The Dilemma of Parenthood

Well, how difficult is it to raise a kid? People from our parent’s generation go crazy when they see all the hue and cry over our kid-raising ideology. Gone are the days when people give more thought to their plants rather then raising kids. Growing up in the eighties in a small town in India we hardly saw any special effort in doing things for children. In our childhood we have not been given undue attention by our parents nor did we expect any. We were just kids, not a project for our parents to prove their efficiency. We had no special privileges of our own kid’s meal, theme birthday parties or lots of hobbies and extracurricular activities. Still, we as kids did so well in our life, we got that bonding with our parents and had much more discipline and values in our life. Seems like an interesting subject for research, why? Because everyone can see that we are not doing something right.mother-daughter-love-sunset-51953.jpeg

These days kids are super intelligent but they are missing much of their innocence. Lately, the time has changed and expectations for a kid are soaring. I remember when I was ten years old my only extracurricular activities were playing outside, drawing and reading books. We as kids were always answerable to our parents regarding our poor performance in tests and nobody cared about the psychological impact on us. Still, not only did we survive, we thrived in the real world. Today you can not find a single ten- year old who is not doing at least three activities per week. They don’t have time to play because they all have five days a week after school hobby classes. Parents are making a fool of themselves while pushing kids to all the classes which sometimes they don’t have any inclination towards. Looks like we are not raising kids, we are raising robots.

We were a generation where parents never thought about child psychology, we were never given a medal for participating nor anybody was concern about us getting germs while playing in the mud. Our parents taught us how to deal with failure so when we didn’t achieve many things later in our life it didn’t break us. We don’t hate our parents after so many horrible episodes of disciplining us in our childhood.

Helicopter parenting has its own drawbacks. After trying hard not to be one of those type of parents I  have always struggled to keep the balance between the independence of thought and parental guidance. The best way to do is to loosen the rope with their age and maturity and just be there in case they need us. This has always worked with the kids and time to time helped them with their growing independence and increase their confidence level.

At home with a tween and a teen always made me conscious of finding a right balance and trust me it really is difficult to let go of a child to do things by his or her own way. In the beginning, I have spent quite a few sleepless nights thinking about how they will cope or what type of decision they will make when they will be on their own. Having said that I have always felt that whenever we have given the chance to do things on their own they have done amazing and made us proud. Real world, real life will be the game changer of parenting world and we cannot hold hands with our kid’s lifelong. Sometimes you don’t get that gold medal or that perfect score. Believe me, they need to learn to take their failures in a positive way. They need to learn that it is humanly impossible to win every time. One thing I always tell my kids before any test that the preparation is in your hands, give your hundred per cent, try to achieve that perfect score but if after your effort result is not that good don’t sweat over it, just prepare for the next one with even more force.

Homes are for free expression not for good impression, and understanding this is quite important. If kids will be able to express themselves without fear of judgement then only we will understand the deep thoughts hidden inside them. Nurturing positive thoughts is the first step towards good parenting. we need to understand that there is no perfect parent and no perfect kid. However we try, we cannot do everything for our kids. End of our sincere efforts counts in making kids independent personality. We need to understand that with a winning attitude we should also teach our kids to understand the importance of enjoying the moment. Peer pressure is not only harming kids it’s making us parents’ lives really stressful. We need to understand that we are showing by example that its good to sweat over somebody’s achievement rather then enjoying our own pace. We should stop doing that ASAP. Easier said then done, but I believe we need to start from somewhere . With our kids we also need to play by our strength. A future generation of happy and content people is totally dependent on today’s parenting. Believe me, this is totally achievable and with the right approach we can certainly make parenting more enjoyable, and childhood more fun.

