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A forever guilt

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Neither age nor time can get you ‘used to of it’.

I remember as a child once my father had to do a day trip to another city for official work. My uncle used to live with us back then. Abbu was going to be home late that night and till then, for the entire day, my uncle kept coming up with ideas to cheer me up. A long drive… some ice cream… whatever the poor soul could think of. But nothing seemed to matter. I just wanted Abbu to come back home.

The first time I felt the same kind of knot in my stomach for my mom was when I was much older. It was when I went to the UK for my masters. It didn’t hurt that bad when I was leaving – perhaps because I had so much to look forward to. But 4 months later when I planned to give my family a surprise visit – that’s when it hit me. My mom was at the airport because my dad told her that one of his friends was coming. Ammi had no idea I was going to be there. She waited patiently in the airport lobby and with every step I took towards her I realized how much I’ve wanted to be with her. She hugged me and cried and kept saying ‘mera bacha’ (‘my child’). That moment – that was when I felt that I just needed to come back home.

There is no age. There are no circumstances. There will never be a ‘time’ when it will not hurt so deep that you feel like someone just took your heart and crushed it between their fist. To settle away from your parents, especially once you get married, creates a permanent void. You visit them and they visit you but only being with each other fills this void in your heart.

People move on in life. Things change, responsibilities grow. But certain relationships are your roots – constantly keeping a check that you remain intact even though you are growing. From a daughter to a wife to a mother – the journey is one that is beautiful but somewhere deep within you realize that there was someone who you once took for granted and now you yearn to be with them.

Despite of being a mother myself now, I get stern reminders from my Abbu to let him know that I have reached work safely. I get constant loving reminders from Ammi to offer my prayers on time and eat well. Sometimes I just miss being their little girl.

I remember, before getting married, every time I came back from work I would walk into Ammi’s room and most of the times she would be praying. Regardless of what part of her prayer she was in, I would quickly place my head on her lap as soon as she sat down. There were times when she had to finish her prayer sitting with my head on her lap because I wouldn’t get up. And the most beautiful part of this memory is that she let me lay there for as long as I wanted.

My relationship with Abbu is very unique. I have feared his temper all my life yet he is my biggest confidant. There is nothing – absolutely nothing – that my father doesn’t know about me. And this one feeling puts my heart and mind at ease. I know that somebody has my back – somebody is always on the watch. He has been my teacher – from math to economics to law to life in general. He has been my mentor and life support till date. He has taught me through love and anger but mostly through example. And regardless of whether he is around, he makes sure that I know that I am being taken care of.

Over time, I’ve learnt to be strong, I’ve learnt to laugh even when I have no reason to, I’ve learnt to run my errands and fulfill my responsibilities even when I can barely feel the strength to stand and I’ve learnt to reprioritize my relationships time and again. Despite the fact that I miss these two people every second of every day – I have learnt to keep on going. In the many ways that I have changed with changing times, this is one too – I will never be the same person that I was before I settled away from my parents. It’s like I left a part of me there and only when I am with them do I feel complete.

It’s a constant and painful struggle to have to let go of people who mean everything to you especially when you know they need you. Other responsibilities and roles take over something which has always been on the top of your priority list. There are times when I wish I could go to my Ammi and help her with the house chores. Just a few days ago she had to go out for getting some taxation related paperwork done. She ran around to meet a number of people and visited a number of offices in scorching daylight. Drove back home and was exhausted. How I wish I could tell her to sit at home while I got the work done. But I can’t because of my present commitments. Because I am now a wife and a mother and a professional.

It’s true that life operates through paradoxes and it throws them at you just when they hurt too much. You make your parents second and begin to build your own life and even then… even then they support you. They pray for you to succeed. They guide you.

Today I feel the same ache in the void of my heart. I once again had to bid my Abbu farewell so that I could carry on with being a wife, a mother and a professional – despite of how much I wished for him to be with me and more so over, how much I needed to be with him, we said our goodbyes. And every time I whine in front of him complaining about how unfair this is … he gracefully tilts his head a bit, closes his eyes, gently nods and says ‘this is life beta, this is life.

