You got to laugh


I wasn’t laughing at 7:30 am this morning. After complaining to literally everyone whole week about how tired I was, I finally made it to the weekend. Friday night (after my sink got fixed) was glorious. I came back from work, made a quick dinner, grunted hello to Ryan (and he grunted a ‘what’s up back), settled down to watch Gilded Age on HBO. I woke up on Saturday morning with a to-do list. But first and foremost on the list was a refreshing long walk. I laced up my sneakers, did some stretches, debated whether I wanted to listen to music or just get lost in my thoughts (always a dangerous proposition) and then went downstairs to go out through the basement. I landed in water. Yes, my whole basement was flooded. My first thought, interestingly enough, was an irrational anger towards my partner, the poor guy. Things always happen when he travels. I just had the plumber fix the blockage in my kitchen sink the day before and now my basement is flooded!! Not just water but entire gunk from the blockage was on my basement floor. The rugs in front of the tv was sopping wet. At that point I did not know where the water came from, there was no leak in any of the pipes. I came upstairs, woke Sahana and Ryan up, took the heavy wet rugs outside to dry in the sun with their help. Sent a thank you to the universe for blessing us today with a scorcher – yup, you read that right. I am so thankful today was 100 degree F so my rugs, thousand towels and two mops that I used to mop water from my basement actually dried.

The same plumber who thought of his friend’s mother when he saw me, came back. He discovered there was a bigger blockage in the main pipe which he snaked out. I ran the kitchen sink and the disposal to make sure there was no water or goop rushing out in the basement. I also heard how much money the guy makes in this profession and all about his personal life. I will encourage Ryan to consider the plumbing profession if he wants to make it big in life in terms of money. He is a very friendly guy but I was outwardly friendly, silently seething because I had a ton of water to mop in the basement. He said he won’t charge me as if he is doing me a favor. I said he shouldn’t charge me because this was a recall. Anyway, I did not have to pay but I did have to listen to various stories of his life.

Sahana had work today but she brought me coffee from Dunkin Donuts before leaving for work. Ryan followed the plumber around with me and nodded his head seriously at all the technical talks of blockage and snaking. He took his role as the man of the house very seriously. Anyway, after the plumber left, my real work began. By the time the water and awful gunk from basement was cleaned up, I was done for. I wrote to my husband a long message about how everything was awful, how hard I had to work and so on and so forth. He responded with a sad emoji to my long, woeful story and promptly followed that with his Wordle completion score. He is definitely sleeping on the couch when he returns.

I kept checking my basement all day. Either I went down or sent Ryan down to check. It has remained dry. Nervously, I did a load of laundry but stood downstairs just in case the water started spouting from the pipes. The water remained where it is supposed to remain – inside the pipes. We ordered Afghani food after Sahana came back from work and the three of us laughed as we ate. Ryan is big into investment, now that he is earning money and his voice rose in excitement as he educated his mother on his research about index funds and S&P 500 charts. His mother is clueless about investments and should really take a class. At one point, when his voice started bellowing as he got very invested (see what I did there?) in his topic of investment, the stereotypical librarian in me shushed him (most public librarians don’t shush anymore, it is truly a stereotype 🙂 ). After dinner, Sahana and I went for a walk which was lovely.

It was a good end to a bad day. There was laughter and that is, sometimes, just enough.

Stat line is flat


Well, hello world! I peeked in to my oft neglected blog after a long time and saw to no one’s surprise that the statistics line of my blog site is flat. For all these days, no one has peeked in to see if mama is thinking. Mama has been thinking but she has been too lazy to put those thoughts down on her blog site.

It is summer in the library baby!! After spending just 2 hours in the children’s section, helping young readers find books (but lets face it, none of the books I suggest are on the shelves), toys, handing them and their parents reading lists, giving them hints as to where the scavenger hunt clues are, giving out tickets for children’s classes, listening to little ones scream because it is their naptime and their care giver refuses to take them home, I fall flat on my face and do not feel like writing. After a day at the library, I come home and surf Instagram to watch food vlogs and animal videos.

