The Best Gift

Toyna and Yog

Most of us, urban middle class, educated, self made parents of today, were born to parents who struggled hard to make ends meet. Because our parents had limited means, they were constantly prioritizing resources. As children, we had limited reused toys, clothes and almost no fancy holidays. The paradox is that while our parents struggled financially, they made it up for the time that they invested in us. Our generation, which lives in an era of abundance, lacks the only one thing that money cannot buy – Time.

Our children have the latest clothes, books, toys, and holidays. Each day, in the pretext of being a better parent, I am searching for the one new thing that can improve the quality of life of my children. What is the one gift that will lighten up their eyes and provide mental and/or physical stimulation to them. Sadly, there is no gift in this world which has more than a few days of shelf life in our house. No matter how expensive, beautiful or creative the gift is, it would have expired its utility in the minds of my children within a few days.

I solved the dilemma about the perfect gift a few nights ago. Toyna and Yog were trying different tactics to bargain a few more minutes before sleep time. Yog held his stomach with both hands and complained, “My tummy is paining! Mummy, I am sooooo hungry!” He knows meal time is what will get him the longest time to stay out of bed. I shook my head, “No Yog! Dinner time is over. It is sleep time now!” Toyna then pitched in, “Mama, can I finish watching this movie! Only 5 more minutes left.” I shook my head again. I knew the next negotiation would be story time, which I normally give into. After story, Yog would want to go drink some water. Then he would need to pee. Then they will fight over which side of the bed, who sleeps. They they will fight over the blanket. And in the end, they will fight over me. “Yog move over, let me sleep with Mama!”

Hah! It is the same negotiation every day, resulting in the same outcomes. However, Yog and Toyna still try it out everyday. As we ended all the negotiations and they both snuggled close to me, I thought the day was finally about to end. However, Toyna had one more trick up her sleeve today. She gingerly sneaked her hand under the blanket and tickled Yog. Yog was waiting just for this moment, to peel into laughter and jump over Toyna to tickle her back. In a span of a few seconds, the peace was broken again and I had two high energy kids jumping on the bed in the darkness of the night.

I raised my voice and pulled Yog back into his side of the bed. I  threatened him with Willie Wonka coming to check on kids and literally wrapped him tight in his blanket, so he could not move any more. With me finally in control, two of them knocked off to sleep in the next two minutes. I have never been into night time prayers before, but since the time these two have come in my life, it is at this exact moment, when they both drift to sleep, that I thank God for sending them in my life. They are the biggest gift, I could have ever received.

On the same thought, I looked at both their faces and realized that the best gift that both of them had in their lives, right now, was the gift of having each other. They stimulate each other mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Even on days, I barely have time for them, they are still complete with each other. With their own strengths and eccentricities, they compliment each other perfectly. I guess the bond between siblings is the best gift that we can receive as children. I am thankful to have spent my childhood with two beautiful sisters and I am thankful that my children can enjoy the bond as well. Perhaps, there is no need to provide them with much more than that.

Somethings Wrong!

red paint

I soaked my feet into the warm foamy water in the tub. The dull music in the background blacked out the noises from the day. I slumped down on my legs and hugged my knees. My head slowly dropped to rest on my arms and I drifted into a world of nothingness. Minutes passed; the songs changed but for me time stood still somewhere where there was nothing and no one.

Suddenly, I jerked into reality. There was something wrong. I quickly switched off the songs playing on my phone and strained to hear the sounds. I thought I had heard something. But I couldn’t hear anything now. There was pin drop silence. The silence was worrisome. I quickly stepped out of the water and wrapped a towel around me. I ran to unlock the door of my second floor bedroom and called out for Yog. No response. Oh God! Where was he? I called out to Toyna, “Toyna, where is Yog?” She grumbled from somewhere on the first floor and said, “He is coloring!” How could he be sitting in one place and coloring? Something must be wrong! I called out again, “You sure he is coloring!?! Did you see him?” She replied promptly, irritation bordering her response, “Mama, he is in front of me. He is coloring! Will you calm down, please!”

