Saturday, November 12, 2011

After a long time...

Have been missing for quite sometime now ! actually 3 odd months. What was I upto? Well , just plain lazy. There were lot of times when I wrote some posts in my mind but that never materialized. Anyways, some nudging from friends ( and thank god that there are some of you who end up reading) , here i am. This hopefully should be a fun post for that's what I have been having over last few months. The winter chill has quietly made its way in north India and the weather is at its best. October is a special month for us for couple of regular reasons and some specials as well. Regulars are the fact that almost every one important in my life have their birthdays - daughter, mom, sister , myself and this gets interspersed with multiple festivities we have here. The warmth and happiness is in the air, you can almost feel it. This year was special as kids and myself got over almost 3 weeks of viral sickness in the household and a some professional gains for myself. So now if I am not having fun amidst all this, then something will be seriously wrong with me !

This year was also different for couple of things. We did daughter's birthday party at a place called Energy Centre in Gurgaon located in the largest public park here. The idea was not to be different but for children to have fun. I and the daughter were so bored with the umpteen Pizza Hut parties she got invited for - Same food, same place and  sometimes even similar return gifts. The concept was novel and nice. Kids were invited at the centre where  they first had a movie screening on climate change, there was a solar car ride, the centre head showed them giant solar panels and how they help to generate power for the centre. Post which they all headed for Terracotta painting - we selected pots since the return gifts were lovely plant saplings which each child took home to grow. The area was open, green and so very pleasant in the evening. We have gone couple of times there as a family now . for those in gurgaon, you must visit Roots- the organic cafe of the centre. Don't expect a superlative service- food takes good 40 min to arrive and the menu is limited but the place is like any college cafe...sit in the sun, grab a book, let the kids climb trees or run around and what perfect winter afternoon you want. This Sunday it was a beautiful sight watching them dancing under the bougainvillea tree - the flowers falling down on a windy day over them.

October also had a festival a week. With the kids now of an age where they are participative, more aware, its all the more fun.  A lot has changed the way Diwali gets celebrated now. A few days before Diwali,  daughter found it amusing that we made a big deal about new clothes on Diwali. I found it a little offending given the sentiments  around the festival esp with grandparents around but then it struck me, in today's age  she is so used to getting a new dress every now and then that she would not find  a novelty in the same.  So this Diwali took extra care to ensure that she gets her favorite dress for Diwali, it comes gift wrapped and is a surprise for her. The whole song and drama around it surely made it a novelty, with her now waiting for Diwali next year. Things seem to be changing so fast - there are hardly any fresh sweets being bought- most people end up buying chocolates- even we ended up buying chocolates for the  kids friends. They found the sugar made " khilonas" traditionally used with " kheel" during Diwali very fascinating but backed out when offered to eat them. I wonder another five years and we might not see such things around. People have started going out for dinners on Diwali day - finish the puja, do away with the crackers and then off to a nice joint for family dinner. May be it suits them but I actually squirm at the possibility of my kids ever preferring that over home made poori, sabji, dahi vada and kheer. So till the time I have control, I am going to ensure that they have a very traditional Diwali . If I ask anyone of us, I don't think any of our Diwali memories is about the festival getting different and better every year like birthdays. Most Diwalis for all of us is same - Same puja, same sequence of events in every household, dads still asking moms  every year how to do the puja, same aarti and same food menu. Yet its one of the fondest memories we all carry with us. Given the distraction and fast changing world these children live in, the only hope this mother has is to make the routine so repetitive year on year that it gets programmed in their mind and hopefully in their hearts.

Last month was also special. Some professional gains followed by my birthday. Sometimes I do wonder, I could have been single still or may be married but no kids, could have been in a different profession but what I am and have today is great. I never thought what my life will be in the thirties but I have learnt the futility of planning your life and have started enjoying what comes by. There were times when a maid crisis gave me distress or a bad day at work meant a week of stress- Now I have learnt to take all of this in my stride. I now appreciate and acknowledge that each day of your life will be different. You will get stuck with people you don't like personally and professionally, you will struggle to become a better daughter, wife and mother, you will always be short on time for your children but then the small joys, successes and happiness also come along. All we need to do is appreciate the same.

Have also learnt overtime that there are 2 sets of people who really enjoy the person you are. Indulgences in life is a luxury and these are the people who indulge you completely- your parents and your kids. No one enjoys your success more than your parents. The joy they feel when you succeed is tremendous - more so when you are a woman. Your parents treated all their children equally and fairly. They invested in you as a daughter as much as in a son and when you succeed in life, its a pride that's their prized possession. It can be a small win for you or a matter of fact thing which you deserved but the tinkle in their voice when they hear this surpasses all of that. The second is your children who make you real and humble. They couldn't care less what you have done or not done. They are the only ones peeping out of the door , ready to hug you the moment you land. The eyes twinkle seeing you as if all their lives , they have just been waiting for their tired mom to come home. Couldn't care less what you have achieved outside, you fail if you cant fix their favorite breakfast or read them a book.Nothing can be more humbling and real than this. Not to take away the importance of your life partner ( less he gets offended )- that's more of a relationship of equals - you enjoy each others success, console on failures and move together. yet there are expectations from each other. With your parents and your children, its pure love - its just YOU who matter to them .

In other news, December is round the corner. Intend to soak the winter sun and relish some great afternoons. Hopefully will do some more writing as well. There are some serious topics that bother me at times and hope to let it find its way in this forum.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Here and there...and no where

Its really strange. Since the time I started writing, there are multiple topics that flash through my mind. I make a mental note that I shall post something on that . sometimes, there is a nudge from a friend as to why don't you write on this topic and I note that as well but most of the posts that you see are actually which  have been penned ( or rather typed)  in less than an hour , on an impulse, hurriedly spell checked ( as i noticed when i re read some old posts). The thoughts flow and i oblige myself by writing them down.

Never mind- the point is not related to what I am going to write. Again an impulsive thought I felt should find its place. ;). Last month has been , well, to be honest , just plain boring. I think July month does that to us. Vacations are over, mid year appraisals are done leaving a plain vanilla month ahead. So here's this post - more on This and that and here and there in July.

Monsoon  Memories:
So as you can see the blog look and feel has been changed in fond memories of the monsoon. Memories yes as a) we don't get them enough any which ways these days and b) the whole thought of traffic jams, clogged road and dirty laundry do not even let you enjoy the monsoon. Actually the amount of comments on facebook with few drizzles of rain in Delhi are the virtual enjoyment of monsoons we all indulge in.
I personally was never a monsoon 'fan'- my kind of enjoyment is to sit by a window and enjoy a book with a hot cup of hot chocolate. So when  few days back when rain came visiting our world, the kids insisted on going down in the rain. The sheer thought of them catching cold, managing office with a sick child quickly flashed through my mind. No way! you guys are not going downstairs in the rain- I managed a stern face as two pleading eyes looked at me. I tried to reason as well but they perched themselves on the edge of the window, looking down longingly and then came the last hit -" If you don't let us enjoy nature, how can we ever learn about it and take care of it " and then in a typical DDLJ moment ( Ja jee le apni zindagi type), I told them to run and rush. soon a couple of more kids joined...someone played music via their portable systems and it was plain sheer bliss. I was though back to how I enjoyed rain...a cup of hot chocolate , by the window, this time watching over 2 devils shaking hands with mother nature.

Grocery fix:
So the kids most of the times help me for any grocery shopping we need to do. I get to spend time with them and they learn ' on the job'. It starts with the elder one making a list as I look up the kitchen and then the three of us land up in supermarket. Its a funny sight...a head is deep inside the tomato basket picking up the ripe ones as told by mom or a little voice from behind with 2 hands full of the stuff they found at the counter. One of them will push the cart, the other will carefully place each item at the counter. We have healthy debates as to what's healthy to eat and hence purchase and its quite a democratic process- As I stop them to pick up chips and pies, a small hand hold me back from picking up a bottle of Diet coke. I see some people looking at me rather strangely- I bet they must be wondering how much I am making the poor kids run but then to all those ' chin up in the air moms'- You look more amusing walking in the aisle with a maid following you with a cart with your child perched inside it' . You either make them participative in the whole process or spare them the visit to the supermarket only to get one candy in the end.

