Thursday, November 15, 2012

Of Sadness and Strength

Of Sadness and Strength

I have been out of action lately. Every time I think of updating my blog, something holds me back.

My routine has been just about the same, a tad busier but not too much to pen a few words. I have also been preoccupied, but not overly so. Fading sunshine and drizzling skies have been a mood dampener since October began, but not enough to keep the writing bug away.

No, it has been something else. Someone has been on my mind, a strong woman; a sad mother. Since the day I read that piece of unfortunate news, it has stayed with me. And after that, every time I think of an addition to my blog, I can’t seem to go beyond that piece of story. A couple of times, I even tried to write something, put it on the blog, but it felt wrong and inadequate to share anything else on a mommy blog before I wrote about this mother who has been in my prayers every day.

Finally, today, I made up my mind to write about it, if not for anything else, to get it out on paper and resume with my blog.

The mother I talk about is barely an acquaintance. She worked for the same company as my husband when I met her for the only time way back in the year 2008. She invited a couple of people over to her ranch for a common friend’s baby shower.  We spent the whole afternoon there playing games, eating a lot of delicious food and exploring the farm. My daughter who was two and half years old that time tried to feed the chicken and even enjoyed a pony ride. The host appeared to be very warm, friendly and helpful. We came back home with fond memories of the day.

Now, almost a month and a half back, my husband told me about a tragic accident at that farm. A toddler fell into the duck pond and nearly drowned. The mother in question and the lady who had us over for the baby shower had put up a face book page with all the details and I quickly logged on to read about it. Tears welled up and kept falling as I read through the whole episode. In an unfortunate accident, her 2 year old son fell into the duck pond and by the time she found him, a lot of damage had been done.

Initially, when I read about her and the son, I felt sad, just like any mother does. We feel the pain of another mother to a certain extent. In this case, since I had met the mother once and found her to be very nice, it affected me a little more. But as days passed and I kept reading her updates, it touched my heart to see how earnestly she continued to fight for her son, to bring him back. In the middle of this tragedy in her life, she pushed back her pain and went after her son’s treatment with a vengeance. In one of her posts, she writes that her family jokes and calls her a nurse because she knows as much these days. When I look at her picture cuddling the toddler who doesn’t recognize her anymore, a lump rises in my throat.

We come across many tragic incidents, sad occurrences that move us. We read or listen about them, ponder for a minute and forget all about it the next morning. But there is something about this mother that refuses to be just another piece of news. Maybe it is her “what next or what more can I do” attitude that is unforgettable or maybe it is the way she is trying to reach out to families who have been in similar situations and at the same time research every possible cure, be it alternative medicine, massages, oils, reading, cuddling or a religious ritual that makes me applaud her. Whatever she is doing, she is definitely not giving up and simply accepting the fate pronounced by the doctors for her son.

I can only imagine how hard it must be for her to see her son in such a condition on one hand and still keep on trying and hoping that things would change someday soon. I am surprised she can actually think rationally and find suggestions to give.

I am not going to write anymore other than that I salute her for being the pillar of strength and an inspiration to every single mother.

You can read about her son’s condition on “Connor updates” on facebook. I am sure she can use all the support she gets. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Daughter's letter to her Mother

Often, while our kids play, we the moms get into a heated discussion about how a woman's position in the society (especially with reference to the Indian society) hasn't changed. The talks range from as personal as how still some of us have to ask our husbands before buying a single item to as distant as the news about a married woman's suspicious death in some remote village. The unfortunate but factual conclusion that we always reach at the end of it is that social, economic or financial status of a woman does not guarantee the preservation of her esteem or independence.

And since on the subject of women and independence, many are quick to point out how divorces are no longer as uncommon, blame it on the woman who does not wish to compromise anymore (read - no longer tolerates oppression!).

This article which is in the form of a letter was inspired by nothing less but the spirit of the "independent" woman..Read on...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

End of summer

You know the end is near when the evenings turn cold and deep in sleep; your hands reach out for the blanket early in the morning.

This summer has been wonderful. Lots of outings, tons of activities and a couple of short vacations, wouldn’t have asked for more and wouldn’t have had even the energy for more!

This post is just going to be a rounding off for things that did not get a mention in the summer coverage. And just because they got written about towards the end does not mean they rank last in my list of fun things that we did this summer. You see, I saved the best for the last!

Cereal Art

With so many Art and Craft kits available in stores, finding something for your kid to do at home during the holidays is easier than finding an appropriate Television show for them to watch. But you know what, you don’t even have to go as far as the nearest store for what I am going to suggest next.
All you need for this fun filled Art project is:
1)      Fruit loops or any other cereal
2)      Thick white paper
3)      Pencil to draw
4)      Glue
5)      A couple of friends and lots of enthusiasm

It was actually my daughter who came up with this idea. She started arranging her colorful fruit cereal on the dining table one morning while eating it and made a lovely pattern. “Mommy,” she called, “this would look so good on a piece of paper”! That’s it, we invited a few of her friends over the next afternoon for ‘Cereal Art’. To give the afternoon a party feel, we added a couple of festive touches like covering the table with a pink (for girls of course) table cloth and having cupcakes and lemonade at snack time.

