Letters to my Berry#9

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If I had observed you too closely this month, I probably wouldn’t have realised this because this change in you is so subtle that it’s easy to miss. No, you haven’t learnt to walk on your own yet. Neither have you learnt to talk. But what you have learnt is to disobey your parents. Yes, apparently, it does start this early. So you see, children disobeying their parents has very little to do with parents and there’s no reason for us to be hard on ourselves for not “discipling” you. You clearly have a mind of your own and I highly doubt I can control it too much, so I’ll remember not to try too hard as you grow up and be more difficult.

Ever since you started crawling, you have been too busy exploring the world on your own terms. You go from one room to another in the house in pursuit of everything dangerous – be it to lick the sockets, eat the ends of chargers, fiddle with the heaters, eat chappals, pull out drawers, hang onto the floor lamp as if you are a pole dancer, drum on the dustbin, try to get into the dishwasher or washing machine or try to open the kitchen cabinets to pull out everything inside. You won’t stop if we asked you to, you won’t stop if we pulled you back and in fact, that only makes you go back to it faster. The only weapon I still have is to attract you with some food. Mwuahah. You love the sound of opening a packet (of food!).

Yet another step change we have seen this month is your ability to communicate. You know how to ask for more food. You scream and signal for us to continue feeding you. You also understand what we tell you, although you conveniently act like you don’t since there is no way for us to verify either way. When we try to show you different animals in your animal book and make noises that animals make, you laugh because the sounds are strange and something we don’t make normally. This is the only way to keep you quiet or sane on the tube everyday. Sometimes I even swing the swara of all the geetes I can remember and when all else fails, I stand up in the corner and pretend like we are getting off at the next station.

You have learnt this really funny fake laugh (very much like your dad’s) that you keep using to act cute so we pick you up. This reminds me of what Ajit had told me about Arhita being a master manipulator even though she didn’t talk yet. Ahem. But I’m not complaining because I love your laugh, even the fake one because it shows how happy a child you are. I remember ajji always telling me that you’ll turn out to be a grumpy baby because I was always so grumpy/ deep in thought through the pregnancy that I might pass off some of that energy to you. I know it’s too early to say, but let’s hope that you keep this happy spirit about you.

You are super friendly, you like to extend your hand to anyone who says hello to you. You like touching their face or maybe even plucking their nose. You like kids who are slightly older than you. You wanted to play with Vasu (Appa’s friend ID’s son) when we visited their house but he was so into his own younger sister, Anika that I felt a bit sad for you. But you have Rehan (Amma’s friend Sam’s son) and he absolutely loves playing with you. You like hugging him and following him everywhere whenever we visit his house. Sometimes I secretly wish I could buy you an older sibling (Yeah, I used to think you can buy them in a shop when I was a little girl). Sigh.

Another big achievement of the month is that you have two teeth (I can attest for it because I have been bitten!!!) and you can eat on your own. In order to make sure we feed you healthy food everyday, we have a fairly standardised non-creative eating routine for you which includes feeding you a small portion of our breakfast, mashed vegetables (carrots, potato, tomato, spinach) with salt, pepper, ghee and cheese for lunch and a portion of our dinner as your mummum. Most days we let you eat your own breakfast and feed you the other meals. Check it out.

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That’s Rehan’s highchair btw. He is probably the first kid I have seen till date who happily shares all his toys with you, in fact, he even lets you take some of them home with you. I am still a bit unsure about if this is a trait I want to actively nurture or not because I think you shouldn’t share if you don’t want to and if you want to, you should absolutely do so. Ok, I am on the fence but I know I don’t want to force you just to seem like I’m doing the right thing as a parent. So, I will allow you to beat me if I shove some random parenting gyaan on you that I don’t truly believe in.

I can’t believe as of this month, you have lived longer outside of me than inside of me. Happy 3/4th Year Berry!!

P.S – Here’s a list of all the random names I call you (some are super mental, sorry!) – Berry mumma, tinamma gundu, gundamma, halka laudi (you are super light!), gundamma bitheth, missklaudi, Berima, mumma, billi, tinamms, chinnamma, smileypaaps, smellypaaps, baeripaapa. Ok the list goes on..

 

 

 

 

 

Is age just a number?

