Thursday, 22 November 2012

A new beginning

I recently completed one month of being a housewife, or if you want to put it in more sophisticated terms, being a “stay at home mom”! People ask me how I feel, what do I do the whole day, whether I am regretting leaving behind a wonderful career etc.
My answer to all the above is I feel great. I have no regrets whatsoever. Some of the things I enjoy doing at home now:

Mummy and Anagha time
I love spending time with my daughter. Her endless chatter and innocent questions is music to my ears.  I cannot express in words how much pleasure I get from what may seem like trivial chores of feeding her, bathing her, changing her clothes, putting her to sleep, etc.  I no longer have to leave for office with a heavy heart about leaving my crying child behind. I no longer have to deal with the guilt about rushing my baby into breakfast and then give her a 2 minute namesake bath just because I need to dash to office. Now I let her splash in the tub as long as she wants; just watching her squeal with pleasure leaves me feeling satisfied.
I also look forward to our afternoon nap time.  We place games, we talk, I tell her stories and slowly she drifts off to sleep. I love stroking her cheek once she is asleep. Hugging your child tight once she is asleep gives you such a high which cannot be described; you have to be a mother to experience it. I have been deprived of this pleasure for a long time now and God alone knows the sorrow I felt. But now, I can hug her all I want, touch her whenever I feel like, and kiss her forehead once she is asleep. It makes me feel complete. It makes my decision to quit work worth it, it makes up for everything, and it’s the best joy in the world.
In the evening, I take Anagha for a stroll. We normally visit the Ganesh temple near my house. Anagha loves going there and I also feel peaceful there. I have had enough evenings being locked in my room at home taking work related conference calls, so this is a welcome change. I enjoy the cool evening breeze, and most of all, I enjoy holding Anagha’s tiny hand and walking with her.

Tiding my home
My husband will not like me saying this, but my number two priority after my daughter is my house.  For many years now, I have neglected my home and leaving it in the hands of others has always left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Now I actually get time for cleaning my home. I am not exaggerating here when I say that this really gives me a lot of pleasure.  I love rearranging the furniture in my home, I enjoy scrubbing the kitchen tiles, I like polishing the windows, after all it’s my home, I need to take care of it.  A home is like a baby, it needs your constant attention.   Of course it is really difficult to keep a house spotless when you have a 2 year old around who is ready to strew toys around the moment you put them away, but at least now you will no longer find dust accumulated on the TV cabinet and bills stacked up on the dining table waiting to be filed.

Kitchen adventures
From the time I quit working, I have started frequenting the kitchen much more. Always being in a hurry to rush to work, I have had to leave this chore to others leaving me with a guilt feeling of not being able to contribute enough. Now I have the satisfaction of being able to do my bit. I am not a great cook, so this is also helping improve my culinary skills.   

Many people may find this routine drab and monotonous, and maybe women who have not got the opportunity to pursue careers may consider me crazy for throwing away a successful career in return for a life of domesticity. But from my perspective, this is the opportunity to make up for all the years I have lost in my mad career frenzy.  I feel like this is the beginning of a new journey for me. I have never ever felt so rewarded in my 12 years of career as a software professional.  Maybe the grass is greener on the other side of the fence and maybe once the novelty starts fading, I will start craving for a professional life. But till then, I will enjoy this respite.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

English Vinglish

Recently, Sridevi made a comeback with a movie called English Vlinglish. Apparently, it is about a housewife learning to speak English. While I have not seen the movie, the title reminded me of the English syndrome that is very common nowadays amongst urban parents. Instead of speaking to kids in their native language, parents choose to speak in English. So nowadays in public places we often get to hear phrases like “Come here beta”, or “don’t do this beti” etc.  And this syndrome is not just restricted to older kids who at least have a fair idea about the language, but often tiny tots too who have no inkling of what is going on and have no option but to blankly stare back at the doting mommy.

What I find really amusing is, these parents themselves need lessens in English. How else can you explain “I tell doctor to give you kuch kuch??” (My sister heard this at her local paediatrician; apparently a Mommy was threatening her kiddo with an injection)!!”

 I fail to understand what are the intentions behind this English fad and what is it that these parents want to portray here? Are they merely trying to teach the language to the children by using it their first language?  If so, should they not make sure they speak it right first?  And again, what is the point? I mean a good English medium school will anyways teach them the language, so shouldn’t we ensure that our kids can at least speak our native language? Or do these parents just want to reveal how modern they are?

