My day in 2013.

Trust me, I feel lucky to be alive every day, but then there are days when I take a deep breath, look at the brilliant blue sky and the bright sunshine, I see the fresh green of the leaves and feel the gentle breeze on my face and say in my head, “Man, I am happy to be alive!” Mother’s Day was one such. After gloomy, rainy Friday and Saturday, when I kept my spirits up by constantly chanting, “Self, remember, all this rain is good for the plants. NOW REPEAT’ Sunday dawned bright and gorgeous. Nature smiled and hopefully so did most mothers and mother figures as they woke up to hand made cards, hugs and wishes of Happy Mother’s Day.

I was requested previous night and then threatened that I should stay in my room till at least 7.00 am. I tried to remind the children it was a Sunday and there was absolutely no need for anybody to get up that early. But 7:00 am it was, they had it planned and they were not flexible.

I heard the alarm ring at Sahana’s room at 6:30 am and groaned. I was awake and a captive in my bed. I heard the little brother being woken up. I heard the clash and clang in the kitchen. I flinched at the thought of the mess being made, even though I promised not to sweat the small things at least for a day. I tossed and turned and watched the minute hand drag. Finally, the door creaked open. The boy poked his head to see if I was asleep. He tiptoed over to say a quiet good morning and then seeing my eyes open climbed on to bed to snuggle.

I was invited to the kitchen table and saw this


Sahana and Ryan stood next to it with brilliant smiles. I have to say my eyes glanced over at the kitchen, smile didn’t waver though. Seeing no imminent disaster, I inwardly sighed a sigh of relief. Cards were opened and read, kisses were exchanged, hugs were given. When I discovered my gift, the first realization dawned. The gifts were four packets of seeds. Two of them basil, which I love, one parsley and one sunflower. They explained the symbolism to me.

“We see you as the gardener, Mom, helping us grow. Nurturing us with your love. So we thought seeds would be a good gift. Also, it is spring, we should start planting!”

I smiled at the thoughtfulness of the gift. The morning was getting better and better. Breakfast was eaten. From my previous experiences of mother’s day breakfasts, I was ready for some crunchy egg shells in my fried eggs. I was also ready to take it in my stride and keep the expression unchanged and chew on bravely. The egg shells were absent. I, then, realized I have an almost fourteen year old in my house who is slowly becoming a competent chef. That was the second realization. Both of my children were growing up. The hand made cards are not mere scribbles but actual thoughts. The hand made gift didn’t quite carry the mark of an amateur any more.

But then things didn’t go as planned. The teenager who has to get up at the crack of dawn every day to catch the bus was irritable due to lack of sleep. Arguments began, and they were sent to their rooms. I went to the kitchen to clean up, only to discover that the dishwasher had been unloaded and the kitchen already cleaned up. The stony heart melted a bit and I went back to find them. Sahana was back in bed, fast asleep. Ryan was lying on the couch with a book. I called MY mother to tell her how much I love her and how much I miss her in my day to day life.

While Sahana slept most of the morning, Ryan and I took a long, leisurely walk with Sage. We held hands and tried solving all kinds of problems so the world would become a more wonderful place than it already is. We talked, also, about fantastic things like eating healthy and exercising. Ryan’s reason for doing so is somewhat different than mine. He wants a prospective wife to check him out at some point. I said eating healthy should be about keeping your health good. To that, he dismissively said, “Oh yeah! That too!”

We planted the seeds and tangled with Sage in the yard while Sahana slept on. I tried to figure out her logic of making me breakfast at 7:00 am and then sleeping the entire day. But who said teenagers were logical? She finally woke up around lunch time. I ended up making their favorite lunch, I ended up taking Sahana to the library to work on her project, I ended up taking Ryan to his baseball game, and then finally, I ended up making dinner for all.

In every way, the day was business as usual, except the morning celebration. But then again, it wasn’t. The unexpected hugs by both the kids made it different, the beautiful note that my husband sent me from a far away land made it different, the runner duo who we met on our walk wishing me ‘happy mother’s day’ as they ran by us made it different, the gorgeous sky, bright sunshine, birds chirping on the trees made it different. As I high fived Ryan on his brilliant catch and double play in his baseball game, he nodded shyly and said, “That was for you mom. Happy Mother’s Day!” That made it very different. I came home with a heart full of happy songs.


