Monday, January 16, 2017

Why I sweat the small stuff


Dear H and N,

You know as well as I do that mornings aren’t the best time of the day for us. The stepping out of that warm quilt, the quick shower, the scramble for the id-card, the rush to the bus-stop - not quite your favourite things. I know.

A lot of these things aren’t really mandatory at school - like the bath or the ID card. And yet I insist. No you cannot stay up late on a school night, you cannot stay home just because you are feeling lazy today, you cannot go without a bath and you have to put your towel out to dry, yes you have to wear your ID card every day and yes you have to make two ponytails.

“But my teacher doesn’t mind,” you had whined today. You have a point, of course. So why should we struggle and worry and pick an argument every morning?

No I’m not crazy, though you may not quite believe it yet.

Let me begin at the beginning.

I was brought up in a disciplined household where we were taught to respect rules, at home and in school. Like you, I didn’t always agree with my parents. Many days I scrambled for the bus. I trimmed my nails on the way to school, I cut up my ribbon to make the mandatory two ponytails when I forgot. And when I couldn’t ‘manage the situation’ I was prepared for the punishment aware that I was at fault. Not that I had a choice.

It’s tough, isn’t it? Doing it the ‘proper’ way all the time?

As I grew I learnt that it was okay to stretch the deadline, be a little late, bend the rules and then further I learnt it was okay sometimes to not be completely honest. Yes I learnt all of that and I did it too.

So, I hear you ask, when we have to grow up to live in an imperfect world why not begin to learn its ways right now? Why struggle to learn things we will need to unlearn later? It’s the easier way, the more comfortable one, after all.

Here’s why..

Imagine if my mum had told me it is okay to tell a lie occasionally, rules don’t much matter and punctuality is useless. Would I, then, have even tried to do any of those things? How would I have even known right from wrong?

There lies the difference.

Each time I took the easy alternative I knew it wasn’t quite right. And I did try ever so hard to stick to the rules before I took up the other way. Even while I’m aware that I live in an imperfect world, I continue to appreciate and value a good habit, a disciplined lifestyle, an attempt at doing the right thing. The awareness of good and bad is the first step to striving for the good and it is my job to pass on this awareness to you, dear children, in as undiluted a form as I possibly can.

For now you will simply have to believe that the rules are there for a reason. In another few years you’ll be gone, studying and living on your own. I know then you will dump many of them. Do that, by all means, enjoy the freedom, stay up late, skip the bath, miss the bus. I did it too. What you do later in life, how you use your childhood lessons, whether you use them at all, will depend entirely on you.

I am hoping, however, that when you’ve had your fill of freedom, reason will return, like it did to me. I am hoping, as you grow you will see the wisdom of these age old values. Not all will stand the test of time and that is fine. You will question them and change them and make some of your own.

But when it comes to the really big things, I am hoping, you will know right from wrong and that you will find the courage to do the right thing.

I am counting on it.

That’s why I sweat the small stuff now - because often it is the small stuff that makes a big difference.


Love and hugs

Ma

Pic: PIXABAY

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wet towels and crazy mornings #momdialogues


Cool Mom: Is leaving a wet towel on the bed reason enough to spoil everyone’s morning, and that includes yours more than anyone else's?

Agitated Mom: It’s not just the towel and you know that. It’s ‘put away your plates after breakfast’, ‘put cream’, ‘pick up your jacket from the floor’, ‘take your tiffin’, ‘put in your bottles’ and on and on endlessly. To have to remind them every single day for every single task is just crazy. That towel was just the last straw. Besides, who does it if they don’t? I, right? That’s how I’ll be spending my entire day - cleaning up after them. What's even more ironical I’ll also have people saying, 'What do you do all day?' The kids are grown up now.' Hah! Grown up!!!

CM: Sigh! Such a long tirade! You could simply leave the towel on the bed.

AM: What?? Just leave it? So the bed and the towel become wet and stinky?

CM: Yeah well it’s the kids’ beds. They have to sleep in them. Let then sleep with the stink. That’ll remind them to put out the towels next time round.

AM: And what if they don’t? What if they don’t mind it at all? What if they get used to it? How hygienic is that? And what kind of a life-long habit am I helping them form?

CM: I’ll repeat - choose your battles. Choose your timing. The other option is of course to lose your patience, to give them an earful and then feel lousy all day long. As for life-long habits - they have time yet to pick them up. You want the kids to look back on their school days and remember only crazy mornings?