I can assure you, I am not against English. On the contrary, I am easily impressed by people who speak good English and I look down upon people who make grammatical mistakes and can’t get their pronunciations right. All I am saying is there is no need to speak the language to little children just to prove a point. There are other better ways for kids to learn the language, speaking in poor English to little kids who have no idea of what is going on does not seem like a good course of action to me!!

I was never ever spoken to in English as a child at home. Now I not only speak the language fluently, but also write fairly well.  My dad encouraged me to read a lot of books in a young age, and that is what I believe has given me a good command over the language. So I never feel the need to speak in English to my daughter. Many a times parents bitten by the English bug stare at me disapprovingly when they hear me talk to my daughter in my native language, as if I have committed a gory crime, but I don’t care. I feel a good English medium school along with a reading hobby is good enough to teach the language, so I will continue to talk to her in my native language.  Call me old fashioned if you like, but I hope my daughter will prove me right J

Friday, 12 October 2012

Housewife Syndrome

A couple of days back, one well meaning acquaintance from our building came to meet me. She wanted to know if I was interested in joining a “Beesi” group that she was starting. Not having the heart to refuse for fear of hurting the person in front of me, I actually found myself agreeing to join. It was actually a spur of the moment decision mostly triggered in an instant of self pity for losing my job in, a decision which I regretted the moment I uttered yes!  I started cursing myself from the minute she left.  What had I gotten myself into? I despise the word and more that that I despise the concept!

To all the ignorant folks, “Beesi” is an Indian version of kitty party. Each member in the group contributes a pre determined amount during each gathering. They then draw lots of all the members’ names. The person, whose name comes up, takes the entire amount home. Apart from the money factor, women use this opportunity to socialize, chat, and meet friends and gossip!

All my life I have looked down upon “Beesi” groups, kitty parties and gatherings of such kind. I thought of myself to be much above all this. I am a financially independent woman.” Beesi” is for those unfortunate women who have to rely on the meagre allowances that their husbands provide.  Such gatherings provide the means to buy that piece of jewellery they saw in the shop window or some other much sought after luxury which they have been yearning for a long time but would not otherwise be able to afford. I don’t need to do this I used to think, I earn money so I can buy whatever I want and whenever I want, I don’t really need to wait for such an avenue to make big money. To me Beesi was just a place for these typical housewives who have nothing better to do.These women have a typical mindset and their conversations are also so typical (ex. What they prepared for dinner, or what their hubby likes/dislikes) etc. They are blissfully unaware of what is going on in the world so there is no scope for any intellectual conversations.  Such gatherings were an opportunity for them to get together and gossip and show off their new clothes and talk about the latest scandals in the society.  I used to pity such women.

And now, against my wishes I would be one of them. I felt utterly disgusted and sorry for myself. Hubby also joined in the fun, started mocking me with comments like “now you are those typical housewives who attend kitty parties and roll papads on their terrace in their free time” !! Was this going to be my fate after quitting work? The very idea was depressing and I was demoralized to the core. Was my decision to quit totally wrong I began to wonder?

About two weeks have passed since this incident. So while I am no longer depressed about going to a “Beesi” party, I am not very much looking forward to it either. I am still having second thoughts about whether I would fit into the “Beesi” group, but nevertheless, waiting for my first party!  So Stay tuned and watch this space to read about my first Beesi experience! 

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

To Do List

Yesterday being my last day at work, I decided to make a list of things I now want to do:

·         Learn driving
·         Make a CD of my favorite songs
·         Sign up for some voluntary work with some NGO for children – mostly teaching
·         Learn something creative like pottery, or some kind of craft
·         Gain a flat tummy so that I can wear all my pre-pregnancy clothes
·         Write , write and write more
·         Read a lot of books
·         Reorganize some furniture at home
·         Update Anagha’s baby record book
·         Learn a foreign language
·         Clean my refrigerator
·         Research schools for my daughter
·         Find a better BSNL broadband plan
·         Update financial accounts

Hope I am able to do at least half of the things listed here! Fingers crossed!!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

School Saga

As soon as my daughter turned a year old, I had well meaning relatives asking me if I had decided on a school for her. I did not take this very seriously, surely, you don’t get a one year old admitted to school I thought. However, more and more people joined in the chorus and I could no longer turn a deaf ear.
Let’s at least find out the age criteria to get admission into schools I thought so that I could silence all these ignorant people forever. However, I soon realized that I was the most ignorant of them all, for 1.5 years turned out to be the age you could actually get a child admitted to a playschool. It was like a bolt from the blue!!  As far as I knew, school started at JKG when the child turned 3. Little did I know that nowadays there is playschool and nursery to which kids are sent to even before their formal education begins!! This was a whole new revelation to me!
So read on about my journey towards enlightenment as I got myself educated about the current education system in India.

