Three months ago, I got divorced

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Three months ago, I got divorced. Perhaps very few people would have known this save for the fact that Man of my Dreams (now simply the Father of my Children) had posted on FB about how not all endings are sad and his new lady love posted back because some endings have happy beginnings. Needless to say this was in poor taste because it is indeed sad no matter how happy the beginning that a family unravels, that two children lose their parents living under one roof and that a 13 year old marriage comes to an end. However, if there is anything I have learnt over the past few years of my life, it is that there is very little one can in fact, control.

For the past year and a half I’ve kept my silence because this is the respect I owed the husband I loved for 13 years and the man who gave me my most precious gifts  – my children. Friends and family often questioned this in the face of the way he and his love interest handled our post separation period, using all social media and charged physical appearances to declare their feelings, brandishing themselves for all to see. But there is dignity in silence (and God and my loved ones know I was NOT silent in private) and my upbringing speaks of a certain pedigree. One also needs to conserve energy to lick your wounds, muster up strength to deal with the million to-dos that carry on regardless and of course to make sense of the future now that plans have clearly changed :-O !!!

Death. Disease and now Divorce. I’ve been through them all in the last few years and riding on the pain of the first two while moving into the sheer trauma of the third is not easy, especially when it is not just about you, but also about managing the overall wellness of your children. Unfortunately today there are a lot of single mothers out there… for all of you out there I try and capture the myriad of emotions I went through so that you know you’re not alone, that you can survive it and to give you a bit of strength if you are going through it now.

  • Invest in your children – there is nothing more important than their physical and emotional well-being. For a year and a half I’ve rarely left the house after eight. I give them reiki every night to heal their worries. We share our day, go over our affirmations and say our prayers together every night. Whatever the night is like, I wake up to get them ready for school, ensure their bellies are full, write them little notes in their lunchboxes. Surprise pick ups from school; surprise appearances to their extra curricular activities. If you’re a working mom, create action packed weekends but also learn to relax together. Love them. Show them you do. REPEATEDLY. Tell them repeatedly that the split had nothing to do with them. Be as honest with them as possible so they don’t get the uneasy feeling of knowing something is wrong and creating ghosts in their mind of what it can be
  • The children’s father – No matter what happens to your relationship, he will always have this place in your life and so it is best to try and be as cordial as possible. Despite your own feelings, the children need two parents so try and give them that. Listen to your gut; especially if you are the parent living with them as you can see the intricacies of their adjustment and development in greater detail than he can. Don’t bad mouth him as they are half him and whatever you say about him is also what they will perceive about themselves
  • Get support – the saying goes ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and there couldn’t be a truer one. This is the time to recruit grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, the kids friend’s parents. Create your village around you and don’t feel guilty about it. My workplace gave me a short sabbatical to get my act together – talk to work and if they’re not a diversity friendly employer – write to me and lets talk – I run a women’s business J. Share; you must share. Friends and family have been concerned about me hiding away and internalizing. Perhaps I was. But I was also DOING and UNDOING a lot. Starting a lot from scratch. And that takes time and focus. And when I’m in that zone, I don’t shut the world out, I simply lose myself in my own world. So do what you got to do
  • Ego – easy to say, but it bites. To be dumped for another woman shatters your self esteem beyond belief, especially after you believe you’ve tried your best (and when she’s not the most attractive piece of work J). Dump the ego. This is not about you. Its about someone else, albeit your partner and what they are seeking. Perhaps it is the other way around and they just don’t feel good enough for you and so need to settle for someone more appropriate to them!
  • Self Doubt – the classic question every mother/wife asks herself. Did I do enough? Am I doing enough? Let me answer it for you – yes you are. This was not about what you did or didn’t do. It was about something missing in your marriage. It was about the combination of the two of you just not working out and that’s ok. Sometimes two people outgrow each other and just can’t come together again on any level be it physical, spiritual or emotional
  • Be Honest – even if you don’t want to in public. Do it under the covers; in the lap of your best friend; underwater in a swimming pool. It is important to let go of the anger and bitterness at some point and honestly understand that if you were really, truly a happy couple, there would be no space for another person. Do it when you are ready but you MUST do it. Today I believe that if he had come to me and opened his heart out saying that while I was away caring for my mother who was having a heart transplant, he realized we were not right for each other, we would have walked away as two friends; amicable co-parents. The disrespect of his chosen path and the handling of it is what hurt
  • Forgive – you will never be able to forget. For years you may have trust or abandonment issues depending on why and how your split happened, but you must forgive him/them right from your very cells; repeatedly. Because if you don’t, this resentment and bitterness is what turns to disease and that doesn’t help your children or you. So forgive – for your sake; not theirs
  • Let go – I loved my in laws. I really believed I was a born fit into that family and I loved being the daughter in law of my mother-in-law, the sister-in-law to my brothers and sister in laws. That shatters. Grieve and then let go of them because blood is thicker than water and very rarely do those relationships last in the fragility of a broken marriage. In today’s world, if that means blocking them all off every single social media connection there is, then so be it
  • Face your Fears – I went straight from my father’s home to my husband’s home and there were so many things I just never had to handle. Now I can. I can do my taxes, get my cars serviced, sell an old one and buy a new one, book the kids and my holidays, run my monthly budget and live in extremely tight financial conditions. I aint scared of nothing no more. So do it. Jump in and KNOW that you will fly
  • Take your time – There will be many opinions on how you should put your life together again but don’t listen to anyone but yourself. Your gut
  • Find yourself – in all the fixing and sorting and soothing you end up doing during a divorce, it is really important to figure out who you are. Divorce is one of the 5 known most stressful conditions humans go through. And if you’re going through one it means you’re probably doing a fair bit of shredding and analyzing both your marriage and yourself. Sure, do that. But also focus on the new you. The suddenly single you who needs to find their own identity again minus your other half

