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Category: Parenting

Of Children and their Thoughts #AtoZChallenge

Of Children and their Thoughts #AtoZChallenge

Children have this unique skill of giving the simplest of solutions to the most complex of issues in life. They can give answers to questions we ourselves never really manage to find. It’s amazing to see how innocence can address the complexities of life.

I lost my father in the early months of 2015, after a fierce and unsuccessful tryst with cancer. It was not a fight that was his alone, but it actually was the entire family’s fight. The grief that followed post death was pretty subdued. In fact it was more a relief that the pain and trauma the disease inflicted on each one of us had eased out. Through the months of 2015, despite me settling back into normal course of life, I would stumble upon things belonging to dad and ponder about the good old days.

On a warm Saturday afternoon, I sat in my verandah pondering over thoughts. The warmth of the afternoon sun was a comforting embrace, when all of a sudden my 7 year old propped her head on my lap, staring right into my face. She sensed all wasn’t well and asked me if I was missing grandpa. She had earlier asked me at the time of death as to what happened to grandpa, and where he had gone. I had then told her the usual story that now grandpa had become a star. But, somehow I felt like being frank at that moment and said, “Yes, I am missing him a lot today”.

My little girl thought for a while, held my hand and said, “Mamma, why do you feel sad? Grandpa is here only. He hasn’t gone anywhere”. I gave her a stare. She continued, “See Mamma, he has just become a star and it is morning time now, so you are not able to see him. When it is night-time, he will come out then you can see him”. She didn’t stop there. She added, “Grandpa is seeing you always, but you aren’t looking at him because you are always sad and then sleep in the night. So grandpa should miss you…”

I had a hearty laugh. Not that what she said made much sense to me, but I realized she had found answers in her own convincing way. Answers filled with innocence. It made me feel better and I smiled with an uncanny lightness in my heart.

Over and out to you little girl!

Image Source: Pixabay
Generation Gaps #AtoZChallenge

Generation Gaps #AtoZChallenge

Generation gaps- They have always been around, from time immemorial. The age difference between my parents and me is roughly around 25 years. And surely, in this time, there have been a string of technological advancements, lifestyle and societal changes. These changes are bound to bring about a generation gap by way of difference in opinions and thought processes.

What causes generation gaps?

Generation gaps are the results of the differences that creep in due to the changes in time and worlds we are born in. The world around us experiences changes with every passing moment. And over a period of time, these changes are noticeable. When people don’t grow along, adapt or evolve, clashes are bound to happen. Thus, understanding that generation gaps are a normal thing and exists all around, makes it easy to peacefully co-exist.

From teens to adulthood

For years now, I have had constant opinion differences with my parents. In fact, during my teens, these differences were on an all-time high, when I would find every single thing they said going against me. When they would not allow me to have it all my way, I would often become repulsive. It definitely is a common problem among teens, when one feels the parent isn’t really trying to be understanding. But over the years, with maturity having set in, I look back and thank God that my parents were actually strict. It probably made me the person I am today. Surely if they would have let me have it all my way, I would have made far too many mistakes and have caused irrecoverable damages to my life.

As a fully grown adult, I still experience clash of views with my elderly parents and I do lose my cool very often. But once I calm down, I look at the issue at hand more practically. Despite sharing the same core values with my parents, we still have starkly different opinions. Many a times we don’t really appreciate each other’s point of view. But over the years we have learnt to live with it all. Somewhere, we have understood that this world, is big enough to accommodate each one of us, with all are differences included.  We have learnt to co-exist despite all the opposing opinions.

Can the clashes be handled?

At a young age, parents are our primary caretakers and well-wishers. They are experienced and knowledgeable. Thus it makes more sense to respect their age. If you do find them to be over protective, do take that step to discuss the issue practically. As an elderly parent of full grown adults, do acknowledge the fact that the child is now a grown individual and has his or her own opinions and thought. They are old enough to take on the world and its best to leave decisions to their discretion.

How do you handle generation gap clashes?

Of Excesses and Being Economical #AtoZChallenge

Of Excesses and Being Economical #AtoZChallenge

“Economical”- the dictionary explains this word as being efficient and prudent in the use of resources. Surely, the essence of this word may not make much sense to many in today’s generation. We are what you would call a generation of excesses. 

We buy more, thanks to the influx of online shopping portals and far too many brands and stores. We trash more, very often without blinking an eyelid. No wonder our closets are almost full to the brim, with clothes that we might not even wear. Not to forget the overflowing garbage bins in our cities that are loaded with trash of all kinds- plastics, synthetics, metals and others.