We as a parent are a worried bunch of adults who are not sure about the challenges. As we are still learning the art of raising kids we make quite a lot of mistakes. We need to understand the same way, kids are also sometimes prone to make mistakes and nobody is perfect here. If we focus more on our relationship with our kids and try to understand their point of view, I would bet that will be a welcoming change . Having said that I know its really difficult for any parent to look beyond his/her parental duties but as a child’s intellect is growing that will take their collective thoughts to a new high. The result of these will be a more content parent and a happy child. Let’s not burden our home with those types of pressures and make each and every day more enjoyable. On that note…

There is no such thing as a perfect parent, so just be a real one.

Sue Atkins

 

 

 

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The Tribe Of Pioneers

Staying away from your family and country always hurts but it hurts the most when festivals are approaching. As an immigrant living far off from our motherland, we always try to recreate the same atmosphere and spirit of any festival. We don’t want our children to forget our roots and traditions and to that effect, we always try to incorporate traditions in every aspect of their life.

We are the generation that plays Holi in subzero temp with their coats on, we celebrate Durga Puja in temples with fanfare. We celebrate Chhath in our own backyard in swimming pools, even though sometimes its really difficult to coordinate everything, we don’t forget to celebrate it. We love those rainbow moments of colours which breathes fresh air in our extremely hectic life.

We are the generation of people who left our country in the pursuit of a better life but often looking at our selves which make us think so much about the worth of everything. We are the first generation of Indians who are torn between the past and the future. We create support groups for us outside our homeland, we cherish our successes and we come forward at the time of need. Far away from our motherland, we drive our kids to the temple for cultural classes so that they don’t forget our roots. We make sure that we speak in our own language at home so the next generation learns it. We are the people who are always comforted by our own cuisine and meals and however busy we are we try to cook that several times a week. We are the people whose comfort food is still Maggi. We look forward to any occasion to wear our colourful Ethenic clothes. We make our festivals, our clothes, our language our identity and we don’t want to compromise on any of these.

We struggle to create a healthy menu which our kids love to eat but shy away from eating at school because of the feeling of being left out. We often look at our kids with a heavy American accent singing bhajans and feel proud. We try to find happiness in our big suburban homes and flashy cars, but deep inside we are the same person who left everything behind us and for us, the clock stopped there only.

We spend sleepless nights when our parents are not doing well and dance with joy when there is some distant cousins wedding. We are the people who love to take twenty-hour flights many times just to check on our family. We watch our TV programs, our Bollywood movies and cross our fingers so that our next generation doesnt forget everything.

We have our own struggles, our own insecurities and we are the normal human beings who are hurt most of the time when we are seen as a Dollar vending machine. From the lens of the camera, our life just looks perfect and we are the envy of so many people. We have everything which a normal human being wants and we had triumphed over so many hurdles to reach here.

Grass on the other side is always greener and nothing is always perfect in our life which we left long ago. But our nostalgia doesnt let us rest for a while we still

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don’t want to give up the dreams which we have for our kids, our family. We are the dreamy generation, we are not unhappy, we are not upset, we have chosen this life for us. We are sometimes torn between moving back for our parents versus staying here for our kids. We are not money minded people who left their country for their benefit. We love our homeland as we love our immigrant country.  It’s just that we want everything. We crave for the best of both worlds. We are the dream catchers, we are the trendsetters and forerunners. We are the trailblazers! We are the Tribe of Pioneers!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

NO PERFECT LIFE,JUST PERFECT MOMENT

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Being a perfectionist is a flawed concept. It’s easy for anybody to lose grip of their perfect relationship, diet plan or just their work life. All of us struggle to make each and everything we do try to look perfect. When we really know that it doesn’t matter, and life is just another imperfect game then why do we try to be the one, the perfect one? If we look at our life we can feel that whatever we have done till now, most of the things we have done to please other people and almost nothing for ourselves. I often wonder if the concept of living for ourselves and seeking the desired happiness is a taboo subject in society?

