shh.

Yesterday k got back home right after work instead of heading for his own steam blowing workout session, in no small measure thanks to a phone call in which I must have sounded at the end of my wits as I juggled a very hyper 16month old who wanted to go out to play, a 6 year old I throes of a craft phase (but we must make 10 glittery ice cream bars for my shop) and a 9 year with science and Urdu test revision in play. Might I mention here that no matter how much hired help you have, there are days when everyone just congregates to that one foot of space around you, constantly. Khair, back to my story. It was 6:30 which meant the days tolls had taken place on all of us and the monstrous avatars  we try to keep firmly chained during the day were biting at the bit.

He arrived took stock and took over one and half kids while I quickly propelled the day forward to our favourite point on such days- bedtime. (Can you hear, nay practically FEEL my sigh of bliss down to your toes?)

Once the kids were out, there was complete silence and after the cacophony of three varying agendas being demanded at once, let me tell you it sort of feel like suddenly being submerged into water, where there is an extreme sense of awareness but also a gratifying lull in the pace of time. K and I then went around the room putting stuff away, minimal words really. No chatter on how the day was, no hug, no interaction nothing. We had our dinner also in the same way, padded in the cottony silence and then finished our episode of Good Wife. There was the next day to plan, work emails to be sent and while usually chatty, talking about the day, yesterday I was depleted. All I wanted was quiet. To somehow redeem myself from the Jekyll like persona that had gripped me in that last hour, I needed to literally mute.

While the numbers were equal I never really realised the immense draw of “emotional crutching” that is required from the person who is (merely by the chance of being more available) a primary caregiver. We are the police, the doctors, the huggers, the fixers, the bad cops, the managers, chefs, waiters, the CEOs- basically several hundred worth of job titles rolled into that one mama. It’s a sensory overload of feelings and beings on some days- to the point that all you really crave is a cool dark cave, with good wifi of course.

I didn’t say anything to k last night, and while maybe it was the general vibe of heaving sighess around me that was the give away, he was smart enough to keep his distance and throw the coffee and cheesecake at me. Good man.

Advertisements

going for the gold.

God knows there are enough articles out there to make any parent practicing in the know that competitiveness in the extreme form is wrong. That somewhere along the next two decades of your child developing into an adult it will have some form of negative impact, either emotionally or security wise which will probably result in the said kid either breaking down or turning into an ass of an adult, one who has no empathy or compassion. Ok ok I exaggerate and on the heels of what was an exciting Olympics, filled with emotional soul raising moments, I have to admit I also have been swept away by the excellence and high that can be found in watching your human beings sport (and excel at it).

My lifeline whatsapp group and I have had this conversation a few times- about what is lacking in us that makes us pushy and aggressive as mothers wanting their kids to be just brilliant at something. We all agree that our parents didn’t really push us. That they let us choose and decide and just generally be good at what we were at. They were not hard core and perhaps as a result we are not. That is not to say, that we haven’t found our niches of excellence and sculpted good lives for ourselves, but we acknowledge and accept that the “push” was lacking. And of course the conversation then moves onto whether in the times of today, that push has become almost a necessity in order to give kids (and their eventual adult selves) a lifeline in case other things don’t go their way.

Nadi loves swimming and while it started out all water fun and recreational, he suddenly developed an edge in it. And that edge led us to the club heats yesterday. I will be lying if I don’t admit the butterflies that assaulted my heart as we walked into the Gala, flags flying, music playing, the smell of chlorine and the chatter of excited children commingled with instructions from parents. “Whatever you do, DO NOT LOOK BACK” one mom assertively told her 7 year old. “JUST FOCUS ON SPEEDING THROUGH” told another one wisely. A tiny bit awed, I turned to Nadi, and out of my mouth comes ” You sure you want to do this?” He looked at me weirdly and says, “Yes of course, why?” And in a spurt of good parenting I say, “Well I don’t want you to feel pressured in case you know, you don’t make it to the final race.” He looked at me weirdly again and said.”Yes mama but that’s what the heats are for- to decide na?”

Thing is we underestimate and over complicate things for our children so much every step of the way, out of love and protection of them. He was doing something he loved, and whatever extra that came with it was just the cherry. For my little fish, the fact that he would get to swim was kind of the point, and meeting and doing it with friends the other bonus. It wasn’t him who needed to understand that, it was me.

7708c86bbba9fa29c4cbd316b77410cd

The races began and no matter how much you tell yourself that it’s all in the name of good healthy competition, by the time his race came around, I just wanted him to win dammit. Until the second he took that dive and hit the water. And then the joy of watching someone you love do something they love took over in an instant. There are no words. There are slightly damp eyes though.

We made it to team reserve. And though there is a high chance we won’t get to swim in the actual race today, the beaming wet face, stuffing itself with the fries and Oreo shake, the shiny happy eyes and the slightly more confident stance for having done something he loves was my gold for today.

