Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The "Dress Up" game.

It was one of those perfectly routine mornings. 

Wake up, shower, make breakfast, get their lunches made, wake up the kids, get them ready and 8.05am sharp, start the walk to school.  Interestingly the school rush hour sometimes makes it longer to take the car, so on days like today, when the sky is a bright clear blue, we choose to walk. 

Those days are gone when I could drop him off to school, wait to say bye and sometimes even get a light hug or a high five. In fact the hugs stopped 4 years ago, and now I am lucky if I can get a casual wave, which in the "almost teenager" world means, "Bye Mom, I love you too!" or so I have been told. 

These days, we walk and stop about 100 yards before we reach the crossing guard, and say our non hugging byes. He walks with a casual cool look, while I wait, and pretend to play with his little sis as he crosses the road and is almost at the end of the side walk. Ok, you can say it,  a little over protective and that's okay, after all these days are not going to come back. He has most of his life to be a grown up, but just a few more years to be a kid. 

As I walk back, an everyday Mom greets me with a "Hi, how are you?" Usually, that's the extent of our conversation. I don't know her name, and I doubt it if she knows mine. But today was different, she paused and exchanged a sentence or two with my little one. And then asked me, "where do you work?" I said, "I work at home, I work for my kids." She smiled and said, "that's really nice, that's the best job." 

She made me very happy, I was enjoying my blissful state, and she said "but you're always looking fresh and dressed up." 

Dress up for no one, but yourself! 
A showered look and a pair of clean clothes, isn't that the basic hygiene we need to maintain and try to teach our kids too. 

Well, at that point the look on my face was "Huh! What did she just say?" Thankfully what came out from my mouth was a shade smarter. I told her with a fake smile, 
"I dress up to go to work, just like you do." 

That's all it took. We smiled and said our byes and went our ways. I am sure she thought of me as a smug, and that's okay. I honestly don't care. 

Few hours pass by and its time for pick up, I see a mom, she was waiting in Valet pick up, stepped out to talk to another parent and she was in her PJ's. I am not trying to be judgmental or saying that I have a great wardrobe or an amazing sense of fashion. On the contrary, I don't wear designer stuff, most of the stuff I buy is from wherever they have a good sale going, but I refuse to go to school with a "straight out of bed look." 

The sad truth is I have never seen a dad dropping of their kids in a "straight out of bed look." Why do we mom's create this image for ourselves? 

Being a SAHM mom is absolutely every reason to look and feel pretty.  It doesn't matter what dress size you wear or what is the color of your complexion. You are beautiful so dress up for yourself.

Dress up, like you would, if you were going to work in the real world; because you are.  

Today was just one of those Imperfectly Perfect days! 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Decade, Seems like yesterday.

She could not hold back the tears in her eyes. He looked at her and she instantly knew that he recognized her. It was that understanding, that bond, that knowing which goes beyond words. It was the bond between a mother and her son.  He was the first child she had ever held in her hands. And she had waited a good five years for him to come into her world and turn it completely inside out.  

Some of you might remember my post "Promise to Self." The story of a lost mother trying to understand her child was not a figment of my imagination, it was me and my son.  And yes, he taught me then how to raise him, and he continues to teach me every day on how to be a better parent to him and his sister. 

Now that I look back, I think I knew it since way before I even thought about marriage, that I will have a son. I was in 12th grade, finishing high school (gosh that seems like a life time before :)) when I heard the name for the first time. The name, it stuck with me. I can still remember that moment, upon hearing the name.. it triggered many neurons and connections alike.. and I said to myself, when I get married, if I have a son, this will be his name.  I have always believed, that when we really really want something, all the cosmic forces come together to make it happen. And they did for me too. They blessed me with a beautiful child. The pregnancy with him was easy peesey lemon squeezey. I was a bundle of energy, doing 12-14 hours work days making budgets and grinding those numbers till they made some monetary sense to the management, and still feeling good about myself. I wondered then, why women complaint about being pregnant. Now I am wiser and know better :) 

He was a week early and yes very eager to come into his bright loving new world. But no one told me that babies can be colicky. They told me "as long as they are fed, and have a clean diaper, they are happy." I can now tell you thats a lie. A complete lie.   