 

Since our childhood, we have seen our parents sacrifice for most things for giving a better life to their kids, then for their parents and this cycle goes on and on. We always seek the approval and acknowledgement for others to create something perfect for us. Whether that someone is our spouse, our kids, parents, or our siblings and friends. Society plays the main part in this soap opera of life. Being ridiculed and to be laughed on is the main reason people give up on their self and dream. Then comes the frustration part and believe me, after some time we all become part of a shady business where we are judging and gossiping about the people who still dare to dream.

 

I always believe that when a person is unhappy he or she cannot create a happy life for others. Don’t we see dying dreams and depression everywhere? In our society, we have always taught that for making everything nice and perfect we need to please others. We need to care for them whether at that point of the time we want to or not. Thinking about ourselves only can label us as being selfish. We have not been taught to keep ourselves happy and that is the worst part.

 

Let’s be hypothetical for a fraction of a second and imagine that if we can do everything for ourselves then do we still go with most of the things we are doing? I bet most of the answers will come in no. If we can spin the wheel backwards most of us will change few things in our life for the happiness we craved for.

 

So now the question comes to mind how we can create a perfect balance between what others want and our desire. How we can create a perfectly happy life for ourselves? For this, I guess the first step is to say no. Believe me, saying no sometimes when we really don’t want to do things will not make us bad. We must learn to prioritize ourselves sometimes and that includes not going for the things which we hate or don’t like. Individuality hurts most of the social norms, but it makes things easier for ourselves and our relationships. The idea is to be happy and by taking control of our own life we are making things easier for others too, who really want to see that happiness for us.

 

We often compare our lives with others and over silly things making our selves miserable. why we do that? if look deep inside someone’s life we will see the scars they have or their struggles. If something looks rosy it doesn’t mean it is a rainbow. We need to see the happiness in our life, we need to create that something which we wanted to build for ourselves. Our happiness forts.

 

We always try to create some condition for happiness as if this will happen, I will be happy, or everything will be perfect in future when this will be done. We all know life is short and there is no tomorrow we can promise. Then why we are not living in the moment? Why we are making things difficult for us? Regret is the worst thing and god forbid what if we look back at our life tomorrow and think that yesterday was the perfect moment we missed.

 

Happiness and perfection don’t go well with each other. Sometimes the silliest looking moments make you happy at the same time the perfectly carved out sessions doesn’t touch your soul. The idea is to make ourselves happy so that we can make others in our life happier. Let’s just stay ourselves and don’t lose our own self. we need to start that from somewhere and the best moment is now.

the perfect moment, once lost, is not easily found again.

 

 

 

 

Chocolate milk, a brown cow and pink pom- pom boots.

“Mom, if we get white milk from white cows, and chocolate milk from brown cows, where does strawberry milk come from?” exclaimed my three-year-old. She was sitting on the kitchen counter watching me put plates in the dishwasher while wearing a cute pair of baby pink pom- pom boots which we had bought for her recently, and since then the pair of boots and my daughter were both inseparable.

The second incident which comes to my mind is she was again three. I was giving my son a bath and she was playing outside the bathroom sitting on the floor. After a few minutes, my instincts told me something was wrong. She was sitting very quietly and her favourite snow globe was in her hand, all broken, water was dripping from it. “Mom look! I got stars in my hand! ” Luckily, there was no major cut. I still remember hugging her and holding her tight for a while.

Geese and egg curry were both highlights of her preschool times. She was not very fond of eating and still is not, but in her preschool days she used to like egg curry so much that whenever I asked her what she would eat after school she always asked me to make egg curry.. at one point of a time I was making egg curry more than anything in my kitchen. In the summer and fall months, we usually walked to school. On the way, we saw lots of geese in the park, and sometimes they made lots of noise. She was scared of them because they were huge but loved watching them. She also loved collecting pine cones in fall.