Two weeks post my divorce, I found myself on a flight to England, exactly 18 years after I first got on a flight to England, flying the nest for the first time. Like that time 18 years ago, I was single again, going to Oxford to study and starting a new chapter of my life. My time there away from work and from the kids gave me hours to introspect, to understand who I am today and to be ok with myself. Today I’m not licking my wounds anymore. Today I look towards the future with hope and optimism, confidence and positivity because today I know I have faced many fears and overcome them. Perhaps this is God’s way of blessing me and leading me towards a life and a love I never imagined… after all, how many people get second chances?

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How to give birth to your mother

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By popular demand I write my blog today. This year I have been most irregular. However this has been a year like no other. OH WHAT A YEAR! Yesterday my mother, my only surviving parent, had her heart removed and with the sheer courage and generosity of another human’s will, had their heart transplanted into her body. What a concept. Today she took her first breath. Tomorrow she will start on a soft diet. Day after they say she will take her first steps. Just like a new born baby who is first exposed to the world. Except this time the tables are turned. Her children are the parents who will see to her care, her growth and her nurturing. OH WHAT A CONCEPT! As her children, my brother and me have been applauded, received accolades, received tags like ‘Heros’ and ‘Bravehearts’ and ‘Shravan Kumars’ . HOWEVER, I say, lets flip this. How many children get to return the gift of life to their parents? How lucky are we? The few chosen ones. How much more does God need to do to show us that we are his precious ones?

So how did we do it? Well I can’t speak for my brother but this is my take on how I got through one year of ‘How to give Birth to your Mother”! It was a recipe of three ingredients:

  1. Mind Set

I am a Doula by training and profession. The literal translation for Doula is ‘Woman who Serves’ and so we support birthing and new mothers emotionally, physically as best we can, holding their hand during their most exciting yet tumultuous journey. I told myself that this was my biggest Doula job ever. Birthing my Mother. Doing whatever it took. This meant becoming a parent to my only parent, detaching myself from the situation enough to see it objectively, researching the various options we had as meticulously as possible, taking into account the opinions of all ensuring family felt included and involved and then making the final presentation to my Mother so that she had all the information to make HER choice. Taking her power away from her at any point was out of the question. There was no space for emotion, irrationality, moaning about the unfairness of life. There was simply too much to be done.

