Of stories that touch the heart and don’t let you go.

 

Our class teacher in school Ms. Nelson used to read out stories from the Bible to us, in the first hour called ‘Value Education’. I had very little understanding  of the Bible and don’t remember most of the stories, but I remember being enchanted when she used to read out about Jacob and Esau, David and Goliath. A short and plump Keralite christian, she used to wear more gold to school than my mom wore to weddings. When she sat there in the classroom on a wooden chair, sunlight shining in her hair from a window on the right, she looked angelic. The power of stories was manifesting itself through her.

I have been lucky to have had many people tell me stories. From contemporary books, from mythology, from their own works. My grandma often used to tell me stories of Shivaji Maharaj, as grandmothers often do – at bedtime. The dashing Hirkani who climbed down a dangerous fort in the dark of the night because her baby was alone at home at the foothills, ‘Gad aala pun Sinha gela’ story where Tanaji Malusare left his son’s wedding to go re-capture Kondana fort for Shivaji, how Shivaji cut three of Shaista Khan’s fingers in a skirmish and escaped and so on.  Bright, fierce and valorous stories perfect for a little girl. And the smell of my grandmother’s cotton saree and as I lay close to her.

Now in adulthood the stories continue, but are rarely fictional. Stranger than any others I have heard before, but true. A baby who died while taking birth because the family was opposed to a C-section, a young girl who gets bullied in the school because she is different, a teenage boy who slips into depression and doesn’t know how to overcome it, stories of long unhappy marriages, ungrateful kids and the list is endless. Sometimes there is a dark cloud hanging over me and I can’t see through it.

The silver lining to all this is my 2 year old child and the stories he tells. Of the plants he planted with his grandfather and how there was a bud which bloomed into a flower. Of Jugnu, the little boy from Vikas Khanna’s book who loses his rolling pin on the way back from school. Of fishes who are having a birthday party and giraffes who call him Daddy. Life would have been difficult if it was made up of only adults.

And then yesterday I watched the movie Room, adapted from a book by the same name. Heartbreakingly beautiful. I had read the book a year back and knew the plot, the ending, everything. But I couldn’t stop crying for the entire two hours of the movie. I struggled between abandoning the movie and going to bed to hug my sleeping child and watching this hauntingly realistic story of Joy and her baby Jack who were held in captivity for several years. Its a story of their escape and of finding themselves in this big world. There was one scene when Joy says to her boy Jack that she is not a good Ma. Jack without skipping a beat tells her ‘May be, but you are the Ma.’ You should watch the movie and feel it for yourself how that line pierces the most vulnerable part of your heart.

There will always be two types of stories in this world. The good and the bad. The ones which make you cry. With pain or with joy. Of little girls and strong women, of boys and their banter. The ones which make you recoil from the storyteller and some which will make you hug them. We cannot hide from any of them. All that we can do is listen with an open mind and be kind with our words. And make our own stories and tell them. So someone out there says ‘this too shall pass’ or someone else sees a light at the end of a dark tunnel on hearing your words. We have all been through it, in varying measures and different circumstances. But we are here, now. And that’s what matters.

Next month I will be visiting my granny, my only surviving grandparent. I am going to ask her to tell me a story. She will start with one where her old friend was abandoned by her son, but I will tell her to stop. Please ajji, not this one. Tell me one where everyone is happy, everything feels good. “You know too much about the world now to believe any of those” is what she will tell me. I will sigh and put my head in her lap. Lets go back to Shivaji Maharaj, ajji. And perhaps we will.

Rutvika

Going to school : Mom is more petrified than the child

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Arjun is two years old now. Which means he will soon have to start play school, nursery etc etc and get in the rigamarole of people telling him how to do stuff. Not to say that we don’t, but he barely listens to us and convinces – coaxes, pampers or ignores us and goes his own way. He has also learnt fake crying and does it with eyes wide open to check our reaction. But all of this won’t be tolerated in school. One playgroup teacher in fact even told us that she doesn’t let kids in her class use the toilet except in the designated break time. Kids need to learn discipline. I am not sure how she imposes this on snotty 3 years olds, but we excluded that play school from our (very)short-list.