I have had some fun times with both my kids. Sahana took me out to celebrate my 10 year work anniversary. I still have to wrap my head around the fact that I have an adult child. I had made it clear to her when she was an angry teen and I had to lay down ground rules that I am not here to be her friend, I am and always will be her parent. But I feel the line is getting a bit blurry from time to time. She asked me what I would have changed, if I could, in these 10 years of working at the library. I did not have an answer right then. But after giving it some hard thought, I realized, there were times I put my responsibility towards work over my children’s activities. It is too late now but I wish I had done things differently.

Ryan at age 17 is a much nicer young man than he was a couple of years ago. He is really fun to talk to and as he grows up, I find his wicked sense of humor very similar to my father’s. He resembles his grandfather as well and sometimes, when he talks I lose my focus as I see baba peeking through his eyes, his smile. He will assume some leadership roles in his senior year at his high school and I think he will lead with maturity, empathy and grace. Very surprisingly, he does not fight me like he used to when I ask to do chores for me. If I ask him to do something, he says ‘sure’ and does it (except for making his bed or keeping his room clean, and that drives me crazy). I am a very involved parent and like to know everything that is going on in my children’s lives but I am learning to stay silent but present so they come to me with questions/thoughts/ideas. I fail often, but I try again.

Sean and I have not had much time to relax together. We both have been working hard. I miss him and often feel lonely. I guess such is middle age. I realized that now that my parents are gone and children are growing up to have their own lives, the person whose companionship I crave and when he is not around, miss is my husband’s. We vex each other often and I realize we squabble more as we get older and crankier but we laugh too, despite and still.

This blog is really not substantial. I am just showing some love to this online journal of mine. Not sure why you would be interested in reading about my children, but some of you do read so thank you. I have some ideas to write more substantial (may be not, but it is my blog so I can write whatever feels substantial to moi) in upcoming weeks.

I want the stat line not to stay flat – it is an ego boost to see the line go up, so please click 🙂 !

The “goods”.


“Mom, are you seriously going to let Sahana take an Uber from the airport?” Ryan asked me last night, aghast at my non motherly gesture.

“Yes!! She is coming in at night. I will be in my pajamas with a book at that time. She is a big girl.” I replied nonchalantly.

It was obvious this response bothered 17 year old, new driver Ryan.

“I will pick her up. I will write to her.” He shook his head.

I could not stay home as Ryan drove to the airport. It was his first time and I wanted to be his co-pilot negotiating with Sahana where she was waiting to be picked up. As he drove and I chatted, I told him this was very nice of him. He said, “Well, she picked me up after my prom at 1 am. This is the least I can do.”

Sahana, understandably, was very pleased with her little brother for helping her save Uber money. She thanked him profusely. And as I listened to them chatter, I thought I have been building cathedrals all these years and now that I am getting close to seeing the whole structure, I like what Sean and I built.

I have given up writing about the ‘goods’ in my life due to laziness but I wanted this sweet act of paying kindness forward to live on my blogsite. These little moments, gestures create joys in life.

“Girlie things”


Sahana never really played with dolls when she was little. I don’t recall us buying her dolls. Her Grammy gave her a plush puppy on her 3rd birthday, and that was the only toy that she slept with all throughout. When we moved to US from India, we donated all her toys except Puppy. That toy traveled with her in her bag pack to a new country and brought her 5 year old self a sense of grounding when her whole world went through an enormous change.

Sahana and I never did things that are stereotyped as “girlie”. Neither of us enjoy shopping so we did not find joy in that, I do not know how to put on makeup effectively so there were no makeup tutorials, we never did our nails together, growing up she never wanted me to touch her hair so did not do that either. When she needed clothes before school started, we would go to Target, pick up whatever she needed without a lot of deliberatation and ran to the book store nearby to detox from the shopping experience. Neither of us had any trouble spending time there. When I look back at Sahana’s childhood, I think so fondly of our time together reading books. Our biggest excitement was going to our local library where I would sit in the children’s area with a book and she would lose herself in the world of a thick tome that she picked up from the stacks. Even today when I see a child tucked up in a corner completely engrossed in the pages of a book I think of little Sahana.

