Saturday, January 2, 2016

Presage

It's that time - a new year: new beginnings, resolutions, changes, renewed hope and all that good stuff. And I'm in a mood for a fresh start as well. But for the phoenix to rise, there must be ashes and dust. Burn, baby, burn.

Then again, all things - good, bad & mediocre must come to an end. Or to a pause, at least.  So it's time for a little sabbatical (let's call it that for now) for this blog. I won't flatter myself that I will be missed. After all, I've posted less than 200 posts in the past 8 years. That is less than 2 posts a month. But still, to all of you who stumbled upon this place by accident or loyally checked in after every post & left comments or were somewhere in between, I sincerely thank you. Even though my intent was not to build a following, words, in the end, are meant to be read. Thoughts that are voiced are meant to be heard. But now, my friends, it's time for some sound silence.

I wish you all - merry adventures and peace. You need both in life.
And so, onward and inward.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Mele Kalikimaka

Since the last post, I've probably written and edited a few dozen posts - of course, all in my mind. Some during the day, some while driving but most of them in the dark watches of the night as I sang "Baa Baa Black Sheep" or "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" for the millionth time while I rocked LB hoping she would fall back asleep and stay asleep for more than 30 minutes before randomly waking up again. This, then, is motherhood.

Speaking of motherhood, here are what I think are the major changes for me - what I've gained and what I've lost. Of course, there's the obvious I've-lost-the-happy-carefree-anything-goes-attitude-but-I've-gained-a-love-like-no-other. But I'm talking of personal changes beyond that - the somewhat unexpected.

What I've lost :
- 95% of my sense of humour ( yes, I will stick to the British spelling, thank you very much)
- My sense of perspective
- My almost life-long streak of never having seen what 3:30 AM looks like.

What I've gained :
- A giant helping of self-doubt
- A heaping mound of irritability and impatience
- The ability to achieve deep sleep for 4 mins in a 25 min segment

Honestly, I always had a nagging suspicion that I wouldn't make a great mom but I don't think I ever thought I'd be this appalling. Now, I know that sleep deprivation can make anyone turn grumpy and ill-tempered and that coupled with exhaustion can explain most anything. However, when you consider that my nemesis and the recipient of most of the above mentioned annoyance & frustration is a pudgy(she could be pudgier. Yes, I like my babies more to the right on the pudge spectrum), super cute, and mostly happy-tempered 8 month old, it really is awful. Also, a lot of moms seem to handle it a lot better than me. Which brings me to the main topic of this post.  I've tried several strategies to improve my patience and avoid thinking/saying/doing things that I feel miserable about later and now I've come up with what I think is The One. It is called "What would R do? ". R, you see, is a co-worker who I know a little and with whom I have had a couple of conversations about motherhood. Based on this rich interaction, I've decided that R is the ideal mom. She is very loving, patient and attached. Human and real enough that she is struggling with the same issues as most of us clueless moms but resigned to and accepting of her current life/sleep situation. Yes, I managed to glean all of this in those two conversations. So here is the strategy. When it's 2 AM and LB has woken up for the 4th time in 2 hours, and my instinct is to get out of bed groggy and cross, muttering curses under my breath and attempt to soothe/cajole/plead/admonish/bully LB back into sleep as quickly as I can, I will stop and take a minute to think : "What would R do?". Cue - soft, emotional music, dim lighting, eyes brimming with love-and-tears, soft crooning. Basically love-and-patience-and-amiable-resignation in the air.  I gave it a shot last night and it did seem to work. I'm sold.

And so to some exciting chores while LB naps.


Monday, August 24, 2015

cowlick

My dear darling LB : You are five months old already! That is *incredible*. When I think of around this time last year when your dad and I just found out that we were pregnant, it seems unbelievable that a year has flown by already and what was once just a big question and wonder in our thoughts is now a living, thriving little individual. Then again, life before you or at least before the thought of you seems ages ago.  There is *so much* that has happened and that I have experienced in these 5 months that it is beyond me to be able to express all that in words. Some of it, I haven't even fully wrapped my head around. But let's just say this - I wouldn't trade this for the world.

It hasn't been all roses and smiles and contented sighs. Turns out that being a parent is like being shown the truest mirror and finding yourself falling severely short of your expectations of yourself - at least that's the way it has been for me. But luckily for me, I've had the most loving, forgiving, patient and lovable little companion teaching me how to be a better mother every day. I don't know what I would do without you. At the same time, I realize that being a parent means that I will always be a role model for you. Whether I like it or not, whether I am ready for it or not. So I am trying to see myself in that light. You see, I would not want you to be harshly critical of yourself or carry the guilt of words and actions that you did not mean. No. I would tell you, instead, that I believe kindness/compassion is the most important virtue and that being kind starts with oneself.  When you are kind to yourself, you are at peace and allow yourself to move forward. You allow yourself to learn from your mistakes and believe that you can get better every day. And that is exactly what I am going to do or try to do.