After each birthday celebration, she jokes that whatever her real age is she is one year younger than that. The reason, we all know is that she did not blow the candle on her third birthday. It happened this way; for her third birthday we kept it very simple and invited one of our close friends home. Unknowingly the kid blew the birthday candles before her. Since then, she has longed for doing the same. Later on, when we lit the candles again, she blew it, but according to her, its significance was gone. She told me that night when I was tucking her that she was still two since she couldn’t blow the candles in the first place. She told me that until unless she blows his birthday candles she will not be her real age. So we are chasing him for the last seven years but not able to take back her third birthday. I always joke with his mom that now she has grown up but she still remembers that funny incident about the lost birthday.

One day when she was in kindergarten she came home and started crying and was inconsolable. I asked her what happened, getting sick in the stomach. After much persuasion, she replied back that koalas are an endangered species in Australia and it’s getting extinct because people are killing it. She wanted to go to Australia with me to save the koalas.

I will not forget the hug she gave me after her fourth birthday party, she told me this was the” best birthday party ever”. She was so happy after three-four hours of uninterrupted play,  was barefoot and tired, trying to take a peek into the mound of colourful birthday presents.

Whenever I try to remember a winter morning in the Minneapolis cold. I remember watching her getting up early with her baby pink blanket and sleeping on her dad’s lap. For most of the early years that was the most comfortable place for her in the morning.

Every day I remember these and several other wonderful stories of her childhood and think why time never stops. Why they don’t stay that cute and innocent always and why we mothers are left with a sweet ache in our heart.

This fall my daughter will go to middle school and it still feels like she is my newborn and with that baby smell and warmth in my heart, she will be forever my baby.

on that note,

Let me love you a little more before you are not little anymore.

 

 

Battle With My Destiny – Part 6

Finally, the day came for which my family members and I were waiting for a long time.  My physiotherapist was there with my doctors and my family.  For the first time in 45 days, I was going to sit up. All the doctors were telling me to expect the same thing.  They knew that I will be in pain and that it was quite possible that I won’t be able to sit today.

After all the preparations were done and my physiotherapist along with my doctor moved me into a sitting posture, it was like how you sit on a bed during eating or watching tv.  I  felt my whole body shaking. I still feel goosebumps when I think about that moment. My head was dizzy. I  felt like throwing up and for a few minutes, everything was hazy in front of my eyes.  It took me a few minutes to adjust to reality, I remembered all my gods and with all my strength focused on the next step.

The miracle was that I was not having any pain, the doctors were quite tense in the beginning but later on, they got quite relieved after I told them that other than acute weakness and dizziness I was not feeling any muscular pain. With the support of two people, I sat on a wheelchair and I cannot tell you how scared I felt then. I was scared and wasn’t sure what to expect next.

My physiotherapist was very clear about the exercises which I was supposed to do. In his point of view, I should try to do them by myself and I should try to take as less help as possible. One of the nurses was there to take me all around the ward. I was feeling so sick in that wheelchair at that time that I was not able to think properly. I was waiting for this moment to happen for so long and when I was there, I didn’t feel any strength for being happy. I still remember I couldn’t complete a single round of the ward, I asked my nurse to return. Though according to doctors instruction I was supposed to sit twenty minutes there in my room, in the wheelchair, I was not able to do it. I was getting sweaty and I did not have any strength for it. My husband was walking beside me and he tried to boost my confidence but I just couldn’t continue. I could not bear the sight of me being so helpless and sadly returned to my room in eight to ten minutes.

I was shaken from the inside and was trying to put on a brave face for everyone. As I told you I was mentally strong and I think that’s why I came out of it miraculously but looking back I can see that behind this facade of a strong-willed person there was a vulnerable me who was scared and lost in the thoughts of unsure future. I did not cry back then when this happened but I wanted to do it now, everyone was telling me that my ordeal is going to end soon, but  I knew in my heart that from now onwards my real fight will start and my whole life will depend on this battle solely.  Many times at night I could not sleep because I was not sure what will happen tomorrow. It was all freaky and gloomy but I was trying my best to avoid the negative thoughts and facing all the challenges with much force.