Mine was different.  The first night home was nothing short of a crying marathon, it was 5.20am, we finally decided to sleep after 8 hours of non stop rounds of rocking and crying.  But you know what they say, God moves in mysterious ways. He can't come to all of us for every little problem, so he put people on Earth to help each other.  First thing in the morning, I got a call from a dear friend M, ranted it all out and she listened patiently and said, "it will get better, he's just a day old, poor baby he must be confused too. And the next thing I know, she came over just because..." What does one do at moments like these, besides thank god for sending friends like such in our lives.  In the evening, another sign; My absolutely wonderful neighbor B. Met her in the evening, rocking the little one and ranting my story again, and trying to fake a smile as proof of how great I felt to be a mom.   She said, don't worry, its a switch, just hang in there for 10 weeks it will turn off on its own.  A simple reassurance, but it felt great, it made me feel "this is normal, it happens to others too." 10 weeks at that point seemed like eternity away. But she was right, come 10 weeks, and it was actually a switch. The crying stopped and I no longer dreaded the evening and night hours. 

Those 10 weeks passed quickly and so did the past 10 years.  

He was four years old when the dinosaur phase started and for 3 straight years after that, all we did was read books on dinosaurs. He wanted to be a paleontologist and wanted a brother so he could name him Chomper after his favorite dinosaur T-Rex. The dinosaurs will always hold a special place in my family, because he learnt how to write ABC by writing dinosaur names. From Dinosaurs, we moved on to Pokemon, and God bless the one who made Pokemon cards, because we learnt how to read by reading Pokemon cards. Then came Bakugan, we practiced our math with the game points. 

The conventional never worked for us. 

From a 21inch baby he is now a five foot young boy who dreams of going to a good college and becoming an engineer like his dad and also an environmental lawyer. Why a lawyer? Well he figured that out on his own too, he says he likes to argue a lot, so being a lawyer is good profession. And I admire his clarity and thinking. Because at 11 years of age, yes I was living independently in a hostel, but I did not have a clue of what I wanted to do in life. 

He will turn 11 this week. And he wants a super special present. Why? I ask. His answer, "because M, my birthday is the beginning of spring. My birthday is about life. Everything comes alive on my birthday." And that is true. He is the life of my home. 

He calls his sister G and me M. Comes from school and says "What's S today, I hope u have something good for D." Any guesses? 

As I look forward to the next decade only to realize that its less than a decade he will be on his way to college. A proud and scary moment. As a mother, I think, what should I teach him. Should I teach him how to be a good cook, so he can always feed himself. Should I teach him how to wash his own laundry, so he always has clean clothes to wear or should I simply teach him a little bit of everything.  I decide against all this. 

I think I am going to tell him that its okay for a boy to cry, for a boy who cries will be a man who who is tender and caring. There is nothing stronger than a man who can be kind and gentle, and there is nothing weaker than a man who thinks he has to be strong all the time. 

I am going to tell him that I am always going to be there and watching him in my own special way. Not because I am an over protective helicopter mom, but because a part of him is actually me or is it the other way round and how does one let go of one's own self?

I want him to know that I have and always will be very proud of him.  

He is my SonShine! 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Matrix of Technology.

Today's post is inspired by a recent article on WSJ Are Smart Gadgets Making Us Dumb?  And what better day to write about technology than on the Pi day. Today is 3.14! 

My opinion, I like technology that makes it simple, but not effortless.  There are many definitions of technology, but I am sure we all agree that the purpose of technology is to make things more efficient, safer and productive and not necessarily brainless. 

It all started with the Arpanet, moving on to the Internet, then we had the GPS wave, smart phones and today we have everything from hats that measure your IQ to sleeping bra's that can help detect early breast cancers. Technology has without a doubt changed the world we live in. We are connected to something or someone every waking and sleeping second.  The information era has allowed us to move from acquaintances and friends to 2nd level and 3rd level connections. Connectivity and social presence is a part of one's net worth now.

