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A Love Letter to My 5 Year Old

My dearest darling baby,

Happy happy fifth birthday to you (it’s actually tomorrow). I know every mother says this, but I just can’t believe that it’s already been five years, I still remember meeting you for the first time. At the same time, I can’t remember the details of my everyday life before you were born. Is it selective amnesia? I don’t know but I’m happy with this. You are the center of my universe along with your daddy, your maamu and your grandparents (you will always be our baby).

A few months back I promised myself that I’d write you a letter every year on your b’day. I want to do this for multiple reasons. One, it’s so easy to forget and I really want to remember your early years, not just the images in photos but the way you spoke, the surprising things you said and the milestones you crossed. I can’t capture all of this but I hope to create enough of a verbal image to kickstart my memory when I’m older. The second reason is, I know most mothers and daughters go through a tough period when the daughter is in her teens or early twenties and though I appreciate that this is a part of the learning process for both of us, it’ll be nice to look back on the times when you were a mummy’s baby to help me remain patient with you and myself.

Yes, we have ugly crocs. You love purple and I love pink and tangled is still your favourite movie (2 years running).

Yes, we have ugly crocs. You love purple and I love pink and Disney’s ‘Tangled’ is still your favourite movie (2 years running).

There’s a lot I want to tell you, so let me start with what’s important in life. Family and doing what you love. Yes, it sounds simple (but it’s not my darling), however, these two life factors are worth working, fighting and taking risks for. Maybe it’ll hurt more when you put all your love into a relationship and things get messed up, but if there’s real love those messed up things will get resolved over time.

Doing what you love will make you happy, I don’t know if you’ll have enough money or have a comfortable life initially, but you if you keep doing what you love you’ll eventually become the best at it and this will lead you to the life you want. How do you know what it is you love doing? Well, it’s different for different people. Some people just know right from the time they are really young and for others it takes some time to figure out, but everyone has that one thing they enjoy doing and figuring out how to make it your life’s work is the real challenge. A definite barometer on finding out if you love something is wanting to wake up and start doing it on the first day of the week, after a super fun weekend. While daddy just puts his heart and soul into whatever he’s doing, mummy took some time to find my calling. I always loved reading and writing (stories or poetry), art and travel. In my mind I was sure I would become a chartered accountant and a traditional artist who paints with oil. Things have turned out completely differently and might possibly change as I grow older (I’m not sure we really completely finish growing-up and that’s half the fun of life). Today mummy and daddy work together and mummy has written my first book and also lost interest in it and am writing my second book.

When it comes to relationships you are a child blessed with so many people who love you and that also comes with a certainty that at various points in life you’ll have to choose who you spend time with. This does not mean you love anyone less or more, it just means at a particular point in time someone needs you more. Never hesitate to make decisions after considering all the visible options, because if you are sure about why you made a decision and it’s in good faith (that means you think you did the right thing), people who love you will understand even if it doesn’t turn out great or the way you envisioned.

Now something I must tell you about your daddy. He loves us to bits and he is also highly protective and a little bit possessive of us. Even today he doesn’t mind the house being overrun with a bunch of five-year olds but he won’t send you to anyone else’s house to play unless he knows the parents really well. I understand this but foresee a few problems going forward, when you want to go for sleepovers or for a movie at night with your friends or even to college in another country. We’ll tackle those when they come but in case I’m not around (I don’t believe this will ever happen but hey! you never know), the best way to handle him will be to address his fears rather than rebelling. You may not always get your way (which is good for you character) but you will definitely get to do the important things, because at the end of the day he loves you to bits.

Now I know I’ve been rambling on a bit, however, there’s a last thing I need to discuss. It’s about being a mother. I know I’m not a conventional mommy. I work long hours (though daddy and me alternate working late to ensure that you never spend too much time away from us), I take you to movies (not with adult content obviously) and art galleries, I’ve carried you around for work for almost a year when you were too young to be left alone, we go running together and I’m not really into cooking. Despite all this I know that we have an amazing relationship and that I’d rather spend my day with you than anywhere else. Plus you’re well-adjusted and a happy child and I guess all those hours of sneaking off to the movies or painting crazy stuff in our pyjamas while eating strawberries has worked out right. I know you want a brother or sister and you’ll probably get one but only when we are sure that we won’t be taking away from the time you need with us. If this means going through the potty training stage again when I’m forty, so be it. Basically, when you become a mother (if you want to have children that is) remember that there is no perfect formula. What suits every mother and child is unique and precious. The only rule is every action should be driven by love, even if it’s anger.

