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ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT (5TH-19TH MARCH 2018) HIKING WITH SID TO THORONG-LA PASS(5417MTS)

4TH MARCH 2018(DAY BEFORE THE HIKE)

GOOD-BYES AND PARTING

I had this hike in mind for a very long time. After a lot of surveys and input from mountaineering friends, I booked the trek with Himalayan Glaciers ( a hiking company in Nepal) in August 2017 to hike in November 2017. But, I fractured my foot in September 2017 and then it was a definite “NO” my orthopedic doctor. I waited for my foot to heal (which took too long). I could not wait for any further and decided to hike in March 2018 along with my elder son Siddhanth aka Sid. We dedicated this trek to raise funds towards library creation in a municipal school in Faridabad, in association with Sledgehammer Foundation and Pratham Books,
We managed to get 15 days off from school for the trek. Well, this hurdle was very minimal as compared to leaving my younger one behind. We hugged and cried, and then hugged and cried more the night before we left for the trek.

5TH MARCH 2018- DAY ONE, MUMBAI TO KATHMANDU,4264FT

TAKE OFF

We were all set for our travel and Sid was excited about his new adventure.
We took the flight to Kathmandu, and the hotel staff welcomed us by holding a placard with Sid’s name ( little perks to make him feel important)

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Welcome with Sid’s name at Kathmandu Airport

We had a great day where we roamed the streets, had a meeting with our tour operator, checking local stuff.
It was a half-past at night when Sid woke up to use the washroom, but I sensed something not so good and followed him. He then complained of giddiness and vomiting. As I stepped to help him, he fainted in the washroom. I lifted and brought him to the bed in haste. After few seconds he was okay.
I knew the reason ( I am a mom after all !)
Me: Sid ,you’re worried about the hike?
Sid: Yes mom
Me: Don’t listen to people, they talk nonsense (everyone I met scared him about the elevation ). If you have trust in your mom then we’ll go ahead tomorrow else no worries
Sid: I do trust you mom
Me: then sleep well, and we’ll have a great time.
Sid slept off, but I didn’t.
Day one of a sleepless night.

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Some good meal

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Landing in Kathmandu

6TH MARCH 2018- DAY TWO, KATHMANDU TO SYANGE,3608 FT

FIRST SIGHT OF MOUNTAINS

We started our day early to get to the bus stop from the hotel.
I withdrew money from the ATM (Nepal has a limit of withdrawing 45k per day, so it is advisable to withdraw the maximum in a day ). Also, the ATM charges 4% on the withdrawal amount.
We took a cab from our hotel to the bus stop accompanied by our Sherpa to reach Besi shehar. After wasting a lot of time in the traffic jam on the ghat, we reached Besi Shehar at lunchtime.
From there we took a jeep to Syange, which was nothing more than a spine and neck jerking drive 😬
We reached Syange by 3 pm and had the first view of snow clad mountains which we were supposed to climb.
Sid, being a dog lover instantly had friends all over, and he was happily feeding them biscuits 🍪
At night he again asked me, “mamma, I’ll be able to do it ?”
My one answer to this was, “Sid, क़दम बढ़े हैं तो रूकेंगे नहीं ” ( Sid, if you’ve taken a step forward then there is no looking back )
And this became our mantra on the entire Trek.
He slept well, and I didn’t.
Regularly checking on him, Being mother 🙂
Day two of the sleepless night.

7TH MARCH 2018- DAY THREE, SYANGE TO DHARAPNI,6430 FT

A LONG WALK

We started our walk with all zeal after a customary breakfast of boiled eggs, hot chocolate for Sid and a black coffee for myself
During the hike, Sid asked me about what I wanted to be when I grow up because everyone grows up to be something?
It was kind of funny, but I replied that I would like to be good human being and rest I will figure out.
Then we had a great, excellent discussion on “growing up.”
It’s important to let the kids have a brain of their own and let them ask as many questions as they wish to, no matter how stupid they sound.
Having a conversation with your child is essential.
It was a long walk of around 24kms, and we gained some great elevation as well as insight too 🙂
We walked from Syange to Dharapni with a halt for lunch at Taal. Sid walked much ahead and faster, and at one point I lost him from my view. When I met him at Taal, the mother in me gave him a good scolding and the son in him obeyed the instructions.
It was cold and rained as well at night. Sid was wearing his day hike shoes till now which we use for our hikes in Sahyadri ranges. During the hike, I realized that he needs better shoes. The tea stall where we were resting had a shop nearby, and I saw some hiking boots there.
Without wasting any time, I got a brand new pair for Sid.
I was little skeptical on the fit and shoe bite, but it turned out to be the best decision. Sid slept off after slight anxiousness. I didn’t.
Day three of the sleepless night.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/1440562757/embed/bdb0667d13ab5bce6e6f6512ce67a497c33be761” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Syange to Dharapani on Strava

8TH MARCH 2018- DAY FOUR,DHARAPANI TO CHAME,8891 FT

ANXIOUS YET AGAIN

We started our walk to Chame which is a lovely small village.
It was again an enjoyable walk. Fantastic scenery, snow-clad mountains, good climb and most beautiful mountains to watch
Sid was anxious still at night but with a good cuddle and comforting he slept fine.
It rained and snowed at night.
He woke up with a start around midnight, screaming “mamma …mamma”. I knew the reason.
Just a little assurance and he slept back; I didn’t.
Fourth sleepless night 🙂

Strava:https://www.strava.com/activities/1442138433/embed/a22961abe0b94758bdfa8b030dad54374ffbb92a” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Dharapani to Chame Part 1   https://www.strava.com/activities/1442138770/embed/47cebf1ca769ee0a945e67f38321811053479c96” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Dharapani to Chame Part 2

9TH MARCH 2018- DAY FIVE, CHAME TO PISANG,10,824FT

FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH SNOW

As we headed towards Lower Pisang, it started getting colder, with a stiff breeze and also snow on the way.
Sid was mighty excited about seeing, feeling and playing in the snow – what more can a Mumbaikar do 😜 (Mumbai sees summer season all through the year)
It was a lovely long walk, and we stopped in between for our snickers, honey ginger lemon, and just casual breaks.
We decided to stay in Lower Pisang than Upper to save time for the next day hike.
We stayed in a beautiful tea house with comfy bed and warm quilt
I took a hot shower (charged at 100 Nepali rupees)here which runs on gas, and even Sid was happy to be under the shower after five long days
We also had a heater in the dining area where we spent our maximum time until bedtime.
Although it snowed in the eve, it was a very comfortable stay. Food was good here but surely getting expensive. We even paid for charging our phones.
I could connect home as we had mild mobile connectivity in Pisang.
I slept for a while this time 🙂