How much technology do we need though? That's something to think about.  Do we really need a refrigerator that tells us our food is going stale or a trash can that decides how much food was wasted or recycled and then update the FB status to announce to the world and maybe even award or punish us real time. Maybe the innovators and early adopters do, for being a part of the moment. To me, its not much value added, it in fact, if anything makes me think less. 

By no means am I trying to undermine the importance and value addition technology has made to our lives. The immense progress in health care has saved many lives and allowed for a more secure and faster communication with the doctor that saves time by avoiding going to the hospital for routine questions, bringing down the global barriers of communication has allowed schools in rural areas access to resources and education like never before and  many of us know and understand the convenience of Amazon Prime. This and much more would not have happened without technology.

At the same time, I do believe every gadget is not necessarily a smart tool. I was at the ever popular mom store Bed Bath and Beyond, and saw something called a Banana Slicer, it's basically a chopping contraption with a USP stating chopping food is not every one's forte and this makes it easy. To each his own, but I think time, effort and money could have been better used. The same is true for many technological advancements. Came across an article that talked about Porta Potties, that collect data on how long a person spent and whether the person was standing or sitting. I am still trying to identify industries that have extensive use of such data.

Which brings me to the other baffling question about technology, Who does what with all this Data?

Privacy issues prevent companies from releasing any or all data even to those who created the data. There is enough research out there to show how easy it is for a knowledgeable person to blend the offline and online data to find traits and information about any person. The famous FB like button is close to omni-present and a simple like has the capacity of releasing a lot of important information.  I agree sharing this information can help improve functionality in many industries.  However, there needs to be a mechanism so the ultimate owner of the data is the consumer and not the company that has it.

The guru's predict a world where everything will be connected, can you imagine the amount of binary numbers flowing through the grid? We all will have our own e-identity prints. And after a century, what happens to this data.  The generation then, might use it in place of history books OR they might simply say its redundant and chuck it away into a cyberspace trash bin, thus deleting our e-identities or existence.

I love this image. Googled it :-)
It's scary and thought provoking at the same time
I know what you're thinking, I am a laggard when it comes to technology.  It's quite the contrary. I love the fact that I can now communicate faster with my parents half a world away, I don't have to hold a map and drive at the same time, I can research any topic under the sun and most importantly technology allows me to work from home. I like technology but within reason. 

We come back to the same question, How much is enough? Do we really need to be connected all the time. Do I really want my tea kettle telling me that the grid is over loaded, so maybe I should wait for a little bit for that cup of tea, or do I really want the weighing machine to be connected to my FB account, so it updates my status as a way of motivating me.  While all these idea's and concepts seem "cool,"it is important to note that they take away from the very necessary element of my existence; human interaction and prevents me from using the very skills that make me human.  Human beings are social animals. We "need" interaction, there is a reason we learned how to walk on two legs from four.  We, including myself am guilting of texting while in the presence of friends or family. Why are we so eager to update our social status or tag a photo? It is this need of social connectivity that is leading the current generation of innovations

On researching further on the "Why" or causes of these innovations, interestingly, I read many an article stating that the visionaries of future see this world broken in many places. There are inefficiencies that they believe technology can help improve.  They also see how eager we are to announce to the world, where we ate, where we shop and more. The combination is our world where we are constantly clicking and swiping. 

Remember the 1900's when he first gasoline powered cars were introduced and it was predicted that the bicycle is now a thing of the past. 1900's to today; 2013,  it's not been that long and as one world, we are all trying very hard to move towards mass transportation, walk more, and if possible even bike to everywhere.  

I see something similar happening with technology.  Soon in our life times, I believe we will see the day when one smart country will announce an e-free national day. A day when they go back to doing it all with paper and pen and many a smart entrepreuners' will teach the world how to write and talk again.

Like life, the cycle of technology will come a full circle too. 

It has to happen, for if it doesn't "The Matrix" will move from fiction into the reality zone. 

Happy Birthday Mr. Einstein.