Homework Woes:
For a change not for the kids but for me. I thought it was a smart thing to have them at 2.5 year gap but with the younger one in playschool, the workload on me on weekends is as great as the one on weekends. And then God save these fancy schools and  their Show and Tell concept and who insist on a 3 year old to come prepared with some topic every Monday. I thought play school was well about play but nonetheless, I think its a better way than the earlier pushy way. The challenge on hand is to get an extremely- full -of -energy boy to sit down and learn three lines on cleanliness whose clever enough to add a fourth one "We should keep our Mamma clean" given his obsession with me. The elder one moves to Grade 1 and it's a delight to work with her, refresh some fundamentals - if only the schools could spare the Art and Craft work. I don't have the skill set, motivation and creativity to think of ideas and it feels terrible to be written off in grade 1 for your drawing skills by your won child. So now I have a personal development plan and Google bhagwan to help me with ideas on how to go around the same.

So folks this his how July has gone. August has some long weekends and look forward to a relatively relaxing month.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Single mothers- Do we really respect their choices?

While there are enough marriages where both partners endure a nonexistent or worse a bad relationship for the sake of children, there are a lot of people nowadays who opt for being a single parent. The decision to become a single parent is a difficult one and it’s even more difficult when you are a woman. I don’t have statistics but there are more women who opt out of bad marriages with children and decide to raise the child herself- purely maternal instincts or may be because the child becomes the anchor of their life. The tragedy is that most people are curious to understand the reasons for the marriage or relationship to fail rather than see the courage the person has demonstrated to take a decision and live by it for the sake of her child or herself. And we thought that today the greatest things some of us have is a CHOICE – we can choose to work or stay at home, study or become a nomadic traveler and in the same breadth decide to live our life with someone or go separate ways.

It’s sad though that the social ecosystem hardly supports these decisions and worse most men walk away , remarry easily and live happily ever after but what about the woman- she often pays for the choice she made by living a more difficult life ? May be that’s the reason most women till today decide to be in the relationships, endure the pain and become more reconciled to their fate.

I think all of us would have met such people at the workplace or amongst friends and family . I happen to one as well. She was raised like all of us in small town, educated and made independent by her parents. However unlike few of us who came to big town for higher education, pursued professional courses and basically lived and learnt to be on our own, she continued to be in her home town and just so that you get the picture right, there’s only a handful of girls who today move to metro towns for further studies. So she completed her graduation, did a professional computer course and guess what parents found a good match at the right age ( or so they say) of 24-25 and she was married off. A year and a half  later of a bad marriage and impending pregnancy, she took the brave move of deciding to move out of the marriage with a 3 month old son and not for herself but for the sake of the child – to give the child a normal upbringing rather than a bitter childhood. Today it’s been 8 years and it’s a journey she would rather like to forget. She says she was blessed to have parents who were understanding enough to stand by her and help her raise her child for last so many years as she struggled, fell only to rise up again to be financially independent. But there were enough moments to make her feel the pain. She does not regret her decision but she does regret the long winding legal struggle for a separation and custody of the child, the innumerable glances people gave her of being a divorced women, the unsolicited advice on what to do with her life and worse the easy judgmental opinions about how she did not spend enough time invested in the relationship- In a nutshell, she could have continued her suffering in the hope that one day things will fall in place – her husband and in laws will start loving and accepting her.

Things have gone better as time flies but something’s will take aeon's to change. She does meet new people- Some she likes, some like her but the moment they know her status of being a single mother , things change. Some even suggested her to leave her child with her parents and start afresh – can you imagine? But that talks a lot about small town society today where even for a divorced/ widowed man with 2 kids, they can go ahead and get a girl half his age who would willingly marry and accept the 2 kids as her own but the other way round is just not happening.

Even in so called progressive society of metro town, you can find far and few empathy when a single mother comes late for work for she needed to nurse her sick child or the domestic help crisis has descended on her. The gossip mill run overtime  if she happens to hang around with male colleagues over drinks or decides to let her hair down in a party for once. There always seem to be more interest in her personal life than professional achievements. But few see the daily effort of raising a child all by herself. Most of us have our better halves and no matter how much we all complain, an evening chat, a pat on the back, a helping hand always makes it easier for us. As they say, sharing doubles the joy and halves the sorrow.

Few months ago, I did a post on letting go of relationships and saw a different perspective and basically this boils down to the choice an individual made suiting his or her situation in the circumstances she was in. However what troubles is that in the earlier case , the lady in question was able to endure the earlier pathos of the relationship to eventually find peace. In this case , the external factors, society at large and our systems made a person ,who was so called free from the shackles of a bad relationship, go through the pain post she moved on in the relationship as well and somewhere continues to fee so being under the scrutiny of public eye . And perhaps that’s what makes a life so ironical and difficult to comprehend.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Having a daughter...

is a dream come true for most of us. The angelic qualities of one notwithstanding, its a visual delight for mothers as it gives them opportunity to dress and doll up the little angels. Ours is a first born and its been a riot of colours in the wardrobe for her. From the traditional baby pinks to now electric greens, you name it and I would have bought for her. Daughters do give mothers a chance to relive what they grew up dressing up as but now cannot wear them for myriad of reasons  - from not suiting their personalities now to ummm... weighty issues. But the best part is the accessories- from tinkling of small payals, pink hairbands with a little bows , little thin gold chains across their necks. And of course, having those little studs in the ears when they get pierced the first time around. It takes me ages to shop for my daughter and I have to admit that it all costs a bomb at all. Our boy- well for him the shopping is in a jiffy and often just a pair of jeans and shirt. I would have never spent so many days ever thinking what I will wear as I have spent thinking before each of her birthdays and the endless choices does not help either- it only confuses me more.

So it really saddens this mother when you realize that your choices are no longer your daughter choices . At five, she has a mind of her own and she will make her own couture choices. So the days  you pick a frock from the wardrobe, it has to be floral skirts. The day you tell her to wear her jeans before she outgrows them, she looks for shorts in her cupboard.  Her father seems to love it - "my daughter has a mind and choice of her own. why do you need to bother so much? She will manage on her own." I repeated the same words a few days later when i saw him livid when an over excited neighbour met him in the elevator and mentioned that her son really likes his daughter and he came back furious.

But honestly right now is the phase to enjoy when you see her enjoying life - where all she bothers is about colours and fragrances. Sometimes seeing her grow up so fast makes you realize that as you trudge along Mondays and Tuesdays on one hand, time does fly in a jiffy on the other hand.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Now this is just not done...

Now I am no big fan of aishwarya rai and I care a damn whether Junior B is having a baby. But an article like this (aishwarya sacked for being preggers)surely did not go down well with me. I am no jingoist for feminism but if elite media ( read English dailies) are publishing reports about a career getting over is pitiful. Its sad that the first question which still gets asked when a working woman is pregnant is "would you continue to work" or " is her career over? Well this is a question most mothers- to-be dabble with especially when they are working but shouldn't it be left to them to decide?- whether they want to continue the way they are or opt for a flexi work option or even become stay at home ? I am assuming Mrs bachchan thought of all this before committing herself on the dotted line - the basic tenets of professionalism. The incidents of women getting shortchanged during pregnancy and maternity leave are dime a dozen. I have met friends in corporate world joining back work at a less meatier role or worse missing a promotion. Even in so called cocoons of government services, women have come back to far lesser important role only to begin all over again and its a big blow to the aspirations of most who were brought up by their parents to be on their own and have an ambition to carve a career for themselves. New moms are anyways struggling between the dichotomy of their mind guiding them to continue unabashed pursue of their career or to render love and care to their new born which is a task in itself and then you have people questioning your ability to manage both and work ethics. The infrastructure around is equally frustrating- dependence on maids  whose demand far exceeds the supply controlled by agents asking for 20K a year as commission last heard, no good daycare, nuclear families with grandparents not willing to relocate and to be fair  to them why should they? Their job is done now - its our journey and we need to tread it ourselves. For every working woman i have met who has had family support, I have also met an equally sulking woman at not having the liberty of being on their own- I mean you cant have everything right?You give some , you loose some. But whats equally frustrating is the attitude of the dominant gender in the workforce. As a husband , you might be empathising with your wife for all that she is doing but as a workforce participant there will be a general smirk for colleagues moving on maternity leave.

