Saturday, January 19, 2013

Living life in the Present

"Whatever you're meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible." — Doris Lessing

When I read this quotation somewhere, it immediately clicked with me. Most of us wait for that perfect time to do something or the other. Like I used to dream that when I would not be working, I would read like a maniac. When I actually stopped working, I was pregnant. I spent almost all of pregnancy at home but I read far less number of books that I would have read otherwise. Most of the times I did not feel like doing anything, overwhelmed by severe nausea for almost the entire tenure. After the baby arrived, I hardly had time. Well, it is always going to be that way. One always gets occupied by something or the other.

Recently, I was having a conversation with my mother and she had similar thoughts. She spent all her energy and time in taking care of the family and children, thinking that she would focus on herself after fulfilling her responsibilities. Now after both her children are married and settled, she has problems in her eyes related to nerves, since last 2-3 years. It is difficult to even walk or do any work. She does not like going out too much because first of all, she cannot go anywhere alone. Even if she goes to some place with dad or the family, she finds it embarrassing to make a conversation because she cannot look people in the eye. She has no control on the movement of the eyelids. She has traveled to Paris, Barcelona and Kashmir in this condition, of course without her will. She had always nursed dreams of going to Kashmir, romanticized by the movies of her times. Now that she went there, she did not enjoy that much because of her eyes. She tells me, I will advise everyone not to wait for some time in the future to live their lives. Wise words indeed!

I will throw in another example. When I was working, we would usually go to malls for shopping because there was never enough time to hunt small boutiques for exclusive stuff or novelties. I and my friend would often discuss that once we both quit our jobs we would dedicate complete days to each area in Pune for discovering quaint eateries and interesting boutiques. Well, we both are not working currently – I am not working since last 2 years, while she since last 6 months, we haven’t gone on a single shopping spree.

So, in this New Year, I intend to live life in the present and not in the future.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Raising Boys vs. Raising Girls

This post was first published on Parentous - the Parenting Blog. 

When I discovered I was pregnant, I secretly wished for a boy. But my reasons were different from the conventional reasons of either carrying the family name or having somebody to take care of us in the old age.

 From my own experiences as a girl, from my observations of immediate surroundings as well as from all the news, information and incidents around us, my perceived issues of raising a girl were:
a. She would be expected to fit into the stereotypical roles, if not by us, by the extended family or people she would meet outside family or society at large.
b. Protecting her from the dangers lurking in every corner – child abuse, molestation, eve-teasing, to name a few.
c. Building good self-image and self-esteem. Because of the continuous messages from the media, several girls suffer from poor self-image or have poor body image. They are perpetually concerned about diet and body, sometimes going to extreme. It affects their self-esteem too.
d. Am I ready to give her the kind of freedom she deserves? It is easier said than done that we would give as much freedom to a daughter as we would to a son, because it is not about trust on the child, it is more about her safety.
e. Girls are complicated and mature. They may even start asking the purpose of life at as early an age as 7. This can be a blessing as well as challenging.
Of course, there would be more issues but these were the ones which were on my mind. And if you ask me, in current context the most challenging is building a good self-image and good body image in girls. We are continuously surrounded by one or the other media and each one of them manipulate us in believing that if you are not fair enough or thin enough, you shouldn’t exist. Getting attention from the opposite sex should be the ultimate goal in life for every girl! It is hard enough dealing with this as a girl; I cannot imagine what I had done to deal with this as a mother of a daughter at an impressionable age.
As I had wished, I was blessed with a son and not a daughter. Did you say I was at peace? No! Ironically, my challenges are mostly the same.
  1. A man is also expected to fit into stereotypes – so if you are not chivalrous, you are an MCP!
  2. I have read enough articles and this very good book called Bitter Chocolate by Pinki Virani which opened my eyes to the fact that Child Sexual Abuse is rampant and not gender specific. Girls as well as boys are susceptible to it. In fact, unlike girls, boys are not even conditioned to judge whether a touch is fatherly or filthy.
  3. Perhaps boys have less body image issues, but there are serious safety issues. Boys are restless and energetic. Acceptance in peer group is important and they take a lot of risks in ascertaining their toughness among peer group. Drug and alcohol issues are also more common among boys than girls.
Having said all these, I may point out that I am still a new mother, anticipating challenges to be able to deal with them when the time comes. Perhaps I am evaluating extremes but parents are a worried lot, as you know.
Let me share a secret, I strongly believe that a son is a son till he gets a wife while a daughter is a daughter for life. :-)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A few things to do this Year

