Board results were just out, social media and WhatsApp filled with accolades, praises for children scoring well, and parents claiming their happiness and proud feeling. I also came across posts where few children could not make it to the 90s club, but still, parents were happy and satisfied. Most of the counselors played a significant role here. Few preached on not putting the burden on the children, while few asked parents to cool down, few even asked children to take it easy. Well, after acquiring my diploma in counseling psychology, I’ve started a few ProBono counseling sessions. My advice to parents and children is quite straightforward. For this entire number game and grading system, of pressurising children and children feeling exhausted, I had a great conversation with few parents. Sharing some experts,
Children should not feel burdened Pull them out of the school . It’s a simple solution and makes everyone happy. Dear parents, if your child is under a particular education system(read school), then he/she has to follow what is needed. If the school is rushing to complete the syllabus, then we as parents have to have Plan B. Approach, prepare a systematic study plan and follow the pattern strictly. A study plan will enable the child to be at ease when the exam approaches and will not feel burdened. Act smart and don’t get carried away by your child’s whining.
Don’t pressurize your child I say, why not? If you have accumulated enough wealth and are sure that you’ll be able to fulfil all the needs of your child even if he/she is unable to earn on his/her own, then our discussion ends here. But if not, then the study is the only key. Approach, don’t let your child ever feel that things are easy. Pressurize them constructively. Tell them that hard work is essential, and nothing comes easy in life. Give them examples from your friends’ circle and relatives. Few might have studied in best colleges and doing very well while few might have attained success with hard work. Children need to understand the significance of hard work and discipline.
Grades are essential of course! They are! Oh ! common we are in the Indian education system where grades are essential and no matter how much your claim to defer but you know the fact. For a working class, family children have to do well at studies, and a common approach is challenging to absorb. Will you panic if your child flunks or you’ll be just fine? Approach, tell them the significance of good grades categorically. Give them a clear view . For instance, good grades will get you into a right college and choose a professional line which will make your life easier. If you get poor grades, this doesn’t mean your life is tough, but you may have to work harder to make your ends meet. Give them a practical insight and nothing flowery. Talk to them like adults. Career counseling may help here. We as adults and with more than half a life done, still can’t figure out what we want in life then think how a 15-year-old kid can decide?He/she will need our guidance.
There is always a second chance Really? Will they appear for board exams again? You have to tell them that this is their chance to do their best and put in the best efforts. The climb to the tallest mountain is tough, but the view is fantastic. Approach, guide, counsel, reinforce point number one and two repeatedly. Children will rebel, but that’s why they have parents. We are here to hold the leash tight when needed. They cannot take chances for granted. It’s a way of upbringing and preparing them for later stages of life.
Then to lead a good life, only money and good grades are essential? “Yes, darling, these are the basic needs. Let’s do one thing, you don’t put effort, and I don’t go to the office, how is that?” We can stay happy and stress-free when our basic needs are met else the struggle to survival will make you depressed, anxious, less on confidence and self-esteem, miserable at handling relations. Approach, tell them that you do not need lots of money to be happy, but you need to have something to cater to your needs. Parents can support children up to a certain level, but afterwards, they have to manage on their own.
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. Albert Eistein
Parents who worry too much on “pressure” burden” “number-game” terms, I always ask them to reply to the following questions:
Are you okay if your child doesn’t do well in academics?
Are you alright with your child on not showing seriousness towards his/her studies? This is also a behaviour trait for being responsible.
Are you alright with lack for hard work from your child?
Will you able to provide the same facility and lifestyle life-long to your child?
By supporting your child always, do you think he/she can sustain the pressure once you are not around?
Parenting is a tough job, and each one of us is striving to do our best. We need a holistic approach for their upbringing. Children observe us very, so we have to be very patient to understand our child. Their happiness depends on how we handle this entire rat-race of our education system. We, as parents, need to give our children constant positive reinforcement, believing in them, catering for the inner well-being and continuous mental support. Give children a practical approach towards life, talk and discuss like adults, they will do wonders when they grow up. Our children are the proud possessions we need to handle them with care and prepare them well for life ahead. All the best to us!
If you think that only big money, plush seats, a comfortable hotel can give you an enjoyable experience of travel, then you are wrong.
