Tag Archives: Love

Finding your Village

It’s quiet. 
You see I’m a mother of an 8 month and a 6 year old, so this silence comes at a price. The last 10 months or so, I’ve had my village with me. My parents and my Inlaws helped me find my bearings after I had my second child.
When you live in a different country, you sign up to the good and bad that comes with it. It’s different when you’re single, or when you’re married. It’s having kids that make you crave for belonging. A steady state. An extended family. Being equipped to handle their needs and be everyone they can’t have with them.
So much pressure. You know how you feel when you have a nagging headache? That times thousand multiplied by two is how I feel on a daily basis. 
Don’t get me wrong, I love these tiny humans. Love that consumes you fully, that kind of love. Love that walks around you as your heart is now beating in those little beings. 


A few days ago the extended family had to leave. I didn’t realize the gravity of how dependent I was on them and how much help I had. I felt like my fort starting crumbling all at once.
Kids were both sick, and it was snot filled chests and noses times two. I was running on an average of two hours of sleep a night (where’s my fucking award already?) and was ready to give up. To make things worse the older one has a massive meltdown stating boldly ” I don’t need you anymore. Go away” with snot and tears and a hoarse voice. 

I suddenly remember the innumerable times I’ve said the same thing to my own mother. It’s all coming back to me at the speed of light. I’m really sorry, mom. I know how it feels now. 
I’m trying my best. We all are. Some days we scrape through and on the other days, we don’t. And I’m here to tell you that’s ok.

If you’re failing, let them see it. There’s a certain lesson they can learn in it– their mother is human too. It’s taken me six parenting years (equivalent to 500 human years, heh) to learn this.
I wanted to be the perfect parent ( bhahhaha, I know right?). If there is such a thing. I shut all my fears, worries, my inadequacies in the back of my head. I refused to give up. I tried and tried and oh my god it was so exhausting. I was exhausting. 
Slowly, I learnt it was ok to shove a mouthful of candy and drown it with a glass of something strong and I was going to be ok. I learnt that it was ok to cry, when I couldn’t take it anymore. I learnt to gloriously bask in my failures because (wtf) raising a human is hard. 
The cleaning, cooking and all the million things we mothers do on a daily basis would get done, if not I could prioritize and choose the top 3 things I could do in my list of 150 things. (For example: Today I showered, cooked, showed up at work and kept the kids nourished and alive. Win!!)
I am now at a stage where I don’t have a list. I let inadequacies visit me once in a while. I beat myself up, but also learn to take responsibility. I now know that I’m human and I’m taking baby steps everyday. 
Two kids is so so hard. Don’t know how you parents with more kids do it. Mad props to you guys. Recently when I was talking to my girlfriend Nicole (she has 3 kids, God bless her)– I told her “I wanted to jump off a cliff and kill myself but I think I’ll be ok”. She laughed saying that describes parenting perfectly. I think so too.


Parenting is never going to be a set of directions you can follow. There is no gps to wing this thang. You hold on to a paper map like you hold on to dear life, get lost many many times before you are on the right track, and that’s ok. Never mind the muck, and bites you got along the way. 

When your village leaves (it’s ok to panic) but realize that you become that village. Outsource as much as you can (except love of course), and cut yourself some slack. I’ve read about the CTFD (Calm the fuck down) approach and let me tell you, it works like a charm. 
I’m writing all this down because I would need to read this. Everyday. Every week. This is a letter to myself and to every other mom out there who is trying to do her best every day. 

 

Hang in there you guys. It’s going to be ok, if not, you will figure it out eventually. Breathe. 

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Being mommy (again!)

As I write this post, I’m secretly hoping the newborn won’t wake up for at least another fifteen minutes. I have to decide if I want to eat, pee or sleep for an extra ten minutes. This is how precious time feels when you have a tiny human who has taken over your life. 
I’m nursing myself back to health, and a 5 day old has made me feel like I’m 50. 

