Thursday, September 26, 2013

Some wounds run deep..

"My dear,

You are my darling.Typing this for the tenth time todat,Getting disconnected."

"I dont think I can survive your absence now."

Words...and more words....thirty pages in my yahoo account - pages after pages of emails, I dont even know how many over the past couple of years but words and more words and a thousand "I love yous". I love yous and Darlings. And he has left me again, without another look back at me. These words wash over me like waves, like shifting sands, every day that passes takes me further away from the countless phone calls and the emails till I feel like there will come a day when I will wonder if I imagined it all. Because he has left me again. Walked away without looking back. Again.

Bye Dad. Yes, I am a wimp and I accept apologies quickly and I am quick to forgive and I have an inherent default setting of wanting to preserve relationships and my husband and best friend are convinced that I will let you back in my life and my heart if you ever decide to come back, but today I will learn from these wounds and learn from my unshed tears and my broken heart and WILL NOT let you break it again.

I am still in disbelief that a person can value his own blood so low. Still in disbelief that a man can walk away from his child again and again. Still in disbelief that someone can say and express such love and then turn their back in the same breath.

I have always seen men whose love was true, whose words meant something, who did what they said so I am still in disbelief over you and so immensely grateful for the others. My father - there is a Shahrukh Khan movie - the actress says "Tuzh mein rab dikhta hain" (I see God in you), I see God in my father. This kind gentle man who fought for me when I was a baby, took me away to live with him and gave me a name and stood by me like a rock (and still does) all my life. I see God in him. And it would indeed be a great disservice and heights of ungratefulness if I cried over you. So I wont. I will count my blessings and think of you as some evil deed from my prior life which had to be repaid in a broken heart and soundless sobbing. Because you have left me all over again. And this time you did have a choice. And you once again didnt choose me. All over again.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Life is a roller coaster ride

Its ups and downs, ups and downs...and then you suddenly realise someone would gladly trade your downs - they are super ups for them compared to their downs - you get what I mean.

I have two fibroids nestled in the walls of my uterus - my gynecologist pretty much said that we cant do anything about it, it is a tendency, they will come, cause pain and then go and all we can do right now is monitor. It is genetic and my birth mom and her mom both have had uterus removal operations at some point of time and I am destined that way too from my tendency to create fibroids :) So painful periods is what I am going through right now..

R hates her new school. She has always been a difficult child with transitions. Everyday its something different - the first day, some boy sat next to her on the bus and told her as she was Indian and he didnt like Indians, he didnt want to sit by her and just because he had no choice, he was. The next day another boy said the corn in her lunch box smelt like someone had farted and she quietly closed the lid and didnt eat a bite. The third day the same boy asked to see her stinky lunch and then spit in it, so once again the lunch box came home uneaten. Poor child! Despite all this she is happy and then breaks down and then happy again and I keep watching her unable to figure out if she is having a bad day or a good one.

P hates his work, he graduated in one thing, did his Masters in another, worked in a similar field, went back and got his MBA in a third, switched fields again and is unhappy now. Has been unhappy for the past six years and makes excuses to change his situation. I miss my husband - the one who was confident and happy. I see him now and he always seems to be overwhelmed and steps away from saying - everything sucks. I had a fight with him last night and he immediately went into "I cant make my parents happy, I cant make my sister happy, I cant make you happy, I hate my job, I wont get another job"....sighh...

There is a mountain of dishes in the sink and loads of laundry to put away. All I want to do is win the lottery and go away somewhere - be free of all responsibilities and routines.

Then when its midnight and I am crying in self pity over my petty issues, I meet a friend who is bravely facing real ones and it is like a slap to reality. Her husband is fighting blood cancer and she is one of the strongest most positive people I know. No one can guess from her FB posts of what she is going through.

And then I say another prayer to thank God for giving me petty issues to fret over and promise myself tomorrow will be better and go to sleep.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Cheers to a good visit

Yay!! My in laws left today. And no this Yay is not for them leaving but more for “We had a good visit without any big drama”. I definitely do not take sole credit for this, they also came half way to meet this goal. Especially my mother in law.

My father in law is very picky about his food, he wants it to be done a certain way, with certain ingredients etc. Many times what’s available for everyone is not good for him. In prior visits, it was me who would listen to his special instructions and get annoyed but not be able to say anything. Then I did the smart thing and transferred responsibility to my husband. He is their son after all and even if he displays annoyance or argues, it won’t cause as much pain as a single word spoken by a daughter in law. Then this visit, my mother in law coached my father in law that he was to make his own food if he didn’t agree with the common meal. And that he did, and it took away so much of the stress. Either he made his own things or my mother in law did it, according to his specification.

