Komal Porecha runs her own consultancy and design firm. She was a writer at Elle Décor and is a mother of twins. She has free lanced for ELLE (India), ELLE DÉCOR (India), What’s Hot ,The Times of India (Chennai) Retail Plus, The Hindu (Chennai), Ritz (a lifestyle magazine), and Ability (a magazine targeted at issues on disability) amongst others. In her first book ‘Bringing Up Your Baby’, Komal you everything you need to know about that challenging, trying, and fulfilling first year of baby care. In an interview with SHEROES Komal tells us what made her write the book-
What got you started?
Besides running my own Interior Design firm I am also a freelance writer. When the doctors found out I was carrying twins I was advised to give up my design projects. I continued to write though. When the twins were born I found myself stressing, obsessing, in utter panic most of the time. But in most of these situations I ended up laughing at myself; for the way I was reacting to the twins. Like there was the time I had not anticipated that the lack of sleep would tend me to make me delirious enough to forget five minutes after one of the kids had burped, whether he/she had burped at all! I realized I had become obsessed with the simple act when I found myself sitting cross legged on the bed at 3:30 am staring at both my children (who were blissfully asleep) wondering whether they had burped or not! Another time when I thought the colour of my son’s poop was a perfect shade of Ochre. One that would look brilliant in an outdoor bathroom in a tropical holiday home! I stayed up all night thinking how I could store it for reference later.
I started sharing these small incidents with friends, till one of them pushed me to put them down in a proper format and start writing a book narrating my experiences.
Tell us more about Bringing up your baby. What was the motivation behind writing it?
So as the kids grew I started logging these incidents, my thoughts, experiences. I had no clue what would come out of it. I started writing with the thought that some day when the twins are all grownup they would be sitting together and reading the book over a beer. They would be reliving their childhood through the narrative where they would be able to visualise each situation from the descriptive details. An evening of bonding for them. And just that scene, right there, got stuck in my head. Legacy has various forms. This to me, is my contribution to them. Something they will cherish.
Another , very strong emotion that arose as I went through motherhood was the fact that the first year for any new Indian mom the first year of her baby is an emotional, physical, social and cultural roller coaster. Our current generation of mom’s is traditional in their approach towards many things and in the same breath we rather effortlessly disregard what does not work for us. We like living in the fast lane. We want to work, we want to party on Saturday nights, we want two holidays a year without the kids, (and two with the kids), we want to be involved at PTA’s, we want time out with our girlfriends…we want. We want it all. We mean well, but sometimes we get lost in translation. As I saw friends go through similar struggles with their new found motherhood, I felt the need to reach out.
This book is a heartfelt attempt to reach out to all mothers who possess deep rooted Indian values and the exhaustive commitment to balance all personal, professional, social, cultural and religious responsibilities. The Indian woman on the forefront wears so many hats all so effortlessly that it appears that they come pre-programed. The transformation from a daughter to a wife to a mother comes with its share of challenges and allegiances. It takes time, patience, a few sacrifices and many laughs. Motherhood is wonderful. It is the culmination of the ultimate celebration to life. I learnt the obvious after completing a full circle.
Writing, Design and Kids, how do you manage to juggle it all? What do you do when you take time off?
In the last few years I have tried hard to figure whether I am the helicopter, passive, absent, strict or a yes parent. Till it dawned upon me that I am a good parent with a clean intent, tremendous commitment and a whole lot of love. I am neither perfect nor am I a super mom. I love my work almost as much as I do my kids. That neither makes me career obsessed nor negligent. I cherish my time out more than anything in the world. That does not mean I am an absent mom. I took a break from work for almost 3 and 1/2 years. I had imagined that I would get back to work 3 months after I delivered. That didn’t happen for various reasons. It took me time to accept that fact. The ride was rough. But having done so, having understood that I needed to give the twins the same commitment I had towards my work commitments; is gratifying.
Initially, I didn’t even have the confidence to go for a head shower leave alone go to work. Life was chaotic, unpredictable and exhausting.
Till I woke up one morning and decided to take charge, I realised I had to streamline things and work a routine for the kids. It took me a month, various excel sheets logging their feed and sleep timings to get them both to eat and sleep at the same time. As they grew I adjusted their playtime, food and nap time. This started giving me some amount of rest and I started re gaining my confidence. I started by taking one project at a time. that gave way to the assurance of handling more. I have good help at home for the twins. And I keep flexible working hours. For someone who couldn’t crawl out of bed till 10, I now drop the kids and start my first meeting by 8:30 in the morning, This gives me uninterrupted work hours while the kids are at school. I am home by 4:30 and then hit the laptop or evening out with my husband once they are asleep. Which is by 8pm. They have an hour and a half of active, outdoor playtime in the evening followed by a shower and dinner. I don’t reach out for my mobile when I am with them and when at work I don’t fret whether they are ok. I have learnt to compartmentalize each important aspect of my life.
I moved cities post marriage. So I fly down to spend time with friends and family. I love holidaying with my husband. And time out on a day to day is half an hour of doing nothing, absolutely nothing! Staring into space and detoxing the mind.
A piece of advice for all SHEROES out there
I am no one to advice. I am learning each day. I have broken into motherhood with much fuss and many a tantrum. But now that I have embraced the role with a complete open heart I love (almost) every minute of it. I love it because I get to exercise my mind, I get my time out with my husband and friends, I get “my space”. When I didn’t have that I wanted to run away from it all.
Staying organized helps tremendously. It makes things very easy. Sticking to their meal routines and time schedules even when we travel makes a holiday thoroughly enjoyable for us. We are not exhausted from the holiday. And what has tremendously helped me is taking a step back and redefining the perspective. Motherhood is all about love but not necessarily about emotion. When I reacted to situations with my heart rather than my head; I found motherhood overwhelming. When I adopted a light hearted approach; it yielded fulfilling results. Yes, motherhood is about adjustments, sacrifices and a whole lot of changes. But it isn’t the expiry of orgasms or personal aspirations. And yes, it is possible to strike that balance. It takes time; it is tough, but not impossible. So do not give up dreaming just yet.