It took a moment….


 

I woke up sad. If my husband was reading this, he would say ‘Tell me something new!’ But the truth is I wake up grumpy and warn my family not to talk to me till I get that first sip of coffee, but I don’t wake up sad. Grumpy vs sad, there is a difference.

Today I woke up with a heavy heart because today was going to be my day of updating our google calendar, today would be the day to put all those hand written, hastily scribbled notes on the paper calendar, official. I had ignored them for a while hoping they would go away if I laughed with my husband, exchanged ideas with friends, played with Sage, read with Ryan and listened to music with Sahana. But they weren’t going anywhere, so today would be the day to grab the bull by the horns.

I opened up my laptop and my husband went out with the trimmer to trim the edges of the lawn. I looked at my schedule and despaired at the different color coded activities that made the google calendar a work of art. Ryan needed to be at football practice three times a week and his swim team practice was three times a week as well. Sahana had to be at her swim team practice four times a week, there would be an hour of dryland on top of that. I work two evenings a week. How??? This was mathematically impossible!!! The house was quiet, the children were still sleeping, the neighborhood hadn’t really woken up. I could hear the muted sound of Sean’s trimmer doing its job.

I felt an existential angst that I have never felt before. This was not living! This is not what I imagined life would be for me, hasty meals and quick peck on the cheeks as we exchanged car keys. We couldn’t have a meal together any day of the week. Meal times are sacred for us. We connect then, exchange stories, laugh with, and sometimes, at each other. And who could I blame but myself? I signed them up, I paid for the classes. I had over committed. Not willingly, but caved in. I couldn’t say a firm ‘No’ when Ryan requested to play football. We were becoming the family who ate meals at McDonald’s (we wouldn’t go that far, the McDonald’s part is more for effect:) )and ran to their next committment. While I was busy feeling sorry for myself, I didn’t realize the sound of the trimmer had stopped. I heard Sean call out my name,

‘Come quick and bring the camera!’

‘Not now, I am busy!’

‘Please, come now, bring the camera!’

Disgruntled, I got the camera and stormed out with an exasperated ‘What???’

Sean was standing in front of an exquisitely woven, thin, almost translucent work of art Рa spider web. He stood in front of it in awe watching the newly risen sun reflecting its morning fresh light, creating brilliant hues of green and blue. The gentle breeze swung the spider web, ever so gently. There was not a sound to be heard, just Sean standing there with a look of utter admiration, his voice hushed to a whisper so as to not disturb the sanctity of the moment. A brilliant sun washed, blue sky, a few yellow butterflies flying around the rhododendron bush, bright red cardinals flying around in the nearby trees. The moment was picture perfect. Nature was mocking my sadness over trivialities of life. I handed Sean the camera, he took some shots of the web. We stood there together looking at this complex and beautiful creation. It will sound cliché, but how can I not say it, that such is life, complex, yet oh so beautiful. We looked for the creator. S/he was nowhere to be seen :)!

When I came back inside, the ‘steel girl’ was back! My confidence surged, I looked down at the colorful google calendar and gave it a ‘I got this’ smile! I was grateful for the moment of shared togetherness, when we both stopped for a moment to take a look outside at the beautiful world out there and hidden joys for us to discover. It shook me out of the ‘Oh, please feel bad for me, because I am over booked’ kind of whining! This crazy schedule is going to be over in a couple of months and life will take some form of normalcy. My worries over schedule seemed so trivial in the grand scheme of things. I counted the blessings I have in my life. I have a man in my life who loves me, I have two healthy children, who, despite being a work in progress, are really delightful, I have friends whose support I can count on in my hours of need, I just got a job that I wanted! Yes, poor you, indeed, madammommy!

The picture isn’t spectacular, the moment was. It reminded me of a few lines by William Blake that I read a life time ago:

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
Eternity in an hour.

 

 

I happen to be a red light!


Seven year old Ryan was upset with me. Very upset. He held an Angry bird hat in his hand at a store, pleading his hard hearted mother to buy it for him. Mother was firm, the house could not handle one more hat. The cup (of hats) runneth over………in our house. Moreover the branded products are pricey. ‘Take the money out of my bank account!’ He offered. ¬†‘No way, Jose! As your mother, it is my moral duty to teach you financial responsibility. I can’t let you throw your money away over something like this. The answer, still is no! Please don’t argue anymore!’ Mother was losing it, fast!

While waiting in front of the fitting rooms where his sister tried out school clothes, Ryan came up with one of his thoughts ‘Mom, I have thought of something!’

‘Wonderful! Would you like to share your thoughts?’