In the last two weeks, we have visited 5 playschools in our area. And rejected each one of them. For very peculiar reasons. The first one had a “counsellor” on board. They identify what problem your child has and direct them to specialist doctors on their panel. The administrator of that school proudly listed the kids whose problems were identified – ‘A has sensory problem’, ‘B has walking problem’, ‘C has talking problem’ and so on. I am sure they will find some problem with my boy – “not a party-goer, hates loud noise” might be topping the list. And while I understand that adults can sometimes need counselling, the idea to have a counsellor for toddlers rebuffs me. This nursery struck off.

In contrast to this one, we went to a traditional playgroup, the one which has been around in the same place for last 25 years. Replete with leaking taps and paint peeling off the walls. They believed in keeping it simple. And while it ensured that they had no hyper specialised doctors on board, I kept wondering if the carpet was damp with fresh water or umm, otherwise. Those guys need to refurbish to let in a lot more light and make it habitable. Another one neatly erased from the list.

The other two were tiny, looked like covered parking spots. Basically set up in place of shops on the ground floor of residential buildings. They were sparkly and bright with animal murals painted on the walls. A little play area with plastic slides and building blocks.  But I wasn’t comfortable with either of them. I can’t say why other than the fact that it felt I would be leaving my baby in a converted shop.

Perhaps, I am just not ready to let my baby go out into the world. I am wary of public scrutiny. If he is very active, has ten things up his sleeve, he will be labelled ‘hyper-active’, if he sits quietly in the room, he will be termed ‘anti-social’. Whatever he does will not be confirming to the usual standards of normalcy. And with that people will judge me. As a mother. Me and my husband as parents. And even his grand-parents because he spends a lot of time during the day with them when we go to work. Now I have read enough self help books and articles and TED talks to know that I shouldn’t let it matter to me. But how do I protect my boy from all of this?

But finally, this weekend we found a school which prima facie seems to be in line with our beliefs. More focus on books, less on gadgets; a teacher who didn’t squirm when Arjun refused to enter the school, one who wasn’t shouting instructions but talking softly, giving importance to sending at-least one fruit with the tiffin box, etc etc. In isolation these are little things, shouldn’t matter much, but the whole as a belief system matters a lot.

Like most babies, Arjun is a sensitive little dude. Cries when Jack fell down the hill, or Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. We have to make amendments in the song and assure him that Jack and Humpty Dumpty are both okay. He is the one with a lot of hugs, lot of Eskimo kisses and is constantly making us tea, cupcakes, dosa with his plastic kitchen set. He is currently obsessed with mannequins and wants to go and touch all of them outside the shops in the market. Tells us that the mannequins are not real but believes when I say that they sleep at night and we can’t go see them. He is weird that way. But I would go to any length to protect his imagination, his story telling and his firm conviction that his baby cream can cure anything in the world.

And I am sure eventually he will be a master in self-help and give gyaan to us, but for now, it is our responsibility to take care of this little Peppa Pig.

Love,

Rutvika

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

 

 

A letter to my yet-to-be born nephews

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Arjun and his cousin Malhaar

Flashback April 2014 : This was a little before I got pregnant. Although I initially wrote it for K and N, I read it a few times to Arjun when he was growing within me.

**

My best friend and my favorite cousin are going to have a baby in just a couple of months. I am incredibly fond of both these women but work and distance separates me from meeting them as often as I would have liked. It limits the opportunities that I have to tell their soon-to-be-born kids of how kick-ass their moms are. And how this is the one and only time when they can see their mom at the workplace, in meetings, experiencing the daily conundrum of life, be a part of everything that’s going on and still be aloof.

I want to tell those little ones (I am not sure what I should call them, the doctor also doesn’t refer to them as babies till they are born, so I will be calling them little ones), that –

“Mommy is incredibly proud to host you for 9 months as a part of her and this is the time when you will be undividedly hers, and she yours. Of course, later on you will be a priority too, don’t grumble in there, your mommy can feel it. But while you are cocooned inside, have a fun time. Your mom is eating different foods. I am sure you must be playing a guessing game of ‘what-mom-ate’ based on the tastes and smells you get. Yes you are right, there are a lot of different tastes, sweet, sour, salty, spicy, but momma is protecting you from the bitter taste, and she most always will.