It’s been 5 years but the kind of comments or opinions about being a mother that I’ve received from everyone has not changed. Why do we do this?

Here’s a quick refresher on what NOT to ask/ tell a new mother. Honestly we’re up to our ears with stuff and we don’t need more of this.

1. You’re still FAT.

Oh, this one is a classic. A great conversation ender because you won’t know what hit you after asking a mom that question. 

We’ve provided a harbor for a life to sustain, grow and bring it into this beautiful world. Please look beyond my size. 

2. Normal or C-section? 

The baby is born. Isn’t that enough? Why do you care if it was born naturally, or when I was up to my eyeballs in Drugs? I did what was right for me at the given time and situation.

Learn to respect my privacy and marvel at the newborn.

3. Breastfeeding Vs Formula (Is the baby drinking well?)

No, I’m starving the baby, because that’s what mothers do. Duh.

Honestly, the baby is getting milk, and nutrition. That’s all I care about. If you care about something else, that’s your call but do not intrude asking me questions about how I’m providing for my baby. 

It’s my responsibility to nourish and raise the child in a healthy manner, and I’ll do everything as humanely possible to make sure I do a fabulous job at it.

4. Calling/ Messaging/ Asking for pictures/ requesting a visit

It’s a blessing to have friends and family that care for you. I’m sure everyone means well. However calling incessantly or scheduling a visit early on might be a task on the parents. 

The first 6 weeks of newborn care is utmost important. Give the parents some time and privacy to recuperate and they would gladly host your visit and love for you to meet their little wonder 

5. Will you go back to work?

If not, will you pay my bills? Then it’s none of your business. It’s a personal decision and it’s the choice of the mom to make. Don’t weigh in on my personal matters, and I won’t do the same. 

6. Try this method for ( eating, sleeping, milk supply) because it worked for me.

Sorry, I don’t care if you wore a garland of  fresh garlic and did the hula dance to increase your milk supply. Glad it worked for you.CIO method may have worked wonders. Please don’t force your methods on me. It’s between the baby and I to figure out what works best for us and take that route. 

7. The baby looks just like the dad.

Really? This is what the mothers get for doing all they do. It may be the truth but it would be nice to hear about features that resemble, like he/she has your eyes. 

As someone rightfully said ” the baby is just born it looks like a potato”.   :). Don’t get ahead in comparison and be gentle on the mom when you make such comparisons. 

Child birthing is hard as it is. Along with it comes all the physical and mental stress. New parents are mostly exhausted and extremely busy. Giving them space and time is  probably the best thing you can do instead of being severely opinionated. 


The White Canvas shoe

Often we tend to buy things that we feel would define us.  A pair of jeans of this brand, a shirt of this color, or a lip gloss of a particular shade.  We are often told things like “oh that dress fits you beautifully”, or “Red is definitely your color”. Our personality is associated with all the “attributes” that are responsible for defining us.

We tend to get comfortable thinking that way, or giving in to buying “things” because it’s so “us”. Once we start letting such “things” define us, what happens to us? I, for one who loves to buy clothes, accessories, books or anything pretty should know. I am asking these questions out loud, because I am still trying to figure this out.

When I became a parent, I had to be a little more careful about what is “wanted” Vs “needed”. It was a great time to introspect, and look back at the experiences I had. There are so many incidents but I remember this one in particular.

When I was in middle school, it was compulsory to wear white on Saturdays for physical training. That included a white uniform, white ribbons, and white shoes and socks.  Why they made us wear white was beyond me because the dresses and the shoes got very muddy and dirty. I washed my canvas shoes diligently, and with rigor to make it as white as it could be, so that I could wear it the following week to school. I guess over time they wore out, and I was due for a new pair. There were new ones in the market then (the sleek ones, with thicker soles, to last longer). They were so pretty, and also expensive. I brought this to my dad’s attention that I needed new shoes, and having the newer design might be helpful.

Times were hard then, we had to wait to get everything we needed.

