A spoonfull of ‘mommy’ wisdom

My younger one – K is Nine now. I sure miss the days when I could scoop him up in my arms and cuddle him, rubbing my nose against the little hollow at the base of  his throat. It always brought out squeals of joy and shouts of mock anger “mumma let me down” that spurred me to cuddle him even more. He would then wrap his little chubby feet around my waist holding me tight throwing his head back so it hung in the air, waiting for the spin he loved to get . Round we whooshed through the air before collapsing on the bed,  breathless with laughter, dizzy with the spinning and very very happy.

God knows I cant do that to him anymore! (He weighs about 35 kgs now :) )  I sorely miss his baby- hood. Carrying him in my arms, rocking him to sleep in my laps, nuzzling him in the crook of my arm while we sat on a rocking chair reading his favorite book, letting him lie on my stomach as we napped on lazy summer afternoons.

“They grow up too fast, enjoy them while they are young!” I heard that a bit too often in those wonderful ‘baby filled’ days. The wistfulness and the look of longing that accompanied those words of advice did seem genuine. But to me engulfed with baby things of my two almost twin kids (They are a year and few months apart!!!) it never really rang a bell. I am glad to say I did enjoy them – We had countless soapy bubble filled bath sessions, and endless gibberish filled conversations, we had long bumpy pram walks and horribly out of tune singing sessions. It was a mad, fun filled time. But it was not all fun!

There were days i was so tired that I could have slept standing up. Days when the diaper basket was overflowing and all the milk bottles lay used up & dirty and days when the kids wouldn’t stop crying. Days when I fervently  wished to god that I could somehow grow either an extra pair of hands or an extra lap to accommodate both my little ones at the same time and the ability to stay up three days without a wink of sleep.

In retrospect I realize now that the frustrations were caused more because of my ideas of what ‘should’ be. Kids should eat healthy, home cooked elaborate meals with greens and as many other colours as possible. They should drink at  least three glasses of milk – preferably unsweetened. Kids should not watch TV while they ate. They should stay away from mud and dirt and germs that lurk everywhere ready to grab them….The list was endless and it made my ‘new-mommy’ life difficult.

If I knew then what i know now – That kids are strong and buoyant. That as long as they get kindness , small doses of spirituality and a lot of unconditional love they will thrive. That regardless of the hundreds of psychological theories that talk about thousands of ways parents screw up their kids lives forever in reality there is not much that we can do wrong. As long as we understand them and care for them and let them be.

I am glad I have learned my lesson now. I realize with gratitude that nine is still not ‘too old’. That there are many days even now when he throws his still chubby arms around me  and sleeps blissfully using my arm as a makeshift pillow. On days like these, no matter how much my arm hurts I never pull it away. Because I am old now and I have learned my lessons and I know that soon this too will pass. And before it does, before it becomes another of those long list of ‘happy memories’ I want to hold on to it, live it and savor it.

What the hell is wrong with us?

Woke up to this news on the front page yesterday! A 35 year old mom feeds her 4 year old and 1 year old daughters rusted nails in their glass of milk, causing them to choke and die. After they die, she sleeps in the same bed as the dead girls for two days, before disposing off the bodies in a nearby well.

Not the kind of story one wants to wake up to on any day. But also not the kind of story one can read and forget! What lead Sunita (the mother) to such a violent crime? Is she truly a ‘heartless’ mother or just severely ‘mentally disturbed’? The story of the ‘killer mother’ made headlines in almost all the papers. One of the local dailies also carried a picture of the father. He had told the newspaper how between him and his three brothers his two daughters were the only ‘girls’ and now the family had no daughters! He blamed Sunita for what had happened accusing her of mental instability saying that she had made an attempt to kill the girls earlier too.

Shocked and intrigued, I read all the following stories on the event. It emerged that

Sunita’s husband and in-laws used to harass her for giving birth to girls.

Her husband worked as a salesman and also got some rental income making approximately 7-8 thousand a month. He spent most of it on alcohol and did not give her any/ enough money for running the home. The police found nothing to eat in her one room home except 200 gm of stinking wheat flour.  The milk she had fed the girls had been ‘borrowed’ from a neighbor. On being asked why she did what she did, Sunita told the police that the girls were always hungry! She could not take it anymore!