Little one, I have known your mom since she was a very young. She is sweet yet determined, organised yet crazy and loving yet stern. I wish to tell you these things because at times you may find she is talking mildly in a soft voice and sometimes as if she is commanding an army. Dont worry little one, it is just the situation that demands your mom to act that way. But in her heart she is always the kind girl.

It is still a few months before you arrive and yet all arrangements for you have been made. That doesn’t mean you should hurry up, oh darling, take your own time in there. Because you will be spending the next 100 years on this land, but just the nine months inside. So fully utilize this time, get in a lot of nutrition (mommy is really eating for two) and become a big fat baby while you come out. Recognize your mom’s scent, hear the way her stomach grumbles when she is hungry, feel the tremble of her shiver when she sees a scary thing and notice her goosebumps when she reads something emotional. She is your shield little one, and yet she will let a few things seep in so that you are not utterly shocked once you come out.

You dont know the concept of gravity yet, but when you do, you will be able to appreciate how your mom held you up in her stomach, and how her back must have hurt. Of course the version you are seeing of her is the slower one currently, because she has to protect you. Oh but let me tell you, she is one fire-brand. You haven’t seen her kick a football so hard that it goes out of the field or watched her get into a train full of people, where it seems not another person can get in. You haven’t seen her hop on a bike and zoom off with your dad or brave the snow and dashingly go off to buy groceries. And you will see how once you are 2 years old and running around, she can run behind you but way faster than you. She can toss you in the air and swoop you up, and you will feel as if you are flying. She will tickle the hell out of you and laugh so hard, that you will think this is the best moment in life.

She will do a lot of things for you little one, but you are doing good too. Your kicks reassure her, your swelling size makes her confident. Uncomfortable, but confident. Your movement makes her feel alive inside and the nudge of your toe lets her know you are eager and connecting. She can feel your heartbeat and that is what keeps her going.

Love you little one, more than you can ever know. ”

Rutvika Charegaonkar

“I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.”

― Kurt Vonnegut

Trapped.

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Yesterday I had a rough day at work. I tried to do something I am not good at. And it backfired. I was upset and distressed.

When I came back home, my 14 month old son sensed it. He gave me some hugs and in general wanted to cling to me. I was already pre-occupied and tried to shrug him and look at my laptop. He was not happy. Finally I took him to bed at 8 pm, his usual bed time and tried to make him sleep. Changed his diaper, gave him the vitamins, put on his night dress and kept him on the bed. He wanted to babble and read his book . About dogs and balloons in the park. I wanted him to go to sleep. Finally I switched off the lights, he cried a little, but soon fell asleep with his blanket. He likes to carry it everywhere these days. It’s my grandma’s old saree now stitched together to make a blanket. Baby boy hates it if we try to take it from him. I used to use that blanket before him, and it still has my smell. May be that’s why he likes it.

Later that night, I was talking to a friend. He was having a troubled day. I have known him for the last 3 years but that was the day when he decided to tell me that he was abused between the ages of 5-8. By his dad’s orderly. He tried telling his parents; they shrugged it off. Ever since their display of indifference, he had severe self-esteem issues, which continued for 20 years until he identified and began working on the issue when well into his thirties. He confronted his parents many years after the incident. They continued to maintain their stance of being without responsibility for the incidents. Today, he is trying to be a good husband, a good father to his young daughter, but it is with great efforts that must be renewed every day.

My son woke up again, I heard him crying on the baby monitor. The husband usually makes him go back to sleep, but he was at work. I went up to my crying baby, picked him up and tried to make him go back to sleep. He crawled in my arms on the bed and wanted to sleep with his little head tucked safely in the crook of my neck and shoulder. He often does that, his back touching my chest. Snuggled like a cocoon. I put him in his bed once he falls asleep. But last night, he just wanted to stay there. Would start crying if I tried to get up. In a way, I was trapped . Couldn’t get back to my world and its problems. So I relaxed. I smelled his hair, stroked his fingers, kissed the back of his head a few times and started singing a song which we both love. He hummed his own tune. I kissed him some more and he slept peacefully for the night. I was calmer, composed and felt blessed.

