Friday, October 24, 2014

Let that Laundry Pile Up

"Did you know that the laundry basket hasn't been emptied this week?"

"What? I have been loading the washer every single day! What are you talking about?"

My husband raised an eyebrow and said, 'I meant the clean-clothes hamper. None of those have been folded and put away for a while now. You've let THAT laundry pile up.'

Chucking a cushion at his head did nothing more than strain my weak shoulder, so I sighed loudly and dragged myself to the room where that mountainous hamper sat. I could have sworn I heard a snigger from the clothes, but I put that down to my overactive imagination.

Don't get me wrong. I actually like to fold clothes, put them away, re-arrange the shelves every month just for kicks and also hum a tune while doing all of the above. But, there are some days (or weeks) when you just can't find it within you to do the mundane.

This was one such week. You see, a couple of days earlier, I had received a call. A single phone call. It was to inform me that a very dear friend of mine had died. In one of the worst ways possible. She had been crossing the street and an out-of-control truck had careened into her, killing her on the spot. That day, I hung up the phone and was unsure how to react to the news. So, I didn't. I put on a smile and went out for dinner instead. Does that sound heartless? It probably was. But, the shock was too much for me to digest. In my heart, I figured that if I shut it out of my conscious being, the pain would dissipate slowly.

To be fair, it almost did. Until that morning with the clothes hamper. Cross-legged I sat on the bed and pulled out a tee-shirt. With loving care, I laid it out on the bed, lifted one sleeve, folded it backwards, did the same with the other sleeve, patted the back of the tee down in an ironing motion and lifted the bottom of it to align with the neckline. With quiet pride, I saw the tee-shirt sitting there, folded and ready to be put in its place, inside the wardrobe. Soon, the folded clothes were piling up next to me, in a neat stack.

As I pulled out the tenth item of clothing to be folded, something snapped within me.  Before I knew it, huge tear drops found their way down my cheeks. Out of the blue, I was crying: For the loss of a wonderful human being, for the utter waste of a life, for the unfair and ridiculous way that she had been taken from our lives. Without holding back, I let loose the flood within and at the end of a good fifteen minutes, felt like a load had been raised from my aching heart.

That entire process of folding the tee-shirt or creasing a towel- a simple, routine, almost pedestrian task- had let me feel the emotion that I had been suppressing.

That's when realisation struck me. If it weren't for that mundane task of folding some clothes, my mind would have resolutely made every attempt to shut out any form of acceptance. If I hadn't sat down to confront that looming pile, I would have probably not faced another looming emotion- grief.

As parents, we need to let go of those constant expectations that we face- not from others, but from ourselves. We also should let our kids know that boring tasks and regular deeds have a far better emotional quotient than short-term satisfaction. We must tell them that it is okay to cry and let the grief spill over, because it keeps us in touch with our raw selves.

So, it's okay to neglect those chores every once in a while. It's fine to find time to do other things because we can fall back on the laundry pile to get us through a difficult period. 

Some days, we just need to let that laundry pile up.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Simple Power of One Word

Has one word ever changed things around for you? 

Have you landed a job, gained happiness, improved the way you lived, enhanced your productivity all because of one single word?

You may not realise it, but that one word can pretty much define how you spend your day. If you haven't guessed it already, that word is YES.

As a race, we thrive on acceptance and affirmation. Just look around you. You feel thrilled when a status update is 'Liked' on Facebook. You are suitably ecstatic if your achievement is recognised by your peers. You are over the moon when your book gets accepted by a publisher (yes, yes, I am practising the power of The Secret) ;) !

The point is, there is nothing WRONG with this. Yes is a powerful word. It carries heavy associations of gladness, doing the right thing, encouragement and positive vibrations every time it is uttered under the right circumstances.

Why am I saying this, you ask?

Well, it hasn't been a great month on the parenting front. Yes, I am being honest here. After 218 days, I broke my Yelling Less streak in early September. I flipped out, screamed, came this close to shaking her and let loose a choice set of angry words that were totally unwarranted. The reasons were ridiculous and petty, but I suspect the deeper, underlying reasons were many more. There was a general feeling of discontent in the way I was handling her emotions, compounded by the fact that I had a bad sprain in my shoulder/neck which left me virtually unable to write/blog for a long time. 

This unsettled me a good deal and I spent many nights tossing restlessly, worrying about how I was damaging her self-esteem beyond repair by constantly snapping at her for every little thing. This wasn't helped by the fact that she ALWAYS ended the day with a hug and kiss, saying, 'Amma, I love you so much.'

What triggered the decision

Recently, I was telling a friend that it annoyed me when Gy would not immediately respond if I asked her to do something. It was always the same response, 'One minute more, Amma. I just have two pages left to read.' It made me see red when she said that. The anger was bubbling up as I said, 'Not later. NOW!' This was inevitably followed by a sulky-faced child who would do the task, but with mutiny in her eyes.

When I was cooler, it hit me. She was doing two things that mirrored my being.

One, she was so engrossed in the book that tearing her away from it was plain torture- for her. Why, I was exactly like that, growing up! Why would the genes be any different?

Two, that was usually my response when she asked me a question, 'Give me a minute, while I finish my work here.'

