Friday, December 27, 2013

Our 2013

Last few days have been tough. First Samaira had a stomach bug. She had it for 48 hours and then she was beginning to feel better. Literally as soon as she stopped throwing up, Rehan started throwing up and showing signs of the stomach bug that Sammy had. His lasted for a day, I think. He seemed to have recovered remarkably in that much time. And just as Rehan began to get better Siddharth started to show signs of illness. The hope is that it will all be ok before soon and I can still do my after Christmas shopping just fine :).

Anyway, with just a few more days to go before 2014 begins, I get flashes of 2013, in a totally filmi way. I sometimes have music playing in my head too. Not kidding. Seriously. I like drama that way. 

I love to write. So I miss writing. I write plenty in my head. Moments happen whether or not I write them down. I try to capture it all in my memory. Sometimes I try to capture things in my memory with the intention of recalling them later. There are two things that I really enjoy from the past – moments & pictures. Therefore I like to document them both. 

It has been a beautiful year. This year was filled with so many specials. It is like a lot of things I had hoped for our family got packaged into one single year. I figured the best way to end 2013 was to package all my memories into one place. 

So here it is. All about my 2013.

We celebrated Samaira’s 1st birthday this year. Well, it was technically in December 2012, but she fell sick. And we had to, had to celebrate it. So we did, a few days later. At this age, birthdays are more for us. She probably remembers nothing of it. It was like it was all for me. Siddharth is more satisfied with smaller, more personal moments. I somehow feel the need to a wider declaration and celebration. So we did that. And I will always cherish it. The day we celebrated my baby turning ONE. 

I spent some time with my nieces in India earlier this year. Spending time with my nieces is always special for me. It was even more special this time around as I got to watch them play with Samaira. They treated her with absolute love, care and compassion. The kind I didn’t think 3 or 5 year olds could possibly have. They surprise me every single time I see them. What I mostly evidently saw was how my sister has made us a very integral part of her family. We live far from each other. We see each other rather infrequently. But we are constantly connected, especially emotionally. I don’t know how my sister has managed to do this, but my nieces think of my kids as their own siblings. They don’t treat them different from each other. They don’t think of my kids as a separate entity from each other. My sister rocks! I love her to pieces! I count on her in ways that even I don’t know. After many many years, my brother, sister & fam, Mom, Dad and us four got together in one single place at one single time. I treasure it. Like my life. I love each of these people like there is no tomorrow. I have this special place in my heart that each of these people occupy. And that special place in my heart is pretty much my entire heart. Yes, I do love them a lot. 

Another massive highlight for us was transitioning to become a four member family. When we had just one child, I thought that was a handful. I thought that it will be very difficult to make room for one more child, who needed just as much, if not more, attention. While there are challenges in taking care of two kids versus one, it kind of just happens. It is not easy by any means. There are sleepless nights, poopy diapers, delayed schedules, overdue task lists, messy rooms, dirty laundry, days/nights when Siddharth has to travel for work, times when both Samaira and Rehan have a stomach bug, dinner/lunch time issues, kids pulling each other’s hair out, you name it. It is messy for sure. For the most part, we are focusing our energy not on fixing the messy home, but going with the flow. The beauty lies in embracing the chaos and yet maintaining what is most important to you. Here is the funny thing though. I have read and heard about people wondering why they would ever want to have kids. They have this perfectly content and awesome life in which they can travel when they want, sleep when they want, pursue all the hobbies as and when they want, eat when they want. Essentially live life how they want. Why then would anyone want to have kids? To have sleepless nights? To take on the additional responsibility of feeding, bathing, diaper-changing, and care taking? The funny part is, I have no response to questions along this line. All I can think to myself is that Samaira and Rehan bring so much joy to our lives. And I can’t imagine my life without their joys. Their one smile, one look, one gesture, one sound, one sigh, most things essentially – it is all worth it. I am one of those delusional parents who claim that their life is incomplete without their kids, in spite of all that comes in the package deal. It is really hard for me to articulate why my life is so awesome. I think the statement of “I have an awesome life with my two kids and one husband” is something that only a fellow parent can fully comprehend. It is not a mythical statement. It is for real. And you can only know it if you feel it for yourself. Until then, feel free to question it :).

Samaira gives Rehan the warmest of hugs. Rehan’s eyes light up when he sees Samaira. Their chemistry is beautiful to watch. Along with this, I also get to witness the beauty of Samaira pulling Rehan’s hair, sometimes just to see how we will react. I get to see Rehan flailing his hands and accidentally grabbing Samaira’s hair and Samaira saying “ouwwiiiee” with a very sad face. Sometimes it takes me into the future in which these two kids will fight like cats and dogs, you know, how typical siblings do. I remember how I constantly fought with my brother and sister. I know how my nieces fight with each other. I like how my sister deals with such situations. Essentially by not interfering and letting my nieces resolve their own fights. Well, most of their fights anyway. I am not sure what I would do when Samaira and Rehan will come crying to me complaining about each other and about how the other person snatched something from them, or pinched them, or took something away. My inherent nature is to interfere. Only with the ones I care, or else I stay out a 100%. But if you are one of the people I care about, I interfere. That’s how I am wired. So to not say one way or the other would be hard. But I really want to adopt that style of letting them be and allowing them to figure out how to resolve their differences, as long as they are not hurting each other.

Another special time in this year was celebrating Diwali with my family after 11 years. It is by far the most important festival I have celebrated growing up. I remember enjoying every aspect of it growing up – the food, the clothes, the light, the fireworks, the people, the family, the traditions, the whole deal. Spending this special festival with my family after so long meant HUGELY to me. I tried to capture the good parts of that evening in my mind so I can relive it over and over again. That’s how I want my every Diwali to be. I wish I could spend it with my family every single year!

We also celebrated Samaira’s 2nd birthday this year! Our darling is all of two. It is unreal. I can’t believe I ever wished for her to say no. That was the time when all Samaira said was “ya” and she didn’t yet have the “n” sound. And now that girl has her n’s and no’s and she knows when to use it. Sometimes when I sing her a song or a story or a rhyme she says no indicating she is all done with it. When she does not want to eat something she says and never returns to it – for that day. She is pretty determined about that. I don’t know how she got to be that way. When she feels like someone is making her do something, she revolts. It has to be her idea for her to do something. She has this personality that I admire and wonder at, all at the same time. When did she grow up so much? She has the compassion of a 20 year old. She can’t see anyone cry or be sick. If I am sick she tries to come and appease me hoping that I will get better. She gives hugs to Rehan whether or not he is in a mood for a hug. She laughs, and I mean laughs, like she means it. It is contagious. It is beautiful. Oh, if only I could capture this in my eyes and heart and mind. 

This year ended with a new tradition that I decided to start in our family. To put up and decorate a Christmas tree. Like almost everyone around me, I am fascinated by the colors, the mood, the festivities, the positivity that this tree brings. I have to confess I don’t know enough about the religious aspect of this festival and this tree. In fact it is something that I don’t really feel the need to delve more into. Because I am happy maintaining a comfortable distance with religion. Not because I am not open to religion but because I feel pretty complete in my thoughts and action without religion. So I love this tradition. The only reason I am starting this now is because I have kids now. It is not that Samaira and Rehan care at this age about a Christmas tree. But I don’t know what it is about having them around that makes me want to start these traditions. I just want to. So we did. It is really pretty :).

