Homecoming…

'With the kids back home and unemployed, it's hard to believe I ever suffered from empty nest syndrome.'

If we were having coffee I would tell you about some interesting discoveries I made starting last weekend. To say that it has been a busy time would be an understatement but I must add that it was a good busy, if you know what I mean.

It is that time of the year when most college students are homeward bound, school students are preparing for final exams, some excited about graduation ceremonies and others looking forward to holidays. Our home has a combination of the above. The daughter came home from college and the son is preparing for final exams, final concert and checking boxes of things to be completed before exams begin.

While the daughter is super organized to the point of exasperation, the son is super cool to take me to another level of exasperation. I do sound quite an exasperated mum! Before her exams began she called us on to make her to-do list which included ‘plan’ her packing, ‘organize’ storage in or around college, ‘sell’ books not required, bring back books mum might like to read, order cartons, when, what, how, where and why of vacating dorm room was strategically thought of, planned and executed. On Face Time conversations we were shown the sizes of cartons as she debated on what to store in the ones that were knee high as against those which reached mid thigh level. So yes, even the size of the cartons ordered for storage were given immense thought with height and weight considered. She was so meticulously organized that when I flew across the nation and reached her dorm with two empty suitcases I found four packed and sealed cartons waiting outside the room to be stored in my high school friend’s home. I can’t fathom till today how two girls sharing a tiny room managed to have six cartons  in storage and 4 check in suitcases each! Was there a bottomless pit hidden in a corner from where they magically kept producing fat books, thick notes, summer clothes, hangers, iron, iron board, huge boots, endless winter clothes and the list itself is endless! Her room mate’s parents were busy packing and taking boxes after boxes down to their car parked far away. And did I mention that it was raining and windy? I was super pleased that we were to move the next day, little knowing that Gods were laughing at our planning and us. 

By the time we moved the next day, most had already left and  I could park my rented SUV by the ramp with a few other parents. We all wore similar expressions which basically conveyed several degrees of ‘Oh My God!’ What have the kids accumulated! We smiled at each other, shaking our heads, rolling our eyes but nevertheless doing what needed to be done to get our kids home from college. Just as I was struggling down the ramp with a carton barely balanced between the daughter and me I saw this boy with a backpack and a guitar slung on his shoulders walking down the ramp whistling, pulling a medium sized suitcase. He too was headed home! And I smiled to myself as I visualized the son doing something similar when he would be in college. “Ummeed pe duniya kayam hain”- The world lives on hope is an old Indian saying…But then a friend burst my happy bubble saying that her son returned home twenty pounds excess baggage after availing of maximum storage facility. It dawned on me that it is not gender specific but person specific as to how much ‘stuff’ a student accumulates during a year in college.

865f0845b558686080ac054c63305e9dI did say that we were providing God with humor so while we didn’t get a rainy day during our move we were presented with high speed winds. My short mop of hair covered my entire face while I prayed that the wind would blow it away as I peered around to find the ramp to walk down without banging into another parent/child carrying another heavy load. We teach our kids ‘waste not, want not’ and the implications of that hit me hard in the form of an empty carton that the daughter refused to leave behind in recycling but keep in storage for future use. The large flattened empty carton I was holding on to with dear life in one hand while balancing somethings on the other became parallel to the road with the wind speed and the more I maneuvered the more out of control it went until it hit me on the face before bouncing off with a mind of its own on the road following another parent. The great big and small silly things we do for our children can be made into a best seller though on hindsight we are left with a lifetime of memories to laugh over, contemplate on and sometimes even share on blog posts….

Just as we teach about waste not want not, we teach few other things too, amongst them ‘do not talk to strangers and be punctual’ are quite common. So the daughter was taking me out for dinner and I was given the option to choose from five places around the campus, asked to look over the menu, given extensive description of each place and some of the favored dishes, ambience, time and cost. When I mindlessly chose one, I was asked why I preferred it over others! So I really perused over the menus extensively like I was going to write a thesis and chose one. As we walked to the lovely French restaurant we saw a dog walker with a cute friendly dog and I invariably got down on my knees to chat with the dog and we all got talking. After a lovely short conversation as we continued down the road, we saw another dog walker coming towards us and the daughter exclaimed, ‘now mommy, don’t talk to another stranger please else we will be late for our reservation.’

