Wednesday 29 June 2011

THE Bond

Is it a good thing or a bad thing that my children play so well together that they have not made any friends in our apartment complex? That they constitute such a complete self-sufficient unit, so happy and content in each other, that other kids are almost superflous to them? It is not all harmony all the time. They fight a lot, too (something I will blog about in a separate post). But overall, they play beautifully together. I often wonder if it's because Ads is a very gentle boy and Y is a somewhat boisterous girl. Did they manage to meet in the middle? :)
In the playground, there are other kids around. But due to a combination of Ads’ natural shyness (something I am working at overcoming) and Y’s ready and ever-willing presence, he is simply not willing to go out there and play with other kids. Ditto for Y. They have loads of fun inventing their own silly games, competing with each other to see who climbs the play structure first, and giggling nonstop. If Ads wants to make a “house” for the ants, Y runs up all ready with sticks and stones for digging the “foundation” for the house. If Y wants to clamber up the slide, big brother is there to give her a hoist up. At home, Ads seems unable to play by himself. He is always inviting Y to participate in his activities, and even resents her naptime because he doesn’t sleep and doesn’t want her to! :(
I realize that this too, may be a phase. A matter of time. In a few months, I may be blogging about their independent interests and new friends. But presently, it’s a daily wonder to me to see their beautiful relationship, their interdependence and their joy in each other. I wonder whether this relationship will last throughout their life. I hope it will. Then I check myself. It is enough, it is more than enough that they have this bond for now; and they have given me the privilege of experiencing it.

Sunday 26 June 2011

Of Kalamkari and Pochampalli acquisitions

In Bangalore, my friend took me to this wonderful shop for Kalamkari work, called Dwaraka. I suppose she knew I would start drooling at the mouth on entering the shop! I picked up a couple of lovely things, including a Kalamkari wallet (mine was way overdue for replacement), some cushion covers and this lovely Toran, which now hangs in my kitchen doorway. Isn't it beautiful?
Check out this Pochampalli Diwan set which I simply could not resist picking up in Hyderabad, at Shilparamam. Yes I am a sucker for all things Indian, hand-made and hand-crafted, especially if they brighten up my house and perk me up every time I lay eyes on them!
That's your eye candy quota for the day! Hope you like them!

Friday 24 June 2011

Tag - 5 things motherhood taught me

Sangitha tagged me in her post about the 5 things that mommyhood taught me. It’s a tad difficult to pinpoint the (only?!) 5 things that mommyhood has taught me. Well this is what they are currently - I am sure and I hope the list will increase and lengthen as the years go by. There’s always tons of scope for improvement and a feeling of satisfaction when said improvement happens!!!
Here goes.
One - I’ve always been a sensitive, non-judgemental person and even before the babies happened, I was aware of the need to slide more towards the insensitive end of the scale! I have been walked over by many people many times, and my inherent politeness and political correctness left me at the unpleasant receiving end of many conversations and situations. I think what mommyhood did was make me more protective and more confident. As a working mom in 2005-2007, I neither had the time nor the desire to put up with all sorts of rubbish, be it from family, colleagues, or friends. During this period, a major transition in personality happened. How much of it is due to the fact that I was entering my 30s (and knew my mind better and was basically more sorted out) and how much due to mommyhood, we shall never know; but I think it was the latter that had the bigger role to play. So yes, mommyhood made me thicker-skinned, more outspoken, more quarrelsome, more argumentative! Thankfully I managed to hold on to the non-judgemental bit J  
Two - I started understanding the importance of relying on one’s instincts rather than proceed rationally and cautiously all the time. My instincts haven’t always been spot –on (when Ads was a baby, my mother used to wryly observe that in my home, the father’s instincts were stronger than the mother’s! When Ads cried or even turned over in his sleep, S would be up in a flash while I would be obliviously snoring away J). But trusting instincts more than I was used to, was a long haul. I’m not there yet.
Three - Multi-tasking. Need I elaborate? I thought I had it all figured out. An example from day 1 of living in the US. Ads was 18 months old and until that point, I’d never been around him 24-7. S was already at work. He called me at 11 am to see how I was doing and I wailed in absolute agony “I have so much work! We haven’t even had breakfast yet and it’s almost lunchtime!” Yup – we’ve come a long way since then J
Four - After I became a mom, I wanted to be good. Not merely nice, but a truly good person, who would be a wonderful example to her child(ren). I felt selfless unconditional love and so I wanted to be other things that lead to goodness – helpful, kind, brave, caring, generous. For the first time in my life, I really believed that it was entirely possible to be all of those things. Motherhood made me more harried, sure; it also made me a better listener, a more concerned employer, a more sincere worker, a more caring friend. It’s done more to improve my nature (yes, even the standing-up-for-myself and doing-my-own-thing counts as improvement!) than all the self-help books I read.
Five - Mommyhood is deeply humbling. It made me realize how much I didn’t know. You don’t get far enough with books and workshops. It’s like any other job. You learn while on it. And you don’t stop learning because this is a real person with real issues and problems that you have created and moulded. Having said that, as my son gets past his early childhood years, I also realize that I am NOT his only or primary influence and there are many many more factors and people developing his personality. My experiences with Ads haven’t really helped me that much with raising Y, hammering once again into my head that there is so little that I know!
I tag Aparna, Uma, Life_refactored (daddyhood teaches too!), Forever Mother and BangaloreMom. Looking forward to reading what they have to say!