Growing up days

But things weren’t like this a decade or so back. Life was far simpler, with fewer wants and needs. Growing up in the eighties and nineties, I witnessed my mother being prudent in many a ways. Shopping was restricted to festive times and, when a need actually came by. Things were trashed only if it had been used to its fullest capacity, and not because one was bored of using it. There was always an attempt to recycle and reuse.

Books from calendar sheets, pots and pans

Way back then, calendars would come with a blank side. At the end of every year, she would cut out the sheets into appropriate sizes, and pin them up to make little notepads. These pads would be used by her to jot down household expenses, menu plans, shopping lists etc… Old jars and bottles would be cleaned inside out, and then painted with poster colours. Seeds of little flowering plants would be put in them, which would adorn our garden wall. At the end of every academic year, the remaining pages from our notebooks would be ripped out and stitched together make a notebook. We would use these notebooks for rough and maths practice at home. She was excellent in sewing and would use scraps of old cloth to make rugs for our home.

Ever heard of recycle and reuse?

Mother believed in using everything to its fullest capacity. She was economical and avoided generating much of waste and trash. There were two concepts that she stressed on- recycle and reuse. It was only when an item had become totally unusable, would she actually discard them.

So how economical and prudent are you? Do you put that effort to recycle and reuse stuff lying around at home?

*Image Source: Pixabay
Dad’s Watch- #AtoZChallenge

Dad’s Watch- #AtoZChallenge

Dad’s watch has become my most prized possession, since the day I cleared out his closet along with my mother.  As the two of us, rummaged through his personal belongings, I picked up his watch, an old self-winding piece that had stood the test of time for over sixty years. And just seeing, touching and wearing that watch brought back a flood of memories and feelings.

Going through the dead man’s closet

If the death of a loved one is heartbreaking, then going through that person’s personal belonging post death is equally heart- wrenching.  It took mom and me over six months to clean out dad’s belongings. Through the entire process of sorting, there were moments when mom would shed tears and look around her, as though she sensed his presence around. There were memories of him as we spoke of bygone days together, and finally there was that moment when we realized we must simply let go.

And we must let go

We began sorting out his stuff into “keep”, “throw” and “donate”. But by the end of the day we had realized that the box marked “keep” was almost full, whereas the other two boxes barely had items. We didn’t want to let go, and surely wanted everything that once belonged to him- an old pair of socks, a worn out shirt, an accounts ledger in his handwriting, a pair of shoes which would seldom fit any of us. There were innumerable other things such as coat buttons, comb and hankies. Finally, on seeing the pile that lay in front of us, mom decided that it didn’t quite make sense to hold on to each and everything that belonged to him. It was best each family member picked up one item of Dad that they liked.

Time is surely eternal

Of all the things that lay in front of me, I picked up Dad’s watch. An old self-winding watch, it belonged to my grandfather and Dad had picked it up when grandfather had died. At that moment, there was this sudden sense of calmness that seeped through me. The watch on my wrist, I felt the need to let go and move ahead in life. The watch had witnessed the vagaries of time. It had moved on from, death to life, to death. I realized, the only thing eternal in this universe is time. And surely years later there may come a time, when the watch shall pass hands yet again, when my time shall end.

*Image Source: Pixabay
Bonding With Your Child- When Do you Do it? #AtoZChallenge

Bonding With Your Child- When Do you Do it? #AtoZChallenge

Bonding with your child is building that emotional connect. It is when you and your child are together, doing practical things or whatsoever, bringing about a wonderful connection. Being the mom of two little ones, I spend hours doing things with them. So between all my daily tasks and work, and the kids school and extracurricular activities, there are activities thrown in. From craft work, to gardening or, simply just lazing on the bed with a book in hand, the girls and I love these moments as we giggle, laugh and smile away.

Bonding is essential to create lasting memories

But when I look back at my childhood days, I don’t remember my Amma doing any of the activities that I do, with my kids. Yet, there is a beautiful bond that she has created, and memories that would last a lifetime. Those were the days before the great internet revolution. Those were the days, well before the digital era. Those were the days before fast-food culture could take us by storm.

My earliest memories of Amma are of her being the busiest person in the household. I remember the kitchen lights going on at 5 in the morning, when Amma would begin her day. It would go off only by 11 in the night, well after the entire family had retired to bed. Yet, there wasn’t a moment when she complained, looked hassled or looked tired.

