Pineapple Porcupine and Me!

During my last visit to my parent’s place, I got a beautifully grown and ripe pineapple from my dad’s organic garden. He had given me instructions on how I could replant the leaves and grow another pineapple from it. I read up further about it on the internet and set out to plant my first pineapple plant. I must admit that I enjoy my rare encounters with soil. In the process, I got bruised by the thorns on its leaves. I shouted out loud to the plant “Hey Ms., I am just trying to help you grow. I mean no harm. How can I plant you if this is how you behave? ” I finished my work and got going. Each time i saw my bruises, I ended up thinking about the pineapple encounter.

I love watching the National Geographic with my seven year old. That evening they showed a fiery fight between a porcupine and a leopard. A fully armed porcupine escapes from becoming the leopard’s lunch thanks to its sharp protective quills. Porcupines usually escape from being a prey to most of the animals in a similar fashion. Only very few animals know the knack of porcupine-eating. They target the porcupines belly which is the most vulnerable part. The 30,000 odd quills make porcupines a ” stay away from me” kind of an animal.

I looked at my bruises again and thought of the similarity between the pineapple that I had planted that morning and this porcupine. Self defense was their need. But then, how would you know if that person/animal actually meant you no harm!

I looked at myself. My life so far flashed in my mind. A girl born in a fairly conservative family and society, with a list of Do’s and Don’ts. The list kept growing bigger and bigger as I grew older. Looking back, the list was a well studied one with points to cover each and every aspect of my life. ( And this list has been passed on from one generation to another with some points getting added and deleted with every successive passing.) It covered topics like the time I had to get back home to the type of people that I could talk/not talk, befriend/not befriend, ask for directions/not ask for directions, take a lift from/not take a lift from, trust/not trust etc etc etc. It also had pointers about the roads that I could travel and not travel and the decisions I could make and not make.

With this list dangling in front of my eyes, I can now, in this context of pineapple and porcupine, see all these points as thorns/quills. Thorns with which I have driven away people, thorns which I used as direction diverters, thorns which helped me wear a mask and make myself invisible under a lot of circumstances.

Just like how a baby porcupine is born with soft quills which harden in a few days, my thorns kept hardening with time.  And I became this “thorn-woman” with a nice protective shield around me.

I had told the pineapple when I was planting it ” Ms., will you ever be able to distinguish between a friend and a foe or will you keep pricking everyone? ”

I spoke to the porcupine too ” What if the other animal was just trying to alert you of a possible danger? You would hurt that animal too? ”

I told myself” Will I ever be able to pluck out all these thorns or will I pass it on to the next generation with the usual minor changes in it? ”

In spite of being aware of the fact that along with ensuring the safety of my children in this society, I am also keeping them away from a lot of genuine friendships, wonderful experiences and beautiful untouched roads, I will still do the same.

What I plan to do in order to reduce the impact of the thorns  is to read out this blog to them when they are a little older. Tell them that these are just safety precautions. Tell them to develop their own instincts and senses to help them differentiate between a friend and a foe. Tell them to be open to taking new roads when they feel it is safe to do so. Tell them to take any decision after carefully studying the pros and cons.

I shall tell them to use their quills with caution.

 

Advertisements

Wrong or Right.

The first time he made a small mistake,
She thought it was too early to correct the little boy.
The next time he hit someone and ran from school,
She thought he was only being defensive.

 
The time he dropped out of college ,
She thought she was not qualified enough to advice him.
The time she caught him in bad company getting influenced by wrong ideologies,
Her guilt of having given him a difficult childhood stopped her from correcting him.

 
The time he came home crying and pleading her to get him out of his habits,
She thought it was her chance to stand up for him and help him.
The time he went back to the bad old habits,
She wept quietly thinking she had not done enough.

 
All this while, the mother in her let him go,
Silently praying and hoping he would mend his ways.
She knew she had done “wrong”,
But she did not know the “right”.

 
She rushed home after she heard the news,
She screamed and cried all along.
Her heart bled for the loss of innocent lives,
Who had done absolutely no wrong.

 
The woman in her could no longer bear it,
His apology and tears did not do the trick anymore.
She knew she had failed as a mother,
But she did not want to fail as a woman.

 
As she waited for the cops to turn up,
To collect his body and to arrest her,
She knew she had not done “the right”,
But she knew she had not done wrong either.

 

 

The Saga Continues..

When the cuckoo opened her eyes from what she thought was a small nap, she was surprised to find herself surrounded by so many different animals and birds. The ambiance and environment was unfamiliar and strange. There was absolutely nothing under or above her. It was not like the sky and the terrains that she was used to. She felt lighter. She couldn’t find her friends or kids. There were animals from different communities: Some of whom she had not thought very highly about and some, whom she always aspired to be. Some of whom she never wanted to befriend, and some, whom she couldn’t befriend in spite of all her efforts. When she looked around, she saw a giant eagle sitting on a rock above them. One look at the eagle and she realized something very strange. The animals could hear and understand each other without speaking a single word. They could read each other’s mind. None of them uttered a word, but they all spoke.