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/1443601459/embed/e084affed8e1221f38947ca755b0012f864194d3” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Chame to Pisang

10TH MARCH 2018- DAY SIX,PISANG TO MANANG,11,482FT

RIGHT ON THE FOOTHILL OF SNOWCLAD MOUNTAINS

It was a long but beautiful walk to Manang
We were reaching a higher altitude, and there was snow on and off the trails.
The weather was now getting colder and windy.
Hot honey ginger lemon tea and garlic soup were an integral part of our diet now.
Manang is a small village with beautiful tea houses.
Our tea house had a massive bunch of bag packers from Israel. The dining hall was bustling with all the chatter. We had electricity on the day we arrived, so I charged my power banks and phone here. We were now in the zone of no mobile connectivity. Although TV had some signal and Sid managed to watch a football match there. He was happy.
It was freezing by night and all the occupants of the tea stall bundled up in the hall next to the room heater, chatting, reading, playing cards or just sitting casually.
Everyone in the room was amazed to see Sid attempting the Pass and wondered on his capability. Touchwood.
As people said so, Sid was again in the same mood, ” mamma, will I be able to make it ?”
And my reply was same,” क़दम बढ़े हैं तो रूकेंगे नहीं,” (“once you’ve taken a step ahead, then there is no looking back “)
He slept very well and so did I
First, ever full night sleep!

Strava:https://www.strava.com/activities/1454173125/embed/0d8a309e370e5de9695ac24c0e0e59cea009d68c” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Pisang to Manag

11TH MARCH 2018- DAY SEVEN, ACCLIMATIZATION DAY IN MANANG

“OH! I AM THIS CLOSE,MAMMA"

After a great sleep, we intentionally woke up late the next day because it was our acclimatization day. The mommy in me came into action, and I rinsed almost all the dirty clothes in icy cold water. It was a bright day but extremely windy. We had an elaborate and lazy breakfast. We then headed for a small hike to reach a higher level. It was a steep but beautiful walk up the mountain. Once we were at the top Sid looked around and saw all snow clad mountains right next to where he was standing. He had the brightest eyes at this moment, and he couldn’t stop beaming with joy on his accomplishment. We jumped in joy, clicked pictures, played with snow and descended after a while to our base. Sid had a question for me here again, “ mamma, why don’t I feel confident? why do I feel anxious?”
I replied, “Sid, pray and firm up your mind “
Sid was clueless on what and how to pray.
Although back home we perform an essential prayer before we go to bed. Me being an atheist I chant and mutter a small prayer with boys, “Thank you god for the world so sweet, Thank you god for the food we eat. Thank you God for birds that sing, thank you God for everything.”
But this time the prayer had to be intense. I carry a beaded mala to count my chant; I gave sid that mala and asked him to chant and pray for strength. Sid wore the mala around his wrist as if it was a source of some extra energy. I let it happen because he was calmer after chanting.
We slept well.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/1454173417/embed/bffd929cab19000fa6fea17b086b5864d03fedc7” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Acclimatisation climb in Manang

12TH MARCH 2018- DAY EIGHT – MANANG TO YAK KHARKA,13,484FT

Rest did wonders to our body, and we started our day fully charged up. It was a short and beautiful walk. We were excited as we were just a day short to our summit. We walked slow, spotting mountain goats, climbing small hills, playing snow throw ball, chatting, munching our snickers and sipping hot honey ginger lemon tea. As we reached closer, the winds started picking up, and it was now getting freezing. We hurriedly reached the destination and pampered ourselves with hot chocolate and French fries. It was a cold night. I tucked along with sid, and he slept off within no time.
Sid misplaced his mala before sleeping and was restless because he was unable to locate it, he desperately said: “mamma, now will I be able to complete my trek?”
I was bewildered.
I held his hands, looked eye to eye and said sternly, “it is not the mala but your courage and strength that will make you complete the trek. Have faith in yourself and climb”. I don’t know if he understood what I meant, but he slept off. Next morning he found the mala.
I had a very uneasy night. I had a blocked nose and kept breathing from my mouth. As a result, My mouth was drying up, and I had to sip water from the flask now and then. I started feeling dizzy and waited for dawn. Midnight I thought of calling out to my Sherpa, but then I realized that sid would be scared. So kept my cool, continued chanting and deep breathing (as much as I could).
It was a difficult night.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/1454173675/embed/a71f41fab6285f532bdc4a5a69baf1ac12618201” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Manang to Yak Kharka

13TH MARCH 2018- DAY NINE- YAK KHARKA TO THORANG PHEDI,14,501FT

ORDEAL BEGINS

I got up uneasy and was contemplating my decision to climb further. I did not give out any gesture of my discomfort as I knew sid would be disturbed. I told my Sherpa, but he had no inputs to give instead he said to us that rather than staying at Thorang Phedi we’d go to high camp which will save our time for the climb to the summit the next day.
I was expecting sometime of assistance from my Sherpa towards my breathlessness but had just two options for me – to go down or climb up. I chose the latter one. I walked exceptionally slow and kept sipping water. Within an hour I was much better, and we then continued with our climb.
By the time we reached Thorang Phedi both myself and sid were exhausted as the winds had caught up and we wanted to rest. As our porter was told to stop at high camp hence, he didn’t block our tea house, and we had to climb up to go to another tea house. I was annoyed with my Sherpa’s ignorance. As hike gains elevation, it is advisable as well as instructed that both the porter and guide should walk together because if the client faces any issue, all can descend together. I expressed my annoyance. My Sherpa didn’t take my complaint too well and ignored us entirely; his behavior was very indifferent. I sensed further ordeal.
Before we retired for the night, we decided to start the climb at 5 am, although most trekkers start the hike as early as 3 am. I was bothered only about Sid and wanted him to take proper rest.
We giggled and talked a lot at night, only to ease out Sid and slept cuddled up.
The night went off well.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/1454174027/embed/525f217628aa734182e641ad6c1ee3359112914b” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Yak Kharka to Thorong Phedi