However its not a story where there are villains pulling the women folks down. The lady in question is equally responsible for her actions. first is a realization that being a mother definitely means some changes in the way you work. If you have a travelling job, you would need to either plan earlier to move onto a role more suited to you then or if you are involved in that, keep the stakeholders informed earlier- there is an equal thought floating that Aishwarya did not keep the producers in confidence on this impending development. I truly agree with thisTed Talk . Most women check out mentally much before they actually become mothers- No doubt its a big event but why is it an event for the woman- its a shared responsibility of both man of the house and lady of the house yet more women start to mentally be prepared that they will go on leave and when they will come back , their wont be much for them do. This is where we need to be strong- motherhood and your work should be taken in your stride- a responsibility bound to come and at that time if you intend to be serious about your career , then look for a solution. Show up after your maternity leave. Don't take the work lightly purely because you can blame it to the reason of motherhood. The two can co exists and not necessarily at the cost of each other. I distinctly remember coming back on the 91st day ( maternity leave being only 90 days in India) and having a very clear conversation with the new head of business whom I was meeting for the first time and he told me that he appreciated the fact that I am serious about my work and my career . all of us want the best of both worlds and that can be achieved  but only when you are dedicated towards both. If you continue to be perpetually on flexi hours even if the organization does not support it fully, procrastinate work and are there everyday in office only for attendance sake but mentally checked out, then sorry that does not work. You rather than take the courageous space some women take to give up the work life and truly dedicate themselves to their children. This middle way does not work.

But then all this is easier said than done. Each woman is unique and so is their approach to  motherhood. There are some who don't want to sit at home for they don't want to burden their children with the fact that they gave up a good degree and a great career for them - may be the kids will never understand it also, some actually manage both purely out of financial needs - My maid started work 2 months post her delivery and with no family member in foreign land, she actually pays a neighbourhood old woman to take care of her like many of her other mates who cannot afford taking it easy, there are actually some who come because they don't want to be at home with in laws being around - its too much of friction and then tthere are some who take it in their stride like men do. They like their work and barring a few bad days with no  support are able to manage both. Yet they have a hanging sword on their head -whether they are ensuring that by this their kids childhood is not messed up.

Our mothers never had the option. Most of them were homemakers and that's the way it was. We were raised as offshoot of their aspirations to be women who had the power of knowledge and the choice to work or not to depending on the circumstances. I sincerely hope and pray that by the time our daughters grow up the social ecosystem and infrastructure has evolved to an extent that her choice to work or not is dependent purely on  her individual interest and not on external  conditions and my son has the ability to appreciate, empathise and participate both as an individual in particular and society at large.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Kids Gemology

Kids Gemology:
There has been a lot of cajoling and debating happening in our household to buy a new Barbie. Given the over 50+ collection that Nia has, its a strict no from my end at least to buy it considering they have been of no use so far lying in one shelf and to be dusted every fortnight. Here are some aggressive negotiation strategies being used.

Nia with a sullen look on her face walks up to me. "Mom - Sunaina, Nehal, Palak, Aashi are so lucky" ; I asked why ? " They don't have so many barbies so they don't have to plead ( yes that's the word used) with their mother to buy them one"

" Mamma most Barbies you bought for me when I was small. I did not buy them , you got them for me. So I should be allowed to choose my Barbie"


Television can have all kinds of impact on the kids. Despite restrictive TV watching, the influence of Hindi dubbed cartoons have taken its toll. Recent example showed me the picture
"Mamma- Aadi ne mere  upar ILZAAM lagaya he ki maine uska car break kiya. Kya appko meri BEGUNAHI par Shaque hai " . Well, it took mom quick a while to get over the shock to actually go and be the peacemaker

Sibling Rivalry at its peak  - Seeing the number of single kids around, my daughter comes back to me one day " " Mamma ,Aashi is so lucky. She does not have a brother. She can do whatever she wants and no one to trouble like aadi does". A worried me tried and explain how much fun is it to have a sibling and when everything failed, i blurted out that  when you grow up, you can go to Goa ( our recent vacation) with him alone in case mom and dad are both working and are not allowed holidays . She thought for a while and sulked " Now, I have to take him for holidays as well when I grow up, Aashi is really lucky" !

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Social Media Addiction - Trade Off or Pay Off ?

Is our fascination with YouTube, Twitter and Facebook turning us into a society of distracted, forgetful, shallow human beings? Are we only looking at the pay offs turning our eye on the trade offs of this new found obsession? Is the internet making us dumber?

These days a hot debate has broken out on this topic. Social media on one hand has given us more freedom to express and connect than ever or are we  sacrificing our ability to reflect and create and form meaningful relationships?

There are multiple examples in history which are replete with how some innovations changed the way we lived and worked. Some of which I have just read in few editorials where this debate is getting hotly pursued. For years, Oral recitation and memorizing was the way to pass on information unless the printing press came along, writing was what all of us grew up as and now all we do is type and may be next generation will spend more time in typing and tapping ( on touch screen devices) than we did on paper and pen. We don’t refer to encyclopedias – we google – be it all project works . We don’t even rely on memory for directions- there’s a e-map to show us the way. The beauty has been the way each civilization adapted to these changes and progressed all along. Some actually say that by freeing our brains from so much clutter, we have actually paved way for future innovations and you can say it with the pace with which fundamentals of living are changing today.

Social media is a different ball game all together. The ability to connect with so many people, make yourself heard , make your voice count has catapulted us into a different league. Recent example was Anna Hazare movement against corruption in India . Thousands joined the Facebook group, there were status update in support of the cause. It gave instant gratification to people like us who have a lot to say and we found a forum. However cynics say that’s where the shallowness lie wherein most people talked and talked about it but the same lot will not move their butt to go and join the crusade at Jantar mantar or will not stop from paying a bribe at next instance to get their things facilitated. But then there are some real benefits- people have been able to raise money and donations or even help find a kidnapped boy or even get most autocratic organizations, people, governments to succumb to the “ Virtual Pressure” . We recently had a colleague sudden demise and the facebook group helped couple of us pour out our heart and make peace with this sudden loss.

But then in the days of FB friendships or Twitter chatter  , are we being illusionary about connecting and forging relationships. Some even go onto say that we are eavesdropping at times on conversations 2 different individuals are having. May be yes, excess of everything is bad but social media has helped many of us stay connected with family and friends – meeting them may be only during celebrations or worse funerals. It has helped to share your views to a wider audience. I love reading sliced and diced news pieces rather than relying on my own 1 or 2 newspaper readings. I feel more informed at times as the info sharing by multiple people is well yes as multiple as they are and has helped broaden my knowledge beyond your immediate areas of interest. It surely is a pleasure to see the folks you shared a good part of your life and their family life. I can never imagine our parents generation remaining in touch with so many of their friends. I also feel that if I ever leave work and decide to be at home, I don’t think I can ever get bored or feel that I am wasting my life. There is so much to learn , pick up new skills – all at the click of a button. You can blog, tweet, message- all in one go

But yes , I do squirm at the fact that there are days when as a family , we are browsing on respective phones and the kids on their ipads – all sitting in one room silently. The smell of books with carefully placed bookmarks by the bedside  taken over by Kindle or the charm of having a great conversation over a cup of coffee. For that matter, some of the hobbies we pursued like art , music because we had time are no longer there. You forever fiddle with your phone whether on the move or on a vacation. There is a worry that our kids perhaps will take all this as the new normal . The fact that our attention spans have become much shorter. May be its impacting our relationships. There is one thing to be in touch with a large number of people you have come across in your life but there are some relationships that would have been nurtured and invested in which may be we take for granted- birthday calendars have taken over our memories, a note on the wall instead of a phone call. There is far more information than we can process .

