Wednesday, November 1, 2017

To diet or not to diet?

Have you noticed how all conversation, irrespective of the people holding it, the place it is being held at, or the circumstance, revolves around food. Or more precisely the lack or abundance thereof. Food is the veneer, but the bulk underneath that everyone actually talks about is the weight ( no pun intended) - you are either underweight ( rarely) or over weight. If I look back in my week, I have not met a single person who is happy with the way their body is at present. They are working on reducing the inches, eliminating the fat, gaining muscle - basically doing anything and everything to not be the way they are today, including me.
I talk about pre pregnancy weight and post pregnancy weight, I talk about fat deposits and diets, about long term results and short term effects. We have given birth to a new industry - an industry whose occupation is to tell us the good food as against the bad. And who make it a point to never agree on something as basic as that. Ghee is good, ghee is fattening, cheese is good, avoid cheese like the plague, keto and paleo are fancy new names, GM is the old one. 

When did we become so obsessed with weight and not fitness?
When did we become so discontented with our bodies? And what has fuelled this depressing obsession?
We could point to the media that keeps feeding us the image of thin models as ideals, but the most gullible lot is probably over 30 years of age, an age at which you would think the power of common sense starts taking dominance over the power of glossy prints. 

Isn’t there some way we can learn to accept ourselves, work to improve our fitness levels, but not be completely depressed with the way we are? Wasn’t there a time when we were free of these concerns and had bigger ones to occupy our minds? 
There is absolutely nothing wrong in wanting to look better and fitter, there is absolutely nothing wrong in trying out a diet or two, a little weighing and some measuring, a little sighing and some wishful dreaming, a little jealousy and some admiring as long as we can shrug it off and move on. Move on with or day and our life.
I would love to lose some weight, and many more inches too. But I do not want to thinks do calculate  the calorie intake down to the last cup of tea that I have. The best advise I have received regarding this conundrum is to listen to your stomach - “ your tummy knows best”. If it is full and is sending you signals to that effect, respect it. Respect your body and it’s ability to function and keep you alive, to make you breathe and digest. 
Basically follow what babies do - eat exactly the amount you want and then say no to every single morsel of food presented your way - be it an ice cream or some doubtful looking vegetable soup. And then I think we can lay to rest this never ending conversation and finally start focusing in fitness - to being fit for yourself and for your loved ones. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Fly like a kite, with a little string in my hand

The word "possessive" takes on a very strong and real meaning when your child starts interacting, and actually liking other people. And if this happens in the " i need to start disciplining my child" phase, you have had it. It is a mental roller coaster. You want to be the "good cop", always. You also know you cannot afford to be the good cop, because there is no "bad cop" around, other than you, not for many miles.

I am still trying to figure out what disciplining means.
I am trying hard to look into my past to see how, or even if, my sister and i were disciplined. For some reason, the word discipline brings forth a negative image. A picture of a cane and military style stand-in-attention, in a straight line, with ram rod straight backs. No laughing, no smiling, no giggling.

When Aria makes a mess on the floor with water and mud, am i supposed to discipline her or let the joy on her face overrule?
When Aria insists on eating on her own in the most messy way possible, am i supposed to discipline her or appreciate her streak of independence?
When on a few occasions, she refuses to go to sleep, am i supposed to put her to bed amid all the protests, or go ahead with her enthusiasm for not wanting the day to end, to be awake just a little while longer?
When she knowingly throws an object on the floor, am i supposed to sternly say "no", or let her marvel at how gravity works and help her understand the law of consequences - how an object once thrown does not return on its own?
When she refuses vehemently to go with / to some stranger, or even a loved one, am i supposed to discipline her and tell her, her feelings do not matter, or let her be her own person, and tell her it is ok to have different levels of comfort with different people?
When she lets out a resounding "NO" when an adult tries to grab her, lift her, tease her, or pull her cheeks - am i supposed to tell her to not say "no", or teach her at this early an age, that a no means a no, and only she is the master of her own body?
On rare occasions when Aria refuses to eat every thing i offer, am i supposed to get upset, and tell her its this or nothing, or am i supposed to think back on the many times I have not eaten either because i was not well or i just didn't feel like?
When she wants to throw a tantrum because something has been taken away from her, all for a valid reason, am i supposed to ignore her, or sit down and let her cry / yell it out because she is a toddler who is yet to learn what emotions means, let alone try and control them?
When she wants to hug me and be stuck to me, no matter what, am i supposed to listen to friendly advice and talk to her and ask her to leave me and go do her own thing or go to somebody else, or am i allowed to let her wear her heart on her sleeves before she learns to be an adult and masters the art of masking her true feelings?