These little incidents make me I realize that life is a full circle. We try our best to raise our children to be good human beings and then dawns a day when we realize that the child has grown much and beyond our humble imagination and highest hopes giving parenting, love, adulthood and homecoming a whole new deep meaning…

Did you have these moments? What are the memorable moments of moving your child in or out of college/home?

Picture courtesy: http://www.cartoonstock.com

Mama Mia…

Funny-Mothers-Day-Cartoons2So it was the Mother’s Day Weekend! Right from President Obama to my help including the handyman who came by to fix the air conditioner had words about it. While the President spoke about respect to the mother, equality to women and support to parents, the Help murmured a shy Happy Mother’s Day before she left. As we bid each other adieu I asked her plans for the oncoming weekend and she laughed- “Oh my madar is visiting from Mehico, she will cook for us all so I can catch up on laundry for the entire week. I will head to the laundromat.” The handy man/electrician fixing the air conditioner tightened the last screw, checked the insulation and said, “I would come by tomorrow to finish the job you know but (rolling his eyes) it is Mother’s Day so the boys and I got to do something.” He looked so troubled that I had to laugh and added my two bits of wisdom, just make the lady feel special. The man’s twenty eight year old ‘boy’ helping him grinned sheepishly in shared plight. What would make the mother happy? How to make her day special?

Funny-Mothers-Day-Jokes1-1Special? Feeling special is relative holding different meaning to everyone. For some it may be expensive presents and elaborate meals while others might cherish quiet family time. Some go all out while others take it just as any other day. Some enjoy huge celebrations while others sneak away in depression. Most though would give an arm and a leg for that clean garage and yard work! The hubby and son have been in the kitchen since morning and it certainly seems to me if there was a saying that “the way to a man’s heart is through the stomach”, there should be a new one that says, “when you love somebody, cook them a meal.” Though I must admit their culinary skills are displayed all through the year and are not limited to one particular Sunday. When we were kids, we didn’t celebrate a particular Sunday as Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. In fact India was introduced to Valentine’s Day only in the late 1980s and awareness of Women’s Day came in much later though the way Women’s Day is being deciphered and celebrated with each passing year, the Man needs to have a day dedicated to him soon- The International Men’s Day.

I got to know of Mother’s Day in Jamaica when the husband walked in carrying the little daughter in one arm and flowers in the other. She smiled gleefully delightedly aware that something special was happening and handed me my first Mother’s Day present. Lo Behold…I was introduced to the concept of this special Day in 1998 and immediately called my mum/ mum in law in India to wish them. I must admit I felt quite foolish when my mum wondered aloud what was the wish about though she graciously added thank you. With our new found knowledge of the existence of these special days the hubby and I conscientiously called our parents on their respective days and these gentle people born in the 1930s and 1940s laughed, smiled and seemed to humor the silly children of the 1960s. If they could see the commercialization of the day now, I wonder if they would still be amused or shocked at the extravaganza. At the cost of sounding cynical I don’t think it made a difference to our parents to be wished on one particular day of the year instead our regular calls to them gave them the happiness of a thousand Mother’s/Father’s Day everyday. Yes, we simply called our parents whether we lived in the same city or ten thousand miles away in a different time zones just to say hi, how are you? This simple gesture of one call beat any celebration of one Sunday of the year!

Mothers are generally simple, happy with random things like an odd shaped stone picked up by my then four year old brought me much joy and I still cherish various art work depicting me. So what if I seemed to have one arm longer than the other, hair resembling cotton candy, cylinder like body wearing a big toothy smile- the fine arts of my then little ones warmed my heart and touched my soul. Today I laugh exasperatedly when my super organized daughter shares her color coded planner with Plan A and Plan B for an entire semester on google spreadsheet with us and I again laugh exasperatedly as I see my son struggling to make a simple planner for his forthcoming finals on a white board. I heard out a mum who bemoaned with concern as her newly minted freshman at high school didn’t have a date for the prom while another was concerned that hers was spending too much for dressing up for the event. One mum was upset that her child was socializing ‘too much’ while another thought she was lucky as hers didn’t have a social life. One thought her teen was not eating enough while another was thinking of putting hers on a special diet and exercise. One worried about her child’s impending divorce while the another was concerned about the child’s child’s, yes the grandchild’s food habits!