Of all the little projects that I did with my girls over the years, I would rank this as my personal favorite because of its simplicity. It showed me that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to create beautiful things or to indulge your kids positively or to have fun with friends. You just need to come up with ideas on how to creatively use things lying around at home and make the project fun yet affordable. It is true, I thought, as the pink sun shines and smiles brightly on my kids’ room wall, money can only buy the supplies, not the fun!

Sundry Substances

A  3 day trip to Mt. Rainer National Park with 4 other families, front row seats at the awe-inspiring Oregon Air Show, singing ‘Happy Birthdays’ for a couple of cute kids, capturing the never –seen- before kind of blue waters of the famous Crater lake in our camera, driving through a wild life safari where the animals roam free and not you, a couple of more picnics at the park and wanting to be a kid all over again seeing the girls splash each other at the community water fountain.

The summer days went by fast and hot, happy and lost! I wrote my first summer fun post on 7th July and it is already two months since then. I am already feeling a little sad as the schools start, marking the end of summer. But not for long!

Soon, the spell will be broken and the leaves will change color. Fall will arrive, cool and crisp, deep and vivid; swathed in a beauty of its own. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Summer Fun - part 2

A lot happened this summer. We have been busier than any given school day and I am just about ready for this vacation to end! But before that, here’s a list of the fun things we did since my last post on summer.

Berry Picking
So, berry picking, as an organized activity for the kids is a relatively new concept for me. BUT picking anything from a tree or a shrub is definitely not new to me!

Who would have thought that my daughter would be doing the same thing almost 30 years after I started doing it, the only difference being my mother didn’t pay for it, hers did. If the suspense is getting too much, let me clarify.

As a child, I spent every summer vacation in my native village. And there, come every afternoon, armed with stones, our group of cousins would go mango hunting. After a bit of roaming around in the hot sun, we would come across a farm whose owner would have gone home for a siesta. Two of us would keep a watch out for passersby, a few would aim hard with the stones and try and get the mangoes to fall from the trees and the rest would quickly stuff the hidden fruit in their pockets and shirts. The entire “picking” would take about 10 minutes and then at the sound of a warning whistle we would all run for our dear life, dropping half the mangoes on the way! I still have not been able to figure out why we resorted to stealing even when we got to eat mangoes at home, plentiful and all summer. I guess it was the case of forbidden fruits being sweeter!

My kids’ picking party was nothing like mine. We drove to the nearby berry farm one hot afternoon, carried our own containers, had them weighed and walked through rows of delicious raspberries and blackberries as pointed out by the farm owners. Along the walk, we ate as many as we collected and when we could eat no more, we returned to the cash counter, our containers full of delicious fruits.  The fruits were then weighed and paid for and as we left for home, the kids were already debating on whether to make a juice or a pie out of the remaining raspberries.

Beach Again

Having your wedding anniversary fall in July can be fun, especially if you happen to reside in a city where summer starts in July and ends in September. My sweetheart of 12 years thought this was a good year to give me the first ever anniversary surprise. On the special day, we drove up to the nearby town of Cannon Beach and checked into a hotel right on the ocean. The gentle roar of water and the sight of waves singing along the shore made for a beautiful and romantic evening. The kids played in the sand as we watched them,  hand in hand, feeling proud and emotional thinking about the journey the two of us started 12 years back and which had now two added travelers who brought with them love, joy, laughter and fulfillment. Witnessing the sun set over the water would have been a wonderful conclusion to the evening but the clouds refused to make way for the sun that day. But we were too happy, too much into our own celebrations to let it matter.

Dollar 1 Movie

It helps to have friends who take your kids to movies with their own and even better pay for them! A couple of theatres in the city run movies for a dollar one particular day of the week through the summer. Two of the moms and also my friends, took a bunch of kids for the movie “Hugo” taking advantage of the discounted rate of a dollar per movie. The kids had a blast watching the movie together and I was glad to have someone else do my job for a couple of hours!

Card game night

If left in a casino alone with considerable cash to spend, I would probably last the whole night! My love for playing cards (read harmless gambling) is well known in our circle of friends. I love to get people together for a game of cards which is mostly for my own enjoyment than anything else. In my experience, once they get started, even folks who aren't much into playing cards, find it hard to stop. 

One Saturday night this summer when I invited a couple of family friends over for a few card games, we literally played the night away, most of it anyways! Beginning at 10 p.m. we dealt a couple of easy games to start with. Everybody started getting into the grove past mid-night and before we knew it, a glance towards the clock on the wall told us it was 3.30 p.m. The surprising part wasn’t the adults playing cards till so late, it was our kids who were still up and playing in the other room, not even one of them showing any signs of sleep.