So this one is to all those people who part from their parents to build a life of their own. Not just women but also men who have the courage to step out of their comfort zones, put their act together and grow with growing relationships and responsibilities. To all the parents like my ammi abbu who let their children fly off to explore the new wonders of life and continue to offer their continuous support. I wish I get the opportunity to spend the kind of time that I want to with you both and I pray to have a heart as strong as yours to be so supportive for my child. And finally, this one is for my child and for all those who are still living with their parents – talk to them a little more, listen to them with patience, sit with them and ask them about their day, make more memories, resolve your mistakes together and lie down on your mother’s lap a little longer – because one day, for whatever reason, you may have to wait for a really long time to be able to do all that.

BabyZ, belief, childhood, dreams, happiness

A new journey with Z

My upbringing was done in quite a unique manner perhaps – it has always been a perfect blend of everything – and when I say everything I mean all the rights and wrongs, all the Easts and Wests – never was it one straight road to simply walk on. Obey the rules but dare to go against the fray; don’t harm anyone in any manner but be crazy sometimes. You know, very oxymoronic (not sure if that’s a word). Thanks to a job well done by my parents, that’s quite the way I’ve lived so far – spontaneous decisions and mostly madness – no regrets. Surprisingly, some major decisions of my life were taken in the spur of the moment – for instance, let’s study law! eeermm why?…. Well, because everyone else seems to be doing BBA! You see, the simplest answers are usually the right ones.

So that’s how it’s been – just jump into a random idea and then explore. Some of my mental rantings have actually either shaped into my professional career or a successful hobby (such as blogging…. ‘let’s just start a blog!’) while some ideas took a backseat midway. But one thing I know for sure today – staying within the given limits or going by the book is not at all conducive to one’s growth and learning. You must dare to take up spontaneous ideas and make them your own. Sometimes you will fall right down on your face and sometimes you will feel an adrenaline rush. Rest assured, you will look back at the madness and be happy about it.

In my father’s words, there are certain “ground realities”. Lord knows how much I love this term! He uses it often and I really like it when he does. It reminds you of your core – it reminds you of where you are anchored. As life goes by, no matter how rebellious you may be, certain rules become set. A basic foundation is laid inevitably and deep within you also become content with it. You have a profession – you have a few set hobbies – you have a certain bunch of friends – you have a favorite color – you have a life which has some ‘ground realities’.  And it’s all going good. But then one day, you have a baby.

You see, having a baby is not just ‘you having a little funny thing to take care of and love endlessly’. No sir. Having a baby also means that now you are someone who that baby is constantly looking up to – more like awkwardly staring up to. So all of a sudden – you become super self-conscious –going from a carefree dare-doer to a role model; an ideal; a mother. Obviously, no one wants their baby to get hurt or go all crazy with life right?! But at the same time we want our children to experience everything that the world has to offer. There are certain facts about the world that you, during the course of your life, have learnt the hard way and would want your baby to trail away from. So what do you do? You aim to become what you want them to become.

Unknowingly you become conscious of your own self and your surroundings. You watch your words, your actions, the way you dress, the people you meet, the way you eat – basically the way you do, think or say everything. You reassess and recalculate each of your decisions because every single thing is being imprinted onto your baby’s fresh canvas. You make sure that your baby sees you as a sorted, strong, civil and composed individual – one that is heard and respected. Someone who knows who they are and what they believe in.

Often, after Z, I have questioned my capabilities and even my values and beliefs. I found myself doubting my thoughts, my feelings and my decisions. I want nothing less than the best out of my Z. I want him to be kind and thoughtful, strong and determined, successful yet well rooted and for him to be all this – I have to be an example who he can look up to. Inevitably you start to hide all your negative or weak traits because in the form of your baby – life has actually given you one more chance to be who you idealize.

There are many things that I have always liked but I never really dwelt into enough. With Z I have had the opportunity to dive into a few things and explore its wonders. I’ve always loved to read and so I try to read to Z almost every day even though I barely get to read on my own any more. He has always been fond of his books and flash cards and I hope he will become an avid reader one day.

