Friday, December 21, 2007

The - one or two - dilemma

I read this post by Bangaloremom on “reasons to get married”. She delurked and commented on my previous post and mentioned that one of my posts about “stopping with one child or going for the second” started a raging war at her home. And as you may have read in my previous post – having two children and taking care of both – especially the first few years - can really push you to the limits of your patience. So in the context of all this, I was thinking to myself – What would be some reasons to go for a second? Would I still do it if I had a choice?

It is tempting to think of a life in general where the work is less than more, where worries stop with just one child rather than two etc…but in reality I think we all love to be pushed to the limit. If not with a child, we find other ways to push ourselves.

That said – why a second child? Let me first say – this is just my own personal opinion. I am not asking you in particular to have a second child (not that you would for that reason anyway!). I am again gathering my thoughts regarding this issue. If my close friend were to discuss this issue with me, I would feel at liberty to strongly advocate going for a second child rather than stopping with one child. Aside from the fact that misery loves company and I would make sure to drag such a close friend into the net with me – why would I be telling her to go for a second?

This used to be my thought process while talking to my husband before we decided to go for a second:
Goodness, I have to go through pregnancy all over again?!
What happens to my career – I can feel my brain rusting and chipping off and falling out of my head as it is – now I have to wait another two years? (Day care was not an option for me for at least one year minimum – for several reasons – let me not go into that). And the cost of raising two kids?
The tension of waiting till a healthy child is delivered?
Do you know what it was like to feed KB this afternoon – to have to do this for two kids?!
I just went back to being able to wear my old pair of jeans – you want me to go back to maternity size and start from there all over again?
It’s not like you and your sister keep talking to each other all the time – so why is it so important for KB to have a sibling?
Well, you* are not the one who will be pushed to the limit – it is ME who will probably be on the verge of collapsing every night!
Those and variations of those dialogues featured during our discussions about this. Add to this my two brothers – one on each camp – telling me the benefits of having one or having two children. And mom who would not even hear of it if I said one is enough. “Nee edukku appdi solre? Rendu porakum’nu irundha poraka dhan pordhu. Neeya onnum solla vendam.” (Why do you have to say anything? If you are meant to have two, you will, you don’t have to say anything.) Hmm…are you saying contraception is not fool proof? I used to flippantly think when she said such things.

I have to say though the one person who was key (besides for obvious reasons of course) to this decision was B. He did not have any doubt that left to himself, the choice would clearly be two. I felt I could rely on him in all that this meant for both of us. His conviction made his reasoning also sound strong. He left it up to me to decide though since he did see that I had to give up more than he had to at that point.

I was personally very content with one child. But as with most people the over driving force in my decision was not because B wanted to have two but that I wanted KB to have a sibling and the other child to have KB. That and only that was my main reason. It was strong enough to convince myself that I simply have to do it for the sake of him and the second child. And now when I see them interacting even at this tender age – he is 27m old and she is 6m old – I have no doubt in my mind that we did the right thing. There are fleeting thoughts during moments of mental and physical fatigue if I did the right thing – not so much with respect to the child itself – but in over estimating my own energy levels – in going for a second child. But the next day dawns, I feel more rested and as soon as KB wakes up he wants to see “kutti baby”. And she gives this huge toothless grin at the sight of him. It is quite unbelievable actually – they act like buddies already. He simply dotes on his sister. I am sure he will be annoyed with her at times and there will probably be sibling rivalry and what not – but at the bottom of it all I can see that there will be friendship. It is already there – the natural bonding – we just have to nurture it and preserve it until it takes a form that will not be broken by anything. In his joy when he sees her first thing in the morning, I can visualize him celebrating her every victory – even if not in the young and restless teen years but later when he is mature. When she smiles back at him, I can see her relying on him as a friend, a confidante and someone she can count on always. May be the dreams of a parent – but I have invested a lot into these dreams – and I would like to believe it will become reality some day.

When I decided to get married (oh yes, I have to do that post on the post decision celebration in my family) finally, I called every one in my family one by one. One of my sisters (the only one who knew I had visited B) was teaching her daughter Math when I called her. She came to the phone and told me she could only talk for two minutes since she had to go help my niece.
“I said Yes”, I told her calmly.
She could not even believe what she heard.
I repeated myself.
“Please don’t joke about this, Noon”.
“No, am not joking, really”.
Pause. Silence on the other side.
A weak and trembling voice said, “Yeah am here”. She was crying. She could not contain her joy – she was crying so much. My niece walked into the room and said “ You are crying?”. A second later, I heard her say, “You are laughing?”. She then told my niece, “Chithi said Yes…she is going to be married soon”.
And that’s it – her math homework was forgotten for another half an hour. She had to know the fine details of how it happened, what made me decide…
You can go through all this joy with a close friend or a cousin as well. And I did too. But with my sister – she knew everything that I had gone through and how my mom and dad felt before this and how they would feel now – the feeling of that shared history - of knowing what this means to every member of the family – it cannot be put in words.

When my father passed away suddenly, the grief was unbearable – his body lying there cold and frigid in a casket. My father who would wear his winter hat at the slightest hint of cold weather. The sight of his body in ice cold condition was one of the worst moments I can think of. I felt like my heart would break and fall apart. At that point I was held together not by my grief stricken mother but by my siblings. They too were falling but the feeling that our loss, our grief was common – different from that of my mother’s. All of us knew how it felt to have lost a father at that point. All of us talked so much about what little things he did for us, the very things we miss so much now. How much he used to annoy us with little things – he would insist that I write the “from address” if I mail a letter to my friend, he would keep telling me not to have coffee at night before bed time etc etc…each of us had a different story. My sister was telling us about how he would come into the room when she was studying way past bedtime when she was in medical college and he would sit with her near the table and after a while insist she get some sleep at least before she went to college the next morning. She used to think he had no idea how much she had to study – now when she worries about her own children getting enough sleep, she knows how he felt. I am digressing here I know. But the point is that during such moments of extreme pain, the kind of support you get from your sibling/s is just enormous. I felt grateful to my parents then for giving me siblings. I imagined how it would have been for KB if we were both not alive and if he did not even have a sibling – well you can always imagine the extreme – but somehow at that point – I felt better thinking he will have a little sister who will be his own family. Who shares his history. Who has been raised under the same roof. Who I will do my best to make sure will love him dearly (and vice versa).

When we used to discuss this issue of going for the second child, B used to tell me “See how much fun it is when we go to visit your sister or my sister – how excited they are to see KB – don’t you want KB’s kids to have that – an aunt who will be excited to see his children? Even if he has cousin brothers and sisters – unless they live close to each other – it won’t be the same – they won’t feel as compelled to visit – but with siblings they will make it a point to meet – because they are siblings”. And I could imagine that scenario as well.

Both B and I knew that there is no one right answer to this. If say, I could not have a second child for medical reasons, the whole discussion would have not come up. We would have been happy to have at least one and move on with life. Either way, the kids will grow up, they will find a way to be happy. It is finally a choice that we make – in the way we envision their life and our lives around them. Now it feels good, it feels complete. I feel exhausted, I feel isolated – but at the end of the day – I still know deep down this was the right decision. You will be pushed to the limit, you will hate it all at times and want to run away. But I cannot imagine that if you had a second and you saw the two children together that you would even remotely regret your decision. You just won’t. The pain of raising them and worrying about their well being will be for ever but somehow that complete feeling you get when you walk into the room at night and see your two children sleeping peacefully – it will make up for all the down swings you go through during the course of the day. If someone decided that one child is what’s best for them, I would not even suggest to them that they should go for a second child. If you are someone who feels you would like to have two children, but are not able to make that leap – this post is for you. I was that way and this is how I feel now. It is your own personal decision – especially for the woman. If all else is manageable - in terms of medical condition, finance – and it is just a matter of not being sure – well, this is how I feel. Just wanted to share it with you!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

May be these are our masters?

In the course of our every day routine, we come across so many different things. Often mundane routine things that you don’t even notice. There are some news items every now and then that make an impression in your mind for that period of one week or so when it is in the news. And there are always books, articles and blog posts that you read – you think about some of them for that moment and then move on. And there are some others that somehow make a deeper impression in your mind. What creates an impression depends on what your own state of mind is at that point. If you are deeply worried about your son not having his meals, some post about another suffering the same misery will resonate with you and you hold on to it, feel less alone, find the strength to cope with what seems arduous and you move on to the next day. When you are feeling down and you go for a walk, a stranger who gives you a warm smile and compliments your child or engages him/her in conversation simply cheers you up for that moment. Little strings of hope and strength come your way in such intangible ways and you find joy, strength, direction and hope to ride the tide of life.

After my mother left, I have been alone with both the kids during the day. What seemed like an impossible situation is something I have gotten through for nearly two months now. When she was around I never thought I could survive it (not the work, but the logistics of how one can practically take care of two crying children at the same time) without her or a nanny to help me out. The first day I had actually asked some paid help to come help me out during KB’s meal time – but she did not show up. And I found that I could actually do it. On my own with only the help of my two little children – they did step up and come to my rescue and coped with the change along with me. My mother often tells me not to worry about things that are too distant in the future (quite rich coming from her I would say!). She tells me that her dad never worried and would advice her, “ When the time comes you will find a way, things will sort out on its own in unexpected ways”.

Two tangible examples from the recent past in my case: I was worried sick as to how KB would cope when I was away in the hospital for my delivery considering he had never been away from me for more than two or three hours that too only if B was with him. Never when both of us were out. But he did cope. Miraculously well. He woke up from his nap that afternoon to find only my mother at home with him. He not only did not cry his guts out, he actually let her feed him lunch. It did not happen before or after I came back from the hospital, but it did when I was away and had no choice. The other thing I worried about was how I would manage without my mother around and that too somehow is working out to some manageable extent.