As we whispered good nights at the door, it was hard to keep the girls apart from each other, still giggling secrets, the thrill and excitement of having stayed up so late in the night with friends, clearly visible on their sweet little faces.  My little baby was growing up, soon, her friends will be her world, more than me, the thought was a bittersweet one, but, she will always come back to me, I told myself shaking away  all the insecurity and walking up the staircase as she called for me “Mommy, come and tuck me in bed”. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Wrong but feels right…

Off late I have been doing things that are not right but don’t feel wrong. And this fight between the wrong and the right often leaves me confused. Most of it is to do with me being a mommy and to do or not to do is sometimes really not in my hands. Yes, I let my kids blackmail me into doing things I don’t want to and shouldn’t be doing but find it hard to put my foot down. There, I said it!!

Can’t say I am proud in this admittance but am not ashamed either! Yes, I spoil them, let them take advantage of the fact that I love them and occasionally, turn a blind eye to their blunders and on not so rare instances, I also let them escape a punishment well deserved.

Some of my misdeeds need a special mention as they smell of a strong disapproval from the “parenting authorities”!!! Like what?

Like when my toddler refuses to be fed and her six year old sister begs for the same. The solution – I let the toddler dirty herself and the dining table and eat whatever she can while I hand feed (or spoon feed, depending on what’s in the plate) her elder sister who is not embarrassed to be seen gulping down food at the hands of her mother.

Like when my kids fight. They love each other to death but on any given day they can be heard screaming, biting, hitting and running for their dear life to save themselves from the other about a million times. I interfere or let them figure it out themselves depending on how occupied I am at that moment. If I am talking on the phone I conveniently go deaf to ear piercing fake screams of “Heeeeellllllpppp” and if I am doing nothing, I call for an instant silence and quickly pronounce a “time-out” for the guilty party.

Like how I usually encourage my kids to ask questions and patiently try and answer all of them ranging from stupid (why can’t I drive your car?) to downright irritating (why is the blood running in our body?). BUT if they find a visibly wrong day to ask all the questions one after the other in quick succession, a day I happen to be pissed about something or not happy about my life, they get the “No more Whys” look and a curt answer that signals an end to that conversation, not that they are good at taking hints!

Like when it comes to discipline and things that kids are and are not allowed to do, me and the Dad are always in unison and on the same page. “Always”…if you don’t count this afternoon when I ignored the squeals of delight as the girls jumped on the living room couch, a feat strictly forbidden otherwise by their Daddy.  

Like the time and effort me and my husband took to ensure the kids slept in their own rooms after they turned three. It took about 4 months with the first child to accomplish that and with the second baby, the process just began. And yet, they are both in our room, on our bed on Fridays nights, spring break, their birthdays, our birthdays and anniversaries, sick days, first day of school, last day of school, Christmas, Diwali, New year and well, I am already losing count.

I should be mad, considering how many sleepless nights went into establishing this one routine of sleeping in different rooms. But instead, when they come, with their pillow pets and pink blankets, there is somehow enough room on one queen bed to accommodate all of us together and I sleep more soundly than the kiddos, snuggling up to their soft touch and tender breaths.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Language of Tears

The Language of Tears

Tears; an overflowing heart; an articulation of joy; a sigh of relief and the face of melancholy. Taken to be your weakness, can also be a weapon.
Crying can be liberating, persuading and most of the times embarrassing.  Fiercely guarded and often misconstrued as a very private emotion, it comes out at the most public of places. Don’t believe me? Take a trip to the nearest more...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Summer fun – part 1

Summer isn’t fully here still in Oregon but the holidays are!

Alternating between a drizzle, a cloudy sky and a hot afternoon, the weather still remains inconsistent making it difficult to build a routine around outdoors.  

On the very first day of school holidays, I woke up to a house scattered with toys and ear piercing screams of the girls pulling at each other’s hair. That kind of gave me an idea of things to come. The best course of action would be to keep them occupied as much as possible, I decided. That also meant that I had to be on my toes with them but till date it has been well worth the peace of mind.

So here’s a roll of what we have already covered in the first three weeks of the holidays….

Park picnics – we have had a couple of those already. Taking the kids to a nearby park, in my opinion, is the cheapest, easiest and the healthiest form of entertainment. Playing outside is good for the minds and bodies, plus its free so you don’t spend a dime and because it is so convenient you can just pack a picnic lunch or snack and even make a play date out of it. The kids can play together in the park and moms can chat while keeping a watch.