Can  Sunita really be blamed for what happened? Isn’t Sunita’s husband responsible for the murders? Though he did not actually feed them the nails, he did not leave much else to feed them with!

Or her in-laws her family and neighbours? Everyone of these was aware of the cruelties that Sunita was undergoing. Could nobody stand up for her?

What about the role of the local administration or government? Why is there no place in our cities and town that a  woman can go to, to get food and shelter for her starving children and  herself?

Or the local police ? In desperate times, shouldn’t a woman like Sunita be able to turn to the police for help? The fact of the matter is that no woman feels safe stepping into a police station! Unless she has a politician or bureaucrat father/ brother/ husband! In all probability if Sunita had taken her complaint of harassment to the police she would have been sent right back. Policemen don’t want to waste their time handling ‘silly domestic matters’! I once met a lady whose second husband was threatening to sleep with her teenage daughter from her first marriage. He was beating her regularly and she was afraid she would not be able to hold him off much longer. When she went to the police, they told her “Has he slept with her till now? Come to us after he does it!” Huh???

Later, as I step out of my home to drop my son to school, we come across a large crowd of school going children. It is a ‘save girls rally’! The local MLA is addressing the children proclaiming loudly that “Girls have as much a right to be born as boys”

All I can think is

Yes! they do Mr MLA, but they also have a right to live after they are born!

If they have to live their lives hiding from filthy stares and groping hands. If they have to live their lives being tortured and hated for no fault of theirs. If they have to live their lives at the mercy of violent and abusive men who treat them like little more than animals. Maybe, just maybe, they are better dead than born!!

My heart goes out to Sunita and to thousands of women like her. Women who are tortured and beaten by their husbands and in-laws to a state that they can no longer think straight. When there seems no way out but to either kill oneself or the ‘unwanted’ children or both!!!

A smaller news in the same paper grabs my attention too. The state has a new Director General of Police. He says his priority is ‘Women’s Safety’. I wish I could believe him. But alas! I have seen too many of them say the same thing for too many years now. I will believe them when I see a change!

mom kills daughters

As of now I just pray. For Sunita, in the jail. And for her innocent daughters. Wherever they are. I hope they understand that even behind this violent-violent act was hidden an unfortunate mother’s endless love!

The Reading Child

“Children these days don’t read” is a common complaint nowadays. Teachers, parents and people in general are always complaining about the absence of reading habit amongst today’s children. As a parent of two little bookworms I am often asked what I did to encourage the ‘reading habit’?

“Nothing”, I reply . Or actually nothing that seemed like work to do!

I take pleasure in reading. It is my favorite pass time and so from the day I conceived ‘M’ I began to read to her. I wasn’t doing this as a mission or with an aim to gain something. I began to do it because it was fun.

Just when I discovered I was pregnant, I came across a book from Scholastic called ‘Read To Your Bunny’. It was the cutest picture book ever . It said “Read to your bunny often…it’s twenty minutes of fun… It’s twenty minutes of moonshine and twenty minutes of sun… something , something, something…and ended with …soon your bunny will read to you.”

read to bunny

Each night I read this little ditty out to the tiny one still in my tummy. Looking back it seems a bit crazy. I can now picture how completely idiotic I must have looked to an onlooker. A thirty year old holding a picture book reading out silly ditties to her oversized tummy. Back then in the midst of the new mummyhood bug I didn’t care! It seemed like the most usual thing to do.

After M was born our reading session continued almost without a pause. Regardless of how old or actually how young M was, and whether she was or wasn’t comprehending anything, I kept reading to her. I did it more as a method of bonding. It wasn’t designed to trigger her intelligence or catapult her into the world of geniuses! It was just fun and the only way I really knew to spend quality time with her. I am not big on gibberish talk and coochie cooing so reading provided me a ‘saner’ option for connecting with my little one.

I am not sure if it was this early exposure to books that made ‘M’ a bookworm. Maybe she would have loved books even if she hadn’t seen one till she was five!I know of some friends’ children who have been bitten by the reading bug after having led a ‘book-less’ life till they were much older and some who have been surrounded by books but haven’t picked up the reading habit. So like anything else it is pretty much a gamble! A gamble in which the stakes seem to be high. Teachers across the board seem to agree that children who are readers tend to be able to focus better, grasp more and have a stronger hold on language.