I am a list maniac. I make lists all the time like things to buy, things to do for home, for self, for kiddo, list of books to buy, and so on and so forth. I find solace and confidence in my lists.
So, I thought why not to put together some thoughts on things to do in 2013:

1. First and foremost, I want to be a regular on both my blogs. I have been blogging since 2004 but sporadically. So, this year, I commit to at least 1 post on each blog every week between Monday to Sunday - any day, anything.
2. I am planning to read atleast 48 books this year, averaging 4 every month. Looks completely doable. But my hubby pointed out that I read only 21 last year, so I should target 25 and then if I do more, I will be feel great. Really! we know each other for 9 years now, but he is yet to learn few things about me. 
3. I usually review almost every book that I read. I plan to do 40 or more book reviews in 2013.
4. I was fortunate to get back to my original weight (54 kgs) without making any effort from my side. But I recently noticed that I have put on 3 kgs in last 2-3 months. I plan to shed that and go back to 53 kgs. 
5. Post-baby, all mommies would agree, the issue is not so much about the weight loss but the difficulty of getting back into shape. So, this year, I have to focus on that. And I know, I am never going to join any gym or classes. Those things are not meant for me.
6. I am naturally an impatient and quick-tempered person, so I need to cultivate patience in me. It does not come naturally to me. But I really really want to learn to be more patient.
7. All pending home decor things which I have been dreaming since the time we moved into our home 4 years back, will have to be completed this year. We did 2-3 things but many things remain on the 'to-be-done' list.
8. I will focus on a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating habits. This will also include getting up early and organizing my days better. I want to find time for myself, so that I can read more. I read general fiction-non fiction books and parenting articles, so I need to find separate time for each.
9. Reduce the clutter. Give away things which I have been hoarding for so long but never used!
10. This year I plan to join a library and do justice to it.
11. Plan vacations in advance so that we can make trips to new places with complete research and plan.
12. I have been planning to make photo albums for so long now. This year, I am going to finish this project. I do not trust technology, and don't want to lose the thousands of pictures and memories!
13. Spend lots of time with the little one, which I am already doing but I need to make the most of it. This is the last year when both of us would spend so much time with each other. He is going to start school by the end of this year, most probably :-(
14. That reminds me, I need to research on Playschools around my place. First I need to figure out what kind of Playschool I want for him.
15. I would like to explore writing opportunities this year. I am not going back to any full time job right now but feature writing interests me.
16. I need to make time to catch up with family and friends.

So, far these things are on high priority this year. I hope I accomplish all of them. I would keep revisiting these points to check my progress and I may add a few more things 'to-do' this year.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Judging other women

Most of us are inclined to be judgemental all the time. And that includes me.

We would often ‘judge’ the actresses who had chosen to marry already-married actors / producers / directors (read Hema Malini, Sridevi). Long time back when I read about Sridevi and Boney Kapoor’s marriage, and a slew of gossip articles over the years on how Sridevi distanced Boney Kapoor from his children from first marriage; I always felt it was wrong of her to marry a married man in the first place and then create a rift between him and his children.

Recently, the PEOPLE magazine featured Sridevi on its cover page with her daughters. In the Cover story, I came to know that actually it was Boney Kapoor who pursued Sridevi relentlessly for 15 years before she agreed to marry him. Suddenly, my perception of her changed completely. And most importantly, I was ashamed of being so quick to judge someone I knew nothing about and that too a fellow-woman.

That is the problem with women. And that includes me too. We often place the blame on other women, are far too quick to judge them.

As mothers, we judge the choices of other mothers. If someone chooses to bottle-feed, we think the mother is not putting enough effort. If someone chooses to get back to work fast, we judge her for being so focused on her career. If someone chooses to be home, we feel it is not really the need but laziness.

As working women, we criticize other working women. If someone sticks to the office working hours, we feel they are just looking at the clock all the time and not serious about their work. If somebody goes beyond the working hours, we feel the woman is too ambitious.

And certainly this does not end here. There is always power tussle between a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law, women co-workers and so on and so forth. If we started sticking to each other and standing up for each other, so many of our problems will be solved. Isn’t it? 

May this year we stand up for each other!