We know that kids learn by observation. We acknowledge that we should lead by example. That's when the decision took shape. What I needed to do was clearer now.

What did I do?

This morning, I woke up with a resolution. It was a simple one. I decided I would say 'YES'.

As easy as that sounds, you have no idea how hard it is to practise for someone who is, in essence, a bit of a control freak. I wasn't like this. I don't think so, at least. But, parenting brings out some harsh truths about oneself.

So, to make it simple, I just told myself that my first knee-jerk response to her queries or her need to read a bit longer would not be a snappy 'NO!' Instead, I would pause and say, 'Okay, no problem. Five more minutes is okay.'

Almost magically, all her tasks today happened smoothly- her eating, her getting dressed, her homework (!), why, even her TV time limitation! Plus, she helped out with cleaning up around the house. 

The fortunate fallout of this was manifold! 

One: She was happier today than she has been in the last month. 

Two: I had a song in my heart and a spring in my step. Even my friends online noticed that I was chirpier and cheerier than usual and were worried about my mental health ;)

Three: I found little things to be happy about, like this incredible sight of two tiny butterflies perched on top of the plant outside my building!

Today was a wonderful day. I know it may not last all the time. But, I am sure going to give it a go, to ensure that my days are happier and my peace of mind more regulated.

All it takes is One Simple Word. Such a delight, don't you agree?

Monday, September 22, 2014

10 signs you may be a Blog Addict

Blog addiction is a very real phenomenon. Take it from someone who knows and who, unabashedly, is willing to admit it. I read this post by Tammy Soong over at the Blogging Betties and realised that, 'Hey, looks like I AM a Blogging Betty after all!'

As you all know, this is a parenting blog, or more appropriately, a place for me to put down my thoughts on this marvelous journey (yeah, right!) called Motherhood, together with its delightful add-ons such as tantrums, life lessons, learning to let go, yelling less and basically surviving on just the bare minimum of sleep daily.

So, to carry forward what Tammy says so eloquently, here are more signs that you may be addicted to this wonderful, enriching thing called Blogging. I mean, er.. this time-sucking, draining and insomnia-inducing thing called Blogging! Be advised that I have done NONE of the below and I will defend my stance in a court of law, until my dying breath!

  1. Your face lights up when you see an Award nomination for your blog and you just shrug and pat her on the head when your child comes home with a badge for 'Best-behaved kid at Recess'.
  2. Getting a bad comment on your post unnerves you, while a poor grade in the kid's report card is glanced at and followed by the customary 'pat-on-the-head.'
  3.  You dislike staying up nights to feed your wailing newborn but are more than willing to pull an all-nighter if it means churning out those posts every night.
  4. You are more likely to know the number of 'Likes' that your Facebook page has than the number of friends your kids make on the playground.
  5. You proudly strut the fact that you write a blog (or two or gosh, three!) and try to hide the fact that you don't know where kid # 3 is or what he's doing.
  6. You sprain a shoulder and snap irritably at kid # 2 for asking you to carry her around all day but doggedly type away with the good hand, even though it takes you thrice as long to finish that post!
  7. You feign an illness to get out of a family trip, just so you can blog about the wonderful feeling of peace at home.
  8. You flaunt a real badge that says , 'I am a blogger' and don't even realise that people are giving you funny looks when you walk down the street.
  9. You get a T-shirt made that asserts, ' I blog, therefore I am' and wonder why there is a sound of running feet and pitchforks when you step out in public.
  10. You have a coffee mug that says, I am  a Blog Addict and carry it around unashamedly.

So are you a Blogging Addict or a Devoted Mum?

If you're the former, I empathise.

If you're the latter, I only have one question for you: 


Disclaimer: This post was written in jest. Any resemblance to anyone may be interpreted at the reader's risk. Hey, you are free to have your opinion. I won't judge you ;)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

When was the last time. . .

. . .you did something that you loved?

I am not talking about bungee jumping or para-sailing. Although, to be honest, those could be the things that you really love, of course.

No, I am talking about the more mundane things, the ones we take for granted, every single day. We are so caught up in this rat race of a life that we very rarely savour and relish the ordinary. When I woke up this morning, I made a resolve. I told myself I was going to enjoy everything that I did today.

This could include 

...just standing by the stove and waiting for my tea to come to a rolling boil, while I basked in the warmth that it gave off at 5 a.m. on a chilly morning.

...sitting and watching the sun rise slowly over the horizon, as I sipped and savoured my beverage.

... cuddling my daughter while she lay twisted up in the blanket that kept her comforted all night long.

...laughing ridiculously at a seemingly un-funny joke that she cracked whilst brushing her teeth.

...watching her blow gently on the hot chocolate milk so that she wouldn't scald her tongue and marveling at the fact that she is old enough to do that now!

And the day had just begun! But I already had a huge smile on my face!

This is the essence of our existence and children show us how to do it every single day. Live in the moment, enjoy it to the fullest and see how much happier you can be. If we made that our motivating force every morning, wouldn't your life be more cheery, positive and uplifting?

Because, believe it or not, these are the extraordinary moments of our lives. When we are old, tired and reminiscing, it is the memory of such precious seconds that will sustain us, for many hours to come.

How do you savour Life's little moments?

Care to share?

❤  Thank you for being here. 


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