I see her grow daily, and i wish there was some way i could halt time and not have her grow up. I see her make mistakes daily, i see her fall down and get up and smile goofy. I see her intelligence developing and i see her struggling with her emotions. And i wonder where does discipline fit in all this?
I really do not think we can ever discipline our children, not at least in the strictest sense of the word. We can only guide them, we can only tell them how to differentiate the right from the wrong. They need to learn from their mistakes and they need to be given the freedom to make those mistakes. That is how my sister and i were raised. Independent, aware of consequences, but also confident on the back of an unconditional, ever present support system.

This is especially difficult to remember in the daily race of life, when you just wish they would hurry up and eat, hurry up and sleep, hurry up and get through park time, and play time, hurry up and nap. And in all this we forget that we are acting as catalysts to the very thing we are trying to stop - their hurrying anything up. Just being tiny and cute, and totally dependent on us!

                                                                       Source of image

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A magical year

Aria is one, already!
She has a voice, a personality, opinions, feelings and extreme ways of expressing them. 
All this coming from someone, who just a while ago, was a little blob inside of me. 
Now she walks, shrugging our hand off, in the park.
Now she wails when its time to leave the park, or the bath tub. Not one for silent protest.
Now she points to stuff she wants and you are left wondering how you fed, bathe, clothe and played with her when she absolutely couldn't communicate with you.

She recognises and likes other people now, you become one of the people on her " favourites" list. The list no longer begins and ends with you, i consider myself lucky if on some days the list begins with me.
Her gestures and words for hunger, thirst and sleep are straight forward, but she doesnt understand as yet the feeling of boredom. She knows she is restless, but she needs mommy to figure out whats wrong. I wonder how long that will last.
She has her favourite books, and is the decision maker for which book to read, she can turn the pages of the book, but she needs me to sit by her and give her a word for every object on every page she points to. I wonder how long till we run out of such books.
She can eat with her hand, but needs me to spoon feed her. I wonder what else can i make that definitely needs a spoon to be eaten.
She can climb up on beds, sofas and chairs, but she needs me climb down. I wonder hoe long i can resist placing wooden blocks under the foots of the bed to increase their height, in proportion to the growth in her confidence. Crazy.
She knows where her toys are, and can take them out, but needs you to put the switch on for all the musical ones. I wonder how long till we run out of toys with complicated switches.
So many things she can do on her own, and yet so many things she needs me for. And the balance is tilting one way dangerously fast.

Its a cliche, time flies...but it does. You want it to slow down, you want your time with her to move in slow motion, to capture every movement, every flicker. But she wants to race ahead, reach milestones . Such a contradiction. And i have a feeling this tug of contradiction is going to last for the rest of time. With me holding on, and Aria breaking free.
You hope you will be dignified and mature about it, fingers crossed.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The magic of the ordinary


If there is one thing we can learn from new borns it is the magic of everyday things. Every day is different, every night is unique, every toy provides new joy, every view is looked at from a different perspective.
The tree that sways outside the window, the grown ups in the house have forgotten its species or even what it looks like. It is a basic tree, standing outside our building, which can be seen through the window.
But for Aria, the tree is something more than just a green thing. Every day she looks at it with wonder in her eyes. It is difficult to understand how she can look at the tree with the same enthusiasm every day. It is like she discovers a new part of its being every time she looks at it and is thrilled by the discovery.