AM: No obviously not.

CM: The trouble is not with telling them to do stuff, the trouble is with you losing your cool when you do so. So how about playing some peaceful music, taking up your cup of tea and thinking happy thoughts - like the time N made you tea, remember? They do some good too. Oh and don't forget to put yourself on repeat mode till they learn to finish their tasks, okay? It’s just one crazy hour, after all.

Picture Credit: Pixabay
*************

This isn't the first time I have had multiple mums fighting it out in my head. You can read about other mommy wars herehere and here.

Friday, January 06, 2017

International Blog Delurking Week




Hiya people,

Today I’m not here to talk about myself. I do that all the time, don’t I? But today is different. Today is about YOU.

This is blog-delurking week. Is that a blank look on your face? Don’t know what I’m talking about? The thing is - the number of people who drop by here for a look is way larger than the number who leave a comment - just a minuscule percentage do that.

But I’d like to know ALL of you - specially you the silent ones. If you’re one of those quiet lurkers, now’s the time to show up and say a hello. I’d love to hear from you even it’s just this one day in the whole year.

So come now don’t be shy. A simple hello or a hi would be fine. Of course, if you’re in a garrulous mood you could tell me something more about yourself - your family, your profession, a favourite hobby, a film you watched recently. Or ask me something, anything.

Or you could simply tell me what makes you come here (that essentially means you have to say nice things about the blog).

PS: This invitation includes family members and close friends too. Reveal yourself guys. I know there are some among you who never admit you read me but the one time I blogged about something I didn’t want my parents to find out - a rather scary car accident a few years ago - news reached them faster than I hit publish. So come now, own up, show yourself.


That’s all from me for today. Go on say something.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

How can I not be grateful? #gratitudecircle



When I sat down to write the last post of the year, which was supposed to be my gratitude post I drew a blank. Gratitude posts don’t come easily to me. However, later when I was posting the new year wish on my Facebook timeline I realised the one thing that had cheered me through the year had been my friends and family.

And there it was - that one single thing, which I mentioned ever so casually, was the biggest blessing anyone can ever want - the love of friends and family. And this year has been more bountiful than ever because I met up many friends, actually many many friends, some for the first time, in person, face to face.

In all of my ten years of blogging I hadn’t ever met any of my blogger friends, in part because I am in one rather isolated corner of the country and part due to my own rather unexplained reluctance to do so. It was momentous then, that I met Shilpa a dear BARmate right at the beginning of the year. And we chatted for hours like familiar friends, easy and comfortable.

That set the tone for the entire year.

A friend from my journalism days dropped by. Seriously, there really is no gossip as delicious as office gossip. I caught up with who-had-moved-where, who-got-the-pink-slip, who-moved-to-television and who-will-always-stick-to-print. I do miss all of that sometimes.

Then came another friend from my Mumbai days. She was my roomie in the working women's hostel. She's the one who would 'save' tea and breakfast for me while I slept in on Sunday mornings, the one with whom I trawled Churchgate pavements for books and Fashion Street for clothes. She's the one who made hostel life bearable.

I travelled to Delhi during the summer and met up with a bunch of school friends. The years fell away as we chatted about dreaded teachers and well-loved school mates and made as much noise as we made during ‘tiffin-time’ at school.

I spent a few days with my first ever mommy friend. Our kids were almost the same age and we reminisced how we celebrated when they first went to play-school, how we’d felt at once bereft yet relieved when we had those two hours of me-time. It’s amazing how the toughest days make the best of friends.

Later in the year, I ventured to the Pune Lit Fest, meeting up another writer friend who was soon to launch a book. She's the one who prodded me to write my first ever story for the Chicken Soup series. I wrapped up the year at her launch event feeling very proud and very happy for her because I know exactly how hard it is to write a book with two sons and a house to run.

But the most momentous occasion of all was meeting up with my cousins - the Super Six. We recreated a two-decade old childhood photograph and it was absolutely the best thing to have happened. I wrote about it here.

Lastly, most importantly, each time I have been happy or upset I have had all of you to unburden myself to. We haven't met and we may never meet, yet how can I not be grateful for your presence?

I might not have broken any records, or won any lottery, but the year was crammed with scores of super-happy moments. How can I not be grateful?

Thank you 2016.



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