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Second family: cracking the code

Relationships,
isn’t this is the “only” connect which is making the human race survive? Or I should say letting everything and everyone survive?
Humans need bond so does the universe and anything which is into existence.
We all live, work hard, strive, struggle to be in relation either with a partner or self.
We hug, cuddle and express love to our children, at times they respond in a very affectionate way and sometimes they don’t and at times they just don’t like to be touched (like my teenage boy) but do we stop our expression and leave them on their own?
No!
Why?
Because we can’t stay without them, they are our breath, our energy, part of us (you read  the exaggerated versions at FB )
But, do we follow the same for our second family too?
My day one of this new year started with my trip to Kolkata to my in-law’s place. I wanted to visit my father-in-law as he wasn’t keeping well for a while and with boys having their winter break on, it turned out to be family trip.
My father-in-law also had his 74th birthday during our stay period and I wanted to celebrate his day (I just need a reason to celebrate anyhow). So, I invited both my father-in-law’s and mother-in-law side of the family. It’s a nice big clang (which I miss at my side). It was a wonderful gathering. We ordered cake, food, decorated the house with balloons. With everyone around the house was filled with lots of chatter and laughter.

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Baba’s 74th birthday

I loved every bit of this gathering where all of us were together.
It was amazing to see my father-in-law’s expression. He was elated by the celebration and said, “I never had such a wonderful birthday ever”. I felt equally wonderful.
The very distinguishing feature of my visit to Kolkata is, there are times when I am unable to speak their language fluently and they are unable to speak mine. I can’t eat their choice of food and they don’t eat mine but that doesn’t deter us from having a good time together.

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Baba and yours truly

A beautiful bond is much ahead than all this.
At times I wonder how did I pull through all this? Getting married into a totally different culture where we could not even communicate properly was not an easy journey.
Language, food preferences, culture, habits, way of living, thought process, expectations were totally opposite to my upbringing.
But I decided on two things;
First, stay the way I am and,
Second, don’t give up

I believe I observed relationships very closely right from my childhood. How?
I come from a very basic family. My father retired as a government servant and mother was always a housewife. I haven’t seen big money ever, never experienced it as well. But what I saw was my mother ’s sincerity in taking care of my grandparents (although I was very young then and have a very faded memory of this). I have also seen my mother’s selfless dedication towards the family. I have seen my father’s anger, discipline, meticulous working, love, and care towards his family, OUR family.
As a child, I never understood the relationship between my mother and her in-laws but now I can understand and feel for her. I never heard her complaining about anything but what I saw was her effort to take utmost care and give them respect. It wasn’t easy for her at all. I now know it so well.
Today, when I see my equation with my second family, I thank my mother for it.
I am an atheist so religion, temple, idol worshiping doesn’t attract me but I am very emotional and sensitive when it comes to relationships. Relations are my religion.
After fifteen years of my association with my second family I am glad that my mother-in-law waits for my call, the first phone ring on their special occasions and they know it’s me, they also listen to my complaints towards their son (ok, sometimes but they do), they understand my point of view as well, they understand my love and respect towards them. We still have the difference of opinions but we don’t take it to the heart.
Why?
Because I didn’t give up and I never will.
“Relationships happen and shape up well, only and only if you are willing to make them happen. “

The Big Bangla family

The Big Bangla family

 

