I miss my DAD

My younger one was 3.5 months when she lost her father. She holds no memories of her daddy and never asks questions or brings him up. She is a happy, well-adjusted, smart, and lovable four years old. She just also happens to be a kid who’s dad died way too young. Truth be told, I don’t worry about my younger one nearly as much as I do my older daughter, because she was a little older and seems to have a harder time with her loss.

This all changed recently.

As we drove to a trip to Pondicherry my little lady piped up from playing on the beach and said:

“Mommy, I miss my daddy.”

Just like that, out of the random blue, and like a sword, through my heart, she uttered those words that rendered me utterly speechless. Through quiet tears and a cracked-voiced, I just responded…

“I know buddy, and I miss him too.”

We continued to talk about HIM, and as the questions poured out of her, I could see by the expression on her little face that it was all soaking in. She continued to probe until she was done and the subject changed just as quickly as it had come up in the first place.

 

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I dropped my happy go lucky little girl from my hand, and she ran off laughing and smiling like she always does. However, I was left reeling and feeling a pain that has become all too familiar in the past four years. Through quiet reflection and lots of deep breaths, I came to a straightforward conclusion.

I can’t fix this.

There is nothing I can do to give my children their father back. There is nothing I can do to give them their innocence lost or security they may have had in their invincible parents back. Death stole these things from them, and I am incapable of fixing that reality.

My kids know loss.

My kids know death.

My kids miss their dad. Period.

End of story. End of discussion.

Or is it?

What my children also know is resiliency.

They know that life is made up of choices and that when all seems lost, we can still make the choices in this life to be and do more. They know from a tender age that bad things happen, but that buoyancy can help to carry them through very dark days. They have learned that why we may never move ON, we can move forward in a new and different path.

My children know love.

They know that people die, but even in death we still can love them beyond this world. They know that the people who remain in their present life love them deeply and care for their happiness. They know that community matters, choices matter, LIFE matters.

My children know joy.

We practice happiness in our house because we have known the worst sadness possible. We grasp at the good and practice counting the blessing that surrounds us daily.

I can’t fix what has happened in our lives.

All I can do is continue to live, answer the hard questions when they come up, and show my babies why we all deserve to live a beautiful life.

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NO, Sorry ! I can’t CHANGE !

As a mom, I’m carrying a lot on my shoulders: Taking care of my house, myself, work and my (adorable) kids. With so much to juggle, I’m not going to get it right all the time. It’s normal to feel like I could do better (everyone does!). You see those moms who look like they’ve got it all — perfectly cropped hair, a smiley, happy kid/kids, a killer framework of body and floorboards that sparkle — and it’s hard not to get jealous.

 “When I first had my daughter, I judged all of my mommy friends for the things they did because I wasn’t doing them. I felt like I had to give myself the confidence boost by thinking that they were doing something wrong.”

 

I have two girls. The elder one is almost touching 10 and the younger one is rolling towards being 4.5. Of course motherhood has changed me completely and it has been an overwhelming experience till now . I have been a hands-on mom from the day they were born. With little help around, I juggled my postpartum, diaper saga, baby food, vomits , their massages & baths and every milestone alone. Infact, while the younger girl was born, I was a SOLO mom. I believe that I have evolved and grown beautifully as a Mom.

All was well and I thought I was doing pretty well as a mom , till about recently when my elder one threw a bombs at me. One fine day she asked me nonchalantly – “Why can’t you be like the other moms ?” Me under the shock of her statement had no clue what she meant as till now I felt I was good at my craft and was doing well but suddenly I felt like a failure. So I sat down focusing not to lose my calm and asked her to elaborate so I could decode the hidden meaning of her statement. She started off like she has been waiting to tell me all this.

She started by saying “I DON’T THINK OTHER MOMS BEHAVE OR DO STUFF LIKE YOU DO MOM” ! and I was like okaaaay ..no ? really ? LIKE WHAT ?? And then came out a long list of the things which me as a mom should not be doing at all.

 LIST AS PER HER ! 

  • Why can’t you stop giving us these weird lovey dovey names which make no sense and just call us with our real names instead?
  • Why do you keep dancing around the house with your earphones and don’t care about what if someone is watching you?
  • Why do you sing for us loudly using all those weird names ?
  • Why do you have to be so friendly with my friends when you meet them?
  • Why do u keep putting ghee in my Rajma-Chawal, Dal-Chawal ? I don’t want to turn fat like you ! Ouch .. and that was for me
  • Why do u make funny faces and make me laugh when I don’t want to?
  • Why can’t you be serious like other moms?
  • Why are you fat and short and not slim like the other Moms around?

