Letter to Anna

My Darling Anna,

In two more months, you will be FOUR years old. You will truly be a big girl and I sometimes still have trouble wrapping my head around this fact. I haven’t written much about you in the past year and I really want to remedy that, so I will try to cram in a years worth of experiences into this one letter.
A switch seemed to be have turned on inside you on your third birthday and almost magically you became so much easier to handle. The time from when you were two and a half to three was tough for both of us. I got very, very busy at work and that was also the time I got pregnant with Niki. The horrendous work pressure combined with the fatigue of the first trimester made sure that I wasn’t able to give you as much time as I should have. I would leave around 8:30 in the morning and come home around 6. Your Basanti Aunty was taking good care of you but you weren’t getting the attention you desired. You became quite difficult for me to handle in the evenings, sometimes clinging to Aunty and not letting her leave, asking me to go back to office, not eating, huge tantrums over things I don’t even remember. Often your Papa would come home to find us both in tears. Luckily that phase passed soon.
You really enjoyed our Goa vacation in March last year. You were a real tourist and spent all your time either in the pool or on the beach or sleeping. You loved, loved, loved the pool and I feel so bad that Bangalore weather and your constant cough/cold don’t let us take you to the pool more often.
Health-wise, you still get frequent coughs and colds but are able to handle them much better. You don’t puke so often and never make a mess when you do. You take your medicines without complaint even if they taste horrible.
You really enjoyed your birthday and I think having a birthday is your favourite thing in the world. You insist it’s your small birthday also whenever any of us has a birthday. You get jealous if it’s the birthday of any of your cousins but you’re learning to deal with it slowly.
From June, you started going to Nursery in a proper school with a uniform and all that. You really seem to enjoy school even though you’re often reluctant in the mornings to go. I used to drop you in the mornings and you used to come back by van till we left for Nani’s place in October. Since coming back, you’re going by van both ways and are handling it quite well. Your teacher always has really good stuff to say about you. She says that you’re very cute and bubbly, ahead of your class in ‘academics’ and good in colouring/painting. You got a prize for ‘Budding Artist’ last week during the prize day function. Your teacher had told me earlier that it should have been the one for ‘Academic Excellence’ but they couldn’t give it to you since you missed two months of school when I was on maternity leave.
On 1st August you became a big sister and I’m really proud of how you’ve evolved and handled yourself over the past seven months. You never complained that you don’t sleep with me anymore, you were not as jealous as I’d expected. There were some difficult times, specially after we went to Guwahati with Nani since it was a totally new environment for you and I was also adjusting to having to look after you the whole day. But we got into a routine soon and really enjoyed our stay there. The house and garden were beautiful and I’m so happy you got this chance to play in a big garden. It was also really good to be able to spend so much time with you and I really felt happy seeing the changes in you. You slowly stopped resenting Niki and doing stuff like climbing onto my lap just when he needs to be fed. Instead you would come running with a rattle when he was crying and would try to make him stop. Now it gives me so much pleasure from seeing you with him.
You’ve started watching TV now and I’m just happy that we were able to keep the first three years screen free. It started when you dropped you nap after Niki was born. You started with half an hour of Dora each day which soon became one hour. Sometimes when we were traveling and exhausted after a day of sight-seeing we would plonk you in front of the TV and let you watch for a couple of hours. But you understood that this was only for when we were out. In Guwahati you were playing on the iPAD for around an hour and watching one hour of TV. Playing on the iPAD changed to watching Peppa Pig when one day you saw an episode on Youtube. Currently you’re watching an hour of Chota Bheem (having gotten fed-up of Dora) on weekdays. On weekends you get to watch an hour of Peppa Pig on the iPAD.
You’re a really girly girl and love to dress up. You’re happiest when you’re dressed in a ‘party frock’ with pretty clips in your air and a dot of kumkum on your forehead (which I hate but I’ve learnt to not fight some battles)  and wearing pretty party shoes. You also love it when I brush on a little make-up onto you and preen in front of the mirror. You often get scolded for your obsession with looking pretty and the tantrums that go with it (I want a high ponytail not a low one like this, I want to wear a party frock, why can’t I wear colourful clips to school? etc etc). I’m trying my best to make sure you wear all types of clothes – jeans, skirts, leggings, shorts and that everything need not be sparkly and glittery but there are bigger battles to fight so I often let you get your way.
Stuff you know – counting to 100, really counting objects up till about 20, ABC without singing it, sounds of all the alphabets, recognition of all alphabets, you can tell the first letter of any word, basic shapes etc and basically all that is expected from someone your age and more.
Your love of books is still as strong as ever and having books read to you is still a favourite activity. Hopefully you’ll be reading soon.
You’ve really learnt a lot of English in the past one year and are able to speak quite correctly. You understand almost all of what is said and now I can read a few books to you without having to translate into Hindi.
This year was a challenging one for you – new school, a baby brother, busy parents, two months at your grandparents place where there were no friends, no school etc. You handled everything so well sweetheart and we’re so proud of you. You’re the smartest, cutest and pretties little girl in the whole world and we love you so very much.

