Posts Tagged ‘Tanu Shree Singh’

When I discovered that the founder of the book group I am part of, Tanu Shree Singh, has written a book called ‘Keep Calm and Mommy On‘ I couldn’t wait to get it. I have been reading snippets from it since, and I have gifted it to friends who are moms with young children, in the hope that they will enjoy the insights shared by the book and find them useful. I also gifted it to a friend who was a mom to an older child because I felt the book will make her smile and feel nostalgic. A few days back, I thought that it was time for me to read the book properly from the beginning to the end.


Keep Calm and Mommy On‘ is a collection of essays on questions and themes that every mom and every parent thinks about. The essays are reasonably independent and so can be read on a standalone basis. They are also loosely connected and so can be continuously read, like I did. The essays are organized into five themes – for example, Dealing with Friends and Family, How to Keep Your Child Happy, Keeping Your Child Safe. There is a beautiful introduction at the beginning, which sets the stage for the rest of the book. In the end, there is a closing chapter which sums things up nicely.

In the middle of the book, in the interconnected essays which are the core of the book, the author talks about nearly every topic and question that a mother of a pre-teen or a teenager thinks about, worries about, contemplates on – how to deal with diversity, how to talk about religion, how to introduce your children to the newspaper and the news (when the news covers a lot of violence these days), how do you handle sibling rivalry, how do you deal with friendship across genders, how do you deal with bullying and body shaming, how do you talk to your children about death, grief and loss, how do you make your kids do their homework and study for their exams without stifling their creativity and their passion for the arts, how do you answer the perennial question – science vs the arts (aka why should everyone become an engineer or a doctor), how do you make your children read and how do you handle inappropriate books – the author talks about this and other important and relevant parenting topics. She doesn’t shy away from addressing questions and issues on areas that parents find difficult and awkward – like attraction, teenage romance, sex, sexual orientation – the kind of stuff which gives moms sleepless nights.

Tanu Shree Singh’s prose is conversational, warm, friendly, passionate and humorous as she tackles these and other important topics and shares her insights and experiences. There were passages and anecdotes which made me smile – for example, this one which talks about how sometimes non-readers think that reading fiction is useless.

I had once won our team the class quiz. The question that clinched it was, ‘Where was the first lighthouse built?‘ The answer was Pharos, in Egypt. Source : Asterix and Cleopatra. Reading fiction, apart from being immeasurably fun, provides an excellent opportunity to get curious, learn entirely random facts, and increase vocabulary phenomenally, in addition to a fairly long list of other good stuff.

I smiled when I read this because the exact same thing happened to me, when I was in school. Only the question was different. In my case, the question was ‘What is the capital of Turkey?‘ Most of the class said Istanbul. When I shed my shyness from my last row for a short while, I said, ‘Ankara’, which was the correct answer. How did I know that? Because I read about it in a comic – ‘Johnny Nero in Turkey‘ 🙂

From the start of the book, which talks about how mommyhood is challenging, to the last chapter in which the author has inspiring words for moms, the book is gripping, engaging, insightful, thought-provoking and made me smile many times.

I loved ‘Keep Calm and Mommy On‘. It is a beautiful book on positive parenting. It made me nostalgic about some of the experiences that I went through. It also made me realize how challenging it is to be a mom and a parent today.

So, if you are having a challenging day as a mom or a parent, if you are stuck with some intractable parenting issues, if your kids are asking questions which are difficult and awkward to answer, if your angelic babies are running amok and you don’t know what to do, make yourself a cup of coffee, or masala chai, or a mug of hot chocolate, sit down with this book, and browse through. Maybe there is a chapter in here which talks about the exact thing that you are going through. Maybe it will give you some answers and offer you some insights. And I hope it will help you to Keep Calm and Mommy On.

I will leave you with some of my favourite passages from the book.

Tiger Moms! Somewhere in the Sunderbans, a tiger mum just winced at that misnomer. She doesn’t push her cubs to swim an extra length or run an extra mile. She just sits idly and watches her cubs explore life, always keeping an eye out for danger and putting them in their place when they get to be a pawful. So, by that definition, I guess I am a Tiger Mom.

I am still made to read aloud. Ten minutes and a child is all it takes for one to become a storyteller. I am a storyteller for my boys. While I narrate to them, I see their faces change. The teenage aloofness melts away, and is replaced by smiles and sparkling eyes. The books picked by them for me to read out are mostly way below the ‘recommended reader level’. We march on, reading some quietly in a corner with a mug of hot chocolate, and listening to others amidst loud giggles and squeals.

As parents, we somehow tend to measure everything by its usefulness. Does a book have a moral? If not, it is useless, and there is no need to read it. Does going for storytelling sessions increase my child’s vocabulary to formidable levels? No? Bah. Do toys serve any purpose other than drain the pocket? Absolutely not. What underlies this is that as parents, we are always trying to balance spending money with the benefits that the child gets in being better equipped at handling the competition ahead. There is nothing wrong in limiting how much you spend on your children : the problem lies in the focus on utility or tangible outcome.

Have you read ‘Keep Calm and Mommy On‘? What do you think about it?

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