Time I Gloat about My Good Fortune

In this day and age where terrorism, violence, random crimes seem to be the norm, it feels awkward to talk about the good fortunes in my life.

But I will.

I am a lucky girl. Mr. Luck has been my fateful and faithful companion all along. Don’t quite understand why and will perhaps never know. But I am incredibly blessed. I feel awesomely fortunate.

More so, because about two decades ago, my life was on a trajectory that screamed gloom, failure, uselessness. Just another warm body with an unremarkable past, a future hinging on lofty, unrealistic, nebulous, unmet-able dreams and goals.

I have indeed come a long way. Characterized with loss, failure, rashness, and rejections but peppered with humility, a ‘holelodda’ reflection and finally acceptance. Acceptance of my flaws, mistakes and ego.

Acceptance that I am just a teeny-weeny speck in the larger scheme of things. I am powerless in the face of certain things. That it is critical I focus, put my energy into those things that are within my control. That I am ultimately responsible for  what I make of this life I am gifted with.

That what I put out to the Universe is what I get back.

That I am a work in progress. I will choose to be, diligently so, until I die.

I am in a happy place. My flaws, I still carry. However I have become better in taming them. In catching myself before I screw up. Or when I do goof up (quite often actually), I push myself to reflect, to question, to dig deeper. It is funny how 9 out of 10 times I  am made to realize that I played a part, that I contributed to the problem at hand. Humility is a remarkable leveler.

I am in a meaningful place. A place where I believe I am adding value not just to mine but to others as well. I am conscious of not wasting resources, be it time, money, talent, opportunities. I am consciously learning, growing. I am conscious of how my actions and behaviors impact others. I am conscious. Period.

In all of this,  I am working my butt off. Some days may seem awfully interminable. Other days I may miss my child’s  important school function or event. But I end them with meaning, worth. I hit the sack, tired, exhausted, but fulfilled.

My latest mantra is, if I don’t now, when will I?, one that a supportive oversubscribed, 24/7 “on chaperoning call” husband/father and understanding kids have accepted wholeheartedly. I call them and everything else on my abounding plate, my life’s good fortunes.

And yes, it feels awkward to gloat about all of this but I need to. For it deepens my sense of gratitude. It underscores how lucky I am. It reminds me that life after all, turned out OK and some more.

Birthdays, Breast Buds and Inclusivity

Birthday fever has begun.

The third grader enters her ninth year in approximately two weeks. Decorations are up, goody bags are ready, menu cards (not sure why we need them but will run with them nevertheless) for invited guests have been hand printed on different colored paper. The gift list gets updated, items closely reviewed and edited every now and then each day. As if a legal contract is being put in place.

The excitement meter is burning up. For her. The rest of the familia, however, is just too caught up to think about this approaching milestone.

You guys don’t care much about my birthday, do you? she alleges the other evening, her forehead carrying a big frown.

I pretend I am deaf. Her brother, however retorts with a ‘yep’. Without batting an eyelid, without looking up from his iPad.

The frown now becomes more evident as the chin elongates rapidly with frustration. I look at her and I am reminded of Munch’s, The Scream. She stomps out, up the stairs, into her room. Soon I hear scrinch scrinch, sound of paper decoration being unrolled and taped to the walls.

Her frustration is fleeting. It is her birthday and she has no time to waste. The drama can wait.

I am turning nine…and…then I will turn ten next year, she says the other day.

She may as well easily pass off as a ten-year old with her recent growth spurt. She gained height, her feet have grown some inches that prompted us on an unexpected shoe shopping spree. Some other things have grown too.

I now have breasts, she declares, examining her buds. Does that mean I will have my period? she bombards me with this not so pleasant question. A milestone that I am not ready for. At all.

You may sweetie,  I tell her. A response that takes a lot of me to muster. More articles I read about how young girls are reaching puberty sooner than ever, I fret. I cry inside.

No amount of talking, reading about period with her will prepare us for this dreaded development. Nothing will get her ready for the changes when they strike. It’s the same as pushing out a baby.  Every thing you learn gets unlearned as you begin to anxiously maneuver through the first months of child rearing. All that prep work-.whoosh, go into a black hole, not to be retrieved until one slowly begins to get comfortable with the enormous changes that come along.

