January 23, 2020 12:08:13 pm
By Shilpi Madan
Pragya Kapoor’s Insta handle describes her as a film producer, environmentalist and mother. Having produced the celluloid adventure in Kedarnath, displayed her prowess as an actor in the critically acclaimed Hawa Hawaai, brought in her little one’s birthday through a beach cleanup, while powering tree plantation drives, Pragya Kapoor raises her boys – four-year-old Isana and one-year-old Shamsher – into independent thinking, strong little people.
A parent in progress, she aces the supermom act (seemingly effortlessly), raising her boys with husband, filmmaker Abhishek Kapoor. Excerpts from a conversation with Express Parenting:
Clocking in immersive work hours, dropping and picking up your kids, managing the home front…how do you pull it off, everyday?
Every minute is planned with clockwork precision; I need to plan everything, time my travel even from one part of Mumbai to another. I get up at 7 am, drop Isana to school, then get Shamsher ready. Yoga, breakfast follows and then I get to office by 1 pm after picking and dropping off Isana home. Back by 6 pm, I’m with my kids till the elder one nods off at 8 pm, the younger one at 9.30 pm. Then I work for a couple of hours.
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What is that one thing you discovered about yourself when you had your first child?
When I had my first baby and held him for the first time, I realised I had superpower. I could do anything. I did not know then how to use that superpower to the fullest, in retrospect. When I had my second kid, I knew how to maximise on that superpower. Truly, I can do so much more than what I ever imagined.
What does motherhood mean to you?
You have to be a giver. Motherhood is all-consuming whether you are a working mom or stay at home mom. You have to give everyone your time, be patience and loving.
How does your Swedish upbringing help here?
It helps aplenty. I am essentially a calm person by nature and do not get stressed out. I keep going steadily and resolve problems.
How are you weaving in perspectives that you have been brought up with, into your parenting?
I teach my boys that girls and boys are equal. I feel I have a bigger responsibility as a mother of boys. More depends on how I bring up my sons as they must behave appropriately with girls. It is very important that they give space, respect, and help. In Sweden, there is no house help. Self-help works. I encourage Isana to lend a helping hand with household chores. No work is ‘a girl’s job’. I believe that there must be no sense of self-entitlement based on gender. I am very clear on that. Also, I teach my sons that ‘No’ means ‘No’.
What about other attributes?
My boys speak Swedish. I make them relish the positives of life, spend time with nature…I plan for us to do weekend getaways and get them to experience the natural beauty of India. Being one with nature is so vital and therapeutic. In India, a lot of things are taken for granted. I do not want them to feel superior to anyone, they are not. Hence I do not encourage bragging. Less is more, and this birthday my son got his friends to give gifts for the lesser privileged who have no parents. I have never taken my younger son to a toy shop, as he will only get over-stimulated and become a toy aggregator. Kids do not need a hundred toys to be happy. He has Isana’s toys to play with and I even give away toys aplenty. Where is the space anyway in Mumbai (laughs)?
Oh yes. Sports are a must. My elder one is into skating, swimming, football and tennis. Nothing beats sports in building your muscle memory, motor skills, power and stamina. It is an absolute must.
What is that grassroot learning that powers you?
Imbibe a sound value system, learn about your traditions, love your family and prioritise spending time with your loved ones. What makes all the difference is that in good and bad times, you stay sane and same.
Are you a one-woman army or does Abhishek chip in aplenty?
He has his days. It does not come very naturally to him, honestly, but he tries his level best, I have to hand him that. I feel Indian men overall are not trained very well to think beyond their own selves. But he manages in his own way. Some days are good. Some days aren’t so good.
A confession as a mom of two kids?
When we have our first child, we do tend to go wrong. Being a first-time mum, we mollycoddle and in the process disable our child instead of making him independent. I realised I did this. I fixed things I did wrong the first time around. My younger one eats on his own, sleeps on his own and is much more self dependent.
What are weekends like?
No work on weekends. I spend all my time with the kids. We play games, go to the park, on walks, meet grandparents, have playdates. We have a dog at home, too, and all of us kick up a riot playing together.
Who’s the bad guy?
Me. The discipline bit is left to me by Abhishek.
So that one rule that must not be broken is…?
We eat at the table. We do not leave the table without finishing our food.
Television only on Sundays. No gadgets, period.
Do you cook for the kids?
I wish I could pack in that in a day, but we bake often. I have fabulous house help. They are just like family for me.
One gem of wisdom for other mums?
You know what is best for your child. Never fall into the guilt trap as a working mother. Honestly, I don’t have time to even put on nailpolish or make-up every day to work. I sneakily used Gattu’s (Abhishek) trimmer to lop off a couple of inches of my hair as I have been unable to make time for a salon. But you know what? I am the happiest with my family. I love the way my family loves me. My husband, children and in-laws give me boundless love and respect and that has given me so much confidence and security that I feel there is nothing in this world I cannot do. I feel fulfilled and blessed.
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