Playschool  or not?
Not to miss out on the race, I soon started researching playschools and even visited a few.  The teachers and staff assured me that in playschool there is no reading/writing, they just teach children basic stuff like shapes, colors etc. When I hesitantly expressed my concern about getting my kid admitted to school at such a tender age and inquired whether she can skip playschool, she was aghast!! She will miss out on the “playschool syllabus” she said!! Playschool syllabus?? Excuse me, you just told me you don’t teach kids anything in playschool, so from where does the syllabus part come in?

Nursery or Playschool?
Despite all the protests from everyone, we decided 1.5 years is too young for our daughter to go to school, this is the age for free play. So we decided to get her admitted to nursery when she turns 2.5. But my tribulations were far from over for now we were faced with another choice. Nursery in a small school to get her prepped up for JKG in a big school or nursery attached to a big school itself so there is no change of school in JKG.  If I went with the first option, that would mean a lengthy selection process for getting admission in JKG, while if I went with the 2nd option, it meant directly getting my child admitted in a big school without having being prepped up for it in a smaller school. Sigh!! What do I do?

Which board?
Nevertheless, I decided to find out good schools in the area. When I posed the question to friends in the neighborhood  their answers stumped me!  While one friend suggested “abc” school, since it’s a CBSE school and CBSE board is very up to date, another said “xyz” school is good because it’s an SSC board school, so very easy for kids to study. But the best response I got was, “SSC has 1 book for every subject, CBSE has 2 whereas ICSE has 3, so obviously ICSE is the best”!!  Does having more books mean a better education system?  I had known only SSC board, since that is the board I studied in. Nowadays there is SSC/CBSE/ICSE/IGSE/IB and on and on. Whoa, and I thought choosing a school would be easy!

My verdict
It was while I was going through this unrelenting pursuit that something else dawned upon me. I studied in an SSC board school, in a small town in Goa.  Today I am a software professional in a good company earning a good salary. Above all, I think I am a good human being. And what is it that shaped me up? While I am thankful to my school and teachers for instilling good values in me, I will not deny the fact that my career is shaped a great deal because of my hard work. So will a posh school or a much hyped about educational board assure that my daughter has a great career? Not necessarily. What really matters is the determination and the inclination to do well.  Eureka!! That was it.

So while I am not really any closer in deciding which school to send my daughter to, I now at least know that I do not want her to go to a school that bogs her down with a lot of undue pressure in a bid to make her “competitive”.  I will not send her to a school simply to show off my socio-economic status. Rather, I want her to have a good balance between studies and fun, a place where she will look forward to go to every morning, a school with teachers who motivate her to perform rather than turn her into a bookworm.  Will I find my dream school? Keeping my fingers crossed.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Found My Peace

I have been working for the past 12 years. And suddenly due to reasons beyond my control, I have to quit my job. Taking this decision was not easy; there was turmoil of emotions in my mind. And even after taking the decision, the panic attacks wouldn’t stop.
On the one hand, I felt it’s just right to quit. Had I not played the role of a working woman long enough? Was it not time to give priority to other roles in my life? Be a wife & cook for hubby. Be a mum and listen to my daughter’s endless chatter all day. Be a daughter and visit my parents whenever I feel like and not be at the mercy of bosses and plead for leaves. Be a daughter in law and give my in laws the much needed respite.
On the other hand, I was afraid. Office environment was familiar and safe. Moving out from there into a different setup altogether and playing a different role, would I fit in? Would I be able to adjust?