By process of elimination we moved from Ma saying ‘I do not, absolutely do not, want a heart transplant’ on the 16th of December last year to her having her successful transplant on the 14th of December this year. Not once, despite the turbulence of emotions, not once, did we EVEN CONSIDER that she would not make it. The mind was set and when the mind is set, the vibrations sent to the Universe WILL NOT be ignored.

  1. Sheer Grit

It was not just about dealing with the looming issue of the transplant that one had to handle but as a working mother, daughter, wife, granddaughter one also had to ‘live life’. And so for one year I only ‘dealt’. I did. I actioned. I worked on autopilot. There was no time to get sick. No time to collapse. Wake up Nirvaan Inayat. Get them ready. Send to school with kisses and smiles. Meaningful kisses and real smiles. Homework. Piano class. Karate class. Soccer Practice. Art Exhibition. Typhoid shots. Cavity fillings. Check.

Ghar Ka hisab kitab. Paying bills. Ordering groceries. Get Diesel filled. Washing machine needs fixing. Cooking meals. Everyone must get what they want. My home must not be compromised. Dada goes to hospital. Nani goes to hospital. Dada goes to hospital. Nani goes to hospital. Check.

Mamma Mia is launched. The dream must be vindicated. Must help women all over India. Must make a difference. Fortis La Femme. Fortis Memorial Research Institute. Fortis Shalimar Bagh. Ensure my partner Shruti is coping well. Ensure the teams are coping well. Ensure my eye is on the ball at all times. Ensure clients are not impacted. Ensure revenue keeps growing. Check.

Chennai. Delhi. Chennai. Delhi. Chennai. Delhi. Take Ma to doc. Monitor liquid intake. Monitor Urine Output. Monitor Parameters. Do lung exercises. Chat and keep her Positive. Create Whatsapp groups for her to be connected to everyone. Six hours daily doses of Greys Anatomy and Brothers & Sisters. Take her for her 5 minute walks (that’s all her capacity would allow). Buy groceries. Cook. Check. Check. Check.

As I said, there was no time to collapse. No time to do anything else but what needed to be done. Many loved ones couldn’t understand why I would not ease up; ‘Go out. Have a drink. Chill out. Hang out’, but you see, everyone copes in different ways and I was on a Mission. Create Organ Receiving and Giving Awareness Network (ORGAN). Rally up the troops. Take away the pain from the world. Stop the pain. Stop the pain. Turn bad into good. Create hope. Fight. Fight. Fight. During this past year, I took more care of myself than ever before. Exercise, Meditation, Diet, Vitamins, Mind and Body work, Sleep. After all, I was fighting a war and this was not one we could afford to lose.

Don’t feel. Don’t think. Don’t analyse. Don’t watch the pot. Don’t send out negative vibes. Don’t lose focus. Don’t lose hope. Don’t lose FAITH. CHECK???

  1. Faith

Faith is one of those things which is extremely personal. My mother has been very quiet about it her whole life while my father was very expressive. My husband doesn’t believe and neither does my brother. A dear friend recently asked me about my Faith; that he felt it was wavering and asked me what it means to me. I’ve thought about his question for a few days, but I attempt to answer it today.

I believe in something bigger than me. Something or someone to rely on, to share with, to talk to. Perhaps my God is not a traditional looking one. Perhaps my God cannot be found in a temple or shrine or is a living Master. But my God is MINE. To love. To fear. To fight with. To scream at. To cry to. Over the years, I have been to temples, mosques, churches; I have meditated, chanted and sat in sermons. All trying to find answers to questions I didn’t know how to voice. I don’t follow any path. I don’t believe in any one particular deity or Guru. But I BELIEVE. This is not to say I don’t waver. But I do have Faith that I am looked out for, carried through and if I give into that, then the larger story will be revealed. Let me give you a sense of where ALL this was shown to me during this journey.

