22

Ghost of Birthday Past – The First Day!

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Today I turned a year older, not much wiser, but definitely older. I entered a new decade. I hit the big 30. Am I where I thought I would be? No! Did I accomplish everything I thought I would? No! Yet, am I happy? YES! As I sat eating cake for breakfast, I had one of those moments when the past flashed before my eyes. I could see each of my birthdays pretty darn clearly. How they were celebrated, who were with me and to some extent even the resolutions I made. Some of the made me giggle, some made me happy and some sad. So today I thought I’d write about my past birthdays, starting with the one almost 30 years ago.

Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start. (How many of you know where I took those lines from?) The first day ever, 28 of August 1983. Obviously this is only a dramatic recreation of the events of the day seeing as I was slightly occupied with entering new world and all to actually remember anything.However most of the childbirths in my family follow the same blueprint, the one I will be explaining to you.

Mine is an extremely close knit family. Something happens and everyone in the family comes over from wherever to be a part of it. There is no extended family. Everyone is immediate family. On of the most celebrated moments in our family is the birth of a new one. I’ve attended enough child birth hooplas to know what must have transpired when I was born. Technically the festivities start from the moment you pee on a stick and see two lines. From then on its mayhem. Every food ever to have been made in the world gets made and presented to the pregnant person. Any hopes of not putting on weight and having a healthy diet is bundled up and thrown into the ocean. The family singularly unites to fatten the pregnant woman. They will have it no other way. Little children, ogling at the delicacies, are shooed away lest their desire for the food cast an evil eye on the pregnant woman. I know, I’ve both been shooed away and have had kids shooed away from my food. Though its infinitely more fun when you are the pregnant woman than the kid.

Anyways, the family usually unites when the woman starts showing signs of labour. I remember my Mum telling me she had a fairly long labour and so I’m guessing the family gathered as soon as my Mum felt her first moment of discomfort. From then on, while Mum lay in the labour room, there must have been pre-birth celebrations outside the labour room. Food would be brought to the hospital and distributed. Everyone decides to camp outside the room to hear the good news as soon as it happens. There are singing and dancing shows by the kids in the group and intense gossping amongst the elders. Everything from wars, to suspicious looking new neighbours are discussed. Everything goes on until, the nurse pops out and announces the birth of the child, which in this case is my birth. There, I have officially been born. The news is usually received with shouts and cries of joy. Everyone hugs each other, some people squeeze hands, kids are jumping with joy and the nurse who announced the birth is gifted money. Everyone tries to outdo the other. If an uncle give 50 bucks, the other gives 100 and another gives 200. Everyone is in a mad dash to show that they are the happiest. Don’t ask me why? I was only just born!

In the midst of all this, someone rushes to pass the good news to the ‘Dad’. Usually, the Dad does not partake in the discussions and gossip outside the labour room. HeĀ  stands away from the crowd, probably by a nice long hall way that he can pace. Even non smoking Dads turn smokers just for the duration of the labour. You could have a token friend or a cousin about the same age as you for company. There will be a nervous energy in the air and he will compulsorily pace the hall. I mean, what kind of husband does not smoke or pace the halls when his wife is in labour? Its a must. It is in the giant rule book of childbirth.

Once the news of the kid has been announced to the Dad, he can then proceed to stop pacing around. He can now look sheepish or smug and come join the big gang where he will be thumped on the back. Someone will produce a packet of traditional sweets from somewhere and then suddenly everyone is clamoring to feed the Dad. He gets enough sugar pumped into his veins. Adequately satisfied that the Dad has been force fed, the family then channels their collective energy towards the next nurse who happens to pop out of the labour room. When she does, she will be bombarded with questions about the child and the Mum. their well being, who the baby looks like, the baby’s weight and so on to which the nurse is now obliged to answer cause one from their tribe has been adequately compensated.

The kids meanwhile jump into action. Taking advantage of the all around happiness, they target the Dad and approach him for chocolates. It is another of the traditions to feed the entire hospital, well atleast the entire maternity ward, chocolates to celebrate the birth. So off the Dad and the army of kids go to buy chocolates. This however is a trap. It never stops with chocolates, the army will attack and won’t stop unless a loot of ice cream, juices, sodas, candy and chocolate has been collected. The Dad still appears largely happy, though considerably poorer financially.

Usually, by the time Dad returns from the shopping spree, the Mum and the Bub have been brought to the room. Dad avoids eye contact with Mum and sneaks glances at the baby who is now being passed around the room. The baby, for atleast the next 72 hours will be rocked to sleep and just generally held by the assortment of doting grandmothers, aunts, cousins etc thereby effectively ruining it for the Mum. Having tasted the first dose of familial spoiling, the baby hence forth rejects the bed and demands to be held all the time.

Thankfully, because of the absence of Facebook, no pictures were posted or status messages uploaded. Kids were born into the hands of the parents and not on Facebook. No messages were sent on Whatsapp and no one Facetimed with anyone. Everybody where either there or would come visit in the next 24-48 hours.

So there, I’m pretty sure this is what happened when I was born too. Since then, I’ve attended so many childbirths in varying capacities..as the enthusiastic candy distributor, to the bored teenager, to the gossiping cousin and then more recently the Mum in labour. Except for the advancement of technology, everything else is almost still the same.

Pic credits: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Birthday_candles.jpg

15

Pants of Fire: Rule no 324 of Mommyhood: Some lies are OK!