Joy in everyday things

On most afternoons, Amma would be busy making home-made snacks and savories. I would sit on the kitchen platform, as she narrated folklore and mythological tales of kings and Gods. I distinctly remember the months of February and March every year, when Amma would prepare rice crispies. I would be put in charge to guard the neatly laid out rice crispies that were to be dried in sun, from crows, before being stored in airtight containers. Sundays meant an elaborate oil bath, and as she would comb my hair, seated on a mat in the warm afternoon sun, we would listen to the radio and hum away old Hindi songs together. Somewhere she did it all so seamlessly. It wasn’t like as though she had set aside some time for us kids. She integrated it all in her daily life amidst all the other things she had to do.

Bonding isn’t about big gestures

And that’s what probably Amma did. It isn’t about doing elaborate activities together. It is in simple everyday stuff that we do, that make up our life. I don’t think Amma waited for any special occasion. She just blended it all so well, and the emotional connection just materialized.

Acceptance- There is Happiness in it! #AtoZChallenge

Acceptance- There is Happiness in it! #AtoZChallenge

Surely we humans are different from our pets in many a ways. And if you have ever had one in your life, you would exactly understand what unconditional love is. These simple beings, accept us the way we are, with all our shortcomings. On the other hand, we humans often become judgmental of others, and seldom accept another’s differences in habits and traits.

Growing up with Amma

Growing up in a highly orthodox Tambrahm home, I have been a witness to my Amma’s difficulty in handling my overly religious grandmother. Grandma would be very particular about her rituals and practices, apart from the way the home had to be run. Amma would follow her guidelines, and despite not agreeing with grandmother on many things, I have never found her talk ill about her. My father, a relatively softer person, would seldom support his young bride in front of his mother.

As I grew old enough to understand things, I have often asked Amma, why didn’t she ever make my father discuss issues with his mother? Why didn’t she ever force him to speak boldly to his mother? Call it social conditioning or unconditional love, Amma would tell me that father was a soft-natured person; hence he would never talk back to his mother. Amma had accepted his nature completely, with all his shortcomings, and did not want to force him to react to a situation in way she deemed right.

The profoundness in her words

As a young girl, I would never understand what mom really meant and would often equate it to meekness. But over the years, I have begun to realize how profound her words are. Today, I consciously try to look at things from a perspective that’s different from mine, to accept another for whom and what they are.

Acceptance is not agreeing

You don’t really need to agree to what another has to say or think or does. Acceptance is when you stop judging and expecting a person, to react or behave, in a way which you deem as right! We often tend to write our own versions of a person to suit our ego’s best interest. And this is what as humans we need to change.

Acceptance comes with its share of benefits

As I began putting in the effort towards accepting those I come across in my life, I sensed these changes:

  • I reduced dissension and resentments.
  • It brought me closer to the person, and helped me build a stronger and more fulfilling relationship.
  • I have begun to accept my own self better; my flaws and positive aspects too.
  • I sense that element of calmness within myself
Do You Mask Your Wound?

Do You Mask Your Wound?

My eight year old was bruised badly. Falling off the slide, the left side of her face had been scraped by the rough gravel below. Luckily the wound wasn’t very deep and required just a bit of home treatment. But the little one was upset beyond words. The swelling caused her pain when she ate or spoke.  It made her conscious too. “What if my friends laughed at the wound on my face?  I won’t go to school tomorrow”, she sobbed. Calming her down, I convinced her that hiding from people isn’t really the solution. Instead, she should tell her friends how brave she had been, to withstand the pain of the wound. The little one seemed convinced. She dared to not mask her wound!!!

How well kids accept simple solutions to life’s issues!

But growing up into adults, this ability surely seems to do the vanishing act.  Despite having given all that gyan to my eight year old, I realized the hard- hitting truth, that I had been doing just the reverse. I tend to mask my wounds. Probably not the ones visible, but the hidden emotional wounds embedded deep within the recesses of the heart.

Hidden wounds take longer to heal than physical wounds.

There is a hidden wound in almost each one of us, isn’t it? Memories that hurt, of prejudices inflicted by society, memories of abuse, ridicule, criticism or hatred. I often suppress such wounds within me, letting the anger grow inside. Seldom did I realize that by doing so, I was subconsciously never allowing the wound to heal. I was just making it worse!!!

Applying the gyan…

…I gave my little one, I reflected on healing the hidden wounds.

Speaking it out: There’s something about revealing feelings to someone you trust. It relieves a great deal of the pain, fear, anger, resentment and bitterness.

Emotions are natural: I realized there’s no point in resenting feelings. These are natural emotions and whether we like it or not, they come with an element of pain. So acknowledging them helps to effectively handle them when they arise the next time.

Face it all: Over the years I tended to avoid certain situations and kind of people with the fear of being hurt. It was more my fear that caused discomfort, than the actual situation. It is important to overcome this fear, and to do one must let go of past memories.