Just before Ma’s condition deteriorated, I started working at Fortis Healthcare, where I had access to a plethora of hospitals, doctors and surrounded myself by a second ‘family’ who would come to support me incredibly through my journey. When Ma said she would absolutely not go to the US, we did not even know that India was an option and until various Angels here pointed out that fact, we were getting ourselves adjusted to the fact that she may not agree at all. As the process of elimination continued, doctors from the US and the UK ‘miraculously appeared’ in Delhi and were available for consultation. During those first few weeks I remember waking up or staying up at all odd hours for conference calls, meeting people in cars, coffee shops and clinics to ensure we had not left any stone unturned. Everyone said she would not have a fair shot abroad – the wait would be too long. But India didn’t ‘seem experienced’ enough, were some of the counter arguments we heard. How wonderful would it be if she could be transplanted in the comfort of her own home; but Delhi didn’t have an organised donor network.

Again, miraculously, a well known surgeon from Chennai where there WAS an organised network turned up in Delhi. He was the saviour. We felt it. He rejected her. Said she was too old. But he would still do it he said. Ha! My 60 year old mother was definitely NOT too old and THAT was simply not what we were going to accept. Something kept telling my brother and me that this was NOT IT! My Fortis Angels kept suggesting we speak in more detail, that we meet Dr Balakrishnan, at Fortis in Chennai. We let ourselves be guided. Our one day trip to Chennai was surreal. We met Dr Bala and within minutes KNEW HE WAS THE ONE. Intelligent, kind, charismatic, he had all the time in the world to answer all our questions and the patience to explain his thoughts in layman’s terms. She didn’t frighten him. He was the first person who was not frightened by her case. We had originally decided to check out another hospital before we returned to Delhi and out of fairness for our Mother, we decided to continue with that. On the way there, we found a new high rise residential building FIVE MINUTES away from Fortis hospital. It was amazing how everything was falling into place and how so many rejections turned into directions, helping us find our way to where we are today.

My mother in law came over from the UK to help support my husband look after my kids, my Masis stood like pillars around us filling in for periods when we could be at home, our friends and family rallied around us, my workplace never once challenged my remote working arrangement. And yet, I wasn’t always understanding and grateful. I had tantrums and fits and breakdowns and shut outs – those closest to me suffered the most and they know who they are and that I would do for them the same. Faith is one of those incredibly personal things. It is tested and challenged in amazing ways. The grip on it may loosen but that is what is being tested; our ability to do our best and trust that someone is looking after the rest.

Every experience in life is a lesson. I’ve definitely faced a lot more of those lessons that the average 34 year old reading this. My lesson for this one is to get the mind Focused on the goal, summon up the Grit that I know is in there and keep the Faith. With every experience, I grow closer to learning what I am meant to; I grow closer to finding myself and what I am capable of. So until the next lesson, I breathe, I smile and I toast to my Mother.

How many daughters get to witness the birth of their mother?

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My childhood was a dream. I had two doting parents, an abundance of friends and family around all the time. Love was showered in never-ending waterfalls. We were a family who had everything and yet no more than what we needed. We were what I would always think of as a ‘normal average family’ and I was quite happy with my self-coined term. That was until my father died. My strong, brave, invincible father died of a heart attack playing his favourite game. Then life went ape shit.

They say that God dishes out to the people who are strong enough to take it. They say that the old has to move out to make way for the new. They say that we keep living out our life patterns or scripts until we learn the lessons set out for us. All this is well and good, but what if you travel the road and still don’t see the signs? In the seven years since my father has been gone, our family has lost its way. And now my mother needs a heart transplant. How frightening is that. A HEART TRANSPLANT.

When I think about it, I want to laugh as much as cry. What happened to the ‘normal average family’? This was NOT part of my plan. My plan was to get married, have kids, drop my kids over to my parents’ house, work a job, and mark my kids’ growth on the wall every year along with counting the silver hair on my parents’ heads. The question is – was that really what I wanted deep inside or is what is happening now a true reflection of what I wanted out of my life? Not an ordinary life, but an extraordinary one?

If my father had not left us, we would never have had the chance to grow and blossom beyond his protective shade. If my father had not left us neither would I have written a book or sold an idea, conceived of my promise to him and my own pain, twice over to two large corporates. So does this really prove that there are lessons set out for us to learn even at a painful cost?