Then there was my resolve to not expect any appreciation from her or to ignore obvious instructions. I did not cook anything for the whole time they were here. We had a cooking Aunty come over on Sundays who prepared the weekly meals. It once again made my life easier. With two young kids, a full time demanding job and a pretty busy social life, I really have no time to cook and then to face critique for my cooking. I did miss cooking and that is one thing I have to get past for future successful visits. How not to feel bad for critique offered and stories of my sister in law’s fab cooking and not to expect anything for my own efforts? It is something I need to work on.But for the most part, it was a good visit and I am so relieved.

What had made it work is for my husband to have stepped it up. He was more involved in taking care of both his mother and his wife; in prior visits, he had dumped the whole relationship thing on me alone and stayed away, what also worked was a fervent wish for both my mother in law and me to make it work – I could see her desire for having a harmonious relationship too, what works in small ways is also to hear my parents speak well of my in laws and to give me another side – the in laws side, the older parents side of thinking about situations and what also worked was the fact that I am super busy with work and family. I am also making time to read spiritual works and attend Sunday school. To keep an open mind and to be less judgmental and more forgiving and to focus on the right things. To let go of the bad and focus on the good.

They will come back next year for my sister in law’s delivery and will stay with her for six months. Baby steps to creating harmony. Am I ready to move in with them forever – hell No, this was a month and a half and it went well, but I will take anything to help build a stronger future.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Imperfect perfection

I am happy to announce that I have finally reached a comfort setting with my mother in law. They are both also making a stepped up attempt to help out this visit. Both my girls can stay home for a month and enjoy their summer time off as my in laws agreed to watch them and spend time with them. For my part I make sure food has been cooked and they are not burdened with other chores and can only play with both girls all day, which sometimes is a big job in itself. I still continue to ignore my mother in law’s obvious advice – an example: keep wet clothes separate from the dry ones otherwise everything will get dirty (when changing my girls at the beach) (I have been married for 13 years and we have taken countless beach vacations and I am by nature very organized and handy). I do realize that it’s her inherent nature; she just has to give advice all the time. I don’t think that she even stops to think about the nature of the advice and her audience. It pops in her head and out her mouth. And I ignore, don’t even respond but carry on to other things. We have found our comfort setting and I am so grateful for it.

As I grow older, I have also realized that one shouldn’t insist on any perfection. Is anything perfect in life? Every seemingly perfect image has some adjustment. So this is perfect for me – my kids are happy, my in laws seem happy and I am happy and at peace and by default due to all this, my husband is happy. What more do I want?

My birth father has stopped being in touch. I am sure he is extremely busy and hasn’t gotten to his email. But he has a phone and my numbers and can easily afford international calls. But I have grudgingly accepted the truth – I do not matter to him. I matter to him when he is free and has free time on his hands. He will not put me on his priority list of people while I have put him right up there next to my parents. Time to reshuffle the priority listing. Again is this a perfect ending? No. But I will take it. I got to know my birth father, I appreciate my adopted one a zillion times more, I know God is watching out for me every step of my way, I cannot express my gratitude enough for blessing me with such fantabulous parents. I stand strong today because of their arms which have held me up.

Things are super hectic at work with looming deadlines. At home, both girls are home and a nephew is going to visit for a week. Between work and home and making sure everyone on both fronts are happy, the stress gets to me some days. But I am actively reminding myself of how blessed I am and shake it off and go about doing the things that need to be done with a smile.

One of my friends is due with her first child any day. And she got the worst news that any child would dread to ever hear – her mother passed away. You always need your mother but you need her critically at critical moments in life. I feel that having a child is one of those. I knew she is scared and had kept saying that she wouldn’t be able to do it without her mother and now she has no choice. Life is so cruel. This friend also lost her young brother in an accident. I sat at my desk, tears streaming down my cheeks, in shock. I don’t know why some people have to face so much injustice and so much cruelty in life.

It also brought a renewed round of gratitude and realization for how blessed I am. Whatever little annoying attributes my mother in law has, one thing is for sure;she loves all of us whole heartedly. And she is my husband’s mother and they love each other. Only for that everything else is acceptable.

Hug your kids, your spouse, your significant other, your parents, your siblings, your best friends, even your colleagues, your mailman, your nosy neighbors – be grateful, stay blessed.