Every day is bright and full of curiosity. She can spend hours looking at the vehicles on the road. The make, speed or design of the cars and bikes does not matter to her. The details are irrelevant when faced with the joy of movement. Every passing vehicle introduces her to a new world - the world of slow cars, and fast cars, cautious drivers and rash drivers, women with scarves tied around their faces and men with masks on the bikes, the sun light dancing on the radiator grills, the smoke billowing out of the exhaust, the potholes and the way they make bikers swerve and cars slow.

Every day on our walks we cross the BSNL telephone lines red box and every day we need to stand next to it for a few minutes to admire its bright red color and see the play of contrasts of the white lettering on the red box, She does not need to understand the words written on the box, just their presence there in their pure white color, offsetting the bright red paint is enough.

What is the color of the fan in your bedroom? We know its there, doing its duty and circulating air all through the room, but try lying down under it and watch it rotate. You know the mechanics behind it that make it rotate, but just for a second forget that its a fan. We lie under it and coo at it as it goes round and round, the joyful cooing getting more frantic as the fan picks up speed. We have a dark brown fan that looks beautiful against our white ceiling.

Sitting on a bench in the park, look up instead of looking about you. Don't the leaves look different from here, don't the wings of the birds have a different color underneath? Who knew the sky was so blue and the clouds resting on it, as if stuck with glue?

Stand next to a door and feel the whooshing of air as it is opened and closed.
Look at the curtains that bang against the window, as the room door is opened and closed forcefully.
Marvel at the white 0 watt bulb, lighting up its surroundings and scaring away all things lurking in the dark.
Enjoy the music of the water in the bottle as it goes tumbling into a glass.
Wonder at the sheer hard work of the washing machine, for it to grunt and heave so.
Watch the tube light glow like a fairy's wand.
Ponder the dignity of the crystal ware on the shelf and watch as the light rays dancing across try to woo it.
Startle and be amazed by the clinking of the spoons and forks as they toss and turn in the drawer.
Pick out the beautiful patterns on the dresses of people you meet and be mesmerized by them.

Aria has introduced me to a whole new magical world, a world you will understand only if you are held by the guiding hand of an infant - the world of every day things.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

5 things i wish i could have practiced before being thrown into motherhood!

You can never prepare for parenthood, I agree.
But you can learn some skills in advance to make life a little bit easier. I wish someone would ahve told me these techniques.
If you are pregnant, and especially in your ninth month, when time refuses to move forward and the waiting game sucks the energy out of you, try and master these techniques. They will help you later when your little bundle of joy (!) is out.

1. One handed wonder - Now is the perfect time for all the ambidextrous moms to gloat! However, trust your dominant hand to hold the baby, and your train your non dominant one to work. It has had quite a lazy life till now, no more! It is time for it to gear up, work its ass off and master all the routine things that the dominant hand has been doing till now.
Look at me, writing this blog post with one hand. I feel like a super hero! I can make tea with one hand, fold my clothes with one hand, comb my hair and my most recent achievement - have dinner with one hand. Don't mock. It is harder than you think - try it.

2. Ability to wake up in an instant - The little monster is not going to wait for you to get up, rub your eyes, look around, get your bearing, and then feed it. It goes from 0 to 100 on the howl scale in less than a second, faster than even the fastest car on the planet can accelerate. Make this bit cool - pretend you are Bond, or a spy, working in RAW or CIA. Don't you read about their ability to fire the gun in their sleep. Technically, this is the same thing.

3. Ability to sleep in a second - If you are one if the lucky ones, who when they hit the bed instantly get transported to dreamland - parenting is going to be a piece of cake. After getting up in an instant and powering on through the feeding, changing, burping, rocking stages - you are wide awake. And the little monster is snoring softly next to you. Quickly lie down, close your eyes and without a thought in your head go to sleep, because you do not know when you are going to have to get up fresh again!

4. Love precision - Trust me, no matter how laid back you think you are, the one question that is going to bother you the most, and the one thing you are going to google the most - how much milk does my 2 month / 3 month....old need? Baby centre and Kelly Moms are going to help answer that question However, to know how much your little tanker is guzzling, you are going to need to keep a track of time if you are breast feeding and "ml s" or ounces of you are bottle feeding.
It is the same as keeping a track of your baby's kicks in the last month, just with more variables.
Here is a snap shot of my record - the top line is the amount of feed had by Aria and the bottom line is the pumped quantity (i am part of the exclusive pumping movement)
The next most googled thing will be - how many hours should my baby sleep? Again, to teh rescue comes my chart!