I thought back to my parents, and how they stood together through adversities just to give us a stable home, a firm ground where we could dream and live. Several times after one of their fights – regular fights which couples have – they would threaten to leave each other. I wondered why they don’t do it, if they can say it so easily, why do they not do it? The reason they gave us and to each other was that they stayed together for the kids. To my rebellious teen brain, it felt ridiculous. But I cannot thank them enough now for being the parents that they were. I will never know what they really thought in those moments, but I am so glad they overcame it and raised us as a family. A family we can go back to for support and comfort even now when my brother is studying 9000 miles away or I am married and raising a family of my own. Their role in who we are today, is insurmountable.

We as parents have such a big responsibility in shaping the life our kids will have, it feels scary at times. But there is no other way. Once we decided to have a child, we have committed ourselves to it. I am trapped. But in a good way. Now its upto me to make the best of it, for myself and for my child.

Rutvika

The fault in ourselves

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Baba putting away his glasses before a photo

A few years ago when Baghbaan, the Amithabh Bacchan starrer was released, I had not seen it. It was too old-fashioned and the same stereotyped rona-dhona of parents vs. kids did not interest my 17 year old self at all. But later when it was replayed countless times on television, I saw it in parts. And I also saw my dad- a police officer, no less, shed a few tears while watching the movie. (He is going to admonish me for writing this, but he reads the blog post only after I publish it, so there is no going back.) Baghban is a story of how children as adults mis-treat parents who have given up their life and dreams and money and house for the kids.

And then yesterday, I watched the marathi movie Natsamrat. It delves on a similar premise, but this man here Ganpatrao Belvalkar is an acclaimed theatre artist and an excellent actor. He sees a lot of fame and fortune in his heydays and eventually retires, transferring all his property to his son and daughter. It would be easy to say that they mis-treat him, but it is not that simple. The movie is complex and multi-layered. It did not let me sleep the entire night. I wanted that 165 minute movie to go on and on. I wanted Nana Patekar to keep talking, to keep bringing Shakespeare’s words alive on the screen. I was processing a lot of thoughts. You will realise when you see the movie (and you must – it also has English subtitles ) that ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.’

The fault in ourselvesOur heart goes out to Ganpatrao, but at the same time wondering what a fool he is to transfer everything he owns to his children. To not have a retirement plan. To have such faith in your kids that it makes you fool-hardy. To relinquish everything you owned for them in the hope and belief that they will care for you forever. On paper the idea sounds ridiculous, which stupid person does that?! But if you look around, you can count at-least a dozen people who have done so. That’s just the Indian way of being. But I wish my parents, my parents-in-law and the parents of everyone I know refrain from doing that. At any cost.

Nobody is evil or bad to begin with. In their own perspective they may not even be doing anything wrong, ever. But situations, circumstances make people act as they do. And it doesn’t take long for a situation to go out of hand. Because every unjust thing that happens or is done – is just slightly more weird than something that happened before that. In totality if you see the journey of decline of relationships from point A to point B, it feels how did they reach this level? Did they never look back and stop? But the comfort of hindsight is not available when you are going through the rigmarole of days and life. And eventually its too late to go back. To undo.

Financial stability has always been very important for me. Even when I was studying to become a professional, I wanted to get a degree which empowers me to be independent. Financially and otherwise. I cannot imagine what retired parents with limited savings feel especially after being the bread earners for all of their life. My grandparents atleast had retirement pension. That facility is not available to us. We have to make our own investment and retirement plans which go way beyond our children and their needs.

I am at an interesting position right now. Mother to a one year old son and a daughter and a daughter-in-law to two sets of very accomplished parents. I hope for all of us that we do not redeem our financial security against any emotional or psychological requirement of the time. Because ‘Money is a good soldier,sir.’.

Saat Samundar Paar, here we go!