It is an inevitability one cannot avoid, unfortunately. Until then, I will pretend to be an ostrich and go about my merry way. I am also aware that years from now when I read this post, I will say, golly, I wrote about THIS? I fretted over a period? There will be bigger issues to tackle, higher walls to climb and vaster oceans to cross. This will seem like a tiny dent in the overall scheme of things.

I don’t want to mix my Indian friends with my American friends, she decides. I don’t want anyone to feel left out. I want to be inclusive.

Inclusive is the buzz word now. One that gets thrown around quite rapidly and frequently. Along with buds and a possibly premature puberty, she is becoming deliciously intelligent. I mean, emotionally intelligent. Sometimes stuff comes out of her mouth that makes me want to put her on a pedestal and show her off to the entire world. My heart filled with gratification and deep, soaring love for this child of mine. At eight, she is already so considerate, kind and empathetic. For someone who is inclined to impose high standards, this isn’t my bias talking. I don’t know what we are doing as parents. Obviously we are doing some things right. We see the right in her and her demeanor.

This morning, as I drop her off at the grandparents, she pretends to walk straight in without kissing me goodbye. I make a long face. She immediately turns around, and with a naughty grin and sparkle in her eyes, she says, and you thought I was walking away without kissing you bye…never mama, NEVER!!!!!!!

I have always maintained that becoming a mom has been undeniably one of the most profound experiences for me. Each baby shifting something deep in me, each underscoring the power and the glory it carries. As I get ready to join my second born in her birthday planning ruckus, I take a quick moment to reflect, rejoice and be grateful of the priceless gift that is her.

We Arrived at Middle

Middle school “back to school” night was tiring. For me. The newly minted sixth grader skipped ahead of us, donning an air of familiarity and pride as he directed us through the crowded hallways to individual classroom presentations.

Middle school has been fun thus far. For him. He tells me he likes how it makes him independent. When probed further, I realize that independence and having a locker go hand in hand. Every story he narrates revolves around the said locker. Every detail he shares somehow finally ends at the locker. LockerLove, hence is new, alive and strong.

Middle school has been a transition. For his sister. She no longer has a bus mate to travel with. Or an older brother to watch out for her.

Middle school has been an adjustment. For me. From a full-time stay at home to a fully employed commuter, getting up earlier so I can pack a proper lunch and feed my boy a decent breakfast before he toddles off has been a challenge.

Middle school will be demanding with higher loads of homework, assignments, quizzes and tests. It will challenging as we grasp newer grading systems, online platforms and overall expectations.

Middle school will be about stronger partnerships with teachers and school officials, closer monitoring of the boy’s performance, keener observations for growth and success opportunities.

Middle school, finally, promises to be exciting, intensive, trying and revelatory. Of the boy and his capabilities. Of us and our ability to guide, advice, support, encourage and love.


It’s our fifteenth wedding anniversary today.

The day started with getting irritated with the kids, giving them a piece of my mind, making my youngest cry.

Just like some many other days.

Fifteenth, tenth, seventh, nineteenth….

Does it really matter anymore?

To us, hubbs and me, it does.

On FB, with her wish, a friend suggested that I write a short story about our union. My response: a story won’t cut it, it will have to a long thesis. One that is presumably open-ended.

Come to think of it, fifteen does seem long. It feels like a lifetime. It is, in many aspects a lifetime. Cannot put a finger on any particular reason that made or makes us tick. Like most things and specifically relationships, it is a culmination of many factors. But I do believe that because we are opposites (I am crazy, he is sane), we fit. It works. It’s easier to make it work. We have definitely found a rhythm of sorts. A routine in a seemingly, occasionally chaotic terrain of emotional highs and lows.

I call our marriage, a union of codependence. And with kids, this notion of co dependence takes a whole new meaning. Reliability, consistency, constant communication regardless of how mundane and automatic it may seem sometimes, honesty, flexibility, integrity and respect are elements that we continue to grow with and learn from.

It helps to have a solid support system to navigate and stay happily married as well. And both are supremely fortunate to be blessed to have a slew of people who continue to unconditionally support, love, encourage, guide and pump us along the way.

Like most things, to make a relationship tick, one’s got to invest wholeheartedly. Both hubbs and I vowed to do exactly this fifteen years ago. Our relationship continues to be a work in progress. It also reminds us that we have come a long way.

