'Motherhood gifts you confidence'
Esha Deol puts together a parenting book that draws from her experiences, but also what she learnt about independence from her mother, "warrior princess" Hema Malini
What did you think of it?" Esha Deol asks this writer when we get on a phone call with her to discuss her book, Amma Mia (Penguin India). We think her take on parenting is fresh, we say.
Instead of restricting her debut title to her role as mother, Deol goes back all the way to her own childhood, as daughter to Hindi cinema's '70s superstars Hema Malini and Dharmendra. It journeys gradually through her life, her romances and upbringing. It packs in recipes and tips for new moms, who Deol believes, could be "as clueless as I am". Deol, 38, was raised in a home dominated by women, where she spent much of her time with her actor-politician mother, and sister Ahana. Her husband, Bharat Takhtani's home was radically different. It's these mixed experiences, she says, that have shaped her into the mother she is to daughters Miraya and Radhya.
Malini, an Iyengar Brahmin, served vegetarian fare at home. Deol laughs about making a run for friend Sonam Kapoor's home to have a bite of anda curry. Takhtani lived in a joint family. Deol says he had a band of brothers, sisters and cousins milling at home, and never felt the need to go outside and make friends. "It was also a traditional household, where my mother-in-law was in command; the perfect homemaker. Before I got here, I didn't know what a housewife was. She would cook and host guests beautifully. I am glad I experienced that before I had my children. I am now able to handle a household."
Deol says she practiced a tradition called garbh sanskar, which believes that a would-be mother should be kept happy and in a pleasant space. "It's during this phase that a sort of blue print of a new being, the child, is created," she says. While the parents do all they can to safeguard and shape their children, inadvertently, it's the children who mould them into the people they become. "My mother was a warrior princess; she could do everything a man could. I have imbibed that
[fearlessness] from her. I am of strong character because of what I saw her do. And I also see that in my girls. They will decide what they wish to be. I will merely support them," she shares.
Malini's independence is evident in her daughter's chatter when she says that she knew she had to include a chapter on working mothers. "We have all worked [hard] to build our lives; we can't stop it [for motherhood], can we?" Her acting stint in Bollywood may not have brought her the sort of success she had imagined, but she is clear she cannot severe the bond she shares with the movie-making world. "I have been working since I was 18. With web entertainment gaining influence in India, we have so much more to look forward to. A whole new world has opened up," she says, hinting that a foray into film production might be on the cards.
Deol says she was caring for her second child while she put together the Amma Mia draft, allowing her to reflect on the challenges she grappled with as she went along. "I was facing issues and solving them [as I wrote the book]. And was able to share them. It has came from the heart."
Does motherhood change you? "Yes, everything changes!" she laughs. "I am more domesticated and better organised, but the defining change has been confidence. That, and a keener sense of common sense. Both, priceless gifts."
How to be a stellar mom
. Never hurry your child to eat, or force and blackmail them into eating. Let them take their time, and do it when they want.
. Introduce variety. This is a curious time for them, so let them try different flavours and cuisines.
. Try and include exercise into your routine as you can post pregnancy. Being sedentary will make you pile on more weight.
. If your toddler is fussy, start by paying attention, since they can't communicate through language just yet.
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