And there are some things that I think about all the time. No matter what time of the year it is. Blame my excessive thinking for it. 

Like, for some strange reason, one of the things I did a lot in this year was introspect on the last two decades of my life. Having spent a few years in my 30s gives me a confidence to introspect on my younger days. I spent my teens trying to get attention of people around me. I did a lot of things that if I had a time machine, I would do differently. Most importantly, if I were to go back in time now I want to remind myself of being a nicer person because that is what really matters. I spent my 20s making expectations the big monster I had to fight. All my relationships and friendships and associations were seen through a lens of expectations. Don’t ask me why. The second half of my 20s did bring in some stability in me. Over the last 10 years, I have become a more open person though. And I clearly realize it now that I am in my early 30s. I don’t think I was always this open and accepting to differences around me. I became that way because I learnt this from people around me. I saw people around me not judge when they could, and accept when they didn’t have to. These people were mostly my younger classmates during the Business program I pursued a few years back. It is quite amazing that I finally learnt the importance of accepting when I was finally in my 30s but from these people who were 20 something. I don’t know how these people got their wisdom, especially when I took my own time to learn. I most definitely learn from experience. So I thank these people who taught me to accept differences. As long as something or someone is not affecting my people, I am fairly open and accepting to people’s differences and decisions. I am predicting that I will spend my 40s learning the art of forgetting. I don’t forget. Ever. Literally. It is quite a baggage to carry. So I would really like to get to the point where I can forgive and forget. I realize it is important. I just don’t want to work on it. Not just yet. And all this talk of how old I am just reminded me that next year, I will be just 1 year away from being 35, which in turn is just 5 years away from being 40. Oh dear God!!!! Holy moly pista kaboli (yes, it means nothing and I just made it up)!! I have never imagined myself as a 40 year old. And it is not that far, in a way. Anyway, I will cross that bridge in 2020. 

Another thing that happened in 2013 is that I purchased a lot of clothes for my babies. I have some long running obsession with jammies. I don’t know why that is. But any time I go out to shop – I could look at several different kind of outfits but the thing that I am always compelled to buy for myself every single time I go out to shop are jammies. Given my fixation with jammies, it is no surprise that the maximum type of outfits I purchased for Samaira this year were jammies. Who would have thought? Not even me. But just as I was rearranging our kids’ closet, I realized she has one pair of pajamas for every day of the week, and then some. Quite excessive if you ask me. It didn’t happen overnight. Every time I have to get something for Samaira, I end up getting a pair of jammies in addition. Rehan doesn’t have much of a difference between his sleepwear and awake-wear at this point. So one less thing to think about, for now. But that’s something I am not very proud of. This excess actually repulsed me for a tiny moment. I have had other similar moments in past. Like when I was pregnant with Samaira and was setting up my baby registry – the number of choices we had for every single thing, and I mean every single thing, actually repulsed me beyond imagination. I was determined in my head to buy the least amount of stuff. The stuff that I absolutely couldn’t do without. In that consumerism-rage, I actually ended up not buying some of the stuff I may have potentially used. Anyway. I had a similar sentiment when Samaira was really small. I was determined to not buy excessive amount of toys for her. Whatever I may have thought back then clearly did not hold and you will know why I am saying this when you look at the number of toys we have in our home. With that, I just realized that I spoke of "after Christmas shopping" and "repulsion with excess" in the same post. Oh well.

At least a few times a day, Siddharth and I look at each other, and say out loud – how lucky are we to have these kids ?! How did we come up with this awesome formula, twice! Rehan is the happiest baby. He smiles with his eyes. Kind of like Samaira. He still wakes up crying several times in the night, but when he finally wakes up in the morning, he is comfortably lying on the pillow. Either playing, or looking at me in the anticipation that I will wake up and look back at him. I love that site and it gets my day going. It hurts me when he cries. For now it is in my power, more often than not, to stop him from crying. I sometimes fear for the times that it won’t be in my power to stop him from crying. But that’s a discussion for another day. Rehan is pretty independent. As independent as a 6 month old can be anyway. He can spend an easy hour or so just entertaining himself by chewing on something or rolling around the room or hitting the edges and then rolling back into the center. Without complaining. Kind of makes up for his waking up at night. Not quite, actually. But it is pretty fun to watch him be that way. I haven’t really had the opportunity to scold Rehan yet. But I hate to scold Samaira. I don’t like the look on her face when I scold her. She looks at me like she is asking for help and I am scolding her. I come back to my dilemma of disciplining and how to do it, but I know that dilemma is not going away any time soon. Most importantly, Samaira and Rehan give meaning to our days and hours in new ways. And we value it. We feel fortunate for it. We realize how accepting our kids are toward us – no matter what our words, actions, shape, size, expressions, emotions are. They are them and they like it that way. They know we are us and they like us that way. I wish we could all be kids again. A part of me wishes that the innocence of this age could be retained forever. And there is one more thing I found that Samaira and I have in common, we both swear by Dr. Seuss quotes. One that I can’t get out my head is “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” 

So many memories. So much joy. Thank you 2013.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I have a cracker baby

Long long time ago, much before I had Samaira, I was determined not to give crackers to my babies for snacks. I was determined to feed my kiddos fresh fruits and vegetables, and other healthy snacks during non-meal times. Now, I don’t even remember the point at which I made the smooth transition of offering crackers to Samaira. I guess I took comfort in knowing that Samaira liked her broccoli and spinach while she ate crackers. But do babies change or what?!? Samaira, all of 22 months now, and a very picky eater on certain days, absolutely loves crackers! How did we end up this way? She can have crackers for an entire meal – that’s how much she likes them. I now feel silly that I ever wished for a cracker-free kid.

In my pre-Samaira/Rehan days, I had a thing about never yelling at my babies. Now, there are times I just do. Sometimes I yell in pure shock. Sometimes I yell in panic. Sometimes I yell because I fear my babies will injure themselves or others. It’s almost like a reflex. Totally involuntary. But it happens. And I yell.

Before I was a mom, I had this notion that I must teach something new to my kids every day. But most of the days, I don’t focus on teaching them anything new. I just focus on being….with them. I focus on playing with them, reading to them, the same old. I realize that life is not an agenda. Life does not have a curriculum. While I want to do the best for my kids, I also want to, and want them to live life. So, at least for now, most of the days we just live life.

Rehan is all of 5 month old now and in some households, 5 month olds are sleep trained with a somewhat decent schedule in place. I am nowhere close to that. I am nowhere close to getting close…that’s how far I am! Rehan drives his schedule. He sleeps through the night, kind of. He does not wake up-wake up, but starts sucking his thumb while still asleep so I nurse him a couple of times at night. So, as much as I would have liked, I haven’t really been able to sleep train him.

And then there are things that I don’t even try hard enough for. I feed Samaira left overs, just as we eat left overs. And I have no qualms about that. I could live off of left overs. I love left overs. So I feed left overs to Samaira too. Rehan has not started solids yet…but wait till that happens.