At the end, baby remember that mommy and daddy love you the most in the whole world and it’ll stay that way even when you become a namnam (grandmother).

Love Mommy

Muah

P.S. – Last week you found a letter written by daddy to mommy and demanded to know where your love letter from daddy was. Well he’s written you one for your 5th birthday and it’s going under your pillow tonight.

P.P.S. – Too much nail paint always turns your fingernails yellow. Transparent is the best nail colour for hands. I love the way you laugh like you’re acting in a movie 🙂 (You know what I mean my drama queen). You are also currently crazy about rhyming words and we spend hours giggling over them.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2013 in Family, Growing-Up, Lessons in Parenting

 

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Who’s A Feminist?

What in the world do you mean by the word ‘feminist’? Does a woman who wants respect, a safe life, the right to voice her opinion and the freedom to follow her dreams automatically become one?

Then let me ask you three questions:

  • The Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN in 1948, says “…..recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of the human family is the foundation if freedom, justice and peace in the world”.  This is applicable for and by every individual on our planet and I count myself one among them, don’t you count yourself there too?
  • The Indian Constitution gives us (1) the right to equality, (2) the right to freedom, (3) the right against exploitation, (4) the right to freedom of religion, (5) the cultural and educational rights, (6) the right to constitutional remedies for enforcement of Fundamental Rights. Are not women being exploited and denied to freedom of living as equals in society?
  • This phrase from the United States Declaration of Independence “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” what do these inalienable rights stand for and why should we not demand them?

If wanting the above makes me a feminist, then I am proud to be in the company of some of the world’s greatest leaders, women and men. You definitely are not better than that.

Image Credit: Image 1

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2013 in Stereotypes

 

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Winning Against Ourselves – Mind Games

V comes up to me this morning and starts talking about school.

“Mommy I’m really getting fast at running, I ran past S and K when we had games period yesterday.”

“That’s great V but isn’t the running part more fun than the running past other children part?”

“Yup, I love running with you in the park mommy, and we run together. So, I loooooooove running. It’s almost like flying a bit. But mommy I can’t go faster than the boys you know. That’s okay coz A (my nephew) told me that boys are stronger than girls.”

That put me in a dilemma, I didn’t want to encourage competitiveness in a child not yet 5 years old, but I also didn’t want to leave her with the weaker gender idea. That’s when I had a half-formed brain wave.

“V do you know far we run together at the park?”

“Yup 3 rounds?”

“Right and that’s one and a half kilometers darling. I’m sure no one in your class, boy or girl, runs that long and far.”

“I don’t know mommy. Their mommies don’t take them running so how will they know?”

Okay…… that was the second spanner in my works. Still, I decided to gamely plough on.

“Right, darling but here’s my point. See we are both girls and we are doing something nobody else in your class is doing, boy or girl. It doesn’t matter who’s stronger or weaker. All that we need to think about is this. Do we really want to do something? If we do, we keep doing it and enjoying it. After a while we will become the best at it. So the next time A or anyone else tells you that someone is stronger or weaker, tell them this. ‘The person who really wants to do something and enjoys it, is stronger and the person who doesn’t is weaker.'”

I don’t know if I got through to her this time or if the the idea was too convoluted. However, I’m making a promise on this Women’s Day to keep reminding myself, my daughter and my nieces that we can be and achieve whatever we want as long as we really want it and enjoy it. Gender is just a category like hair colour or height, it can’t affect who we are and what we choose to become. Yes, we’ll have a lot of battles to fight as women, but let’s win the one in our minds first. 

P.S. – Funnily my first ever post on this blog was on gender discrimination 🙂

P.P.S – It doesn’t matter if your little girl chooses to play a princess game or climb a tree. As long as she is confident in herself as an individual, she will make the right choices for herself.

