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As a mom to a tween, I’m acutely aware of this fact almost every single day.

Fun nicknames, Growing up

2017 April, present day, and this mom now looks at the prospect of turning 39 in less than a week. At some level that scares her. It’s the ultimate and inexorable reminder that we cannot  escape age. It will catch up with us, slowly and in a measured manner.

But at another level, she is glad. 39 years is a long time to be anywhere and if we don’t learn from those lessons now, when will we? Plus not all epiphanies happen when we turn 40. That’s just a myth perpetuated by the ’40 is the new 20′ saying (or is it the new 30?).

So while I wrote a post a couple of years ago about not celebrating birthdays anymore, I’ve found myself modifying that belief in the last year.

Let’s go back a bit; actually, let’s go back a lot. A few decades should do it. Picture a child going to school in her early teens. Every night, she’d lay out the pinafore, the crisply-ironed shirt, the tie that went with it, a belt that would buckle into place and fresh socks warmed on the radiator in the chilly climes of Nairobi, Kenya.

Every morning, she’d be up at 6 and attired in the uniform, bag on her back and shoes on her feet. That was it. There were no minutes spent before the mirror, checking for stray hairs, no using of moisturiser, not even a stick of vaseline to keep those lips from chapping. In short, there was nothing you could call remotely feminine in her non-existent make up routine.

It wasn’t that she didn’t care. It was simply that her mind didn’t work that way. That child grew up and became a mother. Only one thing changed between then and now for that person. She’d added precisely one thing to her daily routine: a stick of kajal to line her eyes. That and the fact that she was now a mom, of course.

Her tween neatly lines up and thinks about which nail polish would look good on her trimmed fingernails this week. She revels in them all- the pinks, the maroons, the blues and the greens (I’ve strategically hidden them in this picture , if you notice) and even an orange!

Her idea of dressing up outstrips mine any day. She’ll even spend an entire afternoon draped in a lehenga-choli at home, replete with accessories and ghungroos and break into fluid dance moves for fun. Me? I’m happy in my track pants and a loose kurta that will let me catch up on my afternoon siesta in peace.

Some days I wonder, really wonder, where she gets her energy, her enthusiasm and her zest for life. I’m energetic when it comes to things I like, but she’s energetic always!

She brought out all the nail colours and lined them up, saying, ‘You need to paint my nails.’ I’m the worst painter on the planet, for the uninitiated. Colours go ‘smack’ ‘glob’ and ‘yech’ when I try to apply them anywhere: a canvas, a vase and of course, nails. Yet, my daughter believes I’d do a good job. Even if it isn’t, I know I’d enjoy the bonding and the love during the process.

I almost shook my head violently, but one look at her eager face and I just melted. The day after she brought these out, she left for a week to be with her cousins.While I cleaned up the rest of her room in her absence, I haven’t touched the nail polish brigade. They stand at attention in her bay window, waiting with patient assurance that their general-in-chief will be back and command them to perform their  duty.

I’m waiting too. I get to see her today after a week and it fills me with all kinds of joy.

Am I kinder as a parent? My yelling-less meter tells me I may be.

Am I perfect? No such thing. So I’ve stopped chasing that pipe dream.

Am I wiser? I’m still learning, always learning, so let’s hold off on that answer for a few years.

Am I happy? Right here, right now in this moment, as a parent, yes. That’s what I need.

I’ll probably never take with complete gusto to the idea of painted nails or maintaining them, but I’d gladly do it if it lets me collect moments that I can look back on and cherish when my memory begins to fail.

Growing older is going to be fun. Bring on the nail polish!

Shailaja V

Hi there! I'm Shailaja Vishwanath, a blogger with 12 years of blogging experience and a parent to a teen. I work as a digital marketing and social media consultant. From positive parenting tips to useful productivity hacks, social media advice to blogging advice, you'll find them all right here. Welcome to my blog.


Anks · April 9, 2017 at 9:15 am

I can totally identify with your daughter… that was me as a little girl!!! I hope you have a lot of fun moments painting nails (and doing nail art) and lots of fun things that make wonderful memories

    Shailaja · April 9, 2017 at 9:22 am

    How adorable 🙂 My sister was exactly like this as a kid- nail-paint, dressing up, every bit of it 🙂 I’m hoping I will be able to do justice to that nail paint today! 😀

Sanchie @ Living my Imperfect Life · April 9, 2017 at 1:18 pm

39 eh? That’s old! 😉 {says the person who will turn 39 in 6 years…}

On a serious note, that’s cute how your daughter loves painting her nails! I was like you as a kid — no makeup, nothing. I was a tomboy. However now, I do like dressing up for myself. It makes me feel good to apply eyeliner, foundation and lipstick. I don’t do my nails as often as I’d like but I do like them painted too. At home though, and on weekends, I don’t bother with make up or dressing up; I prefer to be comfortable in shorts or track pants depending on the season.

These are some lovely memories you are creating with your daughter.
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    Shailaja · April 12, 2017 at 10:02 am

    So much we change and so much remains the same, eh Sanch? I am hoping these memories will stick with her for a long time.

Shilpa Gupte · April 9, 2017 at 4:55 pm

This post reminds me of myself, as a kid. I remember how I loved nail polishes, and begged mum to get me one. She bought for me an orange one! Back then, it wasn’t the colour that fascinated me, but the cosmetic that gave me goosebumps. If she were to gift me the same colour today, I would promptly change it to something of my liking! Back then, even when she knew dad would not like it and the school would not permit it, she went and got it for her little girl! And,she herself was as simple as you are! And, to learn here, that somewhere out there is a mom, who stays away from cosmetics, but happily applies some on her little girl’s finger nails and indulges her kiddy desires, and revels in some lovely moments with her little girl, herself!
So, that’s the reason why my mum got me that nail polish! I realise it now!
Have to go call up mum!
*Sniff sniff*


Nabanita · April 10, 2017 at 12:11 am

Ahh I was like you as a kid and even as a teenager. Later kajal and a lip balm got added to my habits and that’s what stays mostly. But I had liked nail polish once upon a time but now where’s the time? 🙂 Happy birthday in advance, Shailaja
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Eli · April 11, 2017 at 4:08 am

Wonderful, Shailaja… YES, every age has it’s charm.. not all we see.. until they (and we) are a bit older… still treasure the moments and days with your teen… suddenly they are grown ups…. Lovely post my dear:-)
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Prasanna · April 11, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Such a wonderful post. The first part about the school girl reminded me of myself. Never looked into the mirror back then. But now I have incorporated the Kajal, eyeliner & lip balm into my routine. As for my 8 year old daughter… said it right!!! I really don’t know where they get their energy from. Everything from her dress to her accessories are colour coordinated. Loved reading it!!!

Rachna · April 12, 2017 at 12:45 pm

I used to love nail polish back in college. School — tauba, they were so strict. 😉 These days actually I’ve tried shades that are bolder and more beautiful. But only for my toes. Since I cook regularly, I avoid painting my fingernails. My tiny niece at less than 3 has quite some choice. She points to the clothes she wants her mum to wear. These beautiful memories are what will hold us in good stead as we age. I feel 40 is a milestone like no other for a woman. There are so many things that one sees changing in one’s life. But the best part is the comfort in one’s own skin.

Manasi · April 18, 2017 at 2:20 pm

Shailu, I m exactly like your daughter…And my daughter is exactly like you!!!

Being You is the Best thing you can possibly be, every single time · April 25, 2017 at 8:12 am

[…] polish! We’ve covered this one already in another post, haven’t we? Ah, the joy of watching your face light up at the simplest of things. Please, […]

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