There are so many parenting philosophies and it is all too personal a decision. When to put kids in their own rooms, when to potty train them, when to feed them, what to feed them, how much to feed them, when to let them be and when to control them, what medicines to give them, what medicines to not give them, what to teach them, when to teach them, which religion to teach them or not, which myths to sustain and which ones to not, and the list goes on and on and on. I try my best not to judge other parenting styles. I definitely try not to judge other parents. All of us try to do the best we can. The best we know. To the best of our abilities. All of us think we are doing the right thing for our kids. All of us love our kids to bits.

One of the differences I have felt between my pre-kids and post-kids days is that now I know how easily non-parents tend to judge parents, especially with absolutely no prior experience whatsoever. That’s not to say that parents don’t judge other parents, because that happens too. But I now know better. I know now, that it is a beautiful thing to dream a perfect vision of life after kids, life with kids. But it is also a beautiful thing to build your own family-reality. According to your own values. Your own gut. Your own view of the world. Your own situation. Your own preferences. Your own comfort.

What I mean is that I am a very different parent than what I had imagined myself to be. My reality is different from my dream. So even though my baby loves crackers and that’s not something I had envisioned for her, I am cool with it. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

It is the month of October

The month of October is down syndrome awareness month. When I think of creating awareness about down syndrome, I immediately think about how much positivity and support we are surrounded by. When we got Samaira’s diagnosis a couple of days after her birth, all our friends and family had the perfect reaction. I don’t know how they got it so right. I don’t know how they found it in them to react just the right way. They were happy for us, excited with us, they cried with us, they felt our insecurities with us. But none of them were sad. You know, not sad-sad. I don’t know how we managed to surround ourselves with such amazing people with big hearts. While we have the buffer of our friends and family who reacted perfectly, we know it is not the entire reality. There are still people who feel sad for someone who has a baby with down syndrome. There are still people who say “I am sorry” when they hear someone has given birth to a baby with down syndrome. There are still people who say “what’s wrong with him/her”. There are still people who say it is sad to have a baby with down syndrome. There are still people who are insensitive. And we cannot run from that reality. Therefore, we need a down syndrome month. A month to dispel all the myths, to answer any questions, to create more awareness, to sensitize people, and, to create more acceptance. It not only helps individuals with down syndrome and their families, but I believe it makes other people better human beings. So while having a special month to celebrate something you are trying to mainstream seems counter-intuitive, it is very much needed until we get the society to a state of unconditional acceptance and love.

History and time are filled with perceptions about down syndrome – some of which are facts, some are myths and some are result of society’s reaction and attitude toward down syndrome.  Down syndrome is named after doctor John Landon Down, who was first to categorize the common features of people with down syndrome. Dr Jerome Lejeune discovered it as a genetic condition whereby a person has three, instead of two, copies of the 21st chromosome. In a process called non-disjunction, the two copies of chromosome 21 fail to separate during the formation of egg, resulting in an egg with two copies of the chromosome. When the egg is fertilized, the resulting fetus has three copies of chromosome 21 in each of its cells. It has nothing to do with race, nationality, socioeconomic status, religion or anything the parents did during pregnancy. In the 1980s, the average lifespan of a person with down syndrome was 25 years. People with down syndrome typically have physical and intellectual delays from birth but there is a wide range of abilities within the population that are impossible to predict ahead of time. People with down syndrome are significantly predisposed to certain medical conditions including congenital heart defects, sleep apnea, Alzheimer’s, hearing loss and hypothyroid. There is also evidence of increased risk of celiac disease, autism, childhood leukemia and seizures. Most online and otherwise resources list some common physical traits of down syndrome such as flattened appearance on face, high/broad forehead, upward slant to eyes, smaller nose, small ears, protruding tongue, short neck/hands/legs and poor muscle tone. There are certain stereotypes associated with down syndrome – that they are happy, loving, angels. Sometimes it is true and sometimes it is not. People with down syndrome are people. So sometimes they are happy and sometimes they are sad. Sometimes they are loving and sometimes they are feisty and quarrelsome. Sometimes they are angels and sometimes they are little devils. Just a couple of decades ago, parents and doctors preferred to institutionalize a baby with down syndrome. A lot of traits such as lower IQ, low life expectancy and lower-perceived abilities was a result of this inhuman practice. As more and more people are becoming aware and sensitive and accepting –early intervention programs, medical care, quality educational programs, stimulating environment, positive attitude of parents and society have made the outlook toward and reality of down syndrome a drastically different one. Life expectancy of an individual with down syndrome has gone up to 60, average IQ level has gone up, the quality of life has gone up. People with down syndrome attend school, work and contribute to society in meaningful ways. While a quick search of down syndrome will bring results of physical features typically associated with down syndrome, very rarely but surely, you will come across resources that talk about the beautiful Brushfield spots in their eyes, their perfect eyebrows, their beautiful silky hair, and their warm irresistible hugs.

Something that all the people in the special needs community know is the difference between “normal” and “typical”. The opposite of normal is abnormal. Opposite of typical is atypical. So when you refer to a kid who does not have special needs as normal, it implies that the other kids are abnormal. Whereas referring to them as typical, the preferred way, means others are atypical. Referring to a baby/person as down’s baby (incorrect usage), or down syndrome baby means you are defining a baby with this condition. Whereas referring that individual as a person or baby with down syndrome means that they are people first and then the condition. This is called people-first language. Chromosomes decide physical and intellectual traits of beings. A certain type of chromosome gives people blue eyes, or blond hair, or dark skin, or tall height. But there is more to them than the color of their eyes, their hair type, their skin color and their height. Just the same way, three copies of 21st chromosome decides certain physical and intellectual traits in people with down syndrome, but there is much more to them than just those traits.

Samaira is almost 22 months old now. I cannot believe how time flies. When she was born, she was the most peaceful baby. Share rarely cried. She slept through the night. She showered us with smiles. She had the most beautiful, innocent eyes. She had rather calm demeanor. She always gave me the most body-melting, heart-mesmerizing hugs. She ate everything and anything I gave her – broccoli, spinach, flax-seeds, and spicy Indian food. As she is growing older, she is adding more colors to her personality. She isn’t always her charming self, but most minutes of the day she is. She does not always sleep through the night – it depends on how she is feeling and if she is congested. She still has the most beautiful and innocent eyes, but with a touch of naughty. She has learnt to say no, and with a lot of meaning behind it. So she says no when she does not want to give me a hug, and I respect that. She yells and screams and shouts when things don’t go her way. She is picky about what she eats. She doesn’t eat spicy food anymore because she was given non-spicy food immediately after Rehan was born and now she is resistant to spices. She is still very warm and affectionate. She still gives the most breathtaking hugs. She loves her baby brother immensely. She pours her heart out on him. She does not like it if he is upset or crying. She rocks him in his car seat and Shhhhhhhs him when he is crying. She is quite a performer. When she knows there are people around here, she reacts in one of two extreme ways. She either starts crying and wants to get away from the crowd, or she gets in the center and wants to laugh every time others in the room laugh and play the adult. She talks a LOT. She blabbers all day long. She loves to read books. She loves to dance to her toy-music. She loves her some crackers. She requests Siddharth to sing the song Humma Humma (from the Indian movie Bombay). Samaira loves going to her day care. In fact she looks forward to it. She has her own social circle there. She wakes up in the morning and says morning mumma. She loves being bounced on the ball. She loves it when Siddharth holds her upside down in the air. She pretty much enjoys anything that involves doing monkey business.