14TH MARCH – DAY TEN-SUMMIT DAY- THORONG PHEDI TO THORONG LA PASS,17,764FT

SID –MY HERO

At 3 am my door banged, it was my Sherpa. I recalled the last night discussion on timing, but he was adamant to leave early. I didn’t argue and woke up sid to get ready for the day. It was the final day of the climb, and we were expecting lots of snow, steep, and extreme winds. We had to reach the pass anyhow before noon as afterward, the weather gets unpredictable.
We quickly ate boiled eggs, packed bread jam, filled two water bottles with the assurance that we will get water at a tea house at high camp.
We had to climb a straight mountain to reach the high camp. After crossing the hill we faced knee deep, and sid’s feet were cold. With the previous discussions, he was always worried that he might get frostbite. I assured him he wouldn’t. I was carrying toe warmers and asked my Sherpa to get hold of my porter just in case I need more clothing for sid. Although I had all necessary stuff in my backpack.
But to my dismay, he stood there unwary of my demand and informed that the porter would meet us at the tea stall much ahead.
I put toe warmers on sid’s toe, and he felt comfortable to walk. I then asked my Sherpa to get water, and he again said that we would get it at the tea stall. I told him about my requirement to have a lot of water (in one of my previous high altitude adventure I had acute dehydration which resulted in a stroke. Since then I am advised to drink a lot of water in higher altitude)
It was our first experience of walking in such deep snow. We enjoyed it. I was walking slowly even now. As we reached the tea stall, to my utter shock it was shut. It was here that I lost my cool and blasted my Sherpa on his irresponsible behavior. I was shocked further when he said, “water is your requirement you should have kept why are you blaming me ?” P.S. I paid for a porter and guide, and it was not a self-supported trek.
I took a quick glance at the remaining water and did a fast calculation on how much to consume till the summit. We still had around 4-5 hours to the summit.
We started walking again. After a while, my Sherpa was out of our sight. It was just myself and Sid walking across the snow-clad mountains. Sid was tensed, anxious and worried. I realized I shouldn’t have shown my despair in front of him. I assured him that we would make it to the top. He was worried about almost no water left. I told him miracles happen and we will get water. And miracle did happen. We saw a guy walking towards us from nowhere with a water bottle dangling around his waist. On requesting he gladly transferred the water into our container.
I was still walking very slow. It was now sid’s tun to boost me. As our Sherpa wasn’t available to guide us, hence we took help of the poles as landmarks and keep walking from one pole to another. Sid kept on saying – “mamma common it’s almost done. We have to finish it. We have to reach the top”.
And yes we did reach the top. Yes, we were at the summit! Sid, this 12-year-old, fragile boy of mine, was at the summit !!
We met our Sherpa here.
Extreme cold wind at the pass welcomed us.
We had to start our descend soon as the weather was now worsening . after few mandatory pictures, we started our descend.
Both of us were starving by now. Our Sherpa informed that Muktinath (final destination of the day) was an hours walk from the summit. We were delighted.
We kept walking for almost 3 hours but couldn’t gather sight of any habitation.
Sid was utterly exhausted, famished, tired and dizzy. He was unable to walk any further. Finally at around 4 pm after walking for almost 11 hours, I asked my Sherpa for emergency evacuation and ordered him to rush down where he could get mobile network to inform the trekking company. Meanwhile, I fed some dry fruits to sid and sat by the side of the trail. I made him lie down in my lap and asked him to sleep. After an hour my Sherpa informed that evacuation process is initiated and helicopter might come soon.
I wondered if Sid was fit to walk a little and he confirmed that he could. We started our descend again because it was getting cloudy. All calls to trekking and insurance company went in vain, and I decided to rest as soon as I saw any habitation. It was almost 5 pm, and helicopters don’t ply in Nepal then.
We finally saw few tea houses and rested for the night there.
I was mentally exhausted and had a tromping headache. I wanted to move back home immediately.
I decided to terminate the trek.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/1454174318/embed/90c26eeaaa3eade725e4ce368bacd29782ee99f5” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Thorong Phedi to Thorong La pass, Garmin conked off in between

15TH MARCH- DAY ELEVEN- OVER AND DONE, MUKTINATH TO JOMSOM

HAPPY SOULS

Next morning was bright and beautiful. Both I and sid were very happy souls. We had achieved what we aimed. We walked down to Muktinath and took a jeep to Jomsom. By the time we reached Jomsom, we were informed that because of bad weather all further flights were canceled and we can only fly the next day which I readily agreed.
We ate very well, had mobile connectivity, talked to family and shared our pictures.
At the tea house, we met various groups who were resting there after completion of the summit. All of them were surprised at sid’s feat. One of them said, “you are the coolest mom. At 12 I had no clue what mountain were. Had I known then I would have been a different person altogether” ahaannn… time to pat my back (on my own although)

16TH MARCH- DAY TWELVE- HOME BOUND IN A JIFFY, JOMSOM TO POKHRA TO KAHTHMANDU TO MUMBAI

Next morning we were at Jomsom airport to fly to Pokhara. The airport and the craft was a replica of Legoland. It was exciting.
As I landed in Pokhara, I checked for the flight availability to Kathmandu. I was now desperate to be home, to be with my other set of boys. I was surprised when I got the tickets to Kathmandu. I then modified my flight from Kathmandu to Mumbai, and once I landed at Kathmandu, I was all set to fly back home.
Three flights in a day, from 15,000 ft to sea level in a day. Back home to the hugs and cuddles, I couldn’t have been a happier momma.

TAKEAWAYS

WHEN HIKING WITH CHILDREN

WHEN YOU ARE HIKING WITH CHILDREN

  • Inform them about the altitude, AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness), what to expect and what not to during the hike
  • Build up the excitement
  • Constant encouragement
  • Choose the travel company wisely and talk with your guide in absolute clarity
  • Keep children entertained either by carrying a book, a game or even a mobile phone with their favorite games. Afterwall they are city kids.
  • Feed them well. don’t focus on healthy food but let them eat whatever they want
  • Carry ready to eat foodstuff and water purifying tablets as much as possible because as you go higher food and water prices soar extensively
  • Get the layering done adequately
  • Invest in good hiking shoes. don’t think for it’s a waste of money as they outgrow very soon . good hiking shoes is very important
  • Buy good wind chaffing cream, sunscreen, and polarized sunglasses
  • Keep an eye on your behavior and eating pattern, you might miss a sign of AMS otherwise
  • If hiking alone then follow the map as well as fellow trekkers accurate directions
  • Sherpas demand good tip after the hike, plan your budget accordingly.
  • Give them good rest, don’t hurry up.
  • enjoy and look around as you hike. mountains have so much to offer, teach and learn
  • Choose your time and duration of the hike. Alter the itinerary as per your child’s energy level.