The beach – playing at the beach is one my favorite things to do whether its dipping my toes in the cold water or running around to catch the Frisbee or building sand castles with underground tunnels. The sight of rising waters coming to the shore and then going back in is soothing beyond words. The beach is an hour and half away from where we stay, close enough to head for it when the temperatures rise. Of the two times that we went to the beach this season, each turned out to be memorable in its own way. 

During the first visit we enjoyed the sun and sand to the fullest, played on the beach, had a picnic lunch and jumped on the cold waves as they came crashing to the store. The kids also had ice-cream and a ride on the carousal. The other trip we made was with friends who came to visit from out of town. It wasn’t as warm that day but we took our chances and went to the beach anyways. Luckily the weather improved as the day progressed. We picked up fresh berries of all kinds on the way from an organic farm store and had a delicious lunch at the beach town. 

The best part of the trip was when we rented a bicycle which could sit all 9 of us together and paddled on the streets, along the beach singing songs. The bike ride is not going to be forgotten for a long long time.

The library – books are a savior. I can’t express how lucky I feel to be staying near a library. Even if you chart a ton of things for the kids to do there are always days when you have nothing planned and then some days you are too tired or in no mood to entertain them; recovering from a previous day’s outing. Books come in handy, especially so on those days. In my house, everybody reads, so we don’t really have to wait for a spare day to read books but whenever my 6 year old complains there’s nothing to do, we take a short walk to the library and bring back a stroller full of books, enough to last a week or so. Most of the times, my 2 year old decides half way that she’s big enough to walk all the way to the library, we still take the stroller anyways and always put it to good use!

Fireworks – This year, the 4th of July brought with it some nice weather and a lots of fun. After a nice lunch and a relaxed couple of hours near the lake, our group of 15 people including kids took a long walk to gather at a place where the neighborhood had organized fireworks. The fireworks were spectacular but our walk to and back from the venue was even more memorable. The small dim lit road that had a few cars going at that time of the night and never any pedestrians that late was bustling with people walking, sidewalks crowded and bubbly as neighbors/families came out to enjoy this dazzling event. It was a rare sight, watching the street come alive and the night so full of life. 

By the time we walked back home, it was almost 11.30 p.m. The kids were tired but so excited with all the outdoor fun; it took a little bit of convincing to put them to bed. And as we settled on the couch with a bowl of strawberry ice-cream to watch a movie, it seemed like the perfect ending to a gorgeous day of summer!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

An article close to my heart

This piece of writing is very close to my heart and I get emotional every time I think about that night.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I will miss you Camry

I will miss you Camry

There are happy days and sad days. There are exciting days and there are dull days. There are days when the heart beats faster in anticipation and there are days when the mind clings on to the past. There are days when minutes fly faster than you can count and there are days when the clock seems to have stopped.  There are days when new things arrive, full of dreams and promises and there are days when old things remain even after they have left; memories intact. 

Now wouldn’t it be simpler if all these days came to us one day at a time? But, they don’t. They come to us bundled up in disguise. Happy and full; sad and restless; eager and dull; rolled up as one. And it is only when night falls and the day ends that we realize the enormity of all that happened in one single day. A seemingly simple addition makes life more comfortable than expected. An inevitable act of deletion hurts more than anticipated.

Yesterday was one such bittersweet day. We let go of our old car to make way for a new van. The thrill of the arrival of a new bigger 4 wheeler sent the kids into a frenzy as their Dad proudly pulled it into our parking lot. For me, it came with a tinge of sadness.

You see the Camry was much more than just a car for me, it was my step outside home, my passport to freedom and the only mode of transportation in a place where you needed to drive to get a gallon of milk. The Camry was also the carrier in which I gave my driving test and then and refused to drive for nearly 3 months after getting the license.

The off white Camry with its leather seats and tinted glasses didn’t look its age at all; In fact it looked sleeker than it actually was!

Together, we took baby steps on curvy paths and icy roads, the driver more scared than the car. We dropped our first born to school on her first day in this very car and tears blinded my vision as we left her in charge of somebody else, for the first time ever.

My first car saw us though many things. Bad weather, library visits, mid-night drop offs, medical emergencies, 10th anniversary and a move across the country. Not even once, did it let us down.

I suppose it shouldn’t be so surprising that I miss my Camry today even when the trade in is a shiny new minivan. I know, the old always has to make way for the new but we have yet to make some wonderful memories in the car that arrived, till then, I will hang on to the ones I already have.

The Camry was special and will always be, but then, isn’t that true for all first things in life?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Break Pursuits – Sand Art & A Sleepover

It is always fun to do things with the kiddos but it is more RELAXING when someone else hosts an activity and you just go towards the end for a cup of tea and to marvel at the wonders your child managed to create!

So carrying on with the spring break mania, the third day of the holiday had my 6 year old doing sand art and stepping out for her very first sleepover at a friend’s place. While the first activity gave me a good afternoon nap, the second had me tossing and turning half the night.