‘In every family, the mothers are harsh, dads are fun and kids are in training. I think mothers are red lights, dads are green lights and kids are yellow lights. The kids could go in any direction depending on who’s training them. The girl kids are trained by the moms so they grow up to be red lights while the boy kids are trained by dads, and they grow up to be green lights.’

‘What???’

‘Yes, see how Sahana is a cranky teenager, she is a yellow light almost turning red under your training. I will turn green because I am being trained by dad to be the fun one!’

Ouch!

After shopping for clothes, I took the children out for lunch and allowed them the ‘unattainable’! A soda to go with their meal. Not coke or pepsi, mind you, just an orange soda! My soda deprived children couldn’t believe their good luck. Ryan, whose way to the heart is through his stomach, was almost giddy with joy. It was then that I asked him the important question. ‘Do you still think mommy is the red light in the family?’ I know, I know…I went deep sea fishing.

The boy didn’t miss a beat, ‘Well, soda is bad for us, daddy doesn’t approve of it, but you are allowing us to do the wrong thing anyway. So I guess you are still the red light!’ I was so tempted to stomp my feet and sulk at that!!! I did it mentally just to get it of the system!

After lunch, we headed to the car, the red light in the family turned the ignition on to head back home. It was a no win day for the mom lady, one measly hat, or rather refusal to buy one measly hat had ruined me….for the day. That is when my aloof teenage daughter decided to shine a ray of sunlight on my dismal day, ‘Mom, just so you know, I don’t think you are a red light at all. You are a very green light for me!’ I gave her a big, wide grin and a grateful thank you. My pride was salvaged, somewhat. I looked at my son through the rear view mirror, since I was expecting a full blown debate over my red light/green light traits of character. But he had tuned us out already. He was sipping his orange drink cautiously with such obvious joy that I was about to turn green for him. But I have a feeling he wouldn’t have acknowledged my greenness unless I drove back to the store and bought him the hat. The regret for not getting his 59th angry bird hat was running deep.

‘What is the most difficult decision that you made, mom?


My son asked me a question this morning that shook me out of my complacency that I was doing a semi decent job of parenting. This morning, between ‘Ryan, hurry up and eat’ and ‘you will miss the bus today’ he asked me, ‘ What is the most difficult decision you ever made in your life, Mom? Was it having us?’ That question stopped me in my tracks. It may not have all the implications that I am projecting on it, but it shook me to the core and made me see myself through my children’s eyes.

I am their anchor, their stability and the constant right now. And I know they love me. But they also see me stressed, angry, harried, tired, not in my best state. They have heard me groan when I see a school holiday on the calendar. They have heard me complain that the kids were driving me up the wall. They have experienced me yelling at them, nagging them to change their behavior, clean their rooms, pick up after them.

It is not unusual, therefore, for Ryan to infer that maybe having them was the most difficult decision that I ever made. That was my performance evaluation right there and I was graded poorly. It was a shock because parenting is my primary job at the moment and this is the impression I was creating.

He couldn’t be farther from the truth. Sean and I decided to see the world and travel together before starting a family. But when we decided to raise a family we were absolutely ready. Of course, when Sahana came along, we didn’t have any idea how or what we should do with her. See, she didn’t come with a manual! But we figured it out eventually. By the time Ryan made his appearance, we were pros. Having them was truly the easiest, the most natural decision we ever made. I had just mentioned to a friend, not too long ago, that I have found the calling in my life, being a mother! I enjoy it the most! Then….this!

After searching around for a few minutes for the perfect response to reassure my boy that they were the best things that happened to me, I apologized. I apologized to him for making him feel that way. I said everybody needs to work on their shortcomings, my shortcoming was my impatience. I try hard to be patient with them and I will continue to try harder. That opened up a floodgate of meaningful conversation. Sahana admitted she pushes my buttons sometimes and aggravates Ryan knowing it will end up in a fight. Ryan said he will work on focussing more on his school work. Distraction is his shortcoming, and that is a new word he learnt. Then our seven year old theologist went on to share his idea on the life we lead. He said life is a walk. Mom and dad have started walking early, Sahana started walking a little later, Ryan, even later than Sahana. Everybody starts their walk when they are born. The unborn babies are still at the starting line. Mom and dad will probably reach the finish line first, before them. With that thought, he asked me to please turn on the radio to his favorite station. The house filled up with music, the conversation ended. My mind filled up with the depth of his thoughts and the feeling of being extremely lucky and blessed to be nurturing two precious beings and seeing them bloom.

But his question did disturb me. I don’t want to behave in a way where my children feel having them was the most difficult decision. A lesson learnt, time to take stock and focus on that personal growth, mama!