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Savi turns two in a week. Two year olds are pretty hard to figure out themselves but they make figuring out life, people and relationships a lot easier. Let me explain …
We were all 2 year olds at one point. And then we grew up. Or did we? We just got more complex, I guess. We started to talk less, behave more civilized and controlled our emotions and desires. Flip that around and guess what? We started to assume more, be less spontaneous and less expressive. Our desires did not really go away but we tried our best to suppress them. While this may not be totally true I think most of us will agree that it is mostly true. So? So we are all really 2 year olds … only much harder to figure out. See? That is where my little helper comes in ….
1. “MEEEEEE MA!” : Do NOT shove food in her mouth when she does not want to eat and do NOT try to help her with her clothes or shoes.
Translated: Every individual in life is unique. People change and grow up. Try to understand the person before you offer too much help. Sometimes a person might just need you to listen … be sensitive to a person’s body language and non verbal cues to learn how much is too much.
2. “NOWWWW MA!” : This typically happens when she is asking for something and I am pretending to listen :).
Translated: Do not engage in a conversation with ANYONE when you are not willing to listen. Listening means you process what is said and respond right there and right then. If a 2 year old can figure out that you are pretending, so can anyone else and pretense is never good for any relationship (let alone the not listening bit!).
3. “HAPPY MA?” : Anger and fear almost never work with her. Sadness almost always does. Savi cannot bear to see Pree or me sad. It is the quickest way to get her to do anything!
Translated: Never use fear and anger to modify a person’s behavior and/or actions. While it might have the desired effect in the short term, it is always detrimental in the long term. Genuine relationships are driven by care and concern. The simplest way to get work done is by letting the person know that you are unhappy and why.
4. “NICE AMMA” : It is amazing to see how a two year old can appreciate the little things in life. Eyes wide open and the widest smile with a subtle dimple. Ahh, it gladdens my heart!
Translated: People work hard to make each other happy. Every little act of a friend/family member is a manifestation of the desire to make you happy. Recognize that. Appreciate, share and compliment them. Every single time. It is never “too many times” when it is genuine.
5. “HOLD!!!” : I might be grown up and want to do everything myself, but for now I need you to hold me!
Translated: Grownups need to be “held” as well. Learn to recognize how people that matter to you “ask to be held”. Most importantly, learn to recognize the time you need to he “held”. A little warmth from time to time is probably just what you need to send you off playing like a 2 year old!
In the head of my 2 year old, it is really a full house. There is a buddy for every activity … never a dull moment out here! Her family keeps growing!
Click on the pics for details …
As we set out to explore around our new home over this past weekend, Savi seemed excited. Little did we know that in her itty bitty mind we were all headed out to Mimmi’s(my mom’s home in Bangalore). It was indeed a typical toddler scene in the car when she realized that wasn’t the case. Yelling, screaming, insisting. It was sad for a minute. The emotional me wondered how we could have done this to our little one … separated her from family, grandparents and all those experiences that so enrich a little being’s life.
I also thought of Forest Gump the day I waited outside the Operation Theatre in Mysore. Savi had just broken her arm and she was undergoing surgery for “lateral epicondyle fracture of the left humerus”. Just a little fall. Just one moment…I prayed while I thought of other things …. my own broken hand (only a cosmetic highlight on me anymore), Savi’s tender arm, her screams …
Once again, my respect for life had increased manifold …albeit out of sheer fear. There is so little we can do about a moment past …so little! Life is indeed like a box of chocolates .We had all put our heads together and designed what would be the best experience for my kids and me …a broken hand certainly wasn’t in it. It had been perfect until then …time with family, the animals, the yummy food and all …Thanks to my own broken hand, I told myself there is no reason why it should not continue to be that way. Things happen but life goes on, right? This will just be a little hiccup if everything with her hand turns out fine …
The rest of the days were mostly as fun but just a bit exhausting ;) … anyone who already has a toddler does not want a toddler with a broken hand! Before I knew it I had a yelling, screaming, paranoid, not eating, not sleeping, antisocial toddler …and on my hip ;) …for the next six weeks. Little did I know what stranger anxiety meant!! It was hard while I was in it, but I guess it was hardest for the little one. It could not have been easy carrying the cast around or sleeping with it!
Six weeks later, the cast and the rods are off …. and we have news that the fracture has healed well. All of a sudden, my little one is a markedly different child with a drastically reduced quotient of crankiness. Ahh, rest assured she is still a toddler and is insisting on holding on to a large part of that stranger anxiety ;)
Our trips back home to India. They are a little like our Reality TV Shows. We try to pack up every experience into the little time we have there … meet everyone and do everything. Not this trip though. Reality sure hit home during this stay. There was no meeting friends and folk with a paranoid little one! No shopping and no restaurants. Our agenda was filled with parks, animal visits and more animal visits. Ahh, I did try to sneak some sleep in between all that fun! We went where little Savi wanted to go ….whatever made her happy :). Home was where Savi wanted. Got it ?