Monday, July 29, 2013

80-20 rule

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80–20 rule, the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes (Wikipedia). Likewise in my life, I feel that 80% of my unhappiness comes from people who form 20% of my core support structure. I attribute undue importance sometimes to some things, situations and words.

My birth dad's son is visiting him from Canada and a piece of me already knew that he wouldnt be in touch while his son was home. But I still waited for his emails, his phone calls. I sent him my half marathon pictures, no response. I knew and I still felt bad. I know I do not have a place in his life, I am always someone he will turn to, when he has time or the whim to write and I still expect and still feel bad. What does this man have to do with my life anyways except for biologically being the reason I am here today. He has turned his back and walked away from me and our paths would never have crossed in our lives had I not gotten up and changed the course. I am done with trying to nurture this relationship, always taking the efforts to stay in touch, always calling, always writing. I give up. I accept the harsh reality that I do not matter to him. As I do not have the courage to completely shut him out of my life, I can at least change myself and stop expecting and treat it as an acquaintance relationship..

Nowadays I feel that people never change. It is very hard to get someone to change. Try to change yourself and you will find out. But what you can do is to make sure you do not allow yourself to get hurt over and over. Choose your own strategies to make sure you can stay happy and make the best of the situation.

My strategy with my mother in law is working very well for me. I do not know what she thinks or feels. But I have long given up trying to make people happy. I am actually seeing her in a new light. Once I have decided that none of her comments/words are directed at me personally, its almost like having an out of body experience and watching a movie. I have observed her and the remarks she makes and realised this is who she is. She will not change. You cannot teach a person to be at peace. For some, mental turmoil and dissatisfaction is inherent. I am also trying very hard to shed my ego. I have accepted it to be a given that she will always praise food made by someone else and I will never have a good word for all the hard work I do. I have just accepted it. Even if she might think it, the thoughts will never be transformed into words. I actually feel bad for her. I wish she had close friends and family who would steer her in the right direction, teach her how to be happy and at peace.

I have also decided to be realistic about myself, my strengths and my limitations. Everyone has 24 hours in a day. How you choose to distribute it is up to each person. Who you choose to focus on, what thoughts you allow yourself to consume with, whether you allow enough time for prayer and meditation, if you just sit down and laugh with your children; its all up to you. I am done trying to have everyone in my life like me.

My parents always say that I am an excellent child, an excellent daughter to them. We are perfectly in tune. P's Uncle and Aunt say I am a wonderful daughter in law; the daughter they never had. But would my birth mother or mother in law say the same thing? For different reasons of course. I have never been the daughter that my birth mother wanted - the obedient diligent daughter who would have agreed and listened to all her directions without a question asked. I do not regret it - even if it was the price of our relationship. I have never been the daughter in law that my mother in law wanted. Actually I am not sure anymore what she wants except for me to say "Stay here with us and do not go back to India". I think I know what would make her happy - asking her recipes, standing at the stove and asking her to direct me and cooking under her eyes, listening to all her self focused stories and appreciating them. And I am trying it in baby steps but it is not what interests me and therein lies the problem. I have given up trying to make her happy. All I hope for is to move towards a relationship where we are comfortable in each others presence and I do not get upset by her words.

Life gets hard sometimes with unmet expectations, unreturned love, politics at work, challenges with your children, the struggle to make time for your spouse, trying to focus on your own body and mind and then after all this too, sometimes I feel what have I done for my community or for my spiritual advancement, its a thousand things to do and not enough time. But it is necessary to take a deep breath and count out the handful things that mean the world to you, for which and for whom everything is worth it. And then shift your focus on them and let the others fade into the background. My husband, my children, my parents, my best friends, my siblings, my physical health, my mental health......I count my blessings and realise I am the happiest person on earth!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Saas bahu episode 1

My in laws arrived with a bang last Friday. On Friday morning, I left for work at 6:45 am, turned the corner and when the sun hit my face, tears streamed down and my left eye just refused to stay open. It was very strange and I was freaked out. I finally drove home slowly and felt wiped out! I lay down on the sofa for a long time. I had to drive out to work in the afternoon to attend some meetings. After that it was a whirlwind as usual, pick up the kids, make milkshakes for both, drive to R’s Bharatnatyam class, rush back and cook dinner. Baby S helped pick basil leaves from our garden and I made pesto sauce and sautéed some onions and red peppers and threw together some pasta for us. Made special rice and peanut curry for the in laws who were on a fast. I also cut mangoes and put out the coconut water that I had bought for their fast. As I was setting up the table, they arrived and sat down to dinner soon after.