With all my love,
Mumma

Waiting for the school van.1900057_10153833849120427_586539351_n

Wearing her fairy wings. Anna painted the wings and I helped her stick on the glittery stuff.1454708_10153569487615427_826653824_n

My water nymph!532348_462744690460785_448515463_n

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About Niki

Time to write something about my poor second baby. I do so want some record of his first year and more than half of it is already gone.
Niki is almost seven and a half months old now. And so much naughtier than I’d expected him to be. When he was born, he spent the first few days sleeping a lot and in general being a low maintenance baby. This made everyone say that he would be quite seedha-sadha. But now he’s showing his true colours!
He turned over later than Anna did. He turned over for the first time at around 10 days short of 4 months, but I think that was by accident. After that, he just didn’t show any interest at all in turning. He was happy lying on his back. His energies were more focused on raising his head and bottom rather than in turning. Finally he started flipping over consistently at little over six months old. But even now it’s not something he does all the time (unlike Anna who used to roll from one end of the mattress to the other). He’s showing no interest at all in crawling and is yet to try. I consciously don’t compare him with Anna because she did all this stuff way ahead of time and in any case with him I’m more of he’ll do it when he wants to.
He’s making lots of sounds. I’ve heard a few mama’s but they’re mostly while crying and I don’t think he associates it with me yet. He’s started showing preference for people and immediately holds out his arms when he sees R or me. Mummy left last week and R’s mom is here so things were a bit unsettled but are settling down now.
He’s fond of food – a big touch wood to that. He definitely prefers sweet which is again different from what Anna used to prefer. He has around 3-4 solid meals a day and unless he’s sleepy he prefers food over milk. Current menu includes banana, stewed apple, diluted orange juice, cerelac, ragi, vegetable puri and suji upma. Am thinking of starting khichdi soon. It’s a real pleasure to feed him since you can see that he’s really enjoying the food unlike Anna who was never really into food. She never demanded something we were eating or showed much interest in food.
Sleep was good but has been bad for the past few days. He naps around twice a day for anything from an hour to two. He’s very sleepy in the evenings and goes to sleep between six and seven no matter how much I try to keep him up a little longer. And then he’s been getting up before 5 in  the morning. I’m handling it now by going to sleep at 9 but I’ll be starting a new job in April and might have some work in the evenings then, but again, I’m not so worried. Anna’s sleep pattern kept changing till she was one and then she started consistently sleeping at night.
He loves going out and it’s a sure shot way to make him stop whining.
He loves, loves, loves Anna and keeps his biggest smiles for her. He tries his best to grab  her hair and she’s been mostly very good with him. Seeing them together is my biggest pleasure and I feel so very happy that I have two kids.
On the whole, Niki is a happy, cuddly, delicious little baby and I can’t stop myself from squeezing him to bits.

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Happy Birthday Nana

Today would have been my Nana’s (mother’s father’s) 84th birthday. He passed away on 10th October 2013, just 6 months after my Nani left this world.