“The hardest choices require the strongest will – Thanos”

 

 

 

 

How much is too much?

This summer has been quite enlightening for me. I traveled less for work, had minor work engagements, curbed my desire to climb another mountain and dedicated myself entirely to boys. Not complaining at all, I am enjoying my time with two super energy bombs, but now I feel like disowning them. I had an overdose of everything.

Too much love

Too much attention

Too many WWE matches

Too much mess in the kitchen

Too much, “mamma, he is hitting me.”

Too many demands of “good” food

Too much to and fro from swimming classes

Too much of hearing my pet name – mamma

Too much of refereeing

Too much of being an encyclopedia of anything, everything, and nothing

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But again, there is always a this and that side of everything. I have cribbed enough of that side now let me talk about this side.

I spend very quality time with my boys. We fought, argued, got miffed with each other but then we had a fantastic silent understanding as well. I was without help for almost a month(it’s a very BIG thing), and these boys were just too good at housework. Right from folding their sheets, to changing towels in the bathroom, they did everything. During this course, I also came to know that my elder son, who will be a teenager soon has a little soft corner for someone. I was delighted as well as surprised. Then we had a great conversation on this subject, and he gladly opened with me, although being an introvert child. I loved our connect as well as the disconnect.

Second amazing thing I would like to mention is our discussion on how much is too much? Yes, you heard it right, let me explain.

With the onset of the holiday season, everyone is going all over the world. Mullas are pouring in, and a foreign destination is no more a luxury. But inevitably few don’t fail to make it further luxurious, with best airlines and aircraft, most luxurious hotels, five-star cruise and not just one but multiple vacations in a year. These days’ children also talk about the number of countries visited. My boys asked me too, “mom where are we going for summer break?” Well, our summer break is always either Dadi or Nani house, so I took them to Nani house.

 

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Boys with their cousins and Nana

 

There came another demand, “mom, can we fly business class please?” .. please was repeated to the power of infinity. I tried to explain that it is a short flight and they won’t enjoy it much. But, my explanation went unheard. Thanks to my extensive travel I had enough miles to redeem hence I got them upgraded to business class. They beamed with joy, and their eyes all lit up. I was more than satisfied. But as I handed them their boarding pass mentioning “business,” I told them, “boys, this has come from the all the pains that I have taken to travel, and it’s earned and not gifted.” They nodded their head silently.

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Younger one thanked me several times, and I got many hugs and kisses too.

After they were done with the travel and satiated with their “business class” feeling I asked them about how they felt. Boys answered in sync – ” It was awesome, mamma.”

Then came the motherhood Gyan, “Boys, I was able to do it because I earned the miles don’t expect that I’ll be doing every time. It’s a hard-earned effort.”

Boys replied, “we understand mamma, all this stuff costs a lot of money. We would like you to take us on mountains than in business class.”

Oh wow!!! I have arrived and achieved.

I couldn’t thank my boys enough and hugged them tightly.

I ended my day by wondering, how much is too much when it comes to giving experience, exposure, and life learning lessons to our children. Read what I wrote on this earlier:Experience over gift to your children

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Shouldn’t we focus on raising spiritually enlightened children than just providing them everything on the platter?

Shouldn’t we make them realize the value of everything they have in life than just giving them away even when they don’t demand it?

Shouldn’t we make them wait and crave for things thereby silently teaching them how to earn their desires?

Shouldn’t we toughen them mentally as per their level so that they can face hard realities of life later on?

I believe there is no age for spiritual awakening, we might not see instant results, but few life learning experiences stay with them all through their life.

How much is too much, take your call.

Spiritual awakening what kind of world

 

Stay-at-home-moms: take a bow

With the onset of exams there comes a subtle hint of strict discipline in the family, which is only one-sided. Mom orders and boys never understand.

My entire routine revolves around the number of chapters. I do a quick calculation on how much time to devote per chapter and the revision as well. There is a timetable put up on the soft board much before the exam; it looks so systematic and amazing that I silently pat my back.

But as the exam dates come near, I realize that the timetable has lost its existence. The pinned timetable teases me on my super organized but utterly failed skills. I am no more an organized, patient and systematic mom but yelling over the top, infuriated entirely, palpating and on-my-toes mom.

I am at complete off from work until the exams. No urgent mailers, no meetings, no travel, no long phone calls, no conference calls – well, the liberty of working on my terms. My passport has gone deep under the shelf, and I am not even keen to look at it. Why?

Because I am entirely stay-at-home-mom right now.

I have been a homemaker for a very long time, but I have no idea what I did then because I was mostly nursing the younger one and struggling with a hyperactive elder one. I had no time even to realize how tired or exhausted I was. And one beautiful day, I had my resurrection, and I came to life again. Work, travel, stuck in traffic, frantic calls from schools, always too busy calendar but happy to work became a routine. I loved it and still do.

But right now it’s opposite.

I see cupboards screaming – clean me

I can see all the dirt in the house

Mismanagement by my army of maids who manage my arena when I am away

Incomplete school work

I can see everything, crystal clear. I have become a stay-at-home-mom with a magnifying glass. I love this too as well (fine print- as of now)

I am surprised how I managed all this while?

Well, I am always connected with the boys wherever I am. I put up the menu for long and short lunch break tiffin box on the refrigerator for my cook. My dinner and lunch menu sorted, stationary, home delivery, medicine guy is informed to respond to any request on an immediate basis. I have a world clock app on my phone which helps me keep a check on the time in the home country hence not missing out of anything. Phew! Sorted yes…sorted. I agree it gets hectic and brain churning but then everything falls into place, and then I also get the appreciation at times “how do you manage. ”

Now that I am home for almost half a month. I am managing the maid chaos. The cook moves out all of a sudden without notice, the full-time maid has fallen sick, one child is sick, and another one refuses to study for the final exams. His evening football is of high priority and exams are secondary. There are frantic calls, messages in search of “reliable” maid, Tango’s doctor visit, the sudden urge of having pizza after school, “mom pick me from school, please” requests, impromptu change in lunch menu because elder one wants to have “something” tasty. Right now, I dislike all my friends who have maids from their “gaon” or reference.