Video

Letter to my teenage boy-Sid

Dear son,

You are now into the most difficult phase of your life where you are neither a lad nor a kid. Your voice is cracking, you have hair here and there everywhere, your taste buds have changed, you have no control over your voice tone, you show mood fluctuations, you are easily stressed and have very short-temper, your liking towards one thinIMG_1300g is not constant, one day you’ll be home from school with all smiles and the other day you won’t even like to look at me ,you can live in one tee and shorts for days, you refuse to obey anything, you don’t even allow me to hug, cuddle or kiss you anymore, your body smell has changed too. I know sweetheart it is a very difficult phase.
But, do you know your mom is facing all these issues since her puberty? Even more after two childbirths where hormones go berserk. Anyhow, you know this happening every month when I am loud enough to say, “just bear with me for a few days, I have my periods!!”
I miss my mom, right here!!!
I truly understand your condition my dear boy and your dilemma in managing this situation. But, you know what darling? It isn’t easy for me too to accept this change.
I am also a human being after all!
I have a level of patience in dealing with all the tantrums.
I have my share of tolerance to bear your high voice pitch and aggression.
I have my threshold to just take all these changes with gritted teeth.
I swear, I am showing my best behavior right now but the hidden emotion is – seethe!
I am also trying and will keep on trying my dear boy to help you pass through this phase but if at some point you find your mother out of place please understand that I am shutting down for a while to regain all the energy, after all, I am now a mother and I don’t have my mom with me to throw all tantrums.
As the saying goes, ” you can’t choose your family” but here I say, THIS IS ALL WE HAVE AND WE HAVE TO FIGHT IT OUT TOGETHER. I had no control in choosing a well-behaved, soft-spoken, very good at studies, medal dangling around the neck, high achiever son(Phew! Glad you are not this type) similarly you had no control in choosing a hyper, over-systematic, time-table-type, organized, disciplined,at-times-short-tempered, over-sensitive mom.
d01cd5d7-01de-430d-94b9-8e8db5ad661dI am trying to be a parent every single day and I know I am doing my level best. I have never put in so much hard work in reading, understanding, and learning during my academic years which I am doing now towards my new subject-phycology!
All this is new for you and it’s new for me too, let’s figure it out together my boy.
And if at any point you think that you can outsmart me then darling let me tell you- I am one hell of a mom who is consciously letting you spread your wings with one flight at a time, I am holding the rope tied to your now-not-so-tiny toes very firmly and letting you flutter to feel around and once you are ready I’ll be ready to cut that rope and let you soar high.
This new year let both of us grow together. Now that you’ve crossed my height, wear my shoes and tees. I promise to stand by you as your strongest pillar without even letting you know, whatta badass mom I am (evil laugh).
Your mood will sway like a pendulum and so will mine(tit-for-tat… yay!!)
I will say just one thing, I love you my sunny boy and I promise to make a man out of you!!!

I don’t want to grow up to be a man, mamma!

While I was engrossed in my work my younger son comes to me with a sad as well as confused expression and announces, “mamma, I don’t want to grow up to be a man.”
Confused, I asked him, “why?”
He replies, “mamma, in all the books, advertisements, songs, movies and even the people talk so much about mother. Like, she is the best, she sacrifices, she loves more, she cares more and all that. I cannot be a mother, and no one will love me. I don’t want to be a man. I am good as a child, at least I am cute!”
I just heard him with open mouth, utterly shocked, speechless and tried to understand what he said.
My nine year old can feel and understand the gender bias in the society how come we adults miss it?
I then thought on how are we creating gender bias right from the day a child is born. We express our happiness of having a girl or a boy. If a boy then “Ghar Ka Chirag” if a girl then “maa baap ka dhyan rakhegi budape mein,” making her sit on an elevated platform.
I remember a few conversations just some days back.
I was at the bus stop to drop my boys to school, and we mothers were discussing our routine, school, maid, etc. Work from home moms had a different set of grievances, and we were talking about time management. I told them that now my elder son goes for his cricket and swimming coaching on his own. I also give him a list for grocery, and he gets it from the supermart. The following question was, “you don’t have a driver then how does he go?” I replied, “for smaller distances, he takes his cycle, and for others, he goes by auto” There was a silence for few minutes, and I wondered if I have said anything wrong. Then came a single reply, “ladka hai na you can, we have a daughter, can never think of sending her alone.”
I didn’t comment anything.
Another conversation was with a father who is worried about the safety of his daughters because they stay in Delhi.
I had nothing to comment there too.
As per my observation, whenever there is a girl in the family, we love seeing them grow into an elegant young woman.IMG_2286

A lady, who sits well rather than rough, talks with all manners than the way she feels; we are happy when she can prepare tea than playing a rough football match, dresses well than shabby, shows small gestures of taking care of you than not understand your mood(which is a boy’s trait)
Then promptly comes the comment, “ladki hone ke apne sukh hain”
I still wonder how many are raising their daughters without using “we are blessed to have a girl” in their conversation?
How many have career goals for their girls? Why is it only a boy’s job to be a breadwinner?
How many worry about their girl’s future financial security?
I am not talking about the money you’ve accumulated or properties created, and I am talking about do you worry what will happen if my daughter is not earning well in the future? How will she run her household? Will she have her own house before she decides to settle down? Why are these things the only responsibility of boys?
Wealthy people might have a reason not to worry for such things as they have enough to support their daughters even if she is not capable enough, but aren’t you turning them into a vegetable?
Why are we over-protective for girls like not sending them to local shops, market, public transport while for boys it’s okay?
We unknowingly make our girls grow into precious darlings, and when they grow up, we seek equal rights as boys.
Here the life comes in full circle

9f43238a-eb5b-4d9f-9a38-10ae8a5e7cd1I have no idea if I am bringing up my boys correctly or not, but I am very sure that they are seeing a woman who has the tenacity of rock and who does everything and even more than what any male can do. I am assuming that they will see girls as equal partners and not just a decorative piece.
I am so glad that my son at this age is sensitive and feels that the society is biased towards the female gender and both should be treated at par.
Upbringing, mentality and thought process is changing, but there is still much to do knowingly to create a just and even society.

PTM: handle it well!