Ever heard someone say “Age is just a number?” Don’t believe them. Age is a number, yes but not “just” a number. A few hundred years ago, when people asked you “ASL?”, you couldn’t just say “14/F/Bang” because 14 was never a good enough age on the internet. You had to be “18/F/Bang” for anyone to remotely continue a conversation with you. Sure, it would usually be with a guy who’d eventually creep you out with a dick pic but atleast that made you feel like you belong. Early teens is an awkward phase to be in because you are battling all these adult like feelings in a kid’s body and it always feels like no one gets you. Fast forward a decade, and you start feeling the exact opposite – battling kid like feelings in a fully grown adult’s body and again, it feels like no one gets you.

For the first time in several years, I wasn’t nervous about my birthday. I didn’t pull out my notebook and make crazy lists of people who wished me. I didn’t mind that I wasn’t woken up by any midnight calls. I didn’t expect anything  from the husband, who is forever nervous in the days leading up to 10th June every year. So, it was pleasantly surprising to see that he’d spent whole of 9th sitting and writing 13 blogposts for me (I keep bugging him to do that, in case you thought he was being creative!). All I wanted to do was have a quiet day with no grand agenda or unnecessary drama because I wanted nothing to remind me of raging.

Within the last one year, I have grown by several years. Gaining new relationship status does that to you. Your age doubles when you have a child or atleast, it feels like. You could go to an ex lover and he’ll probably mistake you for your grandmother. Sometimes when a stranger walks upto me and tells me that I’m just being cynical, I go back and ask my old pair of jeans. They are stretch and so I don’t entirely trust them. Then, I go and ask my husband if he’ll buy me Olay anti ageing cream and he promptly says yes (because his instincts are trained to say yes for anything over the last 7 years), but quickly comes back to check if it was a trick question. So, thank god, maybe I am indeed just being cynical.

Every time I begin a new decade, it feels like I have started a new descent. This starts with a phase of denial followed by bitter acceptance. At 10, I said good bye to frocks. At 20, I said goodbye to innocence. At 30, I am saying good bye to a 26” waistline (just kidding, I am sure i’ll be 26” again, soon!). But hey, I am saying hello to unwanted wisdom and knee pain. What more could I ask for?

P.S – This ageing thing clearly doesn’t suit me.

 

 

Letters to my Berry#8

IMG_8460 3I can’t believe how fast you are growing up, I almost had to think twice before I wrote #8 above. You’ll grow up in a jiffy and before I know it, you’ll be a teenager, you’ll hate me and argue with me and what not. Boy am I not looking forward to that. For now, I am glad you are this cute little dumb thing. Look at you munching on an oreo in the pictures above. Eating happens to be one of your favourite things to do at the moment.

We play this game with you when we try to call you and get your attention, but you don’t respond at all. If we hold up a packet of snacks, you immediately make a dash towards us. We absolutely adore that you enjoy eating and don’t fuss about it as it makes our lives easy in raising you. You eat the same stuff that we eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner minus the spice. You also love nibbling on chakli and you don’t mind the spice at all. You’ve even enjoyed a nice plate of idli at Saravana Bhavan. Ok, I just sound like a terrible parent now. But basically, we are glad you tag along in everything we do and make it easier for us to show you new experiences.

You don’t speak any language yet except babbles. You are more interested in moving around. You crawl super fast from one end of the house to another. You love the tiled floor in the kitchen because it makes more noise when you bang your toys on it unlike the carpeted floors in the rest of the house. You love to follow me around in our little kitchen until I am too afraid to step on you and decide to pick you up. I feel like you trick me into picking you this way. You are sooo curious to know everything in the kitchen from opening all the cupboards on the floor to picking up random bits of food particles on the floor and licking them.

You usually spot a tiny speck from miles away and come crawling super fast to pick it up. This way I am guessing you’ve taken after me in terms of vision (hopefully!). Your ears are pretty sharp too. You always know when I come home and make sure you are crying juts in time so that I feed you as soon as I get home. You follow me around like a crazy person all over the house till you are well fed. Even as I leave home in the mornings, you keep trying to jump out of Appa’s arms on days I leave you with him. I know I am just the cow of your life.