You are then just visiting a particular place as a tourist and not experiencing it.
Myself being an avid traveler is always careful and stringent on the budget.
Have a look at our five day trip to the Netherlands along with my partner-in-crime Deepa.
Preparations A trip which we decided four months back due to several home and work, factors got finalised only a month before the travel; hence we faced slight higher flight tickets. Nevertheless, we compensated it by booking a lower price, off-the central city Airbnb stay. We bought Maggie packets, dry snacks and I packed some poori and parantha with achar as well.
Day one – Take off and Tulip garden Both of us finished our day’s job both at work and home, did all the background preparations and started packing our bags in the evening for an early morning flight. Earth came shattering down when Deepa could not find her passport. It was only after an hour or so that things were in place and finally we were going! We boarded our 2 am flight. Twisted, walked, stretched, tried to sleep, watched back to back movies and finally landed in Paris at 8 am. We were not keen to waste a day hence thought of taking a quick shower at the airport, but after searching a lot, we could not find any FREE shower facility at the airport other than business lounges. We are very frugal travelers, so we decided that we are fresh enough to carry on with the day(good realisation 🙂 ) We then boarded the flight to Amsterdam and reached Schipol airport at 1 pm. We changed at the airport, grabbed our day bag and deposited our suitcase in the locker (6 Euro for a cabin size bag). We then enquired about the best way to commute to Keukenhof (Tulip garden) and got the details right outside the airport. We took a map, bought the tickets(52 Euro for two) which included day-long site seeing and bus transport to and fro from Schipol airport.
Keukenhof- Tulip Garden
Much before reaching the place the Bollywood lover in me was visualizing Rekha and Amitabh in “Dekha Ek khwab” song from Silsilay. Ufff, the Goosebumps. But in reality, it was myself and Deepa admiring the tulips, sipping coffee, clicking pics and collecting souvenirs. This place is beautiful, do not forget to grab a coffee, walk as much as possible and sit for a while to soak the array of colors.
We came back to the airport picked our bags and then took a train to Utrecht, that’s where we were staying. Our apartment was a kilometer walk from the train station hence we dragged our trolleys and walked to the Air BnB We faced a different type of traffic jam here with no honking or pollution. The streets filled with cyclists and we had to be careful not to bump into one. We picked some grocery items for breakfast from a nearby supermart(again a tactics for cost-cutting).
Our apartment was small but clean and had all the essential stuff needed to make ourselves comfortable. It was a long day; hence we slept off within no time. Not to miss: sipping coffee by the garden and admire the colors Can avoid: canal boat ride
Day 2 – I Amsterdam
We were up at 3.30am, being school drop timing in India, but we forced ourselves to sleep more reminding that WE ARE ON A HOLIDAY! After having our breakfast of boiled eggs, bread with peanut butter and a glass of milk we were all set for the day(our standard breakfast every day) We took a train to Amsterdam(8.60 Euro one way). We had booked a tour of Van Gogh museum (23 USD for a day-long pass). We spent a good time walking around the museum. The walky-talky came handy(10 Euro) as it gave a better insight into his paintings, work, and life. We then strolled around the city, through the gardens, by lanes, sitting by the lake, chatting and just being ourselves. By early evening we headed to Dam square as we had booked a FREE Red light district tour (we researched a lot for Free Tours- saves a lot of money). The tour was fantastic. We learned a lot about the history of prostitution, the significance of red windows, chapel in the brothel and much more. Prostitution and drugs are way too hyped in Amsterdam, but when we did the tour, it appeared that it is just a profession. Well, I must write a separate blog on this subject. We strolled at leisure all over Amsterdam and finally took the last train back to our apartment A day well spent Not to miss: Red Light District Tour, Dam square, Bagel with cheese, VanGogh Museum Can avoid: Anne Frank’s house, Canal ride, expensive tours
Day 3- Zaanse schans windmills , Volendam ,Marken , Edam and Haarlem
We took the train to Amsterdam and then boarded the bus to Zaanse Schans (all the information is readily available on google, and also at the train station, you need to walk around and enquire) We reached the windmills and walked around. We goofed up a little on the return bus but finally made it to Marken. Marken is a small laid back town, and I wanted to cycle around. We hired a bike and cycled from Marken to Edam and back. It was at this point when Deepa admitted that cycling was the best way to explore Europe, and I agreed. We took a ferry ride to the harbor city, Volendam, walked a bit and then came back to our apartment via Amsterdam A beautiful day by the countryside and also cycling around, my kind of a day! Not to miss: Cheese shop at Zaanse Schans, cycling around Edam, smooth and quiet walk around Volendam, waffle with cream Can avoid: street shopping at Marken(we faced racism)