 

lovely illustration by Davide Bonazzi taken from Pinterest

 

Monster me 

I absolutely hate yelling at the kids. Or needing to talk to them in a tone where there is no room for discussion or leeway. Ideally we would have a relationship where I would require something and if they aren’t able to fulfil that they would negotiate other reasonable terms with me. Is that too much to ask? Don’t answer that.

unnamed

So of course I often find myself in that place where I have to be communicating my thoughts not only sternly but in a tone that’s several octaves higher than what makes me feel human. And sometimes in the middle of that yell-fest, I will teleport above my screamy self and watch hovering above the scene, how horrid and crazy I actually can look while trying to get something or the other across to these kids that I love with all my  all. It’s stunning the irony that these very people who I would literally jump in front of a moving bus for are the ones that manage to evoke this face contorting exasperation and fury.
One of my standing annual resolutions has always been to be a zen-ner parent. The one who will get the message across in modulated lyrical tones rather than angsty high pitched ones. For most part I think there has been tremendous improvement and then suddenly a day appears where my carefully constructed and managed Jenga tower of emotions and control will come crashing down and I am back at square one, painstakingly collecting blocks to start over.

Does it damage my kids forever? I sincerely hope not. I tend to be somehwat humourous when angry and my examples and comparisons always elicit some giggles along with the fear and sulk from them. I am hoping in the long run my crazy love otherwise for them will cancel it the negatives and they will walk on forth with just the positives. Fingers crossed. And oh yes, resolution renewed for the new academic year yet again.

Midnight Feasts of the Grown up kind.

It was the days of 35/S. I remember waking up once in the middle of the night and following a trail of laughter and conversation to the kitchen with the round rotating top table, only to find all the adults of the house indulging in what seemed like a midnight pagan ritual of eating without the little people. It seemed wrong and oh so secret and simultaneously so completely exciting. I recall vaguely sharing with cousins and siblings the next day that indignation of our parents looking so happy and chatty in the wee morning hours and that too, without us. If I squint hard enough, I see khajla pheini on the table, and anda paratha and I can smell the tea. The one that is made in saucepans not in kettles.

Perhaps because I am that parent zone right now, a lot of my own childhood memories seem to be sliding back into consciousness. I am remembering details and regurgitating instances that I had even forgotten I was aware of, much less that they had imprinted in my mind. Sehris at my mother’s house  have always been a time of conversation, laughter (and fights too) and time spent together. Having hailed from a family of mostly morning people, we would be at our best most hysterical at this point, truly turning it into a fun if exhausting get together. Though my own family now  is smaller and younger right now,  and K is definitely less of a lets-socialize-at sehri person, today, Lily scuffled into the kitchen at 3:30am while we ate and chatted, and then as she stood there, staring at us with a mixture of quizzical fascination and bewilderment,  I was suddenly transported back to that night when I walked in and discovered the grown ups having fun without us.

Because I will forget and I don’t want to.

Random conversation just now.
Nadi: Do you know you came out of Mama’s tummy?
Lily: NO I DIDN’T!!
Nadi: Yes you did. Ask mama.
Lily: Mama Nadir telling lies!!
Me: No it’s true you did. You grew in my tummy then the doctor took you out.
Lily (worriedly): But why did you eat me?

‪#‎becauseyouareyummy‬ ‪#‎nadilily‬ ‪#‎longsummerafternoons‬ ‪#‎summerhols‬

———————————————

Maleficent vs Lord Business playing out on my shoulder
(complete with sound effects) is just not conducive to any kind of concept and design work.

#workfromhomewhydontyou #summerhols #nadilily #play #freelancelove

———————————————

Way too early morning craft talk today.
Lily: mama will you make me a cutout with the strong glue?
Me: UHU?
Lily (confused and a tad but panicked): Mama it’s me Leila!!

———————————————

It was World Day parade today at her school and Leila was- wait for it- a “Pakistani”.
Some gems she has shared with us this week on being one are:
1. Pakistanis only eat chapati.
2. They wear red Kurtas.
3. Only boys are Pakistani. (so in the spirit of the parade, she was a boy today)
4. They talk in “sla-laikumm”
5. They sing the national anthem together when happy.
6. Pakistani’s cousins are from France

———————————————

Both kids have declared that it’s “cheating that the REAL heart looks nothing like the drawing heart” and that “it’s not even the right shade of red”.

#reality #nadilily #verylongafternoons #biologyfail

———————————————

Hey Leila- why do you want to be an astronaut when you grow up?
Because I want to.
Yes but why an astronaut?
How else will I see the stars Mama?