What I am trying to say in so many words is - it really is ok. It really is no big deal. It really is just an extra chromosome. 

Siddharth and I are not too sensitive about the people first language. I don’t always correct someone who refers to their child as normal or refers to my baby as down syndrome baby. I didn’t know the difference between normal and typical before Samaira. I don’t know if I would have referred to someone as a down syndrome baby before Samaira. It’s hard for me to imagine what I would have done. So I am ok if people don’t always use the right language. I do care about people’s intent though. I care that their heart is in the right place. I care that they care about Samaira. I care that they love Samaira unconditionally. I care that they treat Samaira with affection, tenderness, discipline and dignity. I grew up in a family in which we did not do things because that’s how society does it. My parents gave us the best education and the best opportunities at every stage in our lives, even if it defied societal-norms. So society’s preconceived notions about down syndrome did not come in between their unconditional love for Samaira. They loved and cared for, took pride in and pampered Samaira just as they do any of their other grand kids. Our friends and family have created this happy bubble around us in which life is perfect and the world is all blue sky, shiny stars, purple flowers and flying hippos. But I know there is a world outside my world. And we will surely venture out in that world someday. It is for that world that I write today.

October is down syndrome awareness month. Never hesitate to ask us any questions about down syndrome.

Samaira is a free bird. She has wings. And she loves to fly.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


I sat down to write something a hundred times over the last month and a half and just couldn't stay up long enough to finish writing. So I have at least 10 half-baked posts that I wanted to write in that moment and once the moment passed, I didn't really want to write. It is those little moments of everyday life that I want to capture at times and preserve forever. So much has happened in the last few weeks. My babies are exploding, in the best way possible. In baby-creativity-space-time-continuum, new things emerge every day. These are the things that shift the gears of my day from same ol’ to I frikkin’ love my life. So I figured, I might as well try and remember everything that happened in the last few weeks that I never want to forget.

When Sammy looked at my yoga pants the other day, she shouted nanana, which means banana in her language. At first I thought I had banana remains stuck on my pants. I got up to look for it and clean it and it took me a good 20 seconds to realize that she was referring to the Nike sign on my yoga pants. I have read enough literature to know that kids have a fertile imagination and we adults constantly try to conform them to the things we know and take them away from their imagination. So Sammy’s perception of Nike sign as a nanana makes me a proud mumma. So like a 21st century parent, I responded with positive reinforcement and clapped for Sammy.

Rehan has started babbling in his own international baby language. His favorite words are anganganga, aagggeeee, uhaaaa and so on. While we sing our regular songs and rhymes to him, most fun is talking to him in his language. He laughs and smiles a ton, especially when someone is talking to him. He is an attention seeker. I want to preserve his happiness for a life time. Samaira mimics us and says anganganga when she sees Rehan. It is the sweetest thing ever.

My favorite moments are when my precious interact with one another. Samaira adores Rehan. She gets really bothered when he is not happy or is crying. She constantly hovers around him - kissing him, patting him, and occasionally poking his eyes. Oops. So we have to be quite careful when the sister is hovering over her bhai (brother). I see Rehan smile at Samaira every time he looks at her. I see Samaira look at Rehan with loving eyes. I don’t think she is possessive about him, or us for that matter. Every time Siddharth plays with Rehan, she stares at Siddharth but with admiration and appreciation. She has an expression of happiness when she sees Siddharth play with her bhai.

Samaira loves her naani (my mom) a lot too. My mom wasn't well a few days back and spent a lot of time lying down in layers next to the fireplace. Samaira was not used to seeing my mom like this and was so concerned about her. She would constantly hug my mom, say “hiiiii” and kiss her. Although my mom was trying her best not to pass on the joy to her. Seeing Samaira so concerned with her naani is special and speaks volumes about the emotional relationships she can form.

Bhai kicks like he means it. He has a play gym in which he gets to kick a piano with his feet and it plays music. He musters all the energy in his teeny-tiny 13 pound body and throws his legs toward the piano and BAAM comes the sound that makes him happy. I love his funny giggles and laughs. They seem so meaningful. They do really take my breath away.

Parents often think of leaving their legacy behind. I am not old and wise enough to think about legacy, but I am young and mature enough to think about the future of my babies. The latter is not really a function of age, but more a function of being a mom. If there is one thing I want Samaira and Rehan to be when they grow up is happy, and loving, and respectful of others’ feelings. Well, so it is isn’t just one thing I want. I want many things for them. I have all these wishes for them and their future. I believe in being human. That means accepting all the aspects of human personality. That includes happiness, jealousy, ambitions, acceptance, tolerance, anger, sadness, insecurities, possessiveness and love. So I don’t expect my babies to be these flawless beings who are all lovey-dovey-gently-cuchiii-cooos. I just want them to be happy and nice people. Because everything else will come and go. But their attitude will stay with them.

Samaira is a very loving sister. Rehan is a very happy bhai. Their attitudes build moments for me. They build moments for my lifetime. I am their mumma!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My Bunkeys & My Zen

Samaira says bunkey for a monkey. Like how you would say it if you had a cold or a blocked nose . Samaira switches her m’s and b’s pretty randomly. So for her baby is mama, mama is baba or sometimes it stays mama, and monkey is bunkey. She has an affinity for monkeys, probably because it is one of the words she can say. And maybe because that’s her favorite thing in her room.

Some of my very close friends threw me a baby shower in the month of May, just a few days before Rehan was born. As a part of the shower, they helped to decorate Samaira’s and Rehan’s room. I wanted a jungle theme for that room and my friends gathered all the creativity and love to decorate the nursery and hand pick the right material for clouds, animals, trees, stars, frame, alphabets – everything. They spent the entire day beautifully decorating the room. And the outcome was brilliant!

Notice the monkeys hanging from the trees & peeking through the frame

Ever since Samaira started sleeping in her own room, we spend more time there, especially before she goes to sleep. She gets super excited when she enters her room. She starts looking for her bunkey, she makes the grrrrrr sounds when she looks at the lion, she makes the ummmmhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh sound when she looks at the elephant, and she wants to touch the leaves and the branches of the tree!

When I tell her the story of chinku monkey, binku monkey, pinki mumma and rocky daddy, she wants to repeat the word bunkey after every time I say it! She listens to these stories very intently as if I have a very important story to tell. She smiles. She is amused. She gives me the satisfaction of telling these made-up mundane stories to her. I don’t really get a chance to put Sammy to sleep these days, especially because I am on call 24*7 for Rehan’s feeding. Putting Rehan to sleep is kind of interesting in its own way, at least right now. He sleeps like an angel during the day, and night is when he wants to stay up, and play, and eat.

I sometimes talk and feel like I am the only one on this planet earth to have two kids. I totally realize that is not the case. But I am surprised by how effortless the rest of the world makes it look like. I feel like an utter chaos most of the times. Off late Samaira has started to wake up in the middle of the night and she wants to stay up and play during that time. If she spots Rehan, then any hope of her going back to sleep can be kissed goodbye. She then wants to spend several minutes playing with Rehan.