I am a well-read person and reading those type of stories always inspired me where adversity strikes and the concerned person faced it and won the situation. I knew in my mind that the only thing which can help me right now is my mental strength. I am a petite person and was always on the thinner side. With all the hospital stay, treatments and surgeries had lost a lot of weight and at that time I needed physical strength too.

I was very lucky to not have any kind of impact on my head, I escaped paralysis with just a few millimetres, and at least after everything happened to me my face was not in bad shape. That was the time when I was repeating good and positive things every day to myself for keeping my spirits high. Sometimes when I was low, I was angry with God for doing this to me and the next moment I was thanking him for keeping me alive and giving me such a loving family. I was torn between my thoughts but I knew I will come out of this, I only needed to work on certain things.

I  love rain, falling water droplets from the sky always soothe me up. Sitting on the patio and balcony while watching the rain is one of the things I always love to do. That was the season of good monsoon in the city, every day there was this beautiful cloudy black sky which leads to beautiful droplets in abundance. I hated being in the hospital, being on the bed but there was no way out. The surprising thing was that I am by nature really impatient and in this scenario when my patience was tested  I  was trying to do my best.  I was not showing any sign of weakness to my family. I knew for them it was really hard to see me in this condition.  I always believed that sometimes your action speaks better than words. I wanted to teach my kids that there is always a good way of handling the worst of situation. NO matter how bad is the situation we can always behave gracefully.

Anyone can give up, its the easiest thing in the world to do.

But to hold it together when everyone would expect you to fall apart,

That’s a true strength.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer of my Dreams

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Summer vacation is approaching and while talking to my daughter about their plans regarding how to spend their time I became nostalgic. My mind started roaming into the bylanes of my childhood where we did not have any planned activity for us, kids.

I remember our main activity during the summer was to go to our grandmother’s house. All us cousins used to meet there. Since the age gap between my younger aunts and us were not much we all were a team.We used to go to the shops to buy THUMS  – UP and since we were cash-crunched all the time, we used to share that with straws. In our lane, there was a kulfi wala that used to come at night. I remember we were in awe of that silky, frozen dessert and every night we used to beg our parents to buy that. Sometimes they bought, but many times they ignored yet we never got tired of the demand. Once I asked one of my aunts about what she kept in her steel box that had a big lock on it. She told me jokingly that the box was full of money and we all can use that in the time of crisis. So when our plea for kulfi got rejected three times in a row all us cousins made the plan to break the lock on my aunt’s box. Our innocent logic was that it was a time of crisis and we can use that money. Later on, when she saw us putting a lot of effort on the box she asked about what we were doing and believe me she was rolling on the floor after hearing this and that made us rethink our plan.

Sleeping during the afternoon was extremely important for us kids, and that, all the elders in the family believe in.  Every day two hours in the afternoon was set aside for it. One of my aunts used to tell us beautiful fairy tales and later on after waking up we all sometimes used to exclaim when we saw chocolate, toffees and laddoos on trees and shrubs. She was always delighted in creating a fairy world for us like in books. It took us so long to understand that it was not real. My eyes are always moist when I remember how much effort she used to put in her love for us.

Movie watching and restaurant hopping were our favourite pass times.  I remember tasting our first serving of Hakka noodles and cold coffee with my aunts in the summer. Growing up in our area, electricity was a luxury. The reality was that it used to come sometimes, so sleeping on the roof was a must in that case. Every evening one of the house help used to water the roof so that it can cool off and we can sleep on a mattress there.

