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On Love: Toughening up for vulnerability as a new mother

"I won’t lose my cool with a child that’s relying on me for everything she needs"

Gaya is a community engagement practitioner based in Melbourne who's taking a break from building communities to navigate the wonders and challenges of first-time parenthood. If you see her out and about, please shout her a coffee (sleep deprivation is real!) 

For this week’s ‘On Love’, I chat with her about how new motherhood has come with kindness and a desire to break through from intergenerational trauma found among South Asian families far too often.

What does it take?

After the last two years, I can definitively say love is kindness. It’s kindness to yourself, your family, and the people who make your coffee in the morning.


It’s easy to preach and hard to practice. If you can’t find patience and compassion within you for the people you know and don’t know, you may find it very difficult to exist. I learned this from two angles, public and personal.

The public angle - with the climate we’ve been in, with everyone losing their minds with COVID, feeling impatient and alone. I saw so many show up for their community and their neighbours. It was amazing to witness; I think it forced us all to slow down and connect in ways none of us could foresee.

The personal angle - I got married and had a child. I learned a lot about family - I reflect deeply on how I want to raise her and it’s forced me to shift my view on what parenting is - what I want to pass on and what I want to cut out. 

I’m a second generation Singaporean - my grandparents are from Tamil Nadu in India. My parents were born in Singapore, my sisters and I were also born there. I connect more to being a person of Tamil origin rather than Indian. 

When my parents moved here, they were in survival mode. Many factors contributed  to who they were and who they became as parents. They didn’t have the opportunity or language to understand the full impact of their parenting  on us, as they were exhausted setting life up here. To be vulnerable, talk about feelings or issues that come from power and control -  none of it was ever broached. 

I don’t want to perpetuate any of that. My partner - he’s so kind, his heart is as big as the ocean. He’s taught me so much about being the best version of myself - for me, not for anyone else. He leads by example. I know that if I’m not kind to myself - I have unrealistic expectations and self doubt and  stress myself and everyone around me out. If I’m not kind to myself, I can’t be kind to him and our daughter. I want to show up as a loving, kind person in this world. 

Our daughter - she does dumb shit all the time - I step back and think, be kind. Through sleepless nights with her I think, I’ll get sleep. I won’t lose my cool with a child that’s relying on me for everything she needs.

So I give all of us a break. Love is kindness. We’re all doing this together, we’ll get through it together.

Liked reading 'On Love'? I will be speaking with a South Asian person about what it means to them regularly for this column. If you have a story you'd like to share with me, DM me! You'll find my handle in the bio below.


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About the author

Sashi Perera is a Sri Lankan Australian comedian, writer and recovering lawyer. She was featured on the UK's 2021 Funny Women Awards 'Ones to Watch’ List and was part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2021 and 2022. She's constantly inspired by love in all its forms and writes a regular column for South Asian Today, ‘On Love’. Instagram | @sashbomb



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