He was so lost without Nani, he just didn’t want to live. I really think he died of a broken heart. I miss them both so much, but I’m also grateful that the end was easy for both of them. They lived good and happy lives, they passed away gracefully. I can only hope that the rest of my loved ones would be as lucky as them.

It’s as if God gave him those 6 extra months just to meet everyone one last time. I still bitterly regret not having met Nani before she died, but I’m happy that I spent time with Nana. He was here when Niki was born, and Niki was the last person he smiled at before he died.

We left from Bangalore to Guwahati on 2nd October. All of us (Anna, Niki, R and I) were sick with viral. Mummy and Nana were fine. On 6th October he fell sick, the same viral infection. Since he was so old and unable to eat or swallow the medicines, he was admitted to the hospital. He recovered slowly and on 10th afternoon he came back home. The doctors had also done all types of tests while he was in hospital and said he was in good health. When he came home, he was very weak and tired and just slept the whole day. Then in the evening Mummy went to his room with Niki to talk to him and he smiled at Niki. In another half an hour he suddenly collapsed. Papa rushed him to the hospital but he was gone – the doctors said it was a massive cardiac arrest.

Mummy lost both her parents in one year. We lost our grandparents. But now the pain is less and the happy memories are what remain with us. I am so lucky to have had them as my grandparents and to have spent so much time with them. I am so happy that there was no pain and long drawn out end for either of them. They’re together again, which is what Nana wanted so desperately.

Happy Birthday Nana. I will never be able to say these words to you ever again.

And you know what, Niki looks so much like you. When he was born everyone used to say he looks like me (as opposed to Anna who looked just like R). But now, he looks a lot like you.

I miss you and Nani so much.

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Facebook IV

I really want to write something and this takes the least time. Hopefully will be able to put up a ‘real’ post in a few days.

15.12.2013
More than two months of pure ‘aish’ coming to an end. A big garden for Anna to play in, trips to Gangtok, Nathula pass, Itanagar and Kazhiranga, no work at all (both house and office), yummy food and endless cups of tea, no responsibilities other than to feed and bathe my kids (had help there too :)), no conf calls, no emails, no grocery shopping, read loads and loads of books (finally finished the wheel of time series), watched some soaps on tv (still don’t like them much though), spent lots of time snuggling with Niki and playing with Anna. I don’t remember when I last did so much of ‘nothing’. Now back to the real world. Back to juggling kids and work and house. Back to my love-hate relationship with Bangalore. Two more weeks to go.

21.10.2013
There was a little girl who was the absolute apple of her parents’ eyes. She was used to being the centre of attention at all times. Then she had a little brother, tough times for the little girl. But slowly she came around from asking to send the baby back to the hospital to protesting when anyone talked about taking him away. Slowly she accepted him as part of her life and that her life would never be the same again. Now she talks of all the fun they will have once he grows up. My two lovely babies, may you be the best of friends and be there for each other always.
Now if only I could figure out a way to stop her from squeezing his delicious little legs.

17.08.2013
Me (to Mummy): She’s coughing a lot, we shouldn’t give her M-I-L-K today.
Anna: Tum kyu mujhe du-du nahi dogi?
Me: !!!
Now what do we do? Sending text messages seems to be the only option.

27.06.2013
She insists that I carry her the short distance from the car to the school gate. But at the gate she waves a cheery ‘Bye Mumma’ and tells me to come home early and walks in. Her elephant bag on her back, her hair tied neatly in 2 pony-tails, looking like a big girl in her uniform. She never looks back and so doesn’t see my standing at the gate – waiting till she disappears from my view. Sometimes the sight of her little form walking away from me, so brave and so independent, fills my heart with an ache I cannot understand or put into words. Sometimes this world seems like too cruel a place – Mumma’s in office and Baby’s in school.
I’m just glad that you seem to be enjoying school – Abhi bohot bohot saal aur jaana hai.