Do you believe that larger forces are at work in our lives? In Destiny? In Angels? In Miracles? I am a Believer. I have always believed in the strange, the occult, the unexplained and my life seems to be proving the unexplained to me every day. Just before my mother’s condition started getting worse, I joined one of Asia’s largest healthcare chains. This is called Destiny. Here I found people who held me up, sheltered me and carried me on my road when I couldn’t walk anymore on my own. It was instant recognition. Safety. Security. Familiarity. Like I had known them forever. They are called Angels. How is it possible that my Destiny and my Angels appeared at that very time when life seemed to be playing a cruel joke on me? That is called a Miracle.

So when people ask me how I have the strength to laugh in the face of such adversity and to turn my pain into positivity, I tell them what I see. That I am lucky enough to be faced with challenges and I will be lucky enough to be able to look back and be proud of what I have overcome. This is my Destiny. My Angels are here to help me and I will get my Miracle. No. I was not meant for an ordinary or a normal life. Deep inside, I didn’t want that. I came from extraordinary parents and I was meant for the extraordinary. After all, how many daughters get to witness the birth of their mother?

Nightmares or Night Terrors?

Number One has been having nightmares since he was born. He’s always been a bad sleeper; waking up repeatedly in the night, crying incessantly because of overtiredness or the inability to put himself to sleep. Man Of my Dreams and I have tried everything. The pick up-put down method. Letting him cry it out. Hiring a sleep trainer who spent three nights with us trying to settle him into a routine. (yes, being in London and doing the work that I do made me try pretty much everything). And nothing worked. At almost 7, he has never spent a night away from our bed even when his younger sister has been an independent sleeper since day one. In fact, over the years it has gotten worse. He not only finds it hard to sleep and ends up in our bed but he wakes up with nightmares.

The last 10 days, he has been having nightmares every single night. Although its not great that he’d been having them in the first place, we consoled ourselves saying all kids have bad dreams at some point. Number One is a fun loving kid; full of beans. But he is also very sensitive and honest and shares most things with his father or me. When he doesn’t share and I know something is bothering him, I use a Brandon Bays Journey Process where we travel on a magical spaceship through his body and explore what he may be feeling and can’t express. However, this past week, my son has woken up sweating, shaking and screaming soon after he has gone to bed with no memory at all of anything the next day. Man of my Dreams and me are avid ‘Googlers’ so after a few repeat performances which left the whole house disrupted and honestly, a little scared, we discovered that he was not having Nightmares but in fact something called ‘Night Terrors’. The difference being that Night Terrors happen soon after the child has gone to bed when sleep transitions from deeper non-REM sleep to lighter REM sleep whereas nightmares occur later in the night. When a child experiences Night Terrors, they might sit up with a start, be sweaty or clammy, their heartbeat may be faster and they can be quite upset and agitated to the extent where they are tough to calm down.

We tried everything we could to remedy the situation. I called in my forces of child therapists, pranic healers, homeopaths. We changed the pre-bedtime routine, ensured there was no stimulating activity or food an hour before bed. We had story time, prayer time, put a good luck charm under his pillow, left a light on, took him into our bed, spent a few nights in his bed. But nothing worked and what made it worse was that it was written everywhere that the ‘norm’ for night terrors was once or twice a month so that 10 days and counting was terrifying us. When I pushed him for a description of what he sees, he was only able to say ‘Mama I don’t see anyone or hear any words. I just hear songs and feel that something is coming near me and it is very scary.’ This explanation rattled all of us except Man of the Dreams who started quoting from his favourite horror movies scoffing at my thought that Number One was able to see or hear more than the rest of us. In the day he was his happy, energetic self with no signs of any disturbance in the night to himself or us.