Staying home alone with two children whose needs have to be met on time without any choice about it brings forth two qualities in you – patience and discipline. I never knew I had so much patience in me. Rather I am able to garner the patience it takes to cope with their relentless (both reasonable and unreasonable) demands. Joy as it is to be with your children, it is a tremendous amount of work especially without any help all day. And it takes mental discipline – you have no choice but to put away that interesting article you are reading and run to your child if he/she wakes up. You have no choice but to hang up on a juicy conversation with your friend if your child calls out for you for something as silly as a crayon getting lost in the couch. You set aside your desires and give yourself wholly even if unwillingly at that moment – you have to be present and attend to them.

The process is fulfilling in its own way. But there are times when you feel your life is drifting away from you. You wonder who you* are and when your life ended and morphed into a life for the sake of others and only that. Not that that is the truth. But it feels that way during the moments of isolation and loneliness. This is a feeling only a SAHM mom will truly understand. Or may understand if she too experiences this feeling. It brings forth a feeling of restlessness about life. That in all the order that you create for yourself planning the hour by hour schedule for managing the kids, your own life is drifting into uncertainty. How will I be received when I step out of this world to the outside world? Will I have the same drive I had before all this? Will I feel the same way about my own career when I see that it means making compromises in the time I spend with my children? This is not a judgment question but a personal one – that it will definitely be a different me emerging out of all this and how will I feel then?

This sort of restlessness makes you want to find some guide that will show you the way. Not in the literal sense. But you know what I mean. I often think about this. And that’s why this post from dotmom made an impression on me.
Especially these lines:
“But through out this ordeal she has remained so calm that I have to admit I have questioned if she realized the seriousness of it all.“We don’t have masters (guru) in real life. I wish we did but we don’t. " She was telling me. Maybe these are our Masters, she said meaning the book’s author Brian Wiess.”

I have often thought about this on many days after I read this post. Not sit and ponder about it endlessly but as a drifting thought. And I realize that in the deeper sense, the answers are everywhere. The master who can guide you may not be in front of you with a name but may be in you and how receptive you are to the message in front of you. It is to my benefit if I remove the grain from the chaff and get what I want from it – in things I see, read, hear. To make myself feel at peace. To make myself a better human being.

The other day B was reading a non fiction book and had left it on the coffee table. I randomly opened a page and read it while having my tea. I later told him that I found the author to be full of himself and rather convoluted in what he was trying to say. But B casually said, “Yeah, but if you sort of set that aside and read it, he does have some good points”. Indeed – that’s worth doing at all times. Find wisdom where you can and be receptive to it. When I hit the low notes, I need to have faith. And gather all the strength, hope and wisdom in every day life rather than look for one guru to guide me through.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Holiday cards...

Every year as the X-mas season comes closer, I think about sending holiday greetings to friends and family. I keep alternating between feeling enthusiastic about it or feeling quite bored of the whole thing. There is some intertia when it comes to collecting the addresses and making sure that is the current one for each person. And of course I have to first make a list of people to send it to - lest someone get missed and finds out that I have sent a card to some other close family member and feels offended or left out.

Last year, we did not send holiday cards to anyone - neither me nor B were in a mood to think about this considering the events of that year. The year before last we sent a photo greeting with KB in the picture. I enjoy receiving photo cards from my friends/family members who have children. I usually put it up on the refrigerator with magnets. This year too, we managed to get a picture worthy of a photo card with both KB and baby girl sitting next to each other. It was beyond frustrating to get them to pose for it though. KB was too excited when he came into the room and saw that it had been set up for this portrait picture and dad was waiting with the camera on a tripod. He was much too excited with the mechanics of all this than to sit and give a pose. In the meanwhile, baby girl was moving around all over the place. KB kept running towards the camera saying "Light on, light on". He asked that the flash light be turned on. He wanted to move the swivel arm on the tripod. He wanted to see the photo on the view finder before B could even shoot a picture.
In that tiny fraction of a second when I begged, yelled, pleaded with KB to just sit still and he granted me my wish, B frantically shot a few pictures. It was not a home run - KB did not give his sweet smile - only a tiny hint of a smile. Baby girl however gave a good smile. And again, I am sure will get all the attention from every one! The chubby baby smiling and the little brat looking ready to run away from the spot!

I sometimes wonder how many people really pause and appreciate the effort one takes to send a holiday card. Some people take the time to acknowledge the fact that you remembered them and bothered to send them a holiday card. Some people, not in any arrogant way, but just from being busy or taking it as the done thing during the season, look at it and don't acknowledge it unless you happen to talk to them or meet them months later. I feel disappointed if there is no acknowledgement, so I tend to think "Ahn, forget about sending holiday card". But I tell myself that it still is a nice feeling to have made that effort to reach out and let them know they are being thought of and wished well. Somewhere, somehow the connection is kept alive in such small ways. There is a feeling of collective warmth in such little tokens being exchanged during the holiday season and makes you feel good while you begin a new year. Be it through holiday cards or phone calls or personal emails. (I don't feel compelled to acknowledge emails sent to me as part of some mass mailing with no names mentioned - from or to - other than in the header!) Forget about hand written letters, it has unfortunately become a relic! For now, I have drawn up a list of people to send holiday cards to. When I feel lazy to gather all the addresses, writing a note and mailing them out, I will read what I have written here and get going again!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Give your child roots and wings!

I had written earlier about some of my thoughts on parenting. The thought process will go on forever because once a parent, you are always a parent. When you are in the process of raising children, at least in the formative years, you let your instinct guide you. But in an every changing world, it helps to make adjustments and compromises and know when to let go and which battles to pick.

I read this article recently and I wonder what the world is coming to. How competitive can parents get? How base can one be in order to make his/her child win? And as you read this article, you think of “these” people, the nut jobs who cannot control themselves. Yet it is a reminder that the years to come brings forth a completely new set of challenges that will be more challenging than one may imagine them to be.

I am reminded of the conversation with my Ob/Gyn (I have said this before in some comment) when I told her “I can’t wait for both the kids to be two plus years of age, then it will be OK”. In her wisdom, she told me “Be careful what you wish for, it might be a goal you chase every two years”. Each year as they grow up, a new set of challenges start emerging.

I see it happening with KB. I used to think meal and naptime battles were hard. He was an angel child otherwise. He would be content playing on his own with what ever toys or Tupper ware containers he managed to get his hands on. He would hardly cry, even during his meal times. He was a slow eater and a restless sleeper. But in every other way he was good. And then it hit – those “Terrible two’s”! I could write a separate post on this new child but I am sure each of you who has crossed this point know what I am talking about. When did this happen? This gentle child now is more adamant than I can imagine. He fights me in his own special way enough for me to budge and yield to him when I swore to him “NO”! And what do I do when he insists he WILL not allow me to bathe baby girl, instead will do it himself and grabs the mug of water from me? I can physically over power him but there he is bawling his guts out in the most pitiful manner like I am torturing him. By the time I finish feeding him, baby girl, have my own lunch, change their diapers, make them nap and come and sit for a few minutes, it feels like I have fought a mini battle to earn this quiet time. And this is only supposed to get worse – with more challenges? More mental challenges? Yes, I am told. Wait and see, those with older kids say.

My friend told me the other day that his colleague at work has a son who is a freshman at one of the nation’s top universities. He has a roommate who has bipolar disorder. Apparently her son’s name features in his “hate list” on his face book entry. When the mother complained to the dean of her concerns, he told her that she could ask her son to change rooms if he so wished. But her son does not want to consider this option for fear that his friends would think he is a “wuss”! Now what should a mother do? In the wake of horrible killings one sees in the news, is she supposed to just sit back and let her son deal with it? What if something bad really happened? Can she live with the guilt of letting her son deal with it on her own? Or should she force a decision upon him?

Such situations crop up even at the toddler stage. Minor as it is, as a mother you do feel for your child. Especially when he/she is truly that – a child. When and how much do you interfere? KB for example does not grab toys from other children. He is willing to share his toys provided he is not using one of them at that moment. If some kid grabs it from him, he protests. He still does not know how to go and grab it back. He starts saying “Give it to me, give it to me”. And if he doesn’t get it back, he starts crying. When this happened at my friend’s place, she was not happy when I interfered and told KB that he should stop crying and that he could play with some other toy. She told me “Let them figure it out”. For one, baby girl was napping right there, I didn’t want him to wake her up. Two, how long do I let him cry? He was at my friend’s place and the toy KB had in his hand then was not his toy but the other kid’s toy. I felt I had to interfere. She was feeling bad for her son because he is not able to verbalize his feelings like KB and said that children who can do that and can cry it out get all the attention. Where as children who cannot do so and hence grab etc get the flak. It is hard in these situations to get into the nitty gritty of what happened. It feels too petty to do that. But if you don’t, you come back with some nagging feeling that something was left unsettled. There are no right answers.

The question that comes out of such situations is how much do you interfere? When I read such articles like the one I mentioned here, I think to myself, “God please, I hope I don’t ever become such an interfering micro managing parent”. You hope that along with your child, you will grow and find the wisdom to handle the pain that your child goes through in some social situations. You want to give them the feeling of security and love in their own home just so they can withstand things outside of it. It breaks your heart to see your child in even the mildest pain. I can imagine how some parents just break and take it upon themselves to wipe out the pain in their children’s lives. I see now that being a parent is also about being able to allow your child to experience both the joy and pain of growing up. Shielding them from pain and protecting them only prevents them from growing up into a capable adult. I read in some comment recently: “The best thing you can give your child are roots and wings”. Aptly said. Something to remember in the coming years.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Chrisim light!