15.05.2013
One more year gone in a flash. This year brought tantrums, screaming, hitting, the ‘appe aap’ phase, the exact knowledge of how to make me lose my cool, rejection, clinging, outright refusal, jealousy and possessiveness. It saw me behaving as a not so perfect mother too many times. It also turned my baby into a beautiful little girl, almost all traces of babyness lost. It brought stories, hugs and kisses galore, snuggles and cuddles, mad laughter and giggles, an interest in pretty things, a sense of humour, a mischievous smile and many more ‘I love you Mumma’s than ‘Mumma acchi nahi hai’. It kept our hearts full of love and pride. My baby is now three.
Happy Birthday Anna!

22.04.2013
Anna singing: Aayi (something something) – aayi poha chadha ke aayi. Poha chadha ke aayi.
The time has come to censor our playlist. And yes, poha is great!

One of my favourite photos of Anna and Niki. This was taken some time in November.

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My little lion…

is here! Born on 1st August 2013 at 9:25 am.

I’ve finally managed to focus enough today to write about him. The poor second baby :(.

Anyway I don’t know when I’ll be writing again so I’ll get straight to the birth story.

Mummy and my grandfather arrived here on 22nd July. I stopped going to office from 19th but was working from home. Finally I got fed-up and applied for maternity leave from 25th but was still working a few hours a day. On 31st I had a scan and check-up. I was already 38 weeks along by then. The doctor doing the scan said that the cervix was closed and we just had to wait and watch. We were quite disappointed because I was really getting impatient by then. But then when we had the check-up, my doctor did an internal exam and said I was already 2 cm dilated without even realizing it. She said that since this was my second baby and we live a bit far from the hospital we should come in for an induction the next day morning. We told her we’d think about it and came home. We decided to go for the induction and hurriedly packed my bag and made preparations for the next few days including telling Anna that Mumma would be in hospital for a few days. Mummy was somehow sure that we wouldn’t need the induction and my labour would start in the night. And she was right – around 9 pm I had my first contraction. We went to bed around 10:30 and by then contractions we around 10 minutes apart and not too painful. I finally got up around 1 am and we left for the hospital. Anna also got up and was quite upset and crying. Mummy managed to make her quieten down by promising her that she could go to the hospital in the morning.

I was 4-5 cms dilated by the time I got admitted. Pain was intense but manageable so I didn’t ask for an epidural. By around 4 am I was 8-9 cms done and was still managing the pain quite well though I’m sure poor R’s hand was crushed by then. The doctor said that I would deliver in an hour and I was feeling quite good. It was then that the nightmare started. The contractions started getting more and more painful but whenever the nurses checked, they kept saying that the baby’s head was not down and we just had to wait. The pain was out of my control and I really started feeling I wouldn’t survive. They refused to give me an epidural since I was already fully dilated. Finally at around 8:30 the doctor said that the head had come down and I could start pushing. I was already beyond exhausted but this gave me a fresh burst of energy. Little Niki was finally born at 9:25 am. The doctors later told me that they had never expected such a long and painful labour since it was my second time. It took so long because he was a big baby – 3.45 kgs – and he was in a posterior position and needed to turn before he could come out.

I burst into tears the minute he was out – I was just so relieved that it was over. For around half an hour after he was born I didn’t even think much about him. I was in some haze just trying to recover from the most difficult hours of my life. This labour was so much much worse than Anna’s.

He was whisked away by the doctors to a part of the room I couldn’t see. Once I was stitched up and a bit more comfortable I realized that they arent’ bringing the baby to me. R told me then that he has some fluid in his lungs and they’re keeping him in observation. If he’s not fine in an hour they might have to keep him in the NICU for some time. Luckily he was fine and I finally got my first real look of him an hour after he was born. My baby boy – who made me fall in love with him in spite of the trauma I had gone through. Who made everything seem so very worth it the minute he was placed in my arms. Who makes me feel so very blessed every single day. Who makes me feel that my life is complete now. When Anna was born there was always the question of the second. Now there are no more questions. I have my two gorgeous babies and I am so very lucky to have them.

Mummy and Anna had already arrived and were waiting in the room when we finally left the labour room. Anna was sooo excited to meet her baby brother. She’s taken it much better than I expected. She’s never complained that she doesn’t sleep with me any longer, there have only been a few instances of ‘baby accha nahi hai’, she doesn’t seem to be jealous of him much. She does act up occasionally and we have to keep stopping her from squeezing his fingers and touching him all the time and waking him up. But mostly it’s been good and we’ve settled into a decent routine.