I sighed! I realized I was hyper ventilating! I went inside my room and slumped on the bed, the wet towel still wrapped around me. I was ruined! After three years of living in constant chaos, my mind was no longer used to a peaceful bath. The only thing that was wrong on this beautiful Sunday morning, was that our house was completely peaceful. Yog was neither finger painting the walls or biting his sister. He was not switching on the gas stove or pouring refrigerated water into the dustbin. He was actually coloring! For some unknown reason, this was so difficult to digest.

Reluctantly, I went back to the bathroom to complete the bath, but the mood to relax had decided to abandon this paranoid mother. I quickly washed the soap off my feet and got dressed. The house was still silent. Days like this, a mother like me, feels like falling on my knees and looking up towards the sky to thank God. But then, something tells me, this is just one day for now. Tomorrow, will be a new day  and Yog would definitely have thought of a new antic for tomorrow. Nonetheless, thank you God for today!

It is OK to Cry


After a long summer break, school started yesterday again for three year old Yog. I was trying to mentally prepare him to go to school since the last few days. His response, so far, had been mixed. Some days he seemed excited to go back to school and some days he used to out rightly refuse to go to school. “ I will come to office with you Mama! I don’t want to go to school!”. As we started for school yesterday morning, he seemed pretty composed. I would not call him happy or sad. He was composed. I felt he was resigned to the fact of going to school and was mentally prepared to deal with it. He went into his class calmly, without even turning back to look at me. He politely asked his teacher where to sit and gracefully sat on the last bench in the class. On one hand, I could feel my heart swelling with gratitude and pride. On the other hand, I felt a pull at my heart as it realized that Yog was already a big boy, capable of handling himself.

Post lunch, I lined outside school for 15 minutes in the hot sweltering heat along with hundreds of other anxious parents. As I entered the school building, I could hear children howling for their mothers from every corner. Oh no! I instantly worried how poor Yog would have fared in such a negative environment. Moments later I stood at his class doorway watching him crying his heart out, tears pouring from his big eyes, drenching his red cheeks. Ah! This was expected. I would have honestly been (happily) surprised, if I saw him playing around on this first day.

Well, knowing that Yog would end up crying on his first day to school, should I have sent him to school? The answer is of course No. This first day would have come, any day he first went to school. Is there something I could have done to make the first day easier for him? Maybe Yes! I did pack his favourite snack, bottle and school bag. But honestly, in my heart, I knew that no matter what I did, the first day at school would have been hard on him. Does it make me a bad Mom? Does it make him a weak son? I would have probably said Yes to these questions 7 years ago when my daughter started school. In those days, I held myself responsible for her tears. As a good parent, I had to do something, anything to make her stop crying. In fact, the harder I tried, the more she ended up crying. I remember I used take forever to say goodbye at school gates. I used to sneak into school to peek into her classroom. I used to even end up crying with her. And yes some days, I gave into “I do not want to go to school” demands, and cuddle at home with her for the rest of the day. Did any of this make life easier for her? I am not sure if it did.

After 11 years of parenting, I have learnt that there is no good or bad way of parenting. No matter what you do, you will still be the Best Mom for your child. More importantly, through this journey, I have realized that it is absolutely OK to cry and let others cry once in a while, or all the time (their choice). Being a good parent, or a spouse, or a manager does not necessarily mean that we are responsible for maintaining a high happiness index at all times for those involved. When Yog slips on the floor and falls, he is bound to feel pain. He is therefore bound to cry. As a mother, all I can do is to hug him and tell him that it is Ok to cry. It was not the floors fault that he got hurt. It is not for me to decide, how much pain he is supposed to feel. It is also not for me to decide, how long the pain will last. If I have to be true to him, to myself and to the floor, I can just tell him that such things happen. It is Ok to feel the pain and it is OK to cry.

In spite of all the processes, standards, checklists and certifications in the world around me, I still take pride in being a human. I am not a robot and I can hundred percent guarantee that I did not give birth to robots. While I can control it, I will strive to maintain the human factor in them. This means that they will laugh like crazy, cry like crazy and maybe love like crazy too. Maybe in the future there will come a day, when the world will be full of man-made robots and man acting like robots. Maybe my children, too, will be forced to join these legions. In those days, I hope my children will, somewhere deep in their hearts, remember that it is OK to laugh and it is completely OK to cry as well.