Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My Men

My brother, my sister or I could have done the absolute worst thing on this planet, but we know if we were to go to our Dad and tell him that, his very first reaction will be to give us a hug and say “I love you.” And then he will get to the point and tell us whatever it is that we need to be told. It is unreal how much patience he has when it comes to us. The comfort in knowing that you can go to your Dad with any problem and in any situation is a cushion that is unparalleled. My Dad is my absolute first love and the most special man in my life. Dads are special beings that way. 

Siddharth is the next special man in my life. I could count endless reasons for why he is so special. He is my best friend. He has stood by me through all the good and the bad times. He has always made me a priority. He knows me way too well. I love who he is with Sammy and Rehan. He is as integral part of their routine and life, just as I am. I am so so proud of Siddharth for being the way he is. 

I have never complained to Siddharth about the stereotypical stuff. Like pick up your socks. Pick up your towel. Help with the laundry or the dishes. Help with the kids. Help with cleaning the house. Etc. On the contrary, he does most of these things before I can get to it. So I never ever complain to Siddharth about any of it. Most of the times I end up saying “Thanks, Siddhu. For everything.” Even the kids are quite aware of this phenomena in our house. Anytime they see Siddharth walking in the pantry, they know out will come a broom or a vacuum. So when Siddharth enters the pantry, Rehan says “Daddy, are you cleaning?” Yes. That’s our dynamic. I am not saying this to prove that I am the lazy one. Oh, God no ;). The point is that if I am busy doing something else, Siddharth will be finishing some or the other task without even mentioning it. Without making any deal about it at all. It is a whole different story that Siddharth is way more particular about household stuff than I am. I remember in our initial years together, I used to fold the laundry and Siddharth would re-fold it. Most of it anyway. My reaction was often “Whaaat? Why?” And he would go on to show the right way to fold shirts, pants, towels and even underwears. No joke. He has a method to it all. Anyway, the point is, he is a true partner for me. In every possible way. I don’t know where Siddharth gets all his energy from. At the end of the day, he rarely complains about being tired. He knows that Sammy and Rehan will come to him for all the mad fun. They just know who to go to. 

These are the two most special men in my life. There are obviously more men in my life - but these two are my first and long lasting loves. So on this non-Father’s day, because Father’s day has come and gone, I want to acknowledge how lucky I am to have these two men in my life. My Dad, and the Dad of my children. I do not take them for granted even for a single day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The thing about being a parent

A friend asked me a long time ago “Why should I have kids? I have a perfect life. I can travel when I want, where I want. I can lay under the stars in the middle of the night and enjoy it with my husband, in peace. I don’t have to tend to any crying babies and poopie diapers. My time is at my disposal. Why would I give that up to have a child and lose my freedom?” I gave her a text book answer of “They change your life. It is a mind-blowing experience in spite of the middle-of-the-night feedings and poopie diapers. Trust me.” But over the years I have realized that I don’t really have a good answer for her question. If someone is really hesitant to give up their freedom to have a child, there is no convincing required to how awesome a child can be. At the end of the day it is a personal choice and there is no right or wrong. These are just different experiences and people choose the experience they want to live. I can only talk about my experience. Only somewhat. I am limited by my vocabulary and what words can convey.

What a child brings to your life can only and only be felt after the child is born. Maybe you were born with a maternal instinct and always knew you would make a great mom. But if you weren’t, which I wasn’t, then there is no outside force, discussion, argument, reasoning or logic that would have convinced me to have a child. I had a child because I wanted to, for no specific reason except I felt more ready than ever at that point in time. That’s it. There wasn’t more thought into it. There wasn’t any less thought. It was that exact amount of “I’m ready, I think.” 

The moment when Sammy was put on my bare chest within 5 seconds of being born is really when my maternal instinct hit me for the very first time. That’s when she went from being a sort of an unreal-reality, who was mostly real via the ultrasound pictures and in-tummy-hiccups, to being a real flesh and blood person lying on me, 5 inches away from my eyes. Seeing is believing, they say. And that’s what made it real for me. I felt tears rolling down my cheeks and I couldn’t frikkin’ stop it. It was uncontrollable. It must be love, I thought. I was relieved to know I could love a child. Little did I know how much. It is nuts. Everything around me was suddenly brighter, happier, clearer. I clearly remember when Rehan was born, I had this sudden rush of joy and love. It was a slightly familiar territory for me. I held Rehan and I had the instant and uncontrollable urge to be a better person. In that moment of intimacy with him, I felt like I could be standing in front of anyone and I would shower love on them. I could forgive anyone. I felt like he made me a better person in an instant. It is extremely strange and I have no idea how to explain it. But holding him for the first time made me want to be a better person. That thought of being a better person stayed with me for a bit before I went back to being myself. Oh, well. 