I was never too good at geography but I remember when I was back in third grade I really enjoyed learning about continents and oceans and islands etc. So my husband and I decided to cut out the continents and oceans using our amateur drawing skills and some colorful chart paper and turn one of the walls in Z’s room into his world map. He now recognizes almost 5 of the continents and its super cute the way he calls Australia – Austray-lalalalallalala! This way I also get to brush up on some geography myself!

I absolutely love travelling and so did my mum and dad which is why I’ve had the chance to visit quite a few countries. Z has been a traveler too – he had his first road trip when he was only 5 months old! There’s still a whole lot more that I wish to show Z – we still have to travel a lot more – so that he can explore and experience the wonders of different places and learn to appreciate different cultures.

Music is another favorite of mine. But as I mentioned in my earlier post, so far Z and I have been doing all sorts of nursery rhymes. In fact, he knows a few jingles by heart now. Just yesterday when we were on our way home Z started humming a tune and I asked him, are you singing for mama? He nodded. And I requested, can you please sing for me again? And there it was – his adorable little hum again… Hopefully, he will love singing as much as I do.

Art. Alright, I must admit, I can appreciate art but when it came to painting, coloring or drawing myself, I have always dilly-dallied with it. I did do a pencil sketching course once and completely enjoyed it but then never really built up on it. But since I want Z to have a feel of everything and be able to explore all the adventures of life – for the first time, I decided to buy a few paints and a paint brush – not for myself but for my little Picasso.

I really want Z to know the importance of art for I believe it gives you a perspective which is not commonly known to all. He needs to see beyond what appears to everyone and what better medium than art. I still don’t know if painting will be one of the things that Z will excel in but I hope, I really hope that he grows up to appreciate the relevance that art offers for the heart and mind. Hence, it was time to finally embark on a creative journey with Z and do something which I had always loved only from a distance.

So my husband and I planned an activity for Z to do day before yesterday. We got some old newspaper and pasted it all over the floor. Then we cut out an apron from a grocery bag (just Z’s size!), set out three bowls each with a different color of paint and got a few cardboards to act as Z’s canvas for the day! Ta-daa!

Z was absolutely ecstatic for his painting endeavor. He loved his apron and very gracefully wore it throughout the activity. He placed himself right in the centre of the newspaper sheet we had laid down for him, picked up his paint brush and off he went on his colorful journey. At first he carefully marked a few strong strokes of red and green on the cardboard sheets but eventually he realized; ‘what’s the harm if I paint my arm?!’!

My husband and I sat back and enjoyed watching Z explore the colors and the magic they could create. Neither of us can paint but we surely felt therapeutic just watching our little Picasso enjoying himself so much. All three of us wrapped up that activity feeling very accomplished. You see sometimes, even though you have spent all your life in a certain manner, it takes an adorable two-year-old to teach you that it’s ok to color outside the lines.

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My little painter at work
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Z’s artwork
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Thank you baby

People rightfully say that when a woman gives birth, two lives come into being; firstly, the baby and secondly that of a mother. I’ve read so many articles and blogs where women have expressed their journey of walking into motherhood and yet I sit here completely clueless about how to pen down mine.

I may not remember what I did or felt on my birthday or my anniversary two years ago. Two years is quite some time for us to recall and relive. But I seem to remember every single minute from the 11th of July 2015. Right from walking into the delivery room holding my husband’s hand, feeling extremely scared and then after hours which seemed like years… to that priceless moment when I nervously held little ‘Z’ for the first time.

Having a baby is a rare, blessed event in your life that forever changes you. Although motherhood is not for the faint of heart for the first few months but nevertheless it is a unique experience where you get to discover a new you amidst tiny toes and giggles that will fill your heart with a kind of love that you’ve never felt before. Safe to say, a baby is a gift that simply keeps on giving.

There are countless memories that I would like to jot down about my Z. Perhaps I will never have sufficient time or even words to express the kind of life we have had together so far. Not to forget, the way I have already planned the coming years with him – full of exploration and adventure and lots of laughs (In sha Allah ya Rab). Hence, what will be easier to translate into words is what Z has made me and taught me ever since he came into my life.

He defined patience for me.