They welcomed the cuckoo to their new “temporary shelter” as they all called it. They had gathered there to take stock of the previous journey and may be learn some lessons, before they started their next one. All of them were curious and looking forward to their next journey. But they had to do some stocktaking before that.

They were all waiting for the cuckoo to wake up to start their discussion. The lion said” I never thought I was committing such a big mistake. I had boasted about it to my children. But now, I see them doing the same thing and at a much larger scale. I was assured one animal a day for meal by the jungle animals. And they kept their word. But I would kill a couple of more of them just for the sake of killing. Now, I see my children do the same thing. I also see the number of animals in the jungle declining at such an alarming rate. I feel worried. I want them to stop killing unnecessarily but they wouldn’t listen. I realize my mistake. But I know I am late! ”

The honeybee was shocked when the entire group heard her. Her shriek voice, in spite of being the queen usually fell on deaf ears. But here, her mute voice was as powerful as that of any other animal. She said” I did everything to protect my eggs. I had to choose between protecting my eggs and saving my workers. It was my motherly instincts that led me to take such a drastic step.” Eagle looked into her eyes and the bee quickly responded” You are right! I could have saved my workers and my eggs. If I had led my workers in the right direction, they could have flown to a safe place with the eggs. But I chose to take my eggs and fly without giving any directions to my workers, thus, endangering their lives. In the process, I dropped many eggs. My kids have learnt it all from me. They are now ill-treating all the workers in their respective beehives. I realize my mistake. But I know I am late! ”

The snake was next. ” Hiss! I was so happy spreading poison everywhere and I never realized that in the process I was killing too many innocent animals. My daughter never approved of my behavior and tried to convince me against taking innocent lives. But I wouldn’t listen! She got killed trying to save me from my enemies. My other kids are following my footsteps. They are spreading their venom everywhere. I realize my mistake. But I know I am late!”

The pig couldn’t wait for his turn. He said ” But I never told my kid about how I used to stray away from the herd and reach a place first so that I could get the best share of food. I always projected a good herdsman figure and told my kid to be one. But today, I can see that my daughter has got into trouble for straying away and trying to reach first. ” Eagle reminded the pig of the instances when his daughter had heard from the rest of the herd about how her father used to disobey the rules. His daughter had defended him telling everyone that her father could never do anything wrong. The pig agreed and nodded. ” Yes! She did what she thought she should be doing because according to her, I could never do anything wrong. I realize my mistake. But I know I am late!”

The beautiful eyes of the deer had filled up. All the animals looked at her. She said” I just had a vision of my little fawn. While he was small and did not still have his horns, he kept asking me when he would start growing his horns. I, instead of explaining to him that his horns would eventually grow, told him the story of how my dad got hunted down by a lion because his long horns got caught in the branches of a tree. My fawn started hating horns and now, when his little horns have started to appear, he is scared. He almost killed himself trying to rub his horns on the rock to get rid of it. I should have just explained things to him rather than pacifying him by telling the story. Now, how will he ever be able to accept the horns as his most distinguishable feature? I told that story just to stop him from asking me the same question again and again. I realize my mistake. But I know I am late!”

Cuckoo said ” I have seen my mother and aunts keep their eggs in other’s nests. We have to drop one egg from the host’s nest to fit in ours. We have been doing it for generations together. Once, in haste, I dropped my own egg down. And that’s when I understood the pain. I tried to convince my kids and friends against this tradition. But they wouldn’t listen.How could they stop something without having a solution! I now realize that I should have just taught them how to make a nest and take care of their own little ones rather than preaching to them.  I realize my mistake. But I know I am late!”

All the other animals there started thinking of the different ways in which they had set bad examples for their kids. Some animals were upset for never being happy and content with whatever they had with them. They could see the same unhappiness and discontentment in their kids. Some animals saw reflections of their manipulative and greedy self in their kids and they cried.

All of them swore that they never wanted their kids to do anything wrong. They always told their kids to be good. They also realized how much their kids looked up to them and considered them as their role models. So now, the mismatch was clear.

As all of them sat there pondering about the things they should have done differently, the eagle announced that their transport for the next journey had arrived.

The eagle waved good-bye to this batch of animals and the next batch was waiting for him.  With a smile, the eagle greeted the new batch and thought” the saga continues!”

That Was The Plan!

The Move.

She moved into the city 6 months ago. She loved every second she spent there alone. Everything that her folks had described as struggle seemed more like an adventure to her. Right from hunting for a place to stay to finding her way through the crowded stations to sending that first email to her client at work… It was all so much fun!

