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The Great Indian Circus

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Super-moms know how to play many roles, as jugglers, clowns and tiger-tamers at home, says Dr. Vishal Marwah

One of my earliest and fondest memories of my Mom are from my primary school days, when she took me to the circus. A grown-up boy, all of seven years, I was mesmerised by the spectacular show of circus animals, acrobats, jugglers and clowns! As we were headed back home, she looked at me and playfully said, “Done with one circus, now time to go to another!” I didn’t immediately grasp what she was trying to communicate, but I soon realised she was referring to ‘home’, where the performers were none other than me, my dad, grandpa, grandma, the maid… I held on to those words!

As Mother’s Day approaches we will be hearing a lot about Super-Moms. The first image that pops up in our head is that of a multitasking mother with many hands balancing home and work, or a mom with a cape flaunting her physical and mental prowess. However, when I think of a Super-Mom I can’t help but recall my first trip to the circus and my mom’s words.  

In my several years of experience as a Physician and Lifestyle coach, I have had the opportunity to meet some exceptional Super-moms—moms who at the age of 60 look as if they are in their thirties and have the zest and energy of teenagers. They amaze me because they have mastered the art of managing ‘The Great Indian Circus’ (aka home), and while doing that they play many roles. I can think certainly think of three, and if you are a Super-Mom you will be able to relate to them.

There is no circus character that personifies a Super-Mom better than a juggler—a juggler who has many balls up in the air at the same time and deftly manages to keep them all moving without dropping any of them! These balls represent the seven key aspects of a mother’s life—kids, husband, in-laws, home, work, social-life, and her own personal well-being.

Unlike the circus balls, not all these balls are equal. Some are made of rubber; even if you drop them, they will bounce back. Some are made of glass; if you drop them, they shatter and are difficult to mend. Of these, one of the most fragile balls is that of mother’s own personal well-being, which more often than not gets neglected. Super-moms know they can’t hold on to any one ball for too long, so they keep shifting and shuffling, making sure each one gets their attention. They also know which balls are fragile and need more attention. They are successful in taking time out for their own health and well-being, social commitments and family.

Sometimes Super-moms have to take on the role of a ring-master and tame the tiger! The tiger in this context is a metaphor for anyone who is a threat to your personal well-being. It could be your over-demanding mother-in-law, or your rebellious teenage daughter, or an errant maid-servant who keeps you on the edge. Learning to tame the tiger means eliminating the threat, and getting your antagonist on your side. Super-moms do that well, as they understand the needs of each person in the family and can see situations from their perspective. They are assertive and clear in their communication, and masters at delegating work. A ‘taming the tiger’ exercise that I would advise all moms to try would be to sit down at the dinner table, and encourage all family members to talk and share about their experiences from the day. These daily check-ins are very effective in building trust and resolving conflicts.

Daily mundane routines can be fun, if you can bring on the play element. How about dancing while cooking, or using your child’s math homework as an opportunity to test your own prowess, or playing the game of Big Boss with your in-laws, or ending the day with a healthy pillow-fight with your husband to show him who is the boss?! One of the moms I knew transformed grocery-shopping into a game of scavenger-hunt, and sent her teenage sons to run errands for her. Another played a Master-Chef cooking challenge, where she played the role of judge while her family members cooked. As crazy as these ideas might sound, if you make mundane activities fun and play, you will be able to keep your energy high!

I haven’t been to the circus in a while, but next time I do I am certainly going to pay a tribute to the star performer who can don many hats—the Super-mom!

Dr. Vishal Marwah (MS, MBBS) is a physician, lifestyle coach and Founder of IMPACT

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