White Canvas Shoe

The idea of the new white canvas shoe was happiness. I thought it would look perfect with my uniform, and it would make me look prettier. The anticipation became an obsession, and I started having dreams about wearing it, and being the best looking person in class (on earth!).

A few weeks passed by and I didn’t hear back from my parents on why they weren’t buying me these shoes yet. The obsession continued with my eyes glimmering every time we passed by a store that had these shoes. I could almost feel the soft soles on my feet and practiced on perfecting my walk. The shoes became the only thing I could think or care about.

The school had a few holidays during October and as always we visited our relatives. When I went to my cousin’s, I was so excited about indulging her with my latest obsession. She heard it, and then showed me a pair that she recently bought.  My face fell, and I was visibly sad. The next day when she went outside, I slowly tried them on. (they were slightly bigger, but who cares!). Determined, I walked around in the yard, and used a different entrance to the house so that no one would see me wearing these shoes. As luck would have it, I stepped on some dirt (cow dung perhaps) and the shoes got dirty. Hurriedly, I took it to the bathroom and tried to clean it, but, the stain wouldn’t go.

I had to tell my cousin, that I had worn her new shoes, and got them dirty. It was very hard, and what was even harder was facing my parents. I didn’t know what to say, I knew by the look on my mother’s face that I was in a lot of trouble.

I then looked at my father. He was disappointed, but he gently asked me to go sit next to him.

He told me “Shru, I know it’s been a couple of weeks since you asked me to buy you a pair of new shoes. I am sorry I haven’t been able to buy them yet, because we have had other expenses that came by.  I never had any shoes to wear until I was in college. My first pair was a hand me down, which needed a lot of stitching. I never let that stop me from being happy, or let that define me.  You will understand this someday. I will do my best to buy this for you at the earliest”.

I must have cried a lot that day, resented my parents, my behavior, my cousin for having those shoes before me, but I learnt a very important lesson that day, which I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Never let something apart from “you”, define you. Love people for who they are, not for what they have, or what they might be able to give you. I constantly struggle with this, but I am learning to see people for who they are.

I hope I can be half as good as my parents, and teach my child her importance before everything else that could or would define her. Someday, perhaps, I will teach her the importance of everything money cannot buy.  For now, I have to go back to look at the puzzle she just put together.


Goodbye, Ajji

“She passed away, I am on my way there now”.
“How old was she?”.
97.
“She led a full life”.
“Was she your paternal grandmother, or maternal?”.
“Are you taking a trip, to say goodbye?”.
“There were lots of people Akka, everyone came”.
“I wanted to send you a picture of the body, but the elders denied”.
“This relative was wailing, while Amma was sobbing hysterically. No one can contain that kind of grief”.
“She was the oldest, and the wisest”.
“Did xyz make it? Were there that many people, really?”.
“They are probably going to finish the last rites close to home”.
“She donated her eyes, Akka, she still lives”.
“I don’t care what the elders say, we are her blood, and you deserve to see her go. Say goodbye”.
“No selfies with the dead body, please”.
“I feel for your pain, you live so far away”.
” It’s probably the price we pay to stay this far”.

Yes. She passed. While I try to come to grip with something that I like to elude, she’s gone. Actually, truly, no more. Her ashes are probably floating in a river and might have settled down. That is how quickly it happens.

I cannot believe she has gone. I cannot believe that the next time I visit India, I won’t see that toothless grin. A being so full of life, and wisecracks, is no more.

A century of wisdom bites the dust. A powerful woman, who influenced us in many many ways, is gone.

They say what we love so dearly never leaves us. I know she has left a little bit of her behind in all of us. And we will pass it along to our future generations.

The love that we give, and how true we stayed to ourselves are the only things that matter in the end. You are an embodiment of love. I didn’t wait to tell you that. I’m glad I didn’t.

While parents love you unconditionally, grandparents take it up a notch.

She saw her grand kids grow up, she had the energy to play with her great grand kids. Does that fact make it hurt a little less?. No.