'Tis that time of the year! To set up a X-mas tree (I use X-mas because my niece here was asking "why do people say X-mas for Christmas"?) and decorate it with ornaments and glittering little lights...

We had a small Christmas tree set up the year KB was born. We had a musical toy with a remote that would play different instruments and KB would roll over and look at those each time it was turned on. My MIL was with us then and she too enjoyed turning on the music and looking at the little moving figures. Last year we did not set up a Christmas tree since my MIL had just passed away and somehow we were not in a mood for anything.

This year, when I was at my sister's place she set up their Christmas tree on the Thanksgiving weekend just so KB could see it. Since he is more grown up now, he is really excited by this concept of a tree in the house that is lit up at night. And all of a sudden houses in the neighborhood have plenty of lights and figures of Santa and Reindeer set up in the yard. So when we got back I somehow managed to go and buy a small (two feet) tree and set it up with small ornaments and lights.

KB calls it "Chrisim light" and "Chrisim tree". He loves to point out the different colors of "Onnament" we have on the tree. And the different little figures. Every evening when he comes downstairs from his nap, it is beginning to get dark outside. It is a source of great excitement for us (KB and me) to see if our neighbor (across the road) has turned the Chrisim light on or not.

"Uncle Chrisim light ON pannitar" KB will tell me, his eyes all wide with excitement.
We (KB and me) refer to the one man we saw in that house as "Uncle".
And then he says " Aunty innum ON pannle". (Aunty in the other house across from this one has not turned it on yet).
And when she turns it on, it is yet another round of excitement and I have to lift him up so he gets a good view of it.
I have to keep the lights on in our little tree when he is around. Little boss that he is, he will come downstairs and see that the lights are off and turn to me and bluntly say "Chrism light ON"! And I have to obey his majesty and turn it on.

Next year he will begin to understand the concept of Santa and gifts a little more I think. And then will begin the whole "What gift do I get for Christmas?"...But for now it is pure delight at the simple joys of the holiday season!

P.S - from Wikipedia:
The word "Christmas" originated as a contraction of "Christ's mass." It is derived from the Middle English Christemasse and Old English Cristes mæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038.[1] In early Greek versions of the New Testament, the letter Χ (chi), is the first letter of Christ (Χριστός). Since the mid-sixteenth century Χ, or the similar Roman letter X, was used as an abbreviation for Christ.[2] Hence, "Xmas" is often used as an abbreviation for Christmas.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The little director!

KB is very disapproving of any affectionate gestures between his Mamma and Daddy. On occasion he would just smile like we were being so weird in even standing close to each other and look at us like "Why would you even do that?!".
On most occasions, if it got beyond tolerable distance (close) in his opinion, he would just scream "Ahhn Ahnn...." and gesture us to split apart. We of course did this deliberately to incite this reaction from him and would enjoy getting him all riled up about it.

The other day I had just finished nursing baby girl and had put her down on the pillow in front of me. As always KB came running and was playing around with her. B was home and joined in and sat next to me - both of us were on the edge of the bed and so huddled close to each other and watching the two kids. The little cop KB looked at us and we realized this was yet another opportunity to see his reaction. B came closer and put his hand around me. Neither of us budged when KB just turned and said "no no...vendam". Suddenly in frustration he just exclaimed "CUT"! :)

Guess that makes sense! :) He got the message across. We were in splits and split much to his relief!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Back home - final!

Well, I left my cousin’s place a couple of days earlier than scheduled because I wanted to give her the space to just be without having to be cheerful around me and my children. She really wanted us to stay on and yet I knew it was hard on her to put up a front when she was so preoccupied and physically exhausted with her health. Her daughter was deeply upset that me and my kids were leaving two days earlier than planned – but I figured that was a fair compromise – we stayed long enough for her sake but not too long as to become difficult on my cousin. I called my friends P&L (the happily married couple who have just a tiny bit more time on la-di-da land before they decide to take the plunge and join in the glory of changing diapers!) and told them I could come to spend the last two days of my trip with them.

There are some people who you meet quite casually without any expectations of any friendship later. And there are some you talk to or meet thinking you will become good friends. In many cases, quite the opposite happens. P’s roommate was a good friend of mine when I was a student. The three of us happened to meet when we got off the subway (all of us lived in the same neighborhood), we got introduced and the three of us were casually talking. Oh, the good ol’ days when we got off the subway and would suddenly decide to enter the coffee shop and have coffee and talk and laugh over nothing and go home when we felt like it! It turned out I had a bottle of “urga” (pickle) that I knew I would not use much. Somehow it happened that P (who I had just met) agreed to take it – when the three of us were talking in front of my house before they went their way. And that’s how we met…and now not only are we good friends; his wife is my good friend too. Not just that – even her parents keep in touch with me and even flew from Chennai to Bangalore to attend my son’s first birthday even though they had never met me physically before that.

P and L complement each other so well as a couple. It is wonderful to see really. It’s not often that you get along as well with the spouse too as you do with your friend. Some people just casually walk into your lives and touch it in ways you never expected.

My entire trip went smoothly because of P and L – since they are the ones who are relatively flexible in terms of their time since they don’t have kids yet – they were able to give me rides when I wanted them to, buy diapers (since I only use one particular kind since baby girl has Eczema) for baby girl and bring it to me when I needed it etc. I felt so touched by their generosity in terms of their time and their warmth and hospitality when I stayed with them. I tell B that they enjoy our children as much as any of our family members. KB just loves them both and is all smiles when we spend time with them. I feel fortunate that I have them in my life. I really hope this doesn’t change ever for any reason! Knock on wood!

And that’s how my trip ended – time spent in the company of my two wonderful friends. B came on Friday late night just to accompany us on the flight back the next afternoon. We managed to have a relatively smooth time on the flight back - except when I made the mistake of getting into the plane before B (since he was folding the stroller to check in at the entrance) during the pre-boarding. KB thought B was again going to disappear like he did when we left home. So he refused to move forward until Daddy came along. And there was a huge line behind me and I had baby girl in hand too. The flight attendant rescued me and held baby girl and I carried KB to his seat. He calmed down only when he saw Daddy join him in the flight! Phew! When we got home that night, KB was delighted to see his toys – his little yellow car…the choo choo train and what not…I guess even if you are just two years old, home is just home! Nothing to beat that!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Back home - III

Good health – my first wish for every one!

From a rather light-hearted tone in the previous two posts about my trip, this one is going to sound a bit more serious.

I went to my cousin’s place after spending time with my two sisters during the Thanksgiving week. My cousin and I have been very close friends since we were children. We used to have sleepovers in each other’s houses and spend a great deal of time laughing over nothing. We share many childhood memories, especially of Navratri days when we were young kids. My aunt (the one I wrote about earlier) used to dress us up as Krishna and Radha and we used to go to all the neighboring houses for “Golu” and sing songs and collect “Sundal”. We have played together sitting in the red tiled porch outside their house and talked about our school friends. She got married soon after college and came to the US. I was already here but I was a student. She would talk to me at length that I really should take that leap of faith and get married. She shared her own story of how nervous she was especially since it was an arranged marriage and how things do work out. We laugh so much when we talk on the phone imitating “complaining Tambram Mami’s”. We love watching Rajnikanth movies and laughing at his antics. I was there for her “Valaikappu” (7th month of pregnancy) and have always managed to see her daughter every year (she just turned 8). Her daughter D is also very close to me. So in essence we are extremely close as cousins as are our two families.

A few years back my cousin R was diagnosed with cancer of the thyroid. Now for most people (I know 4 people who had this – two of them my classmates), this is cured by removal of the thyroid gland after which they just do check ups once a year and lead a normal life. But for my cousin, she is in the smaller percentage of people for whom the carcinoma is a recurring type. There is lymph node involvement for which she has had four surgeries already. After the last one, it seemed like all was well and she continued to be the strong and cheerful person she is. When you have an eight-year-old daughter who needs constant care, even a migraine can strain every day life for all the family members. In this case, it is fraught with the anxiety that comes with the C word, what if it spreads – horrible fear, and this feeling of the unknown lurking in the corner. It is hard to put up a cheerful face when every year and half you have to go through treatments, surgery and be quarantined during that time – all without telling the child what is going on – just so she doesn’t have to suffer needless fear along side.

Her daughter D is a perceptive, intelligent and extremely bubbly girl. She loves people like nothing else. She is mad about my two children. She badly wanted to have a sibling – so much so my cousin waited for many months before telling her that I was pregnant with baby girl. D is very upset that her mother won’t give her a sibling. She can’t as of now. She cannot risk being pregnant just in case there is a recurrence and she has to go through treatments again. And that is precisely what is happening. Yet again. This time around, R (my cousin) does not have any energy left in her to put up a cheerful front for herself or her family. She feels sapped of emotional energy to combat this. She does gain perspective each time she comes across people who go through much worse, yet the reality when you have to go through something is your own reality. You cannot compare it to some one else and deny what you feel at that moment. Now she has to go through a fifth surgery. The doctors were in fact not even sure if they could do it for there is too much scar tissue. In which case they would have had to give stronger radiation treatments. On top of it now, R is finding it difficult to swallow or talk. She talks in whispers and not too much. Her daughter D gave her a note when I was there as to how much she misses talking with her mother. D suddenly came to me and cried “ I don’t feel myself because Amma cannot talk”. It was painful for me to see both my cousin and her child go through this. Doctors have still not given her a clear picture of what the problem is with respect to the swallowing difficulty. At least the good news is that they are reasonably sure it has not spread to the other regions in her throat.