I must also point out that unlike the popular notion, new borns aren’t the cutest thing in the world. They are often times quite the opposite. Their skin in wrinkled, their nose is somewhat squished from being born, they look nothing like what they would look like in just a few months. To top it, labor and birthing are hard. Really really incredibly hard. If it is possible to fall in love with a new born in a state of extreme frenzy, then it is a kind of feeling that can only be felt and cannot be explained. It is mere impossible. Up until having Sammy I thought I knew love inside out. I have always been crazy in love with my family, my dogs and thought I could get an honorary doctorate in love if there was one. But I was so wrong. The birth of my children showed me I didn't know a thing about love. I didn’t even know the “U” of unconditional. I get it now. I get it more every day.

The point is, having a child is life changing. It is unsurmountable joy and love that weirds you out because of the sheer intensity of it. It is a rush. It is a change in priorities. It brings back the innocence you lost, a little bit at least. So to say that anyone could have told me what a child would do to my life, before I had a child, is a fallacy. No words, no person, no song, no empathy could have really told me how I would feel after being a mom. I could only feel it one way. The only way. It required no convincing. That’s the thing about being a parent - you have to want to get there on your own, without any convincing. 

So I don’t really have any words for someone who wouldn’t want to give up their freedom by having a child. If you ever go through it, you will see it for yourself. Or else, you will continue to enjoy your freedom. No words of wisdom there.

At this point, I can’t imagine what I did with my time before Sammy and Rehan were born. I love myself more now that they are in my life. I love who they are. They are fascinating little creatures and small things they do can turn my rotten day into a feeling that can only be compared to being high. Not that I know what being high feels like. But I have heard and I can relate. 

Don’t get me wrong. Kids are a full time job. They are exhausting. They are tiring. They are testy. They can make you testy. They throw tantrums at the most critical times and places. They embarrass you, although the concept of embarrassment does not exist for them. They don’t want to eat when its time to eat. But they might wake up in the middle of the night hungry and starving. Everyone has a different take on parenting. Not a right or a wrong take. Just a different take. Siddharth and I are relatively easy going - with kids’ learning, their eating, their almost everything. We don’t fill our days trying to teach our kids new things. We spend most times playing with them and singing to them. We eat together. There are days when they don’t want to eat and I am ok with that. I don’t fret about it, I don’t feel bad about, and I don’t feel guilty about it either. I got that from my mom and sister, I think. My nieces are picky eaters but I never saw my sister or mom running behind them trying to feed them. I do mimic my sister and mom a lot when it comes to being a parent. I don’t wait for my kids to finish eating to eat my own food. I take care of myself plenty. I make myself a priority. I do love my kids to the moon and back. They are my world and my universe. But there are more things in my world and the universe. I love that Sammy and Rehan are as obsessed with Siddharth as they are with me. I love that they need him as much as they need me. The only thing we build into our agenda for sure is running around the house for 20-30 min. Everything else is up in the air. It happens to be Sammy and Rehan’s favorite game. “Daddy, I want to catch you.” “Daddy, run.” They say. This is our parenting style. It sounds really adorable sometimes, selfish some other times, and borderline careless some of the times when I read it out loud. But that’s me. That’s us. 

Being a parent is hard. Most of the times you are second guessing yourself. “Did I break my child?” “Did I do something wrong?” The other half of the times other people judge you. It is a tricky territory to be in. I do admire mom’s and dad’s with all different parenting styles. It is quite amazing to see the uniqueness that is there in every parent-child relationship. Sometimes we learn from them. Sometimes we choose not to learn. In either case, it is admirable. There is nothing more precious than seeing a mom or dad hug their child with all the love in the world irrespective of their parenting style. That’s the thing about parenting. There are so many ways to bring up a child. I think any and all approaches are fine as long as there is love. The rest falls into the bucket of individual family dynamic, which is, like it sounds - individual. 

These why I know love better!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

I Wonder

So here is my excuse. I think I have changed. Not exactly. But kind of sort of. Or maybe I have not changed at all. Instead, I have hit a realization. I have always written. I have been blogging since 2003. I used to blog in another location back then. So I am familiar with this territory. But over the last few months, every thing I wrote had a hint of __ in it. I don’t have the exact word for it, just yet. So let me come back and fill it in later. But when I read my own writing, it felt like I was pretending. Like I am standing on some higher ground and everyone should come and read what I write. Because, hey, I am that good (sarcasm). I am not a preacher in my attitude. I am not a teacher by profession. I am no expert in my caliber. And yet when I write I say “Listen to my words of wisdom.”  Not in those exact words, but in some shape or form. And I hated the smell of it in my writing. I realize that it comes with the territory of writing a blog. The fact that I have a placeholder where I write and it is available for public consumption implies that I am writing with the knowledge that people will read. There is an air of presumptuousness in that assumption. And I dislike being associated with that air. So even though I wrote, I didn’t feel like posting anything. I just wasn't happy with the content and the quality and it left me not wanting to share what I wrote. I myself love to read other blogs. I realize that I gravitate more toward humble writing. I find that more attractive and entertaining. Anyway, I clearly overcame that reservation. Not because I stopped being preachy. Neither because I am ok with being preachy. It is just that I am slowly coming to terms with the perils of this platform and accepting it. The fact of the matter is, I missed writing a blog. I just wonder how honest and true I can stay to myself when I write. The answer is, I don't know. I will continue to wonder about it without stifling my creative instinct to write. So, I think I will resume writing for now.

