Oh baby, don’t grow up so fast.

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Arjun, my almost two year old boy is at an age, where he can make sense of the little things going on around him. He can explain , argue, try to convince or throw a tantrum as the last resort. Many times he says things to us which we have previously said to him. When I hurt my finger with a kitchen knife, he came running with his baby lotion and told me to apply it and it will get well very soon. When his father coughed during a meal, he quickly pointed out that he should take smaller bites and eat slowly. Stuff that we tell him sooner or later comes back at us. He knows which clothes I wear to work and which clothes on the weekends. So last Saturday when I wanted to go meet a friend for lunch, I told him I am going to office and you take a nap with your baba. He looked at my jeans and gleefully exclaimed that I am not wearing office clothes, so I can’t go to the office. It’s hard to say anything to that when you feel half proud about your child’s supposed intelligence and half stupid to be so simplistic that a 2 year old has already figured you out. But that’s what it is. Many times we have to talk in spellings now, because he knows his mother tongue Marathi very well, and can also pick up on most commonly used English words. Often you will find us talking like this – ‘Should we take him s-w-i-m-m-i-n-g in the evening?’ or ‘Don’t bring that a-p-p-l-e in front of him till he finishes dinner’ et cetera.

But this baby boy is wary of loud places and crowded rooms. Any new people make him nervous and he starts saying he wants to go home. When I took him to a Mentor Me India meeting a few weeks back because no one was at home to baby-sit him, he cried non-stop till I quickly called an Uber to go home. But as soon as I showed him that an Uber was on the way, he stopped crying. A fellow mentor asked him that if you understand what is happening then why are you crying? Arjun replied with a wail to ensure that I don’t cancel the cab. He was uncomfortable there for whatever reasons, and he was communicating it to me in the best way he could. Now so many times it happens that I want to literally and figuratively run out of a place. Especially dark rooms with small windows. I have yet not been able to articulate why. Then how can I expect him to do that? But nevertheless I feel exasperated at times and wish he was more ‘social’. More like me than his dad who also needs a lot of alone time.

Currently Arjun’s grandma has gone to the USA for a few weeks to spend time with her granddaughter. Naturally he is quite upset that his beloved ajji can’t be seen anywhere. Without any frame of reference of a month or a week, I was worried how to tell him that she will come back soon, but after many days and many nights. He cried for the first two days but now he tells himself every morning that ajji has gone to US to bring his cousin Sara to Mumbai so that they can play together. Suddenly he misses her less, because it’s for a special cause. It is so that he gets back not only ajji but also Saru-tai, his cousin. Poor baby Arjun is set for another heartbreak in a few weeks, but for now he is waiting. And valiantly assures me that ajji will come back soon when I say that I miss her too.

These new generation kids are really smart I tell you. Making sense of the world faster than us. My two and half year old nephew can unlock any cellphone, take selfies and photos. And if there is no password, he can even play his favourite Youtube videos! My friends’ similar aged son can identify cars whizzing by. His toy cars include a Lamborghini, Bugatti, Ferrari etc. And I can’t even recognise my white Activa scooter without seeing the number plate. I often wonder how can we match up to these kids? How do we keep them stimulated without binding them to dozens of activity classes? If you have any tips, I am very keen to hear.

And of course things are not so sensible every day. There are times when Arjun is crying unconsolably because he wants to wear the same soiled diaper from the dustbin or he has had a bad dream at 3 am and wants to go to the park right now to see the horse or some other absurd idea at an ungodly time and I want to disappear from this life. Wake up in another era when I had my brain to myself and was not muddled with concern, worry, and a whole another individual. But then that’s why parenting is a two person job (mostly). Akshay takes over and asks me to shoo away when I am running out of patience. It true that it takes a village to raise a child. If it were just the baby and me I would have gone crazy long back.