Day 4- Hague and Delft
As per our itinerary, our day four was dedicated to cycle to the countryside but as we did that earlier we were open to anything. After a lot of research, we decided to do a tour of North Holland which is, Hague, Delft, Rotterdam, Gouda After reaching the station, we realized that our to and fro cost was too high. With the help of the ticket attendant, we decided for a whole day ticket which allowed multiple entries in the train, tram, and bus (48.8 Euro for two of us). We exploited the ticket to the maximum and left no mode of transport to use under the offering (use, use, reuse) As we reached Hague, we were delighted to see the universities around and also excellent shopping. But as we are very, budget travelers hence shopping and that too euro was not on our agenda. We came to know about a beach close by, and we headed there. The sun was finally our after chilly days; hence we sat there for a long time, soaking ourselves in the sun and sinking in the sand.
Once satiated we were now heading towards Delft famous for its blue and white pottery. We walked till the centrum, had our coffee and snacks and then took the train back to our apartment.
At night, we had a heartful of Maggie(imported from India), wine and chatted with the owner of our apartment. It great to exchange the culture, upbringing, outlook towards life and the belief system of people of different countries. It was a beautiful evening. Not to miss: Walking around Hague(you’ll be surprised at budget supermarkets and branded shops), beach, blue and white pottery in Delft Can avoid: overindulgence in the pottery(it’s too beautiful, and you’ll end up buying a lot)
Day 5- Adieu
We packed our bags, had breakfast and went for a quick stroll around the city. We finally took the train to the airport. This time we were flying directly from Schiphol to Mumbai. With all the beautiful memories of tulips, cycle ride, cheese, wine, walking, red light district, windmills, ferry ride, stroll across a deserted town, missing the bus, going on the wrong route, late-night Maggie, we bid adieu to Holland.
Some tips for a budget travel (detailed blog soon)
Select a destination in advance as per your wish list
Look out for best ticket rates across all airlines and websites
Plan your savings as per the target. Like I start putting a particular amount from my earnings for my travel so that last minute expense doesn’t burden me.
Select a budget and be very strict on it
Use public transport as much as possible
Walk as much as possible it serves two purposes: first, you don’t miss your workout keeping the calories in place second, it is the best way to explore any area
Travel less and light, two jeans, two tees, that’s it – no garment, not even human beings get dirty in Europe.
Research-research and google as much as possible for best tours, free tours, train tickets. Deepa is an avid traveler, and I learned this habit from her on this trip
Our expenses :
Flight tickets – 50K (you can easily get a 37K return if you book in advance )
Stay – 24K (I always prefer Air BnB, saves a lot of money)
Miscellaneous – 13K(train tickets, tours)
Shopping –(not counting as it is very subjective)
Take away: Be a local when going global.
choose experience over luxury
I dreamt to explore Europe on the bike and this dream shaped into reality in August 2018.
How did we/I decide on the tour?
We asked like-minded people for the tour and formed a group. We had discussions over discussions, meetings over meetings, searching the web for the best possible route. The first tour in a foreign land, I had to keep lots of factors into consideration, especially the cost. This time again I was the only female in the group, and the planning part automatically came to me. We searched lots of sites for the best route but could not find any. Sapinderji, one of our riding partner suggested riding around Austria and Italy as his close family lived there. I liked the suggestion because I was still unsure about the dynamics of riding in a foreign country. Hence we decided to ride from Innsbruck to Verona with total traveling days from 9th -19th August 2018(kids’ exams were scheduled from 20th August, and anyhow I had to be back then)
Out of all the people discussing only three of us were left for the trip, and they were also unsure. Here I took a stand as I was very clear that even if no one comes, I’ll go ahead for the trip. It takes hell lot of planning, effort, pleading, managing to move out of the house and somehow for men it gets straightforward. But then Bansal uncle and SapinderJi agreed, and we were set to go.
