Choices..

As a mom, nurturing my babies has been a learning. Just as I was getting the hang of it, it was time to start cutting the cord. Yes start cutting the cord and not cut the cord because the cord is never cut. It stays intact in a virtual form for all of your children’s life. There is only thing you cannot replace and that’s your parents.

The strands starting withering away when my younger one just around ten started making choices about his clothes. He knew exactly what he wanted to wear, including his socks and innerwear. It is funny but he started developing his individuality very young, let’s leave it there.

I was talking to some colleagues yesterday, one of them is the father of two young children in their ones and fours. The other is a mom of two college graduates working in different parts of the county. Me with my middle and high schooler was somewhere in between. The lady colleague has been an inspiration for me in the context of letting go or loosening the reigns. She was telling us how there is no one shoe fits all kind of parenting. When she is asked by other parents how she does something, she says, it’s your child, figure it out.. that is absolutely true, when you start cutting the cords and which cord depends only on you and your child.

Since a few years ago, when I bring my boys to the saloon, we google for “boys hair cuts” and start browsing. They have the choice to pick their own hairstyle. To me, giving them the choice to decide how they look, whether it’s their hair or clothes or shoes helps them develop their individuality and confidence.

As my older one sits at the hairdressers chair and gets his first out of the way hairdo I sit here smiling…

The cords are going away one by one, there are more opinions he forms and decisions he makes. It won’t be too long before I take a step back and watch him pick up the baton and tread forward on his lane. From all the children I have seen and parents I have met, I realize that Parenting is an art which nobody masters. There is always something that you will not do and which is fine.. it’s okay. What is important is to let them make choices while you are around to tell them to get up when they fall. I am what I am because of all the choices my parents gave me, good or bad.

I’m learning.. each day.. it’s the toughest yet most fulfilling thing to be – a parent!

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The best lesson…

My mom has taught me a lot of things… like every other mother does. Some she was vocal about and some by example.

1. When her mother was not well, she was there to care for her no matter what. Her selfless love towards her mother was a perfect example of how children should care for their parents in their old age. In this she taught me to be there for your parents.

2. She fought with the institution to ensure my brother got admission to Bishop Cottons. She urged the principal to reduce the admission fee, borrowed money to pay it and ensured my brother was enrolled to the school. He was 6, I was 11. She vocally taught me that it was important to be fair to your children and give them equal opportunities. What they make of it is beyond her control but as a parent it was her responsibility to be fair.

3. Every night we ate together, my father, her, brother, uncle and I. At that time it was just the norm for me. She cooked, I helped, we sat down on the floor, spoke about school or current affairs or anything and ate the meal. Now when I have a family I realize the importance of that simple act. At the end of the day the family comes together and shares their day or thoughts or whatever, but essentially what builds there is a bridge of communication. Everyone talks to everyone in the family.

4. She taught me the value of money. She told me the income and expenses and how to make ends meet. I was 12. I saw her struggle quietly at various things we never had. Money is essential, but not everything. She always said, a path will carve itself out, some door will open and a door always opened.

5. The relationships you make whether blood or not are to be kept. Blood does not make anything thicker. Having people around, you can turn to was the important thing. She respected every person who she came across, whether young or old. It was of utmost importance to treat everyone with respect.

But of all that she taught me the one I value the most is what she taught me silently when she passed, that I have no control over anything except myself. That lesson walked into my life when I most needed it. I cried after she went about the what-if possibilities, when my dad told me, that it was her time to go, and there is no point in any what-ifs.

The only thing I can control is my part of the relationship with another person, my reaction to a situation or to what another person says to me, my thoughts about a situation, my words that I choose to utter, my emotions. Everything else is not mine to claim or change. This simple but powerful truth has changed my life. And she is my teacher.

I love you Ma, Happy Mother’s Day!!

I am a…

Growing up I was told we were Hindus. My father born in a Brahmin (priestly) family staked claim of how superior we were. My mother kept it neutral, her father was a Namboothiri (priestly) and mother a Nair (not priestly). None of this deterred them from sending me to Bishop Cottons a Christian School. Here I recited the “Our Father in heaven”, every working day for ten years of my life. Teachers read from the Bible, we learnt the hymns and it was all Christian. Irrespective of the faith your family followed, every student followed the same Christian rules.

My family’s Hindu-ness was limited to the corner of the kitchen adorned with photos of Hindu Gods, a lamp was lit everyday and the yearly trip to Guruvayoor (a Hindu temple). There was absolutely no other show of religion in any manner. So I grew up amidst the Hindu believers at home and Christian believers at school which I think just neutralized the whole concept of religion in my mind. Was I divided? I don’t think so, it didn’t matter much. I prayed before an exam, before I got my marks, or to win a competition. That summed up religion for me.

Muslims were a different category altogether. My father has been blessed (pun intended) with the skills to identify a Hindu from a Christian from a Muslim and immediately tag them with certain behavior. I am glad that my mother kept me grounded and taught me to respect the person first before their religion. So wading between these beliefs and catching up on Ramayana, Mahabharatha, Bible on the television shows aired on Doordarshan, I grew up.

Fast forward a few years and I ended up marrying a Christian. Nothing was new to me because I had said the Lord’s prayer for ten years of my life. I was baptized in order to get married in a church. At that point love was blind and bigger than religion so I said, why not? So I crossed the bridge and tried to adapt to new ways and all of those religious accessories that come with the conversion. A few years along I wake up from the dream, the love is there but not blind like the dating days and I tell my husband that I am going to cross the bridge back. To my good luck his belief in religion was also on an as needed basis. So he let me choose what I wished to follow all along. Although some of the extended family had strong beliefs, we sailed past those with some manouvering.