I put myself in my cousin’s shoes and wonder how she feels. Especially after becoming a mother I often tell B that neither of us can afford to be anything but totally fit. Until we have made our children fairly independent. We just cannot rely on anyone else in this world. At least for B or me, neither of our surviving parent is young or independent enough now to be able to take on our responsibilities. We only have ourselves to rely on to raise our children. And no one in my opinion can take the place of the mother or father in caring for the children. Unless it is an adopted child they wanted on their own, any one who assumes the responsibility with a sense of duty cannot do it with the same enthusiasm or patience it takes to raise a child. May be I am making wrong assumptions here. But that is my opinion. Only the mother and father can feel bubbling pride at the child’s every little achievement. They are the ones who will feel the pain and be willing to give their time, sacrifice their work, sleep and toil with single-minded dedication until the child feels better when he/she is sick. Someone else may also do this, but the feeling will be different. If I were told that I had some disease that is going to take a toll on me but will not be life threatening – I will be grateful but I cannot escape the fear that this message would come with. What if....

I think of my cousin and wonder how she feels. I don’t talk about this too much to her especially considering she is now in the thick of things. But this was the first time I saw fear in her eyes. This was the first time we did not laugh at all. This was the first time I saw her after she had cried to her husband. I keep praying that the doctors should soon figure out what exactly the problem is and treat it on time. I am praying for her that there should be no recurrences. Unlikely as it is for her type of cancer, it is not ruled out. She can apparently lead a normal life except that she has to be on the watch always. I am so fervently praying for her good health for her sake and her dear sweet daughter’s sake. If there is any merit to collective prayer, I request you to do so too. And for the coming new year my top wish for every one reading this is good health for you and your family. Health is wealth. Priceless. Precious wealth indeed. We take it for granted until something comes and rocks the boat. You can only take care of it so much. There are things beyond your control too when it comes to health. And this is where I pray that our children especially should be in good health (for I can’t think of worse pain than seeing you child suffer in anyway) and that all of us should be in good health. Even if old age will later bring its share of health issues, as long as they are manageable issues, I will be thankful. For now, I am sitting here praying for my cousin – that things should only get better from this point on.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Back home - II

Continuing on about my trip…

When we got off the plane, both kids were sleepy and tired but the moment KB saw my friend L he was very happy. He gave a shy silly smile and started doing silly faces turning his head way up to the side etc. His pants were wet (he refused to let me change his diaper in the plane, how I would have done it with baby girl in hand is a different question!) so I quickly changed his diaper and clothes and then nursed baby girl and changed her diaper – all while my friend and his wife (V and L) were gathering my bags from baggage claim. They laughed at the assembly line feed/diaper changes that were happening for the two kids. I told them I would have my turn to laugh when my kids are more grown up and they are the ones changing diapers and looking like zombies from the non-stop work!
The contrast was all the more because they were returning from a wedding lunch and L was looking very pretty in her silk sari and new hair style, wearing stylish new pair of glasses. I was only glad to get through the day and get home to my friend’s place with little thought to how I looked (probably like a bag lady!) at that point!

First stop was at my friend T’s place. P was dropping me off at her place. She is an old college friend and a very close one at that. Yet this visit was a little different for me. I was seeing her in her new environment – her husband had made it really big in his company and reaped huge gains in stocks – so they are now fabulously wealthy. A gorgeous house in prime zip code and money for probably a few generations. Money can change friendships and I often wonder if our friendship is any different now because of her new moneyed status. I still can’t say for sure (just because we had so little time to really talk – between her two kids and my two kids, there was very little free time) – but on the face of it, nothing has changed. She still chides me jokingly (as I often complain to her that she does so) and was as eager as ever to have us stay at her place. I truly felt happy for her and for her husband - his success at his work and for being able to live a worry free life as far as money is concerned.
There is a strange feeling to see your friend who shared similar background to now not be in a position to relate to, or more so go through similar issues. A lot of every day issues are for example not something she has to deal with now. I can’t now tell her about not having enough time to maintain the house as cleanly as I would like to – because it is not an issue for her – cleaners come to her place quite often. I can’t talk too much about how flight expenses are piling up for us this year because that is absolutely not an issue for them. She will understand because she has been there but I just feel silly talking about it to someone who does not have to go through similar things in the same time frame. But she certainly does not wear her wealth on her sleeves - well you don’t have to in that zip code – but you know what I mean. She does not brag about her material acquisitions nor does she behave differently. Her parents – especially her mother who I am very close to, very fond of and is my role model – have not changed one bit. They don’t so much as hint in their conversations about her new status – which I have seen many parents do when their children either become wealthy on their own or marry into a wealthy family. It just feels good when you see such people – who can keep their head on their shoulders and keep their balance both during tough times (which they have really gone through) and good times.
Does money change friendships? There was this article in the NYT a while back – interesting one, incase you would like to read it.

Sorry for that digression!

Next stop was at each of my sister’s places during the Thanksgiving weekend. It was absolutely great spending time with them and their children (who are quite grown up now). KB and baby girl (I need to find good blog names for them!) had a great time basking in all that love and affection. My super smart nephew played the guitar (he formally learnt to play piano but can play the guitar and drums just as well on his own) sitting on his exercise ball while KB jumped on to the piano table and pressed the keys like he was a pro! It was quite a sight! He really looked like a junior musician – so intent and involved in what he was doing. He fell in love with the guitar and kept telling me “Daddy’ya unakku Guitar vangi kudukka sollalama?” (Meaning – Shall we ask Daddy to buy you a guitar?). My sister and I went shopping for an hour when baby girl fell asleep in the evening. It was great going out with my sister after a long long time. My sister was of course unhappy when it was time for us to leave. She had to go on call and I was going over to my cousin’s place.

I think I will post the next bit about my trip as a separate post. You will see why when I do that post. Will write when I find the next time slot!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Back home...

Two weeks away from home! With two kids. Without B! My god - did I really manage to do that?! It's not the work I am talking about as much as the fact that I was away from our home environment, without B and actually got through it - which means the kids enjoyed it and cooperated with me.

The start was not so easy though! Boy! The four of us went to the airport. Baby girl was all happy and kutti boy was as always gently poking her cheeks and making shrill noises sitting next to her in the double stroller when we entered the airport. This is a relatively small airport and I went in assuming that things would be more relaxed because it is a small airport. I just did not anticipate that they would not allow B to get a temporary pass and accompany me to the gate! The agent at the check in counter was a middle aged guy with a stern look and he quite firmly told me that their airport was too small and they just did not have the man power to screen people who are not ticket holders! He assured me I would have an airport aid helping me!
I was glad to accept help from this person but my children were certainly not!

We waved bye bye to "Daddy" and I pushed the double stroller to the security gate. I was asked to remove my jacket and shoes and had to do the same for the kids! Goodness! I asked this tall, very young woman (the airport aid) with long black hair and a friendly smile if she could hold baby girl while I got kutti boy out of the stroller. I had to remove KB's shoes and put it in the X-ray bin - the moment I removed his shoes, he started whining loudly "Shoes, Shoes"! I told him I would give it to him in a minute.
"Shoeeeeeees", he cried.
In the meanwhile, baby girl started crying because this woman really did not know how to carry her snugly. I managed to take my shoes and jacket off and put my hand bag into the bin.
"Mammma handbag!" cried KB.
Oh god, he saw his shoes, my shoes, mamma's handbag all going into random bins and disappearing.
He was in tears now.
In this mood, I came for his jacket!
" pottukanumaa" he said. Meaning "I want to wear my jacket".
"I will give it to you in a minute".
"Jackkkkkkkkkkkkkett"....Loud crying ensued.
Baby girl crying in the background. I managed to fold the double stroller and dump it on the X-ray path.
I held KB who was now really crying and walked through the gate and out.
I opened the stroller out and strapped both kids after putting their jackets back on and somehow managed to calm them down and walked along with the agent to the gate.
I had to check in the stroller at the gate - so I picked up baby girl and I handed her to the aid and tried to unbuckle KB. Suddenly he resisted and said "Daddddy....Dadddyyyyy" and cried very loudly with tears streaming down. I felt very bad that he was missing his dad and didn't know why dad suddenly disappeared and was not coming with him. We had prepped KB for this and yet he was taken aback by the new person who was holding baby girl and was trying to get him out of his stroller.
Amidst loud wails I got him out and handed the stroller to the agent.
We were the first to board the flight. We had to walk in a zig zag ramp in open air and enter the plane. KB who had calmed down by then was happily walking along saying "zigzag" and looking out at the other planes while a long line of people started coming behind us. I was holding baby girl in one hand and dragging kutti boy with the other. As he was about to enter the plane, our little dreamer put his little foot in the tiny space between the plane and the ramp. He slipped and I tried to get him up but couldn't with one hand. The flight attendant finally stepped forward and tried to hold KB. He screamed as if some monster was grabbing him. But she got him into the plane and we started walking in. Prompted by this foreign invasion into his world, he again started asking for Daddy.
"Daddy is not coming with us Kanna. We are going to see P and L", I told him.
He calmed down a little at that thought and we managed to sit in our seats.
PHEW!!! Now I was praying that the plane should take off on time.
As it neared take off time, the flight attendant came to check if every one had their seat belts on. This was the first time KB had a seat for himself (since he turned two). He was excited to look out the window or stand on his seat and look at the back of the plane. But at that moment, he decided to climb down and sit between the seats.
"Kutti, please come and sit in your seat. You have to wear your seat belt, illati Aunty kochipaa (that lady will get angry with you)".
"Aunty kochipaa" he says with a mischievous smile looking at the flight attendant.
"Kanna, it's not funny. You have to wear your seat belt, come back up. Right now".
"Right now" he says smiling at me!
I put on a strong and stern voice and said "COME!!!".
I had baby girl in my hand who was leaning on me and had almost fallen asleep. I could not move too much. Next to me was an older Chinese guy who was in his own world with head phones and listening to music. No help there!
Finally I had no choice but to hand over baby girl to the attendant and use brute force to get KB into his seat and buckled. Baby girl was now rudely woken from her nap and not only that she was held in the most awkward position - her entire body facing up! So she started wailing, looking very annoyed at being disturbed from her cozy position and being exposed to the cold.
After what seemed like eternity, KB was in his seat, baby girl fell asleep in my arms and the plane took off.
In the couple of minutes I had before take off, I called B and told him to book tickets in the same flight for my return journey. I did not want to go through this again on the return flight, more so, I did not want to put the kids through this if I could help it.