Well, little girls grow up. And mine did too. This Saturday she gave me an early birthday present- a gift of getting manicure and pedicure together. As we got our nails cleaned and polished, I looked at this kid in wonder. Like every mother on the planet, I wondered how did we get here? When did she grow up so? Did I blink? Anyway, we got all fancied up and both realized that this is truly the first time in all of Sahana’s 22 years that we have done our nails together. We laughed about our lack of girlie activities that mother daughters do. Our activities involved going to book stores and libraries. And then we laughed out loud. Why? Because while we got our nails done and legs massaged, guess what we primarily talked about? Libraries!

Conversations with little Ryan.


Sixth grade conversation about sex.

Ryan: Those who don’t have sex become mountain climbers, right?

Sahana and I stare blankly at him for a few seconds before we ask, “Why do you say that?”

His logic: Well, you know they have regrets and they want to spend time in the mountains, climbing rocks. They could also be divorced. Then the men grow a beard. Uncle ______ climbed rocks till he got married and had a baby!

This was hilarious. Sahana and I could not stop laughing much to Ryan’s chagrin.

Since he could talk, Ryan has had insightful observations on life. They were cute but also poignant. In most parents teacher conferences we were told he brings in an aspect into conversation that is out of the box. And that makes the conversation very interesting. The boy is seventeen now. Constant chatter has given way to grunts and monosyllabic responses to my queries. But I have found if I simply be in his presence without asking questions about school and academics he opens up. I see a glimmer of the little boy who, at the age of 4, sided with an errant pigeon (Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Wilhelm) who was making all sorts of mistakes while driving and should not have been behind the wheels. 4 year old Ryan went against the general consensus of other 4 year olds in a book reading session at the library. The pigeon should be allowed to drive because everyone deserves a second chance.

Yes, that is my mom.


“That is your mom!! What? How?” – this question has been posed to my white passing biracial son since he was in preschool. I sometimes wonder how it made him feel. By kindergarten, he was so used to this question that as soon as I showed up to volunteer at kindergarten luncheon, he would preempt the question from his peers by announcing “That is my mom. Yes, she is brown. She is from India.”

Once I was waiting in the hallway of a high school to pick up Ryan after a middle school concert. He came out with a few other kids. One girl, upon seeing Ryan greet me and come towards me, exclaimed, “Ryan, IS THAT YOUR MOM?????” And then, with the insensitivity of a 13 year old, she followed up that exclamation with, “No way! But you are white!”

Ryan and I will continue to baffle this easily confused world but I hope one day, the world will integrate colors enough to exclaim less when it sees us together.

Last night, as Sahana, Sean and I tackled the New York Times spelling bee, we got talking about how perception of parents follow us in our lives. Sahana said, “Tell me about it. My friends have told me all my life your mom is so pretty. OMG! Who wants to hear that all the time? Leave my mom alone!” She laughed. I have heard her say that before and we have laughed together about it.

Here is the thing that amuses me – different standards of beauty in the two countries that I belong to. In India nobody would give me a second look. I am old now but even when I was young nobody looked twice. My experience was very different in USA, at least in the part where I live.

I read a few books about biracial individuals who try to find where they belong. Good Talk by Mira Jacobs is a great book to read on this issue.

Take it over, kid.


Once upon a time I was a super human. I kept all important dates of school, practice schedules, concert schedules, swim meet schedules in my head – for both kids. Before Google calendar, I wrote all the dates down on our wall calendar in our kitchen for easy access for all. However, easy access for my family meant asking mom/wife.