It was during this utter chaos of a playful Samaira and a hungry Rehan that I found my zen moment. At 1 am. Siddharth was gone for 5 minutes when I had Rehan in my lap as I was vigorously rocking him by shaking my leg, and I had Samaira resting against my shoulders and holding onto my arms as she hugged me. I was singing to Sammy and rocking Rehan and I found my zen. My rainbow. My perfect bubble. My unicorn. Whatever people like to call it. It was perfect. Until, Samaira started to move backwards in our bed, almost fell, as I yelled in panic and freaked her out while grabbing her hand quickly.

Samaira is incredibly sweet with Rehan. At first she wasn’t sure why this baby is not going back to his home, like all other babies do. Then she got used to him being around. Now she is extremely curious about him and seems to adore him. She wants to put him to sleep – she pats him as she says “pap” (her version of “nap”) and sings “aaaaaaaaaa” to him. She caresses him, not so gently though. She runs to him the minute I bring him into the room. She gets really bothered when he cries. She literally goes around him in circles when he is lying on the ground and playing. Watching them interact, as long as she isn’t poking his eyes out, is a zen moment for me.

I totally get transported into this zen when Samaira hugs me. There is something absolutely incredibly warm in the hugs of this 19 month old sister. She gives us hugs when she wakes up in the morning, when she comes home the her day care, right after she knows she has done something we don’t approve of, or pretty much any time she wants. Irrespective of why, the result of her hugs is my heart melting away like it is 150 degrees outside!

Rehan has started cooing a lot more now and he smiles when we talk to him. He responds with a mischievous, sideways smile. He smiles like he completely understands everything I am saying, or singing, or blabbering. He encourages me to talk to him even when I think I can’t keep talking to a two month old who does not understand a word I am saying. Ever since I was a kid, I have seen my mom’s uncanny ability to talk to infants/kids, pretty much non-stop. So much so that I was convinced that she could talk to a rock for hours without getting a reaction from it. But now I understand why talking to infants can come rather naturally to some people. I understand the joy it brings when they respond to what some might think is a one way conversation with an infant.

I always realize my zen when I watch my two babies sleep. I feel like it is the most beautiful site I could witness.

It feels a little weird to be thinking and writing about my zen moments when most of the times I am not in that mode. Most of the times, I am in the exact opposite of my zen, or the unicorn, or the rainbow mode. There is lack of sleep, two babies crying at the same time, two babies hungry at the same time, a hungry me and a hungry Rehan at the same time, messy rooms, un-arranged closets, clutter of way-too-many toys, unfinished rooms, and did I mention lack of sleep. Although it is rather easy to slip into these pockets of zen, I wish they lasted longer. I wish I was more put together the rest of the times. I wish I had everything under control. 

But in the meantime, I try my best to keep a check on my I-am-totally-freaking-out face, smile when my bunkeys smile...because in there is my zen.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

If you love somebody, show it…maybe.

My parents have always been very demonstrative in showing their emotions toward us. Even my dad, who says way less and feels way more, has told us time and again that we, his kids, are the center of his world. My mom on the other hand is very vocal and sometimes dramatic about her display of emotions for us. She is too cute about it. So I have grown up in a family where we have always told each other how much we loved them - in words, actions, directly & indirectly - in every which way.

Over the years, I had taken this expressive personality trait for granted. But as I moved away from my family, I started to pay attention to people around me and their family dynamics. Being expressive about ones’ emotions for their family members isn't as common a feature as I grew up thinking it was. In fact, several years ago, one of my friends mentioned to me that my family is overly expressive and somewhat dramatic in sharing our feelings for each other. It didn't seem like a compliment back then, but I can’t imagine growing up any other way.

When we were kids we had a lot of decorative and fancy stuff in the house. But one specific decorative piece that has stayed in my mind till date is a poster of a little boy with puppies around him with text on it that says “If you love somebody, show it…” It was one of my favorite things in our house growing up.

I found the image here

Siddharth and I often discuss and have very different attitude on this topic. Siddharth being his boisterous self is very expressive in a lot of ways. But he doesn't always talk about his deepest sensitive feelings for people, almost ever. I know him really well and both of us understand a lot of what is unsaid between us. But I have also noticed that he is thoroughly misunderstood, and quite unfortunately by people closest to him. These folks don’t think he cares for or loves them as much because he doesn't call them or doesn't do stuff that would show that he cares. I know he cares for them because of his actions toward these people even when they are not around, not listening to him, and not aware of what he has to say. But he refuses to do anything to show them that he does care. He believes that he doesn't have to be a certain someone or someway for these people to love him or feel close to him. While this is an excellent point, I know it doesn't happen that way and people oftentimes need a proof of love. I tell him that maybe he should explicitly show them that he cares for and loves them so that they know it too. But he insists that it would mean that they want him to someone he is not for them to love him, and he doesn't believe that he needs to do that. Siddharth is one of the most genuine people I have met. He deeply cares for his people, no matter what they say or do or feel toward him. He is in fact way more genuine and caring than some people who are very demonstrative in nature. As awful as I feel about him being misunderstood by people close to him, I do agree with his philosophy. And there is nothing I can tell him in response to this thought of not changing his fundamental personality trait so he can be loved.

So I sit here at my home, with plenty of free time while I am on my maternity leave, wondering if it is really important to show that you love someone. While I am all for showing and displaying, I can’t imagine Siddharth being this way. When I got married to Siddharth, I did not have a list of characteristic traits that I was looking for in a man. I never made that list. Nor did I ever make a list of good and bad in him. I don’t work like that and I can’t be that calculative. In fact, I don’t even know what that list could look like. But I do know that I fell for the kind of person he is – the whole package. These eight years of marriage have taught me that there is a lot of give and take in a marriage, a lot of meeting halfway, a lot of 'you change in this aspect' and 'I will change in that'. Once we were committed to each other, it didn't really matter what changes the other person made, or did not make. The changes we made in us seemed worth it because it made our relationship and us as individuals flourish. That said, there are aspects of our personality that remained absolutely unchanged and we both accept each other with all the changes and non-changes.

The thing I would never change about him though is his take on relationships. He loves his people absolutely unconditionally. He doesn't expect anything in return, not even for them to love him back. He doesn't think he needs to be a certain way for them to truly love him back. He may not explicitly show that he loves them, but when it comes to key decisions in life – he stands by them, for them, and with them. I, for one, would love to be loved that way.

This past week we celebrated our eighth marriage anniversary. Since Rehan was mere 30 days old, I didn't really feel like leaving him home alone. Not yet anyway. I also didn't get a chance to buy Siddhu a gift as I haven’t really left our home since Rehan has been born. Siddharth has also been quite preoccupied & busy over this last month as we learn to figure out the logistics with 2 babies in our home! Siddharth made our anniversary super special by cooking my favorite meal for me. That made my day and made up for an excellent celebration for us. Later in the week, I told Siddhu “we are not like a lot of lovey-dovey showy-vowy kind of couples who shower each other with gifts and flowers and stuff in general. Do you think we still have the spark that makes us tick…” Without thinking even for a second, he said that he thought about it too, but in the exact opposite way. He was quite amazed by the fact that we are so comfortable with each other and are so intertwined in each other’s thoughts and lives that we didn't need explicit and overt display to prove our love and 8 years of marriage. He said that we cherish and enjoy simple things in life far more than big major things or events. He is absolutely right. I have made it amply clear that he need not wait for a special occasion to give me gifts ;). So now he doesn't. Our celebrations are more about being there with each other and for each other, and more importantly about small little acts that show that we know what the other person likes and values. We both value our family and spending time with each other :)!