Emotions are part of human existence. The real strength does not lie in masking it, or pretending it does not exist, but in the courage to accept it and bear it all.

So, do you also mask your wounds?

*Featured Image Source: Pixabay

The Magic of Warmth!

The Magic of Warmth!

“A soldier doesn’t fight because he hates what is in front of him. A soldier fights because he loves what he left behind.” – Unknown

It was for the third time that we had to cancel our planned vacation. The bags lay half packed on the bed, as I looked up at his stoic face. His eyes said it all; the vacation was not going to happen for some time to come. I didn’t utter a word the entire day.

It’s overwhelming indeed!

From the time of the Great World Wars, there have been abundant discussions and dialogues’ describing what life for a soldier is like. Movies and bestsellers have well portrayed human experiences and mental outlook during difficult military deployments. However, there has been little attention on the effects these deployments have on the wife. When the man of the house is away on military operations, the family experiences significant stress, and dealing with it could be overwhelming.

The wife goes through loneliness, pressures of extensive separation, potential difficulty in bringing up children, disruption in family roles and many a times a feeling of a loss of emotional support.

I didn’t bid goodbye!

And when the unit “Husband” belongs to, decides to make last minute changes to its schedule, holidays planned with families may never see the light of the day. The air of disappointment lingered around as I sulked when the “Husband” picked up his bag to leave. It was evident- there would be a month of separation. The complex emotions were hard to counter, and I stood still without bidding him the ritual goodbye I had been doing so for the last decade.

Loneliness- When kids weave a magic to overcome it

I sat that night on my bed, looking outside the window. The vast expanse of the night created a deeper sense of loneliness. As I propped up my pillow, I felt my 8 year old’s hands moving through my hair. They felt warm as she gently massaged drops of oil with her tiny fingers. Children have this uncanny sense of understanding, of feelings that are seldom spoken. They are better able to comprehend what is not expressed in words and gestures, but what is evident in facial expressions.

Sensing my mood, she felt it right to just give me-her mother- a touch of warmth, hoping it would smooth things over.

I let her move her little hands through my hair, as the warm coconut oil sooth my temples. I closed my eyes. Maybe I was being unreasonable. Being married to the man in uniform, my life is a jumble of both joyous and lonely moments. And it is best I take one day at a time. Well, I wasn’t sure if it was the warmth of the oil or her tiny fingers that brought about this realization to me.

It was a magic of warmth moment indeed!!!!!

“I’m blogging about my #MagicOfWarmth moment at BlogAdda in association with Parachute Advansed Hot Oil

 

*Featured image source: Pixabay
Clash of the Titans: The Mother-in-Law & Daughter-in-law

Clash of the Titans: The Mother-in-Law & Daughter-in-law

Pbar_ww_badegeut a group of young women in a room, and you are bound to have at least seventy percent of them rant about their mother-in-laws. From time immemorial this relationship has been the butt of all jokes. Scores of forums across the internet are flooded on a daily basis, with questions pertaining to tackling the Mother-in-law. Often conflicts turn bitter, and may well become the reason for many a marriage to crumble down.

The Modern Day Mother In-law & Daughter-in-law

The modern-day Mother-in- law, is far more educated than what her own Mother-in-law was. From the personification of pure dominance, today, she is a more sensitive individual. She is more suited to treat her daughter-in-law with respect as she has learnt that to get respect, one must give respect. The Daughter-in-law of today is independent and is well aware of her rights. She believes in equality and thrives on mutual respect. She is receptive and is open to expressing not only her feelings, but her views too.

“Yet, despite these changes, there seems to be no end to the conflicts between a Mother-in-law and Daughter-in-law.”

The Clash of the Titans

I consider myself lucky, to belong to the small percentage of women, for whom, the Mother-in-law factor isn’t really a big issue. Of course, we have had our share of differences too. But over the years, we have managed to settle down these differences amicably.

You’re the daughter she never had, is what it all begins with. And well, you do assume that this purely means she’s going to be supportive of all your choices, staying out of your life and marriage, just being there at the time, when you ask her for help. Looks perfect, isn’t it!! On the other hand, the Mom-in-law has her own little picture of what the Daughter-in-law must encompass. She knows you are crazy about her son. But she also assumes that you see her as an authority on her son. She assumes, you would seek advice from her, and the end result, she can’t wait to start helping…

What ensues is the clash of the Titans, and the reason why women begin to discuss how strained or infuriating their relationship with their Mother-in law has become.

Tracing the Problem

The problems can be traced back to the unspoken yet conflicting expectations and assumptions. For the Daughter-in-law, no matter how modern is the Mother-in-law, she is constantly judged on the standards of a traditional housewife– which is her ability to cook, maintain a home clean, and raise children. On the other hand, for the Mother-in-Law, her decade old pattern of decision-making is suddenly under threat, as the daughter-in-law now likes to do it all her way.