Yesterday was my younger son’s PTM (Parent Teacher Meeting). I had to plan my swim session accordingly to be on time at the school and, voila I made it before time!

funny-parenting-comics-3Attending his PTM are always a cake walk. I get to hear all good things like a very obedient child, very soft-spoken, very well mannered, very disciplined and many more. In one academic session I was also complimented on my luck to have a child like him (as if I offered some special prayer to have him)

Last week I had my elder son’s PTM, and it is me who has to be at the war-front. I scurried through his diary and was surprised not to find a single remark. Wondering what happened as in all the previous academic sessions our diary was full by mid-term and then it was phone calls that demanded me to be in the school at any working day. This was one of the primary reason to leave full-time work. I could not manage half day leave every alternate day.

0a2da93cea5419889cf1bb3ce1228e44--changing-tables-drawing-cartoonsI got up much before time on the D day with a significant churning in the tummy. Took a shower, dressed well, prayed a little, armoured myself to accept whatever comes, took a deep breath, practised fake smile and nod, and I was ready to be at the front. I was not scared of bomb shelling. I was ready, entirely.

As I waited in the classroom for my turn, I was breathing heavily, twitching my fingers and trying not to make any eye contact with any other parent.

Then came my turn.

“he is a lovely child.”

“studies are also good.”

“very good at sports.”

“high on energy.”

“a delightful child.”

Oh my! What did I hear? I couldn’t believe what I heard. I was looking at the teacher with eyes and mouth wide open. I kept looking at her. All of a sudden there were violin tunes around me, the Bollywood lover in me awakened, and I was already running in the mustard fields. Like a melodramatic actress I was on the verge of crying, but instantly as the teacher broke my Simran feeling, I realized I am a mother who is listening to these compliments for the first time in the entire academic history. I couldn’t thank her enough and moved out of the class triumphantly. Mostly in the earlier PTMs I never dare to meet any other subject teacher. But this time, I held my head high as I have faced all bomb shelling, and I am the bravest soldier. I have nothing to fear. I visited a few other subject teachers only to hear those sugar-coated words yet again and again. I felt I am standing at the gold podium of Olympics and the entire world is looking at me. I felt like waving my hand fervently and claim what I have just heard.IMG_8608

I then headed to my favourite Theobroma and got our favourite chocolate cake.

As soon as I reached home, I threw away the mark-sheet but hugged Sid instead, we then cut the cake and shared the happy stories told by the teacher.

After I was done with my violins and mustard fields, to the Olympic podium to waving to the crowd, I kept wondering what happened. How come such a change? He is a teenager now and is way too bugging, nagging and difficult to handle at times. We often get into unwanted arguments, unreasonable demands and what not but how did this change happen.

I think it was more of self-realization than taking the credit of good parenting.

But I was very clear on one thing right from the day one when I used to get complaints about him that I will never argue, reason or defend him in front of the teacher. I always listened to the teacher like a lamb and never took him along for the PTM or in-between-the-week-any-day-complaint-hearing.

Sharing my views as I see in this transformation, see if you can relate to a few:

  1. Never bombard on the child after you hear any complaint from the school (believe me, I have heard so many times)
  2. Let the child speak as well and give a proper argument towards the complaint
  3. No one knows your child better than you do and you’ll be able to judge the authenticity of the claim and if your child is at fault or not.
  4. Ask your child to say sorry to the teacher or the child who has been troubled by his/her behaviour. Ensure the etiquette of saying sorry
  5. Give constant encouragement and positive strokes to your child
  6. If you are an influential person entirely avoid taking your child along for the PTM. Do not visit the principal, because the child observes the influence of power over education. You have already made your child eligible to behave in whichever way he /she wants as the child now knows that even the head of the school stands up before his/her parents.
  7. Never make fun or disrespect the teacher in front of the child
  8. Narrate your school stories. I have many from my convent and how scared we were of our principal.
  9. Make the child feel responsible for his/her behaviour. Don’t just let them get away from whatever they’ve done.
  10. If it is a punishment then it should be followed strictly. For, eg, there is a complaint from the school on a weekday, I punish the child refraining from the screen time, but as the weekend approaches I forget about the complaint, and I am already having pizza, roaming in malls and having a gala time. The child takes it as “I can get away with any complaint after a little hiccup.”
  11. Never let the child get excused under the pretext of “baccha hai” “children do make mistakes” understand the gravity and then react.
  12. Never fail to show your concern towards your child and keep telling him/her that mistakIMG_8677es or complaints don’t make who you are. Always give a big tight hug.

Parenting is a very tough task especially in today’s scenario we are continually learning as well. But we can balance our reaction and let the children bloom in their conducive environment then we will be able to raise loving, compassionate, responsible and well-mannered human beings.

Good luck to all!

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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