I had the good fortune of making wonderful memories with her. I know it’s a little selfish of me to ask for more. Maybe she could’ve waited until my own child got a chance to know and get fascinated by this magical woman.

We humans, are so full of hope. Always thinking of the impossible.

Look at you Ajji, look at your legacy.
Every line on your face says a story. Every smile has a wonderful memory attached to it. Every incident indicates the storyteller you are. Every sign of my weakness was crushed when you reminded me of your powerful urge to fight back. You have touched so many lives, and I for one am so glad to be your grandchild.

It’s funny how it takes a death to bring a family together.

Rest in power. My beautiful Sundari Ajji.

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Death

I cannot articulate my feelings about death. Whenever possible, I try to avoid talking about this topic altogether; because I am in denial.

I heard about a friend’s death a few days back. Another colleague passed away this week. A relative passed away this morning. I didn’t prod on to find out how it happened, as it’s hard enough to accept that they now are just mere memories.

I’m caught off guard when people tell me about the death of their loved ones, acquaintances, death of a random stranger. I start putting a story together in my head, of who they might have been, about their life , about the insurmountable grief their loved ones are going through. It leaves me feeling helpless and empty.

Death brings back some very painful memories. It’s taken me a really long time to get here and I’m hoping that writing about it will strengthen me.

I remember the time when my parents lost their second born. My baby brother. I’ve written more about it here.
I was too young to realize what was happening, but I knew death had a lasting effect. It couldn’t be undone, and the grief was sickening.

I vividly remember the time when my paternal grandmother passed away.

The lights were on pretty early one morning. I could hear amma hurrying across the hallway, entering my room to wake me up. “Wake up Shruthi, we have to leave to Bangalore, Ajji isn’t well”. It was my grandmother. It had been a few weeks since she was unwell. While still trying to process the information given to me, I reluctantly moved from my bed to start getting ready.

It was a few months after the Babri Masjid riots. I was in Bangalore then, and had seen my grandmother slowly getting weaker. Since there were a lot of riots around the area, and the schools remain closed I stayed back, as a lot of events started to unfold.

My dad left to work in the gulf during the same time. The gulf war had just ended and my father had a new employer in Kuwait willing to hire him, and he had to make a decision immediately. He left within days, and, my grandmother, suddenly was very very unwell.

While my maternal grandmother watched me, my mom split her time between Bangalore and Mangalore doing all she could to support the family.

The car ride was very long, and as upbeat as I was about making conversation with Ajji for one last time, the memories came flooding. It was as if someone had shook me up from my childhood and asked me to grow up within a matter of a few hours. Nothing ever felt the same.

Once we reached, We were made aware that she isn’t with us anymore. I remember the call made to my father, to break the news to him. He wasn’t able to come say goodbye. We cried together. I can’t remember my dad being that helpless. I remember the endless trips to the train and bus stations to pick relatives up. The constant chatter about what a great soul she was, and how she was blessed with an easy death started getting to me. I remember seeing her body in the freezer and feeling so sick that I couldn’t breathe.

Ajji was the binding force in my dad’s huge family. She was a headmistress, a great teacher (went back to pursue her career after three kids in the 60’s) and remains one of the most influential people in my life even to this day. It’s taken me two decades to comprehend what I was feeling then, and hence writing it out.

Why Ajji? Why did you have to go? Who would listen to my endless chatter? Who would reprimand me for eating too many stuffed potato buns from the neighborhood bakery? Who would give me 50 paise to run to the milk booth just to see how the machine worked? Who would make me sing endlessly and say I was terrible? Who would trick me into learning Maths while playing? Why wasn’t anyone telling me what was going on? Why wasn’t she opening her eyes?

The cremation was done. The family moved away from the house they lived for over four decades, and I haven’t mustered the courage to pass by the house, to this day.