Not clear answers to this debate. For sure for now, I am at least liking the fact of being connected and informed and being “ In the cloud” . Happy to hear your point of views. Will make for an exciting debate but I cannot end this without this quote I read in an article- “ We will be an generation that had information but no context, butter but no bread, craving but no longing- Meg Wolitzer’s”

Monday, May 30, 2011

Working Women vs Working Men

On an ongoing debate at a coffee table as to why women are better than men at multi tasking, I was amazed how some of the men thought that we end up glorifying the role of a woman much more than what we end up doing. Now that was too much so I asked them a volley of questions for them to answer. Now since I am a full time professional, this was limited to the working women- working men debate. Its also limited to an Indian setting where House helps are around and hence as per men, we don't do most of the work ourselves and as part of the debate was pointed out to me that you have a driver, a cook, a nanny for kids and someone to clean the house and yet you claim that you do more work .
So here goes the argument

1. You don't manage house helps - Having house helps is of help only when you efficiently manage them. Its like having an extended team working for you and that too in your absence - virtual reporting for a large period. How they do and what they do if not monitored can leave your entire house in a chaos. Managing them, their egos, their desires is not easy especially when you know thats your support system. Any breakdown and the entire house comes down. It comes with a lot of stress as well. How are they keeping the kids? Are they being given proper meals? Is the hygiene being maintained - I must admit to at times not only checking but even smelling my kids clothes to ensure they are properly washed. This privilege comes with a lot of stress and ask any mother who keeps a house help- working or not working. Its the most difficult people management experience you will gather.

2. You don't get 5 missed calls from your house and then have a panic attack seeing them after a meeting only to call back and find that your 5 year old daughter wanted to know where a particular book is kept.

3. You don't have to decide and answer everyday as to what will be cooked and its gets challenging as the demand for something different emanates from all corners of the house.

4. You don't manage Birthday calendars and play dates especially during 2 months long summer vacations. Acknowledgements of invites, reminders in mobile phones a day before and arrange the logistics to get them dropped to the endless pizza huts ,MacDonald's and malls food courts ( why cant people be more creative when it comes to arranging parties for their kids ? that's for another day perhaps !).

5. You don't remember that Monday is skating day , Tuesday is swimming day , Wednesday is sports day and arrange respective stuff to be carried to school a day before.

6. You don't come back from work and then check your kids school diary on a daily basis, write notes for the teachers and make notes for yourself on the key dates in the month.

7. You don't spend at least 25% of your weekends pulling out winter clothes, dry cleaning them , putting them away and again getting them dry cleaned to manage the seasons we have here in north India

8. You do attend PTMs and ask some questions to the tutors but I bet half the time you would not even know the current topic being taught in the class.

9. You do spend time with kids reading out to them and playing but you don't bother whether their shelves
are dusted and the same books kept properly

10. You are not pulled by your children the moment you get down the car to keep your stuff aside and jump right into the park to play with them.

11. And you certainly don't get a frantic call from your child asking you to come on skype in the middle of the meeting because she wants to show the bruise her brother has given her right there and then and you cannot even explain office firewalls.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A note from your mother on Mother's day

I am a little agnostic to Mother's day or for that matter any other day. Well for one , this was never part of our growing up years ( Valentines and friendships days were in vogue) and my children are too young to have that as part of their celebrations.

So whats its like to be a mother? Oh ! We can find enough books, blogs, opinions on the same and I am not even going there. Its actually different for everyone. I haven't yet found one for myself for every new day is a discovery in itself. There are moments when you wish it could have come a little later in your life and there are days you cannot imagine your life otherwise. You fret, fume, cry, sulk, rejoice, love -do everything . So here's a note from me to the two sometimes angel, sometimes devils of my life.
Note 1:To Nia
We always wished for having a daughter and when you came, everything fell in place. Your dad sent text to all in the middle of the night signed off by your name saying you have entered our life. You are so like me and yet so unlike me. Gentle, frail and loving as ever, you are a toast of the family. Your love for art and music makes me feel like a celebrity mother considering I never had flair for one. You were born with a smile on your face and you carry that always.You have a mind of your own and an opinion. As i say often, you are an ideal child. You were so easy and non fussy to bring up that I actually thought raising children is the easiest thing to do. ( till your brother arrived). You are so much a daddy's girl but you are so much a mamma's darling as well. I love your non stop bantering in the evening sharing your girlie gossip in school and your admissions that you hate boys especially those in the neighbourhood who try to be your friends. You handle the pressures of being the elder sibling so well. I promise to do lesser experiments on you - pushing you to do all that I would have liked to do- from Tennis to Abacus to swimming.  If only, you can do with a little bit of less dominance on your younger brother who follows you like a little puppy as well as dad who has a reason for your any misadventure ( and thinks that its valid and logical as well). Love you darling for having you is such a blessing and a joy. There cannot be a better gift than you to me on mother's day forever
Note 2: To aadi
We were indifferent before you came but I was happy to see a boy for the family was complete. You landed and comparisons started with your sister- she is prettier, she started walking earlier than you. We were a little scared as you started speaking late but unlike your sister, you grew slowly in our hearts- mom, dad and nia. You are 180 degrees apart from your sister. I realized how difficult raising kids are only when you came. You are the little monster of the family. You keep us entertained and me physically active by making me run behind you all the time. Your special love for mom makes my heart swell with pride. If only, you can let me sleep in piece rather than moving cars all over me or if you can stop lying flat down in the middle of the corridor to get everyone's attention. But your endearing nature makes you the most popular guy in the neighbourhood. I have had strangers walking up to me mentioning how you will go and hug them. You make the family proud as unlike your mom, you chat more with grandparents on the phone compensating for her. I lover baby bear when you take my face in your hands forcing me to look at you while listening to you, when you lie next to me to sleep putting half of yourself on me or even your manifestation of stranger anxiety by hiding behind me. You made the family complete , You made us complete. Big hugs sunshine

Signing off with two of Mom's favorite picture

Monday, May 2, 2011

Cracking the code : Summer Vacations

Vacations and that too summer vacations have become a major area of contemplation for modern day parents. I don't even remember any planning and process for the same. Actually the children remain agnostic to the fact - its an extension of a holiday from a weekend of 2 days to that of 60 days , its the parents who have suddenly catapulted it to be an event that needs attention, planning and super perfect execution and the success metrics is how busy was your child during these holidays.

I will be honest. I have also given in to the this fad of new-age parents. I had a single child then and seeing the craze for summer camps and courses around for kids, I actually thought that leave aside being fashionable, if I  don't put my daughter in any one of these, it might impact her learning progress. The camps were teaching everything from yoga to dance to reading etc. I scrambled through multiple sites, got her into one of those only to find that even during these vacations , she was having a packed schedule. It actually suited me as i am a working mother. Its good to come back home to a child whose been busy - somewhere takes the mental pressure off your mind. But when I noticed her reluctance for the same and the fact that 15 days of these courses cannot get her to pick up a book and read or develop love for music., I stopped all of it. My son now 3 has not been to any summer camp and i don't intend to do it either.  My daughter attends piano lessons twice a week with 2 of her best friends for over a year now and she loves it.

But the challenge was not over yet. It had just begun. Like a super mom, i decided a big NO for summer camps but what to do now? Here's what we do during summer's over last few years
1. Plan a trip : Vacations memories are always of some fun trip or another. We ensure that we take good 10 days off  and plan a trip. My kids are yet to get exposed to lavish vacations in Swiss alps but like good old north indian parents that we are , they end up in Indian alps to beat the heat . Be it Nainital, Manali  or coorg, they have all been there. You can be a little innovative and indulgent here - choose an offbeat resort, plan some activities like nature walk and you will discover that bang in the middle of being at a typical Hill station during Indian summers, you can find your tranquility. A little planning here always helps.

2. Friends , Family & Fun : Often we plan a good day out for the kids. There are so many in the building that each family takes turn on a week day and we have at least once a week for next 5-6 weeks which is play dates in friends house. They dance, play, eat, sleep, fight, make up  - all together. last year, the girls- all of 4-5 years prepared a dance under supervision of one lady and then presented the same to all of us one evening over high tea. Similar to what we used to do. I felt such great joy - nothing any summer camp could give me.  We have family over for sometime if they can. Nothing like enjoying the days together - In one word, Vacations means chaos, chatter, bantering and getting pampered.