P.P.P.S – Wow! I just realised (when I went to get the link to my first article) that today is this blog’s two year anniversary! I somehow missed the first one! Yay! Happy Anniversary to me.

Update: A couple of days back I found a new trophy in V’s prayer basket. She apparently won the girls running race for her LKG batch. That’s like first among 60 kids, I’m guessing the boy- girl ration is 50-50. Now I know where that boys being faster/stronger than girls discussion came from. It’s the school making them compete separately. She never mentioned winning and she just shrugged when I asked her about it!

Photo Credit: Image 1

 

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What I’ve Learnt in 31 Years – Part 1

Yup, the title says it all. These are the lessons I want to make sure I share with my daughter and all the other children in my family.

  • While using ketchup packets, always check the direction of the tear and aim away from you while squeezing. I’m invariable wearing white or a pastel shade when I get a substantial dollop of red on me. Once the dollop’s there, don’t rub, just gently dab and you may save your outfit. I have recently discovered a bleach white stick, but seriously who carries these around
  • Most Indian elders are willing to listen to your point of view, if you precede it with something on the lines of “please forgive my ignorance on account of my age……….” in a respectful tone
  • Most dressing room mirrors at clothing stores are like the fancy ones in the house of mirrors, they elongate and narrow your frame. Don’t believe them, trust your instinct
  • Children get dirty, very dirty. A proper hot bath is the only way to get them clean. Make it a bubble bath if you don’t whining of “I’m tired/sleepy/hungry”
  • How do you know you enjoy what you do? Monday mornings are not blue, unless that’s your favourite colour

 

It’s funny but only the really small things have stuck with me. I can’t for the life of me remember anything that’s ground breaking or life changing. Hmmm………… food for though?! Maybe in the next part.

What are the life lessons you want to pass on?

 

Photo Credit: Image 1

 

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A Listers – Ideas That Wake You Up

Happy New Year to all of you. Let this be the year that we fulfill our dreams and create the life we want. Or if you are like me, get started on the path to fulfilling all your aspirations. Either way, most of us live in the hope that every new year will be better than the ones gone by and however silly that may be, hope does keep us going.

New Year’s resolutions seem to be passe, instead a lot of people I know make lists at the beginning of the year (‘me’ being one of those people I know). To do lists, to achieve lists, to complete lists, call it what-you-may, show me that we have realised that the way to be where you want to be is to plan the route and follow it.

That being said, how often do you get up at some go forsaken time at night because you remembered some ‘to-do’ item not included on your current list or had a brilliant idea (which may seem not so brilliant in the harsh light of the next day)? Your too tired to physically get-up and grab a piece of paper and a pen to note things down, but you can’t really sleep till you are sure you won’t have forgotten all about it the next day. Well obviously the simple solution is to spend a minute in getting some writing material, noting the thought down and then getting back to some serious shut-eye. Even easier if it’s a regular thing is to keep a small notepad and pencil by your beside.

Well this is where my personal problem comes in. If I get up to get a notepad and paper, the though turns into a grocery lost of to-do things or the idea turns into a whole story. The second solution then? Well, anyone who has a 0-6 year old knows that no easily available piece of paper is safe. By the time you get to bed (forget needing it in the middle of the night), it will be decorated with snakes, butterflies and other miscellaneous animals; completely unflattering mommy and daddy portraits or, my personal favourite, completely undecipherable secret language love notes that mommy or daddy are expected to perfectly understand (beware the ‘you don’t love me, only mommy/daddy’ tears that ensue if you fail).

Well, considering the fact that I love my sleep (though the number of hours is nothing to rave about), over the last five years I have figured out a fairly good system. Its, wait for it, ‘numbering’. Kind of works like bullet points. It’s a bit tough when it’s an idea that woke you up and not a list but I’ve managed to adapt using a keywords system. Yes, I usually forget 9 out of ten things, however I do know that I have forgotten only one thing and just wait for it to come back. Again 4 out of 5 (these are not precise numbers people, I’m sleepy remember) it never does come back, but hey you take what you get.