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When a boy wants to eat momma, he will do it 😀

My boy is 10 months old now. Which means officially he is outside me for longer than he was inside me. Which means his four little bunny rabbit teeth have long replaced that toothless gummy smile. It also means that as he relies more and more on solid food than mother’s milk for his nutrition, he will be less dependent on me. As a corollary I get more freedom. But I cannot continue to flatter myself with the thought that he can’t live without me. He can. For hours at a stretch.

Soon that day is not far when baby boy might want to independently do stuff with his dad. Just the boys. “Purush-purush” as my brother used to say, which means ‘men only’ in Marathi. There was a period from age 3 to age 13 when my brother was so attached to our dad that he wouldn’t care if he woke up and mom wasn’t around for an entire day. They would go for drives, lunch and movie dates, shopping – all on their own. Purush-purush. Of course the next 10 years till he left home to study MBA were filled with ‘I-hate-dad phase’ to the extent that he would do everything possible to piss him off. Sometimes even just for the sake of it. And my poor mom had to constantly play referee. Without taking sides.

So I am prepared that my baby and husband will team up against me and my feminine shenanigans.

But for now he is my baby kangaroo. And I am going to take this little chipmunk across the seven oceans , all the way to California, all by myself.

When we made the travel plan and booked tickets to go visit family in San Jose for thanksgiving, it was for the three of us. But Akshay, my husband, can’t make it due to unavoidable work commitment. Now I have (or had) two choices. Cancel the trip and keep thinking forever that we could have done it, just the two of us. Or simply pack up our shit and go. I chose the latter.

So here we are, this mom and son duo, all set to take the 24 hour international flight to the other side of the world, in less than three weeks.

It would be an understatement to say that I am not scared of the flight, of the jet lag, of baby not feeling well or of a thousand other things going wrong. What if I don’t get the bassinet seat in the flight? What if he decides to not sit still even for a minute? Will he eat whatever I carry for him? Will he nurse during take off and landing to avoid his ears getting clogged? Will Arjun miss his dad and grandparents? He will meet a dozen new people in a week, will he be okay with that? Will they like him? Oh, it’s a wreck in my head.

But I guess the only way to find out is by doing it. Exactly 2 years back when I was preparing to go to Paris for Le Cordon Bleu, I was similarly quite nervous. But it turned out fine. Danielle my hostess tremendously helped me throughout my 5 weeks there and plus I knew if something goes wrong, Akshay will be there in the minimum amount of time it takes to travel. And it is the case even now. So I guess we will be fine.

I have always been a big-family sort of a person. I love and cherish all of my cousins, uncles, aunts, and now my teenage sister and brothers-in-law, and in-law set of uncles and aunts. And a whole load of grandparents. I have fond memories of going to different relative’s houses with my dad and mom and I want baby Arjun to have these too. The added benefit is the Californian family has a dog and a cat. Arjun is going to be thrilled.

So all I need to do now is stop worrying and start planning.

Have any of you travelled with a baby? Or noted anything particular about long travel? Any tips, pointers dos and dont’s will be highly appreciated.

xoxo,

Mama bear

Rutvika

Sometimes all a girl needs to do is cry.

A writer I love once said “write about things that make you cry.”
But what if those are really mundane things? Nothing-to-write-home-about kind of things? How do I write about that? And if not, how do I get rid of that pressure I feel in my throat every few minutes, my heart wanting to get rid of those tears swelling up in my eyes?

The trigger could be anything, but the underlying events build up over a few days. The best solution I have found for times like these is to just cry. And let it out of the system. It might look silly, someone might ask you “what are you crying about?” And you may have no real reason to tell, but ignore them. And cry it out. It feels good.

Yesterday was such a day for me.

A professional colleague , apparently healthy but quite old, dies of a heart attack. I think of all the times I did not answer his call. Or the times I told him I was busy and cut short his call. How would I have known that there won’t be any more calls soon? It makes me think of my grandparents, I need to call and visit them, I note. But yesterday the thought just made me cry. Every-time I looked at my phone or the numerous technical books he has written which are lying in the office book-shelf, I had a lump in my throat.