Moral of the story is wherever you are, when you are mum you worry of things no one would worry about. You are concerned about everything including er hmm shit! Relate to it? What are your mommy moments- the joyful, the heartbreaking, the heart in the mouth, heart dropped to stomach, the touching moment, the funny moments, the exasperating moments, ah those endless moments…And surprises of surprises, as I googled to find a suitable image for today’s topic I found this website”www.mothersdaysmessages.com!” Really!!!

Picture courtesy: http://www.mothersdaysmessages.com

Mother of controversies…

'Just for me. My mother-in-law is coming to visit.'

The mother- in-law! Love her or hate her, can’t do without her. Whether  sharing a warm friendship or nurturing a cold war she can not be ignored. Whether best friends or sworn enemies, she is ‘present’ in all marriages.

Whether living in Mumbai slums or a penthouse in New York, when a group of friends get together informally the discussions can include anything under the sun or below the earth but one topic might just be common- the mother in law. One can read and write realms on this omnipresent major figure having direct and indirect influence on ones lives. Men are known to shiver in their shoes at her thought and women have had sleepless nights. Movies, soaps, songs, poems, short stories, long ballads, fiction, non fiction have been dedicated to this regal being in all seriousness and in jest. 

The mother in law came into my mind while at coffee with friends when one declared that she was playing ‘office-office.’ Seeing my blank expression she explained that with the mother in law visiting for a few months, she devised the perfect peace plan which entailed no weapons of mass destruction but only her being out of the house for the entire day. So despite being unemployed she left home all dressed up in business attire with precision at nine am every morning to return punctually in the evening after a ‘hard day’ at work. It is definitely hard to leave with clock work precision everyday, more so when one is not employed! She with all goodness of her heart decided the best way to cope with the new entity living with her was to stay out of her way. Another friend has the mother in law living with them since the time she came to help with the new born baby. The baby is a high schooler now but the mother in law is a permanent fixture and the duo have devised a perfect way to live with each other in peace and acceptance, sharing chores and having their respective days to invite friends  over and even go dancing.

Marriage can be a long educational happy merry ride, but the wedding takes the cake. I had heard a friend accepting a marriage proposal on the condition that her mother would be living with them and the love of her husband was strong enough to welcome the mother in law as a constant in their lives. This, in India is extremely unusual and even today the practice of parents arranging the children’s marriage is highly prevalent. So what if the child is a thirty years old adult with a job and capable of making own decisions, the parents more often than not arrange the marriage after careful scrutiny of the prospective bride/groom from all perspectives literally including health, wealth, prosperity, family, background, education, religion, property owned and sometimes scaling new heights of investigation they would even check food habits and whether teetotaler or not. The groom’s mums would be keen to know about the culinary skills of the prospective bride while the bride’s parents would prefer the groom to boast of a fat bank balance and stability of employment.

imgres-1Some mums in law cheekily take the liberty to inform the newly weds the list of likes and dislikes of their sons/daughters while few others might include some of their own favorite things too. Most mums in law are known to be all-rounders, having knowledge of everything, willing to dole out a word of advice, direction, instruction, suggestion, order, guidance be it on career, home, clothes, culinary skills, raising children and even on how to handle the spouse!

Mine is the hippest of all I say. Soon after marriage we were to go to our condominium ‘informal’ get-together and the mum in law and I came out of our respective rooms to join our respective husbands. While I stared in surprise at her heavily made up face, well styled hair, glittering gold/diamond jewelry and shining attire she seemed shocked to see my choice of clothes, make up and jewelry, saying, oh you aren’t dressed yet! Go quickly and get ready while I had thought I was appropriately dressed to the nines for the occasion with my chiffon dress, touch of lipstick and pearls. We have been part of each other’s lives for more than two decades now and have come to terms with our many contrasts, be it attire, thoughts, behavior, likes and dislikes but the sole similarity that binds us together is the love for the same man, her son – my husband.

Everyone has some anecdotes about their mother in law- all inclusive of the good, the bad and the ugly!  Come on admit it! Have guts to share your story? Just so you know, my mother in law has no knowledge of this blog. And neither has yours!

Picture courtesy: http://www.cartoonstock.com & http://www.someecards.com