Lies are an essential part of being a Mommy. No matter how hard you try or how much you tell yourself that you will be 100% truthful with your child, you end up lying. Not cold calculated lies but little white lies to make your life simpler. No matter how careful you are, you slip. Its one of the rules to mothehood. You lie and its OK!

Here is my list of blatant white lies I’ve knows to say without so much as a twitch in my face,

If you don’t finish your food, Peppa Pig will be so sad. Peppa Pig is a cartoon. Pegga Pig knows only what the cartoonist/animator wants her to know. Z can skip all the lunches in the world and Peppa will not know. She just won’t care.

When you sleep you grow bigger. I don’t know. I have no documented proof of this. But I do know that when he sleeps, my sanity is restored albeit briefly.

You are hurting me. Z can try all he wants but that little hands cannot hurt me. I am physically bigger and stronger but when he starts to raise his hands at me, I know I have to stem it before it spills over to his friends, and always a Z, you are hurting me does the trick. That is his freeze line. I can say that and he will drop what he does.

We are all out of TV. Z tends to get carried away watching TV. I give him limited TV time each day but he does everything in his powers to stretch the minutes. Simply switching off the TV might bring on a full on tantrum and so I have to discreetly change the channel first to a blank screen and then throw my hands in the air and dramatically exclaim, “I think we are all out of TV”. That he accepts.

Hmmmm..Yummy (accompanied by a pat on the tummy) Spinach puree as for that matter, veggie purees are NEVER yum. Never!

Daddy will be back in 5 minutes. Daddy never is. Daddy goes to work ahead of us on most mornings and so excusing Daddy for a quick 5 minute outing is the only way to prevent a full on tear explosion.

No! Cockroaches bite. Ok, I know I am being mean here but I hate those little creatures and he loves them. This way, I am hoping he wont bring one into the house.

and rounding up the list, something I heard quite often growing up but haven’t yet used on Z.

Salt makes you stupid. When I was little, I had great affinity for salt. Mr Salt shaker and I used to disappear under tables, under the bed, inside the closet, under covers etc where I used to feast on his saltiness. When my Mum found about this, she ruined my relationship by telling me about the kid who was very very smart when she was born but became increasingly stupid by the minute because she used to sneak off everywhere and eat salt. Needless to say, it put the brakes on our passionate relationship.

I don’t know how many so called ‘parenting rules’, I’ve broken as a result of these above mentioned lies but it sure does restore peace and harmony in my household.

15

My bathroom and I.

During the bus journey home, on my first break from college, i was super nervous. I knew I had missed home terribly and I was very eager to meet everyone. I was afraid seeing my Mum, Dad, sisters and my niece and nephews would reduce me to a hysterical mess. I did not know what it was about home I missed, yet I knew I missed something deeply.

I had not realised the extent to which I was attached to my family and home. Mum and Dad has paid me a visit once, yet that feeling of emptiness remained. I guess I was yearning to go home. Not once did I think I would ever be feeling like this, not once during the heated debates and arguments about going to a college far away from home. My sisters had tried to convince me about considering a college close home, first lovingly using emotional blackmail and then heatedly using logic and reasoning but I had stood my ground. I had picked the college I wanted and I was going there, come hell or high water. I knew if I came home and cried, everyone would nod knowingly and I knew I couldn’t take that, not after the drama I had pulled at home to go to this college.

As I reached home, I saw that my entire family was there to welcome me. Overjoyed to see them all, yet bracing myself I went into the house. I was ready for the onslaught of tears as I hugged my family, but nothing happened. I was just overjoyed, the tears, the hysteria, the breakdown did not happen. As we sat down for dinner I entertained everyone with my college stories. There were loads of laughter and teasing but no regretful tears. I presumed I had misjudged my excitement to meet my family for the tearful longing.

As I said goodnight to my family and retreated to my old room, I was already wording a blog post in my head about how I had stupidly misjudged my emotion. I walked into my room, looked around and went into the bathroom for a quick wash and that’s where it happened. I broke down. I sobbed hysterically. I could not stem my tears. I now understood what it was that I was yearning for. I now understood the vacuum that even a visit from my folks could not fill. I had missed my bedroom and bathroom, I had missed my territory. Mum and Dad and my family, I knew I could count on, but my bathroom and the luxuries that came with it, were fleeting. My college bathroom was a mess. Not only did I have to share it with others, I could not spend infinity in it. I could not talk to the mirror, I could not read a book on the potty, I could not enact scenes from popular movies in the shower. My sacred space up until then, was not my own at college. Laying down on my bed, only made matters worse. Instead of the hard lump of a mattress I had gotten used to in the past couple of months, what greeted me was the familiar softness of home. Everything was clean and mine. The remainder of my night was spent crying over how awesome my room and bathroom was.

Today as my nephews and nieces go off to college and hostel, I always eagerly wait for their first break home, just to see their reaction, just to see if they missed their bathrooms as much as I did. Turns out the bathroom has many forms. My nephew who just came home last night said, the balcony in his apartment on the 12 floor, that overlooks the entire city caused a lump in this throat. Another friend cannot stop gushing over how emotional her reading nook made her. Still another cousin tells me, a step in his backyard where he lounges with his morning coffee, turned him into a crying lil school girl. Guess we all have our bathrooms, only it is not always the bathroom.