My father in law started eating and was chatting with me about my preparations for my upcoming half marathon. My mother in law sat down and barely had eaten her first bite, all hell broke loose. She started saying “The rice is just slightly undercooked” (repeated 13,458 times) and yelled at my fil to stop eating and give her his plate so she could put it into the microwave and “correct” my cooking. Followed by “I am not saying just to criticize you but we are home and we should be able to say what we want, and why should we eat slightly undercooked rice blah blah…..on and on followed by her stories of how she had popped her perfectly cooked rice in the microwave against her sister’s wishes to cook it further as her sister is older and needs soft food and then how her sister was so happy with her. Followed by “Everyone makes a mistake, its fine!”. I just sat back in shock, dead tired and slowly the anger rose in me. This lady could not see how tired I was, or appreciate how I had taken the effort to cook their special meal and think of additional things like cutting up fruits and buying coconut water. There was no gratitude expressed or acknowledgment of my care but she just re affirmed why I know our wavelengths wont match.

Instead of creating this big hue and cry, she could have gotten up diplomatically and “cooked” her rice to whatever consistency she wanted. Also if something needed a quick pop into the microwave for under a minute, it was obviously cooked in the first place. Or she could have said “Its nice, but I need a bit more softer so I will pop it into the microwave a bit longer”. Anyways….. I was so upset – more stories followed of how she had smart ideas, how my sister in law and her husband were so happy with her wisdom and I was done.

I went upstairs and cried and cried and P came by and walked away upset and I then lay down on my bed and the room started spinning around. I am mighty embarrassed that I have turned into one of those feeble women that they show in old Hindi movies where the doctor advises the family members to treat her delicately or she will have a heart attack. Its my resolve to strengthen my mind against such incidents now. Later on, she came over and started crying and said how I was like her daughter and she didn’t want a repeat of last visit and that she thought she should just say frankly etc etc.

I thought about it later – there is no one bad here. Its what you think. For my mother in law and I am sure my sister in law; this incident is me being extra sensitive and getting annoyed for being told “frankly” that my rice was not up to par. For me, it was a situation of bad manners and an attitude of entitlement and zero appreciation and wrong use of words. I never tout myself as an expert cook, all my dishes are a hit or miss, sometimes they are incredible, sometimes too salty or just blah. But one thing I do not lack is care and concern. And all the people I know and love, appreciate it. Whenever P’s Uncle and Aunt come over for dinner, Aunty always is appreciative of the fact that I rush home from work and whip together a meal for all of us and serve it with love. Another important thing is that you can give five women three potatoes each and same ingredients and they will end up cooking five differently styled potatoes. And you could have them swear to their own dish being the “only” way to cook it and perfect.

The next day I woke up and spoke nicely to them, even offered her to accompany me on my grocery store visit because I know how much she enjoys going out. But I have realized that our wavelengths do not match at all. Most of our conversation is incredibly one sided with her telling me stories of either her own smartness and expertise in cooking or my sister in law’s. My sister in law is definitely a good cook. I do listen to my mil’s stories and praise her but I cannot go beyond 15 minutes of conversation, beyond 15 minutes of saying non stop “Oh how nice, that’s a great idea, you are good!” etc. Now I have decided to ignore or simply not respond when I receive unsolicited advice that is so obvious that I feel – why is she even feeling the need to tell me this. And because of the way she delivers her words, they sting everytime.

Just a simple silly example is – I oil my daughters’s hair every weekend and I had sent R into the shower and was running around gathering her clothes and other stuff. Its our routine, she loves the shower and she happily sings in it and gets all drenched and then I go put shampoo in her hair. My mil accosted me on the way and accusingly scolded me “What!!! She is taking a shower by herself!??!! Arent you going to go put shampoo on her hair, she is not old enough, how will the oil come out??” Ignore and walk away is what I did. R is 6 ½ years old and has had countless head baths since she was born and I have an IQ slightly above average and have managed to keep my family alive (and oil free) on my own. I need not answer that outburst.

So now we are all in a peaceful harmony as much as we can manage. I do not respond to advice or questions that I think are completely ridiculous or condescending but I do not shut down conversation. I chat about other topics, ask them how their day was and make sure everything they need is bought. I have also told P to step up and assume primary responsibility for his parents.

One baby step at a time to a better relationship….

