Category: Life

Gladulation

One Sunday morning in mid Jan, Buzz wore her ski boots, stumbled her way through putting them in her skis, tried going down a bunny slope, fell, complained, tried again, cribbed, repeat and repeat some more.

One Sunday morning at end of March, Buzz wore her ski boots, clicked them into her skis confidently, went on the quad chair lift, up the big cliff (the easy green lifts are for kids after all), came down a bumpy slope with ease.

The same Sunday morning, Bugz wore little ski boots, broke Maa’s back while trying to put on the littlest skis ever, a few simple instructions followed and she came down the bunny slope, with full confidence, right in to Maa’s waiting hands.

The same Sunday, around 4:00 P.M., Buzz came down the slope making a big snake along with her class and all the other classes taking lessons. Parent cheered, bells rang, claps and shouts, cameras flashed, pride so high on those slopes that you could almost see it.

10 weeks went by before we realized. The progress Buzz made was beyond words. The joy Bugz showed worth 100. D can’t stop gushing over his little ones’ and planning endless trips to the mountains, of course. As for me, I started my journey one Sunday morning in mid Jan with one kid on the bunny slope and ended it one Sunday morning at end of March with the other kid on the same bunny slope.

We all gladulated as a family, don’t you think, even when only one of us got a certificate to prove it.

Missing

Dear Maa,

When you left us, I was 8 months pregnant. The one thing I was told over and over, by everyone around, was “She is in a better place now.” I get how uncomfortable people are in face of true grief, especially when it is not theirs. But I wanted to throw their words back at them. Things like move on, be strong, God’s will – they meant nothing to me and they did nothing for me. I think all I wanted was for them to all shut up and leave me alone, let me deal with my grief in my way. Then again that really was not much of an option. Premature stress induced contractions, Bugz suffering because of all this and I think I clamped down somewhere. The pain was there and the tears came but for most parts I pretended that you were still back home and all I needed to do was pick up the phone and talk to you.

Now a couple of years in to it, that illusion also does not work. Sometimes in my dreams I walk those corridors, I breath in that smell, I look in through the glass door, I hear the beeping of all those machines, I see you in that all white room and I get up with a start. Who knew grief cannot be kept bottled up, it does break loose? Who knew sounds and smells are real even when dreaming?

I look back to the old days and realize that I always saw Paa and you as a unit. The rules of the family were set before my time, the task division happened before I knew about it, our family’s day to day life went on smoothly without any hitch. Do you know how uncomfortable it is to realize which part was yours and which was Paa’s? Every time I go home, I see the hole. It is like one half of the jigsaw puzzle has been taken away. Paa tries to follow the same rhythm, the same rules but some things can never be the same again, can it?

Last time Bhaiya was here, we sat talking late in to the night. We remembered the good and the not so good (as we saw it growing up). We remembered, we laughed, we cried and I realized how similar the two of us are. On the surface, we are very different. You always laughed about how we were like chalk and cheese. I tell you today that deep down we have the same ideals, we hate the same things, we believe in the same rules, we can’t stand the same things. Bhaiya talked about his feelings during the last few weeks, how as a total non-believer there was this desperate wish that there was truly a higher power. I followed up with now I understand why people believe in God. And he just nodded. We finished each others sentences, we understood each other with minimal words. We are still non-believers, we do not send out calls to the higher being but we both understand the ones who believe a little bit better. If you were around, I am sure you would have smiled at that. Yes Maa! we are close and we are together.

Back in college, I was visiting Mama ji’s place. There were guests over and as I opened the door to enter, their driver stopped me to ask if I was your daughter. Apparently he drove you for your wedding and he recognized me since I looked exactly as you did the day of your wedding. I used to hear it all the time that I looked just like you. I would laugh and say but for three things, “I am shorter than you, I am a little darker than you and I have wavy hair.” I never really saw the similarities. I only saw myself when I looked in to a mirror but now I find myself searching for a glimpse of you. Every time I straighten my hair, I part it in the center so see if I look like you. The other day while looking for a new frame for my glasses, I came across a frame just like the one you used to wear. I put it on and peeked in to the mirror, turning this way and that. To my great distress, I never see you, not even in this form.

As humans we have this fear of death, the will to live, there is always something more to live for but I have come to realize that it is much harder for the ones who are left behind. I don’t know what, if anything, happens when the end comes but I do know that the missing never ends. I miss your pyaaz paranthas and missi roti; I miss your besan ladoos and gajak; I miss your voice and the expressions on your face; I miss your scolding and your tight hugs; I miss your listening ears and your straightforward advice; I miss your big heart and your quite ways of giving to others; I miss your fights with Paa and your genuine care for him; I miss your strong personality and your soft heart; I miss your easy tears and your never ending strength; I miss so so much.