Day 1 (09th August 2018) Take off to Milan
Myself and Bansal uncle boarded the flight from Mumbai to Milan. We took a taxi to Verona which was pre-booked for us by Dimpy Singh (cousin of Sapinder Ji). It took us 2.2 hours to reach Verona. I had already booked the apartment at Verona, and we directly reached there. Check the link for the apartment, https://www.airbnb.co.in/rooms/21501982?s=51 The condo was strategically located, and it was a beautiful place to stay as well. We finalized the bikes in the evening with Haider (owner at a local bike shop). We chose basic touring bikes where we could arrange our panniers as well. We skipped the support vehicle to save the cost.
Day 2(11th August 2018) Drive to Innsbruck
We loaded our bikes in the car and drove to Innsbruck which is approx. 3.4 hours drive from Verona. Innsbruck(Austria) is Europe’s one of the most beautiful city. It was cold here at night, and our apartment was very cozy. Our host was wonderful, and we had no problem in either locating or staying in the apartment. Check the link, https://www.airbnb.co.in/rooms/19621713?s=51 The morning view was splendid.
Day 3 (12th August 2018) Innsbruck to Bressanone- 84.2 km
Day one of our ride and we were pretty excited. We got up early, packed our panniers and layered ourselves a little as it was cold. We had an excellent breakfast of freshly brewed coffee and croissants before the ride. Oh! What a splendid morning it was, crisp sun, slight cold breeze, beautiful mountains, mesmerising scenery. I was already excited for the ride. As soon as we started the ride, we found ourselves climbing the Brenner pass. We were not aware of the route hence were not expecting any climb. But the treacherous climb refused to end, and we climbed up for 40 km with basic bikes and panniers mounted. We finally terminated the ride one station before Brixen, loaded our bikes in the train and headed for our halt. Check our stay, https://www.airbnb.co.in/users/show/174956600
Here we were again hosted by Sapinder ji’s cousin and treated ourselves with rajma chawal and superb scotch. Brixen is a laid back, quiet and a breathtakingly beautiful city.
Day 4(13th August 2018) Brixen to Bolzano- 44.44 km
We started at ease in the morning. It was a crisp, beautiful day and after manoeuvring for a while, we found ourselves on an exclusive cycling highway running parallel to the main road meant for other vehicles. Oh ! what a delight to ride on a narrow lane meant only for cyclists. No rush or worry about any vehicles is honking or speeding. We had an incredible, delightful, hassle free and a fabulous ride. Each one of us was enjoying the route, and at one point we three were riding at our own pace and zooming freely. The vineyards and apple orchards ran parallel to the highway, and Bansal uncle decided to be a naughty boy to pluck few and keep them in the panniers. I was on guard and raised the alarm if I saw anyone approaching us. What fun, turning into mischievous little kids !! I was singing, clicking pics, taking videos and couldn’t stop my grin ear to ear. We went through the local villages soaking into the vibrancies of colors and breathtaking architecture. Sapinder ji’s young nephew also joined us on this ride, and it was great to learn a few Italian words for him. He also helped ask for directions. We met many cyclists on the way, and we waved and greeted each other. Here we had to change our stay option as the young chap with us was tired and our stay was a little far from the city. But, everything happens for good and the place we decided to stay is beyond any description in words. It was a wooden cottage owned by a couple who had apple orchards in the backyard and a beautiful extensive spread garden with amazing flowers. We were served freshly baked bread with homemade butter and jam, fresh apricots from the garden and surely an excellent coffee for breakfast. I felt like Alice in Wonderland!
Day 5(14th August 2018) Bolzano to Terento(route changed to Verona)-69.96 km
After a sumptuous breakfast, we were back on the cycling highway. We met a family from London with three kids, and they were on a cycling holiday as well. We also met two friends somewhat over 50 years old and loved the way they were chatting and riding, also stealing apples and keeping them in the bag. The whole experience of riding on the highway was stress-free. We were not chasing starva ratings, speed or QOM but we were pursuing happiness in riding across this beautiful country. We stopped more than we cycled. Each one of us was displaying a very happy hormone in the body language. There was a particular midway café meant only for cyclists. It had cycle trainers, cycle stands and necessary servicing too. At this café, our young champ gave up, and then our trip itinerary changed. We decided to go to Terento and board the train to Verona and drop him home. At night we were back to Verona where Dimpy ji’s famous restaurant called Maharaja welcomed us with best food and drinks.