When Z was born I struggled very hard to find a balance in life. There were days when I actually broke down in tears because I forgot to brush my teeth and it was nearly noon. Yup actually happened. With Z having nearly no patience and his mom having very little herself, we needed this relationship to work. Z brought me face-to-face with the fact that compromises are mandatory in order to meet with your baby’s needs. He taught me that some days it was ok to look like a wreck because that is you trying to be a mother for your baby. Z taught me how to just hang in there, he showed me a new perspective to what patience can look like.

Z taught me not to be judgmental – for real.

Have you ever noticed little babies just blankly stare at anyone and everyone and then suddenly break into a heart-melting smile? When my Z would do that to complete strangers, in the restaurant or in a mall, at first I used to feel embarrassed about it, but eventually I realized how he had no ego or any preconceived notions about who he saw – unlike us adults. Z met every stranger with plain curiosity and cuteness – and every stranger welcomed his smile with one of their own – it was always just beautiful.

I have always loved music but Z introduced me to my love for Disney songs and nursery rhymes. Yes sir, that happens when you have a baby!

Sometimes I try to sing one of my personal favorites to him and more than often he finds it weird or boring. It’s interesting to see someone’s reaction when they listen to your all-time favorite track for the very first time. But it’s so much cuter to see them nod their tiny head sideways when you start singing ‘Old mcdonald had a farm eeee-ya eeee-yay o!’. I have mastered nursery rhymes like a pro!

He taught me how to live in today – by the hour.

I have always liked my errands well planned out – everything arranged and sorted before time. But all of that was before Z. Now I have a peripheral vision which is heavily clouded because of sleep deprivation along with white noise. I am constantly reaching out to capture each of Z’s moments. His first laugh – his first roll over – his first step – his first word! Picture – Video – Picture – Check!! With Z, every second seems to matter – making sure I haven’t missed out on any of his developments. Z taught me that every single second is precious and that it must be captured and cherished for life. He has taught me that we really have no time to waste. If I missed recording the first time he stood on his own – well then I just missed it. Every moment must be savored. Life really is too short to be spent miserably.

Z taught me to plan.

Yes as contrary as it may seem to my previous paragraphs, with Z and because of him I have learnt that one must foresee situations and plan before time. You ought to plan for an untimed poop. Must be prepared for a casual burp to turn into a spit up. Prepare for hunger pants – for naptime tantrum and the list goes on. Before if I wanted to go anywhere my prep time would be 20-30 min … shower, makeup, pick up the bag and keys and out the door! But ever since Z.. it’s something like this…

Attempts to shower can take upto 2 hours – end up only washing your face, hands and feet so that you look clean.

Pack up baby bag – should take 8 min – actually takes an hour because the baby wants to be carried or fed or changed or simply needs someone to come and play with him for a bit.

Prepare baby food – should take 10 min – actually takes 30 because of not being able to decide what to make first and then how to pack it and then change your mind because you might not be able to warm it where you’re headed or you may not have a place to sit down and feed it to your baby.

Finally have things sorted and drop them to the car. Come back inside because you forgot to keep the water. Go back to the car. Come back inside because you forgot to keep the warm water which you need for the milk. Go back to the car. Come back inside, get the baby, take one step out and you realize that it’s his feed time. Come back in, feed, baby poops, change his clothes, lift him up for a burp, but instead he decides to throw back half the milk he took – change him again – change your clothes again! Tie your hair up in a bun, pray that your baby will now get some sleep and head out. Understand what I mean?!

Finally, Z taught me that I will never be the perfect mom; but I’m just enough for him.

I will never be perfect according to someone or the other. People will always find a label which suits them best, to place on me. I will either be an over protective mother or a careless one. A sensitive one or an indifferent one. A tiger mom or a lazy mom. Obsessive, negligent, smart, nerdy, too-much make up, no make-up, too fat, too thin, Type A or Type B and the list can go on. I had my share of such labels. There were times when I felt good about myself as a mother but mostly, thanks to the surrounding pressures, I was made to feel like a complete failure at my job. Unfortunately, this is what people do best in our society. And just so we are clear – it’s not only your neighbors or distant relatives who will pass such irresponsible comments – but people from work as well – oh she’s taken extra maternity leaves, why doesn’t she just put her baby on formula and get back to work, why doesn’t she just ask google instead of going to the doctor for everything. Been there, done that.