My little baby. Last night while nursing before sleeping, he accidentally turned off the light switch with his leg. And the beautiful full moon shone in through the window. His face lit up, from the light and the new discovery. He pointed at the moon and wanted me to see it. We gazed at the moon and sang a little song. He giggled and clapped. I cried. The simplicity of his love and his complete trust in me made me choke up.

Husband said something which he did not mean, but I understood something that he did not say. How did we complicate stuff so much that we are saying words we ourselves don’t understand? Giving each other the silence treatment when all we want to do is snuggle up and sleep. Instead he stays up late – working and I cry my way to sleep.

There must have been a bucketful of tears yesterday. My eyes get swollen, red and my cheeks look flushed. But my head clears. I can finally take a deep breath and feel at peace.

I have been doing this as long as I remember. Earlier I would go to mom and tell her that I want to cry. Simple. I would put my head on her lap and let it flow. Being a teenager, I couldn’t or rather did not want to tell my mom the reason behind my tears. She did not ask. But as you grow up it ceases to be that easy. Grown ups have to bottle up and be an adult. Or so I thought.

At times, PMS gives a good excuse to be cranky and cry. But I don’t want to attribute the complexities of life to simple PMS. I want to be perceived as a deep thinker and not a silly girl who cries every month. So that is not happening.

In marathi we have a saying “sukh dukhtay”. Loosely translated it means feeling sad when everything is just fine. Sometimes that is exactly the case. And in those times hide and cry. Or watch a movie and cry. Or go to momma and cry.

Or snuggle up with your husband like I did at 3 am at night and sleep the best sleep ever. After crying, of course 🙂

The day my heart went walking around outside my body

Version 2

This post is published on the fabulous Lalita Iyer’s bog Mommygolightly. It was written when Arjun was two months old. Now at eight months, is it time to start thinking about the next one? May be.

“When I look at my two-month old baby sleeping on my lap, satisfied after nursing for half hour, I often wonder: how did this miracle land up in my life?  The baby was just a thought up to a year back and now he is here. And then I realize: Oh, I made him. These tiny little fingers, that beautiful curve of his lips, the peach coloured skin, I made all of him.

Why did I decide to have a baby? Frankly, in my mind there was never any other way. Having a child was always the plan. Like millions of women, I always wanted to get married at an “appropriate” age, and then eventually have kids. Preferably two.

Having a baby seemed the most natural, instinctive thing to do.

When I started seriously thinking about it, I realised that the baby business was a permanent fixture, an irreversible act, which will be our responsibility at least for the next 18 years. Were we in the state of mind to make a lifelong commitment we could not run away from?

I had read many articles where women/men said most people have babies to make their life complete. That was not true for me. I felt complete enough. I have a good career, a challenging job and a baking and blogging hobby which filled my weekends. The husband and I love to travel and we travel very often. So I felt completely satisfied as it is. Even without the baby, I had a big list of things I wanted to do. Accomplishing those would already take a lifetime.

 So having babies to feel complete was out.

 The second common reason was ‘wanting to live your life, fulfil your dreams through your kids’. Hell no! I have to live my life, be happy with the way I do things and only then can I provide a stable, fulfilling life to my kids. I never once thought that I will live out my dreams through my kids. My dreams are my own. I want to fulfil them. Our kids will have a life based on their aspirations, their view of the world. Some of our goals may coincide and I hope they will want to do some things their parents like to do, but that’s about it. Thank you.

 Then why do I want kids?

Till now I have been a daughter, a sister, niece, wife, daughter-in-law etc. But not yet a mother. It is one role I get to play in life only after I have kids. So much has been written and said about ‘mom’ that in a strange way, I want to live up to that image. I want my children to grow up into enriched individuals and look back at their childhood and say, “It was good”.

My mom is my shrink. There is nothing in the world that she doesn’t understand by merely looking at me and nothing she can’t solve by a few soothing words and a warm bear hug only moms are capable of giving. I want to be my child’s shrink. I can’t give up on being that amazing person for my child as my mom is for me.