My own experience is that children who are ‘readers’ know more about the world. They understand situations and emotional dilemmas better. The right kind of books can help make kids more capable of dealing with challenging situations and making mature decisions. Most importantly I know from experience that a child who loves books is never without a friend. I am glad that my children read because it keeps them aware and sharp. But most of all I am happy they read because I know that no matter where they are, with a book by their side they will never be alone.

Life is full of challenges. Books provide not only escape and relief from these challenges but sometimes powerful insight and wisdom based on others experiences and thoughts. And I hope that when faced with choices that require them to make difficult decisions, books will provide my children the extra leverage they need to make the right decision. I also pray that no matter how harsh life’s realities get my kids will always have at their beck and call a world of fantasy and comic relief that makes every trouble of theirs appear small.

Books have been my friends and guides in times when no one was and I am relieved to see them extend the same hand of friendship to my little ones. My kids and me are truly blessed.

 This post was written for Parentous . Parentous is the fastest growing parenting community in India. You must head to their amazing site for many more interesting articles on all aspects of parenting.

Ding-a-ling-a-ling

There’s a part in my heart

that sings ding-a-ling-a-ling

it says it misses everything

the joy, laughter & friendly baits

hushed conversations, impatient waits.

There’s a part of my heart

that’s forever an optimist

it draws suns, rainbows and endless bridges

this part goes rap-a-tap-tapa-a-tap-a-tap

how bad can it be?

another chance another dance

this is the only life I have you see

I am holding down this part

stifling it making sure its never free

some black holes swallow

the brightest suns

and unlike what  some wise men say

following ones heart doesn’t always pay.

Too many truths

There is my truth
And then there is yours
You believe in yours
Even though I know mine
Is the only one
That exists
Which one of us is lying
Maybe neither.
Finally
There is no one truth
Only what we believe
Or even
What we wish to believe
In this tussle
Of truth, beliefs and wishes
Wishes always win
Or maybe they always lose
Either ways
I feel defeated.

One of those days

There are days when everything seems wrong
There’s no solace in the sweetest songs
These days don’t come often
But when they do
Would you think me selfish god
If I come looking for you
You know me god
You know I am true
It’s just this
That I don’t often come to you
It’s not because I don’t believe
Infact it may be that
I believe too much in you
I believe you exist in everything
See everything I do
I hope today god
I hope my belief is true
Cause today is one of those days gods
One of the days I need you

My Age – My olympic medal

Age is just a number

just a number is age

when we come into this world

there is nothing in our hand

our bond is with just one person

and that too a bond of dependancy

for survival

Growth is beutiful

except in cancer cells maybe

as we grow

our circle expands

to include so many more

we learn

liveliness, humility, generosity

friendship, honesty, loyalty

hard-work, ambition, perseverance

kindness, responsibility

we develop relationships

and friendships

we nurture

we create.

Its a shame that modern man

has begun to look at age

as baggage.

The bent form

the wrinkled skin

the dullness of eyes

are trophies

speaking of our accomplishments

in Life.

All I say

is that when its time for me to go

I hope that I have

lived so fully

love so completely

laughed so heartily

cried so inconsolably

that the number I wear when I go

is no less to me

than an Olympic Gold!

This post is written in response to the prompt at the daily post “Age is just a number,” says the well-worn adage. But is it a number you care about, or one you tend (or try) to ignore?

 

 

 

 

 

 

A funny thing

A funny thing happened on my way to work

As I sat in my car rumbling and grumbling about the psycho boss

Who praised seldom and shouted a lot

I saw a neighbor dressed in khaki

Bidding goodbye to his young family

Will he come back one never knows

Where in comparison to him stand my ‘job woes’

 

A funny thing happened to me today

Just as I finished shouting at my little boy

He forgot his home work and scattered his toys

The news broadcaster spoke of a bus filled with boys

That slammed into a train fatally

I looked at the tear streaked faces of moms on TV

And wondered somewhat guiltily

Did they too shout on their little boys

About unfinished homework and scattered toys?