But you know, through all this – Z was with me. And he made me see the struggle which every other mother goes through. Everyone is doing their best to be a good parent. Everyone is trying not to mess up this little creature. So with Z, I eventually learnt to just laugh at all the judgmental remarks that I got. At the end of the day, if your little one is satisfied – the world is a beautiful place to be in. So dear moms, take a sneak peek at your little one – is he/she happy? That there is a job well done!

 

 

 

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Different times

It’s been a while since I last posted something here – for that matter, it’s been a while since I last wrote. There’s so much on my plate at the moment and even more on my mind but probably because of my piling urge to be somewhere on my mental checklist – I decided to sit down and write today.

I recently resumed work after a gap of nearly two years. Two complete years went by a flash because I have been busy raising my beautifully curious plus hyper toddler. Many things happen when you make the shift from being just you to a mom. From being a corporate go-getter to an attentive put-together mother. From having major emotional upheavals to constantly wanting to feel worthy of your set of skills. It’s an everyday struggle – but rest assured, a beautiful one.

This post is not about how wonderfully my life has transformed after my Z – I shall dedicate a separate write up just for that. This here today, as I mentioned earlier, is about having too much on my plate and more so on my mind.

I want to read more. I want to listen to more music. I want to watch more movies. I want to travel at least twice a year. I want to sing again. I want to make a mark at my new workplace. I also want to furnish my house more. Clean it more often too. I also want to spend more time with Z, oh and also get some laundry done.

More than often, I want someone to pat me on the back and tell me I’ve done well. I want to be able to sigh with relief after successfully crossing out every item on my mental checklist. I want to curl up into bed at night – comfortable and relaxed – without every inch of my body aching out of either exhaustion or stress. But seldom do I feel like I have it my all.

I want to paint with Z. I want to show him more places, more people, more cultures. I want to read more to him. I want to take him swimming. I want him to learn to play an instrument. I want him to see that his mom is trying to juggle with responsibilities and desires – I want him to know that his mom can be a person he can look up to.

I sometimes am forced to believe that perhaps I am living in a crisis – with multiple agendas and hurried thoughts. There are days when I feel like I have earned an Oscar for myself and there are days when I feel torn in multiple ways. More than often I feel like my day wasn’t as productive as it should have been.

As frustrating as it may seem the reason for having such emotions is quite simple – I just want to have it all. I want to do it all. I want to be it all. I want to think it all.

Every. Single. Thing.

From making meals for my baby from scratch to hitting the gym. From being able to finish one novel after the other to keeping the house clean. From being a good mom to a successful corporate woman. The daily struggle to be able to do it all can be very over whelming.

When I had Z and all those mixed emotions of ‘will I ever be a good mom?’ and ‘will I ever be a successful lawyer?’ were at their peak … I was advised time and again to remain positive. To tell my heart and mind that this is just a phase and that one day I will have my life back in control. But you know what … it’s all easier said than done.

The real problem is not that women like us are majorly all hormonal. No sir. (Although that plays its fair share). But the real battle is with the pressure that we suppress ourselves under. The peer pressure – the societal pressure – what will the entire universe think of me if my baby isn’t potty trained at 18 months?! I’m being very real here – thoughts like this can actually keep you awake the entire night making you sweat out of useless panic attacks – been there, done that.

What is important to realise and make peace with is that it is alright to feel torn sometimes. It is ok to worry about doing the best for your baby because probably that ‘worrying’ there …  well that’s what makes you a good mom. It’s normal to want to be healthy and in shape because perhaps that is what will motivate you to work out at home if hitting the gym isn’t possible. It is fine to feel like you’re wasting your set of skills because perhaps that is what will drag you back to your workplace. And finally it is allowed to feel the angst of not being able to get everything in place at a time. What we need to tell ourselves more often is that – we are trying to do our best and things will be in place, eventually.

Perfection is not necessary – contentment is. More than anything else, for first time mothers like me, I guess it’s most important that we find the courage to accept ourselves. It is important to peacefully let go of the passions that we cannot manage right now and resume them when we can. We must understand that life is all about having different phases – different times – and every phase is unique and brings with it some great experiences.

Just give it all some time.