As for Niki, he’s the most cuddlesome and gorgeous little baby. He’s a big baby and never looked like a new born. He never had the wrinkled peeling skin or wizened look of new borns. He’s a calmer baby than Anna was and cries less. The first few days he slept a lot and there have been no nights of no sleep and screaming like Anna had. Or it could be that I’m used to sleeping much less. Overall the transition from one to two has been pretty smooth and I’m really enjoying my second little baby so very much. Sometimes I feel so surprised that I have TWO babies and feel so very blessed all over again. Also I feel so good that I am finally done – no more pregnancy and labour to go through ever again.

Here he is – just a day old – dressed in pink since we were so sure that we were having another girl :P.

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My darling Anna – she looks so big to me now.

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Lost

I walked into his room, feeling scared and reluctant. He wasn’t there. I could see his belongings kept neatly, the 2 pairs of slippers, the kit bag with some cosmetics, a folded kurta, a pair of specs, a book. She wasn’t there. Of course she wasn’t. She is no longer there anywhere. There was no trace of her, her slippers weren’t kept beside his, her specs were not there, no clothes, one side of the bed had a pile of extra pillows, there was only one sheet. I could not smell her – the smell of her soap and her cream. For the first time in my life – I couldn’t feel her. I kept expecting to see her, hear her – but she didn’t come.

I am at my parent’s home – my grandfather is here. He is slowly getting used to living without her. When I see him, so alone and frail, I just want to hug him and cry, but of course I don’t. He is not supposed to be alone, she is supposed to be here with him, taking care of him, fighting with him, scolding him. He seems so child-like without her. It hurts to see my grandfather so old and so lost.

I miss her. We all do.

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Facebook III

Not that many this time.

21.1.2013
Anna: Main shaadi mein jayungi, lehenga pehen ke, chudi, bindi, earring pehen ke, stage pe jake dance karungi. Phir Santa Clause mujhe le ke chale jayenge.
Me: Kahan le jayenge Santa Claus?
Anna: Bombay.
Me: Bombay? Bombay mein kaun rehta hai?
Anna: Salman Khan.
Me: !!!
I really wonder what goes on in that little head.

16.11.2012
At exactly two and half years old, Anna gave her first ‘interview’ today. Welcome to the rat race Baby. I wish I could keep you safe and away from the madness of this world for some more time.
Questions asked included what’s your name, sing a rhyme, identify animals, shapes, colours. She aced it :). I’m so proud that I don’t even care if she gets in or not. Their loss if she doesn’t.

25.10.2012
Conversations with a toddler
1)
Anna: Doggy blah blah blah. Doggy ki itniii lambi tail hoti hai.
Me: Tumhari tail hai?
Anna: Nahi. Mera to sirf bottom hai.
2)
The second blood-thirsty story.
Snake aise aise karke ja raha tha. Maine danda se usse maar diya. To woh ‘chee’ karke mar gaya. The end.
3)
Anna (to me – very sternly): Mujhe gussa mat ‘hilao’. Nahi to main gussa hoke tumhe bohot dantungi!

3.10.2012
Anna’s first story.
Catty so rahi thi. Eyes close kar ke so rahi thi. Maine usse jaga diya. To woh uth ke mujhe kha gayi.
THE END.

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Nani

My grandmother, my Nani, my mother’s mother, my (I am not ashamed to say it) favourite grandparent, died on 19th March. It was sudden, she was fine till around 10 in the night, she went to bed and started vomitting and then lost consciousness. There were multiple haemorrhages in her brain and there was no hope. She remained on the ventilator for a day and then her heart just stopped beating. She was 79 years old. She had a good life and she had a good death. No lingering in the hospital, no long illness, she didn’t even make her children have to take the decision to remove her from the ventilator. She saw her 3 children and 6 grandchildren prosper. She played with 5 great grandchildren. She was looking forward to the marriage of her youngest grandchild in November. She was eager to meet 2 new great-grandchildren later this year. She died in the midst of family. She and my grandfather were at my Aunt’s house, spending time with my cousin (her eldest and in some ways favourite granddaughter) and her 4 month old twins.