It is no wonder that she insisted we were going to Mimmi’s even as I tried my hardest to convince her we were not.
“My little monster, my “reinforced toddler” …I love you so. But then, life is like a box of chocolates ……”
It was exactly 10 years ago that I moved to Columbus, Ohio. It is the only place Pree and I have known in the US …in fact it is the longest stretch of time Pree has been in any single place. Over the years Columbus became home …our wonderful experiences at Ohio State, the times Pree and I spent together, the home, the animals and the kids …the people we met over the years, the friends we made, the coworkers …the hikes, the walks with the dogs, the library next door ….
Over the years people moved in and out of Columbus while we stayed on. We felt wonderfully well settled and able to handle the changes brought on by our growing family …so much so that we quietly hoped that life would bring us some new challenges and/or experiences of a new place ….
Ahh….be careful what you wish for!
I guess I will remember that day for the rest of my life. 32 weeks pregnant. On my way to an office party. Quick checkup at my doc. She says hello. I smile back. “Why”, she says “something wrong?”.
“Why”, I say “do I look like something is wrong?”.
“As a matter of fact, you do.”
“Yup, it has been exhausting. Had no idea Braxton Hicks can be so tiring. And of course, with the second one you know how it feels like the child is ready to pop out any time!” (I am still trying to be funny here;))
My doc is buying none of that. She knows me way too well. She is checking me before I know it ….giving me her verdict…
“You need to go home RIGHT NOW and … ”
That is where my memory starts to fail me. I was in a state of shock perhaps. I was so sure my doctor was overreacting…. Bed rest? No way! For 8 weeks?? Hah, you must be kidding me …
She left me for a few minutes … I caught bits and pieces of her hallway conversation with a nurse…. shots to stop my contractions, home monitoring, short term disability …..
Reality was starting to hit home ….
Looking back it seems like that was the day that changed a number of things in our lives. No way! Cannot do bedrest with a crazy toddler and a globe trotting husband! My mom rushed to the US to help us …Pree decided to interview … and lands a job before we even realize it.
Everything has been a haze since that day. I never ever imagined I’d quit my job and move as quickly as we did. There really wasn’t enough time to have a “going away lunch” with friends or talk “career plans” with colleagues. Off I went to India with the kids and let Pree handle the mechanics of moving (he took with him more kids than i did – 2 dogs and a cat) while we split our workload ;) …
I had never imagined I would wake up one morning and quit my job (to be a SAHM). I had never imagined I would stay away from Pree for months together….but life and kids teach you to be practical …they teach you to prioritize. We make certain decisions and hope they are the best ones – for the kids, the animals and all ….
We did just that and here I am 3 months later. We have finally relocated (yes, Pree lied ;)) and it is time to resume my life and my blog. Columbus seems so close yet so far … just think of it like India…it gave me years of joy, personal growth, prosperity, good friends and family …all the things that will never go away. I am as excited about Seattle as I was abut Columbus a decade ago, ready to explore, discover and live our lives to the fullest!
…to Seattle, WA!
I will be starting work in Redmond next week. Mayu and the kids are in India with grandparents and aunts and uncles… They will come here soon. Lucky, Iris and Charlie had a good (uneventful!) first plane ride yesterday, thanks to several amazing people, enterprise rent a car and delta’s pet first.
I clamp shut when the going gets hard. I clamp up pretty tight. And stay shut until it passes. Only this time around it seemed to last forever.
“Forever” is right. My last blog post was before August of last year. Right around then we started to go through a bunch of tests for Savi since the doctors suspected she had a urinary reflux problem that could possibly be affecting her kidneys. While this was ruled out in a couple of weeks, the stress was immense …compounded by the fact that it was the first time we were dealing with a health related unknown. We came away learning that parenthood is all about dealing with unknowns such as this … hope for the best and prepare for the worst ;) .
We took a breather and celebrated Savi’s first cause we knew the uphill battle with ear infections, colds and coughs we would face with the daycare change soon after. It all went as expected. I was quietly getting bigger as I entered my second trimester with our little Meesha. Ahh, those “qtip like nudges” from within …..beautifully soft and gentle … ( just like her delicate little self lying on my dad’s lap as I type this …). The week 20 ultrasound was close and Pree could not wait to make sure we were having another girl (he was so incredibly certain it was going to be a girl). We did confirm that part but were also met with the unexpected piece of news that our little one has an echogenic foci in the left ventricle of the heart. That finding is known to be a “soft marker for downs”. The doctor suggested genetic counseling and a level 2 ultrasound to rule out any other markers. Our doc tried to calm us but letting us know that this finding is more common now … that they have better u/s machines … it is rare that a single marker is of any significance. We still worried a little. The level 2 u/s revealed nothing of concern. Pree and I were happy and came off believing everything will be fine. If everything is not okay we will still make it okay, we talked. Life will get redefined and difficult but we did not believe it would ever affect our level of happiness. If our lives are indeed meant to take that turn, we will perhaps live richer lives ? (What a strange coincidence …As I type this my dad still sits here, Meesha on his lap, watching “Taare Zameen Par” … a “must watch” for anyone who has not seen the movie…).