I have no idea how Samaira and Rehan will be in this particular personality trait. But sometime in the last few days I promised to myself, no matter what their attitude in this regard is, whether or not they show and demonstrate their feelings to me – I will love them equally, always. They could be diametrically opposite in their behavior and that wouldn't impact the extent of my love for them, even one bit. And I will show them that I love them both, equally. If I truly love someone, they will know it without an ounce of doubt in their minds that I love them. But that’s just me. I know it doesn't work this way for everyone, and that's ok. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Holy Moly Diaper Changes!!

Why did nobody warn us?! Why do people not talk about it more? Why is it not the hottest topic of discussion amongst all the parents who have new born boys? Or have I been visiting all the wrong forums?

Diaper changes for boys are drastically different from diaper changes for girls. Fact.

During Samaira’s diaper changes, all I had to make sure was that I have a new diaper underneath the old one before I start cleaning and wiping and changing her. That pretty much would ensure almost no poop & pee related accidents during diaper changes.

Come Rehan’s turn, things are massively different. When Siddharth was changing Rehan’s very first diaper at the hospital, our nurse looked at him and said “your older one is a girl, isn't she?” With a surprised look on his face Siddhu asked “yes, how do you know?” That’s when she showed him the right way to put diaper on boys. That was Aaaa..haa moment for us!!!  Subsequently, we were exposed to this other world of pee-like-you-are-spray-painting while changing Rehan’s diaper. You would think that it will take one pee-spray-during-diaper-change incident for me to figure out the right way to do it. Not true. It took me at least one instance of pee-spray for a several days to somewhat avoid it from happening for the next few days. I tried all permutations & combinations of the order in which I must do things during diaper changes, but tiniest of the window is enough for spray painting. Rehan has done the honor of spraying his pee on our bed-sheet, quilt, pillows, clothes, at our pediatrician’s, in the car, you name it! And when it sprays it really goes far! We go through batches of laundry at a legendary speed now. I tried so many different techniques to prevent it from happening but just at the last moment when everything was done and all I had to do was seal the deal – Rehan decided to pee. At some point, I figured if it is meant to happen, it will. So I decided to risk it every time, not be over-precautious, and accept my fate of being peed on any time it does happen. Until...a friend of mine, AP, decided to gift me this divine product called Peepee Teepee for the Sprinkling WeeWee. What a genius idea! Simple pleasures of life that make you smile! Granted that a lot of times I forget to use it…but whenever I do use it, it totally works!

Peepee Teepee for the Sprinkling Weewee (Picture from here)

I am normally not the kind of person who gives advice to people. That’s not because I don’t want to share my wisdom. But it is because in most cases I assume I don’t have the kind of wisdom that I can preach and advice. So most of the times, I share, but don’t give advice. But next time I have a friend who has a new born boy, especially after a girl – these words of wisdom will definitely be shared. Everyone in this scenario deserves to be explicitly told about the intricacies and nuances of diaper changes and the differences between diaper changes for a girl versus a boy. This advice, I will give. For sure.

For some strange reason, making a public declaration of my deepest personal feelings about diaper changes has turned out to be very cathartic. I feel like I have done my bit. It has also given me the mental space to think about other important things that have happened over the last few days…

…like Rehan’s first month birthday on June 29th. While he slept through our cake cutting ceremony, Sammy ensured that she massacred the cupcakes sufficiently.

…like Samaira’s new haircut. While we have received all sorts of reactions to her haircut, the underlying theme is that it is taking everyone some time to get used to the fact that Sammy doesn’t have her ponytail anymore…at least for some time! 90 degree temperature in Seattle. It is rare. It is treasured. It is praised. It also gets the flak for being too hot because we Seattle folks are not used to it. It also means that all the stores will run out of fans and air conditioners…whatever they have anyway!

…like our EIGHT year marriage anniversary on June 30th. Every year brings new joys, new adventures, new challenges, new fears and new experiences! Feel so blessed to share this journey with my best friend!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Younger brother to an older sister.

Different sibling combinations have certain inherent dynamics associated with it. I have often talked about my fondness for the sister-sister combination as I believe this relationship only gets better with different phases of life and is not impacted negatively by additional people in our lives over time. I do have a younger brother as well and I treasure and guard that relationship with my life. I may not talk a lot about it, but it means a lot more to me than I had ever imagined. My younger brother is someone I can talk to, yell at, boss around, pamper, feel protective about, feel responsible for, scold, care for, constantly try to correct/fix, listen to, learn from, love, and most importantly, someone I am very proud of – for the person he is and the way I have seen him stand up for people, things & ideas he cares for!

Now that I have one Samaira and one Rehan, I do often wonder the kind of relationship they will share. To some extent I resign to fate and their individual personalities to govern the dynamic of this relationship. That said, I do understand I can play a role in attempting to somewhat shape that dynamic – successfully or not, will be determined years from now. But I do know that the relationship I share with my siblings is mainly due to the relationship my parents share with us and the relationship they share with each other, in addition to what they tried to teach us about the brother-sister-sister relationship. All my life I have witnessed my parents put our family at the center of their Universe. And that experience governs my relationship with my siblings.

I have a younger sister and a youngest brother. Another side effect of being a younger brother to two older sisters is that he had to re-use some (read most) of our stuff. In a place like India, where gender and color pairings don’t necessarily go hand in hand, it seemed somewhat more acceptable to do so. The pinks and the greens and the blues didn't have any biases or gender-connotations associated with it, not sure if it is changing now though.

A few weeks before Rehan was born, Siddharth and I did have a discussion about which of Samaira’s stuff should we reuse for Rehan. Siddharth was pretty unapologetically clear about reusing almost everything that is in good condition. I had a mental block of not using the pinks and the peaches, mostly because I was a little apprehensive about what people would say. While I knew my reasoning was somewhat flawed, it was kind of hard for me to overcome. So we ultimately settled on not using Samaira’s all-pink outfits for Rehan, but use all the swaddles and blankets that are in good shape.

As a result, we ended up using Samaira’s Aden & Anais swaddles for Rehan, just because they were so good and pretty well maintained. I convinced myself that the dominant color in those swaddles is red and not pink, and it can’t be that bad. But everywhere we go now, mostly doctor appointments thus far, most people end up thinking that we have a baby girl and not a boy – thanks for the non-blue/brown/green colored swaddles for our buddy! This isn't to say that we don’t have blue stuff for Rehan. Rehan has his fair share of blue-color, monkey prints and other neutral colors/patterns. But whatever said and done about the color and pattern stereotypes in most places, I am rather glad that we chose to reuse some of Samaira’s stuff without being blinded by these stereotypes. I like that Siddharth’s head wasn’t muddled with these typecasts because deep inside, even I don’t see any substance in that. I was just more ready to given into the cultural labels. 

So while we swaddle our buddy in reds and peaches, we do have blue too, I swear :) !

Monday, June 10, 2013

My Sweetheart, Rehan :) !!!

Let me put it this way – I think both my kiddos prefer my in-person company over in-my-tummy company.