For the last few years, my maternal grandmother has been really sick and I’ve made a few trips to India to see her. Every time I fly back I fear that it might be the last time I will see her. She’s 96 (bless her) and has lived a long and fruitful life. Am I ready to let go yet? I probably never will be.

She has the kindest eyes, and the funniest Kannada vocabulary (I’ve also caught her cursing multiple times, heh). She never ceases to make me laugh whenever I’m with her and has a memory of an elephant. She always has something up her sleeve–Be it a piece of chocolate she had saved, or some advice. She cannot clearly see anymore as the eyes are weak, but recognizes my voice in an Instant, enquires about the entire family, with such precision. She’s a giver and has helped so many individuals all her life. Even though she’s weak she insists on being independent and does all her chores. My daughter was lucky to meet her during my last visit. The gamut of her knowledge and love is beyond words. Every little wrinkle on her face has a story to tell.

She has been really sick the last few weeks and every time the phone rings at odd hours I’m mentally preparing myself to hear the worst, and breathe easy when I hear she’s holding on.

We humans are so strong, yet so fragile. I guess the range of emotions we feel is what separates us from the rest of the species. Not to sound self righteous or anything, but having seen death so closely, makes me appreciate life. Don’t wait until a person is dead to declare what they mean to you and how much they have influenced your life. Do reach out to people you love, whenever possible, to tell them how special they are, and how much they mean to you. Hold people who matter close to your heart and do what you can to make them happy and feel appreciated, while they are still here.

They weren’t lying when they said Life was too short. It is Indeed.

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Turning three was a breeze

Funny thing about parenting is that you always think you’re prepared for what lies ahead of you, but you seldom realize that no amount of preparation would help, as the child never fails to astonish you. They would turn around and do something out of the ordinary, which would leave you enough room to grow to accept them for who they are.

I was given every sort of warning about terrible two’s. (Now, I’ve been warned about horrible three’s, it’s always something).

This year was challenging and beautiful in equal measures.

Little one you now have your own personality. You have started expressing your emotions really well. You make it very clear when you aren’t happy, and also keep testing the waters to have things your way. You’ve always amazed me at how you make it seem so easy to throw a tantrum when you don’t have it your way. I am going to try it soon :).

You’re very receptive to everything around you. You pay so much attention to the sounds around you. The music, the birds, the vehicles, your books and the characters in them. You pick up vibes so well, and smile your sweetest smile when I’m mad at you, or try to hush me up when I’m mad at your dad. You’ve shown me that every situation is only as big as we make it to be. If you can smile easily, everything will fall into place in its own time.

You started school part time this year. Even though we had a lot of initial hiccups you were a trooper and you now love going to school. You love your teachers and you’re trying to socialize. It’s so great to see you attempt at things you have never been exposed to with such ease. You’ve helped me overcome my own fears at attempting new things. It’s been liberating.

You love reading. Every time we are indoors you drag me to your room, take a book out and have me read it to you. We’ve spent hours reading the same books and you’ve never complained, because your imagination keeps getting better and better. It has taught me to look at myself and people around me differently, keep looking for good in everyone and keep giving second chances.

You’ve always taught me to give away all the love, even the love I didn’t get. You love me equally on my good and bad days and have no expectations. This is something I’m still working on, and hope to realize it before you grow up. It might come in handy when you need help with this in the future.

We’re always told to “be prepared”, “be tough”, “don’t be their friends, be their parents”, “use a grown up approach to deal with them” etc. When it comes to raising kids, little do we realize that we need to unlearn, let ourselves go, and many times come down to their level to resonate with them. Thank you child for bringing that out in me and help me grow with you.

I love you (even though I sometimes need to drink four cups of something before 09:00) and look forward to many many years of loving and growing with you. I’m so blessed that I don’t have to travel a lot to see the world, I often see it in your eyes. Happy Birthday.

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Collection of Poems

I’ve never considered myself a Poet. I don’t even know if these lines below make any sense. I however, put it up on the blog, so I have proof that I once dabbled in Poetry.