End of this month little baby turns two, he just switched from rear-facing baby car seat to front facing big-boy seat. I cling to his baby ways of doing things, his sweet smell, the way he asks me to pick him up and hold him, the way he wil hold my face in both his hands and prevent me from talking to anyone else. Because it won’t last long. Soon his non-stop chatter will turn into reserved one-word sentences. Cuddles will be hard to come by and the grown up air will surround him. I better enjoy each moment now, and go give him a nose-to-nose Eskimo kiss. Right now.

Xoxo.

Rutvika

 

 

That first time..

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Husband and I. Our first picture together. Young and care-free.

I have currently registered for a ten-week online writing workshop. It was the top most from my have-to-accomplish-this-year lists and boy, it is so intensive. Makes me think harder, dig deeper, look into the well of my experiences and draw energy from there. Gather inspiration and dwell on it. I will write more about the workshop later, but in this second week, one assignment was to write about the List of Firsts. Here is a section from what I wrote.

The first time I failed an exam was when I was 13. A singing exam. My mom used to send me to her friend to learn Hindustani classical music. The Sa Re Ga Ma Pa was just not my cup of tea. I loved to sing and listen to music, but those alaaps and ragas were way beyond my comprehension. I sorta hated the class, the only silver lining being a guy from the neighbouring building used to come down to see me walk to to the class everytime. I was 13, stalking was glamorised by the Hindi movies and I loved being the centre of attention. I was the only one among my friends at that time who had a secret admirer. But once I failed that exam, (God! how miserable was the day of the test, the examiner would shudder everytime I answered her question), I convinced my mom or perhaps my teacher convinced mom that I should stop coming to the class. Good riddance, but those secret stalker/admirer sessions also came to an end.

The first real date husband and I went on was the Kala Ghoda festival. Six months before we got married. We knew each other since the 9th grade, but both of us had evolved from being gangly teenagers to what we were then. Still awkward, but more educated and more aware of the world around us. The freshness of that time still lingers in my head. To be 24 and independant without any major responsibilities, it was awesome.

I remember that first kiss way back when I was 18. He was my first real boyfriend, apart from the dozen crushes I had by the time I was that age. The anticipation of the first kiss was building over for a while, but there was no place where that coziness was permitted. And then about a couple months after we started dating, we were at a friend’s house after college. And that was the day. I remember stepping back and wanting to record every little thing about that awkward time. We were in my friend’s bedroom, her heap of clothes and pile of books were staring at me from the table and I was constantly worried that what if mom finds out where I am. I would be dead.

My first breakup was obviously with him, a year after we started dating. I was heart broken, ofcourse, but I vividly remember knowing that this was it. It was good while it lasted, but now was the time to move on.

When I was working in a bank, I used to smoke for about a year. It was cool back then. Being independant, being able to smoke without parents knowing it, hanging out with my 6-years-younger brother and smoking with his friends. How silly, yet how cool! But the first time I smoked, it was so disgusting. A group of us from the CA class would stand near a railway station (all of us aged 19-20) and we would pretend to be chic. I could never inhale it deeply and exhale, it would just be staccato bursts of in and out, in and out. And most of the time it would burn away between my fingers. Later I genuinely began to like it, and one particular brand of clove cigarattes was beautiful, but that was a different time and age. I haven’t smoked a single one since getting pregnant and having the baby, and I dont want to get back to it. Ever. But again, it was a good time in life. And I will remember it for that.

I read somewhere recently, that the period from 15-25 is the period we remember the most. It is the period of most novelties, the most number of firsts. It has a strong impact on our memory and I think it is also because theose events are most discussed. I remember, till the time we got married, me and my best friend would discuss about the day in detail, EVERYDAY. And dissect every little thing anyone said and make sense out of it. Now a lot of events are so mundane, they go unnoticed. Two days back, the husband came back from a 4 day tour. I felt as if I hadnt seen him in a long time and couldnt wait to snuggle in and cozy up in his warmth. This event could have made headlines with the said best friend, but in the larger scheme of things it feels very usual. Even un-romantic when it comes in context of marriage, but how important it was for me, at that time.