Now I am the mother of two teenage boys and the last thing I want to teach them is religion. They know in theory what these religions and their beliefs are, but then, what’s the point? This world is heading to a place where religion has taken precedence over humanity, so I ask myself, shouldn’t I be teaching them humanity? Based on how independently teenagers think, I don’t think ten years down the line, religion will be upheld the way it is today. Everywhere you hear news about sexual abuse in the churches, which I see the”informed” generation rejecting. There is a ton of gold and money donated to Hindu temples and I wonder why? Shouldn’t that be used instead to feed hungry children, give them an education? Why does this world need any more temples or churches or mosques or other centers of worship when one cannot uplift and uphold the human within?

I am not against religion, but dead against the belief of religion that divides people. By the law of nature there are only two categories of humans, the XX chromosome and XY chromosome combination. Every other divide whether it’s based on religion, color, race are created by some person. I am tending towards believing that the only religion that should exist is humanity. Abolish every other religion, practice and belief. Every XX respects XY and vice versa, that’s all that needs to exist to make this a better place. I know this is wishful thinking and the world and it’s people are so segregated that all they can think of is either themselves or their small community.

Is it too late to look at the larger picture?

Hello

Hello

He said

I am here

Where here, she didn’t see no one

Treading the same land

Seeing the sun as you do

She skipped jumped

Hopped

Her dream of each night

Was coming true

Could this be true

Would it finally happen

Maybe

She mused

When can I see you

The ray had got to her

Through the cloudy skies

She had waited

Days

Months now

To be held

In love

In life..

My little one

Your eyes filled with a million dreams

Tears that roll down your little cheeks

A scary dream about me shatters you

Lying down on my lap

Is your happy moment

When you are happy you have to share it

With me

When you are disturbed

Telling me reassure you

This trust you have in me

That I am there for you

How did you learn this my little one

Was it when I held you

As you took your first steps

Or when I fed you as your little tummy growled

Was it when I held you

Each time you fell ill

Or did it form deep within

Even before I held you

This trust is the strongest of the strong

That I strive everyday

My little one

To hold onto

With my every being.

Spark Joy

If you have heard of Marie Kondo, you know what ‘spark joy’ means. She asks people to look at every object and ask the question ‘does it spark joy’ before deciding to trash it or keep it. I had never heard of Marie Kondo or her Konmari methodology. I am faaaaar from the most organized person you will find. My place is not a mess, you don’t have to tiptoe your way into the house, decently organized, but not Marie-Kondo-Organized. My sister-in-law is big about keeping things organized. It shows in her house as well, everything neat and put away and perfect. It is a joy visiting her house, I am just not made out of that cut. Anyways, she asked me to pick up Marie Kondo’s book from the library and that is the first time I ever heard about this organizing diva. No, I am not a follower, I don’t think I ever will be.

My designer friend on the other hand had another opinion. All said and done, out of curiosity, I decided to watch the Marie Kondo series on Netflix. I watched one episode (well, three fourth) on Netflix and learnt her mantra of ‘spark joy’. I liked her concept and subconsciously if an object does not spark joy in us, some of us throw it away, donate it or keep it in the corner of the garage. The ‘organizers’ promptly get rid of it. When I pick a dress to wear, if I think I will look good in it, then it sparks joy in me and I wear it, if not, it stay on the hanger for months!

Thinking deeper, doesn’t this concept apply to people. Except that the question is a little different. Do you spark joy in others? When you meet someone, it could be your children you see everyday, or your colleague at work, are they happy to see you? Isn’t that what matters? If my presence does not make the other person happy or as Marie Kondo says ‘spark joy’ then that relationship is stale. Whether you throw it away, keep it there depends on your circumstance and a lot of other things. But this concept is so easy to apply to identify positive and negative energies in your life. I read somewhere that it is important to identify the positive and negative energies in your life, it helps build self-confidence.

I would not focus on thinking about does the other person spark joy in you, because relationships always begin with you. If you are good, its good enough. When I go to work, almost all my colleagues greet me with a smile. I know the genuine ones and fake ones. To the fake ones, I know I am not sparking joy. But the genuine ones harness a positive realm around you, making you want to go to work. My kiddos, when I walk into the house after any kind of day, they come and hug me. Thats a definite sign of me sparking joy in them, like they do in me. Applicable to all mommy-baby relationships, it’s all positive there. It’s all in the moment, why wouldn’t you want to make it joyous?

Recently I was on the same median turning left into Barton Springs Rd. A homeless man stood on the median. He knocked on my window. I looked at him with conflicting thoughts of, I don’t have money to give you, I wish I could buy you food, how can I help him etc. When I looked at him, he used his hand to gesture to me and mouthed the word ‘smile’. I instantly smiled. He said, ‘thank you, that’s all I need’. I didn’t know what to make of it. I was stressed that morning, so a stranger on the street asking me to smile, was a reminder to smile and stay positive. I felt worse that I could not help him. But, who sparked joy in whom?…

Next time you meet anyone, just give it a thought, are you sparking joy in that person? If you are, good. If you are not, do you want to? If you want to, how will you do it? The sum total of these sparks is this amazing journey we are on.

To positive vibes! To sparking joys! To Marie Kondo!