We started from Verona to Desenzano aka Lake Garda early morning. It was also Independence Day of India, so I hanged the Indian flag on my bike and proudly took it wherever I went. It was a holiday season in Italy at that time, and everyone was in a holiday mood. We lost our way as usual and landed in a roadside café. There was a group of men over 70years I guess sitting and sipping their wine. Laughter, chatting and sparkling wine filled the restaurant at 9 am. Even without knowing the language we talked a lot and finally started our way ahead. We cycled through deserted, decorated and as well as villages full of life and colors. It was sweltering, and the sun was piercing the skin, but every pedal was worth taking. We finally reached Lake, and again this place stunned us with its beauty and charm. Colorful flowers, beautiful streets, all people in the holiday mood and the spectacular lake.oh ! it was stunning. Our apartment was clean, strategically located and comfortable. After a quick shower, we headed out for evening walk, followed by dinner and wine. It was a beautiful eve with live bands playing at every nook and corner, children dancing all over, young and the old shaking their booties too. I heard a band playing “Happy” from Despicable 2. I rushed and requested to sing again because boys and I love singing this song together.
We got up easy the next day, had our coffee at leisure and cycled way back to Verona. We took a different route this time (as if we knew the way back, Ha!) and within no time we were in Verona. It was scorching hot, and Dimpy Ji hosted us again with best of lemonades and salads.http://www.maharajah1.com/ We quickly took a shower and then walked all over Verona for site-seeing. Right from Gelatos, to wishing at Juliet, sipping wine, visiting an internationally famed pub, we did all until we were dead to retire for the day. We stayed at the same apartment the next day as well.
Our changed itinerary gave us two rest days, and we headed towards Florence to set the leaning tower of Pisa upright. At Florence, Mr. Jyoti Singh owns a restaurant called Havelihttps://florenceindianrestaurant.it/ which is again a must visit. He served us with the best possible Indian food both veg and non-veg, and his hospitality floored us. After convincing him that we could not eat anymore, we headed for Pisa and also the town. Florence architecture is worth admiring and leaves one in complete awe. We had a beautiful day roaming and driving around Florence and headed back to Verona by evening. We packed our bags at night as our trip was now taking a different route.
Day 9(18th August 2018)
We bid adieu to Verona and thanked our host. Myself and Bansal uncle boarded the train to Venice. Yes, we were now heading to the city of Gandolas. Our Air BnB apartment here was nothing less than an excellent, super clean and beautiful five-star hotel https://cadegliantichigiardini-venezia.com/ With the sun in its full fury, we decided to stay indoors. I soaked myself in the bathtub for the longest possible time and took a great nap. We headed out to explore the city on foot in the eve. It is indeed a beautiful city with Gondolas ferrying from one part to another. We walked to almost one corner of the town to another finally had our dinner and came back to our comfortable room.
Day 10(19th August 2018)
It was time to do the final packing as we were heading back home. With most beautiful experiences, memories, routes, food, missing the way, finding a new one, meeting new people, we boarded the flight back to Mumbai.
I had set a budget of maximum 1L for the trip.We tweaked our flight destinations to match our budgets. We also chose Air BnB for our stay with kitchen. Sharing our expense,
Some pointers for a smooth yet enriching experience
Form a group of like minded people- gives a lot of comfort
Be strict on the budget
Book tickets in advance and do a comparative analysis as well
Do an excellent survey for stay options preferably take one with a kitchen; it saves a lot of costs
Be mobile and carry walking shoes to cover a lot of distance walking
Be open to immediate change in plans
When traveling with men, be very clear- they never grow up, ever! (you’ll have to play mommy role time and again)
Keep all the things sorted back home. Emergency doctor contact, inform friends about your travel, drop a message at school group for the last minute project submission help, maids should not take off. Trust me as long as things run well behind you; you’ll be at peace.