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Well, talk about the husband. Oh yes ! this financial year end has ended his excellent time with the family too. Boys don’t get to see him for days, and I have no clue when he enters home. Now that I am home he doesn’t have to call and check on boys, no morning drop to the bus stop, no emergency project requirements to be handled, no doctor appointment to seek, not addressing to school grievances, he has no idea about the turbulent households right now. I am sure he can focus on driving and work. No domestic pressure.

I was at the doctor’s clinic when a mother of a toddler in the total battered state was telling a fellow patient that his son is down with fever and why no one asks how was she doing.

I realized that stay at home moms are not praised, appreciated or even acknowledged for the tasks they do. Correct.

I met a friend recently (again a privilege when I am off work), she very clearly stated that ”my husband can work for long hours without worrying about home is because of me. I play an equally important role in running the house, and I should be paid accordingly “ I agree with it entirely.

I have always heard my father saying that running a house is like a factory (he retired from BHEL, and hence we siblings knew how a factory works). There is a purchasing department, logistics, tenders to be sought (buying the best deal even for grocery), HR for grievances, appraisals, and recruitment, safety, PR and your mom runs all this single-handedly.

Stay at home moms take bow hands down for running the factory so efficiently, and at times you don’t even get a pat from your partner for making all so smooth and convenient for him. I had a choice to switch roles, but I know many who have taken up this job not out of choice, but compulsion and are doing it so well! Kudos!!

I like this job profile as of now where me and boys have so much time together to listen to each other, tell stories, sort out issues, talk about growing up, revising lessons together, cuddling, just chatting , impromptu hugs, pillow conversations, checking recipes at Hebbar’s kitchen, baking cake, debating on gender equality with my elder one .. oh ! I am so loving all this but for how long that’s a big question .

Stay-at-home-moms, pat yourself today and cheers to you girls and men reading this give a big hug to your partner.

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Experience over Gift for your children

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How do most people plan their New Year?
Goals: Career, financial, be-a–good-person, slimming, get-married, move-out-of-stinking-relationship, make-a-new-boyfriend and many more goal-a-goals.
How do I plan my year?
Keeping aside, being-a-very-good –woman-goal (which I fail always ), the primary goal is –                                                                        TRAVELa70588cc-4758-4fc1-8bda-ea127e299227
Oh ! How much I crave to be airborne or on my bike or the mountains.
But this year it’ll be different. I’ll attempt to take my boys along to as many offbeat travel destinations that I plan for myself. Although with Arun Jaitley bombarding, bringing them along each time will not be possible I know.
For the first long weekend of the first month of the new year, I came across an event on Facebook, Tour De Chattisgarh. After looking at the itinerary, it seemed perfect for a family vacation.
Why?
1. I was itching to ride and wanted boys to experience the joy of touring on the bike, I have done many, and I know how incredible it is. Check few links here:
a) Passion for cycling
b) Rajasthan Tour on foldie
c) Bhutan trail with Times Passion Trails
3. Exploring another state on bike
4. I got married in Raipur and never visited after that. It was a perfect time to relive the moments.

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We have done five-star holidays, beach vacations, foreign tours, camping, hiking trips with boys but never a cycling trip. An adventure freak mom has passed on some traits to boys too. Hence I thought to attempt this trip with boys.

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Why should you move away from the comfort zone and gift your children experience?

1. Situational obedience (discovered a new word )

Before I booked the tickets, I had to seek permission from the school. Boys were instructed to be on their best behavior and studies until I visit the class teacher. I came out grinning ear to ear from the school gate with a permission letter in my hand. See, that’s why it’s important to obey mom when she asks. Give me a high five here !

2. Being methodical and systematic

Both of them were given a cabin size trolley and instructed regarding the number of clothes, undergarments, footwear, and anything that they feel will be significant during travel to pack. The younger one had not-to-forget-tactics. He kept his watch in the shoes as they arranged the clothes for the next day early morning flight he said, “mamma, I’ll not forget this way.” Nice one!

3. Meeting, making and not “adding” new friends

Mumbai is always on the run and gives less opportunity to socialize. We end up having a handful of people to interact and mostly limited to within the housing complex. While on the trip the boys associated with people not only across India but other countries as well. It was great to know about Giom Tell from Switzerland who is exploring India on a bike. Check his profile you may find something interesting, Giom’s profile

Riding with Alexi Grewal, an Olympic gold medalist was a remarkable opportunity.About Alexi Grewal

Ben’s passion towards creating customised bikes – check his page, Life Behind Bars

The gang of boys from Gujrat riding for the cause “ek bharat,shresth bharat.”

Swati and Tarique ,couple with multi-facet talent and super enthusiasm towards life !

Namrata , Lorraine and myself -mother of two were riding all through this tour. It was great to see that is not just me who makes multiple phone calls back home when on a tour like this 🙂

Observing, understanding, adjusting and knowing people’s habit, the way of living, language and behavior is what we learn hands on .Boys made their own set of friends and were happy  be riding, playing or just chatting with them

4. Discipline without saying “the” word

Every morning we were supposed to report at 5.30 am for the ride (which we never did, that’s another story), but boys were up with my one wake up call. Their dresses ready for the next day and bags packed too. We were riding to different locations each day and bags were supposed to be transported as well. Temperatures dropped at certain places, and Mumbaikars are too lousy when it comes to cold winds. Younger one being asthmatic had sneezing attacks in wee hours but all wrapped up in a blanket they were always ready on time. There was no fuss about early morning rise.

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Sid , all up and ready for the ride

5. Adjusting beyond the comfort zones

We all have to agree that we have a far more comfortable life now than what it used to be in our childhood. I was amazed on how boys adjusted to whatever was available. Although we stayed in Chattisgarh tourism guest houses, they had their limitations. There was no fuss or cribbing about food. Sid, who is such a fussy eater ate whatever was available because I told him to eat adequately to ride well the next day. No hot shower but just a bucket of warm water and they were happy with it wherein Abhi at home loves his hot water shower twice a day. They adjusted to every situation .