3. Food : Quiet hot afternoons of Indian summers has always been full of great food. From watermelons to ice creams to mangoes - all to beat the heat. A quick instruction to daily staff and personal supervision in the morning ensures that before I leave for work, the melons are cut , icecream preparations are complete ( yes, we do  give them home made icecream even if sometimes its mango juice made to freeze). The kids are home, a little bored and these little surprises brings them immense joy. Sometimes you can get a little creative and leave a note for them with chocolates

4. On their own: Vacations are to be on your own- laze around, play, dance, study whatever suits the child. A planned summer camp can help but only this much. Most of them get 25-30 kids in one class and of not much use. Remember as children, we enjoyed when we were with friends or family. An exciting camp can at best keep a child engaged for a week. More than that, its as good as going to school. The exorbitant fees they charge morally forces the parents in turn to force the child to attend such courses. I remember paying one such tuition fees for a private swimming lesson with a dedicated instructor for my daughter- Certain days when she did not feel like going, I was so livid with her as the money wasted pinches you.

Finally, as working professionals , we all yearn for vacations. We look back with nostalgia on those days. The irony is that for our own children, we end up having a different speak.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Weaving the social fabric

The story of  2 sisters confined in their house for 7 months and the debate on the role of society has been on for last 24 hours. I personally was horrified to hear about it. 2 women, educated, coming from a well educated nuclear family and in such appalling state. There is  a role society needs to play but there is  a role each one needs to play- we need to weave our own social fabric as well

My mother lost her father when she was just two years old and my grandmother just 21. She and my uncle actually grew up in her maternal household- a joint family with multiple cousin sisters and brothers. She believes that her aunt which whom she spent sometime is her second mom. In her own words, despite having no father, she never really missed him to be around only because she had a strong family around her.

We grew up in a nuclear family. But then the annual vacations ensured that we remained in touch. The social fabric my mom developed ensured that we remain interconnected with family at large. Most of us take pride in the strong family we come from where we remain connected to first cousins and beyond and not just immediate family. I don't think  all of us talk or meet so often but its so deeply interconnected that we all turn up in celebrations and in grief. In our case, it also got extended to some family friends and neighbours so while the aunt living in front of our house would have met me only twice in last ten years but she would know everything about me and I would also get briefed on the same whenever i visit home.

In our case, I have to work exponentially hard to weave that social fabric. The annual visits from/ to grandparents place is limited as people move places and both partners working. It gets all the more difficult in this age as every one is available in digital space- You don't need to write long letters - you can pick up the phone and talk and for younger ones, you know them real time via skype, facebook and more.  But this is fine with people like us- who have been part of both worlds and have our relationships rooted in the social fabric enough that these new accesses just manifests them in a different form. However what about our children- they cannot initiate relationships in the digital world- they need to know what it is like to have a security at the back of your mind that yes, there are parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, family friends whom I can go to if anything goes wrong. Some of the things which help in that context -
- Have a sibling for your child. This is not to say that people who have decided to have single child for their own reasons are not thinking about their child but believe me having your own brother or a sister 24*7 around you makes so much difference to you. You have a buddy and you are a team always. The sense of social security which we look for begins from here and it remains in times to come
- We are a protective parent generation. What if they get hurt in the park? what if the kids around are bully ? Let the maid play with them? The least we can do is make our children form and value relationships on their own. This can happen only when you let go of them a little. Let them play , fight, cry and make up. Its a joy to see when my daughter looking forward to her evening play time with some great friends she has made in the apartment building. They gate crash each other houses, spend time together and even attend activity classes together
- Get them to reach out to families - I have seen parents fretting over their children during weddings, family get togethers. Often on a visit to their home country or home towns, the children are left behind as parents complete their annual relatives meetings. Our children live anyways in a nuclear capsule - Its okay if they sleep late one night or getting tired. Our kids are packed at the back of the car and they travel with us wherever we go and whomever we meet. Best is to call people over to meet at home. Let them absorb the thrill like we used to have - So and So uncle and aunty will be coming for dinner tonight or evening tea will be at this ones place.

On a closing note, While there have been changes in the society. We are glad that people are minding their own business rather than putting their nose in neighbours affairs but we should also remember , the extent to which we are social or unsocial is something we decide and its one thing that gets passed on from generations - the way you have been brought up most of the time determines how will you be with family, friends and  society at large. So sometimes when we all get nagged by our parents to call aunt living far off or visit old family friends now settled in your city and we do it also reluctantly , its a social fabric we are weaving- something which will help us in times to come

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Let there be space in your togetherness

This thought stemmed from one incident - I met a couple few days back. They seem to be always be there for each other. They are both working couples and they always hung out together...parties, family functions, gyms , shopping malls. The guy was enamoured as the girl even refused to go to her parents house without him. They were married on Facebook, had a common bank account , shared passwords of their emails . In most people's eyes they were the perfect couple truly made for each other. The problem started soon when they seemed to yearn for space yet not able to voice it out lest it manifests as not loving each other anymore and it exploded when they had a child who required more of the mother initially. They just did not know how to give each other space and resulted in the woman getting into a depression.
This got me thinking. The pressure on relationships today often makes them claustrophobic. So much has been written to be more participative, communicative and sharing and caring in a relationship, that sometimes the pressure often leads to missing out on your personal space. The irony is that more often than not we don't realize it as well and breakdown of relationships often started getting attributed to other things than the root cause.
The other noticeable thing is that more often than not , we attribute this to adults. If you be a little perceptive, you will see that we often miss the same point when it comes to children. Sometimes the over protective zeal and paranoia results in being all over your children all the time. I noticed this with a lady I see in my building. She picks up and drops her son everyday to school . Being only child, she pays great attention and the child has his study time, TV time , even soup time. They come down together where she plays with him in the park. In fact she refused for a car pool as well as she thinks its quality time with the child. Anyone would have given her full marks for being the best mother possible - I did as well. Unless one day, I saw her 6 year old shouting and crying in despair that I want to play with my friends , go to their house, go for school picnic and why are always with me.? Now she might have some valid reason for all you know- health etc but I do feel that she needs to let him move out a little on his own.
The expression of togetherness has manifested itself in a big way in our lives. Most people today struggle to maintain a balance between personal space and togetherness with their loved ones. Its often confusing as young adults or as young parents to decide how to be your own self without giving the message of being selfish. On one hand, you hear that true love is finding your soul mate and becoming One and on other hand , you also need to keep a piece of yourself only for you. Its more difficult when you are a parent- you are trying to be protective, caring but when do you get on the verge that it becomes stifling for your child , you never come to know.
The answers are not easy to find - may be we need to go back to basics - a balance of everything needs to be maintained , excess of everything is bad. However how do we do that without someone pointing fingers at us for thinking only for ourselves ? These are not so easy to come by. In all that, here's what Gibran said long ago - its so apt and true
But let there be spaces in your togetherness
and let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love:
let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lost in cricket indifference

As everyone is caught up in cricket fever, heres an interesting dekko in life of a man who is passionate about cricket married to a lady whose interest in cricket is only when India plays pakistan and that too in finals and 2 kids aged 5 and 3 who are yet to develop liking for his passion. The Poor Soul has been lost in cricket indifferent family These days this is whats happening in our household:

-Saturday lunch is usually out and at place of kids choice. Daddy wants to catch not only the match but pre match analysis as well. The kids are rushed to take a bath just after breakfast and we decide to leave for lunch at 11:30. Now we have been used to a leisurly lunches for quite sometime. As three of us gulp the food as his pestering and leave,he decides to take a shorter route to reach faster and guess what - divine retribution- there is a traffic jam and rest as they say is history

- The only high point in having a son forhim is that one day he thinks they can watch and play sports together. However it reaches another level when he tries to make him watch-" See now this one will bowl and he is called a bowler and this one will hit the ball hard for a six and he is called God of cricket . FYI- tendulkar was batting in the last India-SA match. Of course the little champ takes it in his stride, hears it out and then gets busy in making imaginary tracks and noises with his cars.

- There is not a bigger downside of nuclear family then when you have to watch cricket alone. You can see the terrible soul yearning to blurt out comments but restrict himself lest people mistake it for dementia. So he either calls few friends during drinks break or connect through facebooks and twitters of the world.