My friend and now neighbor had the girls over in the afternoon for sand art and she was nice enough to give the other mommies a break. “I will help them with the activity, you all just come over for tea and a bite to eat once they are done”, she said and we were more than willing to oblige!

By the time I hopped next doors at 5 p.m., the girls were all done with their activity and snacks, their artistic creations all neatly labeled and zip locked, arranged on the coffee table for the moms to view, admire and pick up. They would have played on and on had we not hustled them home citing the sleepover in a couple of hours. For once, they trailed back home without complaining.

Fast forward to 9 p.m. and my daughter who is usually a slow eater and even a slower getting-ready kind of a kid was done with dinner, had her overnight bag packed and waiting at the door with her favorite stuffed to toy, telling me to hurry up.

I went to drop her (daddy wasn’t strong hearted enough to do that!) and hung around for a while, hoping it would dawn on her sooner or later that Mommy wasn’t going to be around at night and that she was away from home and that realization would have her jumping back into her car seat and home with me. But of course, nothing of that sort happened! She waved me a cheerful good night and with a tight hug slipped away to be with her friends, excited about the sleepover. It seemed like her first step away from me.

The house definitely missed her presence and so did her sister. Me, I couldn’t sleep for half the night, not worried; just missing my baby.

She came home next afternoon chatting about the games they played staying up all night (Mom, we were up the whole night, till it was 1.30 a.m. !!) and a yummy breakfast. No talk about missing mommy or home, I observed. But then I didn’t expect any different, the sleepless night hadn’t been in vain. I had a good talk with myself and although to start with I was a little sad about her being away from home, by the time I slept I was happy that my princess was going to have so much fun and felt content for being blessed with the support system of having friends who I could trust my daughter with, so far away from my own home.

The baby sister was not feeling as contained as me, though. “Didi” she squealed, as she came running and threw herself flat at her older sibling. “oh nanu, I missed you sooo much, did you know we had brownies and pancakes and even watched a T.V. late in the night?” her didi enveloped the baby into a bear hug and held her tight like she hadn’t seen her in ages!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring Break Pursuits – Designer Jewellery

Did you have an appointment diary when you were 6 years old? Me neither. But times have changed and how!

Spring break is here and with holidays come play dates, craft dates, movie dates, sleepovers and overnight trips. If all this in just about a week’s time sounds exhausting to you, hold your breath, these are notes from a little girl’s calendar!

Yes, my 6 year old is busier than me this week, squeezing up to 3 events a day to attend. Of course the events she has to go to are IPMW meaning; I PLAY, MOM WORKS. So while their moms have more on their hands planning for and working towards play dates, organizing craft activities and taking them to movies and trips, all the girls have to do is get dressed and show up, unless of course you count having fun as work.

I love to organize stuff to do for my daughter and her friends but am careful not to go overboard with it. I understand that planning an activity is more fun for the kids than actually doing it. So here’s how it works – if kiddo asks “Mom what are we going to do with my friends for spring break”, I ask her “what would you like to do” and give her a couple of choices. She picks up jewellery making this time, so we get in motion shopping for jewellery kits, snacks, paper plates and cups and the plastic cloth to work on. Next she cleans up her room on the day of the planned activity. She also helps with putting snacks and plates on the table.  And then, she just can’t seem to stand the wait. From peeping through the window to hearing imaginary door bells ring, she anxiously waits for her friends to arrive. The first one to ring the bell gets the loudest welcome “yippee”! After which every guest is received by a group of giggling girls, the group size getting bigger with each arrival.

When everybody’s turns up, the materials are all put in the center and the activity commences. Now here’s the tricky part. If you assumed that the girls would make their own stuff with great interest and co-ordination, which they are actually very much capable of doing, you are going to be in for some disappointment. They need help, not because they can’t do it themselves but because they lose interest in like 2 minutes! So then that’s what moms are there for. We sit with them, help them cut the thread, slip in beads occasionally and try very hard not to correct them when they insist on coming up with weird combinations and patterns. I must admit here that for us moms, it is very difficult to just sit there and not make the perfect piece of jewellery with all those beautiful beads. We remind ourselves that it is supposed to be fun and not perfect and as long as the girls are having a good time, it doesn’t matter. The competitive spirit in us has to be curbed down now and then. By the end of it, since we keep it short, simple and sweet, the girls are happy and proudly pose for us adorned with handmade designer jewellery.

And even before we put the remaining beads away, they are gone, back to what they had really gotten together for – playing!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Where is the Comb?

So the toddler has now started talking and it is de ja vu all over again for us. Just like her sister, the sentences have imbibed question marks in them.  All of our day and some of the night are spent answering questions posed by her, that too in style. Her unclear pronunciations and the inability to say certain letters only adds to the humor and mystery. 

At times we literally scratch our heads to catch on what she is asking for. She expects full concentration and immediate obedience from us! We have to remain perpetually prepared to decipher her commands or else face the wrath!