Some of the apprehensions I had:
·         Losing my financial independence
·         Fear that everyone else would take me for  granted
·         Missing meeting friends and socialising in office
·         Fear of feeling restless after a couple of days.
·         Fear of being stereotyped as being a housewife.
·         Missing the sense of achievement felt after a good project delivery/appreciation received at work

Some of the things I was looking forward to after quitting:
·         Raising my child my own way
·         Long vacation without worrying about leaves
·         Not having the clock dictate every action
·         Not being at the mercy of others for child care
·         Spending “Mummy and Anagha” time J
·         No longer having to deal with the guilt of turning a blind eye to Anagha’s calls for mummy while I attend conference calls at home

I cannot recall the exact moment, date or time that was the turning point or for that matter the exact reason that triggered the change, but somehow all my fears have now vanished. I no longer regret my decision, this feels right.  I firmly believe everything in life happens for a reason, and so if I have been forced to quit, God has better plans for me. Perhaps it is this belief that has given me the strength.  Or perhaps the mere fact that I am so looking forward to do all the above mentioned things, that I am not thinking about anything else.
Earlier, I used to feel like I am wasting my life if I don’t work; now I feel I am wasting my life and not being able to enjoy the simple pleasures of life due to office hour restrictions.

Will I continue to feel this way? I don’t know. But for now I have found my peace.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Ganpati Bappa Morya!

With Ganesh Chaturti just round the corner, I see little idols of Ganpati Bappa waiting to be sold in small kiosks all around me. In our building, kids have started practicing beating the dholaks.  But whether I like it or not, I don’t relate to any of this. For me, Ganesh Chaturti is the celebration of the festival in my native village in Goa.  The festive season brings back fond memories of my childhood days when we would celebrate the festival with much ado. My native place is a very remote village in Goa, there are no telephones there so you can forget about email and facebook. Mobile signals are very weak and you are considered lucky if your call gets connected. Water taps have just arrived there. In spite of all this, we all cousins would all be super excited about going there for Chaturti.  Our ancestral house is more than 300 years old and not in the best of conditions. So the roof would leak, there would be insects and mosquitoes biting us, but we wouldn’t mind any of it.
Be it singing Aarti loudly with everyone else or having food in a pangat by sitting on the ground, I loved every moment of it. In the evenings the men and kids would sit in the huge patio (known as balkav) in the front and laugh and crack jokes whereas the ladies would sit and gossip in the backside of the house. We kids would organise and plan games, and not only kids, but the adults would also participate. With a heavy heart we would bid farewell to Ganpati Bappa on the 5th Day, hoping that the year flies by soon and we gather together again.
Now I am married, have a kid and live in a big city. I haven’t been to Goa for the Ganesh celebrations for the past several years due to some reason or the other, be it work pressures, then pregnancy, then a young kid.  Now that my daughter is 2 year old, I want to take her to Goa and let her experience the fun times her mommy had as a kid. However, I now have second thoughts about visiting the place I loved so much as a child. What if my daughter gets bitten by a bug? What if she wanders around and hurts herself in our old house? What if there is no electricity, will she be able to sleep in the heat? What if it rains and the roof starts to leak, will she catch a cold? What if she falls sick, and there are no doctors around?
Am I being paranoid? Or is it the mother in me that is over cautious? Whatever be the reason, it makes me sad that my kid will never ever experience the fun we used to have as kids during Ganesh festival. 

Monday, 3 September 2012

Blessed with a girl

Whenever my husband and I talked about having a baby, we always pictured it to be a little girl dressed in a pink frock with matching pick hair band and pink shoes. During my pregnancy, whenever anyone asked me if we wanted a baby boy or baby girl, I used to reply without hesitation that I wanted a girl. I encountered a wide spectrum of reactions to this ranging from astonishment to horror to pity to even total disbelief!

God was kind to me; he blessed me with a gorgeous baby girl. When my baby was born, my first reaction was how beautiful she is. My hubby couldn’t contain his joy, he just couldn’t let go of her and the nurses had to nearly pull them apart, my parents and in-laws were ecstatic, it was their first grandchild after all.
However, some of the reactions I encountered from some people around disgusted me to the core. When my maid learnt that it’s a baby girl, she cried feeling sorry for my parents. Another well meaning neighbour was also very solemn when she visited me in the hospital and even tried to console me.  I knew it was futile trying to explain this is what we wanted, so I didn’t even bother.

It makes me sick to think that in today’s educated society too there are people with such narrow minded mentality in spite of the fact that girls are making their mark in every field be it academics/politics/sports. Cases of female foeticide are not just incidents in remote villages of India where the vast majority are uneducated and bogged down by poverty, but is a harsh reality amongst the so called educated and urban population too.