Time to speculate . My girl wants me to change me and my ways of showing love. I gave her a tight hug and said that I am going to seriously think on these points . Contended she went back to her room and left me reeling under the thunderous effect of her TED Talk ! She doesn’t like me doing all this ? Really ? I am fat ?

And So, it was time for some real thinking and a glass of chilled wine .

 

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We never know what destiny holds for us. So why don’t we stop rushing and slow down and live each day to its fullest today. Any which ways one day she will have to move away from me for the sake of learning or earning. Wish I could change/edit the list on her mind and excuse myself.

So do you think I should abide by all her rules and surrender and change my ways …? I have written this for my kids and I want them to learn and understand each and every sentence of this letter.

 

Hey kids,

I’m not like the other moms.

I’m not all that different from them, either. But, I’m not competing. And, I’m not comparing myself to them. I’m not trying to do what they do, because I’ve worked a long time to try to accept that I can only do my best.

You see, there’s a big life lesson I want to teach you here. I’m not like the other moms because I don’t want to be. I want to be YOUR mom. And, I believe I was meant to be your mom for a reason. Imperfections and all.

That means there will be days where I yell, and days where I have the patience of the Dalai Lama. There will be days when I forget it’s a party at school, and days when I’m so on top of it that I craft things I find on pinterest.

Here’s the thing. I don’t want you to be like the other kids just as much as I don’t want to be like the other moms. I want you to be you. Be confident in who you are. Own your mistakes and live up to your full potential. Don’t compare yourself to someone else’s accomplishments, and don’t gloat when you succeed and someone else doesn’t.

In fact, don’t look to your right or to your left at all. Look ahead. Do your best. And, be you.

I’m not like the other moms because I can only be me. There is only one you, too. It’s a miracle how unique we all are, and I believe the universe brought your mom (me) and you together for a purpose. So, don’t be upset if you see another mom doing different things than your mom is doing. Your mom is tailor-made to help you in the way you need it.

I’m going to try every day to do my best as I parent you. Remember I love you fiercely.

 

The name tags given to you originate from the deepest love and affection I have for you. The extra ghee in your food is so that you grow healthy and strong. I make funny faces to cheer you up during your tiring and sometimes boring tuition classes and it sure does bring a smile to your face. I wish to make your friends feel at home and so the little chat with them is important at times. So basically things are going to be stay pretty much the same but one thing that is going to change in that list is your concern on the way your mom looks. Though I know what a lazy procrastinator I can be when it comes to working out but I understood your outlook on this and I promise to be a fitter-slimmer mom for you, at least I can try, so that you don’t feel embarrassed any more.

But till that time let’s make more wonderful memories for you. Please remember how cool and chilled out your mom was . My only endeavour now is to be a friend to you that just being a mom so you could confide in me anytime.

Sorry, but there’s no easy answer here. We wish there was (really, we do!), but for every mom, dealing with the mommy wars is different, so it’s going to take some time before you get this whole mommy gig right. Think of  your mistakes more like bumps along the road. It’ll take some time before things are totally smoothed out, so in the meantime, do your best to make it through. It’s really not about what (or who’s) right or wrong — it’s really just about learning to trust your choices and those mom instincts. You can’t be perfect all the time (and besides, who would want to be?) — but as long as kids are happy, healthy and cared for, we think we’re doing a great job.

Unlimited FUN without poking your pockets

There can be nothing more exciting than looking forward to the weekends. My little girl wishes the weeks to be just five days where she can plan for three days school and two days unlimited fun on the weekend. She is well aware that mamma is surely going to plan something great for the weekend and I do. I make sure kids are not glued to the screen or spend an unplanned day which may leave them feel dis-organized and overwhelmed. Keeping most of the day unchanged and in routine like the week days I always try to plan an outing with kids.

This weekend we went to Sarasbaug,which is the heart of the city (Pune) and also houses a famous Ganesh Temple also known as Talyatla Ganpati. Thousands of devotees visit the temple daily and the number goes up on occasions and special days. After a little time spent inside the temple we headed towards the adjoining garden area.It is a big garden space with a few swings for children to play and an artificial lake. The lake also has a fountain. The trees and the grass are well maintained. Kids enjoyed playing for some time there, we took the badminton racquets and a ball. After spending about an hour in the greenery we moved out near the adjoining food joints.

Parking for four wheeler is a little problem but as we went there in a cab, it was easy for us.