As we take the time to dissect, reflect and look forward to the future, we will raise a toast to us. To celebrate what we have. To remember how incredibly proud we are of us.

Motherhood Lessons from a Novice – Part II

With Mothers’ Day just around the corner, I thought I’d do an upgraded version of this post. The kids are older with more defined needs. They are definitely  temperamental with moods changing like the seasons except in a quicker and more volatile manner. Precious learning continues as we slowly creep into presumably challenging years of adolescence. I am torn about this next phase, it’s positively bitter-sweet, forcing Hubbs and I to accept the grim reality that the time we have with them is brief. Below are lessons learned and unlearned thus far. They are my truths about raising two demanding, flourishing kids, who bring me immense joy, happiness, worth, disappointment, pain, anxiety, all in equal measure.

Doesn’t matter how informed you are or how many books and articles you read about parenting, you are never prepared when inevitability strikes. With newer and tougher territories, oh fuck crap becomes the IT phrase.

Somehow things tide over. Maybe not the way you expect them to. But they do with happily ever afters. Happily ever afters? Nah. I was kidding. Things end. They just do. And in a few days you will look back at the same instance and marvel at the hold some situations can have on you.

If you are one of those moms looking for details, especially about their day at school, get used to the “nothing much” response. Its starts in pre-school and shows no sign of evolving into an intelligent, detailed, exciting response for a long long time.

“I love you”, a term they learn to say very young and rather frequently or randomly. As they get older, the frequency may taper down but when uttered, it takes on a deeper, richer meaning, one that will leave you feeling incredibly blessed.

“Pick up after yourself” is like a company’s vision. It’s just looks good on paper. It’s downright lofty.

Chores are a hard sell. Unless you add an incentive, they will not get done.

Brace yourself for more laundry. And smellier clothes. Those darn hormones do their thang and kick up the unpleasant many notches up. The personal laundry needle moves from dislike to abhor.

If you want to be remembered as a “rockstar chaperone”, go ahead and knock yourself out with a bazillion after school activities. Also prepare to turn your car into a house and a McDonald’s into a dining room. Trust me, less is more.

Brace yourself for the vocabulary showing off phase. The spellings will remain dismal but catustropi, humeliating, sircastik, pursepective and such get used frequently and with much aplomb.

Hug them tighter, kiss them plenty. Even if they turn away disgustingly. The PDA’s take a whole new meaning for the mommy. One that makes her proud, happy, wistful and sad, all at the same time.

Conversations definitely improve in quantity and quality. You get ample opportunity to ramp up your listening, negotiating, conflict, questioning, probing, asserting and other such skills.  Most force you to reevaluate your credibility as a parent. Each reinforces the fact that learning is always a two-way street.

They may look annoyed with public display of affection but they still yelp like monkeys on crack when you volunteer at their school. They cling to you, show you off like a prized thoroughbred leaving you with an utmost sense of flattery and admiration.

The sibling bond gets tighter, stronger and fiercer with time. I dare you to say anything remotely harsh to one of them. The protective fangs come out in a jiffy to insulate against all things evil.

Mommy is the tech dinosaur. No matter how hard you try to keep up with the rapidly changing world of gadgetry, you are always two steps behind.

Mommy is everything. Nothing feels right or works without mommy.

They fight. They make up. They fight. They make up. They fight. They make up.

And oh, that game called Minecraft. Less said, the better.

“If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

Tell us more about your childhood is a request that is on auto play. Stock pile your stories and be prepared to throw one at them at the most unexpected hour. Like “mamma, my poop is not coming out. Can you please tell me one of your childhood stories?”.

Apologize when you need to. It humanizes you. They quickly realize you are flawed and they accept you without judgment.

The beautiful thing about kids is they allow you to redeem yourself. To make amends, to better yourself. This is how magnanimous they are.

Moving the ‘I Cannot’ Needle

So I managed to not get lost in the second guessing soup.

Because I am now obsessed with the aliens who have landed on my chin.  They are happily building deep, painful craters that flare up every morning. They make me wish I was the evil queen with a magic mirror.

Acne, my resolute confidence smasher.

For the longest time, I struggled with body image (which in my definition also includes acne). It was mainly mood and /or day driven. If on a Monday I was obsessing about my thundering thighs, on a Wednesday, the preoccupation would turn onto my fat arms and by the time Friday rolled around, I was brooding about my lack of boobs.