May 29th 4:45am: It’s all too vague, yet all too distinct. I wouldn't have known the difference between full-bladder pain and labor pain, if it weren't for my water breaking five minutes after I felt it for the first time. While I made it to my 35 week 5 day mark this time around, my desired delivery date was more like July 6th (and if you care, you can do the math to figure out how much past my due date I wished I had gone). Oh well. In spite of that, we were quite ready for this to happen so early. We had our bags packed – for the hospital and for Samaira, neatly arranged in the car, for several days. We had talked to our friends about the full algorithm that we would follow to figure out where Samaira would go while we were at the hospital. We had shared Samaira’s full day schedule with our friends so they know what to expect…kind of. Logistically, we were ready for this to happen several days before it was supposed to.

We figured we had at least 5 to 6 hours before our boy would show up since that’s how long it took from water-breaking to actual-delivery during Samaira’s birth. We called our friends R & A, who were going to take care of Sam during our hospital stay and then we headed to the hospital.

May 29th 5:20am: We were at the hospital by this time, I think. On the drive to the hospital, I was already timing my contractions and they were less than 3-4 minutes apart and about 30 seconds long. Once we were at the hospital, I remember one of the first things I told them was that if I had a back labor then I want an epidural. I had started to feel the pain in my back and no way on earth was I prepared to go through another back labor without any drugs! However, the entire staff at the hospital was busy checking me into the system and was asking me questions about my full name, my allergies, last OB appointment, etc., while my contractions were beginning to get closer and somewhat intense.

May 29th Sometime between 5:30am and 6am: I don’t remember much of the timeline and the order in which things happened during this time. But I know that our friend A showed up at the hospital to take Sammy away for a few days. I also remember that nurses were attempting to give me an IV for something before they could give me an epidural. The on call doctor had asked the nurses to call her when the baby was ready to come out.

May 29th Sometime between 6am and 6:30am: I went from 8 cm dilated 10+1 cm dilated and the on call doctor wasn’t going to get there on time, although she was trying her best. The nurses then called an OB from another practice. He decided to stay on the side until he was really-really needed, so he wasn’t stepping over the on-call OB’s shoes. Pretty thoughtful I must say. But not helping me! Needless to say, Siddharth was with me through it all. Can’t imagine things any other way. As I continued yelling at everyone around me to get me the epidural, he was focused on giving me some relief in any way he could. He kept telling me “it is just a matter of few more minutes…before you know it you will have our son in your arms…all you will need is one or two pushes.” Such a nice and thoughtful statement annoyed me a little bit back then and I responded “you keep telling this to me but nothing is happening…I am still feeling the just stop saying this again and again.” Having been there done that, Siddharth knew to expect this kind of a reaction from me in such circumstances! 

May 29th 6:37am: Our on-call OB hadn't showed up…but our baby boy’s head definitely had. So the other doctor finally decided to play a more active role as we welcomed our boy in this world!

Obviously this is my version of what happened and what I remember. Siddharth knows and remembers much more. It happened all too quickly for me to process and digest. The nurses put our boy on my chest right away…and I remember saying, at least 5-6 times, “I delivered a baby”. It was almost a cry for my own accomplishment of getting through the last couple of hours. But then I finally focused on him…and I started to cry. His tender skin, vulnerable cry, beautiful eyes, approachable fingers, beautiful lips, and almost an ET like appearance made me fall in love with him like I didn't think was possible. I wanted to squeeze him tight, except his amniotic fluid covered body would slip out of my hands if I tried that. I did fall in love. I felt so blessed. And I felt so relieved!

Relieved…for feeling the way I did. I have rarely articulated the fear of having a boy. But I totally had it. It has nothing to do with the fact that shopping for girls is more fun, or that you can dress them up in all kinds of fancy ways, or the boys have the stereotype of being rowdy and callous, which I understand is exactly what it is – a stereotype, and even if it is true then it is not one of my fears. But it had to do with something I just cannot put in words. I can relate to girls. My sister has two daughters whom I LOVE more & more each day. In fact, my nieces are the first set of kids ever that made me believe that I could really love kids, especially because prior to that I was never a mushy-gushy-kuchi-ku kind of a person around kids. So a boy felt like a totally unchartered territory in every sense of the word. Thank heavens I did not get to choose the gender of my baby. As I stared into his eyes for the first time and for several seconds…I could see how he is a soul that just belongs. Belongs to me. I was ecstatic to be falling in love with him! And to top it all, within the first hour, my little Buddy was already showering me with smiles. I couldn't have asked for more J.

One thing Siddhu and I struggled (I more than he) with was the name. Siddhu had one name picked out for our son even before Samaira was born. I had never fully accepted the name and kept trying to come up with other options. But nothing ever stuck. It just didn't. I couldn't believe how hard it was to pick a boy name! We did have our own way of referring to him before he showed up, most commonly as our Binku monkey. But in that moment of holding our Buddy for the first time, it just felt right to go with the name that Siddhu had picked for him so long ago! So we named our little Buddy - Rehan. It just felt right.

One truth that is truer than truth is that child birth has the potential to bring you closer to your spouse. I experienced it during Samaira’s birth, and I experienced it during Rehan’s birth. I feel like our bond strengthened a little bit more that day.

Life with two kids is clearly very different. We are much more sleep deprived. In these early days post-delivery, most of my focus is on Rehan and getting used to a very elaborate feeding routine several times a day. Siddharth is left to take care of Samaira and any and all paraphernalia. I am pretty sure as days go by, we will find some sort of a rhythm in our little chaotic-world. But that day is not today. There are moments though. Moments that seem to be perfect with nothing to distract from their purity. A beautiful site of Samaira and Rehan sleeping next to each other made it feel like it’s all worth it. Behind my sleepless nights, post-delivery recovery, dark circles, weird eating schedules, and everything else that follows – I am a content mom.

Welcome, Rehan! My sweetheart! Samaira, Siddharth & I love you.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Differences & Acceptance

I am typically sleeping when Samaira wakes up in the morning. Siddharth brings her into our bed when she wakes up and plays with her for a bit. When she looks at me sleeping, she starts talking to me right away. As I wake up and turn to her, she talks to me some more and then she falls on me to give me the warmest hugs I have ever received. No kidding. She does this several times in the morning and the warmth of her hugs is to die for, even on a hot summer day! That’s when I say to myself every single time - ”God she is such an angel and is so loving…please don’t let anything or anyone ever hurt her.

While I have these thoughts every day, the thing that rarely occurred to me until recently is the reverse phenomena. The reverse phenomena being the case in which Samaira may hurt someone. When we judge someone or resent someone, we have a higher chance of hurting that person. And the thought that occurred to me only recently is that Samaira could hurt someone too.

Most of us are often too quick to judge others. People who are not like us, or do not do things like we do make us uncomfortable. We judge people who don’t think the way we do, or don’t have the same priorities as ours. In fact, I have felt more judged as a parent than ever before – why do we feed Samaira what we do/when we do/how much we do/with what frequency we do, why do we give her certain medicines, why do we not give her certain medicines, why do we attribute all her shortcomings to down syndrome (which, we absolutely don’t), why are we not aggressive enough with her therapies, why are we not potty training her yet, and on and on.