As we entered the so called “Chaupati” area we could see huge giant wheel and other rides like Columbus, Mary-go-round, Tora-Tora and a few for small kids also, like the Chhota Bheem train and small car ride. The stall honchos rush towards the customer to lead them to their respective stalls. One can imagine the Chaupati similar to the Mumbai Chaupati. There are lots of food joints serving Bhel puri, Paani puri, Pav bhaji and other delicious eateries. They are serving the best chat varieties and other quick-bites including Chinese, South Indian and fast foods dishes. I personally suggest the bhel and pav bhaji, the must-haves and relished by us. Kids bought ballons and candy floss. I had my favorite sweetcorn. As the sun was setting the lights in the area made it a bright and gleamy affair. I could see kids enjoying every bit.

This is a centrally located place in the city, just a kilometer away from the main Swargate bus stand. Commuting is not a problem due to easily available bus and auto-rickshaw services. It proved to be a great place for kids to spend time and take rides. The climate was also one of the factors we enjoyed the outing. The day was spent well within a budget of 5-6 hundred rupees, of course excluding our cab ride to and fro.

My girls are ready to spend another day there, playing and enjoying rides. Being a single parent I want to ensure my girls are getting their share of fun moments like any other child with both parents around. My motto is to guarantee fun and joyful moments as memories and create a strong bond as siblings and as mother-daughter accord. So I keep trying to make the weekends more energizing, wonderful and entertaining.

What’s the end game

In today’s competitive world, every parent want their children to stand out in the crowd. All we want is the best for our kids. Sometimes we want for them everything we never had as kids. We want them to get everything they can, out of life, right? There is nothing wrong in wanting the finest to release the best promising potential. But if we are not careful, we can create excessive pressure over them.

 

Sometimes I think about the present scenarios and wonder what’s the end game?

 That’s what I want to know. I ask this question to myself, silently, every time I hear of a second grader going for extra tutoring, extra classes, endless sessions a week; every time one of my daughter’s friends is unavailable for play with her because she has after-school classes for dance on Monday, after-school drama and recital classes on Tuesday, after-school swimming on Wednesday, after-school abacus on Thursday and after-school Trinity grammar classes on Friday. Without skipping the weekends, as well, there are other classes.

I turn down to stop other parents and ask the question aloud. But it blazes me from inside. I would really like to know.

 What’s the end game? Or what the heck are you trying to attain here?

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Back when we were kids, we returned home from a day or any day at school and did three things which were always in this order. First, we had our food, mostly it was lunch. Then, we did our homework. And the third, we played like donkeys (literally). We would meet our neighborhood friends and play until it was dinner time. Really, we did.

Whatever parental logics are applied today, against all those, remarkably, we’ve all wound up doing just fine. Married, kids, homes, careers, contentment.

Today my friends are designers, marketing experts, lawyer and one of them is also the CEO of a company.

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Nowadays, we live in a community where nothing for kids is allowed to come naturally. There is predominated pressure that reigns, the air is tainted by a rising demand to make certain—cost and logic and foolishness—that your child has been placed on the hundred percent list of guaranteed path to success. It’s not enough to have the kid learning at his grade level these days. He has to be one or two notches ahead. It’s no longer OK for the kid to have little to do after school, free time to use as he sees fit. So, now you’re either signing your child up for infinite organized activities, or you’ve somehow allowed him to fall behind. Everything spins around success, success, success, success.

 

Now, can anyone specify what in the world is success?

 whats the endgame

Please, I would love someone to tell me. Is it being a class lecturer or an orator? Is it getting into Harvard? Is it earning an MBA or a Ph.D.? Working for NASA? Having your own reality TV show? What exactly is the definition of success?

 Every parent is in such a rush to assure a child’s future, yet nobody has been able to appropriately define the ultimate reward. Parents are heard saying, “We just want to give our child the best opportunity to succeed” endlessly without explanation. And many of the parents are, quite frankly, unhappy even after that. It’s like we are all lined up on a racetrack, and we know we need to dash as fast as possible — only there’s no distinct finish line. Just run hard, spend all your energy, and maybe you’ll find it.

 Children today do have many wonderful opportunities, but they need time to explore things in depth. Many children don’t have time to relax and sigh. Parents put them in so many activities that they are exhausted and drained. Children miss out their childhood experiences if they are over-scheduled. They should be allowed to pursue their interests. Let them have enough time to play and explore their personalities. There is very little time for them to be just kids, if their lives are adult-dominated. Children need time with parents — time to relax, have fun, talk, read, play games, draw, explore and just hang out. Families that are constantly running from one extracurricular activity to the next have little space for these experiences. Simply limiting the amount of time spent in extracurricular activities and not just wasting time running around for classes maybe the key for more time spent together and being stress-free.

