Just when a woman thinks her work is done…

grandmother

There is a magnet on the refrigerator door in my mothers kitchen. It reads:

“Just when a woman thinks her work is done, she becomes a grandmother!”

Whenever I visit my mother, I take a moment to stand in front of that magnet and smile to myself. Like my mother and perhaps like all other mothers out there, I secretly harbor the belief that I will not go down this path. I will only hold myself responsible for my children till they grow up and settle down. Then, I will leave them to fend their own battles and I will go out holidaying with my husband in the white sands of Hawaii. From that point on, I will never sweat about their health, wealth or prosperity.

The reality of the world is that no matter how old children become, for a parent they are always children who need constant support and guidance. As parents, we might be able to take a backseat for a while after the child gets married, but as soon as grandchildren start dotting the picture, we are needed even more than before.

The story goes the same in my household and I believe in all those households who are fortunate to have Grandparents live with them. Most evening as I am walking back for home from office, I see my Father-in-law ferrying Yog around the neighborhood on the scooter, just to keep him entertained and happy. As soon as I enter home, I greet Toyna, sitting on the dining table, finishing her homework under the watchful eye of her Grandmother. Discipline and mannerisms are key values that Toyna is being taught by her graceful Grandmother. I manage to attend late evening calls, step out for shopping, take a break with friends and in general have a life of my own because of two lovely adults who in spite of being grandparents have lovingly stepped into the shoes of parents for the Nth time. Age, exhaustion, time, or health have never stood in their way to meet the welfare of their grandchildren. I often feel bad demanding so much of their time at this age, but the smiles on their face in the presence of these notorious children, steal away the words of apology from my mouth.

Maybe I have been just born lucky, or maybe it is the way I choose to see things, but what I see around me are Grandparents working hard day and night to provide a comfortable, safe and happy future for their children and grandchildren as well. Knowing how far we need to go before we can think of ourselves as settled (leave alone the journey ahead of our children), I wonder when will the Grandparents get to spend their golden years relaxing on the beaches of Hawaii. When will their work actually get done?

Akka and Me

Toyna, Yog and Mamma

Yogs  favorite person in the whole wide world is his elder sister Toyna, whom he fondly calls Akka. For everything that you ask Yog to do, he will immediately ask if his Akka is going to be joining him. This is how our conversations go:

Me: Yog you want to go Broom Broom? (meaning scooter ride)

Yog instantly nodding his head and asking: Akka? (is Akka coming too?)

Me: Yog, shall we go eat ice cream?

Yog instantly nodding his head and asking: Akka? (is Akka coming too?)

Me: Yog, lets us go to sleep.

Yog (first reaction): No sleep!!

Mama: No, but it is time to sleep. (catching his hand and taking him to the bedroom)

Yog: Akkkkkkaaaaaaa!!! (Akka should also sleep with me)

Mama (offering a blanket): Yog do you want blanket?

Yog (readily grabbing his blanket): Akka? (Does Akka need blanket too?)

Mama (time for bio break): Yog, chi chi time. (This is not a question, but a statement as we need to take him to the potty seat at regular intervals)

Yog: Akka?

He sits on the potty seat and calls: Akaaaaaaaaaaa! (He needs Akka for moral support).

Poor Akka has to not only come and join him in the bathroom, but she has to also sit on her potty seat, relive herself before he will start his process.

The best part is Toyna never objects to this attention. She adores him as much as he adores her. Thankfully for me, at least she doesn’t need him to join her during her bath and bio breaks.

 

Vaccination Party

Rainbow Hospital
Rainbow Hospital

This year we achieved two big milestones together. Toyna turned 10 years old and Yog turned two. These two ages are somehow significant from a development milestone of children and each parent rejoices when their child successfully crosses this stage. These ages also lead to a fresh dose of vaccinations and visit to the doctor to check that all developmental milestones have been achieved. Though Yog has received a number of vaccinations till now, I doubt whether he even understands what a Vaccination means, least of all be able to say that word. Toyna on the other hand was super excited to get vaccinated. It has been some years that she got the last one and she was counting days before I could take her to the doctor for the new set of vaccinations. I was amused to see her excitement and asked what made her so thrilled about getting injected. Her simple response, “Because I am no longer scared of getting injections!” I always believed that there is a wide range of emotions between fear and excitement? How can anyone cross the entire set of intermediate emotions and jump directly from one emotion to the other? Like a child praying for the number of cherries on her birthday cake, Toyna was praying that she gets at least three vaccinations. I smiled incredulously at her wish throughout the drive to the hospital.