I had sometimes imagined how I would feel when my Nani died – specially since my paternal grandfather died 2 years ago. I am somehow less devastated than I had imagined I would be (and yes the guilt is there for that). Maybe because it’s still not sunk in, maybe because my heart has still not fully grasped what it has lost.  Maybe because I also feel so incredibly blessed, blessed to have had her as my grandmother for 30 years, blessed to have been born in this family, blessed to have spent a lot of time with her both as a child and as an adult, blessed to have felt her love, blessed to know that Anna gave her a lot of joy, blessed to have been so very close to her, blessed to have learnt so many things from her, blessed to have her copy of ‘Far from the madding crowds’ and to know that I can pass it on to Anna, blessed to have her live in my heart and the hearts of all those who loved her.

We got the news on Monday morning that she was in hospital. My mother immediately left, she was staying at my brother’s place. My brother and cousins and I left the next day. Anna had fallen sick and I was not going to go – but R booked my tickets at the last minute. I love him so much for doing that – I would have never forgiven myself for not going. I did come back in only a day and didn’t reach in time for the funeral but I went and it means a lot to me.

I talked to her on Sunday. Mummy was staying with us for the day and her phone rang. She was having a bath and even though I was as usual rushing around, I picked up the phone. I talked to her. We had plans to meet later this year. She was going to come and stay with Mummy when I went there in September/October after having the baby (Yes, I’m pregnant, that was my big news which I had mentioned in the last post. The baby is due in August and I’ll be 20 weeks through tomorrow). Then we were all going to get together for my cousin’s wedding, the last on my mother’s side of the family.

The regret of not having spent more time with her, specially in the last few years, is always with me. I last met her when they had come to Bangalore in June 2011. We were going to meet in February last year but last minute work at R’s office made us cancel, I was going to go in August last year but again it didn’t materialize, I was going to go in February end/March beginning this year but we went to Goa instead thinking that in any case I will get to stay with them for a long time once I’m on maternity leave. When will we learn? When will we learn to understand what is important and what isn’t?

I still can’t imagine a world where she’s not there, not there to smile her dimpled smile, not there to cook fabulous stuff for us, not there to tell us stories, not there to lie in the dark and talk for hours, not there for us to scold when she ate too much sweet (she was diabetic), not there to call and say ‘Hello Nani’ on the phone ever again, not there to take care of my grandfather, not there at all. That I can never say ‘she is’ ever again.

My mother is devastated. And I am here, in office, ‘working’. Way to go.

I don’t want to end this post on a bitter note. So I will write some more about Nani. She was born on 18th October 1933/34. The date on her records in 1934, but she was an infant during a bad earthquake in Bihar which happened before October 1934, which indicates that it was most probably 1933. Her father was in the state government and they lived all over Bihar. She was a B.A from Women’s College in Patna. She got married to my grandfather on 3rd March 1952. She had 3 children, 2 girls and then a boy. She was very good at knitting, stitching and embroidery. Anna has a sweater made by her and we used to get new ones every year when we were kids. She was a very progressive lady and I really admire her ability to change with the times. She was lady in every sense of the word – poised, always well groomed and stylishly turned out, caring and kind, compassionate but also strict and firm when she needed to be. She was and will remain, loved by all those who knew her.

Rest in peace Nani. I will always and always love and cherish and remember you.

December 2006, Delhi. Nani is knitting socks for me :)

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July 2010. A cousin’s wedding in Banaras. The photo is taken in Nani’s house.

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My darling Anna

I wanted to do a post when Anna turned two and a half – that was 3 months ago – sigh. Anyway, I will not go into excuses and reasons and instead just list everything down.