Interestingly, her first sentence was “kansko kya chhe?”..Translated as “where is the comb?” Well, what else did I expect from a girl? Since that day we have yet to hear anything from her that does not start with ‘where’. She never says she wants milk or that she wants her doll or that she wants to go out. What she asks is “where is the milk?” or “where is my doll?” and “where are the shoes?” (For going out).

Sometimes it is really hard to understand what we are supposed to look for because she comes up with her own names for things. Like a pen is also a pencil. So she keeps asking for a pen calling it a pencil and we look all over the place and come up with every single pencil in the house only to hear “No, No, No” and even have the pencil thrown back at us. Suddenly she sees a pen propped on a writing pad in a corner of the coffee table and makes a grab for it. “Pencil” she says happy with her discovery and we look at each other as if we had been declared the dumbest people on this earth.

Likewise ‘Princess’ covers the whole range of princess products Disney has to offer and available around the house. When she asks for ‘Princess’  it could mean anything from a coloring book to a box of crayons, a princess water bottle or a doll, the tiara or a bedtime story book, a t-shirt or a jacket, a puzzle or a ball. Like detectives on a mission, we try and read her expressions, see where the pointed finger is headed to and perform a quick dissection of her surroundings. Putting two and two together, we then try and come up with the “Princess” that fits the bill. So if she as a box of crayons, we look for the princess coloring book, if her sister’s reading a book, we come up with the baby’s own princess bed time story and if Dad is picking up the car keys, we put on her jacket knowing for sure that the next question is going to be “where are the shoes”.

As cute as her questions sound to us, we are well aware of how irritating they maybe to others. So we try very hard not to go on and on about her expanding vocabulary and restrain ourselves from getting that proud beaming look on our faces every time a new question props up.

A couple of years back when we visited my sister, Baby no. 1 was 3 and a half years old and Baby no. 2 still had 4 more months to come out of her comfort zone (!!). Baby No.1 was on a talking spree and nothing we did could make the chatter stop.  My brother in law had even named her ‘why why wubzy’ for the endless capacity she had for asking questions. This time around, my sister is scheduled to visit us soon and I wonder what title the toddler is going to earn!

p.s. – “We” in this post includes Daddy and Didi who are occasionally smarter than Mommy in figuring out the mystery of “where is ….” 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Celebrating Myself

International Women’s day this month has infused a contagious enthusiasm all over the web world. Everybody seems to be talking about celebrating “womanhood”. I had heard of celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, graduation, baby showers and even break-ups (!!) but celebrating myself? That seemed a little strange to me.

But it did force me to think about myself and about things that are nice and worth applauding. And that’s when I concluded, why not? If I can celebrate days and dates and special occasions, there are ample reasons to celebrate me, the person within and as seen by people around me.

To celebrate is to rejoice and to honor. To me, it also means acknowledgement of who I am without being apologetic. If I have to celebrate myself, I cannot just skip the uncomplimentary part and exult in what shines. I have my quirks and I have my virtues. I try not to succumb to my limitations and often succeed. Far from perfect, that is what describes me and that may just be the reason for celebrating me.

People call me stubborn and adamant and that may well be true
For, I do not give in easily on things even if they are miniscule
I argue, I plead and fight for what is mine
But a “please” from my children can easily sway me
And even a stranger’s disaster causes me a little grief.

Thrills and surprises, little gifts of affection
More than a decade of being in love hasn’t cured me
I like to make special days memorable and work hard to make them so
By now pretty much everybody in the house knows
If it’s a special day, something beholds.

I have little patience for tantrums; I love my beauty sleep
When I pick up a book I do not stop till I finish
These are just a few of the things that no longer hold true about me
My children came along and completely changed me
So now tantrums give me headaches but I still deal with them
Waking up twice in the night to warm up a bottle
Is as close I can get to perfect sleep
Returning unread books to the library no longer breaks my heart.

I am skeptical and cynical and say it as it is
I don’t care if someone’s mad with me as long as I say the truth
Injustice I can’t tolerate and often regret butting in
A miser and a dreamer, I rarely splurge on me
But if I have to go to the mall to buy gifts
I pick out the best from what there is 
I take life too sincerely and I know it for sure 
This particular trait unnerves people around me
After all who would play a game of cards
As if her life depended on it?

I can’t always be nice but I can often be kind
I can’t always be sweet, but I can forever be honest
I can’t always be amusing but I can at all times be reliable. 

There isn’t a thing about me that makes me special
And then there is everything in this world that sets me apart
Like every woman who knows her worth, I say it with ease;
Not even a day goes by when I do not celebrate ME.

This blog post is on its way to Women's Web..

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Embarrassment thy name is foreign to me! Finale

“The Store”

Ask any Mom and she would probably call this place the ultimate humiliator (pardon the incorrect language).  Yes, the same store becomes either heaven or hell depending on who’s tagging along.