Little did I know that once we share this piece of news with the rest of the world, we would have to hear their views and opinions ….they would not always match our views …they would not always support our choices.
Little did I know that how much their opinions would affect me (I rarely have second thoughts about a decision I make) and I would be fraught with doubt, pain, anger and worry for the rest of my pregnancy.
I clamped shut. Real tight. Cause that is what I do best. Cause that is what I needed to do to protect myself and my little one from negative thoughts …like I was saving her …. I am not “pro-life” or anything – I am more “pro-choice” …but in this case I was adamant about shielding this little piece of being from the opinions of the world – no matter what shape or form she came in ….
So I clamped shut and protected our little world fiercely.
As I watch her lying here, next to me, all peaceful and quiet ….I see that she is her own person. I can only hold on to her so much starting today. She is out in her world and whether I like it or not, the world is hers to deal with. Sure, we will care and provide for her …but starting today she will make her own decisions. Very soon she will be like a big sister – soaking up the world with such intensity that eating and sleeping are the last things on her mind!
As I type these words I am unclamping myself and taking a peek outside …these words are like the sunglasses that make gentle the harsh sun …making the transition a little gentler. I walk out with nothing but gratitude in my heart and a list of lessons learned in my hand. Gratitude for having a healthy child, gratitude to all the people who listened and helped me keep the faith….to my dad who prayed everyday and always told me that everything would be fine even on the days that he worried the most. I have come off with utmost respect for Pree – who through this journey did EVERYTHING in his control to keep me happy.
And here is what my lessons learned strip of paper contains:
1. Clamp shut, if that is what you need to do: When you are going through a hard time, you do not owe everyone an explanation. Share what you want to share with whoever you need to share it with to get through your tough times. If people do not understand then it is too bad for them. The reality is that relationships that suffer as a result of expectations such as this one were never meant to be. So clamp shut and relax – if that is what will help you.
2. Clamp shut, but use your support network: Even at times when I clamp up the tightest, I still talk to a few folk. Who I talk with depends on what the matter is, but I have always found that there is a sense of beauty and calm in seeking out people who care for us …they want to be there for us…and I am often surprised as to how much wisdom lies in my support network….be it family, friends or colleagues at work.
3. Give up on the guilt: Nobody cares that you are miserable and guilty about not laying your life out in front of them …so you might as well stop feeling guilty. Everyone is allowed to retreat into their worlds once in a while …and as long as this does not affect your performance in your professional life you should be fine. On the personal side, family is supposed to understand anyways ;)
4. Think positive: My dad and Pree were key in helping me think positive. There is little we can do to change the unknown. So we might as well think positive and hope for the best . Surround yourself with people who think positively if you find it hard to be positive yourself. Protect yourself from negativity of the world ….especially when you know you do not have the spirit to deal with it. Time and again, throughout this pregnancy, Pree and my dad have been towers of strength for me …hiding their own worries and concerns only to be able to be there for me. I am truly humbled.
5. Listen to your soul and fulfill its needs: Do not worry if things you do appear stupid. Do what you need to do to help you get through the times. Pree came with me to India for a 10 day trip in week 25 of my pregnancy. Certainly sounds stupid but the love and pampering I got from family (not to mention my sister from London came to India just so the whole family could be together at one place) …. spending a week with my sisters and my parents (with Pree taking care of Savi) was just perfect. But for that break I doubt I could have kept my sanity through the end of this pregnancy! So do not worry about what people think and/or the money you are spending. We all work hard so we can take a break when we really need one!
6. Be grateful and express your gratitude: Never forget the people who were there for you in big ways and small. People who helped you took the time and energy out of their lives in order to help you and for that they need to be appreciated. You appreciate others for your own sake – not because they expect it. I believe that appreciating a person is a form of externalizing our gratitude …and externalizing only strengthens our own respect for life and the people who have helped us.
7. Learn your lessons and brace yourself for your next challenge: Now that a hard chapter has ended, it is time to enjoy some. My little sis sent me this:
“i wanted to send (this) to you for many days…but waited till i knew everything turned out okay with misha ;-).
see this link, its one of my favourite graphic artists, rutu modan.hope you enjoy it.”
Thanks Meg, I love you too :)
She looks a little bit like her sister, the same long fingers. Mom and baby are doing great and will be back home soon. Nimeesha means “a moment” and literally translates to “a minute”. Read more about the inspiration for the name on wikipedia
A couple of years ago, Mayu and I set out to train the dogs. We went to training classes, read books, asked friends…. Now after a couple of years we can say how much we got trained in the process. Here is a quick presentation that we gave at Pecha Kucha about these “lessons for life”. Enjoy.