And now, people, listen up. I have something very important to say. Totally kidding.
Since I am writing a blog after a long time, I figured I’d start easy. Something that I won’t have to think too much about. Something that will start, flow, finish and I won’t even know it. Something that will be a result of me tying non-stop without any pause. 

So I decided to write about a few random things I wonder about.

Just the other day I was watching a video of a man under water, in a half-cage (open from top), surrounded by fishes and a shark. The shark came close to the man, that man petted it, and in a few seconds the shark went around him and around the rope that was holding the cage in the water and vanished. Maybe to appear again. I don’t know. Then there were these other small fishes swimming around the man, around the boat, around the rope. And I wondered, what is that shark thinking? What are these fishes thinking? Are they happy? Sad? Angry? Curious? Upset? Excited? Nervous? I really really wanted to get in their heads and know what was going on inside. Do they like human company? Do they gossip about us? I wonder what would happen if I could read animal minds? I will have so much more empathy for the world. Maybe. Wouldn’t that be nice? I wonder.

Rehan has this sweater with a green colored teeny-tiny dinosaur on it. For some reason I kept calling it a crocodile. In my defense it is too small to really tell the difference. Rehan came to me one day, pointed to the creature and asked “Mumma, what is this?” He likes to test his mum’s general knowledge from time to time. I responded “I don't know. What is it?” He said “It is croco-dinosaur.”  How does he come up with stuff like that? I wonder what will happen if I were to leave his imagination alone and not interfere with his thoughts. Kids are creative. They have no bias and prejudices. They think pure. They talk pure. They think the unthinkable and they speak the unspeakable. They are fearless about failing. The more we interfere with this natural tendency, the more they lose this ability. I wonder when and how to stop interfering and just let them be.

Sammy has taken on the big sister role quite effortlessly. She is constantly telling Rehan what to do and what not to do. “Rehan, walk here.” “Rehan, hold my hand.” “Rehan, don’t kick.” “Rehan, I don’t like it, ok?”  She is three and half already. She grew up to this point rather quickly. It feels like yesterday when Rehan was born and Samaira was super excited to play with the new baby in town. At some point she even wondered when this new baby was going back to his home. Eventually she settled with the idea that he is here to stay. Now, after having shared a two year camaraderie with her brother, she knows she is the big sister. And she knows how to be one. I wonder when that transition happened in her mind. She didn't even let me know of this metamorphosis. My little girl is growing up.

Sometimes I wonder why growing up takes so long. I spent my teens trying to get people’s attention. In my 20s I realized attention isn't everything. There is college, friends, family, food, nature and so much more to look forward to than mere attention. I spent my 20s being insecure about myself. In my 30s, I am finally realizing that I have no one else to please but myself. The person I need to love first and foremost is me. The way I love me is how others will love me. I don’t know why I couldn't get it in my 20s? Like, really-really get it. Why did I have to be in my 30s to feel so secure about myself? I would have spent my 20s with so much more confidence and flare had I figured it out then. I am spending my 30s learning to forgive and forget and not be angry about stupid stuff other people do. But why is it so hard to do? I think I will be somewhere in my 40s when I will ultimately get it. Sometimes I tell myself “grow up already!” But sometimes I wonder if growing up is such a good thing after all. On one hand it gives you stability and peace. But on the other hand it takes some bit of innocence away. I wonder which one is better.

Last few days I have been cooking my childhood non-favorites. All the vegetables and curries I didn’t like growing up. I like them now. I am obsessed with them now. I remember I absolutely disliked these vegetables and curries. I would be upset the day my mom would cook one of these items. I have always been emotionally attached to food. But several years down the road, and I am loving the same things I detested early on. How did that happen? When did it begin? I wonder.

I wonder how Siddharth is the man he is. He will be considered an Inhuman in the world of Marvel comics. No, it is not the same inhuman as we refer to in the English language. Inhuman have special powers in Marvel’s world and Siddharth’s special power will be being a nice person. If I point out something I don’t like about someone, his immediate response is something that indicates understanding of what the other person might be going through. How? How is the world so black and white, and mostly white, for him? Why do people never have bad intentions in his world? How do people’s not so positive words have something fundamentally positive behind them? This one, I will probably wonder for the rest of my life. I just don't get it.

I wonder what miracles look and feel like. Not “life is a miracle” kind of miracle. A real life miracle in which a genie appears or something disappears or some real life magic happens. I know, I wonder about this kind of stuff too. For real. I wonder about my reaction to such a miracle. Will I freak out? Or will I be like “I knew miracles are possible!”? I guess I will never know.

I wonder why more people don't wonder more. It is quite rejuvenating and empowering.

What did you wonder about today?

These two are as close it comes to miracles as I have seen...