I am so grateful for this wonderful turn of fate that has brought you into our life.  The ups have been far more than the downs, the joys have far outweighed the frustration and the love has far surpassed the anger. Happy five month anniversary to the three of us, my darling. Here's to countless more such!

And so to some merry ruckus with LB.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Blaenau Ffestiniog

So I have to tell you about last week.

After a trying Monday ( I don't remember the exact details but I'm guessing it involved less sleep and more crankiness than usual), I woke up on Tuesday and told myself that it is a brand new day and things will be different. Turns out, I was mostly right. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Here's what happened.

It started out innocuously enough. I fed LB, gave her a short amount of time to make sure that food settled in, and chatted happily with her while I strapped her in the car seat. The plan was to take a ~ 3 miles walk in the stroller. I'd mapped out the route and made sure I had everything that I needed. Water - check. Sunglasses - check. Keys, phone, ipod - check, check, check. Pacifier, in case she starts fussing  - check. And LB was consideration herself. She cooed happily at me, smiled and seemed happy with her lot. I took the stroller out first, made sure all the paraphernalia was in place , took LB out in the car seat and locked the door. And here is when the day started getting "interesting". I breezily put the car seat on the stroller expecting to hear the two click sounds that indicated that the seat was securely attached to the stroller. Nada. No sounds. No problem - let's pick up the seat and try again. Nope. Let's try pushing down on it. Nope. Maybe it is secure and I just didn't hear the click, let me try pulling up on the car seat. The seat easily came off the stroller. Oooookay. Let's do all of these again. And again. Let's get down on our knees and peer at the stroller and the points where they connect and see what's missing. Nothing. Let's randomly shake things a little. Let's kick the stroller around a little. Nope. I even watched a YouTube video on how to put the carseat in the stroller. Mind you, I'd done this at least 20 times before and never had an issue.
At this point, I was paranoid. I was beginning to imagine that something was off with the car seat and the height of the stroller - I twiddled with knobs, zippers, latches, etc that I had never even looked closely at. Of course,I was doing all this with a steady stream of muttered cusses that would put a truck driver ( pardon my generalization. I'm sure there are plenty of truck drivers who are squeaky clean in their language) to shame. Around 20-15 minutes after this whole drama, LB decided she'd had it with being strapped to a stationary car seat and alternately lifted up and put down and decided to start bawling. So we miserably headed back in.  I was madder than I've ever known myself to be and LB seemed to feed off of that energy and heartily exercised her lungs for a while.  Finally I calmed her down but  was actively fantasizing on all the various ways that the blighted stroller could meet its end  - all very graphic and violent. I shared some of these thoughts with C via text.  Next thing I knew, he was telling me that he was done with all his meetings at work by noon ( yeah, right) and heading back home.  When he bravely rushed home, fearing for his family and property, he found the house waist-deep in LB and my ( ok, mostly my) tears and under a pall of gloom.  After placating me by siding with me ( as opposed to the stroller), he pointed out the trick for making the car-seat click in such circumstances and kept coaxing me to go on that walk. I refused but finally requested him to watch LB for 30 mins and ran a 2 miler around home. Although I ran almost a full minute slower than my pre-pregnancy pace, the endorphins were just as I remember. I came back home, sweaty, tired and very happy.  And from that day, I haven't had any trouble getting the car seat to click into the stroller.

Why did I tell you this story? To illustrate C's courage in facing me at a time like that? Well yeah, but mostly to show how I tend to get hung up on little things and let them take away from some very happy days.  But why now?  I just realized that LB is already 3 months old and I only have a precious few weeks to share with spend my time exclusively with her. And I still keep focusing on all the negatives - why is she crying? why isn't she napping? why is she napping for so long? ( I tell you, I am a fool). So here's to changing my attitude and appreciating this fleeting time fully.  Here's to not letting car-seats and strollers ruin our days.

And so to fresh mistakes.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Rose hips

Adventure - yes, I used the right word in my last post. I just needed to add a mis in front - at least, that's how LB (which is how I will be referring to this offspring of mine heretofore) sees it I'm sure.