People close to me are very well aware of my continuous ranting, “I don’t have time to complete what all I desire to perform.”, “even twenty-four hours seem less to me”, “Ineedto work on my schedulebetter”, etc. Time management is an invariable issue with me. Not that I am a terrible planner, in fact, I am described as a ruthless planner and also termed as a time table even a clock! The other day a friendtold me, “why are you organized?Just allow it to lose, detach yourself” I nothing but looked at him, expressionless, although felt like gripping his shoulders, shake him hard and scream, I-AM-A-WORK-FROM-HOME-MOM-MOTHER-OF-TWO-BOYS-AND-A-DOG-I-HAVE-TO-LOOK-AT-EVERY-MINUTE-DETAIL-IF-I-MISS-ANY-THEN-WILL-YOU-COME-AND-TAKE-OVER? Nevertheless, whileI was juggling with all these thoughts this morningwhile on my training run, Imade upmymind to give a considerable thought on my time management. I primarily don’t get the luxury to sip my tea and glance at the newspaper but today I did. After turning a few pagesIcame across an article and myeyes popped out, it read-“Mother, Runner, Champ”. (check this link;https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/opinion/columnists/supriya-nair/mother-runner-champ/articleshow/67761882.cms) No brownie points for guessing why? 🙂 I read through the whole article and sat stunned and dismayed. 35 year old, Jasmin Paris won the Spine race of 432 km ultra running challenge. What makes it special is that she, in addition, is a mother of a 14-month-old baby. In her three days of running challenge, sheslept for five hours and stopped barely to eat and expressmilk.Less was written about her routine but it did mention that sheis a professional runner and gets up at 5 am to train hard before shegets on her professional and personal duties. Stunned? I was, and I am still tremendously inspired.My current expression is–Wow!! I next looked at myself and thought what I am complaining of? Ihavehelp at home, and my children are big enough to managestuff, Iam not a breastfeeding mother, I enjoy the liberty to managemywork and travel hours and days, myentire ecosystem is in place, yet Iam complaining that I can’t managemytime? Utter shame on me. Well, after giving birth to children our routine changes dramatically. For me, my days are always arduous.Right from the morning, each activityhas to be timed.Ihave to schedule my training in such a way that I don’t miss out on the plan, use of the productive hours until the boysare in the school, finish major calls and work until then, once they are back the dynamics of the house changes. Fight, argue, discuss, shout, school work, classes, meals, stroll for Tango, cooking instructions, menu decision and the list is endless. It does get exhausting but then there is no way out. Each one of us receives twenty-four hours in a day but how we manage and plan generates the difference. I am in total awe of this mother who did not give up on her training even while she is breastfeeding. Our priorities, lifestyle, the way of living, thought process, body strength changes drastically after having children, it is therefore easy to produce excuses and not follow a routine because it is doesn’t take much to be lazy.Ittakes an effort and a whole lot of will to stand up, plan and execute. We as a mother also get into the guilt zone very quickly, at times on our own and sometimes forced by society and family.Igive constant reminders to myself that, I am trying to do my best, I do commit mistakes but under any givencondition, I am not deterring from my parental duty. Ifollow some strategies to generate the maximum from a day, * Plan the day in advance * Write down meals menu of the week and lunch boxes every Sunday eve(I fret over this.) *Write down every single thing to be done the night before *Swap the training routines if need be but ensure you don’t miss out any (refers to who are into endurance sports) *Prioritise the to-do list *Gracefully quit the social circle that doesn’t addvalue to your life *Instructchildren to arrangebags etc. the night before *Getchildren into the habit of setting the alarm and getting up on their own *Setchildren‘s routine as well *Get some time for yourself before youretire for the day *Finish major tasks like shopping, groceryduring the week so that youhave enough family time during the weekend *Ifyou miss out on some tasks then just take a deep breath and relax(this is for me.) Weallhavesituations to tackle and our own set of worriestoo but if this mother of a toddlercan do then weallcan do it too. Grit, discipline, consistency; that’sallwe require to move any mountain! Right now, I want to scream the loudest. How’s the Josh,? Very high!!
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.
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.
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. “
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 thing 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.
I 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!!!
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.
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
I 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.