The Unbearable Heaviness of being a Whatsapp Mom

Written By

Payal Mukherjee

The Unbearable Heaviness of being a Whatsapp Mom Loading

Time was when we were school kids in quintessential middle class Kolkata. Mothers would get their kids to school in the morning on buses or trams and then find themselves idle and free for the next 6 hours. At end of day, these waiting moms would pounce on their hapless darlings. Food can wait, these super knowledgeable moms would go through every single notebook and book in the over-stuffed bags (no maximum weight rules in the bad old days), pore over school work zealously, reprimand the gradually wilting kiddo on mistakes, while s/he would dart his/her eyes about, wishing everyone else would just mind their own business instead of snickering at them. The tram moms could be heard comparing school notes. “What happened in your class today?” “Oh, why wasn’t this chapter done in our class, then. The teacher is going so slow. How will we finish our syllabus on time?” The kids would by then lean back resigned, with a look that would say “Earth, come swallow me up… NOW!” All this, before they even reached home.

Today this whole process has transferred and transformed itself to new technology. Welcome the brand new WhatsApp or more specifically, the class WhatsApp group. The brat is in fifth grade and though I am an early adapter of technology, I was blissfully unaware of these groups till her third standard. The reason has got nothing to do with technology of course, but everything to do with my socialising skills or the lack of them. I am a notorious introvert and I find ultimate peace when I am locked and bolted inside my bedroom. I turn a greenish hue at the thought of hobnobbing with mom groups. At every school gathering, that person you’ll see in one corner, ever so carefully surveying her finger nails? That’s me.

Alas! Everything changed in the third grade. I blame it on the mom of the brat’s best friend, who unlike me is a notorious extrovert. Anyway, worse came to worst and my number was added by ‘admin’ and that was that.

The class group ‘5-E’ was formed two months back and the summer silence lulled me into a state of surprised reality – this group finally, must mean business, just business, no dilly dally. School started and stuff hit the fan. Every type of ‘WhatsApp mom’ started crawling out of the woodwork. Every group has them. Either you KNOW them or you ARE them:

The babe-lost-in-the-woods mommy: She is hapless, helpless and hopeless. She never knows what to do. What uniform tomorrow? For the eighth time, are Velcro-d shoes allowed (they are not, never been). How do I know which notebook for which subject? Which one will be geometry notebook, any idea? Its midnight moms, school’s tomorrow. PLEASE HELP! What is the size of the chart? What colour? What pictures do they have to stick? How big should the pictures be? (I kid you not) Can someone send a photograph of their chart? Do they have to take all the notebooks? Oh, then how many should I send. How many is everyone else sending?

The I-will-do-as-the-majority-is-doing mommy: Who else is sending only fruit in the fruit-only break? Who else is going for the class trip? Who else is joining nature club? It’s pouring out and school might declare a rainy-day and anyway my child has a cold. But, who else is sending their child to school today?

The lets-meet-up mommy: Hey what’s the plan tomorrow, moms? Let’s meet up for coffee. Whats happening after the open house; let’s do lunch? The years’ about to end mommies – let’s finally meet up!

The networking queen mommy: She is on first name basis with all the moms and many of the teachers and even some of the sports coaches. Don’t make the mistake of assuming she is only on one class chat. She is also on the chat groups of 5 different sections and posts their updates regularly- 4 D has already finished the Science Project. Our section hasn’t started yet! She sends charts with her son for every single chapter. She sends cupcakes for the school fete. Her daughter’s projects are always the best in class.

The every-day-work-post mommy: Thank god for her, right? She sends screen shots of every single page of work done in every single subject, every single day. Screen shots of the website citing tests and assignments. Screen shots of the website giving the date for school sports. Screen shots of everything on the website. You can depend on her. Dot at 3:45 goes the phone jingles, signalling the arrival of this Santa. The day’s work- all arrived.

The I’m-a-working-mom mommy: The unbearable one. There I’ve said it. Every time there is a project, an assignment, homework, the annual function, she declares for all to hear that she does not have the time since she is working. Incidentally, the fight finally happened last year and we got first row seats to a detailed analysis of the pros and cons of stay at home moms V/S working moms.

The Reuter mommy: She has all the news all the time. From the latest on government rules on examinations to which roads are closed on a particular day. Much of this news in unverified and spreads useless panic but who cares.

The tinker-tailor baker mommy: She is the domestic goddess and lets the world know. She regularly posts pictures of her culinary creations on the school group to some effervescent clapping emojis. Let the culinary impaired rave that this chat is for school affairs only, thank you.

The non-existent mommy: They prefer to remain by the sidelines and reap the benefit of all the information flowing around. This is my ilk. I have often found that when some clarification or information is required, one just needs to wait quietly and someone will bring it up. No amount of desperate wails can bring these ladies out of their shells to post ‘the revision work done today’.

Where are the dads in all this, you say? That species is conspicuously missing in WhatsApp school groups. Just like Hollywood has its token black, and Bollywood has its token gay characters, the class group has a token dad. Or two. While the moms are busy setting the size of tomorrows project chart right to the centimetre, the dads are probably too busy saving the world.

And here I was thinking that that was the mom’s job all along.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

My life is currently run by two little monsters, one 9 and one almost 2 years old. My passions are reading and writing. While I read almost every waking free hour, my writing has taken a hit after my second daughter was born, and I am trying to slowly but surely get back to it. My big dream is to, someday, get around to writing my book. My job is to be a home CEO, a teacher, a doctor as well as nurse-on-call, a driver, a sometimes-chef, a hairstylist, and a mender of clothes and cuts and hearts. My 'profession', on the other hand, is executive search/ head-hunting and I am defined in the ongoing parlance of the age, as a work-from-home mom.

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