 Our kids are gifted with only a few years of childhood. That’s it — less than two decades before the harsh, dark, real world beat their happiness. Yes, of course, I want mine to do well in school, and learn the ethics and virtues of humanity, kindness and hard work. But I also want them to jump, play, rejoice every moment. I aspire for them to climb up the trees, to run and ride until exhausted, to let loose a loud whistle and cheer for their gangs, and much more. Giving them a happy childhood, without defining the limits. If they are happy, I’ll be thrilled.

Common Cold and Nutrition

Changes in seasons generally causes common cold. How much ever we try to control the exposure of kids from the viruses, may not save them. Sometimes a number of viruses may cause upper respiratory tract disorder in kids and also in adults. Kids are more prone to the environmental changes. As we all are experiencing too much changes almost everyday in the temperature, this makes kids susceptible to flu. As moms we cannot stop kids from playing outside or keep them away from the viruses in the air, but we can always take precautions by keeping and eating healthy.

Symptoms of common cold may include sneezing, sniffing and nasal congestion. But are you protected against the common cold?

Winters are here and mothers major concern for kids of getting effected with cold cough and congestion rises. Best way to fight with this issue in children can be natural remedies to fight the disease few options are listed below:

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Rest

Sleep is truly a great medicine; keeping us healthy in good times and helping us heal when sick. Released compounds boost the immune system, so encourage napping. Just don’t layer on too many covers, as that can overheat your child, which, in turn, can elevate his or her temperature

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Chicken Soup

A cup of chicken soup for a cold-and the good news is, whether it’s homemade or store bought makes no difference. The steam helps loosen congestion and the broth hydrates. Studies have also found that the chicken and other ingredients in the soup actually have an anti-inflammatory effect-a very good thing, since inflammation causes coughs and stuffed-up noses.

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Garlic and onion

Onion’s pungent cousin contains allicin, a compound which has been known to have anti-bacterial properties. The only problem you might face is getting your kids to eat it. Try mincing the garlic very finely and adding it to a light pasta sauce at dinner time to avoid its detection.

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Plenty of Fluids

Keeping your child hydrated is essential to flush out germs, so push such drinks as water, fruit juices, herbal teas and broth. Jell-O is another option as are cooling, soothing ice pops. Milk is okay, too; that it thickens mucus is a dis-proven old wives’ tale.

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Elevate the Mattress

Adding a bit of lift to the mattress at the head of the bed helps sinuses drain more readily, thus adding to your child’s comfort. A rolled towel or yoga mat will also do the trick.

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Humidifier and Vaporizer

A cool-mist humidifier goes a long way in relieving dry, stuffed up nasal passages by adding moisture to a room. While a humidifier can help relieve congestion, mold and mildew can build up and be sprayed into the air if not cleaned properly each and every time.

Other things helpful :

Respiratory Ailments

Camphor creams applied to the chest and neck can help relieve congestion and ease coughing. Inhaling camphor fumes relieves airway congestion and loosens mucus. When camphor cream is rubbed into the chest and throat, your body heat helps to release the camphor vapors that act as a decongestant. Camphor oil can be added to a room humidifier for a similar effect.

Menthol/essential oils

Essential oils containing menthol and eucalyptus have been used for centuries for treating coughs and colds. Menthol works as a mild anesthetic and is used to relieve sore throats. It also makes the mouth and throat feel cooler.

Also, Homeopathy medicines can work miracle in  boosting up the immunity to fight cold and cough virus along with a good healthy diet.

Every winter or seasonal changes we catch the cold and the best defense is right in your plate. Eating a well balanced diet can actually strengthen the immune system of course along with exercise and resting adequately. A good diet is also essential for recovering and reducing the duration of any illness. Diet also helps in decreasing the worst side effects like sore throat and stuffy nose.

1. Nutrient rich diet will build the immune system to fight against cold.

2. Increasing the intake of hot and cold liquids like water, green tea, fruit juices or soups. Liquids will help loosen the mucous and get it out of the body.

3. Avoiding caffeine due to its diuretic effects in fluids like tea, coffee and soda makes them less effective than water.

There are some foods that can be eaten while the cold is on. These include oatmeal made with water, whole grain toast, tomato juice, orange juice, decaffeinated hot tea, soups and fruits.

I hope these guidelines can help you with yourself and kids during the aggravated cold.

Cheers !!