I will celebrate Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day was a relatively new concept in India in the mid nineties. It was a borrowed concept from the West and we all sneered at this custom of designating this one day to mothers. “For us, 365 days are mother’s day. We don’t just designate one single day to celebrate motherhood!” we said. We were wrong. At least I was wrong. I didn’t celebrate mother’s day for all 365 days. I love my mother, but I didn’t celebrate her, I didn’t appreciate all she did for me, the things she went without to make sure I had everything I needed. Honestly, when I say she went without, she really did. Trust me, there is no drama involved in that line. She was, and still is, a constant comfortable presence in my life, my ultimate cheer leader, my picker upper when life dealt a blow, my confidante, and let’s face it, a nagging voice in my conscience till I did what needed to get done. I always felt words of love and thanks were redundant in a mother daughter relationship. It is understood that I love her. I shouldn’t have been presumptuous. Words may have been inadequate but I still should have tried. I have learnt to respect the power of words, since. So I write my feelings for her now.

The commercial aspect of Mother’s Day offends me. The day shouldn’t be about presents (although I don’t grudge any of you a day in a spa, or pandora bracelets or whatever you get), it shouldn’t be about the brightness of flowers or glitzy store bought cards! The day should be about telling your mom, “I see you. Yes you do drive me crazy sometimes (which mom doesn’t) but I love you more than you will ever know. Not because you gave birth to me but you tried your best to help me grow! You did what you thought was best for me. I didn’t always agree. But you were driven by love. And I love that.” There are exceptions to this mother image that I talk about, but then again, as the cliche goes “exception proves the rule”. The day should be about giving her that precious gift called Time. The day should be about picking up the phone and asking her how she is really doing. The day should be about noticing her as a separate identity, a woman as well as a mother.

I will indeed celebrate Mother’s Day. I will step out of this race against time for one day and find a comfortable seat on the grass. And I will pull out the memory book of my life and turn the pages backwards. I will revisit that moment when I first became a mother and held my first born to my chest. I looked down at her unfocused steel grey eyes and experienced some emotions that I cannot put to words. Was it love? Was it bewilderment? Was it fear? Was it apprehension? Was it pride? Was it tiredness? Was it all of these and more? It was a sense of an ending and a sense of a new beginning, all at the same time. It was the joy of holding a miracle. It was a fear of breaking her.

I will take a leisurely walk to see the first moment when I held Sahana in my arms, kissed her snub nose and whispered in her ear “I will see you soon” as the doctors whisked her away. I will remember the curly haired little baby girl who learnt to walk one summer in a rented summer house in Cape Cod while family sat around her, waiting to catch her if she fell. I will remember holding her soft hand as we waited for her preschool bus to take her to preschool. I will remember the moment when Ryan came screaming and kicking into this world and I heard the proud father saying to the new born, “You are so sweet, I could eat you!” as he cuddled the yawning baby. His toothless grins, the warmth of HIS soft hand in mine as we walked inside the grocery store. All those stressful moments when he was a rambunctious toddler and my fear that he was going to bump someone. His first day at preschool, his astonished expression as Sean blew on his face and dunked him in the pool at the tender age of 5 months.

I have a treasure of sweet memories that I want to write down for myself. I want nobody to present me a bouquet of cut flowers. I will, instead, pick up those memories of sweetness and kindness that my children have given me. They have offered their smile, their thoughts, their innocence, their childhood to me as flowers. I have accepted some, some I discarded because I have been preoccupied with schedules and timetables. I will pick up those discarded flowers too and tie myself a bouquet. Like when Sahana said she wants to grow up to be a parent just like me. Or today when Ryan assured me, although he gets very, very angry with me when I scold him, he never, ever hates me. Hate is not what he feels towards me, never. It is love, always love.

These are my presents that they have already given me. Along with the laugh lines. I have discovered my ability to love unconditionally because they were born. That is their gift to me. But I want more on this special day. I want them to give me a day when they refrain from sibling rivalry and meanness. I want them to take my hand and walk some distance with me, I want them to tell me about their thoughts, their emotions, their lives. I want this day to be schedule less and unstructured. I won’t ask them to be good and brave and nice and kind. I will not fret about grades. I will not talk about the frustrations that come with parenting. Heaven knows, I talk about that often. I won’t look at the bigger picture and worry about how they are growing up. I will simply live the day and feel very, very blessed to have two healthy children in my life, who drive me insane, cause tears of laughter, and make this mother’s world very colorful by just being here. I lose sight of this simple truth on most days. On Mother’s Day, I won’t.