She battled depression and has been one of the very few who went open about it. She is an interesting speaker, writer and an individual. She has been one of the most popular parenting bloggers in the country. It is her ability to give a new insight to little nuances in parenting from personal experience that makes Shailaja so relatable to parents. She is also an editor of a parenting website and a mum too.
Meet Shailaja Vishwanath who describes herself as a mother, a blogger, a writer and an editor. She says, “These are all roles that I play, sometimes merging more than one role at a time .I’ve been a teacher, a content writer, a voice-over artist for an NGO, a music trainer and of course, still am a wife and daughter. But, if you were to ask who I am, then the answer would be different: A learner. There is so much to learn from- experiences, books, interactions and relationships. It’s important for me, personally, to stay open to all of this, either online or offline.
I battled depression post marriage and it was a very traumatic and trying time, both for me as well as my family. It took time for me to accept that I had a problem, longer to seek help and more than 9 months of treatment for me to return to my version of normal. In terms of absolute acceptance that I did suffer from mental illness, it took me 13 years to speak about it in public.
As for advice, I’m not really qualified to say anything other than, ‘This is real. This is not something you can brush under the carpet or ignore. Seek help, of the personal and professional kind and do it without guilt.’
Blogging happened almost naturally and yes, it happened because I became a mum. But that’s not the best part about being one. For me, it’s looking at the life lessons I learn from my daughter every single day and this is no exaggeration. Every interaction with her makes me wonder how I can change, as a person and a parent. It makes me read more, think more and aspire to be better for her sake. From yelling less to slowing down, letting go of control and soaking in the moment, there are lessons in every second of being a mother.”
Talking about her own childhood memories, she shares with Mums and Stories, “I have incredibly fond memories of my childhood and it’s not a cliché but I love my parents equally. Both my parents are very strong influences in my life. I recall this one incident when I came home rather annoyed with something that had happened with a friend. She hugged me, asked me no details but let me tell her when the time was right. And with love, she said, Perhaps she is feeling the same way. Ask her tomorrow and patch it up.’ What do you know? She was right.
My mom is the epitome of love. When it comes to unconditional love, empathy and a faith in prayer, I would say you have to look no further than my mother. Regarding my dad, he would cheerfully support my awful attempts at cooking in the kitchen by saying I was trying hard and admonished people who made fun of me. He would tell me what was wrong, but with kindness.
There is no such thing as easy parenting. What works for me may not work for you. BUT, having said that, I must admit that when I read an article or book on parenting, I absorb what will work for me and apply that in my learning. The result? We grow. We let go of our own impossible expectations and evolve on this path that can be extremely challenging.”
Talking about blogging she shares, “For anyone who wants to blog, I only suggest two things: Passion and perseverance. You need passion in order to do anything. Blog because it’s something you love to do. It’s something which makes you feel happy and thrilled about doing. You need perseverance because blogging can be a frustrating journey initially. There’s a steep learning curve and it can be intimidating if you hear phrases like ‘Leveraging social media’ or ‘Custom domain’ or ‘Self hosted’ or ‘sponsored posts’ thrown about. Don’t let them intimidate you. Take this as an opportunity to learn something new.
Those who want to blog on parenting, here’s the thing. It’s going to have to be genuine and authentic. That happens when you are open with your audience and you let them into your life via experiences, snippets and lessons learnt on this journey. Think on the concept of creating your niche. You’re the only one who can decide what that has to be. Is it everyone’s cup of tea? No, not necessarily. Some people won’t like parenting blogs. Some people find them boring. But there are people who will read what you write. Find your audience and be patient during the search. Always remember that the first person you are writing for is you and the second person is your child. That will shape your work well.
Trolling too happens at various levels- personal and professional. Most of the trolling that happens is because of two reasons in my observation. The trolls are either personally offended by what I have said (even though it may not be directed at them) or they find pleasure in being mean and vindictive. I now block and un-follow and un-friend trolls without a second thought. On the rare occasions that I find myself being affected deeply by such behaviour, I call up a close friend and pour my heart out. Soon after, I put the episode behind me, go back to blogging or writing or do something offline to get my mind back on track.
Being a woman is important. Being a mum is enough. And I cannot emphasize this enough. Mums tend to beat themselves up with guilt no matter what they do: stay at home, work, work from home, balance work and home- the guilt trip is endless and a loop at that. Should they do something to be interesting? No. That doesn’t make sense.
Should they do something to be happy? Yes. If being a stay at home mum makes you happy that’s what matters. If being a working mom makes you happy, then you’re doing just fine. We need to stop living our lives by how mothers ought to be. Instead, learn to enjoy the moment and do things that make you happy”.