The doctor checked both of them out. I was aware that he checked me out too through the corner of his wise eyes. He always does that and I think he is gauging whether I am still capable of managing my children or should he call 911. I think I managed to fool him one more time, so he passed all of us and subscribed 4 shots for us. 2 for Yog and 2 for Toyna. Toynas excitement started peaking as we headed for the pharmacy. Yog had little clue of the trouble coming up, but he simply got excited because Toyna was so. Both of them jumped up and down, made funny faces, tickled each other and laughed like there is no tomorrow. The whole hospital was literally taking turns, first staring at them and then at me, thinking what kind of mother would have her children laughing around in a place like the somber hospital. While I paid at the counter, Yog banged his fists at the door leading into the counter where the pharmacists sit. Hoping to distract Yog, a pleasant nurse commented, “No banging doors! Else doctor will give you an injection!” Toyna laughed loud at this and said, “But we are already getting injections!!”. The nurse smiled and said, “Oh! Then I will have to tell the doctor to give both of you two injections!!!” Toyna doubled over with laughter at this and blurted out, “But we both are already getting two injections each!” The entire pharmacy was now smiling at these two happy children who did not have the least worry about getting injected.

First the nurse called in Toyna for her shots. Toyna giggled as they rubbed the alcohol and found a place to inject. One nurse caught Toynas leg down and the other nurse, who was holding the injection, advised me to catch her arms in case she tried to move during the procedure. I gave one look and told her that Toyna is a black belt in taekwondo. Does she really think I can hold a black belt, 10 year old, by her arms? I advised them to take it slow, so that Toyna doesn’t get too much pain and in return ends up hitting them. Toyna giggled even more at this and I could sense both nurses going a little stiff from the strain. Seeing Toyna giggle, Yog who was now in my arms (just to prevent him from running around) giggled too at the nurses.

As soon as the nurses were done with Toyna, Yog was made to lay down on bed. He screamed his heart out, as soon as he realized what was going to happen. We consoled him and promised him a vaccination party after leaving the hospital. As we stepped out of the hospital, I could feel a number of eyes following us out of the doors and into our debilitated car. I am sure some of them were happy to have such boisterous kids in the hospital and some were extremely disappointed to witness a mother who gave so much freedom to her children in todays age of discipline and competition. Either which ways, I could not care less. I was simply relieved in the fact that what could have been an extremely depressing and painful evening turned out to be a full blown party. To make the celebration complete, we ended the evening with chaat paapdi and gol gappe and the famous Bikanerwala. On the drive back, Toyna kept feeling her injection sores and celebrating the fact that she got at least two injections, even though she had prayed for three.

I am not sure where we are headed as a family. For now, I am happy knowing that if we can live these small moments completely, we would have found where we want to go  in the future. I read this somewhere, long long time ago, “Today is a gift, that is why it is called the present!” Well, you can just say that we really like to enjoy our presents, while we can!

Birthday Gift to Me

I Love You Mama

My birthday is on the 6th of July. I am going to skip the debate about my age, as I sometimes feel 13 years young and sometimes 75 years old.  Anyhow, just the other day, when I was talking to my Mom, she casually asked me what gift I wanted for my Birthday. I literally laughed out loud. “Matrix, I am not a kid anymore!! Birthday gifts are for children! Plus, what in the world could I ask as a Birthday Gift! There is nothing that I need!”

