On Being A Mother And A Woman , In That Order


“If you don’t like where you are in life, there comes a point when you must give up the part of you that’s keeping you back.” –Dr. Sonya Friedman Best friends- mother and son Kid 2 embarked on a new adventure in his life today. It gives me immense pride to see my little boy begin his college life. Till the time children are in school we usually consider them as kiddos and then in a blink of an eye  they grow up.  Since last few years I saw the handsome lad mature into a responsible, thinking young man. Something that happened too quickly in the case of my first-born. The kid grew up too soon. That’s another story most of you know by now. It is hard to be a mother and harder  to be a woman at the same time. Why am I reversing the order? Because that is how I want you to look at it for now. I had thought I will never bring up this subject again but things don’t always go the way you want them to go.

Once a female child is born, she  immediately sides into the role assigned to her by the society – of a daughter, sister, wife, mother so on and so forth. The first robe of role-playing that the baby girl is wrapped in grows with her infant body, taking her through the long tedious  journey into womanhood. Somewhere she shrinks into nothingness and all one can see is the role she is playing at a particular stage in her life. Am I being too bitter and judgmental? Maybe, but this is how I see an average woman’s life especially in my country. So what happens when this infant begins to acquire a mind of her own, when her body begins to stir  and revolt under all those layers of responsibilities etc? What happens when she finds she has a voice? What happens when at some point of time in her life she throws away those cumbersome layers that draped her individuality and breaks free? She is condemned for life. She is called names. She is looked down upon and  society begins to foam at mouth and picks up weapons of filth to fling at her. Thinking for oneself is not acceptable. How can a woman think for herself? Who is she anyway? Some women disagree and step out of their “boundaries” their “line of control” irrespective of  the repercussions that would follow. Some “adjust” and ” compromise” for various reasons and stay confined within the four walls of their “home”.  Consumed by the fire that burns in them.

In a society where maternal love is revered it is difficult to digest the fact that a mother can walk out of  a bad marriage leaving her children behind. Men do it all the time but women are judged harshly. They are called “cold-blooded” “inadequate” “shameless”. How can a mother leave her children? It is sacrilegious. Taboo. “What kind of mother are you?” Someone asked when I said my boys stay with their father and I have been away from them since last two years. “You abandoned them?” Pat came another question and by this time I was beginning to feel guilty again for the umpteenth time since I crossed that threshold of the house I lived in with my kids, husband and in-laws.

“No, I did not abandon them. (The word is very upsetting ) I see them regularly, talk to them almost daily. They come and stay over at my place. We are closer than ever before.. I think so..” my voice began to fail me here. Leaving your marriage is the biggest challenge one faces in life. For twenty years I stayed in an unfulfilled marriage not knowing which way to go. I was economically dependent and had no confidence to break away and start all over again. The boys were small and needed me. I wanted to stay with them, watch them grow, give them all the love and support they needed from a parent, be their friend, be there when they needed me. I did that as best I could but then something snapped within one day. I had to take the hardest decision of my life. To stay in the marriage which had lost its meaning or walk away. Choice 2 meant leaving the boys behind. At that moment I did what I felt was right. I left. I broke the news to my sons (15&19 at that time) and hoped they would understand. I believed they did. convinced myself. They put up a brave front and stood side by side with me but the sound of their hearts crushing into trillions of pieces shot through me like a comet leaving me throbbing with unsaid hurt and a permanent feeling of  guilt. Still somehow I could not bring them to stay with me nor could I go to live with them. We had to part to discover each other. The fact that I did not ever feel guilty enough to reverse my decision made things worse. In the eyes of others it was “cruel” in plain and simple words. I often talked with my boys about it and knew how difficult it was for them to show support for my action when inside they were hurting. No child can be happy in such circumstances but I often wonder if they were growing up as happy kids in the kind of environment they were living in. What changed by my leaving? The house was same, people were same, it was same shit they were facing anyway and now without my support. It was worse or was it? Only they can tell.