OK, I will stop here! For those who were curious about how my flight went - I wrote this. Turned out to be a long and vivid description. I have to begin the week - without mom or B during the day. I am glad to be home and I hope the kids fall back into routine and enjoy the feeling of home. Will continue about my trip in the next post.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Children are sponges!

A very quick post before I take off on my two week trip tomorrow - me and the two kids. B has to come back home to a dark and empty house - no kids running to him, no wife arguing with him - peace and quiet - may be a little too much of it. I have been telling him that he will only miss the kids and not me. What else can he say but disagree with me! Lest I start a fight over that!
Anyways - back to my post.

Karagre vasate Lakshmi
karmadhye Saraswati
Karmule Govindaha
prabhate kar darshanam

Meaning: On the top of the palm resides Lakshmi, in the middle Saraswati, and on the base Lord Krishna. Therefore one should look at the palms each morning.

Couple of months back (when KB was 25m old) my mother started teaching him this sloka and 3 other small but fairly complicated sounding slokas in my opinion. For ex the other one goes: Kavitharthika Kalabaurutha kabalikrutha simham"...and so on.
I half jokingly told my mother "Amma, Yen maa ivvlo karadu murada solli kudukre - yedhan simple'aa sollen" (why such complicated ones, why don't you teach him simeple slokas). She completely ignored me and continued on - she would just recite it to him - that's it. And he would say the last words to each line when she asked him.
I thought to myself - fine he seems to have picked up the last words.
When she left she wrote it down for me on a sheet from my magnetic note pad on my refrigerator. KB and I call that sheet "Patti slokam". I am hardly religious, at least in the traditional sense of it. But just to continue the tradition that my mom got going, I light the lamp (try to) every evening. And I bring "Patti slokam" and recite it for KB. He watches the whole thing with fascination.
Last night, after dinner, he asked for that sheet and went to the couch and sat next to B. He looked at it as if he was reading and recited the whole sloka (and a couple of others) - complete lines, not just the last word - on his own! I was astounded. He got mad at me when I helped him out when he was pausing for a bit on some line. He told me to stop (Vendaaam!). And continued on on his own. I realized how I had under estimated what he is capable of learning (not just him, children in general). My mother on the hand just did not pay any attention to my asking her to tone it down and went ahead and just recited these to him every day. And he got it. It was a lesson for me to not under estimate the extent to which children can learn. And also be perceptive. I can see how KB esp is coping and helping me out now that my mother is not here. I can't pin point it but I really feel like he understands and is trying to help me out at least to some extent.
Adios - have fun all of you, while I am gone. I won't be at the computer much when I am there. Praying that the kids should be good on the flight and enjoy the trip.
Take care!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Just the four of us...

Step by step, one adapts to new realities in life. First life without my father around. Just nowhere. Cannot be reached even on the phone, letter or email.
The pain is not raw anymore but it is a dull ache each time I think about it.

Of course life does go on - we do laugh like before, celebrate moments that ought to be celebrated and reminisce and enjoy ourselves. We have celebrated the arrival of baby girl and we enjoy all the sweet moments between brother and sister - revel in the moment and feel good that we took the plunge and went for a second child. It is a lot of hard work, no denials - but at the end of the day when both kids are asleep in our room and we are together as a family, it feels good. Knock on wood. When kutti boy wakes up whiny from his nap, I just have to tell him "Here, look at kutti baby, she wants to see you" and put her next to him on the pillow and immediately his mood changes and he stars playing with her, gently poking her cheeks!

The last couple of weeks have been very hectic. It has brought forth a major change for us - especially for me - managing both kids alone without my mother around. She left to go to my brother's place and I am now alone with the kids until B gets home from work late evening. I used to do almost all the baby care work involved anyway - but when mom was here, it was great in so many ways. She doted on the kids and that made it so rich and lively for them during all their waking hours. I could spend whatever time it took to feed kutti boy without having to rush him because my mother would take care of baby girl in the meanwhile. B and I could breathe a little and take KB out to the park even if baby girl was asleep and not have to disturb her. Now the house feels empty without my mom's presence. Everything has to be on schedule - I have to watch the time - if I let one thing slip it leads to chaos. I have to nurse baby girl, make her take a nap and run down and get KB's brunch ready and feed him before she wakes up. If she wakes up by chance before that is done, I have to entertain her in the bouncer chair while feeding KB (who takes his own sweet time to eat, if I rush him, he will puke!). It is hard to sing a song for him peacefully or fetch his "Clifford big book" or "I can do it" book or draw a fan for the n'th time all while baby girl is on the verge of losing her patience waiting to be taken out of the bouncer chair. When my mother was around, I wondered how I would manage at all without her around. Somehow the children know and they do step up. They don't make it any easier, but they step up enough to make it just barely manageable. I once again bow to single moms or moms who have to handle it all alone for weeks on end when the father is traveling on work. I would simply go crazy.

We had gone on a trip to visit my SIL and also perform my MIL's first year ceremony. KB had a great time playing with his cousins. Baby girl was showered with attention and love not only from the adults but from all her toddler cousins, the oldest being 6 yrs old! All of them stood around her bouncer seat clapping hands and singing and kept her entertained. It was such a beautiful sight! I missed my MIL - she would have been utterly thrilled to see all that!

After we got back, KB fell sick with cold/cough and then both B and I fell sick. We are recovering now but I will be away again this Sat on another trip for a couple of weeks, this time without B. It seems scary - traveling alone with two kids even if it is a short flight - hope I survive it.

Well, one day at a time. I have managed last week without my mom around. It feels lonely at times especially with the time change - since it gets dark so early. It is hard to meet people when you or the kids are sick. And in turn friends or their kids also fall sick during winters - overall difficult to meet people often. Plenty of time spent alone with the children. It brings us all closer - we all rely on each other for comfort. We are together all the time like a team. But I long for some adult company and warm sun. The weekend was great - it was warm, the sun was shining. All of us went to the park and KB ran around and played to his heart's content now that he has almost recovered from his cold. I just ordered a double stroller now that baby girl's head is almost steady - so I can take them both for a walk in the morning.

Leaving you with a picture of baby girl who gave me my favorite pose for the first time last month end - her big toe in her mouth like baby Krishna! Not a clear picture but that is the only one I have right now!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Rewind to Aug'05 - Kutti boy birth story.

I wanted to recap the birth story of KB for my own memory. I did not write it down at that time. Since I wrote down baby girl’s birth story for the post, I realized I am forgetting a lot of the details of KB’s birth and that I should write it down at least now.

Rewind to Aug.1.05.
40th week, still no signs of labor. I went for long walks after dinner – at 10.00 pm B and I would be walking up and down the slopes at the well-lit park in the near by community center. B patiently walked slowly me with even though he wished he could just jog instead of walk painfully slowly along with me. I looked like I should have delivered a week back but no sign of any pain yet! Since my AFI index (Amniotic fluid) was slightly above normal and because I had cholestasis, Dr.A decided it would be best to induce me if I don’t go into labor by Aug.1.03. She told me to report to the Labor and Delivery unit at 7.30 am on Aug 3.05, Wednesday. I could not believe it when she gave me the appointment that that would be day – my first child would be arriving then. I could not imagine the magnitude of change that was about happen in our lives when he arrived. I could not believe I* was about to deliver a baby! I was really afraid of labor pains and I had heard from some friends that induced labor can be even more painful. With that in mind, I really tried to coax the baby to come out naturally by exercising as much as I could those final weeks. I was always physically active, but between 32 – 38 weeks, my doctor had told me to take it easy because she did not want me to go into labor earlier than due date. But the last two weeks, she said it was OK if I went into labor, so I really went all out in being physically active. But our little KB here was cozy in his home and didn’t want to come out unless we prodded him a little more! With induction!

On Aug.2.05, I was asked to come to the OB’s office for a procedure. Dr.A (my doc) was not available, so Dr.S put in the Foley catheter to kick-start the process. My sister was arriving that evening and I had told her to meet me outside the OB’s office. We went back home together (my nephew brought her from the airport) after the procedure.

Slowly and steadily the pain started. By midnight, I had so many contractions that came at random intervals; I just could not lie down and sleep. I did not sleep at all pretty much that night. I walked around the house in the middle of the night to ease my pain. Morning finally came and I showered and got ready. My sister, B and myself drove to the hospital. Mom and dad (my dad was alive then, how I wish he had been around this time too!) came to the door to wish me luck. Mom had tears in her eyes from the tension she was in hoping for a safe delivery.

We checked into the L&D unit and I walked to the elevator (now thinking about it – what a contrast – I was wheeled into the delivery room directly in a rush for kutti girl) and walked into the delivery room. It was a large room with nice bay windows, a large bed in the center with huge lights above it and a smaller bed next to it for the guest. I was immediately made to wear my robes and lie down on the bed. The nurse (CK) checked my blood pressure and then inserted the tubes to start inducing me with Pitocin. I was given the most minimal dose to start with. The process started at 7.30 a.m.