Life back home was easy. It was safe, it was all planned. Right from her kindergarten to her graduation  happened as per her parent’s plan. She did all the right things at the right time. Going for sports classes, dance sessions, violin performance on stage, everything happened as per the plan. Her parents were often applauded for the way they had brought her up.

But then, as per the plan, she was supposed to be in the university doing her masters. What was she doing in that metro station? And was this job as per the plan? She was certain that for her high profile parents, the job of a sales girl in a small book store in a small town was not acceptable. She did not even tell her parents that she was making her ends meet by taking violin lessons for a group of kids in the neighborhood. She was happy. She had figured out her way though it was not according to her parents’ plan for her.

Childhood Training Comes Handy.

In the last one week, she had often thanked her parents in her mind for making her the girl that she was! All the qualities that they had imbibed in her, made her life at work very easy. She remembered  how her mom always made her write a formal email (whenever she wanted her to buy something), when her manager and publishing house complimented her for the explicit and crisp emails that she wrote to them. She remembered how she was made to organize all her birthday parties herself, when she got a pay hike for organizing the maximum book reading sessions in her store in a quarter.

She also wondered what her parents felt about her decision to move out and not do things according to their plan. They did not seem happy. They had put up resistance to her move. But gave in because she was very adamant about it.

The Twist.

Back home, her parents were having a quiet dinner after a long day at work. They had got an email from their daughter about the pay hike.

Mom broke the silence with a chuckle, ” So, how long do you think this will last? Lets see who wins the bet… I am sure I will…. ”

Dad was quick to respond ” Not this time..  I am sure she will be in the university by fall next year. I have already kept the brochure in her room”.

Mom held Dad’s hand and said ” Like everything else, this break was also in our plan. So why did you put up a resistance when she spoke to you about it? ”

Dad kept quiet, but mom knew the answer. He wanted his daughter to think she was doing something outside the plan.  He knew that would make her a strong, confident and capable woman. Most importantly, she would start making her own plans. Mom and Dad knew that she would take a break for an year or two and then get back to college. But in the meantime, she would be a transformed person. They knew that if they had suggested this break, she would not have worked on it the way she was currently doing it. According to her, this was her plan and it was her opportunity to prove to her parents that she could make her own plans.

So, THAT WAS THE PLAN!

The End. 

Stay@Home Moms

These are the things that I personally think stay-at-home moms should do in order to avoid any kind of guilt of having given up on career or of not being able to do anything worthwhile.

We all know that the decision on whether to be a full-time stay-at-home mom or continue with one’s career as soon as the maternity leave is over is a very tough one. It’s a decision ,which is far more difficult to stick to as days pass by. The first one year with the baby just flies. The thrill of having a baby is soon replaced by so many emotions like fear, anxiety, helplessness, frustration, tremendous joy, and some more which you never even knew existed. So the first one year is gone before you even realize.

The little time that you (may , if you are lucky) get is spent on catching up some sleep. So, its only when the child turns around one that you suddenly realize that your colleagues are all still in shape, they are still working as hard and some of them have done really well in their career. You start to wonder what and where you would have been but for the “baby plan”. But then, one giggle from the little one and you temporarily come out of that thought. That thought hides for some time and then it surfaces again with even more magnitude. So it’s an ongoing process till you either get back to work or start doing something that gives you immense pleasure and pride.

I quit my full-time job as soon as my kid was born. I made sure I had something to divert my attention to other than home and kid. It varied from taking up part-time jobs to conducting events in the society to trying my hands on things I never thought I could do to building up a new hobby etc. I still have not felt the need to get back to a full time job. I have realized that the most important thing is to prove to yourself that you are growing as a person. I have seen my colleagues and classmates grow in their career but I know that I can still strike a conversation with them on any topic without feeling left out or let down.

Here, I am sharing some of the things that I did while being a stay-at-home mom which ensured my current state of mind. The break can be small or big. What you do during that break has a significant impact on you and in turn your family.