I had met an Aura Reader when Number One was about 6 months old and she had said he would be a sensitive child, extremely intelligent and intuitive to things around him; this was because he was ‘an old soul’. Science has always stated that children carry with them their experiences of past lives, life in the womb, especially during their early years. I am a great believe in all of these things. I have seen the magic that is possible with alternative therapies in my work. I have seen how past life and generational messages have consequences on our current ability to be happy and content. Man on my Dreams respects what I do but is hugely sceptical when my theories and beliefs infiltrate down to ‘his’ children. I had heard of people in rural parts of India ‘Jharoing’ kids who are plagued with various sticky issues. Was I willing to go down this avenue of the unknown? When I held my son two nights ago and saw how frightened he was at the mere thought of going to bed, I knew I would do anything.

So I called in my trusty cook who has been with us for years (and is the person who decides when he has to nazar uttaro each of us) and asked him if the Dhobi below our house still did his Indian version of exorcism. (shudder at the thought but pushed ahead anyway)

Kanhaiya was brought before me and explained how he wanted Number One to touch a bowl of sugar which would then be taken to him to do a mantra on. Then when he was asleep, we were to put a few granules of that sugar in his mouth. Repeat for three nights and he would never have a disturbed night again. Man of My Dreams called me crazy and clearly stated that he would be no part of this ‘madness’. We went through the motions.

Number One has not woken up the last two days. He has not come to our bed the last two days. For the first time since his birth.

Call it belief. Call it coincidence. Call it magic. Call it crazy. I call it mother’s instinct. I believe there will ALWAYS be a solution out there for my kids and I will go any route, even if unconventional, to find it. And if some magic happens along the way – well there is nothing wrong with that is there?

Tiger mother or Total sucker?

This piece has been inspired by conversations with various friends and clients on whether they are making the right choices when raising their children. The issues range from how much to breastfeed, when to start solids, what type of solids to start, how to deal with tantrums, how to build confidence and so on. I’ve been working in pregnancy and childcare for years now, however I feel the true answers, the correct ones for each woman and her child, lies in her instinct. There is no right and wrong and all the Parenting Gurus can only give guidance; each child is different and each parent’s approach is based on them and their children.

The last week has been gruesome at home. Number Two and me have had our swords drawn and for once none of us is backing down. For the past 6 months she has wanted to join all the extracurricular classes her brother does and yet when I pay the money and get her set to go, she backs down. This has resulted in a lot of money down the toilet, a lot of tears (from both of us), a lot of angry tirades (again from both of us) and a lot more grey hair joining their comrades on my head.

After a lot of analysis and thought on what type of mother I am, I have decided I oscillate between Tiger Mother and Total Sucker. I believe very strongly in a few things which I then stick to like glue and expect my kids to. Many a time the kids have been woken from slumber to be somewhere at the right time, dragged away from family gathering to be put to bed despite the other kids in the family being around and fed meals crying that they just don’t want it. From day one, my chosen way was the Gina Ford routine monger diluted with a little bit of supermom nurturing. I am a working mom and so my kids were born and raised to adjust to my life so that we are both at peace. Plus I believe that routines and discipline provide security and comfort to kids as they know that no matter what happens, life goes on and there are certain expectations they have to meet and certain basics which WILL be provided to them.

One of the strong beliefs that Man-of-my-Dreams and I have for the kids is that they are exposed to sport, the arts, music, drama and dance in these early years. They must try everything out and then I trust my children enough, even at this age to be able to make their own choices on what they would like to pursue.

Number Two is not like Number One who has toed the line (ok my kids have too much personality to toe the line but at least he didn’t fight me as much) and the last minute ditching of her summer camp was just too much to bear.  I am not going to be pushed around. So harsh or not, I have ‘grounded’ her. Yes, at four years old. So what, I say? She must learn to be responsible for her actions and all actions have consequences. I have given her the freedom to stick with her choice of not going. But as a result, she is now not allowed to leave the house for other activities either. No park, no Nani’s house. I had given her a choice and continue to give her one. But until she ‘decides’  to give life a chance, her life is restricted to her house. I am still as loving, nurturing and considerate as I always was BUT I am standing my ground and want her to understand that.

My family seem to think I’m being very tough on a four year old but I believe that these young years are truly the formative ones and it is at this time that I need to set in place the values I deem important – commitment, not quitting, achieving success when you overcome fears and above all – being confident enough to try out anything. I don’t know how long I will last but day 4 seems to be going pretty well. Wish me luck. I’m just doing my best by following my instinct – a mother’s most powerful tool.