“When is Ryan’s baseball practice and Sahana’s softball game?” Sean would ask. And crazily enough, I would know the dates.

My kids never went to the same school. When Ryan entered kindergarten, Sahana started middle school. So I got bombarded with emails from 2 schools. And I read each one of them meticulously. I knew the dates of PTA meetings and string concerts, and first grade author’s tea. While I did not attend PTA meetings, I did my share of classroom volunteering when needed. Anyway, bottom line is that once upon a time I was my family’s walking Google calendar. I knew it all in my head.

As Sahana got older, she started taking more responsibilities for her own schedule. Gradually, all her schedule information started sliding off from my brain as she started keeping track. She arranged for her own rides to school concerts, and when she started driving, drove herself to places where she needed to be. My brain then focused on Ryan’s schedule and I did him a disservice by constantly supplying him with dates of his events. Even when he went to high school he depended on me to know the important school dates and swim meet dates. And the control freak that I am, I continued to keep all those in my head. Till I realized I don’t need to anymore. I can clear that space in my memory by giving him the reins of his own activities. So when he asked about dates of his meets, I calmly told him to look it up by logging on to the website.

“Just tell me, it is easier!”

“I have to look it up too. So you do it since it is your meet.” That was a white lie, but it worked. Ryan started looking up on his own. Slowly and I mean, very slowly, he started getting responsible for his own activities.

The husband, on the other hand, was more difficult to train.

“When is…?”

“I am not sure, I forwarded you the email. Look it up” – became my standard response.

I still get the emails from Ryan’s school, which I still read but I do not keep the dates in my head for the most part. I jot down important parent’s meetings in our Google calendar but the rest I simply forward to Ryan. Recently, I saw a text exchange between father and son, which happened while I was still sleeping.

Ryan: “When is my SAT prep class?”

Sean: “I am not sure. I don’t remember getting that email. Mom will know. Let her wake up.”

Me, after waking up: “I forwarded both of you that email. Check your mail.”

They did. The information was there. It was so fun to simply write “check your email”. It is such a relief to not be as responsible anymore. From a super human, I have become just a human with memory space cleared for what I want to store in it.

I love being a parent. And I love seeing the slow transformation of my children taking over the control of their lives. There is a slight pang in my heart, I will not deny, at the fact that they are grown up. However, the dominant feeling is satisfaction and yes, relief.

Sibling relationship and food


Since Sahana started working, she buys some of the groceries. And not often, but sometimes those groceries include salt and barbeque chips or takis or hot flaming cheetos. She is a generous kid, who buys enough for herself and her brother. She keeps her brother’s packet of junk food out and promptly hides her own packet. The brother storms in from his boarding school over the weekend, opens the refrigerator door, devours whatever he finds to his taste and then complains, “There is nothing in this house to eat.” He finishes his packet of junk food and hunts in the hidden corners of the house for more. He has often gotten into trouble for eating his sister’s portion and once or twice there have been aggressive exchange of words. Expletives have been used and their mother has shouted at both of them.

Last night, Ryan came home mid week for a doctor’s appointment. Sahana and I had purchased our choice of chips – one packet each, to enjoy while the eating fiend was away at dorms. Ryan located our packets right away and helped himself to a generous portion from mine. He tried one or two from his sister’s too but he (fortunately) did not enjoy the flavor. He then hid both the packets of chips in a cabinet and asked me to tell Sahana that he came and took the packets with him to dorm. I was also asked to report to him her reactions. He was laughing his head off imagining how angry she would be when she came back from work to discover her packet of chips had disappeared. He cautioned me though, “Mom, if you see her balling her fists in rage, tell her I hid the chips. I don’t want her hurting my mother. Hee hee hee.”

Sahana came home from work and after she settled, I told her nonchalantly, “Oh, by the way, Ryan came home and took our packets of chips with him to the dorm. That boy is trouble.” As expected, Sahana got angry. “He has a eating problem. Do you realize that he has a problem?” She said a few more sentences about it, none of them complimentary to her brother. I could not keep the laughter bottled in anymore so I told her he hid her chips to get a reaction out of her. She laughed, “He is an idiot.”