Am I perfectly happy with the system? No. Isn’t it better to get up and note things down? Yes. Then why don’t I do it? Because, I don’t want to getup. Yes, after my daughter goes to sleep and I finish playing my boss role at work, I like to act like an unreasonable teenager. The best part, no one knows. Well, except you.

P.S. – Ironically, the name of this post came to me at 1 am in the morning.

Photo Credit: Image 1

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2013 in Defining Me, Randomness

 

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Everyday’s a Party

My mind has been overloaded and cluttered these past few months. There have been energizing brain storming sessions,  tedious but necessary mid-year number crunching analysis, constant conference calling with girlfriends for a project we are working hard on (this is our new venture on the side), failed attempts to re-write a storyline and continuous planning in order to make every week memorable for V (the techie and I have wowed not to sail through her childhood like zombies).

I have valued, if not enjoyed, every moment because each situation has come from my own choosing, however, the brain does tend to get over-simulated and then what?! Headaches due to lack of sleep and over thinking, constant pre-occupation and an host of other stuff that just creeps up on you. So what’s a girl to do when things get too much but you don’t want to actually slow-down because you can’t miss a moment (I mean the festive season’s here and things are just going to get more fun and hectic)? Well, I don’t know about most girls but here’s what I do, have a closet spring clean. Yes, the techie dreads this method of relaxation but he participates in good spirit because of the benefits of a happy me post the exercise.

V woke us up at 6 am this Sunday. We had freshened-up, had our morning poison (regular milk for V, coffee for the techie and fresh juice for me) and got onto the task by 6.30 am. The techie setup a superb song list of olden goldies, V donned her winter gloves to help with the wiping and I started tossing stuff out of the cupboard.

The next three hours flew by, with old clothes fights (almost like a pillow fight but much messier), colour coordination, slow dancing (our two songs were on the list and we could not not dance) and V wearing all my jewellery and asking us to call her ‘Your Royal Highness’ while jumping on her trampoline. By 9.30 am we were done. We quickly showered and headed down for a huge breakfast, with a bag of stuff for the local old people home, and a day packed with events.

The outcome? All I need to do is open the doors to my organized, colourful and blingy (I love shiny stuff) wardrobe and I get a high. The techie has got a lot of extra points for being the good husband and is making the most of it, while V thinks closet cleaning is a great way to spend a Sunday morning. Plus we had breakfast with royalty and a mini prom dance.

What do you do to reset an overcrowded mind?

Photo Credit: Image 1Image 2, Image 3

 
 

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Is it always this way with the first one?

The first born, the first novel, the first job. There are doubts and believing others when they tell you it’ll work out on it’s own (till you realise unless you take a decision and act on it, nothing moves) or that you are doing something wrong and their way is the best way. At least it has been that way for me.

I wrote my first (complete) novel way back in November 2011. I got a publishing offer, which was not what I was looking for, as it was in an e-book format and I really wanted to feel my first literary baby in my hands. About six months back I actually  found an agent willing to take me on and I was unbelievably excited. When she finally got round to asking for the completed manuscript I was confident and happily committed on a date of delivery. One week later I started a new sub-plot because I felt the pace was too slow. Soon planning the sub-plot took precedence and I started struggling to rework the time lines within my novel. The delivery date came and went and now it’s more than a month later, however, I have not yet written the changed version of my novel.

If that’s not enough, I have already started charting out the plot for our second novel, with the techie. I have committed to doing a group writing exercise every November and come what may I’ll have to drop all other writing activity and  start on novel number two on the 1st of next month. This is the only way I’ll commit to finishing a novel without wasting time or re-writing and editing.

So what’s the bottom-line here? I basically can’t club creativity and organization. At work I’m an accountant and everything is charted out way in advance by me, with schedules, sub-schedules and reviews, and I’m comfortable handling pretty large teams on tight deadlines. On the other hand let me loose with a passion of mine and I lose track of time and place and the very real world of patient agents, inflexible deadlines and actually submitting your work so that it can be edited and published. Fingers crossed that she agrees to continue as my agent, once I submit the updated version of my novel.

What do you do when you have a creative deadline? Can you work with both sides of your brain at once?

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2012 in Novel, Passions and Dreams, The Real Me

 

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