Zindagi na Milega Dobara…with the bubbas

We just returned from a 10 day road trip across Spain. The whole world and their aunt had plenty to comment about how mad we were to attempt such a holiday with two kids under 7 but we pooh-poohed them and with full confidence ploughed ahead with all the arrangements. The thing is that Man of my Dreams and I were great travellers BK (Before Kids). Living in London we took full advantage of all the Bank Holiday weekends and budget airfares to embark on various adventures across different locations. We are not the lying-on-a-beach type of people. We are the lets-not-stop-moving-for-even-a-minute type of people. We like seeing different places, eating different food, experiencing different local lifestyles and for the past 7 years AK (After Kids), our holidays have been restricted to resorts which have beaches, swimming pools and in-room dining; punctuated with theme park based kiddie friendly holidays in between. This year I put my foot down. We work hard all year long which means the least we deserve is a holiday of our choosing once a year. After much deliberation, Man of My Dreams and I narrowed it down to Spain motivated by the fact of course that it was closer than South America which was our top choice, more economically friendly than Fiji and Number One was still reeling from his ‘how cool’ hangover of the flick Zindagi Na Milega Doobara which is what he thought he would replicate on his own trip (even though he was 7 and travelling with his family).

So here is my guide how to survive Delhi-London-Madrid-Seville-Toledo-Cadiz-Sotogrande-Marbella-Rhonda-Cabo De Gata-Valencia in 10 days with 2 kids, the man-of-your-dreams and the-source-of-all-your-wisdom (your mother).

  • ·         Book a night flight so that the bubbas can sleep through the flight and be fresh to face the day
  • ·         Do not watch movies on that flight or the bubbas will be like energiser batteries the next day and you will be forced to cope with it on your lack batteries
  • ·         Take lots of snacks for the long car rides to keep the kids fueled and their mouths busy
  • ·         Ensure they do not eat or drink too much or you will be dealing with many more unscheduled breaks (either inside or outside the car)
  • ·         It would be handy if man-of- your-dreams works out a few weeks before the trip for the emergency bathroom stops where he has to grab a child in rugby hold underarm position and race to the loo
  • ·         Some useful in the car games to keep the kids busy are ‘I Spy’, ‘Name, Place, Animal, Thing’ and ‘Twenty Questions’. Pls note that questions don’t stop at 20 though
  • ·         An educational learning tool which also keeps little hands occupied for hours is creating a scrapbook of the trip which helps them remember places of interest
  • ·         Try and schedule all driving time post lunch which is the best time for kids and their grandmothers to snooze and so allows quiet time for driving parents
  • ·         If you are going to stress about the nutritional content of what your bubbas are consuming during this type of a holiday – don’t. Their diet will most likely comprise of fries and ice cream
  • ·         The best investment made on day 3 of the trip was a second pram – yes, for the 6 year old. It doesn’t matter if you judge me – I was judged all across Spain but my back, my arms and me are better for it
  • ·         A flamenco performance in Spain with kids means that your daughter will dress up in what she calls a ‘Flamingo’ outfit and dance the flamenco on your head
  • ·         Book as many vineyard tours, point to as many landscapes, reserve as many tables at fancy restaurants as you want; your kids will want to be on the beach or in the pool and that is what you will end up doing most of your trip. But you can always try
  • ·         A grandmother is a useful tool on a longish holiday with kids as she ends up diffusing tension (between the kids and more importantly, between man-of-your-dreams and you)

Most importantly, don’t give up trying to have the holiday of your dreams because the kids will learn to do it your way soon enough and you would have exposed them to far more than what you would doing it just their way. Live it up – after all, Zindagi na Milega Doobara.

What is a ‘good mother’?

I have been struggling with this for years. All the trans generational messages passed down to me from both sides of my family have always indicated that when you become a mother, your prime responsibility is to you child; i.e a career is not something associated with being a ‘good’ mother. Good mothers spend all their time with their children. They are physically there for them when their kids need them (when does a child not need their mother? I still need mine!). Is that even possible?