When LB was still baking, everyone would repeat that oft-heard cliche - how having a baby changes everything and how you learn to appreciate the small things in life again. I used to think of these as poetic, philosophic moments - like appreciating a sunset, a warm, sweet-smelling breeze or the morning birdsong. Turns out that's not it at all - it is fantasizing about clipping your toe nails, or being in a clean shower or having enough time to wash all the shampoo off your hair.
I realize now that having a baby is a little like having a cold : you know how when your nose is super stuffed up and you are having a tough time drawing a breath from that mountaintop of pillows you made, you want to kick yourself for every non-cold day when you didn't appreciate your nose for the wonderful breathing device it is? That's pretty much it except this cold lasts a loooong time. I can't believe how breezily I dismissed lazy weekends spent sleeping in, getting some chores done, and watching movies/reading books as "eh - just an ordinary weekend". If I met me from pre-LB, I'd clip her on the side of her head and call her a spoilt brat.

It's not all whines and hard work, though. There's some times of pure horror too - of course, on my part. If you find yourself trying to not-so-gently send a pacifier into the mouth of a wee 9 week old in the middle of the night and telling them sternly to either go to bed in the next 5 minutes or fend for themselves, you know you've hit rock bottom. Don't worry about LB, though - she let me know quickly (and sternly) with a half cry-half shout that she wasn't having it and I went back to my pleading and whimpering and got her to sleep about an hour later.

I know things are actually going great and I have a wonderful baby and blessed life but it is hard to remember that in the face of a full-on wailing baby. In fact, I think that most of the bad, angry, nasty decisions are made in the face of a wailing baby. In fact again, I wonder what the world would be like if there were no wailing babies. If all babies fed without fussing, played and cooed happily and let you know that it was nap time by yawning and laying on their side with a sweet smile or just crawling directly to their bed (once they are of crawling age, of course) , maybe this world would be a lot more peaceful and content. I bet you it would.

But I'm sure this too, like everything else, will pass. LB and I will probably look back on these days and weeks and recollect the little events and laugh. Like that time I took her on a walk in the early evening of a hot summer day, and when she started crying, kept making small talk and pointing out random trees, houses, dogs, etc all the while grinning and smiling at her like a stupid ape without realizing that she was overheated and what she wanted was to just get back to the bloody A/C. Yeah, what a riot that was! Not. "What a fathead!" is more like what she will be thinking. But like it or not, she's stuck with this fathead. And as I type this up in the nursery, she's sleeping peacefully in her crib rolled up like a burrito in her swaddle and looking unbelievably cute for someone related to me. I guess this is one of those moments too.

And so ( hopefully) to some afternoon rest.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Canticle

And so it is time - to dust off this old blog and start on a new set of adventures.

The thing about being in love and in a committed relationship ( at least in the initial stages) is that it opens you up to a lot of weighty emotions - love, concern, anxiety, joy, doubt, etc. These emotions , though wonderful to go through make for a heavy post. Also, relationships are big time-sucks. I know that sounds awful but you know I mean it in a matter-of-fact way, not a complaining/whining way. When I was young and single and foolish  (ok, not so young), I seemed to have the time to do a bunch of random things and more time to talk about all of them. Now, I do some random things, some routine things and some things of more consequence but I'm too busy doing them and am already sharing them with someone along the way so they very rarely make it to the blog. I know, I know - not a big loss for the blogging world. 

Anyways, that brings us to this post. Well, L tumbled into our world two weeks ago and here we are again - at the start of a grand new journey except this time, there's the three of us. I can't believe it's been 2 full weeks already since the little bean came into our lives and pervaded every single aspect of it. Nights and days are a haze of feeding, changing and napping - that includes all 3 of us - and I can't keep the week days and weekends straight any more. Not that I miss any of my work stuff yet. I expect L will be off to college before I felt anything like that but we'll dwell on that another time.  Bottom line : we are busy and my mind is absorbed in varying emotions - sometimes all at once.

1. Mindboggled-ness : I understand how biology and reproduction works. I took those classes in high school and you would think that walking around a full 9 months with L inside would have helped me internalize the whole fact of a baby.  But when we get in bed at night and I look to the side to see L in her Rock 'n Play sleeping peacefully ( or unpeacefully - more on that later),  my mind just boggles. I am amazed that this whole new person/being just popped into existence, seemingly out of nowhere, and is now just here. Like she totally belongs here. She has her whole own set of limbs and organs and moods and preferences and she's just hanging out here. Two weeks ago, all I had were super puffy feet and a full belly that kept me from accessing said feet easily. One word. Amazing.