I have not written about the kids for a while. This blog started as a record of my parenting journey. The journey continues and will continue as long as I live. There are exasperations, laughter, sullenness, successes, failures as we live our lives together. However, I have stopped writing about them now that they have grown up. I simply had to write down this anecdote to read later and remember this moment of laughter. Moments like these make life precious.

Messy bed


A quick post before I start work. I am not a neat freak although I like a clean house. My only pet peeve is a messy bed. I can not stand it. I always make my bed. Since my kids were little, I made them make their beds. They cheated, of course. Often, they just pulled the top cover on their unmade bed to give an illusion to mom that they had made their beds. And when I found out, I yelled at them. I also took 2 dollars from them (or was it 5?) as payment for me to make their beds if they had not done it.

Fast forward Sahana’s college years. Her bed, in her dorm room, was mostly neatly made. Even now when she is home she makes her bed. Mr. Ryan is a different story. His bed is NEVER made. I grit my teeth as I go by his room. Clothes everywhere, unmade bed, teenage boy funk.

Everyday I resolve to scold him and I never do. His morning, thrice a week, starts at 4:15 am with swim practice, then he goes to school, after school he directly goes to water polo practice and finally comes home to finish homework and study for tests. I just want to mention here that this rigorous schedule is self inflicted. His parents have implored to cut down on activities. The little time he has, he watches mindless tiktok videos. He does not read other than required reading for school. 😭

Now that you have reference to the context, what do you think I should do? Keep urging him to make his bed so it is ingrained in him for future? Close his door if it bothers me?

Struggle


Do you remember your struggle at 21? Did you struggle to figure out where you are going and where will you end up? Or did you have a clear path ahead of you? I had no clear path. I took up jobs while finishing my education and flitted from one job to another for better pay because my family desperately needed money. None of those jobs required my education but in retrospect, all of those jobs prepared me for the job I do now. All of them honed my customer service skills and today I can say with certain amount of pride that my customer service skills are sharp. I got my Customer Service Specialist job at our public library due to those skills which I developed in the jobs that I took at random in my youth – desperate, directionless. Working at customer service at the library was my foothold, and once I was in, I interviewed for an Instructor and Research position which I was lucky enough to get. Now I use my skills and knowledge in what I do. I also use love. I have said before and I say it again, I love working at a library. My path, in terms of career, became clear later in life, after marriage, after motherhood. That is the story of my life thus far.

I now can look at the young adult in my house, somewhat in a similar position as I was at 21. She landed in this position because of the pandemic that disrupted the plans she had for herself. Being a planner, she had created charts and spreadsheets for the route her life was going to take, the classes she was going to take, her junior year abroad, senior year at campus, perhaps a job in the area or at the university as she looked for grad school. And then pandemic hit which cut short her year in Spain, brought her back home, her senior year was spent taking virtual classes in her tiny room, working a few hours virtually for her campus job. And just like that the path ahead of her became murky. What job was there for her after her degree? What is the path ahead? Where will life take her? Insecurities, uncertainties, ‘am I good enough’ – questions, concerns bog her down.

I look on helplessly at her despair yet I know in my heart and from the place I am in life, her path will clear. This internal struggle and feeling of helplessness will be a distant memory. The uncertainties and her ability to cope with them will infuse her with strength and when she looks back she will see these were essential to her personal growth. Life is hard as a young adult, the lost year of pandemic has thrown extra obstacles in their path with hiring freezes, job cuts. Graduates of 2020 and 2021 have been harshly tested and most of them will come out stronger.

Right now, I stay beside her as she flails and try to project my conviction that this struggle is necessary and temporary. Her path will emerge. She will chart her own course in life because she has what it takes to move forward. Conviction, strength, intellect. She is a mighty girl.