  1. Give priority to your health and fitness: I have always believed that a fit and healthy body is a very important ingredient in building a happy home. I have tried various forms of fitness regimes including walking/running, zumba, yoga and gym. All of them have at different times given me the required results and I enjoy a fit and healthy body today. This gives one a lot of confidence in oneself and also helps in setting a right example for kids. Needless to say that one is in a much better condition to play and run around with kids. I would personally recommend getting out of the house and joining a class rather than trying out things at home. That little amount of socializing has a huge impact.
  2. Get involved in society related activities: Now-a-days most of us live in apartments or gated communities and that gives us a huge opportunity in terms of taking up a cause and spending some time towards it. It provides us a platform to learn new things. The many things that we usually ignore because it is all taken care of by somebody else, opens up in this process. The little recognition you get doing this is a great positive stroke. At the end of the day the thought of having done something for the society is wonderful. I would personally recommend you to take up some activity in your society or be an active part of the activities already happening in your society. The years of corporate experience always comes handy while dealing with any such thing. So go for it!
  3. Consider your hobbies seriously: It’s never late to pick up a new hobby. Or if you already have a hobby, which you never got time to spend on, just do it. I have seen so many momprenneurs ( mom entrepreneurs) around me. They are doing so wonderfully well for themselves. Right from owning food blogs to conducting webinars to having a home studio of art and dance, the examples are many. There are so many mommies who have chosen an alternate career after the stay-at-home break . And all of them say they are so happy now as compared to their corporate life. Some of them make more money now than they ever did. So no matter how short or long the stay-at-home break is, it is worthwhile to invest time in your hobbies. You never know! You may not want to get back and work for someone else anymore. You may want to be your own boss and start a career combining your passion and profession. I would personally recommend you to pick up a new hobby. Since we are so used to the term “expand your horizon” while at work, expanding your horizon by picking up and enjoying a new hobby will surely boost your morale.
  4. Travel as much as you can: It is always easier to plan a short weekend trip with your family when you know that you don’t have to finish all your chores during weekends so that you can get back to office on Monday morning. Plan short weekend trips and come back rejuvenated. Kids love trips and going to new places. No matter how much time you spend with them at home, the bonding that happens when you travel or stay out of home is different. It becomes a dedicated time for them, playing, reading and having fun with them. Now that you can spend time on planning, preparing and organizing the trip, make the most of it. Visit places that “you” have always wanted to. A Sunday night drive without having to worry about the hectic week ahead is a bliss! I would personally recommend you finish all chores during weekdays so that you are ready and prepared for any immediate, instant outings during weekends.
  5. Have your “me” time: I have heard mommies who go out to work say that they are so happy to get out of the house because that gives them some time to themselves. The drive to office or the office free time become their “me” time. This is something that stay-at-home moms have to really work hard on. So once the kids start going out to a play-group or whenever you can get someone else to take care of the kids, just go out. Watch a movie with friends, go out for lunch or go and get yourself pampered at a spa. Or simply lock yourself in a room and read a book. Studies show that this rejuvenating time is very essential for every individual and more so for stay-at-home moms. I would personally recommend dividing your free time into an exclusive “me time” and some time to catch up with your friends or watch your favorite hero’s movies. This really gears you up and helps you get back with a different perspective.
  6. Hire ample help: Just because you are a stay-at-home mom, you don’t have to do it all. If you can financially afford, hire enough helps so that you are not a zombie by evening. In the initial days, the help can do simple things like keep an eye on the little one while he/she sleeps so that you can have a nice shower. Or may be take the little one outside while you take a walk around. I never let go of my maid or cook even after quitting my job because I deserve them. I cannot stand in the kitchen and make all meals and take care of everything else in the house and end up feeling exhausted, angry and sad. I have all my helps in place so that I am not physically drained by the end of the day. I enjoy putting together some special meals for the kids and I do that listening to some good music and the kids also know that there is something yummy cooking when they hear my favorite music playing in the kitchen! Do what you enjoy doing, but don’t force yourself to do stuff just because you are a stay-at-home mom. If you are someone who enjoys cooking but would rather not drive around in the city, you take care of the cooking and hire a driver! I would personally recommend you to delegate all activities that can be delegated so you focus on the important things with regard to your kids.

No matter how short or long your “stay-at home” phase is, make it enjoyable. Don’t have any guilt or regret about taking that decision. The grass always appears greener on the other side but that’s probably because you don’t look at your side of the grass very often. Grass remains green as long as it is watered and gets some sunlight.

Happy parenting!

You Deserve The Best!

When I held you in my arms for the first time,
I was happy, I was scared!
I was not sure if I could take care of you..
Because the moment I saw you, i knew you deserve the best!!

As you started growing, So did I.
I lived all those years through you.
Your first smile, your first step.
Your first day at school, I will never forget!

Being a mom is not easy.
Because you want to do it all right.
The right food, the right school,
The right work and the right play!

I’m still not sure if I can take care of you..
Because I still know, you deserve the best!!

I love you but I scold you.
I encourage you but I stop you.
I protect you but I let you go.
I praise you but I criticize you.

At times, I want you to remain young,
So that you’d hold my hands and walk with me.
At times, I want you to grow fast,
So that I can hold your hands and walk with you.

I am growing with you but not sure if at the same pace!
I am as confused as I was on the first day.

Today, when I see you grow into a beautiful young girl,
When you do those little things to bring joy to others,
When you respect elders and take care of others,
Then, I know there’s no need to be scared, nothing to worry.

You are taken care of by not only me..
There are all the good angels taking care of you,
Holding you, guiding you and walking with you,
because you deserve nothing but the best!