In other news we ran the half marathon again, more on that in another post…

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Love yourself

I have two little girls - two beautiful little girls. My six year old is already in the fragile self esteem phase - checking herself out in the mirror at every opportunity, hating her naturally wavy hair. If her hair will be straight in the morning or not is the biggest stress she has before she goes to bed. And did I say she is six?

All through my childhood I was considered to be pretty. My best friend who is a stunning beauty always said that I had the most beautiful skin she had ever seen. My parents always praised me and it was a given that any color would look good on me given my fair complexion etc. Beauty is indeed in the eyes of the beholder. I used to have my front two teeth overlapping each other. Uptil the point of meeting my in laws and P, everyone I knew raved about how my smile was so natural and sweet. My father always said our quirks made us unique or we would be all the same.

On my in laws side both my husband and sister in law have perfect straight teeth thanks to orthodontic treatments rendered in their childhood. My father in law asked that I get braces done after we got engaged/married. This point was brought up in every conversation that we had. My mother in law told my mother and a close relative that she had asked her son - do you want to marry this girl? Her teeth are not straight, she has some problem with her eyes (I have a slight Shashi Kapoorish squint) and she is adopted and that her son said Yes, I want to marry her. I don't know if this was supposed to be a compliment or a slap or both or one disguised in the other. Over time I have realized that my mother in law is not the best communicator - maybe she doesn't mean some things but they come out wrong.

Newly married I looked at myself through my husband's eyes and had the first huge hit to my self esteem. My teeth bothered him (many years later I got an expensive orthodontic treatment done and now I have a perfectly aligned teeth smile), my weight bothered him and does to this day - his mother and sister are size zeros and below; they both barely eat a roti and me, eating with gusto was a shock to him, my wavy hair bothered him. My self esteem took hit after hit. I was so confused - I thought I was great - my friends and family say so then why don't I have a husband who is dizzy crazy in love with me. He was/is in love with me, don't get me wrong but it wasn't the blind throw yourself in love kind of love. It was measured and always realistic and critical and full of recommendations for how I can improve myself.

Down the years we also had to face many many tough situations and he unfalteringly stood behind me and held my hand and had my back as required. I also realized that this is who he is and this is how he is brought up. His mother is also prone to seeing the bad in situations and people - they are not simple satisfied happy people. There is always something that nags them stresses them. Roses have no smell, something is not sweet enough, grandchildren are not affectionate enough, there is no curry in the meal - the list goes on and on. My father in law on the other hand is always at peace. He has his own world but he keeps himself mentally and physically occupied.

As we try to coach our older daughter who has inherited most of these qualities to always see the good in people and situations, to appreciate and be grateful and to express affection and contentment; it's a revision of all these thoughts for us too.

As women, I feel that we are prone to self doubt, guilt and emotions; I will make sure my babies first and foremost learn to accept and love themselves and believe in themselves and not ever rely on any other person for it. My dearest children, I will always be in your camp cheering you on, saying that you are the smartest, prettiest , awesomest girl ever but I need you to believe it yourself and not ever let anyone bring you down anyday.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Times are a changing..

I was on the road for four weeks - a week at a time. This is the only travel I have to do, once a year for meetings at all the offsite locations that my company has. My first trip was sheer bliss. Boarding the plane by myself, actually getting to read a book quietly without having to worry about earaches in tiny ears when taking off or landing, checking into a very nice hotel, having a king size bed all to myself, eating breakfast at the breakfast buffet without having to cut food into tiny pieces and coaxing it into reluctant mouths - all bliss, sheer bliss. Who would have thought that these small things that we take so much for granted in our pre kids life would suddenly be so precious in the post!

The girls did remarkably well with P. P held the fort down. S was pretty miserable and leaned into the phone during face times and said "Mommy I need you" which broke my heart into a million pieces but my strong supportive husband assured me that she was fine otherwise and not to worry :)

Of course by the end of the last trip, I was pretty miserable too, the girls missed me, the mess in the house got to epic proportions but before things could get any worse, my trips were done and I am back home; slowly putting myself and my home back to routine.

P also travels infrequently nowadays. Being a single parent is of course difficult. The only difference between me traveling and his traveling is that when its his turn, it's basically Bye, Miss you and out of the door. When I travel, I have to make sure that the laundry is done, folded, put away, clothes set aside for the girls for the week to come; food is made and menus are written for the week; soccer pick up and drop offs are arranged and house is in maintainable clean condition. P keeps it rolling from there. I am extremely grateful for his wonderful support and encouragement. I recently received an "Exceeds expectations" on my review and a big part of the credit goes to his support.

