Sometimes I catch myself looking down at my hands and wondering why I only have two. At other times I use the same two hands to cover my two ears, in a wasteful effort to drown out the relentless cacophony. When that doesn’t work I shut myself in the bathroom and take an extended, leisurely bathroom break.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that parenting is hard work. We used to live in the United States till January 2015, when we suddenly had an epiphany and decided to move our family and all our belongings to Mumbai. We were the picture-perfect NRI family. We had good friends, our jobs were interesting, we travelled, and we had two three-year-olds - a golden Labrador, Clouseau, and our Texan-born son, Kabir.

Living in the US, away from family and friends, changes you as a person. You begin to do everything yourself. If you don’t care much for nannies and work from home like I did, you pretty much have your child around you the whole day. So you plan playdates and activities. You take him to Gymboree and indoor trampolines. You have a tiny chair for him outside your bathroom so he can sit on it and push his tiny toys under the door while he talks to you. You slowly start turning into your mother and implementing the same rules you grew up with only to be waylaid by the latest parenting fad telling you what you are doing might just cause irreparable damage to your child’s psyche. While it takes a village to raise a child, sometimes when your husband is travelling, all you have is yourself and your two hands. No village, no extra hands to order/request around.

That is why it was difficult for me to let go. While earlier my son was growing up all alone with his dog for company. Here, in Mumbai, he is surrounded constantly by family and friends. And if that wasn’t enough, I have sought and found help in the most unlikely places.

Helping hand

For instance, a few weeks ago, when Kabir insisted I play with him right in the middle of my morning meal prep. No amount of reasoning yielded any result with a persistent young man. That was until our domestic help taught him Catch-Catch, or the game where she pulls clothes off the line and throws it to him to catch. Now they play the game for ten minutes every day.

Or when the increasingly defiant and fiercely independent boy refuses to hold your hand on the busy street as you struggle to hold a bag, a grocery list, a phone, and a wallet, all while trying to buy vegetables from your local seller. Help came from the vegetable wallah who let Kabir pretend he owns the vegetable stall and brought him inside the store, away from the busy street.

Long, boring drives with a traffic jam on every turn are now interesting when the driver teaches your son the names of all the cars on the street and lets him count how many times he honks the horn.

My family volunteers every week to take him for a few hours while my husband and I watch a movie. Of course when you get back you can see the effect a three-year old has had on them and their home. But a movie in a cinema makes helping clean-up a breeze.

Of course it takes a village to raise a child. But for those of us who live in the city, look around and don’t be scared to ask for help. Chances are you will learn a new game, a new trick or just maybe you might get an extra pair of hands to help you shut out the noise.