The first time I held my baby in my arms is also a very precious moment. He was perfect. I had made him. I always wanted to be a mom, and here I was. This little 3 kg dumpling would be my aankhon-ka-tara. And right now, we have a long list of firsts by him, in his first year, almost everything he is doing is for the first time. First smile, first little tooth, those first steps wobbly like a drunk, first time he said mumma, his first little kiss on my cheek – all of it is treasured beyond words.

Of course everything is documented now – a dozen photos and videos each day, so the list of firsts is extensive, but our generation relied on memory. We might be the last ones to do that.

Cheers,

Rutvika

Accept my mothers day wishes, mom.

Whenever mom calls, my tone of voice changes. I suddenly become authoritative. Commanding. I had not realised this till my husband pointed it out to me. And that happened when I pointed out to him – that he is so assertive with his mom.

Soon after we got married, everyday my husband would complain to my mother-in-law about the why so and so subzi was made that day, why was breakfast not served at 8 am, why did she install unauthorised apps in her mobile (which made it crash) etc etc. She would very gently try to reason with him and still provide multiple options to him if he disliked what was made. It boggled me. My man, of impeccable manners, was so rude to his mom. I started thinking. Perhaps, this is how he really is and soon he will start talking to me in that manner. And one day I took that up with him. We had a big fight (we don’t fight often, it drains us too much), and he said that its between him and his mom, nothing to do with us. And that’s when he started pointing out when I used to bully my mom on phone or in person.

Now every time I am talking to my mom I am aware of it. I try to be gentle with her. If I can be accommodative of colleagues, friends and other relatives, ofcourse I can be reasonable with her.

Mom and I have had our share of fights, oh we used to fight so much until about I was 22. Like every teenager and twenty year olds, I wanted to do everything she did not approve of. My dad, a Mumbai police office, had seen very bad things happen to girls and hence he used to be super paranoid for me. And my poor mom was always the shock absorber. Dad and me (and my brother of course) would all throw tantrums and she would be the one trying to keep some harmony while everyone threw fits of rage or silently sulked for days. But when did she get a respite? I wonder and don’t find an answer.

As far as I remember , my mom never went to her mom’s house for more that 2-3 days. And ever since I got married and before i had a baby, I  went back to stay for one night in three years. But now once baby Arjun was born, I feel so much more connected to her. When I spent the first 40 days post delivery under her care, I knew only she can handle my post-partum messiness and mood swings. Nevertheless I kept bossing her around.

Perhaps now since I am a mother , I am constantly scrutinising mother-child relationships and wonder how ours would be. Would my boy be like his father? And if he does, do I have the patience of my mom-in-law? Or would Arjun be like his mother, like me? In that case, I know that I don’t have the tenacity to withstand tantrums like my mom did.

The only cushion of comfort is when I hear my mom talking to her 77 year old mom with the same ‘Do-this and dont-do-this’ authority, I know that if they can do that for 50 years, we too can.

Nevertheless, today I will charm her. And life will go on from tomorrow.

Mom and me

Those three months and Kiwi Cupcakes with frosting

Last year around this time, I got pregnant. Which means that we were busy doing the hoo-hoos and haa-haas, very enthusiastically. Since then there hasn’t been much hoo or haa, but that’s a different story. (Now I seriously wish that no kids are reading this and neither is my mom or mom-in-law.) But anyway, it is an understatement to say that life has turned upside down since last April.