There was always something to be troubled with. My extra weight or my chubbyness added to this dynamic, especially in my teens.

I was into sports in middle and high school. Despite being rotund, I was extremely flexible and quick on my feet. I played a mean game of badminton. Often people would be taken aback when they found out about my game. My built automatically made them think that I was more suited for a sport that needed muscle strength like wrestling, weight lifting, javelin or discuss throw.

Darn first impressions.

People often commented on my weight. But I don’t recall ever getting bogged down by them until this one experience. My teammates and I were in a rigorous coaching camp, preparing for the upcoming nationals. It was our physical training hour in the morning. After completing a 10 m run, we were back indoors, stretching and doing  floor exercises. A senior was helping me with some sit ups. I was exhausted, drained and was generally struggling to get to the fifty I needed to complete the set. I slowed down and that irritated my senior. He slapped my knees hard and literally yelled, you fatso, you will never be good at this game if you don’t do anything about your weight. And with that, he left, his face donning a look of disgust.

While I laid there gobsmacked, embarrassed and close to tears.

I came home with the glum-est look ever. I recall locking myself in my room and bawling. I decided not to talk to my parents but write them a letter. This letter was one of my firsts to them and in it I pleaded to them to not force me to eat, to help me check what goes into my body. I pleaded that despite my undying love for chicken, I was willing to sacrifice it for the rest of my life just so I can stop ridiculing myself in front of others.

I’d like to think that this was one of the turning points in my life but I am not sure. It definitely made me realize that I was wrong to believe that people’s taunts and jibes about my weight didn’t bother me. They did. Immensely. They quietly gnawed away at my self-esteem, my confidence. I started wearing loose-fitting or over-sized clothes. I used to wear my father’s. Friends and family members thought this was my attempt to be cool but to me, this was the easiest way to hide, to not call attention to my body.

Eventually, in my early twenties, I lost a whole lot of weight. Not because I took care of what I ate. Not because I gave up on chicken. It was because of an unhealthy lifestyle of skipping meals, living on chai and biscuits, smoking, late nights and such. But despite becoming the thin person I always yearned to be, I continued my struggles with body image.

My thighs and arms still looked fat and flabby to me.

My boobs continued to be non-existent.

My nose, too large.

My acne, a constant companion.

I have traversed a long way in the journey of body image. I am better off. I am no longer bothered by my thighs or my unshapely arms or my large nose. Boobs, well as long as I have them and not lose them to cancer, their size is irrelevant. But my acne is a different story all together. I continue to struggle with it. I continue to allow them to affect me. I continue to give them free pass to make me feel insecure, unattractive.

I am not a make-up person but in the recent years, I have relied on it heavily. To mask the flare ups, my increasing dark spots (new development) so much so that I feel like a layered cake with tons of unpalatable icing.

Why do you have to use make up? my daughter asked me once as we were getting ready to go to an event.

To hide my acne. One of the many wishes I have for you is this-that you don’t get my skin, was my response.

But lately I am beginning to question whether I really need to hide behind make up. I would love to step out of the house without a pinch of foundation on my face.  It’s not a ‘should I’ but a ‘can I’ question.

I have been regularly asking myself this question. And the best answer I can muster is ‘I cannot’.

I am afraid I will look awful. I am afraid my red, flared up pimple will distract folks from listening to me. I am afraid that my kids will be embarrassed to be seen with their mom.

I am afraid.

I am fucking insecure. The first thing I see when I look in the mirror are the damn craters on my chin. Nothing else. My somewhat pleasing face totally disappears. And this is exactly what I believe will happen when I step out without make up.

I am quick to reveal many of my insecurities. But this one is and has been a tough one for me.

I want to be that woman who is content, is at peace with who they are, how they look. As much as I have succeeded in following my heart and not worrying about other people’s judgments as far as body image is concerned, I am not there yet.

I have a lot of growing up to do.

In other words, I will continue to be a work in progress. It isn’t a bad thing as long as I don’t let my acne insecurity take over my life.

I am confident that I will get to not relying on make-up one day. That I will be able to step out of the house, meet people and not get conscious of the Martians happily partying on my skin.

I am working on moving the needle from I cannot to I can.