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6. Discovering new likings

Sid has always been an outdoor kid. Full of surplus energy and enthusiasm, unable to fix his liking on one thing. So typical ME . While Abhi is a happy go lucky child. Happy and satisfied with himself and his surroundings. This trip gave both of them to do what they wanted to and find their happiness rather than their parents forcing them in some hobby classes in the name of skill building. Children are born with multiple skills, let them explore themselves.

7. Observing relationships

We had solo riders, families with children, couples, father-son duo riders in this trip. It was an excellent opportunity to observe the bond and connect with each relationship. It was amazing to see the confidence senior citizen father had in his young son as they were riding together. I saw Sid from the corner of my eyes nodding his head in approval of this relationship. I also saw him blushing whenever he saw Ben and Stephanie. together,  teenager syndrome is setting in now.

8. Independent decisions

They took small but independent decisions in the entire trip. They chose the clothes they wanted to wear the next morning for the ride, although I guided them on layering up. Picked the food they wanted to eat from the buffet with Sid evidently seeking approval from me on the right quantity(he was riding each day). Deciding the distance and whether to ride or not. Choosing to ride after the fall or not (Sid had two falls).The decisions were small, but they give them immense confidence in being responsible.

I am glad about my decision to take all my three boys on this trip. We were addressed as the tribe called “Charon dishayen” (Char-four, means we family of four and Disha- implies direction, which is also the meaning of my name).

We all learned something or the other from this trip and had an enriching experience. It is important to let children be themselves, take own decisions, get dirty, mess around, get tired, be in the sun, fall, get hurt, above all let them grow the way want to.

I am mighty proud of all my three boys for being together throughout , no tantrums , utterly cooperative and  understanding. I underestimated your hidden trait. Mom is sorry about it but a strong pat on your back Som, Sid, and Abhi.

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Ghar wali Diwali: A town to B town

“You all have to come home for this Diwali“, ordered mom and you very well know that you can’t mess with mom. So, like very obedient lamb we three brothers and sister adhered to her order.

We generally go for a family holiday during Diwali break and been practicing this for almost three years in a row now. We carry our diya and light it up in the hotel room as a symbolic representation for Diwali.

But this time we made no holiday plans and our flights landed at Bhopal (a city in Madhya Pradesh where my parents live). Just a day after the Diwali break of school, we were ready with our bags and all excited to go home for Diwali.

I was going home for Diwali after thirteen years!

We were the first family to arrive and a day after eldest brother and his family from Delhi were also home.

My boys always get overexcited once they are at their nana’s house, the reason being – “nana, has such a huge house mamma, it’s like a resort.” Space crunched Mumbaikar knows the true value of space and a bungalow seems like a resort. I truly empathize with my boys here.

The resort cum bungalow now had eight adults and six children all in the range from thirteen to five years old, with my niece as the only eldest girl followed by five boys. No brownie points for guessing how noisy, chaotic, WWE favored, football lovers, over energetic and an utter mess it would be for the next couple of days.

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Each day was something different. Dhanteras, choti Diwali and then finally Diwali. We made paper lanterns to decorate the house, Rangoli to decorate the porch in order to impress goddess Lakshmi (most sought-after of all god fraternity). The best part was that my entire gang of hyperactive kids participated in the activity. We sat together, shared our colors, encouraged each other for doing good and it was such a positive environment.

Then came Diwali eve.

We in north India do elaborate Diwali puja and mom looks forward to making it grand. As we all got dressed up for Diwali my boys were quite dazed by all the rituals around. They had almost forgotten the nuances around Diwali puja . Drawbacks of holidaying during Diwali break.

It was a wonderful Diwali eve followed by token phuljhari and sumptuous dinner.

Next day we all went to watch “Golmal Again.” Ok, I agree it was a horrible decision but you see being a parent is not easy and we have to kill our happiness several times for our children and we nicely did it again. Kids loved the movie as well as the popcorns, fighting and quarreling over that last bite as famished, never-seen-food type children. I discounted all this because more than the movie I enjoyed the atmosphere of the movie hall.

It was then I realized the difference between A class and B class city. Sharing my observation.

As we entered the movie although it was INOX it appeared as if it’s a higher version of a small, not so well maintained local theater. Truly, I wasn’t too pleased with the first look. But I was happy to sit next to Som (my husband) all through the movie after a very long time because my boys ganged with their cousins. The movie started and went on without tickling me at all. I wasn’t surprised that all the children of the family were laughing their heart out moreover mimicking each other.

I wasn’t interested in neither to watch nor laugh on the dialogues of the so-called family –blockbuster-rib tickling-movie. Som and I were happy sitting holding hands and talking with each other (which we rarely do otherwise). Moments later, both of us unanimously said, “What a wonderful environment to watch a movie”.

The crowd in the hall was thoroughly enjoying the movie, bursting out in bouts of laughter which I found not even worth smiling. An aged person sitting right behind me seemed paid by Rohit Shetty(Director of the movie) to laugh at each dialogue. The crowd was cheering, getting into loud laughter and eatables were continuously pouring in.

When the movie finished and as we moved out of the hall, I observed that most of the people came in large groups like full family with grandparents and grandchildren as well. They all were happy with the movie and were giggling over the most stupid dialogues I had ever heard.

I came to watch the movie while they came to enjoy.

I came back home and pondered over on why I found the environment of the movie hall so attractive and compared this to movie hall in A grade city.

Movie halls in Mumbai are plush, spacious, best sound effects, best in customer service, a variety of food and very attractive. But I have rarely seen people bursting out in fits of laughter even at funniest dialogues. We are too sophisticated you see. I have not seen big groups coming for a movie. Going solo is very common. I have not even seen or heard people in the hall clapping. (leave aside me because I do this in most of the movies and my husband kind of disowns me for that very moment)

The metros have their own charm to stay but we are largely disconnected with each other giving the reason of hectic work schedule, long distance to commute, busy lives and only a weekend to rest. We run very short on time. Our daily life is mechanical and clocked.

Friends if any rarely talk to each other leave aside meetings. Whatsapp is the only way to communicate that too if one has time will respond. Before a call, we need to ask, “Can I call.” Surprise visits are a total NO. Visiting and exchanging gifts plus savories with neighbors is not a common practice.