We have many many women in my organization in high level positions. Almost all of them have multiple children. I was amazed with wonder as to how do these women seem to manage everything so effortlessly. A little bit of research unearthed a fast rising trend - they all (with only one exception) had stay at home husbands. The exception - my Director has in laws who stay fifteen minutes away and show up on her door step showered and ready to help out whenever she has a nanny or kids are sick kind of emergency.

At one location, two pregnant women were having matter of fact discussions about how their husbands were going to take 1-2 years off once their babies were due etc. This was very new and fascinating to me; this is the first time that I have met so many women all together with the same kind of situation. I have so many questions for all of them - how do their husbands manage the house and the kids, do they micromanage everything, do they get taunts from society, do they feel undue pressure being the sole breadwinner of the family, does their husband feel a loss of confidence for not being in a typical male provider role.....but I keep my mouth shut and push my questions away. Every single one of us is making choices for his/her life, his/her family and no one has the right to judge the other. You can decide what's comfortable for you and decide accordingly.

I do think about how this slow change in roles is going to affect my/our kids. The first thing I can think of is almost complete eradication of gender discrimination. How would you say to a boy child - you don't need to learn now to cook/sew/bake; maybe this might lead to expanded freedom in letting each of us choose whatever we are good at without worrying about whether its a typical male or female stamped role.

But what's next - will we have a world where the equation is completely switched - where an overwhelming majority of guys stay home while their wives go to work. What impact will this have on men versus women thought patterns and inherent nature traits? Many questions and no answers. It is getting to be very late now so will go sleep.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Day two and everything is well

P has also stepped up this time and is constantly engaged. He is making sure his mom and me are both happy. I am beginning to feel more confident that this visit is going to be finally a peaceful and happy one. Big sigh of relief :)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

New beginnings

My in laws have arrived - they are visiting us after four years. Their last visit was traumatic on both sides. So we are all cautiously approaching this visit. The sister in law has stepped in and is hosting them for exactly half their stay which helps immensely.

I have decided for every one thing that annoys me about them, I will think of one thing that they did is nice so that the anger is eliminated.

I returned from an out of town trip exhausted and hungry. I had made food for a whole week ahead of time so that they would have home cooked food when they arrived.

Annoying thing: My mother in law praised the only thing which I had not made and bought from outside - the rotis and commented on how nice that Aunty makes them etc. Is it too much to say everything I had made was nice??

Nice things they did: they waited for me to arrive even though they were very sleepy.
They love my husband and children.

Let go let go let God!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Miracles on the path of God

This book that I am currently reading also talks about visualising putting down your worries one by one at the feet of whichever diety/God figure you choose and then saying a prayer of gratitude and closing your eyes to sleep for the night.

I religiously followed some of the principles noted in the book, literally chanting to myself "Let go let go Let God" whenever my mind strayed to thoughts of my Dad, my birth mother, what should I do etc etc; things that have no resolution and out of my hands. I prayed and focused on the task at hand - be it at work or with my kids and gave my full and complete attention to whatever I was doing at the moment. No multi tasking of thoughts.

And then Monday night, at around 12:30 am my cell phone rang. I was so deep in sleep that it rang for a long time and went to voicemail. It started ringing a second time and by the time I realised it, it had once again gone to voicemail. I looked at the number, it was eerily similar to my Dad's. I called him right away, half asleep half scared; a phone call in the middle of the night only evokes fear to me, and he confirmed the number and said it must be his wife calling! And that it was a good thing if she is calling and that she wanted to speak with me.

I called her back. She seems to be a very nice lady. We chatted for a bit. She had been confused with the time difference and hadnt realised it was the middle of the night here. She had many things to say, but mainly she wanted to reiterate that she had no ill wishes for me or any anger. She needed time to adjust; all these years had gone by so smooth and now I was on the scene. She felt her husband had changed since he met me. And it had disturbed the peace and happiness in their family. And so in a way she had blamed me. She said she was ready to accept me into their family. We are going to chat again tomorrow, to continue our discussion. I was numb with shock.

I was half asleep and numb now. I didnt know what to say to her. I apologised for having caused any trouble to her and her kids, she immediately said "Dont say Sorry, you dont have to be". I really have no plans/wishes to be a part of their family - Do I need another mother?? My Grandmother, birth mother, mother and now mother in law are all called Mother by me! Do I really need another one? I dont. I dont need another family. I dont wish to disrupt their life in any way. All I want is to be able to call my Dad whenever I want to, call him up and chat with him as per our convenience, once in a while. That was all I want.