- The morning tussle on newspaper has taken a backseat. He starts actually with the sports pages at the back of the newspaper so we split the paper. But theres a new tussle between him and the kids . He would like to read whats on cricinfo and multiple expert opinions while his devilish angels want to play angry birds. So theres pleading , cajoling and then threat but his own blood show their true colours- the other day, they went and hid under the table with their ipad untill father gave it all up in exasperation

and finally ,

- Just for sake of companionship, I give him company somedays- have to admit some of the matches off late has been real interesting to watch. As two mature individuals, we differ a lot - me an eternal pessimist about India's chances to win this world cup and he an eternal optimisit of seeing the dream of world cup coming true. So here goes the exchange of conversation between us
Me :" They will never win . They dont have the winning instinct"
Him : " Just wait and watch. Dhoni is really smart and shrewd . He will have something up his sleeves
Me : " They dont need to win. They make enough money through endorsements these days and then they have IPL . So even if they loose, their cricketing carrer will never end
Him : " You'll never understand. Winning is intoxicating and addictive. Its a high !
Me: " Why isnt Dhoni playing X player ? Why is he making these decisions"
Him : < exasperated> " Why do people like you who will wake up in the morning as if nothing has happened need to have opinions"
< shrugs his head further > " thats the problem in this country. People have an opinion on everything . They can't seem to enjoy the game just for the love of sports"

I am not going further into what will happen if India wins or looses - I can imagine a week full of sulking or exhilaration either ways - extreme reactions to extreme passion for the sport

Thursday, March 10, 2011

To new beginnings..cheers !

I had started writing this blog more as a ramblings of my mind. With just a few posts, I have been able to find a great connect with lot of friends and a lot of encouragement. The last post actually had a 200+ hits in 2 days time. So to this new beginning, Big Thank You !. This ones for all of you...Saw this picture on the net and loved it

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Letting go of a relationship- The other side...

Alright ! I had mentioned I will write something about our neighbour. Her daughter is my daughters childhood friend and I find her approach to life very intriguing. She is a PhD holder and extremely full of life. She is a housewife now - not be default but by design. She chose to spend time with her daughter. By nature, she comes across as someone who is very confident and is always helpful. She loves to interact and socialize. That's the reason despite hardly having anytime for neighbourhood happenings, I manage to catch up with her.

Few years back when we hardly knew each other, she had one of the most terrible happenings of her life. I hardly knew her then and I have vague memories of my maid coming and telling me that something has happened with the lady in the next bay. In a nut shell, she and her husband separated - she walked out , her parents came and the matter even reached the court with some repercussions. The story is not that. The story is that 3-4 months later , they had a reconciliation. She came back with her daughter in the same house with some preconditions. In a nutshell, if you see on the surface, she has given up much to get may be much less.

The natural reaction after hearing her side is to why did she come back ? There was no parental pressure, infact they wanted her to stay with her. She always knew that she is educated enough to have a professional life of her own to support herself and her girl. She also knew that coming back means severing ties with some of her closed ones. Hers was also an arranged marriage - this means no self guilt of making a choice yourself which has gone wrong and she did not believe in the cliche that she wanted to come back for the child for she believes the child will grow well on the environment in which she is brought up.

I asked her the same one day and here lies the beauty of her thoughts and soul. These are her thoughts on this and she wanted me to share it with a wider group and get their opinion.

mentioned that all the reasons mentioned above actually gave her the strength to come back. She very strongly feels that not all human beings are perfect to live in a synchronised harmony and varying temperaments often lead to clashes like in her case. But she believes that the best of yours and the worst of yours depend on circumstances. That don't make her husband a bad guy or her a suffering doll. In the heat of the moment, she thought of this being the end of the road and walked out but when she sat down to think, she realized that had the same argument/ behaviour would have happened with her father or brother , would she have decided to react the way she did. We often have personality clashes with our parents, siblings and even friends but in all these relationships, we also try to go out of our way to make changes , to amend ways and make it as smooth as possible. But when it comes to your life partner, why is the patience so thin? In her case, she also realized that often due to the laws being in favour of a woman, her husband ended up suffering more than she did in the whole process. She did not choose her parents and siblings but lived with them in all circumstances-good or bad and letting that bond of love grow. In their relationship, very early both she and the husband started evaluating whether whose changing for whom rather than working on it with a mindset that we are here for good and we will adjust to these circumstances mutually and let that bond of love grow. and that she said made her come back.

In her 2 years of marriage before the incident, she had not even begun on the journey of marriage being a long lasting institution. It was a pros and cons analysis always backed by the fact that I am a woman of today who has family support and a great job and I can walk out anytime to support myself so why do I need to even bother about nurturing the relationship..

That brought me to my second question to her : But what about your partner ? Shouldn't he be thinking like you as well ?

Here's whats her take on it . Some of which I agree and some difficult to reconcile with but then each one of us have a different approach to life. Per her, most relationships end without even an effort on the expectation that if I am taking 2 steps forward, why does not he makes the same effort. Once she decided to give her relationship another shot, it was her decision and she needs to take the same forward. If her decision to take a step forward is conditional, then she is again looking for bargain in the relationship. She was of the belief that if she makes an earnest effort , there is a time when the other person responds. She ended her story to me saying -" it might sound cliched that love can move mountains but I can tell you it does- provided you keep the faith ."

I see them as good threesome living a balanced normal life like all of us. On the surface a lot of people might think that its eventually her who made the compromise and came back . I look up to her as a person who had the courage to keep ego, hurt, anger aside and embark on to nurture her relationship with love and care. If there are women who have been strong enough to walkout and take charge of their life and children ( and personally I have the highest regard for them as well), it was endearing to hear another side.

Why did I put down her approach to life considering that I find myself difficult to agree with some parts of it .Because I find her whole approach very different and fresh. Its something I don't hear from anywhere. We are so consumed by singular individuality that probably we don't even let some of these approaches also into consideration at all. Some may say her approach is so esoteric but I see them today enjoying her family life.
I had started this post few days back and happy to post it on International Women's Day . Happy reading and wishing all my friends happy women's day - especially to male readers- they need special congratulations for being lucky to have some wonderful women in their life.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nutrition Board

This one was in the draft and much as I know , I will be reprimanded for yet another post on motherhood especially after the debate the last one led to , I was forced by my neighbour to post it . But sticking my neck out, I think all of you will like having a look at this one. Its also a way of having all thats in my mind at one place and I am surely going to take a print to keep it handy.

The prime thing on our mind about our children is their health- are they being brought up in a healthy way ? Whats the right nutrition for them? The enviornment is different than the one in which we have been brought up - the air , the water and the food is all different. This become especially difficult if you are working or you have a fussy eater at home. As a young mother, I relied on information I collected from mom, mom-in-law, aunts or friends but the best one has come from two peadiatricians I discovered when my son was born. They validated some of the age old wisdom passed onto me and negated some as well. He also made me have a mental chart of how to go about providing healthy nutrition to the child. I still struggle following it but I do try. Our kids will learn how to eat breads and rice for they are our staple diets but these habits need to be inculcated at an early age.

A word of caution: The items listed below are not a daily nutritious diet for your child but its actually a solution in case you are having a bad day with your child eating habits.

1. Try and give your child one egg, one fruit and couple of nuts. Nothing provides instant energy and esssential nutrients than these. On a bay day, a boiled egg to the child can always be considered a good alternative. Munching some nuts while waiting for the bus can be a good alternative as well.

2. Soups- vegetable or daal and fruit juices are easier to give to a child but should best be avoided if you can provide same ingredients in solid form. However you make, a soup will always have more of water filling up the childs stomach with much lesser ingredients.

3. Fruits and vegetables in most situations can be interchangeble as the vitamins and minerals both provide are similar except a few. So on a bad day, substitute those vegetables with Fruits.

4. Children like to have fruits when they see fruits as part of family eating habits. So ensure you sit and have a fruit with your child. Believe me, a week later , they will eat it like family lunch or dinner

5. Green vegetables do not have many interesting options of cooking esp since most nutrients are lost by the time they are cooked. The best is to chop them ( spinach etc) and add them in the dough of paranthas and chapatis. Beetroot etc can be boiled with potatoes and you can make pink cutlets for your darling fussy daughters.

6. Milk always becomes a bone of contention. The same can be substituted by milk products. Usually a cup of milk is equivalent to one cheese slice. So the day you see kids have not had 2 glasses of milk , quickly give them a paneer sandwich or like I do, open and hand over one cheese slice rathar than fussing over milk .