Even before I got married, whenever I imagined having children, I would think about how labor would be. I somehow had this feeling that all the women I knew who had kids had visited a special place, an adventure land in just having gone through labor. I could not imagine for the life of me how a baby can grow inside a woman’s womb and be delivered to the outside world. A living, feeling baby! Starting from nothing. The process of creation always inspired awe in me. And I could not believe at that moment that this was it – I was going to go through that magical experience. It was as if I was more focused on the experience than on the baby at that moment. I did not feel anything else – but the anticipation of a difficult but exciting and new journey ahead of me. Delivering your first-born brings with it this novelty. I felt as if I was crossing over to the other side. Of someone who knows how that feels! So long it had only been hearsay. I was about to experience the reality of that magic!

I felt the contractions strongly once the Pitocin kicked in. Dr.A came in and checked me – I had only dilated about 3cm then (I can’t remember exactly now – but far from fully dilated). She told me that she would be around till late evening and if my labor continued on after that, the doctor on call would be here for my delivery. I was keen that Dr.A be around for my delivery. I was hoping that the baby would come before she left for the day. I asked her to request the anesthesiologist to come in as soon as possible to give me the epidural. She told me that I was in luck because he was right in that floor at that moment. Soon after she left, the anesthesiologist came in and gave me the epidural. I was having contractions and I had to bend down so he could inject me. I was nervous about not moving while he was injecting me. B held my head tight against him while I recited “Ram Ram Ram Ram” loudly in pain. B said he saw some blood come out during the process and felt light headed.

I lay down and got into a reasonably bearable position. All this took about a couple of hours. The details of what happened are a tiny bit fuzzy now in terms of the exact timing and numbers. My sister then decided to go home and bring my parents back with her after a quick shower. A little while after she left, a second nurse came in and looked at the fetal heart rate chart. She then called the first nurse who came in and looked at the chart. She was a little concerned. Meanwhile I was not feeling much pain during the contractions because of the epidural. She paged Dr.A who came in a few minutes. She examined me and said that I had proceeded way too rapidly. I was fully dilated now. She was amazed that I reacted so strongly to such a small dose of Pitocin. Just as she was examining me, the water broke. Now the heart rate was really beginning to fall. The baby did not take well to the rapid dilation and water breaking. It was going into fetal distress.

The moments that followed are again one of those intense ones where I went about what I had to do unmindful of the gravity of the situation. The doctor pronounced a code blue and in just a couple of minutes, the entire room was filled with blue uniforms. What had been a scanty number – a nurse, a doctor, B and me, suddenly changed. There were other doctors, and more nurses in blue protective uniforms. B was given a uniform and a mask.

Dr.A told me that I had to push in ten minutes or they were going to perform an emergency C-section. I had no time to think. All I knew was that I had to push as hard as I could to get this baby out soon. I did not even pray at that moment. I felt calm only because Dr.A was around – I had complete faith in her abilities as a doctor. She looked calm, not nervous. B on the other hand was a passive witness to all this. He told me later that he was feeling worried as to how things will progress at that point. The doctors gathered around me and said “1, 2, 3, PUSH” and I would push hard. Baby wasn’t coming out yet.

I continued on. I did not feel any pain in my numbness. I pushed again. And suddenly I heard one of the doctors’ come and tell me “We are going to use the forceps and coax the baby out. Don’t worry, Dr.A is very very experienced in forceps delivery”. I could not even think much about it at that point. It was not in my control. Had my sister (the pediatrician) been around at that point, she might have objected to it and things may have gone differently because she is not particularly in favor of forceps delivery given a choice. She may have requested the doctor to go for a C-section instead. But who knew that the baby would be coming out so soon. My sister merely went home to have a shower and bring my parents back to the hospital.
Again, the doctor said “1,2,3 PUSH” and I did. Dr. A now (I assume) used the forceps and there he was “Waaaaaaaaaaaaaannn”. (10.27 a.m. Aug.3.2005). A loud wail! I heard “ooohs” and “Aaahs”. Dr. A said, look how loud he is – may be he will be a musician! And then said may be he will be an actor – look at his dramatic entry into the world! I could not believe the events that happened in those three hours. The baby was already here! I could not grasp it. It happened too quickly! B was immensely relieved. He held the baby and brought him to me. I held him for a seconds and gave him back to B. I had fourth degree tearing from having pushed so hard and so rapidly. Dr.A sutured the tears and told me she would check on me later.

B immediately called home. Since no one answered, he called my sister on the cell phone. She was already in the car with my parents and was heading out of the complex into the road when the phone rang. She answered B thinking he was casually calling and said “We are on our way”! And B told her, “The baby is here!”. My sister was stunned! She said “What?”. B repeated what he had said. My sister was thrilled and told my parents the news. They were delighted and relieved. When they got to the hospital room, the nurse was still with me. They waited for a few minutes and then came in and held the baby. I can’t help but choke with emotion at this point. My father held the baby proudly. I wish I could have written the same line when I wrote kutti girl’s birth story this year.

Thus began my first step into being a mother and raising a child. The week that followed was less about the baby and more about me. Sparing you the details of it, I suffered quite a bit from the fourth degree tearing only after I got home with the baby. I did not realize the impact of it until then. Labor was a breeze really – unexpectedly short. But the few days after I got home felt like the real labor. Trying to sit on the “donut pillow” and feed the newborn baby who just did not know to latch. I had to deal with my own pain while trying to nurse him. All that is a whole different story – somehow I got through those four days of pain and the first day I went for a short walk, I felt so grateful. I prayed to god to never ever make me sick or in a position to not be able to walk freely and feel the warm sun. And feel the fresh air outside. Those few minutes alone, walking along the trees and hearing the birds chirping, I felt thankful. For all that I had at that moment. For having delivered my child safely. For having coming out of that pain I had been in the last few days. I pray for that divine grace to be with and guide my children always!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Little things..

Small things can make you feel annoyed/upset or feel really light and happy the whole day. Just trivial things really in the big picture. More on this as I go along.

I had my aunt visiting (my mom's cousin) us for three days - it was great to see her and spend quality time with her after many years. There are some things about a person you only get to know in those tiny spaces in time when you are doing every day things while chatting. This only happens when they stay over and spend extended time - as in more than a couple of hours - visiting you. For example when you go into the room to say "Good night" and sit down for a couple of minutes but end up chatting for an hour in the dark with just the street light coming in through the blinds...that's when really interesting conversation happens. I have known her for so many years and am very close to her daughter (my second cousin, but we are more like sisters) - but I realized I did not know so many things about her. She sings so melodiously - I was so amazed that she is such a good singer and she has never once told me she could sing. Lovely Hindi and Marathi Bhajans. I did not know she had a degree in Physics, that she used to play hockey (I have only seen her in Sari!), that she sketches very well, that she can sew all kinds of god - have I met this person before?! I was so busy being friends with my cousin - it was so great getting to know my aunt (who never talks about any of this) now!

And I got to know how much she has done for her family. She apparently took her daughter's 3.5 yr old and 3m old alone on a four hour flight to India and kept them with her for nearly a year! Managed both kids on her own (why my second cousin let that happen is a different issue)pretty much even if my uncle helped her some. I cannot imagine taking up that kind of responsibility - not just one child, but two children!

How loving she is as a person was evident in how she interacted with my children - just doted on them. What a gift it was for me - just to see her be so affectionate, so genuinely with my children. And telling me to rest, telling me to go shopping etc when she is here just so I can get a break since it was mom and her both available for kutti girl if I went out with kutti boy. Worrying as much as I did when B came home very late yesterday and I could not reach him over the phone. It just feels good when someone is genuinely affectionate - so much moral strength in that.

Edited to add - my post about how neighbor N made me feel bad about not acknowledging my mom etc made two people feel guilty already - which was not even the point of the post - it was not about returning calls but more about how not acknowledging someone, esp your mom, in certain situations makes you feel bad. But I didn't want anyone to feel guilty about anything - so deleted that part! Want to only spread the joy! :) So Aunt post this is! :)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Life can be so unfair to some...

Stories like these are ones that make me appreciate life as it is rather than feel depressed about all that it is lacking in. My aunt was visiting me the last few days. A relative of hers (related to her in-laws) was supposed to visit her at my place.
This is a young woman around age 32 who is working and stays by herself.
She was not meant to be that way when she came to the US.
She got married pretty late by Indian standards. 30 plus. She could not easily find a partner to suit her height and also have the horoscopes match well. Finally she did find someone that fit the bill and she got married. They were very happy together, went on a honeymoon in India and then he returned to the US. He had been living in the US for many years and was quite familiar with the place. No one from her immediate family resided in the US. She waited nearly 10m or so and finally got her Green card and moved to the US.
The next 40 days were one of the happiest in her life. Those spent with her husband. Being blissfully married. Until that horrible day when he just suddenly collapsed and passed away instantly of a cerebral hemorrhage. Not knowing too many people in the US and none in the immediate vicinity, she had to manage through this unbelievable tragedy on her own. Until her brother came to help her out a little later. She went with the body of her deceased husband for the cremation in India. She had bought him a nice pair of pants and shirt for their first anniversary. He was dressed in that very outfit on the day of his cremation. Until that moment she had held back her tears. And then she let go. She would not let go of his body for over an hour. They had to pry her away from the coffin to make her let go. He was cremated on their first wedding anniversary.
She is apparently one of the sweetest people my aunt has known. And I spoke to her last night over the phone - she sounds that way too. Why does life turn out this way for some people? She continues to stay on here rather than go back to India. She has found herself a job and continues to live in the same city her husband used to live in. How does one ever come to terms with something so tragic? Why, why, why?! I have not even met her and it makes me feel so terrible - how do her parents deal with this? She may eventually get over this and find another person or manage on her own. But such things scar you for life. She was shown how happy one can be with a good partner and then it was snatched away from her in the most abrupt and cruel manner. I just don't understand why such things happen to people.
I hope and pray that she is able to come to terms with this and move on in life.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Am I an AP-er? Ferber-er?