 I wonder what it is that makes people crave for a boy child. If they are living under the illusion that the son will take care of their parents in their old age, then that may not always be the case.  I don’t mean to generalize and people with sons please don’t get offended, but it is the law of nature that girls are more emotional as compared to their male counterparts and so it is only natural that they will have a stronger bond with their parents as compared to boys. Therefore, the probability of a girl catering to her parents is much higher as compared to a boy.

 There is a saying which goes “a boy is a son only until he gets married, but a daughter is a daughter forever”. I find this so true. My hubby says he might not have been so attached to our kid, had it been a boy. Not that he would have hated the child, but he wouldn’t have had this special bond which he shares with his little princess.  My parents have two daughters (Me and my younger sister) and they never complain about not having a son. In fact my mum says she is thankful to god that she does not have to deal with the typical saas-bahu drama at home. At least she and dad can live in harmony as per their own will and without any obligations/inhibitions. One of my friend’s fathers also made a wonderful statement years back which I still remember and which makes me so proud. He said “If I had seven children, I would want them all to be girls”. Can there be a bigger compliment to the girl child?

So to all those girl haters out there, relax, take a pause, and think twice. You have just been blessed with a most precious gift. All she asks for is your love and attention.  Give her that and she will be yours forever for life.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

My Parenting Experience

My Parenting Experience
When I first learnt that I was pregnant, I had a nice rosy picture in front of my eyes of me cuddling a tiny bundle of joy just like I had done for my cousins’ babies. To me it was just that. Little did I realise that pregnancy and parenthood has much more to it than just holding a baby as per your convenience and handing it back to the mother the moment you feel bored. So read on.

As I entered my 9th month of pregnancy, each day I was praying to God to bring the baby out as soon as possible and relieve me from all the 3rd trimester discomforts. I mean I was fed up of having to go to the toilet every 10 minutes, not being able to sit and watch TV even for half an hour without backaches, etc. I was longing for the moment when my baby would be born and I would be relieved of all my uneasiness.

My baby was born and brought so much joy to everyone. When I first looked at her, my first thought was how beautiful she is.  But even before the celebrations quietened and I could rejoice about my pregnancy nightmares finally being over, other challenges crept in. I mean I had heard from others that feeding the baby is not easy, but it turned out to be a huge challenge for me and took a while for both me and my baby to get accustomed to.  Also, babies have a way of knowing when their moms are at lunch/dinner, for that is the exact moment they will choose to soil their nappy. Sometimes my daughter would have marathon nappy wetting sessions and I would literally have to change her every 5 minutes.  And then there used to be days or rather nights where she would stay awake the whole night .I remember dozing off many a times while rocking her in my arms in my futile attempts to put her to sleep! It was then that I began to realize that pregnancy was a lot easier!

Days as a toddler
As she got a bit older, her sleep started stabilizing and she started eating other solid foods. I started relaxing a bit. But no, God does not have mercy on mothers. She soon started crawling all over the place and always kept me on my toes. From reaching out to the farthest objects, to mouthing all types of junk, it’s a harrowing experience. From morning to night I would continuously be on the run, either picking up thrown toys, or running after her with a bowl of cereal, or simply making sure she doesn’t hurt herself. I would wait for weekends to be over so that I could return to the peace and quiet of office on Mondays. I began to miss the days when she was an infant and it was a much quieter and a lot less stressful!

First steps and now.
The day she took her first steps, I was swelling with pride. Small steps by my little princess were a big achievement for me. However, she soon started discovering new pleasures and I found new causes to worry. She now stands on her tip toes and reaches out for newspapers, pens or any new object for that matter. Another thing I dread is meal times. Before every meal, I hope and pray that the meal would be finished without any ado. The tantrums have also started. If anyone dares to refuse something she wants, she starts howling and crying and yelling and a huge drama will ensue. Be it during meal times, or mid way in a tantrum, I in turn coax, beg , shout, bribe her and many a times find myself helpless in front of this little monster. Sometimes I feel life was much more peaceful when she was a toddler.

Looking back.
When I look back now, I realize how joyful each phase has been. While in pregnancy, everyone took utmost care of me.  When my baby was born, how I would enjoy talking to her and watching her smile and gurgle. During her toddler days, I loved the way she gestured and drew our attention and even now miss her incoherent blabbering. Now that she is almost two, she has turned so inquisitive and asks so many questions.  She tries to form huge sentences by joining words and some of her pronunciations are so funny and yet so cute that it’s a sheer pleasure listening to her. All in all, parenthood can be challenging, exhausting and overwhelming, but it can also be a huge source of happiness.