I sometimes feel like I have been sentenced to a lifetime in chilly winds and all the warmth has been taken away. The big embrace where I could rest for a while and re-charge has been lost. Once someone asked me if I feel that my kids will be deprived of love since they did not have one set of grandmother. Back then I had replied with a lot of confidence, “No, my mom has a lot of love to give. She will ensure that my kids will have all the love they need and more.” Now my biggest fear is that my kids truly will be deprived of all that love. No grandmom – to spoil them rotten, to envelop them in hugs, to protect them from the wrath of mean parents. You always said, “Kids should have a few people to spoil them.” Now the biggest someone has gone missing.

D, of course, is the one person who understands it all. The sorrow, the missing, the fears. He holds me through the toughest of these times but the grief still feels very private, something I can’t seem to share with anyone else. I see the struggle in him, but I am thankful he lets me be when I really need the time alone.

Tomorrow morning we will all go to get Paa from the airport. The kids are beyond excited. Then late night Bhaiya, A and the kids will be here as well. The house will be full. It will ring with laughs, running feet, fights. There will be experimental cooking, good food, lots of eating. Trips will be planned, places visited, excitement all around. Among all of that, I will search for a shadow of you. Be with us Maa, please!

Missing you,
-Gudiya

Twisted

Dear Power-above-of-all-things-ankles,

2013 I will remember, for you and mostly only you. First one friend and then another,  at work, had major ankle issues and surgeries this year. While I was just about realizing how difficult these injuries are, you ensured I really did understand. In the same week a dear dear blog friend, Paa and I hurt our ankles. The degree of severity were different but suffered we all did.

It is true that we don’t realize the importance of any part of our body till we hurt it and hence can’t use it. While doctors advised me to stay off my feet and reduce my activity level to bare minimum, I hobbled behind kids and went about my day to day life. I still pay the price of that excess activity but it can’t be helped.

I have not cribbed much, I can not cursed a whole lot, but I really could have done without this latest curve ball that you threw our way. A happy, smiling, active kid, doing exactly what kids do – ran, stopped, turned and feel down in pain. A trip to the store where she was excited about the new bedding we were buying for her, ended in tears and an ER visit.

Do I thank you that it only turned out to be a twisted ankle and not a broken bone? Or do I tell you about a child’s inability to deal with extreme pain? Or do I talk about the child who is so brave that even though she dreads the icing sessions because they hurt so much she goes ahead with them because they will make it all better? Or do I talk about a super active kid who sits in one place smiles and asks for books as we go around doing things? Or do I tell you about the child who woke up crying in the middle of the night saying she was scared? Or do I tell you about how she wanted to go to school because her friends would be there and smiled through all the pain to get there, only to burst out in tears when she could not practice for her winter performance with her friends, which she has been looking forward to for a while now?

I know it is part of life and part of growing up but can we be done with all this now? We have had enough of you and I would not wish you on anyone but can you please move on? Or better still with the festival season and the new year around the corner, can you please go on a long, extended vacation? I promise we will not miss you.

Thank you much,
-An angry mom

Journey..Friends..Introductions

When in a group, I find little need to say anything. When everyone is talking, I rather sit back and listen. Till I am not sure I have something that adds to the conversation, I mostly don’t say anything. I guess as per standard behavioral labels, one can say, from an introvert child, I grew in to an introvert adult.

This blog is probably one of the few truly out of charter things I have ever done. But true to nature I have tried to keep it as anonymous as I possibly can in the world of blogging. Birthdays, anniversaries, kids names, personal pictures – have never showed up here. When I started here it was with two aims, to write about kids as I see them. Pictures and videos capture the moment but don’t capture my feelings as a parent at those moments. Words, I thought, would be the best way to preserve and at some point look back at the feelings aspect of motherhood. The other was to capture my feelings about the various trips we took. Now 4+ years down the line and a very busy life later, a lot of what I started with has been left behind. That I have not been able to capture a fourth of what the kids do, has to be my biggest blogging regret. But this is life and I am rolling with the punches here.

On the other hand what I did not expect, when I did start the blog, was the human aspect of a public blog. The readers, the comments, the getting to know each other even if through posts, the connections, the shared joys and sorrows and most importantly the friends. What I did not expect were the emails when the blog goes silent or the hugs when I write something sad or personal messages when something touches the readers. What I did not expect was to become part of a group that cared so much, even about people they have never met.

In all these years I have been part of birthday surprises, wedding showers, baby showers, contests and so much more – all on the blog, all for people I have never met. But looking back it all started with one simple comment on my blog.