I went to a friend’s (mother of two, 5 and 1.5 yrs old) place for Navaratri. I met a couple of women, one of whom had two boys (5 plus).
Conversation centered around raising children. I had left baby girl at home and taken kutti boy with me. He was playing on his own checking every now and then to make sure I was around. We were chatting and the two moms with school going kids talked about different schools in the area. I asked my friend if her 18m old had started sleeping through the night. She told me it was a huge struggle but finally he had started doing so. The other person said “ You don’t need to feed your child at night once they are 6m old, that’s what my pediatrician told me”.
My friend : Well, I just lie to my pediatrician. If he asks me about night feeds, I just lie. If not he pressures me to train my child to sleep through the night.
Second woman: I never lie to my doctor. But I can’t afford to wake up at night. I have to work from 5.00 am. So they had to stop the night feeds. But luckily they did it on their own.
Me: Well, my son certainly did not do it on his own. I didn’t want to stop night feeds. But he would wake up so often and in the morning neither of us felt rested. Each time he woke up to feed his sleep got disturbed.
My friend: You are the modified Ferber type of mom right?!

I said after mentally thinking about this quickly. Am I that? Or am I an AP-er? I had not planned to be one or the other.

Me: “well, I do what works. For the child”.

This made me think about it later. I had read about both styles. At some level I felt every parent is an attached parent. Your method may vary but you are attached to your child and you want to do what’s best for your child. Being a parent is what defines me, not the style. Yes, I am the modified-Ferber type of mom. But I am also an AP mom. I am a mom who cares for her child. Period. Which is why despite being an AP mom I became the modified-Ferber mom!

As far as parenting style goes, I would like to adopt B's parent's way of parenting - not exactly, but a milder/modified version of it – “benign neglect” parenting. They did not adopt that style after reading parenting books. But did so naturally. Did they raise perfect adults? No. They have imperfections. But is there such a thing as perfect adult? Isn’t it subjective anyway? Well yes, a murderer is clearly imperfect. But we are assuming normal adults not in the extremes. Within limits of what is considered normal, no one is perfect. We all have our faults.

B’s mother was an amazing mother in my opinion. (This is not to say I think any less of my mom. I just like B’s mom’s style of parenting – my mother worries/d way too much and I am afraid I will be the same way if I don’t watch out). She gave them love and nurturing in abundance. She made sure they moved to an area close to a good school. Neither B’s mom nor his dad sat with their kids all the time questioning them or helping them with their homework. If they needed help, it was given every now and then. My MIL was a religious person to some extent. So is my father-in-law. He believes in astrology and numerology. B on the other hand grew up to be someone who questioned it a lot, who did not believe in it at all, is agnostic in some sense. But they let him be. They gave him his space to think. And be his own person. Did not force their ideas on him. If at all his mother would joke about it

Well yes, if your child did well you don’t have to worry at all I say. True. But say if B had not been doing well in school, she would have only given what is adequately needed to get him on the right track – she would not have micro managed his entire life. They really were classic practitioners of benign neglect. They gave their children the best they could give in terms of nurturing them. Beyond that it was up to the children to make the best of it.

I don’t think it is practical for me to emulate that fully – the world now is way too competitive. I can’t sleep in peace if I let my children completely do what ever they wanted to do. At the risk of sounding pushy, at the risk of seeming like I am micro managing their life – I do think I have to expose them at the least to different options available to them and nurture their interest in a few of them. I do think if B’s parents had been a little more attentive, there are some things he would have learnt – like singing vocal music for example – and enjoyed it very much. He did not know then nor did he ask for it. He was in his school choir and did some radio programs. But they did not give him voice lessons because he didn't ask for it. But considering how good his voice is and how much music sense he has, he could have benefited from proper training in the formative years. So I feel benign neglect to the extreme is not good – for me personally. I feel children don’t always know what they will enjoy – initial reactions may be negative – but one has to give them a chance to find out. If my child has a natural talent in music I consider it my responsibility to nurture it. If it means forcing him to practice his lessons even if he is bored sometimes, I have to do it. When he gets good at it, he will not need me to prod him, he will enjoy it himself. You have to know when to push and when to sit back and give space.

This is not an advice post. Am just writing down my thoughts about how I think I should be as my children grow up. I am wary of putting too much pressure on them – I don’t ever want to do that. I don’t want to compare them with other kids. But I also don’t want them to later regret that I did not give them certain opportunities for learning. I want to give them the right dose of exposure and let them figure it out.

I feel like I need to sit down and be honest with myself as to what I want for my child. And is it my right to say “I want this for you, child” ?. Yes and No. I am the mother. I have a huge responsibility on me to shape this child as best as I can. But it isn’t just me shaping this precious mould. It is the environment too. It would be foolish for me to think I can control life forces. That being the case, I have to give my child the tools to shape himself based on his experiences. What tools? How? I mean every (normal) parent loves his/her child. They all still turn out to be different. Even siblings raised under the same roof. Proof enough that it is not just the parents who shape the child. I cannot plan now and say I will raise an assertive child and start following a regimen for that. I can’t have an image in my head and force this mould into that shape. I have to yield to the child’s natural temperament and work with the child. I sometimes feel this tug in my heart because I see my son to be a very affectionate, gentle, sweet child. I worry what if kids take him for a ride because he is so sweet and gentle. I don’t want him to get hurt. But I cannot force him to be an aggressive child – I have to trust that he will learn to survive as he grows up and learns to deal with the environment around him. And the world needs gentle sweet souls! If every one was aggressive and cut throat it would be a miserable world!

I don’t want to orchestrate his every move. Yet I worry I may do this if I don’t watch myself. Why? Because of peer pressure. It takes a lot to withstand this these days.
“Oh my god, you have not put your child in any play gym yet?”
He will get a lot of stimulation and fun if he goes there.
Does he need more stimulation that what he gets in his own surrounding?
Does he have to socialize every week for sure? He has a couple of my friend’s children come home every week and they play on their own. Together in the same room.
And eventually he will go to pre-school.
He seems happy the way he is. He may get bored every now and then. But as long as he is fed and happy, he finds his own way to entertain himself. He asks me for three cups and a spoon and some water. Keeps himself occupied transferring water. Feeding the butterfly helium balloon with his spoon. Pouring it from way up. Creating a mess and proudly declaring at the end of it all “Messy!”. I enjoy seeing him do this.
Do I have to give him a play gym stimulation in addition? I don’t know. Sometimes we as parents don’t have “correct” answers. We have to go with the flow and with what feels right/adequate.

I actively avoid sitting next to him when kutti boy is playing by himself. Just so he can be. Do his own thing. I tell myself I need to do this even when he is an adult. Give him (goes for my daughter too) his space to grow up. Not decide right now that I will raise him in XYZ method. I have to only take it by the day and see what works for him. I pray for courage and the grace of God (even if it is my own version of God of course) in raising my children. That divine grace has to protect my children from negative forces.

I want KB to learn vocal music. Very much so. Only because I can see he has a great voice for it and he is keenly interested even now. But I cannot build my dreams and force him into it. I have to take him to class and see how he responds. I worry that I will pressure him into choosing a field of study I think is good for him. I want him to be really good at what he chooses to pursue for his education. That is my hope. Because Kutti Boy likes shapes so much, B asks me jokingly, “what will you do if he wants to study geometry?”. I will be glad if he is passionate about it. Of course I will worry that he wont’ have a comfortable life unless he gets lucky – jobs in that field are not easy to get, he may not make any money. Is it my responsibility to tell him all this. I think so. If he still chooses to study it, it is his life, his decision. As someone who cares for him deeply, I think I have the liberty to at least have a discussion with him about all this. I don’t consider this micro managing. If he is able to articulate his thoughts and is clear about what he wants, I will be happy. That I did really raise my child. Into a confident adult with a thinking mind.

P.S – A lot of these are my thoughts – thinking aloud. And letting you hear my random flow of thoughts too. In case you are interested. I do vacillate a lot about these issues – I may think one thing today but they will come up with something that alters my thinking (about the way I raise them) entirely at some point.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Schmooze Award


This award is “for bloggers who “effortlessly weave their way in and out of the blogosphere, leaving friendly trails and smiles, happily making new friends along the way. They don’t limit their visits to only the rich and successful, but spend some time to say hello to new blogs as well. They are the ones who engage others in meaningful conversations, refusing to let it end at a mere hello - all the while fostering a sense of closeness and friendship.”

Thanks Poppin’s mom and Mnamma for giving me my first (and possibly the only one) award in blogosphere! With my usual self- deprecatory humor, I saw this and said to myself “Oh no, let me hide under the table! I don’t deserve any award! Me? I must have created a false impression somehow!”. A friend once sent me the text of one of those self-doubting letters from Nehru to say even great/famous people worry about such things and that I am not unique in that! "Ok thanks, I am not unique!"

Moving on, like Madmomma says here, I too am a little ambivalent about getting a “Schmooze” award – just because of the word and the connotations it has! But the spirit with which it was awarded makes me feel good. The kind words from Mnamma and Poppins totally made my day!
And Poppin’s mom – Innocent?! Me?! J Am afraid to know what you will think of me if you really get to know me! Am wary of creating false impressions without even realizing it!