I admire her and am grateful to her for taking this step. It is not easy for an older person to take the first step. I have seen so many stubborn adults who will not budge or take a step out of their comfort zone. But what has amazed me over and above everything is the new path I had started walking down on. The book said try to let go and you will experience miracles. I let go and did experience a miracle.

When I went back to bed, I couldnt sleep. I forced my mind to let go of all the future day dreaming and what ifs and different scenarios and calmed it down - said the Gayatri mantra a few times and went to sleep. And I did sleep. In the past I would have stayed awake and tossed and turned all night or woken up my husband to share the news with him immediately. Instead I looked at my sleeping (snoring) husband and my beautiful children and was overcome with peace and happiness. And brought back to the reality of getting a good night's sleep to be able to face the day ahead. And sleep I did...

I dont know whats coming next...what this will mean for my relationship with Dad, will my birth mother ever find out, but for now, I am going to keep myself in the present, celebrate the happy things, tackle the uncomfortable and enjoy with my family.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Let go, let go, let God

Many things have happened over the past few weeks. My birth mother got diagnosed with oral cancer and had to undergo a horrendous surgery which she is recovering from now. Thankfully by the Grace of God, the cancer hadn’t spread anywhere else in her body and she doesn’t need any chemotherapy or radiation. How did she get oral cancer? We do not know. Chances are slim for a non smoker non gutka eater, but she still got it somehow. Her husband is going through a bad patch – he retired and then cannot handle the sudden void post retirement and is grappling with depression. My mother is in anguish over why her younger sister has to go through so much pain and bad luck and feels guilty over her own “good fortune”.

Now two things here, Yes, my birth mom had a rough start with a divorce and subsequent husband who came with a not so desirable family who have hassled her over the years. Yes, my mom has a wonderful husband, my dad and all her kids have turned out good etc. But there is also the extreme differences in attitude – all my memories of my birth mom have been her being the victim, forever agonized over the treatment of her relatives/colleagues/life while my mother has always been super positive and optimistic, always looking at the good in people and believing in a happy outcome. I am currently reading this book “Joy peace pills” by J.P.Vaswani. He says in that book that if you think good, good will happen. Everyone says that. I know it’s not practical in most situations but what about the other situations, can you at least hope to look at the good side of things? Or can it happen that some person is just constantly riddled by bad luck and oppression?

Can you put your faith in something or someone and believe that next time would be in your favor and trudge on.

My birth dad’s wife has again told him to break off all contact with me, he is super busy at work and he agreed not to check his personal mail when home. Which basically means our only mode of communication is curtailed. By their joint decisions, we will drift apart with very little conversation between us. He does call me sometimes when he travels but between our time differences, work schedules, the fact that I have two young kids to take care of; it’s very difficult to find time to chat. And weekends are off limits as I am only to be restricted to his office times, which again is most of my night here. I felt really bad, cried some, then angry over how unfair this whole situation is, then self pity over how I am not free to be in touch with my own dad, and now acceptance. This is their joint decision. I can do nothing to change it, I can however change the effect it is having on me and instead of being miserable and punishing two beautiful babies and a wonderful husband for the actions of people who clearly do not think of my well being sounds stupid. So I am going to let go let go let God, let go of everything and let God handle it for me (again by JP Vaswani).

I have realized over the past couple of years that I cannot make others happy if I am not happy myself. I do not do the role of a sacrificing Mother India well. I need to take care of my own physical and mental well being first and then only can I be positive and smiling for others. So I am letting go of all the stresses – the guilt and complaints by my birth mother to my mother about how I do not have a mother-daughter relationship with her and how I constantly misunderstand her; my delicate relationship with my in laws, my heartbreak over my birth dad; I am going to let go of all of it, put my faith in God and let him handle it. I will focus on myself – my health and doing things that I enjoy and being happy and at peace and then making sure my husband and my children also walk the same path and are happy and peaceful and smiling and positive as they go through their individual lives and stresses and celebrations.

If you don’t already do it, try it too; take one thing that bothers you and let go let go let God…

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

2013 Resolutions continued...

Communication is one of my strongest forte or so I would like to think. And another good/bad point of my nature is that I will do anything to salvage a relationship. I am not the person to cut people out of my life, turn my back on someone or walk away from a bad relationship. I hang on, keep hurting myself, lose my self respect maybe in the bargain but I hang on. Sometimes it’s for the best, most times I am just reminded over and over how little I am valued by that individual. But I still do not learn my lesson..