I have heard people whisper “All that fight for dignity and respectful living is fine and dandy but how could she do this? I could never leave my babies at any cost.” Well, it is what it is. I left at a time I believed they would understand my action. I am sure they did or they would not have had anything to do with me. The fact that we are still together no matter where we are speaks volumes. Some day I would want to know honestly what went through their minds but till then i am not assuming. There are times when I ache for togetherness. It is a lonely battle one has to fight if one chooses to break the norms. I began to start afresh, learned to be financially independent, though still legally married and still dependent on my mom and brother as I stay in their home, I am finally able to choose what I want to do with my life , with myself. Sometimes it feels like a bigger trap , more space but still a sand box. It is fine till the time I play inside it, stepping out isn’t an option but for now I am good with it. At least I am breathing without ventilator.

It is unfortunate and very tragic how the course of events in one’s life can affect children. They do bounce back and begin to live a normal life but somewhere the heart longs for the times spent together. It is the same with parents. I won’t say its just the mothers who go through this, fathers too suffer. I told myself over and over that kids need love and support and don’t want someone to fight their battles that they do on their own. They chart their own paths. One just needs to be there to encourage and give them that opportunity to grow and expand their horizons. It doesn’t matter if that’s done living together or elsewhere. I have been there for my boys no matter what  and whenever they needed me but today somehow the deluge was too much to contain. Caught between rock and hard surface I sat here in my room getting updated on the progress of how things were shaping up as Kid 2 prepared to leave to other city to join the college. An important mile stone in his life. I wasn’t there in the last two important years of his school life and the fact that I could not give him a proper hug and wish him luck by physically being there broke me completely. Some emotions are private and I cried my heart out into the pillow. For the first time I longed for two strong arms around me. A shoulder to keep my head on and just pour it all out. We weren’t engineered for being lonely. It is tough at times especially when you are mushy and a sucker for love.

The sun is about to set in my city and soon the night will come bringing another rush of memories. Memories of all that I lost and found in my struggle to juggle various roles as a woman and somewhere I would stand and watch myself , the “me” that is now and wonder was it worth it ? I don’t know what the answer will be today but most of the day it is “YES”. Even with this burden of gratitude I am carrying of being “taken back in the fold of my maternal home”. Even with the knowledge that I owe my “independence – economical and otherwise” to someone without whom it would have been a different story all together. Even though it is a bumpy, uphill task to live day-to-day and struggle to keep my voice strong It is Worth every bit of it. I will miss our weekly meetings, fun and laughter, cooking especially for him, hanging out in favorite joints but we will be connected none the less. he didn’t meet as often as Kid 1 but his absence will be strongly felt.

This is the second time the brothers are being separated. Earlier it was when I had to send Kid 1 to he boarding school. Another hard decision I would have preferred not to take. I know they will miss each other more than anything. One day each one has to take their own path and go in different directions, the hearts say connected none the less. I know my boys will understand and not judge me harshly. I know they will treat the women in their lives and for that matter any woman anywhere with the respect they deserve. I know things will not stay the same.  I know that wherever we go we will never be far away. The love and friendship we share will strengthen with time and we will always be able to float above the so-called ” social norms and code of conduct”. I wish my boy all the very best in life and success in the path he chosen. I am there for him always in any way he wants. I have a lot to say to the elder one and some day we will sit down , just the two of us, and talk to each other as two friends should but till then I just want to say I am a very proud and happy mother. Thank you for being in my live and enriching it. You guys are the best friends I have .

Stay strong , Stay Focused. Love you. please excuse the typos and random flow of thoughts.   Republished on BellBajao Blog 

UPDATE – It has been eight years now and I have no financial stability, very little saving, no job and my search for a ‘home’ continues. Natal home is not where I want live for my remaining life. It is a burden too heavy to carry.  Not having a steady income and healthy issues among other things have tightened the noose around my neck but I am striving hard to find a way out. This post may have shades of sentimentality but I am wiser now and perhaps a fresh post is needed. Some day I will get down to write it.