That said, over the last 10 years or so, I have met a few people who have a much higher degree of tolerance and acceptance in them for people and things in spite of these differences. I am not really sure at what point I started to judge, but I have definitely learnt from these people around me to not judge and to accept more. Interestingly, they weren't necessarily older, wiser people that I was learning this from. I have met folks both younger and older than me who have unknowingly taught me the value of accepting with differences. So today I judge less than I did before. This isn't to say that I am above it all and I feel the same way about everyone. Because I don’t. While I judge less, my comfort zone is rather small, and the number of people I trust is even smaller. It takes me months and sometimes years to let someone in my circle of trust. And once someone breaches my trust it is almost impossible for me to ever get back to the same-old. But, even though I may not trust everyone, I judge less.

A lot of times when we meet someone who is stronger, more successful, or more popular than we are, it has the potential to result in jealousy or unexplained non-liking toward that person. There is this whole world of power girls or mean girls who are hugely popular or influential. When I was in high school, there was definitely a set of more influential group of girls that would prevail.

But over the last several years, I have learnt from other (especially) women around me that presence of someone more popular and successful need not be a bad thing, or something to resent. I am not in support of meanness here, but I am in support of women & men who are more powerful and successful than I am. I have met some very smart, successful women who celebrate other women’s success and acknowledge them, as opposed to resent them. These women helped me get over my insecurities and unknowingly taught me to celebrate those who are more successful than me. I am highlighting women over men in this case because it seems to be a bigger issue among women than it is among men. I was never super competitive to begin with, and others’ achievements hardly ever bothered me. But now I truly understand the value of celebrating others, something I did not understand before.

My hope for Samaira is that she will be the one to accept without hesitance and irrespective of circumstances, abilities and differences. I hope that she will not judge or resent others. I hope that she will not be the one to hurt someone. I hope that she will celebrate the differences in her and others and teach someone like me that being different should not necessarily translate into lack of acceptance.

And now on a completely unrelated note – a very Happy Mother’s Day to all the powerful supermoms out there! Siddharth, Samaira and I celebrated this day at our peaceful (at least for some time, until I picked a fight with Siddharth on one of our usual topics :)) & loving home - so special!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Curious eyes & a delicious smile

It is hard to discipline a 16 month old. Samaira has a habit of throwing everything that comes in her hands. I am not sure why that is but it’s applicable to everything including her milk bottle & water cup. Yesterday she asked for her wa-wa (read “water”) while sitting in her high chair. She took a sip from her straw cup and immediately threw her bottle down on the floor. This is a not a unique scenario given her tendency to throw everything. But if she does it when she is on the ground already then she can pick it up and start drinking her wa-wa again. Given that she was restricted in her high chair she expected us to hand her straw cup back to her after she threw it.

In our infinite wisdom we decided that yesterday was the day to discipline her into not throwing things! So we, very sternly, asked her to not throw her straw cup. Multiple times. But to no avail.

Samaira did realize though that she was doing something we did not necessarily want her to do. So after every instance of throwing the straw cup on the ground, she would go silent for 5 seconds, then stare at us with the most curious eyes ever for another 5 seconds and then give a yummy smile to us and expect us to respond with the same yummy smile!

Disciplining can be hard! I kind of wanted to smile back, except I was angry at her for throwing her straw cup on the ground yet again. So I decided to hold my smile back and stay stern. Next time she repeated that I yelled and said “Samaira don’t throw your straw cup. Enough.” This time her curious eyes and the delicious smile were replaced by sad eyes and downward pursed lips. It was such a sad expression and yet there was so much drama in it. Samaira started staring at us with that face and didn't take her eyes off us for a good 15 seconds. We obviously stared back in complete silence.

A part of me just wanted to crack up and burst out in laughter at this overt display of innocent drama. A part of me was sad to see her sad expression and know that she isn't happy. A part of me wanted to stay stern to convey the ultimate message, and the message wasn't I love you. And the remainder of me wanted to give up on disciplining.

We tried to put up a straight face and continued with the disciplining until her sad eyes and downward pursed lips turned into howling and crying for absolutely no reason.

Jeez – how do parents discipline their kids? How do they combat their curious eyes and lovely smiles?

My natural tendency is to over think things. And believe it or not, it does have its pros as well. So when I started to think more about this whole disciplining scenario, I started thinking about the more complex issues that would need disciplining. Then I spiraled into the memories of how my parents disciplined us. More than 90% of the times I would end up being really, really, mad at my parents for not letting me do what I wanted. A lot of those times I would end up crying my eyes out, to the point that they were utterly swollen and almost unrecognizable. What I never realized back then was that it must have been really hard for my parents to see me in that state. I was just being defiant, persistent and maybe, plain old stubborn. I wanted to have my way and my parents decided to take a firm stand in some of those matters. They did choose their battles but I am pretty sure it couldn't have been easy.

Now that it’s my turn to discipline my kid(s), I am not really sure how hard it will be for me to do the right thing. How will I know which battles to pick? How will I know when to set the limits and when to let go? How will I know to strike the balance between letting them learn from their mistakes versus preventing them from making some? How will I react to their sadness and anger? And depending on how my kids turn out, in some cases, how will I overcome their curious eyes and delicious smiles? Hopefully, there will be some guiding force. Most likely my intuition. Probably my mom. Probably Siddharth. Probably my dad. Probably my sister.

Well, here is hoping that at least my two babes will guide me J!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Some smiles for my Friday

There are some things that just make me smile, even if I try not to.

Samaira has a yoga session every week. I take her to this 1:1 yoga session where she practices with her teacher while I sit on the side mat and observe both of them. It is typically an hour long session and I, for no reason at all, am smiling for about 80% of that session. Really, for absolutely no reason. Something about this hour just makes me smile. It is kind of funny how Samaira’s yoga session centers me and brings me into a zen mode.

When I go to Samaira’s day care to pick her up at the end of the day, she gives me the BIGGEST smile ever and waves vigorously at me. That makes me smile.

The thing that has changed over the last few weeks, however, is that Samaira’s toothless smiles have been replaced by her central & now lateral incisor filled smiles. My sister told me only recently, that when her babies had toothless smiles, she used to often wonder what their teeth-filled smiles would be like. Honestly, the thought of Samaira’s smile changing never occurred to me until my sister said this to me. It finally became a reality now that she actually has a couple of teeth coming out! And boy is it different. She has a different smile now!

I really miss her toothless smiles. And that made me nostalgic about the last 15.5 months with Samaira. What else have I taken for granted that will change over time, and that I will miss later on? I wish I could capture it all and preserve it for later. Maybe I should take more photos & videos. We are not a camera handy family. As in, we don’t always have camera ready to capture the everyday precious moments of life. Maybe I should make an effort to be more camera-ready and capture it all! While I am having this monologue, I am internally resolving to capture more of Samaira’s childhood. I think, for me though, a first step would be to experience Samaira’s childhood in a little bit of a more be-in-the-moment state (can’t think of a better word). I feel like in the hustle-bustle of life and work, I sometimes forget to just experience things as they are. 

Ok, so here is a resolution. How about I just try to be more present when I am with Samaira and try to experience all that she is? Once I do that, I will graduate to capturing it all as well. I feel pretty good about my new resolution! Obviously, it is easier said than done! 

But at least it is a happy thought for a Friday, and that makes me smile J.