People blog for different reasons, some are serious about it, some do it occasionally, some do it to vent, some to just time pass, some to meet new people….
I started blogging only to be able to easily post comments on my niece’s (cousin’s daughter) blog posts. And wondernoon was a name I completely randomly chose when I was creating a blog name. A good friend, for no real reason calls me “Noon”. And I do wonder about the meaning of life and death a lot…at least more often than I think other normal people do! J Hence I casually tried “wondernoon” and the name was available, so I took it. I did not intend to be a mommy blogger or meet new people or even really post much. I started posting casually and gradually became more involved especially after having children. I really enjoyed reading mommy blogs because I relate to these posts so much now. Being a mother is what occupies most of my time now and so it is fun to read about other moms and celebrate their children and share in all the ups and downs of raising a child. Some friendships have sprouted in the process. It is a nice feeling and I feel good when I connect with some like-minded person, let alone a mother.
I enjoy so many blogs – feel a friendly hand being extended through comments from many bloggers. I am still not as much at home in the blog world as many others are.

(By the way, Mnamma – I loved your “blogosphere stalwarts” comment! J I always think of people like Maharajapuram Santhanam when I think of the word stalwart – you know that stately figure, deep voice…and in this context - yes these seasoned bloggers you mention are all “stalwarts”!)

Many have this and several other awards – frankly I think every one of them deserves one or all of these awards – these are just for fun anyway and every blogger who has spent considerable time blogging deserves one or more of these…
I am passing this on to a random few that come to mind (even if I forget some others!).

People like Poppin’s mom and Mnamma already have this award – and totally deserve it. Passing it on to a few people who have not been awarded this one yet:

Ranjani, – for her warm and friendly ways…both in her posts/comments and on email.

Chitra – who comments so warmly and celebrates our children even if she is not a mom yet! (will soon be I assume!).

Cantaloupe – She writes in such a sweet manner and is nice in the way she comments in other’s posts.

SS – though she has closed down her blog (which I really miss now), she was a natural when it came to blogging – candid and from the heart – one could relate to it. And she is a very sweet person too from what little I know of her…

UTBT – She is a thoughtful blogger who writes in such a way that you know there is a friendly hand behind it. You feel like you can write to this person and expect to get a warm reply back with friendly comments and suggestions. And I loved it that she started the sulk club – I like that kind of humor – makes you feel like she is down to earth and one can easily talk to her.

Kodi's mom - She writes wonderfully - it is fun to read. And she is very friendly (since this award is about that!) in the way she comments and writes. I also share a special kinship with her because "misery loves company" - our kid's challenge us in feeding them their meals - they seem to exchange notes and go through the good and bad phases around the same time. And our engagement stories have sort of similar! (Thats' not why I am sending this award your way - it is because you really are a friendly soul!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Our song tag

Our song tag….

Kurai Onrum Illai

The times - they are a-changin

B and I don’t have one particular “our song”. But these two songs are part of the story that is “us” now. Moppet’s mom – this partly goes into the engagement story you told me to write about…
B and I had known each other for a while – I met him on my birthday at my close friend’s (his cousin) wedding in Chennai. I was visiting from the US at that time and he was finishing his undergrad and was about to start graduate school in the US that fall. Since my friend and her parents were busy since they were in the wedding, I spent time chatting with her cousins – especially this one (B) who I had not met earlier at my friend’s place somehow. We hit it off really well and ended up giving each other company (being gracious that’s all you know!) while the wedding was happening. He attended all the events at her wedding and we had a lot of time to chat. Not to mention that I was of course dressed my best since I was at a wedding - brocade sari, nearly knee length hair with mallipoo, high heels (he still towered over me since I am a shorty), the works.
He gave me his phone no at his hostel and told me to visit before I left the country. I dropped in when I went to visit another friend and gave him my US phone no and told him to say hello after he came to the US. And that’s how it started.
We remained friends for a few years – met a couple of times, but mainly connected over the phone. In the meanwhile, my parents, especially my mother was very keen that I get married. Plenty of side stories there. Leaving those aside, it came to a point of high pressure at my end when the said friend decided there was no time to travel across coasts (as he would have liked to do this in person) and conveyed his interest in a hand written letter to me!

The mind plays games with you really. I knew him well and this did not come as too much of a surprise. Yet I felt like we were only friends, had only been friends and nothing more and it will never be anything more. And I told him so. But he was the only friend I would consistently keep in touch with regularly. It was like calling my family. I could tell him anything. I did not know how close we had become over the years. Just took it for granted.

Like in the movies, we had the good fortune of our respective close friends who married each other with some role played by us in the matter of their meeting each other. And they, I suppose wanted to spread the joy and played cupid. They tried to pry open my shut mind and see that I actually cared about this guy and that it would work out if only I gave it a chance and saw that it wasn’t just another friendship. I was stuck on the fact that we were on opposite coasts and we had only mainly known each other over the phone. One fine summer day, when B was visiting me and my friends, he took me out to dinner and later that night, we walked by the river with the balmy breeze blowing, the city lights sparkling in the distance, house boats anchored by the board walk. Few others enjoying the summer were sitting around or jogging. B finally got to the point of his visit and told me that I simply had* to give this a chance and come and visit him a few times before deciding on it. In a feel good mood,I agreed to.

I visited him without telling any one in my family other than my sister (while two other siblings and my cousin lived very close to where he was – I could have been caught any time!) because I did not want my parents or my older brother to cloud my decision by pressuring me into saying a yes just because they really liked him. After a few visits, I was still afraid – I was studying in the east coast and he was working in the west coast. We could not meet casually over a cup of coffee or every day. A few visits and I had to decide on something that I had thought would never be. I was afraid of my own decision.

As an aside to the main story – since this is about the song tag – B was heavily into western music – had a huge collection of CDs – especially Rock and Jazz music. I was into western music until I came to the US. Although I had been trained in classical music while I was in India, I had no real interest in it until I came to the US. I became very interested in carnatic music and would listen to it all the time. And M.S.Subbulakshmi was my all time favorite. Especially this song – “kurai onrum illai” - sung by her. And B had this CD, the only carnatic music CD he had purchased! I love/d this song – you can get lost in the reverberation of her voice and feel entranced by the lyrics and the melody in this song.

After a few visits to the west coast to spend time with B – the last one (exactly six years back, Oct.13 weekend) was particularly memorable. We had a great time visiting the vine yards in the west coast, went to a play, got stuck outside the theater because the guard at the parking garage had disappeared and it started raining! So we walked to an Italian restaurant and had dinner that turned out to be quite lousy. We went home and chatted some more. Finally it was time for me to leave the next morning by an early flight. No decision yet. The tension behind the conversation was mounting. Unsaid but palpable. Neither of us could bring it up. My thoughts were clouded. I could not shake myself out of “I have only known him as a friend, what if I am doing the wrong thing?”. Things were left unsaid, B wished me good night and went to bed (awake all the time) and I lay down on the living room couch pretending to watch a movie while thinking about all this all the while. Dawn came, we got into the car to drive to the airport. I knew this would be it – I would have to cut off all contact with him after this visit. We simply could not be just friends after this. My heart felt incredibly heavy. As we got into the highway, with a few cars zooming by, in the quiet of the early morning wondering what the other person was thinking…he turned on the music. To this song. It made me feel melancholic. Nostalgic. Stirred. Full in the heart.

We went to the airport, I told him goodbye. Nothing had been said. Everything was assumed. That this was it. I called my sister as soon as his face disappeared from the crowd by the gate and talked to her. I cried. I could not bear it. I could not articulate it. I could not loose him. I was imprisoned by my own refusal to let go of my fear and see it for what it is. He was my best friend. I trusted him like I did no other person. I admired him for so many things. I respected him more than anyone I knew. He had the kindest smile and I loved that I had him in my life. Yet…I could not get the words out. I hung up with my sister and got into the plane. Somewhere up in the sky, it just clicked. Truly divine intervention I would say. I just felt absolutely sure of my decision. I wanted to marry him. I wanted him to be a part of my life forever. I could not imagine a life without him. And I was not just going to tell him that but was going to tell him that in those very words. Clarity of that nature is a powerful and liberating feeling.

That night, I borrowed my house mate’s laptop and emailed him. I told him in no uncertain terms that if he was still willing, I wanted to marry him. And soon. As soon as we could both go to India. We had never talked about marriage until then – it was obvious that that was the end point – but still we had never talked about it in those terms. He had been exhausted from the intensity of the weekend. He had had a long day at work that Monday. During a break from an official meeting on Tuesday morning, he checked his mail to see this* mail from me. All those years of friendship and the roller coaster ride we had been through…he was simply dazed. Just when he had thought it was all really over.

Rest is history. I could write a whole new post on the celebration that followed in my family when I announced the decision. Every one’s reaction…the million phone calls. Pure joy when I think about it even now. Three months later we were married. We had a commuter marriage living across coasts, for over a year. That Valentine’s day he had flowers delivered to my house. I came home late at night, in the cold and entered my warm room. My housemate had accepted the package from the florist and put it on my desk. It had a little printed note. He had borrowed from Dylan. It said, “The times, they are a-changin”. With love.

I tag - Mnamma, Ca.Amma, Madmomma,Boo, DDmom, Poppin, Orchid, Ranjani,Dotmom,Kodi's mom,Chitra,Shobana,Aryan's mom, Rohini, Kiran, Squiggles. (Song with engagement story please!).
Some of you have done the "our song" tag but not the engagement story. I love (and am sure the others here so as well, I mean who doesn't love a good story!) engagement stories - so am hoping all of you tagged here will do a post on both - song plus engagement story or just engagement story (if you don't mind that is).