Hey! Can I have an email id where I can contact u? Urgent!

I did not know what to expect. Had I broken some unwritten blog rule? What it turned out to be was an invitation to join a surprise blog shower for a blogger I read. And hence started a lot of blog firsts for me. Blog shower (that turned in to blog showers), planning, laughing, chain email threads, first blog friends, first blog personal emails exchanged, first real introduction to the blogger community.

That first blog shower is very special to me, that first blogger who we celebrated the blog shower for is very special to me, those first few friends that I made are very special to me, the first few blogs I started to read are special to me, that first blogger who wrote that comment is very special to me.

One morning I woke up to my inbox bursting at the seams from emails from various bloggers, all with the same comment.

She deleted her blog!

She did? My first reaction was a selfish, ‘how could she’? How can she keep us away from the amazing writing of hers? And for what? My next reaction was to calm down and go directly to the source.

Life with its twists and turns, so many unknowns , so many changes and still true friends are the one who stand by us through it all. If there is one person I know, then she is the one who is rich in friends. She has walked hills and valleys with her friends and they have in turn held her hand when clouds surrounded her like never before. Today I  re-introduce her to every single person who wrote in, who read her, who wondered where she went, who worried about her, who cared.

Revs, you know you are special right? Your writing, your wit, your joy, your giving – it is all you. All part of who you are. Never ever give any of that up, not for anything. Stay happy, stay healthy, stay you!

Oh and keep writing. Always!

Now go people read the brilliance that she is 🙂

They came, we had fun, they left

One particularly depressing day, I picked up my phone and called them. The minute they answered, I went on a rant, “It is summer, the kids are out of school, why can’t you come over, even if it for a few days”. The two of them totally shocked, calmed me down and asked me what was up. Like a petulant child, I kept repeating, “Just come”.

Plans were made, tickets were booked and days counted. Sheets were washed, beds were made and towels in place. The day of, Buzz asked me why there were not here yet. I explained that she had to go to sleep and she would wake up to them in the house. The innocence that she is wanted to go to bed at 7:00 itself. D left just as I was putting the kids to bed and then the wait started again. It took forever for the clock to strike 10:07 and the garage door finally opened and I rushed down to fall in their arms and hold on tight.

Laughs, talks, dinner and it was time to catch some sleep. Somewhere in the middle of the night Bugz got up and started screaming, “Mumma” and would not stop. Groggily I walked in to her room, to see her pointing to *her* sleeping and saying “Kon?” (who). Soon *her* and Buzz where up too and giggling excitedly. Love, sweet words, angry words, big eyes – all were used to finally get all three of them back to sleep.

6:00 in the morning saw the same story repeated and I gave up on any further sleep. Bugz was re-introduced to big didi. And then with the rest of the family as they woke up.

Once Bugz got to know them, big didi became Didi2 while Buzz stayed Didi. Mama was Papa. “Whose papa Bugz?”, came back with a prompt “Didi2”. Similarly Mami became Mumma and the adults were thoroughly confused every time she called out, “Mumma/Papa”, which means there was increasingly frustrated Bugz pulling at someone’s shirt. Bhaiya had to make do with finger points and “enh”, poor little baby.

There was showing off of the cousins at school, trips to various parks, amazing food, picnics, splashing around in the lakes, ferry rides and long drives. There was teasing, fights, tears, time outs and making up.

There was a night of sitting and remembering, sharing of worries, re-living the horrible months, missing Maa like crazy, tears, holding on, re-assurances, opening of private feelings, reminiscing childhood days, laughs, promises, care – all soaked in so much love.

There were 5 rakhees made and tied to the utter confusion of 4 little munchkins. There were fights over colors and frustration about not knowing how to tie them. There were huge smiles on all four faces once the rakhee were in place. There were showing off of little wrists.

There were the hugs good bye and as they left, I walked around the house as a lost soul. A week since they left and the house still feels empty. There are art projects that the kids did to be collected and put away. There are socks and T-shirts and books to be found in obscure corners of the house, that I gather and keep aside for the next trip.

Bhaiya and A – I miss you so very much.
Kids – Can’t wait to hold you all over again.
December – Please come quick.

Universal language

Last week D was out of town and I was dealing with a lot of small issues which seemed huge at the time. In no mood to cook for the evening, I bundled the kids in the car and drove to the Indian Chaat place for a little informal dinner. Samosa, Chola Bhatura and Black Forest Pastry in hand we found ourselves a table. As I went about getting water and spoons, Buzz and Bugz ran around me. Once seated, I divided food in portions and passed in on to the kids. Bugz stood on the chair as she tried drinking water out of an open cup using a straw, while Buzz stood by the side, watching Hindi songs on B4U as she ate. Chairs, they are meant for sitting, we would never have guessed! There was water all over our table and food which only reached the mouth half the time. Thank God for informal dinning!