Colorful new designs to welcome you, perfume and makeup corners to lure you and the clearance sections that beckon you, ahhh…the joys of shopping are second to none. Hours felt like minutes when I went on shopping sprees before.  And by the end of it any guilt about spending on things not needed would be rubbed off instantly by counting the number of calories burnt just moving around in the store. Money spent =weight lost, not a bad deal at all, I used to tell myself. Before we all get carried away let me say this, we are talking about an entirely different era here.

Fast forward and cut to the present day. Minutes feel like hours, all because of the sheer mental and physical exercise that one has to undergo persuading a 6 year old shopper who wants to buy all the girlie stuff available in the store and chasing a 2 year old who thinks the space between aisles was created to practice marathon runs.

And you would think strollers and shopping carts could restrain kids from running wild in the store! All is good till they are babies and happy sleeping in their infant seats while you shop to your heart’s content. Things are still manageable when they are a year and a half and enjoy the ride that a shopping cart offers. The trouble starts with two and from thereon it just keeps getting worse.

The “trouble” can also be classified into two parts. The first is when they are too young to understand the notion of shopping and treat the store as a playground and the cloth racks as a hiding place. So if you see an out of breath woman running around the store calling for someone at the highest permissible pitch of voice in the store, do not assume she has gone mad. It could be me looking for baby no. 2 who has a knack for sneaking away right under your nose. The second is when they start picking up things for themselves at the store. While the first one is hard on your body, the second one’s gonna hurt your pocket.

But if I had to choose between the devil and the witch I would say in a store, 6 years is a lot better than troublesome two. The 6 year old you can convince, bribe or even blackmail with a timeout, the toddler is a little tougher to get through. Try and catch them while they run and risk looking like a fool or stop them and knowingly becomes a target of their brutal, physical (kicking, scratching) and ear piercing (howling, screaming) attack. It is what they call a no-win situation.

From leaving a fully loaded shopping cart at the checkout line to forgetting what I had gone to the store for in the first place, I have done it all. But what ultimately made me what I am today (which is “unashamed”) is the “roll over” as I call it. And once you are a victim of the roll over, nothing else can ever shame you.

It has been in existence for as long as people have had kids and the chances of a parent not suffering it in a lifetime are as rare as me landing on the moon. Of course, each child is blessed with his or her unique style but this particular stunt is definitely not a rare skill and therefore there are zero chances that I can get it patented for Baby no. 2.

It all starts with a refusal. One minute she is all happy and walking with me side by side and the next second she stands still, eyeing my reaction. When I don’t give in, the wailing starts. This is when the blunder of trying to reach out for her is committed. I do that to save myself the embarrassment of being stared at by the other shoppers (some of who are genuinely shocked at the screeching noise coming out from a child who doesn’t look capable of even a whimper) only to land in a bigger situation. As soon as I take a step towards pacifying her, she throws herself on the floor like a stunt man and rolls from one side to another. And she is fast, I kid you not. I reach on one side and she moves to the other, I make a grab at the other end and she rolls out of reach. Finally when I manage to stop her and try to lift her by the shoulders, her whole body does a flip flop that would put even a skilled gymnast to shame. Either that or she goes stiff, so stiff that it is impossible to lift her or bring her to a comfortable position in my arms.

At this point I have a couple of options. Leave her on the floor and wait till the end of the day till she gets exhausted and decides she doesn’t mind being picked. I could also ignore her bawling and acrobatics, somehow haul her up and exit the store at the earliest. Or I could talk to her, try and pacify her and hope that she voluntarily decides to save the stunt for some other day. To be honest, after having tried all the options listed above a couple of times, I now avail of the alternative that is effective, gets me quick results and never fails. And what’s more it’s cheap and delicious and fits in my purse. I take out a purple colored (supposed to be grape flavor) sucker and dangle it front of her eyes as she lies on the floor. The twisting and turning stops as suddenly as it started. The half closed eyes brimming with real tears (yes, as fake as their cries are in circumstances like these, the tears are always real, I guess that’s what makes a mother’s heart melt so easily) are now wide open. A cute little hand tries to reach out for the sucker and says “mama give”. Mama, who is by now a seasoned player, scoops up the baby, puts her in the stroller first and then gives her the sucker. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Embarrassment thy name is foreign to me! Part 2

"The Airplane"

Travelling with kids is bad enough but travelling with kids in an airplane is as bad as it gets. No wonder some of the airlines have banned children from their first class seats! Logic says that as a parent it should anger me, this discriminating policy of a certain airline, targeted at parents of little innocent children. But at this point I am beyond logic. Hey, if it’s a pain for me to travel with them; their own mother, can’t blame you for not wanting them around puking next to you just when you are about to settle for a nap in your spacious, fully reclining, comfy first class seat.