Last week, Number 2 was very sick; we were suspecting scarlet fever but it turned out to be a terrible stomach infection. The always-present knot in my stomach tightened at the thought of the coming days where work and motherhood would play a more intense tug of war. Guit. Guilt as a mother. Guilt as a person responsible for a business. My constant companion. My soul sister. No matter how hard I try to shed her, she sticks loyally to me refusing to let go. I have a pretty good deal. My work is my passion and the organisations I have worked for have always respected that. Work at home arrangements, flexible clocking in and clocking out have enabled me to give my best to work and my best to my kids. If this were not the case, I would not work. I have great household help to look after my kids when I’m not there, all who have been with me since before my babies were born. And yet, I spent the good part of last week crying myself to sleep, crying outside my office, crying before and after seeing clients (and I’m supposed to be a voice when it comes to Pregnancy and Parenting) at the thought of leaving my poor sick baby alone!

This piece is a result of two conversations I had with two of my closest girlfriends. The first one asked me why I work if it tears me up so much and this was my reply:

  1. To have something of my own so I don’t focus all my attention on my children (eventually they will outgrow me)
  2. To teach them to be independent – it is not possible for Mama to always be around
  3. To be a role model – it is important to pursue your dreams; to have a purpose

My friend responded that these were pretty good reasons for spending that time away from the kids and all logical reasons why this decision should also benefit them. I was not convinced. My other friend asked me to pen down what my definition of a good mother was. She suggested that perhaps my struggle was because of a clash between my child (the part of me that still carries messages from my childhood) and my adult (my present, rational self) and it was time to address this. Being a student of Transactional Analysis therapy, I understand that there comes a time when we become so aware of the patterns we keep repeating that they need to be addressed and so I accepted the next challenge, which was to pen down my definition of a ‘Good Mother.’ Here goes:

  1. One who is ‘present’ with her children. Gives them full attention and response with focused eye contact, body language and words.
  2. One who disciplines them when required, gives them values, teaches the difference between right and wrong.
  3. One who is there to soothe them when they are upset, kiss their ouchies, wipe their tears, massage away their aches and pains.
  4. One who is not always with them but provides them with the security to know that she WILL always try her best to be there as soon as possible. And until then, gives them the confidence in their own ability to cope on their own.
  5. One who exposes them to all that the world has to offer, encourages them to be confident enough to go get what they want and be okay if they don’t get it all the time.
  6. One who teaches them to give it their best, to never stop trying, to know that nothing is beyond their reach and yet one who is willing to throw out all rules and schedules every now and then to dance in the rain and eat donuts for dinner.
  7. One who is not afraid to show her kids that it is OK to be human – to cry once in a while, to lose some, to make mistakes and to say sorry. For it is only then that children learn that when you get knocked down, you can get up again and when you fail, success is just around the corner.
  8. Most of all, one who shows them that love is not shown by the amount of time spent together, but by the type of time spent together and that each minute, the ups, the downs, is worth it because it is part of the journey called life.

There are plenty of stay-at-home moms who are there at home every day with their kids, who make it to every extracurricular activity and every classmate’s birthday party. But do they really make their time with their kids count more than I do? I am up with my kids every morning, dress them, eat brekkie with them and give them Reiki before school. I coordinate their activities and meals while at work and have made it to every performance, award ceremony and PTM that any of them have ever had. I rush back from work to ensure I am the one who bathes them, feeds them and puts them to bed with a story and our nightly prayers. Our weekends are choc-a-block with activities like swimming, cycling at India gate, movies and play dates.

Every mom has a different parenting style except for one thing – we all do what we feel is best for our children. So if I am doing my best, what more can my kids ask for? When I look at them, they are happy, healthy, curious, all-rounded children. I turned from Marketing professional to Birth Professional because motherhood inspired me to support other moms. Now if only I could extricate myself from that loyal best friend – Guilt, life would be its chaotic, mad, fun, perfect best. Cut yourself some slack Supermom!