Children learn so much with each other which no summer camp can teach. Sharing things, settling their own quarrel, learning to eat on their own, trying new dishes without making a fuss, enjoying their childhood the way they should without being judged or checked, speaking in their comfortable language than being pressurized to speak only in English, wishing Namaste than Hello to guests, pooling in money to get a football for a game than each child getting his/her own football. Listening to all stories from grandparents and the best part to see when their mom is checked and scolded by Nani but she can’t answer back. Finally, they see someone who can do that to their mom!

People are not judged by the kind of clothes they wear or how fluently English is spoken but the manner in which they adjust in a family. Family culture and values are kept at a higher pedestal. Even Som commented that I get fully covered whenever I am in Bhopal. Shorts, sleeveless and hot pants don’t know their existence but it doesn’t bother me as long as I am comfortable in what I am wearing.

Shifting to a B town will be a tough task because of job prospects and various other reasons but celebrating festivals together is a must do. I have silently made a promise to come home for Diwali each year to live and cherish each relation deeply.

 

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The great big family

 

You are responsible for my poor grades , mom !

While I was in Europe for work last month both my sons had their exams. I was tensed and it was easily visible in all my actions. While the younger-one is sincere and sat with me to study before the exams but the elder one, who is in his pre-teens refused to agree on the need to study prior to the exams. I tried to explain but he wouldn’t budge from his argument. His logic being, “mom, you only say that you are not after grades then why are you pestering me to study?” well, it is wiser to stop the argument once you know that you have pre-teen on the other side.

I tried to put things in place like craft work needed at school, any projects  done, doctors list on the fridge, menu well explained to cook for all meals, emergency numbers of stationary –wala, grocery store etc. Mothers who travel can very well relate here.

Two days before the travel my younger son fell sick. Being asthmatic he had terrible wheezing attack. The sight of Abhi struggling to breathe was enough to make me panic . We saw the doctor and tried to put things in place. By this time, he had already missed his three exams. Elder one did not take this too well as to why he was supposed to go the school and appear for exams? There was no logic and explanation  given for this and like a very stern mother I ordered – You have to so you have to. There are times when you have to put your foot down on some absurdly irrational arguments.

My flight was at  10.30 pm and even at 6 pm I hadn’t even removed the suitcase from the loft. My mother-in –law was getting hyper and questioned continuously if I had made up my mind or not.I was in a very indecisive state. I never wanted to leave my –although- now- stable -son behind and I couldn’t say “no” to my team as well. I was too overwhelmed by the entire scene around me .

Finally, I sat with Abhi and asked him if I could go, if he would be fine, if he was ok with mamma not being around?

His reply was, “mamma although I want you around but I am much better now and dadu, dida (grandparents), aunty(maid) will be home so I’ll be taken care of . Also , doctor has asked not to go to the school until I am totally fine so, I think you can go”

I thanked my boy for this but knew the bottom line  – Doctor has asked not to go the school until I am fine.

Finally , the eldest boy ,Som my husband told that I could carry on and things are manageable .That confidence was enough for me .

At 7.45 pm I removed the suitcase from the loft , dumped the things in and I was at the airport at 9.30pm

Travel went on fine with lots of video calls , desperate calls , solve-my-fight calls , big brother-is-hitting me calls .

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Then came the day when the doctor allowed Abhi to go to the school and earth came shattering down because it was Hindi test . I got some 10 calls (irrespective of the time difference) that Hindi exam is the toughest thing on the planet and I am responsible for making it worse . With lot of tears and sobs we somehow managed to revise Hindi over video call . Thankyou Vodafone international roaming for the perfect network which I never get in my domestic travels . Phew !! we managed Hindi, although Abhi wasn’t too happy as he is a very meticulous student and wouldn’t take any shortcuts towards learning .

Now , came another bummer . My elder son called up.He doesn’t talk much , because he only speaks through his WWE moves . Anyway after lot of persuasion he didn’t speak much but tears rolled down . I kept asking him but he refused to tell . Well, we mothers have extraordinary sixth sense and I knew the issue . I didn’t tell him anything but told him to be strong and will talk once back . He has crossed the stage of baby talks but as men never grow up and same applies to my 43 yr. , 12 yr. and 8 yr. old boys .All of them need cajoling and sweet mamma talks at times .

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I was home after 10 days . After a customary hug , boys directly jumped to the bag of gifts, which I discounted because I was home like that student who has not fished the homework of the strictest teacher and wondering how to face the situation .

Due to jet lag I slept almost the day and finally when I met them at dinner I had some very heart breaking disclosures :

Abhi ,

“You went leaving me behind even when I asked you not to go”

Me (silently ) my dear boy , you only asked me go and told me that you are better.

“You left me to study Hindi alone”

My (mouth shut) , Yes , I know . You never studied Hindi with me before the exam.

“You are responsible for my poor marks in Hindi”

Sid as ever , refrained from speaking anything . I then used my motherly magic and sweet talked him only to listen , “it is because of you I flunked in geography ”

I took all this with a pinch of salt and felling terribly guilty.

I was anyway swaying due to jet lag and with all the blame game on my head I thought a wonderful red wine will ease out the stress . As if my children read my mind and there they sputtered , “mom, you are on diet and you are into sports, you can’t have wine”

I just grinned as shutting mouth at this moment was very wise .

I was constantly reminded for next few days that I am ONLY person who did not do the duty of teaching , revising and persuading them to study for exams . I am the ONLY person who was responsible for their poor grades .

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It took me around two to three days to come out of my jet lag and flu state .

I got up that morning with a fresh smile , packed them off to school , went for my strenuous gym session , attended not so important calls and mails , heard my mother over a call on parenting and significance of mother in a child’s life .

Once done , I was ready to welcome my children from school. I felt like a wounded soldier who has to give his last shot before succumbing to his bullets .

Over the lunch “I am the only person responsible” issue again came up .

Now , it was my turn . I was pondering over what all my children said over last few days . Cried silently in the pillow , ran faster in the eve , did more crunches , lifted heavier weights to burn it out . But this should be communicated to them – Clear and stern .

I asked my boys to listen to me attentively without cutting me in between .

Here is my speech ,

My dear boys , first I am sorry as I was unable to fulfil your expectation . I am sorry that because of me you got poor marks . I am sorry that I left when you wanted me .