There is a show that I watch online – Uncha mazha zhoka. It is set in the 1800-1900s in Maharashtra when joint family systems were the norm. Many times entire families land up for a visit – most times a stay extending for months – without any advance warning. They are always welcome and absorbed into the daily routine of the local family. I always compare and contrast between that setting and my current one. Most of my friends are in the same boat too. We jump for joy and are thrilled at the prospect of loved ones visiting. But distant acquaintances or folks who have managed to push the wrong buttons in the past, cause instant stress and disturb the peace in the family, from the minute their travel plans are announced.

This is the age of texts and twitter, everythings faster and busier, everyones spread all over the globe, we are so busy in our routine and feel so guilty of having un productive days that we strive to fill every second of our and our family’s days with action items. Every long weekend that comes by, we try to go somewhere or make it special. Do you know of anyone who says “We do absolutely nothing on long weekends, we never take vacations or do anything fun with the kids”; I immediately judge such people in my mind... I digress…what I want to say is as families shrink and we struggle to maintain the daily balance of work, family, chores at home, time with kids without any family support in most cases (atleast here in the US), our willingness to adjust also goes down south. I will move around my entire sleep pattern for my baby in the blink of an eye but tell me to make an alternative meal for my in laws and I will lose it thinking it is so unfair and I am so tired. It’s the same for me in terms of friends – you meet someone whom you are not that crazy about, she irritates you, you don’t have to see her again. One can choose to maintain whichever size and composition of a friend circle they want and also the frequency at which they can meet. You have choices for all the people in your life, it almost seems like, at times. Except for your husband and your children, you can pretty much keep everyone else at bay (most times, most cases)..

For my personal peace of mind, I have to try to change myself. I struggle to become that person who doesn’t give a damn about every Tom, Dick and Harry she meets and the friendly warm person that I think I am, who wants to have happy people all around her. There is one girl at work. Sits in the cube next to me. She hardly talks to anyone and keeps to herself. She is a desi brought up in the US. I introduced myself to her on my first day at work and said Good Morning and Bye everyday. She would never take the initiative to talk to me but I would speak with her everyday. Off late she almost scowls when I say Hello to her. There is just the thinnest of an excuse of a smile and she mostly looks like it would be better if I stop talking to her. And today I was on the verge of asking her if I had done something to annoy her. I simply cannot understand why someone would refuse to smile and be nice to your co workers? I just cannot. Wouldn’t you like to come in to work relaxed and smiling? And I take everything personally. I think “Oh no, is it something I did?” when we have nothing in common except that we sit by each other. So it is time to let go. Every person I meet doesn’t need to be my pal. I just need to accept that and let go.

Last year I had written a few emails to my sister in law, asking her what was wrong, why didn’t she call as much, I felt like we were growing distant blah blah. There was complete silence on her end, she had ignored my emails. I had felt horrible, am I not even worth a tiny bit that you would not even bother to reply to any of my emails? I had cried, my husband and me had fought, he was like – why did you even reach out to her, there is nothing wrong and now you have created a problem for no reason, he finally called her to say why wont you write to her and then I got a short formal reply. I put myself in that position of trying to clear away misunderstandings and be closer. Maybe my intentions were perceived otherwise by her. I need to understand that everyone is different, people have different circumstances and sometimes the timing is not right too. I have given up now. I hate to give up, I had always thought that one day we would all be one big happy family. But I have stopped struggling to achieve that end vision of happiness – according to me. We talk nicely to each other, when she visits, we have fun and that should suffice for now. Maybe sometime in the future, she might think I am a good person and like me. In the meantime I need to stop pestering her and stop festering in my mind about how I can work on this relationship.

It’s the same with my Dad, my in laws, my birth mother; all the relationships which need work and where every word I say is somehow misconstrued, there is mistrust and clouded judgment, no matter how genuine the efforts are to try to get closer. I need to change myself. Let go of that ideal state in my mind, because whats ideal for me might be a pain in the butt for the other. Every person has their own views and definitions and expectations of what a close relationship entails. For some, it can mean a daily phone call and sharing of every happiness and sorrow and for others, it could mean a phone call in six months. I need to let go. So 2013 onwards is all about changing me. I will not go out of my way for people who seem to cause pain to me, who do not take the time to value me; I will not give them undue importance and allow them to control my feelings and thoughts. I will instead redirect all that energy into my current fulfilling relationships and enjoy and be at peace..