A funny thing happened when I went to bed

Complaining about how I never get any rest

How my back hurt from house work and my feet ached

The magazine I picked to read opened on a page

A paraplegic’s face stared out at me

My aches then seemed like a blessing to me

They showed what god had bestowed on me

A working body that ‘en’ abled me

A funny thing happened on my way to the mall

On a red light crossing my car came to a halt

A naked baby carried astride the waist

Of a little girl hardly nine years of age  

Looked imploringly into my face

I lingered, my car stalled

In my mind’s eye I recalled

The pegs of clothes that hung carelessly on my walls

Suddenly I didn’t need to shop at all

A funny thing happened as I went to eat

in a fancy restaurant on an upmarket street

Dressed in formals I stood waiting in queue

I saw a simple food cart roll through

Its bell tinkling, pleasant smells wafted by

Bringing alive memories not yet old enough to die

When food meant something hot and cheap

To be shared with a gang of friends and purchased by heaps

Suddenly the five starred restaurant lost it’s Appeal

I ran behind the cart for a  hearty meal.

 

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. The Write Over the Weekend inspiration for this time was

‘A funny thing happened on my way to….’

BFFs !!! Besties – Yes, Forever – No

The prompt at The Daily Post today is ” Do you — or did you ever — have a Best Friend? “

If I’d been asked this just a couple of years earlier…

Pat would have come the reply ‘yes’, Yippee!

I have them. Not one not two but maybe even three!

Wasn’t I just very very lucky

But then things happened and life handed me lessons

It seemed there were still some it hadn’t taught me

I had my heart break well after thirty

You know a heart break by a friend is worse than a heartbreak by a lover can ever be

Its not that I don’t have friends now

I am never lonely

There are people in my world

Who really care for me

To laugh and play and even be sad and rant

I always have adequate company

Its just that now Ive learned

To not label them in tags like ‘Besties’

People grow and change and that’s how its meant to be

The one who is there for you right now

Is your only true ‘Bestie’

Welcoming ‘Books, Coco and me’ to the blogging community

 

Most of my friends in the blogosphere know ‘M’, my daughter. Many of you may also remember from my various posts about her that she is an avid reader. She has loved books since the time she was a teensie weensie baby!

At the ‘ripe’ age of nine M told me that she wanted a blog of her own. “Ok” I replied, a bit amused “But what will it be about?” “About Books!” Came the prompt reply. “What about books” I asked, wanting further explanation. “Book Reviews” M said. It seemed ‘M’ had really thought this through. M believes that even though there is a lot of literature for children, there are not enough reviews of children’s literature by children. “When adults write reviews of children’s books, they don’t do it right”, M lamented.

Over the next few months M wrote several reviews of books she had read and left them on my desk to transcribe. I am ashamed to say I never got around to doing it. Partly because I was afraid that the ‘editor’ in me would ‘corrupt’ her words with my adult sensibilities. I wanted her posts to be completely her own – her words, her style… all her!

The larger more mundane reason was lack of time. Somehow there was never time to write any of my own blog posts and hers definitely got relegated to the undefined future.

In the meanwhile M acquired a ‘second’ love! She and her brother were gifted a puppy by their doting grandparents. ‘M’s’ still mythical blog thus changed from ‘Books, Muffin and Me’ – ‘(Muffin being our pet name for ‘K’ her younger brother) to ‘Books, Coco and Me’ (Poor ‘K’- he is not happy by the way he has been bumped out of her blog!That too by a dog!.)

This time when M came home for the holidays (She has recently joined a boarding school). She practiced her typing skills and managed to feed in two blog posts. Starting a blog is a long somewhat tedious process for anyone. For a ‘just turned ten’ years old, with a life full of distractions and an endless list of stuff she wants to do, it becomes a lesson in patience. M has learned to be patient. With help from an aunt she has found a theme, designed the format and published two posts! Whew!

Sharing them here with you all. We hope you will visit ‘Books, coco and me’ and shower it with some blogosphere love. So next time M is at home for her holidays she can enjoy reading your comments just like I enjoy reading mine!

Meet coco my puggy pup

Fifteen books every little girl should read

thea stilton       malory towermiles to go miley cirus bear for felicia anne of green gablescocorainbow magicwishawozzawriter

Railway children