Thursday Photo Challenge : Music


The Theme for Thursday Photo challenge is Music this time .((Singing, Dancing, Playing, Instruments, iPods, Concerts,…)

My younger son Shubhang  with his second love :). First being his football.

He has a GB&A Acoustic Guitar  and loves to play. Though he in learning process he loves to pose for pix with this beauty and is aiming to buy a  Gibson Flying V

I wish him all the very best and hope some day he will actually play good music and not the noise he calls Music  LOL.

I love this pic and my bachcha ..muaaaaaaaah

How time flies 🙂

Raising Two Boys is not for Weak Hearted


The eerie calm in the house is always indication of some dramatic event ahead. Yesterday was one such day. The city was wrapped in a cover of heat, dust and sand. The humidity was killing. I decided to make a tall glass of lemonade with crushed mint and retire to the coolness of my room with a book.

The maid was happily humming the latest song while struggling with the mud soaked socks of my Beckham. The boys were glued to the Play station and seemed oblivious to the world around them.

I scanned the home one last time cuddled in the bed with the book. After ten minutes The peace was shattered by the cries of “khoon , khoon” (“Blood ,Blood “). I leaped out of my bed and ran out.

The WWE match had come alive in our bedroom and in a state of hyper excitement the two boys had tried the pedigree, STFU, tombstone , RKO, spear etc.. Blood was gushing out from the upper lip and gum of the younger one and the older one was trying his level best to control his emotions.

I gave him a ” you just wait for me” look and went to see what was happening in the kitchen. The bleeding wrestler had managed to clear the mess when I noticed a vampire bite on his chest. “What the F is that ?” I asked perplexed by the red teeth markings .With tear filled eyes he said ,” He bit me “. “What ?” I could not believe my ears. I was loosing it by now .

I screamed at the elder one for being such an animal and drawing blood every time he got a chance. He raged and fumed about my partial behavior and accused me of melting every time there was a fight. I ordered him to zip his lips and tucked the junior in the other room.

My temples were hurting by now. The lemonade forgotten.

The bai was scandalized by the whole scene and kept repeating that all was well. She could not believe that within ten minutes the serene calm house was resembling a battlefield. I told her I had had enough of these brats and how they will be grounded for the next few days, their play station confiscated. She sympathized with me from the bottom of her heart. Another kind of calm was descending in my home. I went to check on the other one. He was standing bare chested in the bathroom inspecting his torso. I told him to turn around and the sight was horrifying. Deep red welt like marks were visible all over. Starting neck downwards. My heart stopped beating. “Are you hurt badly? Does it hurt “? I was at loss of words. I called the retired hurt boy and showed him the marks. Ones again a verbal battle began. It appeared that the junior had tried to chock the elder one and he had to bite in order to get free and breath. He had boxed him in the same process when the strong arms of the younger one had rendered him helpless.

That’s it. I told that the play station along with the WWE CD will be packed for good and some sanctions will be put on both for creating such a havoc in the house. Not one day goes without some such incident. Vacations Suck big time.
One room turned into war zone, a continues never ending supply of ration for the warriors. You call this Life ???

After my soliloquy which hardly anyone was listening to I realized my temples were throbbing again. I told them to stay away from each other or else…

Half an hour passed in silence and then a giggle and a laugh. I wanted to kill. After spoiling my whole afternoon the boys were having a gala time. They requested that the matter should not be reported to dad and all is well in their world. I just looked at them.

What are these guys made of I wondered.

Everyday I discover new stuff, every day I learn new cuss words. Everyday is a new challenge.

Some things I could never understand. They do all the text messaging shitting in the loo. When something is private and personal ( not for dad’s hearing) a SMS will appear in my mobile from the other room. I thought only girls spent hours chatting on the phone ..

” Yes they do” came the reply , ” we listen”.

Sigh!!!

The mobile blinks and vibrates every second with Facebook updates, messages, calls. They lead a busy life.

Most of the days I try to fill their bottomless pits called tummies and still fail miserably. I wonder where all the food goes.

All through the day and night they roam around the house searching for something edible. Anything. From raw tamarind to cheese toasts and pasta.