Most days when I take you on the tube to the nursery, you sleep off but occasionally you act mental and those are times when I pretend its my stop and get off at the next station just to calm you down and hop back on. This is only after standing for quite some time and you are not happy swinging in the carrier. Sometimes I use a trick to calm you down – either play lullaby in your ears or sing classical music. Both work great but the effect doesn’t last very long. That reminds me, you love it when people single or dance. I get the same feedback from your nursery as well. So, who knows, you might become a musician someday.

We are trying our best to expose you to music. We have a keyboard placed on the floor in the living room which we allow you to play freestyle. You love pressing all the keys but you are yet to identify patterns in sounds (although you should be able to do this at the present age but there’s no way for us to know that). You love showing this off to Ajji thatha when they call you on FaceTime. FaceTime has been fairly instrumental in your development. Can you believe thatha taught you how to do Ramramsitaram on FaceTime?!

You love the sound of thatha’s rhymes so much that the moment you hear the phone ring, you get into position and start clapping. This sometimes upsets Ajji and Barbie chikki because you don’t associate any sounds with them or look at them with awe unlike you do with thatha. He surely has a way with kids. He behaves just like them when he is with kids. Ajji on the other hand has a new lovey dove name overtime she speaks to you. She loves you lots, maybe a little more than she loves me.

Overall, you have become suddenly much more intelligent, quite mobile (really hard to keep up with you) and very demanding (you randomly cry sometimes). As you hold me, pinch my cheeks and smile at me, I wish time would stay still and I could hold you forever as this little baby. Sigh.

Don’t grow up so fast no Berry!!!

 

Emotional dependence and why we remain unmarried

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Marriage is a (wo)man-made institution to legalise two people choosing to live together as romantic partners, engaging in procreation and so on. But at a very carnal level, there is no need for it and we can very well do away with it. So, if any one of you believes that you “have” to get married for your parents’ sake, we have a problem because you’ve probably surrendered to the society much more than you should have (Okay, that’s a judgement alright).

While we know our parents would love to see us married and “settled” (an unattainable state of stability that parents dream of for their children), it’s okay if we don’t settle. A lot of parents’ hopes/ dreams for us, get shattered at various points in their lives and so one more won’t make so much of a difference unless they are convinced we don’t have much else going on in our lives. So trying to get us married is their desperate attempt to find us a “purpose (read distraction)” in life, so we don’t die of loneliness/depression as we age. So, if your parents are breathing down your neck constantly, either you need to convince them that you have a bigger purpose in life or go find that purpose asap before their concerns can break you to pieces.

Some one or two generations ago, parents bulldozed their choices on children in terms of when, whom and how they must marry, but that was usually quite premature and you couldn’t quite blame the kids for not having picked their own partners by then because the kids were usually busy focussing on their careers (mid-late 20s). Off late, I’ve been meeting more and more fully grown adults (in 30s) with mostly sorted professional lives still waiting for their parents to find them partners or play the primary role in deciding who they should marry, which makes me wonder if our parents were too focussed on keeping the family close-knit and in the process missed raising independent decision makers.

Now, I don’t blame our parents because their generation was fighting the transition from joint families to nuclear families and hence, resorted to emotional blackmail (not consciously of course) to retain family bonding. Naturally our generation values emotional independence having got very little of it growing up and so, we might be headed towards raising more nuclear lives. And as we raise more independent thinkers, our children might get very little of the warmth and closeness of a huge close knit family resulting in them making up for it in their own ways as they raise their following generation and so on. But that’s not for me to worry about.

As far as my generation is concerned, we might probably focus on raising strong independent decision makers because it is scary to see the number of people who remain unmarried because they haven’t found a partner, their parents approve of. It scares me to see that lack of parental concurrence is an acceptable excuse for someone even in their 30s. If you had found your life’s greatest passion, would you let someone else (even if its your own parents) tell you what to do with it?

Karthik often said he wanted to marry someone who has lived in a hostel (I’d spent 22years of my life living with my parents at the point when I met him), but I never really understood what he meant until recently. Living in a hostel away from home allows us to “grow up” in so many ways that staying home with parents doesn’t. We learn to take control of our day-to-day lives, make independent decisions and uproot a few roots that have grown deep into our families over the years.

While this might recalibrate our bond with our families, it is an especially important trait for us to be truly marriage-ready since the recalibration facilitates welcoming a new bond in our lives. Some of us get confused by this recalibration as having to choose between the family and a partner. It is not one or the other, instead it is making way for both in the long-term while giving the partner short-term benefit of being new in our lives. And there is no way you can strike this balance gracefully if you haven’t learnt to make your own choices.