So understanding the other people’s point of view is just one part of the story. The other part is my own story, the actual sufferer in the whole air travel business. The person who gets ugly glares from people when her kid wails and screams loud enough to beat everybody’s eardrums at take off. The mom who desperately tries to balance a food tray and a toddler on her thigh in an economy class seat. The monster who looks like she is about to smack (but she dare not !!) her 4 year old who has just overturned a bowl full of peanut snack on herself and finally the loser who has resigned to fate and let the journey take its course.

have been through some really long journeys in a plane with two kids and it hasn’t been as bad as I have made it out to be above. BUT it hasn’t been pleasant either. I am not going to go ahead and say “it was a great 17 hour plane ride with the kids, they had a blast and so did I!!”

And I have learnt a few lessons as well, one of them being turning a deaf ear to accusing tones and a blind eye to those “looks”.  On one such recent journey we landed with not one but both seats such that made the long travel with kids impossible. One of them didn’t have a working television and the other seat’s TV couldn’t be pushed out of the arm rest. A 16 hour flight and two kids with no TV to entertain and all I asked for was that one of the attendants atleast try and pull that stubborn equipment out. What I got was a cold look and a “we won’t stoop low enough (literally) to pull that TV out for you, deal with it” kind of an answer. Fine, I returned the glance which said “don’t blame me if the kids find out an alternative entertainment “.

At the end of that terribly long flight as I was securing my handbag and my children before disembarking, the same attendant came by and made a face looking at the area we had occupied for nearly a day. Surveying the bits of paper and food she commented “Wow, did a hurricane just pass by here?” holding out a huge trash bag, waiting for me to make her job easier. “It probably did since there was no television” I said and started walking towards the door. That was probably the closest I ever came to returning a favor.

p.s. Finally we shall reach “The Store” next…

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Embarrassment thy name is foreign to me!

Any doubts that I had about having an ounce of mortification have today been put to rest and I am in a position to declare officially, confidently that I am beyond it!

Of course it hasn’t happened overnight and of course I ain’t proud of it. But you see the thing is I am kind of feeling a little liberated, buoyant and better-off now that the burden of keeping up with social etiquettes has been lifted off my shoulders, could this condition be diagnosed as “shameless”? Well, I am not going to say it, you decide.

And who do you think is responsible for lifting the burden of my shoulders? My two little devils, who else? Before I sing their praises let me tell you that in my world there are two kinds of extreme humiliations possible. Being caught in the middle of a messy home or a public outburst. Having suffered both the scenarios ample number of times, immunity came faster than medicine.

Like I said before, this hasn’t happened in a day just like Rome as we all know wasn’t built in a day. If I had to retrace my steps and go back to where it all started the chronology of events would be somewhat like this.

“The house”

Charity begins at home and so does disgrace. To give myself a little bit of credit, I had things pretty much in control till well after the arrival of Baby no. 1. Like my mother and her sisters who inherited “the” trait from their mother, I too fell into the same gene pool category. We used to be clean freaks, all us ladies in the family and by “used to be” I mean the rest of them still are. To give you a few examples, clothes worn outside house even for less than an hour went straight into the laundry basket, leftovers had only one destination – garbage can, the kitchen sink had to be clean even if was 2 a.m. by the time the guests left and bedtime routine started with laying a fresh bed sheet over the one that had been in use all day. I could go on and on with such examples but  figured it would be a waste of time since the above sufficiently explained the point to be made.

With the arrival of our first child, it became a little tough to live up to the high standards set by my own self but I was younger and not really current with the ways of other worlds.  So I worked around the house when the baby slept and then marveled at the mess she managed to create in about quarter of the time it took for me to clean up.  Still, the zeal to maintain appearances was very much alive and I took pride that if anybody showed up unannounced, they would find a clean carpet, a mess free kitchen and a well fed baby, at almost any time of the day! As the baby grew into a toddler, the “unannounced “changed to “a 10 minute notice” and then to “sufficient notice”.

And here I must say that nobody can really blame me for not trying. When the second baby came along and started crawling a couple of months later, I made a valiant effort to pass the quality control test. I tried to keep the toys in their bins, food off the carpet and pillows on the bed. I tried to fold laundry on time, load the dishwasher after meals and retain books on the shelves. I tried to be a Super Mom. Most of it I tried to do for the benefit of that “unannounced” visitor. But, there is only so much that a mind and body can take.  It took many wasted hours to realize that if I was going to utilize every minute of my free time in setting things right around the house, the only thing that wouldn’t be right after a while would be my brain.

So these days I am no longer a captive of my own code of belief. I cash in on any free time that I get and do things that are high on my list of priorities like reading a book, calling up a friend, taking a walk, writing mommy posts or watching a movie; the dishes in the sink can wait!

p.s. “The Airplane” follows….