Hope you found them useful.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Obsession with Motherhood

Have been little laid back in writing a blog but thanks to few poking from friends decided to out fingers to keyboard ( surrogate for pen to paper). The topic I am going to touch upon can be a little controversial but a little introspection on it is worth a merit.
I have often noticed that most mothers like ourselves are getting consciously or unconsciously getting obsessed with motherhood to a very large extent. The power of social media has given ample opportunity to each one of us. Just think, most Facebook status updates from Young mothers are about their kids- be it school activities, a funny thing they said or even something to do with their eating habits. The pictures we upload are more to do with Kids than to do with the occasions. In a social party or office coffee conversations, its all around how we manage work life , maids and all things around our kids upbringing. So we not only fret and fume over our little ones all times as doting mothers, they have stepped into all our activities silently. If anyone today asks me " How was your weekend", I invariably begin with what I ended up doing with Kids ( though I might have done something else over the weekend). What makes it all the more amusing to me as I think through this that if we ask our children the same question on what they did over the weekend, I don't think time spent with mom will feature that prominently
I really don't have a reason for this . Its an observation I have been dabbling for a while. Social Media has virtually augmented it - You have mommy blogs dime a dozen capturing what their kids did or the numerous updates we see on Facebook everyday.
- Is it bad ? Absolutely not for fortunate are women who actually have the privilege of what it actually means owning a piece of yourself and grow in front of us.
- Does it over consume us ? I think yes- The superwomen we all are trying to become has somewhere forced us to make a picture of ourselves as mothers who can do anything and everything - The access to information on parenting has made us so conscious of being good mothers that we probably over do it at times.
- Were our mothers so consumed by their roles ? I don't think so. While they did spend a lot of time on us but their conversations varied about other things as well - from food prices to latest Household appliances in town to whose getting married to whom ? They probably never discussed what joke we cracked , what food we ate or for that matter what vacations we took. Somewhere they lived a more multi dimensional life than we all do.
However there is another perspective as well . We all live in a nuclear family- some of us very far from our near and dear ones. The liberated us have a " I don't care much " attitude for social obligations any which ways. The transitory life of work and place leave little time to interact with friends and neighbours . We all have acquired a lot of skills overtime - professionally and personally , we are diverse but what binds us all together is that we are mothers of some wonderful kids and we can relate to each other lives and each other stories only through this thread. The fact that some of you liked my posts is only because they somewhere touched upon your lives as mothers. In this world where real time is less and virtual connect is more, this common thread has brought us back together in a very strange fashion. To be honest, I like it when somewhere I can have a connect with a friend on something I spend most of my non working time - my children.

The questions are many- the answers still vague and I am lost between the two. But as they say, its always good to discover the other side. For this, you would need to move away from where we are. To begin this, I am going to ensure that I myself start writing on other topics of interest and if I continue to have that thread with most of you, It will be worth a discovery.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Which Mother is superior?- The debate continues...

I am probably the last one but have just read the article " why Chinese mothers are superior". I have heard its become a point of major debate across the world and like lot of people, i am tempted as well to comment on the article. But just as I am never interested in other people's take on someone else's work, why would anyone of you be ? Its like the multiple critiques we read while studying Macbeth in grade 12 and hated every bit of it. I am sure some of you would remember these lines from Macbeth - " Fair is foul and foul is fair, hover through the fog and filthy air "- I could never imagine how can someone analyze these lines that our English teacher made us write 15 pages of different critics views on these. Would Shakespeare ever have thought of this while writing ? I don't think so. All poor chap did was to make them rhyme. Anyhow, that's not what I wanted to write. Back to the article.How many have read it ? and how many violently agree and disagree? We can take a poll later. However there's something which I have picked up from the article - " Why did Amy chua adapt this style of parenting " and secondly which is being fiercely debated " Is it right to be like this with your child"?
This has occurred to me recently but as women, we consciously or unconsciously end up becoming mothers as we have seen our own mothers to be ( unless of course due to some strong circumstances you deliberately try not to be her ). So the way you discipline your kids, the paranoia you have for "right " kind of food or the cleanliness fetish you have is a function of how much your own mother fretted over them on you or your siblings. In my case, I am a little easy on food - In our house, food was always good , delicious but we ate to live and not live to ate. However no matter how tired i am, the house has to be spic and span. Not a thing here or there. I cannot go to sleep peacefully if the house is not in right order - pretty much an influence of my mother who ensured whether you lived in a big or a small house , its always in a presentable stage for the guests. Not sure how many of you experienced this but the best bedsheets were out when guests were home and wrapped up immediately out when they were gone. The means were limited then with a single income family and I don't go to that extent probably but I still will have 2-3 new ones kept in the closet for occasions like a house party or a Diwali.
So if Amy chua talks about pushing her child for excellence, piano lessons at the cost of no play dates , she unconsciously manifested the environment she had been brought up by her own parents ( she even referred to her mother in that article) . Most of us might not goad our children to that extent but the middle class Indian genes will always force us to push our kids for excellence - we can these days be a little liberal to allow them to choose what they want to do BUT they better excel in it . In the same breadth, some of us also push our kids to be a ballet champ, a takewando expert, a pianist at a very young age - somewhere letting them fulfill the other life we only dreamt of as we struggled through years of academic work to achieve our parents ambition and be successful - get a good job and be financially independent. After all, it's difficult to not have an impression of something you see for a good 20-25 years of our lives.

So that's probably why we do what we do . However, Is that right ? - that's the second question and a difficult one. The opinions vary 180 degrees. A friend says that as mothers, we can never think bad of our child and hence if she disciplines them in certain fashion , that's only for their better future . In the same breadth, another one believes to let them find their own wings. I really don't have one as of now. I am so busy between work and home that I have never given it a serious thought. Here's though my 3 cents on this.
1. I firmly believe that as parents you need to show the way to your children- this includes being strict and talking straight. Being strict is easy - esp in this part of the world where child rights/ child abuse etc are still not in vogue but talking straight is the most difficult part. You cannot be too harsh in your fit of an anger neither can you sugar coat things. Its an art some of us need to consciously master. . If they have made a mistake or misbehaved, you need to tell them straight that some things are non negotiable. Its difficult but if you are consistent with it, it works - It definitely has on my stubborn and rebellious 2.5 years old son when all styles of text book parenting i tried on him failed.
2.Be Honest with your child - Children today have access to so much information - be it TV, friends or the Internet. We blindly believed what our parents told us till a certain age. Today kids can easily make out you are making a fool of them so in case you wish to share some opinion, information with them, be honest. Else, let them discover things on their own like most of us did. We never had our parents sat us down explaining the vagaries of life. We all figured it out ourselves and we have all turned out to be normal human beings.
3. Allow them to live their childhood - I once met my daughter's friends parents who proudly boasted that how their 4 yr old knows everything about solar system, life cycle and all possible facts of life . Its really good to know these things but imagine the poor child who now refuses to believe in any of the fairy tales her parents tell her. everything has a time and place. These years will never come - let them live in the world of Snowhite and Cinderella and continue to believe in angels and demons.
And lastly , such debates are healthy. They stimulate some thoughts in you which in an otherwise uni dimensional life that most of us live and hence should be welcomed with open minds. We can choose to agree, disagree or indifferent and as the title states ..the debate continues so so all are welcome to contribute

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Night to remember- Sonny Boy's Birth Story