P.S – Don’t be like Wilbur Saragunaraj and go in an auto with your mummy!

Complicating our lives

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As I walked out of my office this evening, I started thinking about how I want to organise my evening once I reach home in order to make the most of my time. I wanted to clearly segregate the time I spent cooking, cleaning up, etc. from the time I spent with Berry. The context switch was so instantaneous, as if I exited one stage and got onto another. Until today, I was never conscious of the many roles I play everyday – mother, wife, employee, daughter, sister, daughter-in-law, blogger, marriage broker auntie, friend, etc. I think it’s so easy to lose oneself while you are too busy playing all these roles that it’s important to be able to distinguish between them very clearly.

For the last two weeks, I have been unable to spend quality time blogging and having left that part of me incredibly dissatisfied, I can feel the pressure trickling down onto other parts of me. So, I try to set little goals for every part of me so each of them try to do their best to inspire the other parts. Okay, I know you think I’m insane now and I don’t blame you because sometimes, I think so myself. I think we are all constantly finding ways to make our lives more meaningful in ways that we feel like we are headed somewhere or are striving to get “better” even though, deep down, we know all of this is quite insignificant in the grander scheme of things (at a multiverse level).

As a child of 8 or 9, I remember lying down on my terrace and looking up at the stars and thinking how insignificant my problems (not studying for the test next day level) in life were. I remember thinking how silly we were to take our stupid little lives so seriously (of course not the fact that we actually had lives), trading happiness and simplicity for drama in the name of “meaning”. It gave me solace to let go, I enjoyed letting myself feel insignificant, yet today, I try to make my life a bit more complicated than it actually is because I want to feel like it’s worth living.

I’ve gone a full cycle in exploring if I’ve aged exponentially or I’m plain depressed to entertain such morbid thoughts ever so often, but I haven’t found any answers yet. The fact is we all eventually die and until then, we want to justify why we haven’t died yet.

Letters to my Berry#7

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Every month when I sit down to write this post, I feel like this month is more momentous than the previous months and so I am not quite sure when you’ve grown exponentially in the last few months. Anyway, you have grown enough to be bugging me right now trying to fiddle with the laptop and not letting me type at all. Don’t blame me for typos now alright?

On 24th March was the first time you tried to sit up and did so successfully. Guess what, we managed to capture that on camera as well, so yay! Within 2 weeks you also managed to stand up, so it seems like you are in a bit of hurry to run away somewhere. On 7th April, when I had put you to sleep in your crib while I worked from home, I turned around to see that you were laughing mischievously as you had managed to stand up by holding the railings of the crib (moment captured in the pic below). I remember thinking to myself yet again, honeymoon over! Sigh!

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You say words like Appa, Amma and Thatha but they don’t really mean anything to you yet. You just try to imitate our sounds sometimes. We’ve tried to teach you “Ram ram seetaram” but its been one big fail. You probably tried to do it when thatha made you do it over FaceTime but one can’t be a 100% sure. The one thing that you do religiously without fail is lick everything. I don’t know if you are perpetually hungry or you just like to identify everything through taste. Eitherway, I don’t try to hard to stop you unless you are trying to lick a socket (which thankfully you don’t do too much off yet).

You like adult food – idli, dose, vade, chapatti, anna, saaru, huli and all making it damn easy for us to feed you. You pounce like a little tiger at the sight of food, much like your cousin brother Snaaku and so we happily take you to restaurants with us (see pic below). To be honest, this was the first time we felt like we had a whole new person in our lives while you sat with us at the table at Kailash Parbat ready to dive into the pav bhaaji.

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This month has been super special also because you have been nice enough to let me ferry you from home to work on the tube without driving me completely nuts. You enjoy looking around at everyone on the train since you are so used to having people around you in the daycare. You’ve been enjoying your time at the daycare, doing all sorts of messy activities, enjoying the strolls around town and making little mothers’ day cards and all for me. I bet I couldn’t have entertained you half as much as you get entertained at the daycare even if I tried.