1) Anna is a chatterbox. I know I keep saying it but the one most striking thing about her is the amount she talks and the way she talks. She’s in a really hilarious phase right now and keeps us entertained with the gems she comes up with. She has actually learnt how to count and is mostly accurate in counting upto 5 of anything. What surprises me even more is that when she’s not in the mood she deliberately gives the wrong answer or answers with something totally unrelated. She’s learning English – her preschool teachers say she understands everything even though she always answers back in Hindi. Her accent leaves a lot to be desired for, she spends the day with the maid and so talks like her – Mommy guilt in full force here too. She tells stories and sings songs and is a big drama queen. She uses her lower lip to full effect and the full on drama is making R dread the years to come. She has also started lying and I have no clue how to handle that. It’s always harmless and I know it’s normal so I let it be, though I usually try to make it clear to her that I know she’s lying. Mostly it’s just to get attention – stuff like everyone in school got breakfast but I didn’t get any. The first time I actually called the school to ask but now I’ve got wiser. But the problem is I can’t fully trust what she says. So when I ask her everyday about how her day was and how Aunty treated her, I know she’s lying when she tells me that Aunty didn’t give her anything to eat, but then again I don’t want to miss something which is actually wrong just thinking that she’s lying.

2) Potty training is fully done – fingers crossed. She’d been off day time diapers for a long time and around a month ago we finally removed the night time ones as well. No accidents so far and I think we’re over that stage. She in any case doesn’t pee in the middle of the night so the pain of having to get up and take her to the toilet is not there.

3) The ‘I will do everything myself’ stage is in full swing. We’re trying to let her do stuff herself but sometimes when it’s just not possible she might have a major meltdown. Another not so nice phase is the ‘everything is mine’ phase. She specially has a lot of competition with my cousin’s daughter who is almost a year old and tries to grab her toys and whatever she’s playing with. The problem is that all the other kids are less than a year old and still in the baby stage. She is the only toddler around and so is the one who always gets scolded for being naughty. I’m trying to find a balance between being too strict and letting her get away with bad behaviour. But I think because of my horror for badly behaved children I lean too much on the other side. She’s after all not yet three and sometimes I feel really bad for having scolded her. So that’s my biggest challenge currently – defusing the bad behaviour without being too harsh and also without spoiling her.

3) School admission is done and I’m so relieved. Not that we were too worried or taking too much effort – but it is a load off our heads. Our biggest priority was distance – not more than 5kms from home. That narrowed the number of prospective schools down to 3. The first one she got into very easily – one of the teachers took her in to see some toys and luckily she happily went with her. Came out after 10 minutes and they said we can pay the fees. The school was good but not exactly what I had in mind – it looked more like a corporate office and I am pretty old fashioned when it comes to education. So we decided to wait for at least the result of one more school before paying – it was 30k non-refundable. The other school is a junior school till KG which then feeds into a main branch. They called us for ‘interaction’ – I thought they would mostly talk to us and maybe ask Anna a few questions. We met the principal who didn’t ask us a single thing, all the questions were directed to Anna. What’s your name, sing a rhyme, identify animals, shapes, colours. She answered ALL the questions and we were so proud of her. I did feel bad that she gave her first ‘interview’ at the tender age of two and a half, that the rat race starts so young. But what choice do we have? Anyway we were just glad that she did well and I think the principal thought so too because she got a seat. I’m quite happy with the school – the original main branch is 50 years old and I admit to having a slightly snobbish attitude towards ‘new’ schools. Hopefully she’ll like it there and enjoy going to school as much as her Mumma did.

4) Work is as crazy as usual. I’ve gotten sick of hearing myself crib so I’ve just stopped. I slog hard on weekdays and keep my weekends free – though it is expected that we work on weekends too but phrrrrr. I won’t make my baby pay more for the cost of my career – she’s paying enough as it is.

5) Anna has become such a lovely little girl that I can’t stop myself from wondering over the perfection I see in her :). Sometimes I look at those big sparkling eyes, the lovely round cheeks touched with just the right hint of pink, the rosebud mouth with the glistening pink lips, the arms and legs which are so much longer now with just traces of baby fat – and I feel my heart stop – I feel that I will just burst from the pride and joy and love I feel for her. I feel amazed that something so beautiful and innocent exists in this world. It’s not just the physical perfection I see in her, it’s her sharp mind, her developing sense of humour, her sweetness when she kisses me and snuggles with me, her energy and enthusiasm for everything and even her screaming and her tantrums.