I have often rambled enough to all my friends and office colleagues how difficult it is to raise a boy vs a girl. I will surely do a post on this considering the wide difference i see in my house. But here I wanted to begin with my son's birth story. His birth story is as interesting as his antics now and I had never imagined my second pregnancy to have such an eventful culmination.
Anyways, I was ( still am ) a full time working mother and being just 2.5 years into motherhood, I had much more on my plate than bask in the joy of being a mum again. Also may be since our first born is a daughter which we always wanted, we were more happy for her having a sibling than us reliving the joy of being parents again.
So there were no more searches on the internet, no reading of books, so much so that I ended up sharing the " good news" with family only post 6 months. I remember writing personal emails ( facebook had not yet caught on) to friends about how we were expecting our first child, managing month wise updates on picaasa or getting excited with baby shops in the malls.Nothing of this sort , this time.
Anyways, the nine months actually went in a jiffy. Got a promotion at work so had higher responsibilities, managed a holiday in Month 6 with my daughter all the way in Pondicherry. In fact since he was due in April , I was mostly in winter attire. So much so that only in early Feb, my colleagues starting noticing that I am on family way and almost fell off their chair when they came to know that its only 2 months away.
The exciting story begins around March. Firstly, our first maid went to her village to get married. She had been with us for 2.5 years and those of us who depend on housemaids would know that when the first one leaves, you think your whole world has come to a standstill. We were happy for her as he was moving on in life, sad at the thought of her not being around and absolutely horrified at the thought of a new person entering our house. So we did find a new person ! someone I could not connect to. Come March 15 and husband needs to travel for company off site down south- to a resort, a good 2 hrs away from the city. My sister decided to visit me. Again, since due date was good 3 weeks away, we were carrying on with our lives.
Coming closer, March 18 was a regular day for me. I was getting ready for office for a day packed with back to back meetings. Hugged my daughter , told my sister to instruct the maid and like a normal day left for office. I even visited the doc during the day who said we are good 2 weeks away at least. It was late by the time I reached home and I still remember we all feasted on idli sambhar, watched some music channels and went to sleep.
Its 2:00 AM and I start feeling some pain. Now I can tell with abundance confidence that previous memory of all child birth fades away the moment the baby comes. I tried very hard recalling whether this is the same I felt during my daughter's time but I just couldn't remember the thing. I started pacing up and down and then I thought let me time them- they were coming at 7 minutes apart. Now whatever I could remember of the book I read during my first born, I did remember you should be in a hospital if your contractions are that close apart. Immediately was the phone pulled out , dialled the husbands number, woke him up and explained the situation. I think he panicked ( though never admitted till date) and tried to reassure that this is a false alarm and I should not panic . Anyways, he called his friend and colleague who stays close by to come over and take me to the hospital which was a good 40 KM away in the main city ( I stay in the suburbs). The smart me thought what if its time so I woke my sister and the maid, ,dumped a dress which my daughter had outgrown ( a pinkish long T shirt ) and told this new maid ( who had no clue of the house) to hunt for new born stuff I had tucked away somewhere.
The colleague arrives. I pick up my bag , wallet and mobile and walk down to the car. " How are you" , he asks. " I am okay , just that the pain is increasing and now at 5 min apart". He almost jumped out of the car. " You know , I don't know how you are so comfortable sitting here , My wife would have driven me nuts in this situation " . I smiled shouting in my mind " who the hell is comfortable but in this situation, the least I make a fuss is better. All i can do is smile " . We enter the city. Now the hospital is located in some corner which both of us are not aware of. The gentleman driving me I could see knew NOTHING ! and in the middle of the night, whom can you get to ask for directions. When I saw that we have crossed one roundabout almost thrice, I told him "You wait and let me figure out the direction" . I told him to pull over near some autos, shouted typical us " bhaiya suniye" , woke up an auto guy, gave him 100Rs and told him to drive in front of us to the hospital and we will follow. The colleague looked at me and smiled " what an idea sirji"
So we enter the hospital. I enter the delivery centre. The doc-in-attendance post examination told me to get admitted then and there. Meanwhile, the pain increased and I needed to pace up and down to be at ease. In this whole thing, I called up husband who again I feel further panicked ( though never admitted this one as well). He again tried to reassure me that it will take sometime and mobilised the family resources available to reach the hospital as soon as possible. The nurse got the admission form, I flashed my credit card to do the initial deposit and also managed to have a small chat with the colleague who was waiting outside and by now had gone in a state of shock with what was happening. The time was 3:30- 4:00 AM - a hour and a half since it all began. My doctor arrived and this time I asked her to give me epidural ( which helps in easing out birth pains and last time she did not) and she turned to me and said- "Well , you are ready. We need to go for delivery" . Now was my turn to be in a state of shock and the nurse told me later that the colleague almost fainted as he initially drove me thinking I was going for a medical check up and not delivery.
Sharp at 4:26 AM arrived our boy. The shock I was in of these sudden turn of events did not allow me to register anything of his birth. All I remember is that the doc sat down next to me and said, "Hope you are okay. Its a Boy. I am feeling bad that you are all alone here. Would you like something" and I said, " Yes, a diet coke please" . This was even before I held my baby !
So came the boy. Husband told me later that just before my call to him, he was in the elevator from 12th floor to ground , he had Rajnikanth who took his hand out and said" Hello, I am Rajnikanth". The husband claims that he was so excited to being face to face with THE rajnikanth - He blurted out : My wife is about to deliver our second baby and if he happens to be a boy , I want him to be like you"
Now you know that the origin of all troubles that I complain about my son is not the poor son but the father !

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Moments of Truths - Kids

As a full time professional and a mother of 2 kids , I have stumbled upon lot of experiences which I would like to call my " Moments of Truths". You actually dont realize them so easily. They begin with a self denial , then some self effort and finally you come to peace with their co existence in your life. They are also unqiue to each individual and hence my " moments of truths" can be outrageous in your approach for life and vice versa. But I am pretty confident that some of them , you will definitely find a resonance with.
MOT 1 : " You are the " Operations Manager " of your house " - I have debated and denied it for years with lot of friends. I always felt that two adults individuals living together should have equal distribution of work with clear responsibilites defined but post the kids, I have realized that no matter whether you have a wonderful better half who helps you in sharing this responsibility or not, whether you have supportive parents or in laws or not, whether you have been lucky to have had minimal maid crisis, a mother is and will always be the one running operations of the House. This does not mean that you end up doing the household work - Not at all. But the household " management " and the kids comes on your responsible shoulders. Whether its distribution of staff salaries, crisis and leave management, remembering umpteen birthday parties or play dates your children need to attend , checking the school diary for circulars or even deciding the menu of the meal keeping everyone's preferences in mind so as a full time working professional, the earlier you make peace with it , the better and happily you would be able to do the same.
MOT2 : " Its okay to steal sometime for yourself even from your children" - Long ago, I had a colleague who had a six month old daughter. She was one of the most vibrant person I had met. She had taken a transfer from bangalore to Delhi to join a new organization with her mom and a six month old daughther ( Husband came in a year later). She managed time for workouts, meeting old friends and partying on the weekends. Once someone asked her " Dont you feel guilty that you dont get to spend time with your daughter that much ". She mentioned - " You know I dont want to grow old to tell my daughter that I missed XYZ things while raising her and make her feel burdened by that. My own mother does that sometimes and I hate it and I would not like my daughter to have the same feeling". Some of us will agree with her and some of us dont. I agree to an extent but over a period of years, I also know that we need to " junk that guilt" and it's okay to have time-spa for yourself. A rejuvenated you can spend a far better quality time with your loved ones than one haggard and tired and compalining of living life only for the family.
MOT3: " Its good to spend Quality time at home but always prioritize where " - In the initial years when my daughter was small, I used to try very hard to be a " mom of all trades". I was ready post work for another work shift with my daughter trying to read her a book, fix a meal, planning her next day meal, instructing the maid, checking out on her cupboard and much more. Often I was physically and mentally exhausted by the time I hit the bed and the cycle wld go on like a clock work from Monday to Friday. You can very well imagine what would have happened when you have a second child arriving 2.5 year later. Over multiple experiments, I have realized that its very important for you to prioritize. It took a while to see this not as a personal failure of managing work and home but a smart move which is good for the child as well as you. So these days, I have priorittized my time for " health and hygiene" of the kids - I might not get time to read a book to them or play a board game with them but I always ensure that I have dinner with them, the maid knows what and most importantly " how" to cook their meals, give them a shower myself in the morning, check out on their clothes being washed properly and carefully and overall baisc hygiene is maintained in the house. With no family support , I realized this was the most important thing I needed to focus on to keep them healthy and not fall prey to illness - Off course , the weekends are there for all the fun things we miss out may be on a weekday but this ensures that whatever you do, you are happy with the outcome.
There are many Moments of Truths - related to marriage, work, health and even your own self. They have come after many years. Sometimes difficult to spot as well since they become an integral part of your life, Sometimes too personal to share but till next time , hope you enjoy this.