5. Master conversions - If you are living in India, or pretty much anywhere in the world but America chances are you will be used to milliliters, kilograms and kilometers. However, the most useful sites will have the all the relevant information in ounces and pounds. It is really frustrating to google "10 pounds to kilograms" every time. Instead just learn the conversion, and convert on the go.

Try and get  hang of these 5 things and see yourself transform into a super parent. Well, actually not. No matter what you do, how much you prepare, the real thing is going to be like a cricket googly ball in a baseball game.

Source: fowlplay

Sunday, June 5, 2016

A while ago, my husband asked me a very basic question. He was telling me how proud he was of the way i was putting my heart into taking care of our baby, Aria.
His question was - Do you find joy in it?
I did not understand what he meant, he elaborated - Do you do it out of a sense of duty or do you find joy in it?

Do i find joy in motherhood?
Do i find joy in my life being taken over by a 2 month old tyrant?
Do i find joy in spending 2 hours out of 24 cleaning poop and pee?
Do i find joy in not being able to sleep for 3 hours straight?
Do i find joy in dreading another sleepless night?
Do i find joy in being turned into a feeding cow?
Do i find joy in being worried continuously about ear, nose infections?
Do i find joy in forever wondering if Aria is getting enough to eat?
Do i find joy in holding her and rocking her till my arms ache and head spins?
Do i find joy in worrying about syncing milk supply and demand?
Do i find joy in not being able to attend the same social events as Sagar, because one of us needs to stay at home to babysit?

A resounding yes.
I would always wonder what mothers meant when they said motherhood changes you, and now i know. It changes you completely, in a way that there is no turning back. It is not something you can explain, or understand. It is one of those things that need to be experienced to be understood.
And that experience changes you, permanently. Even if you want to go back to being the old you, you cannot.
You are in it, hook, line and sinker.
It is not an off hand, you-feel-it-once kind of an experience, it is not a slow progression of emotions that take you to another level of being. It is a wham! happened to me in a moment and changed me forever kind of an experience.
It takes you by surprise, and leaves you feeling breathless, all in moment. And try as you might, you cannot re-create that moment nor describe it.
You come home from the hospital, you have a new baby to take care of, look after all the practical issues of feeding and pooping and sleeping patterns, welcome visitors, make your peace with unsolicited advice, often bordering on ridiculousness, take each day and attack it, trying to fit the changes into your old lifestyle and one fine night, it just hit me - there is no fitting or changing something into my old lifestyle, this is the new lifestyle. This is how it is going to be, because the little thing gurgling at you is yours, your creation, your child, your responsibility.
Every little movement, every little twitch mesmerizes you when you think about how you actually created this little ball of fire and love. You do not want to go back, you want this moment of clarity, of unconditional acceptance, of gratitude to last forever.
You know you are experiencing something truly magical.
You feel like a princess in the fairy tale, more like the fairy godmother, who with the swish of her wand finds her kingdom turned to heaven.



Saturday, April 16, 2016

A day in my life..


There are numerous blogs, articles and books by moms, experts and random people about motherhood - what to do, how to do it, a new mom's feelings, how to cope with them, what to feel, how to feel. But a mother is just one part of the equation of motherhood.
What about the newborn? Have you ever wondered what your baby is thinking? (Let us assume at this point that the baby is capable of a linear, logical, clear thought process)
Again, (as is emphasized in all books) - all babies are different, so are all mothers. What i think my baby thinks may not be applicable to your baby. Your baby might be different or maybe you are not as crazy as i am to go into an imagination spiral - like feeding, changing, burping was not enough to push you into mental exhaustion that I had to come up with a twisted new mental exercise!
But anyway, here goes..

5:00 am - Looks like everyone is fast asleep, I can even hear faint snoring. Seems like a good time for one loud cry to get their attention. BAAHHH!