These are the result of conversations, with people, with self and my ever evolving ideas of Love, belonging and Journey within.

(1)
“I looked for you,
In the oceans,
The trees and the endless skies,
By the mountains and the rivers that I journeyed by,
The Temples, Churches, Mosques,
And all places of worship,
My feet hurt, my mind went blank, with so much confusion,
And when I finally sat down,
I shed a silent tear,
With the realization, that, you were within me all along”.

(The journey within)

(2)
I ran my hands,
On the vast mounds of sand,
And it felt as though you were
Right next to me,
When I bent down to
Look at the intricate lines
On a leaf, and tried to kiss it,
It felt like you were smiling at me,
When I turned,
the wind brushed my face,
Making me wonder if you had touched me.

(Fleeting)

(3)
When I see you,
we will hold hands,
And let silence consume
All the words stored in our heart,
And relay it through our eyes.

(Without words)

(4)
Emotions rush to become words,
Words rush to turn into poems,
Poems rush to make its way to you,
Hoping to catch a glimpse of you someday.

( Restless, Translation of a Kannada Poem originally written by Shiva Acharya)

(5)
In a city that never sleeps,
With fast cars, bright lights,
Where one never feels whole,
Your thoughts keep me awake,
And wanting more.

(Insomnia)

(6)
When you leave,
Every second feels like a lifetime,
And when you’re here,
Many lifetimes flashes by in a second.

(Time and us)

(7)
Like the rain that was lost within those clouds,
Like the night that didn’t end despite the day,
You faded away with words,
Into a poem.

(Lost, Translation of a Kannada Poem originally written by Shiva Acharya)

(8)
Someday,
I wish we would go
Wild with our enthusiasm,
Lust for more words,
To fill
Our heads
Because as we age,
The wrinkles will increase,
Our voices will not be heard,
what will remain is
Breathing,
And a mind ripe with words
That will
Kill our silences.

(Importance of words)

(9)
“Like the flower that was admired
From a distance,
Never held, touched or felt,
the flower that didn’t complete it’s purpose,
Of Being an ornament at his almighty’s feet,
It withered away
As admiration was not that
It desired”.

(Purpose)

(10)
I wish I were the wall
That day,
When you leaned against it,
I wish I were the reason for you to smile,
I wish I was in the air you breathe,
So I could know,
What your thoughts are like,
Listen to your heart closely,
Marvel at your mind,
And be the sigh you
Let out,
After that smile.

(Looking at a picture)

(11)
“Perhaps life has its own ways,
Of teaching you to
Keep your eyes and heart open,
Look at us strangers then,
Traversing along the same path,
With no knowledge of each others presence,
We walked the same streets,
Lost in our lives,
Yet, our hearts bled, for
The same emotions
That never got reciprocated,
Today, we know each other,
Like the sky does its stars,
So close, yet distant,
Perhaps our foray into
the journey,
In this world
Has just begun”.

(Strangers)

(12)
“Have you observed,
How the raindrops
Find their path,
through the leaves,
The stems,
And eventually become one with the earth?
That is how I want to
Know you”.

(Learning about you)

(13)
“He weaves words,
Intricately,
Delicately,
Like those lines on my palm,
A maze, which I never want
To find my way,
Back to where I started”.

(Lines on my palm)

(14)
“Where I frantically
Looked for love,
There
I found you,
Sitting peacefully
And gracefully,
Making me wonder
About my own histrionics”.

(The Search)

(15)
I Crave for you
As much as the drought hit land,
Craves for water,
Nothing more, Nothing less.

(Thirst)

(16)
I thought of you, while taking a walk today,
I thought of how nice it’d be,
to see the world with your eyes,
During this journey,
I imagined myself running out of of things to say,
and use your words, analogies instead,
Coupling them with my thoughts,
I then imagined
laying down beside you
At night,
Watching the stars,
smelling the earth,
and finding where all my words had gone.

(Losing words, inspired from the Movies Before Sunrise/Before Sunset)

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