A few days back I found a letter I had written to myself. Last year this time. I often write letters to myself. Kind of a diary entry, but it works as if I am looking at the issue from a third party point of view. There, in that letter, I was telling myself to take it easy. It had been three months since we were trying to get pregnant and each time I got my periods, I would be immensely depressed. It felt as if I was killing the babies each month. I know how incorrect that statement is. I know. I know. But somewhere it just felt very bad. I would frantically chart my menstrual cycle in various apps and find out the “fertile” days. And coerce my husband into having sex as a rule on those days. Not that he minded it, but I had turned into an obsessive compulsive sexter, for those days of the month. For the first 10 days of the month, I would read up on all websites advising ‘how to get pregnant’ , and then later on obsess over ‘are you pregnant’ type webpages. I would dread each day as my periods got closer and any sign on PMS would make me cry. It was a very taxing time, let me tell ya.

My mom would keep telling me that it takes time, be patient. My husband would say, our bodies are not machines, have faith, it will happen soon. But I felt very low. And it is such a situation that couldnt even be discussed with anyone outside your innermost circle. At that time. To top it, my best-friend, my closest cousin and my sister-in-law : all were pregnant! Not me. Just not me.

I laugh at the insanity of the situation now, it feels stupid to look back at that version of myself, but I still shudder when I remember how I thought the worst was going to happen to us. And I had reached that conclusion in just three little months.

Later, when we registered with the gynaecologist’s hospital for delivery, the nurse excitedly told me that in India, December January is the busiest period in the hospital as it is the best “season” to have a baby. Most couples plan it that way, to have a baby in winter. And I thought to myself – “How the hell do they do that?”. How do they know when they will get pregnant? That answer still eludes me.

But anyway. Now I am hoping that when planning for the second child, I wont be so paranoid. Or I just might be. Because I will soon reach the big 3-0 in a year and half. Sigh.

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And I still don’t bake that often, my little one keeps me on my toes all the time. But these gorgeous kiwis in the market and eventually in the fruit basket made me want to bake. Urgently. And what could be faster than cupcakes?

Kiwi cupcake closeup

Kiwi Cupcakes with Kiwi buttercream frosting

What you will need :

For the cupcakes –

  • 1/3 cup mashed kiwi – about 2 kiwis
  • 1 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup + 3 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 egg whites

For kiwi buttercream –

  • 1 kiwi, peeled and mashed
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon icing sugar
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and sliced for decoration

What to do :

  1. Pre heat oven to 180C and line a 12-muffin pan with cupcake paper liners.
  2. Remove the skin of the kiwis and mash it with a fork to make 1/3 cup mashed kiwi. Add milk and vanilla to the mashed kiwi and keep aside.
  3. Sift together flour and baking powder .
  4. In another bowl, cream butter and all the sugar till light.
  5. Add the egg and egg white to butter and incorporate well.
  6. Now alternately add flour mixture and kiwi mixture to the cream butter and eggs. Start and end with dry ingredients i.e flour.
  7. Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes till a skewer inserted in the centre of a cupcake comes out clean and the tops are golden.
  8. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and let them cool completely before frosting.
  9. To make the buttercream, cream butter till its light. Add 3-4 tablespoon of mashed kiwi, 1 tablespoon at a time. (Ensure that the mixture is creamy and not watery).
  10. Add vanilla and icing sugar and mix well.
  11. Taste and add some more kiwi or icing sugar as per taste. But add kiwi cautiously or the mixture will get watery.
  12. Decorate the cupcakes with buttercream frosting and half a slice of kiwi.

Kiwi cupcake platter

A bundle of joy – my baby boy

Hello! From a newly minted mom. In the last two months that I had disappeared from the blog, I went off and delivered a baby. A baby boy, my bundle of joy. After a dramatic water breaking in the morning followed by day long labor, he was here. A part of me for so long, now pulled out into this world.

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Since then, have I changed? Yes. Overnight? Almost. Irreversibly? I guess so.

I had no idea that a tiny little human being will bring a storm into my life and for the next 35 days, every minute I will be doing absolutely nothing but nurturing him (and it still continues). I had heard about it, read countless mommy blogs, but you only realise the intensity of it, when it actually happens to you.

Thankfully I had a normal delivery, and within a day I felt fine. Sure my body still felt as if I was hit by a truck but I was comfortable and mentally I had gone into this overdrive mode where nothing else but the baby mattered, as I am sure happens with most moms.