Even though I denied needing a gift that day, it got me thinking on what is that I really need in my life. I definitely need more sleep, more time to write, more time with Pavan, capability to laugh more, stress less, and generally chill more in life. Now among all this, what can be gifted to me as a Birthday Gift by my mother or my friends and family? None, I suppose! Having said that, Birthdays are a once in a year opportunity to really ask what we would like to receive. This year, for some unknown reason, I do not want to miss that opportunity. Therefore, I thought and thought and finally decided that there is indeed something that my friends and family can gift me as my Birthday Gift. So here it goes:

Most of you who read my posts are aware of my love for writing. You also know that I aspire to be a published writer one day. If you follow me closely, you would also know how far away I am from my vision right now. This year, as my Birthday Gift, I ask you to help me get one step closer to achieving my vision by doing one or all of the below for me:

1. Like my Facebook page – Shilpa Roy Kota (This is a public page and is different from my personal page, also by the same name. You can simply search “Shilpa Roy Kota” in Facebook and you will see my page.)

2. Invite your friends to like my page too. This will help me increase my readership levels.

3. In the comment to this post, describe in ONLY three words my blog. For e.g. – Crazy stupid mother, or Funny everyday life. This will help me understand how my readers perceive my blogs and will help me define my positioning strategy.

4. Send me a FB, Whatsapp, SMS, or email message on what you think of my posts. I would sincerely appreciate areas in which you think I can really do better (if I want to become a professional one day). List down anything from grammar, spelling, editing, positioning that needs improvement.

5. Anything else, that in your opinion will take me closer to my vision.

Please do all this, only if you really enjoy what I write and would like to see me as a published writer one day. Honestly, there is no Birthday Gift better than this, for me, this year. I know I am being shameless in asking but I believe we should ask upfront for things we would like to receive. I will also re-post this a few times before my birthday, just in case some of you have missed seeing it the first time.

Lastly, thank you all for reading, liking, commenting and sharing my posts. It is because of each one of you that I really started to believe in my vision. If you grant my birthday wish this year, I promise I will not only give a special mention of you in my first book, but will also mail you a personalized copy of that book as soon as it is published. I will also earnestly pray that you come closer to achieving your personal vision each day. Honestly speaking, as an aspiring writer, I don’t have much more to promise in return, return now!

Spouse vs. Friend

Wedding

When Pavan started our business 6 years back in the apocalyptic year of 2008, I was still working in a full time job. I had little clue regarding the life of a Businessman and absolutely none related to the wife of a Businessman. I remember feeling proud of him. He was free from the shackles of a 24*5 job. I used to sit in my office and romanticize about our brand new future. In my mind, I pictured us spending lazy afternoons together with our children, under no pressure to meet crazy official deadlines. Now that he was his own boss, he could decide his own work time and schedules. I was sure, that now there would be nothing standing in between the harmony of our perfect married life.

Looking back, we both admit, we didn’t know what we didn’t know. No amount of research could have prepared us for the life of a Businessman and a Business Woman. In the years after the launch of KINDUZ, our marriage took a huge toll. It took me a long time to accept that it was possible for my dear husband to be busier than before. He was working even harder, travelling even more and on top of it making far lesser money than he used to in his respectable job. It was then that I started questioning our decision to launch a Business. What in the world were we thinking!!!?!!!

Searching desperately for answers to rekindle our dying relationship, I came across one solid bit of advice – “If you cannot defeat the enemy, join it!”. So that is what I did. I quit my respectable job and joined the enemy. Now we were both working together towards the same goals. We got to spend more time together. We had common dreams, common achievements and common failures. We were together again.

I thought we had overcome a big milestone in our relationship. Business flourished and the travel for Pavan which was till now restricted to domestic sectors for about 15 days a month, expanded to international territories for more than 25 days a month. Time zone differences  and a new baby in our family tore us again into opposite directions. We constantly felt the need to connect, but were not able to find a common time to even talk. We tried putting together rules for maintaining work life balance. But exceptions to the rules were more frequent than the rule itself.

Months of continuous business travel finally ended with a long planned family vacation in  Europe in May this year. Both of us were literally counting days and hours to get to spend time with each other again. Oh! I had so much to tell him! So much to hear from him! So many problems I needed his help on. I was sure, I would be talking non stop for the entire stretch of our 16 days vacation.