There is, thus, an underlying disappointment felt by both women, giving rise to a distinctive negativity. Add to this, a mother’s possessiveness over her son and a wife’s difficulty as she balances work and home responsibilities. You have the perfect formula for years of trouble. These tensions do more than cause friction within families. They can put even the best marriages at risk.

The Solutions Lies Within Both

As long as there is no abuse, there surely is a solution in tackling this age-old problem. By abuse I mean, dowry harassment, physical, mental and verbal abuse, irrespective of who inflicts it on whom. When such issues arise, there should surely be no compromise and it is not to be tolerated.

“Love begets love; let it once begin and none can tell its end.”

For the mother-in-law, who may feel her domain threatened, must accept that the son is now the object of  his wife’s affection too. Don’t pin down expectations. The mantra is to forgive and forget without any animosity against your son’s bride.

For the daughter-in-law, remember she comes with years of experience. Do not take offense at the smallest of things. Give a relationship time. If your mother-in-law expresses a view that differs from yours, you don’t have to accept it in entirety. Show respect for her experience and at the same time, make it clear that you want to do things your own way.

What surely worked for me is the assurance I gave my mother-in-law that she would continue to be respected, and be an integral part of the family. It made her respect our boundaries, which she seldom crossed over.

For the man of the house, you may feel like as though you are between a rock and a hard place, with a possessive mom on one side and a sensitive wife on the other. But remember you are the link between the two. Either you ease out the tension with your calm and collected way or, simply allow the tension to mount by being a silent spectator.

Featured Image Source: India Opines
What exactly do aging parents want from their children?

What exactly do aging parents want from their children?

met him at a social gathering. Hunched upon his walking stick, his eyes followed nothing but his son’s footsteps. An aging parent he was, and at the age of eighty, all that he cared about was having his son around him.

I have often found myself in conversations with people, where the discussion reels around, what exactly children need from their parents. As a young parent, my answer always boils down to the most critical thing – every good parent must build on a framework of providing, nurturing and guiding their young children. But here is something else I have noticed. Very rarely, have I been drawn into a discussion on what exactly my parents need from me. Apart from being a parent to young children, I also happen to be an “adult child” of aging parents. As much as I love having them around me, there have been moments when their antics drive me up the wall. I have never really given this much thought, until recently.

At a social gathering, I met the octogenarian. A retired Botany professor he was, and lived with his son and grandchildren. I, in fact, consider him lucky to have them all around him, unlike many other elderly people who live on their own. Yet, I noticed that tinge of loneliness in his eyes. As I walked up to him that evening, he held my hand. The grip was tight, yet warm. He spoke. And when he did, it was like as though the floodgates had been opened. His reminiscence, of his good old days- the life he led, the work he did and the love in his heart for his children. I realized, all that this man wanted was to be heard, to be held and to feel a warm touch. He probably did get them all from his family. But, his age demanded them more frequently.

So, what exactly do aging parents want from their children?

As parents get older, there is a certain element of assurance that they seek very frequently from their children. It is often demanded, and I would blame it on a degree of insecurity, that seeps through most people due to the natural process of growing old. The problem lies in the fact that, though they want to be cared about, there is a fear of being cared for.

Confusing indeed!

Where on one hand they enjoy the company of their children, they also find themselves looking for excuses to see them less often. They may be annoyed by their children’s over-protectiveness, but at the same time do appreciate the concern expressed. It’s a confusing stage for them too.

So if you tell your dad not to dig up the garden, you assume that he’ll listen. It’s the sensible thing to do. But his response would be to go out and shovel away. It’s a way of holding on to a life that seems to be slipping back. It’s a complex situation where there is a strong desire for both autonomy and connection in relations with their adult children, leading to ambivalence about receiving assistance from them.

It is this parental stubbornness that acts as a complicating factor in inter-generational relationships. As adult children, we are more likely to say parents were acting stubborn. But the fact is, it is the scariest thing of old age, where the elderly, don’t feel in control anymore. And that’s when the conflict arises. We, as the middle-aged adult, are worried about the aging parent. However, the parent is both annoyed by that and feels more loved too.

The issue may be complex, however, the solution is fairly simple. By understanding why parents may be insisting, resisting, or persisting in their ways or opinions, could lead to better communication. As I live my life, with a myriad of complexities of growing old, I realize, it’s better to not pick arguments. I prefer to not make a parent feel defensive. It is best to plant an idea, step back, and bring it up later. The key is to be patient.