Thursday 23 June 2011

Back!! Part 2 - the kids' summer

The kids had the kind of summer that I am sure I had when I was a child (my recollections are quite hazy). The kind where there is absolutely no structured activity, a lot of free play and lots of idle time, where time hangs heavy but the days just fly past, where one pigs on what one's mother generally doesn't allow (lots of chocolates, anyone?), where one can get away with a mite too much TV......get the picture? With me locked up in a room for hours and unable to moderate their activities, Ads and Y spent a large amount of very high-quality time with both sets of grandparents, visiting the beach and the park, various relatives, several temples etc. They'd spend a good hour wandering about my parent's apartment complex before breakfast everyday, armed with nothing much more than a couple of sticks and a few pebbles. Chaperoned by my father, they quickly established a routine where they would first "clean the entire complex" (my father joked), kneeling down on the ground and using their sticks as brooms. They'd then be spotted sitting on the roof of my brother's Zen, Y's high voice easily carrying upto the third floor where we live. They'd then go for a stroll around the park abutting the complex, chasing butterflies and peering at the odd leech and chameleon. The grand finale would be a ride on my dad's Scooty, with an impromptu stop at a nearby wayside temple.
At my parents-in law's home, they had the company of a few cousins (all much older and therefore better at babysitting!). Ads ran errands, went up to the terrace and plucked tons of raw green mangoes and was very proud to see them converted into pickles and patchadis. We took them to the crocodile farm in Chennai, a PC Sorcar magic show and to Kung Fu Panda 2, and really, that's all the organized stuff that we did. I look back and realize that I couldn't have given them a better summer if we had lived outside India, and if I had tried to structure "productive" activities for them. Probably I should use summer 2011 as a template for all summers to come!!
How true it is that all children need is people to talk to and interact with,  a couple of books, some sheets of paper, pencils and crayons, and only the toys nature can provide them. If I needed any convincing at all about  the uselessness of most of the toys and gadgets parents buy kids nowadays, the last few months would have done the trick. Even as I write this, the children are happily occupied. Ads is animatedly explaining to Y each element of a drawing he has just finished and they are having a real conversation. Ads will do some of his holiday homework, Y will potter around, they'll splash around in the pool in the evenings, ride their bikes, maybe take in Cars 2 (which I am very excited about!!) and before I know it school will resume. They'll still drive me nuts every now and then and when I try to buy some alone time, Ads will press the GUILT button by exclaiming 'But amma, your exams are have to spend time with us!".

Back!! Part 1 - my summer

I'm back home after what seems like a looong holiday, back to Gurgaon from Chennai via Bangalore and Hyderabad. I've missed reading my favourite blogs, blogging and generally being online for anything other than a quick email check. But first things first. Exams are DONE! More importantly, I thought they went well, though I haven't exactly started burning my books yet :) The first paper was good, though I had to scramble (unsuccessfully) to finish it. Knowing too much is a good problem, isn't it?!!! The second paper was an adventure. I was 90 minutes into it (with another 90 minutes to go), when I started feeling really ill. Nauseous, headachy and extremely giddy. I mustered up every ounce of willpower to write fast but with half an hour to go, I was feeling too horrible to continue, so packed up and left and hope fervently that I wrote enough to scrape through. How I got back home to my parent's place, is a haze. I sat in the auto hoping I wouldn't throw up or pass out right then and there. The kids jumped on me as soon as I got home but my mom shooed them away and I collapsed on the bed. Such drama!!!!! I figured that was my body's way of telling me to chill; waking up at 4 am everyday for several months and getting all tense about exams was clearly counter-productive.
The last 2 papers were easy. By that time, I had stopped waking up at odd hours and felt much better, physically. But the last few days were very tough, mentally. Just knowing the finish line was so near, and yet so far - was incredibly frustrating. A friend of mine, who runs marathons, described how he ran the last few kilometres of his last marathon, with cramps in both legs; I felt like that. I'd open my notebook and feel like bursting into tears. I was literally counting down the hours to my freedom, like a prisoner strikes down the days to his release! And release it has been. A big burden has been lifted off my shoulders. I'm not recommending to anybody a course of intensive study with 2 young uns (well, as young as mine anyway!) in the house. Go to work, instead and maintain some semblance of sanity! The low point came one evening when Ads innocently asked me "Amma, when will you be able to spend time with us?"
I buzzed off to Bangalore a few days after the end of exams. I had some long-pending admin work there which I'd promised S I'd take care of. I stayed with some very close friends and had a blast. First of all, just being in my adopted city is a huge mood-lifter for me. I always feel cheerful and happy in Bangalore. It's got something to do with the weather and the friendly people obviously; more than that, it's just the awesome memories I have of the place in all the years that I lived there that create a sort of virtuous cycle of more good times and more good memories. Does that make any sense?!! Long conversations with friends and some relatives over leisurely lunches and dinners, just hanging out for hours and talking, chewing slowly and appreciating tasty food - it's been a long time since I've done any of that. It was a wonderfully energizing two days and I freely admit that I did not miss my kids at all, being this starved for some me-time.
I returned to Chennai, and just a few days later, the kids and I bid adieu to the grandparents and headed off for a 5-day holiday in Hyderabad. We stayed with a good friend who I got to know in the US because her son and Ads were classmates, and who has now relocated to India. Sightseeing with 4 kids, all under the age of 6 - was obviously a challenge. Unsurprisingly, we didn't do much. But what we did was enough and again, the fact that the boys were engaged and happy and my friend and I were able to chat and catch up, was the biggest plus point.
So now, we're back. Unpacked and with another 10 days of the summer hols still left! This has been a summer like no other. The summer I worked like a dog. I couldn't have done it without my parents and mom-in-law, who themselves worked very very hard to keep the kids out of my way, and keep them busy, well-nourished and happy. They say it takes a village to raise a child. It took a village (and then some!) to get me through this course. Oh well, fingers crossed and all that - I haven't passed yet and hope that I will!