Lighting up lives

Diwali has always been related with the three F’s – FAMILY, FUN and FOOD. It is also known as festival of lights. Diwali was never so much fun for us. This time kids and me decided to have an eco-friendly Diwali, bursting no crackers and doing eco-friendly craft and Diwali decorations. We drafted a rough list before the festival as to how and what we can add-on to have more amusement.

 

We decided to celebrate the festival at my hometown in Madhya Pradesh. My motive of taking kids there was basically, show them how, originally the festival was celebrated and the real importance of the traditions and beliefs that are still followed. Growing up and living in a metro, they do get to know a lot about other cultures and their festivals, languages and costumes, but I wish them to carry forward the customs and traditions we have received from our parents and grandparents. Nuclear family culture and modernization is a big reason why kids are losing grounds about the origins. My kids have been celebrating Diwali for 2-3 days, but I wanted them to know that the festival is actually a week’s celebration and the significance of each day starting from Vasu Baras and followed by Dhanteras, Choti Diwali, Lakshmi Pujan, Govardhan and lastly Bhaiduj.

I tried to involve kids in each activity from preparations to celebrations. Cleaning the mandir (temple) area, painting the floor with Geru powder (red mud/ochre ), drawing rangolis, making the Toran (festoon/gateway) with leaves and flowers, also painting diyas (lamps) and decorating the pooja thali. It was immense pleasure and a great bonding among kids and their cousins. It was all a team work.

 

The best part being, gifting and greeting the people who are our help like watchman and maids and donating clothes and food and useful articles to those less fortunate as we headed to an orphanage in the morning on the festival day.

 

Although kids got the chance to play with fireworks, they did not. Fireworks are a celebratory gesture. There are various ways in which we celebrate any occasion. We decided in celebrating without fireworks, but the kids realised that fireworks are an ‘option’, not something that ‘has to’ be done.

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Four important things that made our Diwali wonderful were:

 

  1. Spending time with our family and bonding together. Taking snaps and group photos.
  2. Visiting old friends and surprising them.
  3. Lighting up the house and brighten the night. Indulging in delicacies and relishing the authentic food.
  4. Buying some sweets, greeting and giving them to people we barely acknowledge. Buying random things like crayon boxes, cheap toys and tiny clips and giving them away to the poor children.

 

That’s what the festival of lights is all about. Lighting up others lives.

 

Diwali or Deepavali is one of the biggest festival celebrated throughout India and also in many parts of the world. As we all saw President Obama declared a holiday in the US now. That was such a proud moment.

In his address to the White House, this is what President Obama had to say:

It is fitting that we begin this week leading up to the holiday of Diwali – the festival of lights, where members of some of the world’s greatest faiths celebrate the victory of good over evil, knowledge over ignorance.

It is a time for rejoicing, but also a time for reflection. To reach out to those in need. In that spirit of celebration and contemplation, I am happy to light the White House diya, and wish you all a happy Diwali and a Saal Mubarak”.

 

So rightly said !!

Happy Diwali and a prosperous New Year to all !!

CHOCO PIES !!!

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“Candies”, the mother offered to the little girl to make sure that the girl could forget what she was fighting for and loose her wishes to the will of her mother. The mother was certain to win because this is the way it had always been.

“Little girls get attached to things easily and then also abandon the same things for the next big thing. She would move on…. be the same again”   …she had thought to herself.

The girl did not agree though. She was a rebel at heart and this time she wanted to convey her firmness.

Firm she was to not fall for the bait…  but she rather wanted to convince her mother…  for how much joy that thing brought to her. “She always says she loves being, then why is she so inconsiderate for my wishes”  …she murmured.

The environment was numb. Nobody moved. Even the plants looked like to have stopped shaking for a while for they all wanted to hear the verdict ….

Mother : “When we go home, I will make those choco pies that you have always loved eating, only if you abide by what I say…

Girl: “Mother, you should have known, I have stopped loving choco pies, the same way you have stopped loving me” !!!!

That was too much to have come out from a 5 year old. The mother was shocked. Next step was taking the girl into her arms that came naturally. She cuddled and kissed her. ‘My little rabbit, when did I stopped loving you …..  You are the loveliest of all things that have ever touched my life’.

The girl flew her arms around her mother. Life seemed beautiful again….

Her demand….!!!!  She didn’t even remember about that anymore. She wanted to go home quickly eager to have the choco pies.

A person sitting at a nearby bench had witnessed the whole episode. She quickly went back to her house and published the episode into her notes. Her friends are now reading it!!  😛

P.S. Yes, of course, I was moved by this episode, although I make sure to devote time for them and kids are my priority but I hugged them tightly as I reached back home.