Spending summer in our paternal grandfather’s place was a little different. There, we always got books which we never got tired to read. Our love of books and literature started there and reading and browsing through those steel cabinets for hours was a wonderful experience. Sometimes in the evening, our parents took us to the zoo or sometimes to relatives place. My grandfather always used to buy us ice cream. Going on morning walks with our grandfather and later listening to wonderful stories were our summer highlights…

Rest of the vacation when we’re at our own home I remember it was a mixture of everything. We used to practice our math and English and played outside till night. My father loved to buy books of all kind for us and while coming back from office he always had something for us. I still remember the taste of homemade ice cream, which my mother used to make when we were really young. I remember once we told her after watching a Nescafe ad on tv that she should try to make that cold coffee and next day I remember having that as a surprise after our play time.

My brother was youngest of all and he was the naughtiest one. One time during summers he and his friends thought about farming, not the ordinary one, it was the most exclusive coin farming. They were four years old then and thought that it would be great if they have some money of their own after harvesting to bring their toffee and balloons. Another hobby he had during summer was to collect all the silver and golden wrappers which cigarette packets used to have back then. Because no-one was a smoker at home he always searched for them near the window of one of our neighbours. He always made my mother crazy with this habit of his and I remember him getting punishments for that.

We had no timetable, we did not have to rush for anything and on top of that, those were technology-free times. Once in a while, we used to watch TV and VCR but we can count that on our fingers. So after much discussion with kids, we decided that let’s try to recreate those childhood summers for us this time. We thought about not doing any planned activities and instead of that, we thought about focusing on doing things which makes us really happy. They can swim to their heart and bike around the whole neighbourhood. We all can experiment with cooking and grilling and they will make their hands dirty while recreating their favourite dishes. We can go to water park and beach and have roasted marshmallow in the night.

Summer vacations are a time to make memories, to recharge our tired mind and recreate those moments again which we love. This is the best time to cuddle on the bed and sleeping till our hearts desire. Let’s make those pillow fights memorable and tan ourselves with the love we all have for each other. Let’s make this summer the  SUMMER OF OUR DREAMS.

 

 

 

 

ALL IS FORGIVEN

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Today after a long time I got some time to watch Netflix. We all know how difficult it is to choose a movie when you think of watching something. Every time I see the listing  I feel so overwhelmed that either I  start watching the serial or just switch off the TV.  This time I started a movie called’ THE NOTE ‘.  It was a story revolving around a journalist, who discovers a’ NOTE’ after a tragic plane crash. she believed that it was written by one of the passengers for his family member. In the movie, she seeks the notes intended recipient. As the mystery unfolds, she contacts each person separately. She was interested in knowing what comes to our mind when we know that we are dying.

It made me think what if suddenly I know that I have only a few minutes left, what I will do? Will I write something? Will I call someone?  What will I do in those last moments?

Let me tell you that life is not easy, based on our experiences good, bad, bitter or sweet we make our relations, we judge people. How many times we ignore our loved ones, our family, our friends. Many times we make excuse about time, sometimes we are genuinely busy and most of the time we think there is no harm in doing this later.

When we think about priorities and deadlines mostly we think about our work, business or trivial things. We don’t know that it is very much possible to change our stand on several things. We all have the same problem, we all think that we will have so much time in our hand and it can be done later.  Let’s do this deadline first than one day we lose that person and we think about all things which we should have done earlier or said previously.  Why don’t we do it earlier, why we take everything for granted. Why can’t we play with our children when they demand, why we stop them in the middle of a story when our phone rings. Why don’t we call our parents, our spouse, our friends and family how much we miss them or love when we still have time in our hand.

We all know in our heart that in the last we will not remember how we secretly hated our boss, how we disliked our neighbour or how much we despised going to the office. All we remember is those people who really matter to us, we will visualise moments which we loved being in. Then why we sulk over insignificant issues every day. There is no life called perfect life, and we need to make this imperfect life of ours into something so meaningful that we should not have any regret.

No one has a promised tomorrow, so let’s start RECONCILING with, our past and start making amends with all the people who truly matter to us.

 

                         AT THE END OF THE DAY,

                       LET THERE BE NO EXCUSES,

                         NO EXPLANATIONS, NO REGRETS.