That’s it. There is one more thing I’m dying to write about but it deserves a separate post to itself which I will hopefully get around to soon.

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Why I feel that my heart is breaking.

There’s a lot going on in my head. I need to let it out or I’ll explode.

Life is crazy busy right now. Get up at 6-6:30. Give Anna her milk, make tea for R and I, drink tea, straighten the bed, straighten the house, supervise the maid, have a bath, play with Anna while R bathes and dresses and has breakfast and leaves (around 7:50), bathe Anna, get dressed while she is splashing in the bathroom, get her dressed, have breakfast, try to give Anna her breakfast and mostly give up and leave it to her babysitter, leave at 8:30 once baby-sitter has arrived (sometimes Anna cries, sometimes she doesn’t), reach office, work, work, work, leave around 5:30, reach home by 5:45, baby-sitter leaves by 6, play with Anna, give Anna her dinner, brush teeth, change clothes, R is back (around 7:15), he plays with Anna for sometime, take Anna to bed (around 7:45), lie in the dark for anything between 15 minutes to 45 minutes, have dinner and then work, work, work, sleep by 11 – 11:30. Rinse repeat.

To add to this I often have to attend calls in the evenings. I don’t mind the post 9pm ones since Anna is in bed, but I have at least one call a week in the evening at 6:30. I hate those calls. I hate plugging in my earphones and half listening to the call and half playing with Anna. I hate anything encroaching on my time with Anna. I hate this whole corporate structure in India but that is fodder for another post.

It’s good to be busy but there are parts of it that really bother me. 1) I don’t spend enough time with Anna. Now truly speaking, the amount of work I have in office doesn’t affect my time with Anna since I finish my work after she’s slept. But I do feel it affects the quality of that time since I’m so much more tired and stressed out. This feeling is intensified when she’s sniffling in the morning that she doesn’t want to go to school, that she doesn’t want ‘Basanti Aunty’, that Mumma should not go to office. 2) I get no time for myself. Even writing this blog post is using time in which I should be working. I have not read a book in weeks. I have not gone to the parlour for weeks.

I know I don’t want to quit my job. I have been recently promoted, the money is very good, the work is good, I know I can’t be happy at home all the time. I just wish I was better at maintaining the balance between not working at all and working like a donkey. I always feel that since I take a full person’s salary I should not hold my child as an excuse to work less – even though I work more than the bachelors in my team.

To make matters worse I am traveling to US for one week on Saturday. I will be back next Monday. When the trip came up I initially dismissed it. Then after a lot of counseling from my manager (who is also a woman and has 2 kids) I started considering it, talked to R about it. It’s a great opportunity work-wise, I will get to meet senior people in the team and it’s only one week. That’s how I convinced myself. R’s mother is coming here tomorrow to help out when I’m not here. On one level I know it’ll mostly be okay. R will be here, her baby-sitter will be here and Anna is very fond of her, R’s mother will be here. Anna was perfectly fine for the one day I had gone to Chennai for the visa interview – that was the first time I left her overnight.

Still I feel like crying every time I think of going. My little baby, how will I ever survive one week without her? How will she rationalize the fact that Mumma is not here, will she think I’ve left her, will she cry for me? What if she ignores me once I’m back?

I’m torn. Not just for the trip but for this whole working mother thing in general. Will I regret when I’m dying not having spent more time with Anna, will I regret having wasted my precious hours and days and years on ‘work’ – something which will have no meaning when I’m old? On the flip side – will I be happy at home full-time, will I get bored and resent R and Anna, what about once Anna is older and has her own life, my field of work has no free-lancing and it’s difficult to get back once you’re out, what about money, what will it mean to us to have our income cut by half, what it will mean to me to not bring in money? There are so many questions and I have no answers. And so we go 0n, changing nothing, hoping and praying that everything will be alright, that there will be no bitter regrets later.

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