The vacation started with long travel, settling into a home with the kids, catching up with the rest of the family and lounging together. On most days, we were driving through beautiful country sides, stopping for picnic lunches and having late night tête-à-tête with the larger family.

Pavan and I got the time to connect, but I realized there was nothing that important that had to be talked about in order to connect. Most days, we just sat together holding hands, watching the country side whiz by, beautiful Hindi songs in our ears and the children fast asleep in their respective car seats, secure and happy. What more could one ask for in life? What more could I ask for in life? There was nothing that needed to be discussed. There was no problem large enough to disturb the serenity of the moment. We were just happy being with each other. There was nothing more or nothing less that we needed from each other.

It was in this vacation that I learnt that a Connection is not really formed only when we talk to someone on a continuous basis. There are some connections which always exist no matter how far we might be from each other. Connections don’t need a physical touch, an expensive gift or a common goal to remain strong. Connections just grow as we grow together. All we need to do is believe that we are connected. We have to behave like we are connected.

Next time, I am missing Pavan really bad, I will look up this post and remind myself that we are still together in our own dimension of the world. We might not be the ideal husband and wife pair, but I guess when it comes to being Best Friends, we couldn’t have found a better friend than each other.

Quest for Perfection

Quest for Perfection

The world today is full of bright children who excel in everything that they do – academic, extracurricular or home. I regularly see posts of proud parents sharing their children’s achievements online. I feel happy for these families, who have a lot of accomplishments to pride on. When it comes to our house hold, I am happy to say that I have very simple things to our credit. The biggest achievement that I can boast about is that my children are happy and healthy! Touch Wood!

I take pride in their love for each other, their sense of freedom and love for life. Honestly speaking, there is nothing more I can think of adding to this list. My daughter has never topped her class and I do not intend to keep this as a goal for her future as well. Most days, her moderate interest in education doesn’t bother me. In place of having her bent down on books, I would rather have her unleash her creativity in dance, art, taekwondo, singing and cracking jokes. I have no doubt that she is extremely talented and she will excel in her chosen field one day. Then there are some days that we step outside of our cosy little world and she is placed in stark comparison to her peers. Those days, I am drawn to skills that she doesn’t possess and I start to feel depressed about her future. I vow to work harder on her education, spend more time with her at home and try and change her scores for the good. The stress rubs off on me and of course on her.

It was only a few days ago that I realized where I was going wrong. I was extremely happy with my child as long as I viewed her as an independent individual. As soon as I started comparing her to others in her space, I lost my sense of pride. That made me question myself, “What was the need for me to compare my children with anyone in this world? I know they were born unique, with their unique talents and goals just like all the other kids out there. Then why do we compare and contrast. Why do we make decisions for our children based on what rest of the children in the world are doing and accomplishing?” The immediate answer that came to my mind was, “It is a competitive world out there. We need to prepare our children to beat the competition. They can only do so if they know what the rest of the world is doing. That is the start of benchmarking and comparisons.”

My next question to myself was, “What will happen if my children cannot beat the competition? Will they not be able to make a living for themselves? Will they not be happy about themselves?”

The answer I got in return was, “Of course they can make a living for themselves. For making a living you need life skills, more than academic skills. I am sure my children have those. Of course they will be happy about themselves, because that is what they have learnt in life. Yes, in the process, the society might view them as failures who did not accomplish anything big, but that is fine. Keeping the society happy is not the focus area of my life.”

I found the answer I was looking for to find my sense of peace and pride. Now, I have vowed to stop comparing my children to others around me. I have vowed to focus on the areas they love and give them the freedom to explore life as it comes. If I cannot handle the stress that comes with my child not matching upto another child, then it is Me who needs to be grounded at home, with stress busting pills and books. My children were born to be free. Nature delivered perfection to me. How can I question Nature and try and change it? I have to let it take its own path.

When I am 65 years old, I do not want to sit back and take pride on what I have been able to create of my children. At that age, I would want to sit back, relax and know that the creation is still progressing, on its own, cause it was never dependant on me. It was fuelled by an intrinsic urge within my own children to grow. The biggest gift I can give to my children is the gift to believe in themselves. And that gift will only be possible when I stop doubting their capabilities in the first place.