———————————————

 

true love, good vs evil and happily ever afters.

chelsea mitchellsThe sisters and I used to play a game. We “owned” things we liked. So if I was particularly fond of a cartoon or a film or a story, it belonged to me, which meant that any imaginative play that came out of that particular theme, was up to me to direct and run and I could get dibs on which character I wanted to be. The classification was based on a number of things- what appealed to us most, which story we most related to or sometimes simply even a favourite colour. So while growing up, in the princess love category, I was Sleeping Beauty (I cannot recall the reason why anymore), Middling was Snow White (for her gentle nature and affinity for animals) and Little Jam was Cinderella (evil stepsisters!) So I was excited to see what they have done to my Maleficent. Out of all the villainous beauties, she was definitely the one with the most presence and style and I was very curious to see how she had been “humanized”. I had heard a lot of mixed reviews on whether this was an appropriate movie for kids between 4 and 7 and after talking to a few people whose opinion I could trust, followed by a good sweep of the internet (while trying to dodge spoilers) I decided that I would take them and then remain vigilant throughout the movie in case I needed to distract them from some part. We loved it of course. I am blown away by how amazingly the idea of true love and evil and good is interwoven now to represent both powers, often in one character. It is so true to life now. There is no longer the simplicity of , black or white that we grew up with. More often than not, it is both that reside together, often in some locked battle to see what wins out. I can no longer answer the question that Lily asks, “Mama is she good or bad?” in simply one word. And for Nadi, who has long been fascinated by the villainous characters of all the stories he has encountered with the justification that they are simply “more interesting”, the idea of a good and bad battle raging within has unlocked a whole new level of questions and wonderings. With Nadi and Lily, the way I have done things is so different, so in depth in its analysis and infused with play that I am never quite certain what concept is being scrutinized at what point but I have learnt that I like them to be questioning. To be curious and chatty and asky. I like them to think that things are not and do not always have to be a way we previously knew them to be. That the idea of changing one’s mind or self is good> That a back story which explains things further makes us more human, better people and more able to “walk in other people’s shoes”, to quote a beloved Atticus. Perhaps it is soon to introduce that concept to them, I do wonder, given that I am making sense of it myself. But I can’t help loving how movies like Frozen and Maleficent have opened up the idea of true love, evil and good to further understanding, more introspection and more options, so we are able to redefine happily ever after and heroes and villains, allowing them a chance to be other than what they were always limited to being. amaleficent__marc_davis_by_alohaman636-d5i74t2

 

 

Maleficent was created by Marc F. Davis, who was one of the most wonderful animators of his time and one of Disney’s Nine Old Men for his knowledge and understanding of visual aesthetics, the famed core animators of Disney animated films. http://fyeahmarcdavis.tumblr.com/

What do you ask for?

My earliest gaussian-clear memory of asking my mother about powers of the Higher Power as it may be, was after I saw this TV series called “Out of this World”. It was about a girl whose father was an alien and she had the power to stop time. To the me of that time it was the coolest most amazing gift ever and I asked for it with most heart I could. I vaguely recall making my index fingers meet horizontally a couple of times (her mode of stopping time) after that to see if my “prayer” had been answered.

“Did you know whatever you want comes from Allah Mian?” asked my mother once, when I think we sisters wanted something and we had been told no. If memory serves correctly it was a Wendy house, elaborately made of wood at the time we lived in Qatar. We used to drive past that big toy shop and see it all beckoning and lovely in the window. “So we should ask Him and not you?” I clarified, a tad confused. “Will he tell you to get it?” I needed to know the logistics.

Fast forward to more years later when I asked my mother if God gave us whatever we wanted if we asked for it hard and true, even if it seemed impossible. I suspect, though I am not too clear on the details now, that some kind of heart matter was involved at the time. “Well, she said, weighing the response and trying not to smile, “if He thinks that’s the best you should have then yes He will eventually give it to you”. It was a committed non committal answer that made my conversations with God become more personal and what I think was a pivotal point in how I evolved in my connection with Him.

My system of belief has always been an almost childlike one- simple and straightforward. Maybe that is how I was initially introduced to religion and spirituality but the lesson has stuck. I shy away from the complications and aggressive status updates that are abundant and toxic now and I am interested more in feeding that part of me that applies the faith factor to living life as best as we can.

September 12, 2010. The day after Zo died. Ruby, my wonderful, loud, warm, and somewhat exasperating doctor, came in to see me. She was exuberantly dressed in a bright saree, with big earrings dangling from her ears and cheerful red lipstick. It was the day after Eid and the flurry of celebrations for us by then had turned into a flurry of arrangements for Zo’s janaza.  I was sitting in my room, waiting to be called to go to see Lily in the NICU for out few hourly visit. “You asked for perfect healthy babies, Sara” she told me, “and He always grants your duas no matter what. The only thing we can’t imagine is how He will do it so that it is the best way possible for us, and for that we must trust Him.” I don’t think I understood the full import of the words back then but they have come to revisit me many a times since then. It was probably the best and most comforting thing I had heard in those few days . It was true, I have it in my journal also from the night before I had them. The prayer for them to be perfect. To not suffer. I actually did not say I needed them both with me. Not in so that many words.

Image

(Zo, from the day she was born.)

So after all this, what do I ask for? I still ask for it all of course; all that He wants to give me. And then I pray for the strength to be able to deal with it all because, us human beings, us tiny specks of dusts in the vastness of life, we have no idea of how much we can get if only we knew how to ask it right. One of the hardest things to practice has been to try to curtail what I think I want for myself, with the knowledge that what He may have in store will be better than my wildest imaginations. To leave it upto Him is both easy and really difficult, so I always put in a side note now, of what I would like  it to be, and could He please possibly make THAT the best thing for me. After all, we control freaks are hard to subdue.