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Good times apart, we have also had some very troubling times this month when you had very high fever and diarrhoea for 5 days at a stretch and in the middle of all this, we were even moving houses. There were times when I thought we wouldn’t get through all this but we did and I have a feeling that this feeling is going to come back over and over again in the years to come. I get this feeling of not doing enough ever so often but I think I’ll let this feeling pass because you are your own person and I can’t do a thing about being able to make you talk, do taarammaiah or make you go to Caltech 😛

Ok, I give up. You won’t let me write more since you want to type as well. So bye.

P.S – As Inchara promptly notes, you do have a lot of pink clothes. But hey, I don’t mind at all because pink is my favourite colour!

Letters to my Berry#6

 

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Berry, mi amor, you turn half today. Whee! What an eventful month this has been for you. On 3rd March, you moved from Bangalore to London and that was your very first flight. This was a moment I’d be dreading all my life because people with babies are not very popular on a flight. I was worried how you’d feel during take off and landing. I was worried you’d scream your lungs out through the journey and so I’d carefully chosen a night flight with breaks in between. To my greatest relief, you were an absolute sweetheart (ok, almost) except being in a plane with so many people was too exciting for you to be quiet. You kept trying to babble at anyone and everyone who remotely smiled at you or even made eye contact. Clearly you’ve got your genes from either your paternal aunt or your maternal great grandmother!

I had spent the last 6 months of my life being with you 24/7 and so people always asked me how I’d feel being away from you while at work. To be honest, I’d never given it much thought because I didn’t have a choice. We did visit a few nurseries before we finally decided to put you at Smithfield Day Nursery since we really liked the environment, all the things they made babies play with, etc. You even happily let Alice (your daycare manager) carry you while she showed us around the place and so I was confident that you’d be just as happy being there as you were at home. The first couple of days were hard for you, you refused to eat or drink much but eventually I guess you got more comfortable.

I realise that when you read this several years from now, there’s a chance you’ll think I was not such a nice mother for having left you at a day-care for 10 hours everyday and its completely okay (or maybe you won’t, I don’t know!). While I would absolute enjoy spending time with you all day, I don’t think I am equipped to entertain and nurture you as well as your carers at the day-care can. They made you paint for St.Patrik’s day. Your very first painting at 6 months!! Now, would I have made you do that? I don’t think so 🙂 More importantly, this was the only way for me to optimize for both of us – me getting back to pursuing my professional goals and you being taken care of while I was away at work.

Your routine at the daycare is quite interesting – You’ve breakfast, lunch (you’ve officially started eating real food, but in a pureed form of course!) and tea with lots of playing in between. There’s also a daily walk to either a park, church, library or a museum (if the weather allows of course!) where all of you little babies are put into strollers and taken around like pups for a walk. It’s quite cute. I heard you even played in the park one day. The funniest story I have heard from your nursery so far is you giggling really loudly at another baby that was crying. Now, I don’t know if you’ll make any friends being so evil. Haha.

Ever since you moved to the UK, you’ve been a constant babbler. You’ve so much to talk about all the time that I only wish I could understand what you have to say. So its a good thing that you have enough opportunities to socialise and develop communication skills at your daycare. Another exciting new thing you are trying to do is sit up. You are able to sit up on your own with one leg forward and another one backward. It’s a weird way of sitting alright but soon you’ll be able to sit comfortably. Also, you’ve been preparing to crawl on all fours with your head up but so far you can only sit on all fours and sway forward and backward. You already push yourself all around the world with your head down and so its impossible to leave you anywhere alone for too long.

The cutest thing about this month has been your new found ability to cuddle. You love cuddling with everyone. You touch people’s faces, try to hold them and smile in recognition. I think thatha really enjoyed this in the last couple of days before we left Bangalore and probably misses this as we are so far away. Of course he makes up for it by FaceTiming with you very other day. You can recognise both ajji and thatha over FaceTime and you try to cuddle with them through the phone, making them feel worse about being so far. 😛

Before we left Bangalore, we visited your godparents Sheila and Krishna and they enjoyed cuddling with you as well, although you spent more time wailing/ sleeping. I have promised G-Mommy Sheila that I won’t ruin your ideas about love, etc and that she can tell you all about it herself. I think you are so lucky to have back-up parents and that too, such cool ones, whenever you think your own are uncool. Also, you have tonnes to people who always send their love to you – Ashi ajji tops the list of course 🙂

You see, I could go on forever about you and your little life but I’ll save more for the months to come.