Do you believe in Spirits?

 

Do you believe in Spirits who live among us in our day to day to lives? Do you think they are good or evil? Has their presence/absence ever bothered you?

As a child, I used to be obsessed with presence of Spirits in my home. Most days I was scared of someone/something out there whom I could not see, hear or even describe. It was just out there scaring the shit out of me. I used to hide under tables or in corners just trying to avoid them. No amount of counselling, parental support really helped me in those dark days. Most adults, outside of my immediate family, who knew about my condition labeled me “Crazy”. They tried to persuade me to believe that Spirits don’t exist. I could never understand these adults. For me the spirits were real; as real as these adults around me. How could these adults not see them or sense them? If they could not even believe what I was feeling was real, how could they even help me? It was in this process that I ended up shutting all the well-meaning people out of my life and sinking deeper and deeper into my lonely world haunted with Spirits.

I am not sure what caused this behavior or how it came to an end, but over some years I outgrew it and learnt to believe the spirits are just a figment of our imagination. It is our mind trying to make us believe something that it wants us to believe. Over the next years, some literature made me learn that children are actually much more sensitive about other forms of life around us. It is therefore, not unnatural for children to sense other beings around us that the adults cannot even begin to perceive. Some more years later, at a juncture where I stand now, I have learnt that everything is possible. I don’t know what I don’t know. If someone comes to me and tells me that they saw a Spirit, I would most likely believe that they indeed saw something that looked like a spirit to them. I would believe in their story and try and find the logic behind it, if it was worth my time.

In this context, I thought I was prepared to handle Spiritual conversations, but when it actually came up today, I was taken aback. After all, I hadn’t expected my own daughter to talk about it. As she cried uncontrollably in my arms, my mind went into flashback of my own childhood. The fear in her eyes was real. The unknown had touched her and she couldn’t explain it in words. It made her feel helpless, alone and in real danger. I had two options at hand – Option 1. I could deny the existence of spirits. Shake her  a little and tell her to take a grip of life around her. This was what was told to me when I was a child. Option 2. I could believe in her and help her find a solution to her problem.

I chose Option 2. I could not run the risk of her closing out on me if I picked Option 1.

We talked about how she felt and if someone or something had actually hurt her. She admitted that even though something was out there, it hadn’t actually hurt her till now. It was just there. I asked her if she had any specific reason to believe that it was out there to hurt her. She again admitted that she didn’t have any specific reason to believe that, but she just felt it. I suggested that maybe in place of an evil spirit it was a Guardian Angel just looking out for her, making sure she was OK. Could that be a possibility? Wouldn’t it be nice to know that there was an Angel just walking beside her all the time? She admitted that it could be possible as well. I could sense that she was starting to feel lighter.

We changed the conversation to the worst case scenario; what if it was an evil Spirit trying to hurt her? We talked about strategies which could protect her. We tested some Taekwondo moves to see how she could be saved from getting pushed, punched or strangulated by the Spirit. I played the role of the Evil Spirit trying to strangulate her and she fought back with me. The strength with which she pushed back at me with a simple swing of her arm took me by surprise. I realized she could really hurt someone bad. I smiled at her and told her the same. We agreed that the next time someone tried to hurt her, whether Spirited or real, he or she will get back in real from her. She smiled and was assured that she was in no real danger.

I am still not sure whether spirits are real or not. I am not sure what causes children to experience such behaviors. Maybe it is their insecurities, or maybe there is  actually something out there. I don’t know the scientific reason. All I know is that if my child claims to think that spirits are around him or her, I will not deny the existence. If they have a good enough reason to sense something, so be it. Let us start from that point forward and use the fear to see if it can be changed into a strength. For today, I think we succeeded. We might make small victories today and we might lose some battles tomorrow. It is all OK. Amidst all this, the most important thing I would want my children to remember is that no matter how stupid, lost or lunatic they might feel about themselves; they will always have their mother stand by them in all of it. I do not have Option 1 listed in my dictionary anymore.