2. Sheer terror : After nursing her, changing her (probably multiple times because she seems to have a different opinion on the scheduling of the diaper change versus activities-that-require-a-diaper-change), clumsily attempting to burp her with fingers crossed that she doesn't projectile the food all over me and the glider, and rocking her to a drunken & drowsy state, gingerly putting her down in her sleeper and taking a step away, there is a Moment. A moment when she make a grunty noise, or flutters her eyelids open or kicks her hands or legs. This is the moment that will make or break the nap. If she settles down, there is blessed relief. Otherwise, it's rinse and repeat.  This is when I experience abject terror. It makes me religious and I petition to everyone - from Swaddle Gods to Spock - to help me out here. How someone under 8 pounds can reduce me to this quivering coward, is marvel-worthy.

3. Perplexity : L is currently in a phase where she produces the strangest of noises as she sleeps at night. They range from grunts to groans to straining sounds to throat-clearing sounds and some sounds that I just cannot classify. All this leads to a very vexing bed time with constant googling to understand this phenomenon. The trouble is finding the right keyword - you should see the number of hits "baby noises" generates on Google. Apparently, "Sleeping like a baby" is some sort of cruel inside joke on new moms. 

4. A higher plane of joy : Whether it is watching her sleep with that face of total innocence, or watching her go through a gamut of goofy expressions as she nears sleep, or seeing her drunken and proud smile after feeding or a serious burp or spitting up, even - it brings out a different level of laughter or  joy - something you rarely experience in adult life.

This post took a while to compose. It was done over a span of two weeks in hurried, stolen moments - moments which could have been spent napping. It was totally worth it but I don't know how often I'll be able to do this.  So here's to the three of us, C and L - and our new life :  I couldn't have asked for better partners in crime and I hope I never lose sight of that. 

Let all kinds of fun begin!






ore time to talk about all of them. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

comity

You guys better brace up for this. I am going to speak about something serious for a change.

Over the last couple of weeks, an article about Indra Nooyi (the Pepsi CEO) has been doing the rounds on Facebook and other sites. In it, she is quoted as saying : " I don't think women can have it all. I just don't think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all."

I agree with this statement. I don't think women can have it all. I also don't think men can have it all. In fact, I don't think anyone can have it all. There are just too many things in this world and our minds and desires are not limited by trivialities like time,  distance, energy levels, capabilities, talents, opportunities, etc.  But wait, before you think I'm just pointing out technicalities, let me explain myself further. In the article, Indra talks about an incident when she came home around 10 PM (earlier than her usual time of midnight) and was instructed by her mom to go back out and buy some milk for the next morning. When Indra asked her mom why she didn't ask her (Indra's) husband to do the same, her mom responded that he came back at 8 PM and was tired. I  don't know about you guys but coming back home from work at 8 PM makes for a long and tiring day for me. (Of course, I might be discounting the fact that in California folks probably only come in to work after noon :-P) Anyways,  Indra recounts that she went back out and bought the milk like a good dutiful daughter. And therefore women can't have it all. But by the same token, I'd say her husband cannot have it all either.  Indra talks about how a woman cannot be  an ambitious workaholic CEO, a wonderful, hands-on mother, a dutiful daughter and a loving & accessible wife, all at once. She talks about missing out on significant events and quality time in her kids' and spouse's life. All these hold true for a man as well. If a man spends most of his waking hours focused on his job, he might still have a wife and family but those relationships aren't going to be great. She talks about making choices between being a wife, a mother, a CEO. These are choices that every one of us makes as adults - between being a son/daughter, spouse, sibling, friend, achiever, mentor, learner, bum.  Doesn't mean you can only do one but it means that we need to make an effort to balance all these things out. And if we, as women, want to start taking on other roles that we traditionally have not, we need to make space for them. We need to make allowances and prioritize what we can/cannot do, just like men do. Finally, she jokes about how her husband sometimes complains about being at the bottom of her list and she responds "You should be happy you're on the list. So don't complain. (laughing)". I understand that she's kidding but I have a feeling that if a guy said that, all the feminists in the world would be up in arms about it. Needless to say, if C came back home at midnight every day, I would complain. A lot. And I'd also probably starve after a week.

Going back to the feminists - before you get mad at me ( and you are free to do so), do I think the odds are stacked evenly for men and women in terms of having a career? No. I believe this society is much more forgiving on men in some roles. I believe that the expectations are very different from men to women. I believe there are a lot of families and men out there who believe that some responsibilities are solely meant for women ( raising kids, cooking, cleaning, etc) or that a career outside home should only be attempted in free time. I believe that all this has to change and that everyone should have the same rights and privileges that I enjoy in my relationship. I also believe that nature wasn't fully fair to women - what with biological clocks and disparate division of roles and responsibilities. But this isn't about whether women can strive for a similar work-life balance as men. This is about having it all. And that I think is equally un-achievable for both.