They never ever tire of eating. Unless you eat your fill the moment something arrives you will never see the sight of it again. Empty wrappers of Biscuits, chocolates, dilapidated bags of wafers and other goodies are recovered daily from under the beds, mattresses, behind the sofas , inside the cupboards and book shelves. It is a tough life. 😦

The innocent faces will stare at you as if you are the culprit.

Vacations always add to the miseries. The days are too long and I feel more sleep deprived than ever.

There are good happy times too but when the six feet tall beasts are unleashed from the depths of their inner it is every mother’s nightmare. Daily I sharpen my claws to be ready for yet another surprise lurking to flung at me.

Lying down emotionally spent and tired at night I pray and hope for a better tomorrow which never comes.

Being a daughter, old age and the empty nest


This is a Blogadda Spicy Saturday Pick

Best Spicy Saturday of 2010. Top 25 .Yay

“Mother wait a little longer,
Till my little wings are stronger,
Then I will fly away.”

When my first-born Adi started school he was barely three. I remember how happy he was on the first day of the pre school on that fine winter morning. All dressed in a new set of clothes, carrying a small colorful school bag and a million dollar smile in his eyes which travelled to his lips the moment we reached the school gate.

He just ran inside and suddenly realising that he had forgotten me, turned and waved. I gave him a flying kiss and just as I turned to go back I felt the first pang of loneliness. My child had taken first step away from me in a new direction which led to his own world where I will be just a spectator.

I held back the tears and smiled. I had given him the wings now it was his turn to soar.

I don’t think I really felt that I had taken that first step towards ” empty nest syndrome”. It was all about Adi discovering, exploring and learning. That is what we were taught as little kids. To blossom.

After four years Shubhang came into my life and again the same process of preparing him to expand his horizons began and soon he too started his play school. Both the boys were very fond of their school and never missed a single day. Life was opening it’s gates for them one by one and each one of them was taking a new step every day just a little further from me.

It was at that time I remembered my parents  and how they  had given their unconditional support and love  for me to spread my wings and fly.

Now at the age of 78 she is alone. My father passed away four years back and since then I have seen struggle between the independence she is used to and the love and support she needs due to frail health and old age. My parents always believed in living independently and while my dad was alive they stayed on their own inspite of raised eyebrows and wagging tongues. Everyone thought it was my brother’s moral duty to look after the aging parents and he never shrugged from it but  dad believed in “not being dependent” till they can manage.

They left for Pune and stayed in Athashree , a unique housing complex only for elderly. The decision made the relatives gossip. Although it was their own decision and I think a right one then also everyone made us feel guilty. The place was well-connected, and had all the facilities but because Old Age Homes are such a taboo in our society that both of us kids had to listen to hundreds of accusations.I don’t know why sending old parents to old age homes has such a negative connotation in India. Sometimes we are left with no option.

Putting children on guilt trips is not right in my opinion. Some children do leave opportunities, like my hubby did , to stay with their parents  but ultimately how right it is , is the question.

With my father gone , my mom wanted to live independently and pursue whatever she had dreamed of. Travel, attend concerts, plays, meet friends, and much more but the idea of her staying alone in a big city scared us.

I felt for the first time the disadvantage of being born as a daughter. Why is it that once a girl is married her role in her parent’s life finishes and it is the always the male child who is suppossed to look after and care for the old parents. I realised that for every visit, for calling them to stay over when dada was busy or touring, for going out with mom , I had to seek permission and face lot of questioning and hear continuous saga about why I should bother about them when my brother and his wife  are  there, once married I was supposessed to only look after my parents in-law. Daughters are ” paraya Dhan” once married off they belong mind ,body and soul to the their husbands and in-laws that’s the norm and I question it very strongly. Why should a girl leave per parents who gave her birth, taught her the basics of life and made her what she is today ?Twice when one of my parents was ill and brother needed help, I was forcefully, accusingly denied to go and care for them by my in-laws. Things changed a bit when my ma in law herslef fell ill and I came to her rescue. Still she very grudgingly “allows” me to go see ma when I am needed by her. As if she is doing me a favor by allowing me to visit my old mom. How disgusting that is.

