Kamal Sidhu: I have a life beyond my son

TV show host Kamal Sidhu believes in savouring the joys of being a hands-on mom. Having become a mom at 39, she says, "You can't do what you did in your 20s. Get real. You have to reorient life when you are in your 40s."

By Shilpi Madan

She is the epitome of sexy, stunning cool. Telly show host, compere, model, actor Kamal Sidhu feels blessed with a superlative career spanning over 35 years, a wonderful son, a fabulous husband and of course, unbeatable cheekbones. A popular face as a presenter, Kamal recently rocked the TRPs as host on ‘Vogue BFFs’, having VJ-ed for MTV and hosted countless travel shows across the world earlier. A peep into her role as a mom. Excerpts from a conversation:

Niall (pronounced ‘Nile’) is enjoying football. Your “proud mum” posts on social media are a beautiful tracker.

(laughs) Yes. He is nine, and getting better at the game day by day. It is fun, and plenty of work, driving him to practice sessions, matches…Both my husband Nico (Goghavala) and I have been athletes and understand the rhythm Niall is developing through football.

It does get hectic at times, doesn’t it?

Of course! But he likes it. So motivation comes from within him. We keep telling Niall that the choice is his. He is part of the school team, and a football club. The schedules are often demanding with long practice hours, successive matches…Niall has a lot on his plate. Nico and I explain to him that he knows his body best. He has to use his own judgment and decide how to fit things he likes to do in his day. We let him plan his day and see how he wants to fit in studies and sports.

He’s cool with studies?

Oh yes. He is a good kid and gets good grades. Now and then, he needs a little motivation for homework but then, which kid doesn’t?

How old were you when you had Niall?

I was 39. The pregnancy was silky smooth from the get go. I owe it to doing swimming and yoga until the day I went into labour. And, of course, my obstetrician and husband. Contractions aside, it was literally two breaths and there was Niall.

One truth of life you have discovered after having your own kid?

That kids always listen and soak up stuff. They have two ears and two eyes and you think they are not listening but they are. So as parents we are on ball all the time. Any incongruency between what I say and what I do, Niall is swift on the uptake and points out promptly.

Then what helps?

A good sense of humour (laughs)

What is the best part about your work?

That I get to do what I like. Also, I have spent decades working before I had Niall. Now I pick and choose my assignments. Like he still wants one of us to be there to read to him at night. We thrive on jokes, hugs and cuddles. Since my work is sporadic, like shoots for a day or two, hosting events, I can work around his schedule, thankfully.

No regrets about passing up work that doesn’t fit into your scheme of things?

None at all. I was mentally prepared to be a mom when we had Niall. During the first six years I needed to be around all the time. But then, what is six years in a lifetime? A child needs a strong foundation and for that you need to be around. I am not being judgmental but am glad that I could make that choice, to be there for Niall during his early years as well.

How do you handle late nights?

No late nights (laughs).

No kidding?

Well, I have to get up at 6:30 am, and putting in a late night partying with friends morphs into a statistical nightmare. When I go out, I like to be relaxed. For me, it is an event, dressing up and catching up with friends. We end up doing that once in a while, not too often.

What are the activities that the three of you pursue together?

A game of tennis or a swim at Breach Candy Club.

Another pearl of wisdom for mommies?

You can’t do what you did in your 20s. Get real. You have to reorient life when you are in your 40s. I don’t think I am depriving myself of anything. Niall is my priority. I want to tuck him into bed, read books for him, get him ready for school…I enjoy all of it. Things are more organised now, there is a routine, unlike earlier.

Parting shot?

Strike a balance. I have a life beyond Niall. I am unwilling to let go of my work and have continued to stay connected with myself. I have my own identity. In India, we are lucky as we have a support system in maids, drivers, extended family members. Often, we take things for granted. My mother brought us three kids up, got fresh food on the table, kept the house tidy; abroad, where there is frugal domestic help. I feel our moms are the real supermoms. Truly. Once you become a mom, you learn to value your own mom and look at her through new eyes and new respect.

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