felt that the bonding, the attachment between them was missing. She was unhappy about it. Her mother asked her to wait until the child began responding and indeed within a few months the bond was established. Now to write things so honestly you require guts.
She also writes about toilet training and diaper usage. All her three children were born in the US and she relocated to India when her children had grown up to understand that they were moving to another country. She writes that Indian parents toilet train their kids early and she had difficulty in getting diapers in India for her son who had crossed two years. She also writes about the anxieties associated with the relocation. She was worried if her kids would have difficulties in adjusting in India.
One of her child’s classmate loses both his parents in the Mumbai terror attack. She writes about her experience of breaking the news to her kindergarten going child. Her child asks her if he too would lose his parents like his friend. I had goosebumps while reading this section of the book.
The author writes about resuming work, finding the right nanny and shopping with children. I liked the scheme devised by her to prevent her daughter from getting body piercing. She writes about travelling with kids and how birthday parties in India are no less than the fat Indian weddings.
While writing about the pressure which the social media puts on the parents, she writes, ‘We are also a generation of mothers that seeks external validation of our efforts. The wide-eyed excitement and joy shown by our children at the lopsided homemade birthday cake is not enough for us. So we put ourselves for judgments in the courts of social media. We post pictures, tell our stories, share our fears and insecurities, and then wait patiently, or rather refresh the screens repeatedly, for comments from our friends and fellow moms. We crave their approval and their declaration of us being good mothers.’
While writing about the guilt associated with parenting she says guilt has a middle name. It’s called Motherhood. She documents her feelings when for the first time her child said that he hated her and also clarified that he certainly meant what he had said.
About being a successful tiger mom she says, ‘being a successful tiger mom means having the patience to explain the underlying concepts of numbers and their operations in maths to your child. It means having the discipline to sit with your child while they slowly and painfully practise their piano pieces on regular basis. It means having the openness to learn new ways of teaching your child by unlearning what you know and then relearning it so you can coach them.’
I liked the book for it honestly documents the parenting journey. Every child is different. Yet there are certain things which we can learn from the experience of the author of raising three children.