 Also, I want kids so that I can look at life from a different point of view. Life makes us all cynics. Growing up takes us away from innocence, one day at a time. I want to see things from my little child’s perspective. Everything in the world that we take for granted, is new for them. I don’t remember the first time I saw a dog, or sat in a Ferris wheel or felt rain pouring down my face. But I will see my children discover all these things and I will capture those moments as if my own. I want to take a swing so high that the world looks tiny. Dance in the rain, sing silly songs, go running after a butterfly, or simply kneel in front of a dog and stick out my tongue like he does. Only a little kid will give me the liberty of doing such childish acts. And to look at the world through a wonder filled kaleidoscope.

It is a going to be a beautiful journey, but right now I write this when my days and nights have morphed into one unending time slot of 24 hours which is on a continuous loop of feeding, burping, nappy changing, soothing and back to feeding again. But yes, now I know.”

Rutvika Charegaonkar

Sleepless Nights and Tired Days

Arjun book

With a little baby at home sometimes days begin with an inexplicable tiredness. Nights come and go without even a couple hours of sound sleep, the baby tossing and turning besides you, demanding to be breastfed every hour. It feels like an unending cycle of soothing, patting, feeding, burping, swaddling and trying to sleep yourself and then its 4 am. Birds start chirping outside, soon there is a tickle of a mellow light into the room and then the stark daylight of 7 am. But you feel unrested, the night never gave a chance to recuperate to face the next day. But it is okay. The baby wont be a baby too long and they say later you will miss the nights when he wanted you to comfort him. For now, I wait for that one night when 5-6 hours of sleep is even remotely possible.

Having said that, I know that is was my conscious decision to have a baby. it was not an accident. Husband and I planned this baby and the baby singularly brings more delight into our lives than any other other thing has. He has made us a family and I love being his mother. Breastfeeding him exclusively for six months is also a very thought out decision. I feel proud of it while at the same time I cannot believe how physically taxing it is. After having a proper dinner, if the baby feeds twice in a couple of hours at night, I feel famished. A deep hollow in my stomach. And once the baby sleeps again all I want to do is lie down and sleep for whatever time possible, but I have to get up and eat.

It is true that life is easier now than it was in the first 3 months since the baby was born. But I had very little expectations from my day in those first three months. Taking care of the baby and heeling myself after the rigours of childbirth was all I had to do. It is not the case anymore. I got back to work once the baby completed three months. I have to bake and blog. I need to meet relatives and occasional friends who take the effort to come down closer to my home to meet me as I can’t leave the baby for more than 2 hours at a time. It definitely helps that my workplace is 5 minutes away from my home and that it is our family business where I have a lot of flexibility with work timings. Mom-in-law and mom take care of the baby while I work and do other things. But with such ample support it becomes binding on me to live a full life and not laze around. It is almost as if I feel ashamed of taking an occasional nap in the late-afternoon when I go back home, because there is always something more worthwhile that I can do while the baby naps. And then after 4-5 days of round the clock baby care and work and other paraphernalia, the brain gives up. Goes in a zombie state and I shut myself out from the world with some music. While I work.

At times I feel it would have been easier if I had less expectations from life. And less tendency to feel guilt. I massage my baby with oil every morning before his bath. If in a hurry I miss it one morning, then the entire day I feel I was derelict in my duties. If one day I reach home 10 minutes late for his feeding and he looks at me with those “where-were-you” eyes, I hate myself for being late. Work immediately piles up if I leave even an hour early than planned and my to-do list starts getting longer. And to top it if I haven’t blogged in an entire week, I cant sleep at night. Words keep forming a plot in my head till I write them down. Its an unending cycle I have created for myself and I cant get out of it.

But I suppose that is the only way of life I know to live. I cannot not work. I need it to stay sane. I cannot stand the thought of feeding formula milk to my baby when I am producing enough for him to grow. I cannot take a break from the blog, the stories in my head will get suffocated. I cannot stop baking, the creative energies need an outlet. And I cannot not live. It’s the only life I have got.

Maybe tonight if the baby is relaxed and I get some sleep, things will be better and easier tomorrow. Maybe. But it is better to take it as it comes.