But , tell me something

Did you listen to me when I said that it is always better to study before the exams and not wait till the last moment ?

Did you revise and complete your lessons on time ?

Did you even think that as you have the job to study and go to school, your mother has a job too?

You had so many people around you to take care when you were unwell , who was with me when I was down with flu during my travel ?

Your ONLY work was to study for your test , while my work was to attend all your desperate calls , mange with the cook , follow up on your WhatsApp group as you would not even know what do in the school next day , revise the lessons with you over video call , mange my work and team .

It is very easy to blame your mother for your failure but did you even try to put in  best effort ?

I would like to make it very clear , that your mother has a job which she loves the way she loves you both . My work will make me travel but that doesn’t mean I am irresponsible . My work and commitments will increase over the coming years and we all have to accept it . Blaming me for your poor performance  is not accepted . I am deeply hurt by your words . I thought I have two very sensible, intelligent and cooperative boys but you proved me wrong . I would expect more understanding when I travel next even during your exams . Let’s work it out together boys .

Phew!!!! I said all this in one go. Perks of being a national rank holder in debates and elocutions you see .

There was a silence for few minutes . we looked into each other’s eyes for a while and with a deep breath my younger one said , “but mamma , you can’t travel when our exams are on”

I smiled slyly because I knew whatever I narrated above will be reaped again.  I’ll keep on giving this speech until they get it crystal clear.

If you are 21th century kid and then I am also 21th century mom, bring it on!

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“You want mamma to slap you?”

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“Do you want mamma to slap you? Do you?”

Another round of silent yet loud enough  sobs.

I could hear the hard thud, the shouting and the sobs again kind of making a repeat sequence .

This is almost every day routine that I hear before going to bed.

I stay in Mumbai and no matter how big or small the houses are, our one bedroom window will overlook the living room of the other flat. So, only way to stay within our privacy is to keep the curtains drawn .

Curtains are the barrier in viewing but not listening.

Every night before retiring for the day when I enter  my bathroom for the last round of brushing I hear this on n off . It  lasts  for few minutes for maybe more but I never had the courage to hear it for long .Other day the shouting and sob cycle went for a little longer . I stood there in the bathroom  frozen as if there was flashback going in front of me on the huge mirror in my bathroom .

I was 26 when I delivered my elder son. Too overwhelmed by first time motherhood I tried to do and get  the best for him. Right from imported diapers to a particular bottle feeder, softest clothes, cutest shoes and what not. But something was not right . I was constantly dissatisfied, angry , screaming , panicking , OCD , all my expressions and emotions were on the extreme side .

Sid was two and a half years old when he started his playschool in Gurgaon. It was a very child friendly school. I was happy but I think after a while teacher’s weren’t’. I had constant complaints that Sid was pushing , hitting , screaming and fighting with other children .I tried every possible way to explain him but things were not going fine . I was clueless.

It was about time to move from Gurgaon to Bangalore where my younger one was born .I was 29 then.

Things didn’t change much or  I was so occupied with two kids that  I didn’t pay much heed towards my thought process . Husband had erratic working hours and he had a guest appearance in the house . I was in a zombie state throughout. But, something was still not right.

Well, again it was time to move from Bangalore to Mumbai . We moved to a high-rise on 14th floor and we had a huge common balcony running across all rooms. Sid and Abhi were around 6 and 2 years by then.

One fine evening I was standing in the balcony with Abhi in my lap and Sid sitting and playing with his toys.An instant thought occurred to jump from the fourteenth floor with my boys. Shiver ran down my spine and there was a complete blackout. I have no memory of what happened next but what  I remember is ,that I was  sitting in my living room with Sid and Abhi clinging to me. I didn’t jump! Since, then I have developed extreme fear of heights. 

My situation was alarming.

Things were not fine. No, they weren’t at all. I was concealing my issue under the excuse of being over occupied.

I was under huge depression. I now knew it well .

But, why depression? Who to talk ,share or discuss?

Husband? Poor thing, he was clueless himself. Long working hours and then children taking all the time where was the scope to sit and explain. But I remember I kept on telling him that something is wrong with me. He used to come home complaining that either my car was unlocked or the window is left open or the door key is left outside. I had no answer.

I had to take charge of myself but how?

I started reading on my symptoms and relating each reaction to a particular episode. Very soon that I knew I was going through huge postpartum depression .

Suddenly, there was a knock at my door. It was my younger one asking me to come out of the bathroom.

I knew exactly what was going on in that house.I wonder no mother can harm her child until n unless she herself is under some problem .

A woman goes through lot of hormonal changes during pregnancy and post-delivery. Hormones could be monstrous or blessing. Mines were monsters. postpartum depression is not well-known; less talked, misunderstood and many times goes unattended.

I vented out my entire depression on a soft target – my son. What a horrible mother I have been? My poor baby bore the burnt and I had no idea for my uncalled behaviour.

Well, things were to go fine now. I started taking care of myself very well. I would not be ashamed if I say, I became selfish.

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Few troubleshooting strategies I adopted, sharing them here:

  • I listened to my body and mind , no one knows you better than yourself
  • I had MY time. Extract time for yourself – JUST YOU. Things will work as they are even if you are not around. You cannot make everyone happy every time, after all you not chocolate fudge!
  • I started loving myself. Love your body. Work hard on it, sweat it off, let it get dirty, pamper it. Put that liner, kajal and go out for a run. Wear the brightest red lipstick and go out in dirt. Give a damn shit to “others ”
  • Children will grow and move on, what will you do then? Get involved in anything of your choice that may or may not give you gainful employment but will keep you mentally engaged.
  • Talk and talk it out don’t keep the negative thoughts or feeling to yourself.
  • Everything can’t be perfect and why to even aim there ,be there where the fun is ? Be easy in life , in household , with children and spouse
  • If the last bite of your favourite dessert is left , ask you children to share with all the family members.Why do you have to be Mother India and sacrifice your bite?
  • Laugh the loudest ,gladly flaunt that cleavage , wear what you wish to without taking body shape into consideration , just be YOU

Depression has nothing to do with being mentally unstable but it’s more to do with emotional instability. Get a companion or better be your own companion.I strictly follow flight instructions for myself – “Before saving others wear your oxygen mask first”

It’s just one life we get, live it the fullest and the way YOU like it.