Earlier when I used to imagine that precise moment when the baby is born and handed over to me, I always saw myself crying. Because of the enormity of the situation. But when it actually happened, I realised that at that point of time, labor was more overpowering and when the baby eventually came out, I only felt relief. I heard a loud baby cry, the doctor said it is a healthy baby boy and then immediately they placed the baby on my chest. I was supremely terrified that this tiny little being would fall off. And I clutched him tight. My little baby boy. I knew him. Since the last 9 months. In my womb. And now here he was. Beautiful and perfect. When Akshay, (my husband and my baby’s father) came in, I felt a surge of pride. At the living being we had created together. Baby boy had an exact tiny replica of his fathers nose. It was incredible.

Later on, when the baby suckled at my breast for the first time, I finally let down a tear. We had made it till here and we will do it till the end of our lives. Akshay and I had a new team member and we were a new family now.

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And then the histrionics began. Since that day I have found a deep reservoir of patience within myself. This little baby, we named him Arjun, does not know anything about the world. He was and is so solely dependent on me that it was humbling and yet empowering. Nothing else in life yet had made me feel so powerful till date. I had given birth and now I was giving him life.

I know I am using a lot of superlatives , but these extreme words are barely able to give justice to the surge of emotions, so bear with me.

After being discharged from the hospital , we came to my mom’s house, as is the tradition. And since then, we are here for 6 weeks, where my mom helps me take care of the baby, and she takes care of me. I couldn’t have managed these initial days without her constant support and unending hands-on baby management.

This month has been emotionally exhausting, for the lack of better words. First the realisation of the huge responsibility and secondly because my baby refused to breast feed initially. He would cry inconsolably, hold his breath and then we had to feed him expressed/ pumped milk and sometimes formula milk. And that broke my heart. I had one job, that was to feed him, and I was unable to do it. Incapable. And I did not know why that was happening.
Every time he refused to breastfeed I would cry. And cry. My mom and mom-in-law , husband , friends and a dear aunt tried to convince me that it is fine and it will gradually get better. The demand supply situation of milk takes time to adjust. It helped but just for sometime. I felt miserable.

Then after four weeks of agonising over it, suddenly one fine day baby boy decided it was time to make momma feel good. And like a switch he moved on to hundred percent breastfeeding and now we are happy campers.

It still takes enormous patience, I have to be available and ready 24 hours and sit nursing him for an hour at a time, without moving from my chair. And that with just about 4-5 hours sleep each day since he was born. But I feel satisfied. The natural endorphins released by my body seem to be working and I feel a high each time he nurses well and coos satisfactorily. And smiles. Not necessarily at me, but he smiles nonetheless.

We are slowly getting adjusted to each other. Him and me. While he is discovering something new everyday, so am I. We will guide each other, me telling him about this big, beautiful world and he teaching me how to be a mom. 🙂

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And meanwhile, for my little baby’s first month birthday, I made a simple eggless chocolate pudding. In a microwave. It has just 4-5 ingredients and comes together in 15 minutes. A very quick fix to your chocolate cravings.

Eggless Microwave Chocolate Pudding

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What you will need:

  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoon corn flour
  • 2 cups milk

What to do :

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, mix caster sugar, cocoa powder and corn flour. Mix well with a whisk to break any lumps.
  2. Add milk to the above dry ingredients and let it dissolve in the milk.
  3. Microwave the mixture for 3 minutes. Then take it out and stir well. Again microwave in bursts of 1 minute, stirring in intervals till the mixture thickens. It will take about 6-7 minutes in the microwave. Alternately, you can thicken the mixture on a stove-top, while constantly stirring.
  4. Pour the pudding in cups or ramekins, cover with a plastic wrap and let it cool for an hour in the refrigerator.
  5. Garnish with chocolate curls or whipped cream before serving.

Chocolate pudding