That really irritated me. Why do we expect the girl to look after the guy’s parents only and leave her own to their own destiny? How many times is it that a guys takes interest in caring for his in laws?

When I got married into a traditional orthodox family ( mine was a supposed love marriage , I knew the guy but not the family), on every step I discovered how further I was getting away from my own parents. It was a transition I had to make from a daughter to a daughter in law and trust me it is not easy at all.

Many parents expect the kids to sacrifice their happiness for the sake of the their ego and that leave me speechless, because I always think that Parenthood teaches selflessness, to love and respect your kids unconditionally.

There are always two extremes , of children throwing parents out in their fight for property or any other issue and the parents accusing children of  leaving them behind ”  to pursue their dreams. Both the situations are sad. Why can’t their be a solution. There the role of housing societies for elderly comes.

Coming from a liberated, modern background of free thinkers, it hit me hard to accept and mould myself  most of the times unwillingly to age-old customs, rituals and doctrines. The battle continues. Having no financial independence has limited my say.

Job opportunities  take children away leaving old parents to themselves and in such cases if there is not much choice why not opt for such a society where elderly people stay and enjoy life with all facilities, safety and medical care.

Here in our society people are too rigid to go to counsellors, to live in homes for the elderly, to pursue interests and plan their own lives after retirement and once kids start living their lives, whether living with them or  far away. Parents thing they own their kids and treat them like puppets. one statement that I often hear in my in law’s home is ” we have given them birth, educated them , spent so much on them, now its time to pay back. “.. I often think how cruel this mentality is and what effect it will have on children and their future.

I feel parents should give their children their identity and wings to fly and children. In our society it’s a sad situation for both girls and boys. The goal of the parents is to get the daughter married and here I talk of the majority of parents and for boys they have a set pattern of educating them to get them on some job depending on their ability and then demand the payback of all their years of raising them up. They are slaves who have to follow every thing parents tell them from job to marriage to their choice of girl and then how to lead their lives without becoming Joru ka Gulam ( thanks IHM for the phrase). They never let go , clinging on to them, judging each decision kids take especially the mothers for they have little else to involve them in later years.

Erma Brombeck says.

It is those mothers who cannot accept the loss of the supervisor’s role who turn themselves into controlling mothers/mothers in law in later years. Adults should not only teach their children to be independent and rejoice in it, they themselves should learn to be independent and rejoice in a job well done too.

I always wonder who eventually becomes their Budhaape ka sahara , the DIL or the son? While he continues to enjoy life as before , she leaves her job and sits at home to care for them and listen to their taunts. The fact that feel unwanted is nothing to do with old age , I know friends who keep complaining about their school going children esp sons and how they make the parents feel unwanted so the question of old age loneliness is nothing to do with feeling of being unwanted.

There is always a comparison to joint families of their times but now a days where there are 1-2 kids and nuclear families  the old-fashioned thing can’t work out and that becomes beyond their closed understanding.

There are parents who have progressed and moved ahead with changing times but what’s the percentage ?

We are all conditioned to the thought of ” not to let go” and that creates the problem and old people have difficulty in filling the void.

I feel blessed that my parents gave me an upbringing where I can detach myself from my kids and let them be. When Adi turned 18 this year I posted a post for him. I gave him roots and wings as a present.

Life is a bitter-sweet symphony and one loves to be wanted but not really at the cost of the happiness of our children. I hope the mind-set would change and kids will be treated as people and not just a part of the parents.

As Gibran says ,

“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”

I love my mom, go and meet her at times, care about her and so does my brother in his own way but from parents to children we are all independent beings above all relationships. The teachings I got from my parents I have instilled in my children inspite of all the pressures from my orthodox in-laws and I hope the kids too will never hold their children captive, physically or emotionally.

Blogging , writing , music, travel I have a lot of things I would love to pursue when my boys go away . What is your plan ?