The table on our side had two girls as well. One around six or so and the other a little over two. The little girl(LG) on that table was not too into food and kept running around. Once when she came near my table, I waves Hi. Shyly she ran off. Few minutes later she came back, I smiled, she smiled, Buzz looked on at our little interaction. LG ran off again and was back again a minute later. Buzz looked at her and jumped, she jumped too. Buzz jumped twice, she jumped twice. Not a single word was exchanged but the two of them devised a game and got on playing around the two tables.

Every time they came near my table, I had food ready for Buzz. She would open her mouth, I would put food in and off she would go. LG saw it once, the next time she came around, she opened her mouth too. I gave a quick look to her mom and at her smile, feed her too. Soon food was being shared, kids were getting fed, no words needed really.

I see this with Buzz and Bugz every day, where Buzz does something and Bugz follows, but it somehow always takes me by surprise at how quickly, without any real communication, total strangers to each other, kids make up games and start playing it. And it always amazes me on how easy kids are to handle when they have other kids to play with. Food is finished, games are done, friends are made and time goes by so quickly.

Kids and their universal language! Parents and their universal understanding of the trials of parenting!

Diet and exercise

Two kids, a full time job and a house to take care of and the pregnancy weight was going nowhere. I know my body well and know that weight loss does not come easy to me. I have to really work towards it.

I looked around and diet seemed to be the easiest of all the options available to me, but there my mental barrier against dieting comes in to picture. I don’t do diets but more importantly I believe kids look up to parents in most everything and try to emulate them as they grow old. With two girls, who probably will have body image issues like most girls in their teens do, I did not want to set up a precedence of extreme diets in my family.

While talking to a friend on this issue, I was telling her, “as a late teen, early 20 year old there were always a couple of kilos I wanted to lose or a few inches gone from this area or that. Looking back I was a thin tall girl. Can’t imagine what I used to think at that age”. She came back with, “we all used to think like that because we were stupid and immature”. “True”, I told her, “but our kids will be stupid and immature too”.

At least in my head, I want to sit with my kids and eat whatever it is they are eating. I can restrict the quantity of what I eat, or not apply ghee to my roti while they eat ghee soaked rotis, but I want them to see me eating all the same things they do. This meant all the no carb diets which have the best results were not an option for me.

After giving it a lot of thought, I made small changes to my diet. I let go of my fav. cereal for breakfast in favor of boiled eggs, a loaf of bread and a glass of milk. I moved from white rice to brown rice for lunch. I gave up my evening snacks in favor of carrots and fruits. I cut down on one roti for dinner but added extra serving of vegetables and lentils. The change is so small at that it almost went unnoticed by the ever observant Buzz. The only change she really noticed was the egg for breakfast and that is also because the change was made for her as well. Every now and then she says she wants to eat cereal and she gets it. So really it becomes her choice to eat something different from the rest of the family and not me standing out with my diet.

I gave these changes a little time to see if I felt deprived or unsatisfied. I don’t! Because I haven’t really given up on anything, I don’t miss not eating any of it. Every time I feel l want to eat cereal, I do. If I feel like having some form of sweet, I have a little. Moderation for me is the key.

The next thing I started doing was adding exercises to the mix over the weekend. Finding time during the weekdays was an issue for various reasons, but weekends I could make time. I used to run a lot pre Buzz, and used to have dreams of me running while I was pregnant. To realize that I could not run for more than a few minutes was a shameful realization. About a month back a friend send out an email to ask I was interested in running outside since summer was here. Prompt “yes” was my reply. We started meeting every Saturday morning at a park nearby and kept it easy. Run 3 mins, walk a min and see how far we could go. Running outside makes such a big difference than running on a treadmill.

I have improved a lot since and now have slowly added running a couple of days during my weekdays as well. I am ready with even my shoes on when D comes home. I mostly wave  bye to him as a greeting and go for half an hour run. I don’t go fast but that I can run for 30 mins without a break makes me feel happy.

The weight loss is happening slowly but surely. In fact I am at my lowest weight since I had Buzz but it is not really a motivating factor right now. At the end of every letter to my kids I write – be happy, be healthy. That is what is motivating me. Every evening as I sit down with my bowl of carrots and fruits, both the kids ask for the same and not the usual crackers. Every time I go for my run or D goes to the gym Buzz asks what about her exercise and Bugz pretends to run around the house. If my kids gain a positive body image, if they learn the importance of healthy food, if they take in the importance of exercise, that will be the best gift I will receive at the end.