5:00 am 15 seconds: There! I knew one good cry would be enough. This person seems like the one who gives me my food.  And there she is trying to get me to eat again! Am i hungry..let me see..wait no...I don't think i am very hungry...or wait maybe i am .... I cannot make up my mind. Why can't she just sit still for like an hour or so till i make up my mind.

7:00 am - The family seems to be getting up. I can feel the general stir in the environment. Oh, and there goes - the person who calls herself "nani" is looking at me. Did you just ask me how i was, let me tell you how i am - i do not get the peace i need to make up my mind about my hunger. Your daughter insists on quick decisions. Oh, yes Nanu...peek is absolutely okay to stare at me! And then they say staring is rude. I do not understand these people

9:00 am - I have nothing to do. I am well fed, burped and changed...what to do? Oh well, let me pee just a tiny little bit and then i will have something to cry about. Baaahhh. Oh hello mother! Now that you are here how about feeding me ? oh well, fine, change me first if you must. And no, i do not want to listen to any made up story. Let me eat in peace. Again they teach us to not talk while eating and this one keeps asking me silly questions! Am i expected to answer?

11:00 am - i am bored. Let us try the pee thing again. Baah! Well, where is everyone? Baaah! anyone? Ok, now i am just plain pissed. How many times does one have to cry to get attention? Well, there is someone! Oh, nani you again. Yes, as i was saying I am feeling ignored, i do not want to eat, well maybe on second thought just give me some food!

1:00 pm - Who is that whispering in the corner? Oh god, another family meeting to discuss my poop. Let my poop alone! And no, it is not okay to keep touching my bum! If i pee or crap i will be kind enough to let you know. Stop touching my bum please. I wonder how babies are expected to grow up and not touch other people's bum to see if they have taken a dump or not!

4:00 pm: Does everyone look exhausted? Have i made them sing and dance and talk nonsense to me for the entire afternoon? It is that time of the evening when adults cannot sleep? Seems like it, well, off i go to my dreamland...

6:00 pm - GIVE ME FOOD! BAAAHHHHHH! Hmm..that felt good. And since you have been so good, let me toss a lop sided smile bordering on smirk your way and make your day.
 Must this man who keeps referring to himself as "Nanu" insist on getting a burp out of me after every meal? His insistence borders on obsession. Why can't he just let me sleep peacefully? Oh, Oh he has forgotten to carry the goes...peeeee...maybe i should add a little bit of poop too! There you go...that's for all the times you insist on holding me upright for a burp after a heavy meal.

8:00 pm - I am in a good mood. Let me play in my play gym. Why must this gym have such garish colors? Yellow, red, purple really? What happened to baby pink and white and lime green? This thing blinds me. Don't move and shake it in my face please, i can see just fine without all the excessive, over enthusiastic jerks and shakes. Oh well, pick me up just when i was enjoying it.

9:00 pm - Visitors! oh god, where can i hide? The men are okay, atleast they don't insist on picking me up and lose interest pretty quickly. The women! Do not pick me up. And please let my mother alone. She seems to be getting a hang of things without 101 instructions and suggestions thrown her way, some of which horrify even me. God forbid, some dumb ritual appeals to my mom and the next thing you know she is blowing air on my head or whispering nonsense in my ears.

12:00 am - Oh what a good sleep i have had! And so my day begins. Let me see what have i planned for the day? Let me eat first and then play time!

3:00 am - No. i am not hungry. No. i do not need to be changed. No, my tummy doesn't hurt. No, i am not sleepy. What do i want? Well, its 3 am - time for me to be cranky and howl and break the deafening silence around. My, look at them get flustered. It is quite funny. Maybe instead of recording my every movement and smile, they should record themselves. What a laugh it will provide. The drowsy, droopy eyed adults stumbling about trying to calm me down. Flustered, confused, frustrated! It is like watching a Charlie Chaplin or Mr. Bean show.
Anyway, i have had enough of this circus, off to sleep. I need to wake you guys up at 5:00 am. That's hard work.

Good night. No, thank you, i do not need you to sing to put me to sleep. If singing is what you are claiming it is!