Featured

For The Most Anticipated Ones And The God-sent.

I live in that part of the world where even today if you are expecting a baby, especially the second one and the first is a girl child, people expressly anticipate it to be a boy.

Everything from the glow of your skin to the lack of it; your constant, incurable nausea; the shape of your growing stomach; the pattern of your sleep and the way you look, everything implies that it is a boy ‘this time’. Your friends, neighbors, family members, all think that they are pleasing you by telling you that ‘this time’ you will be blessed with a boy.

Some of you may not believe it but I know this because this is exactly what happened with me last year, when I conceived for the second time at the age of 38 years, after years of denying any need of a second offspring. We took the plunge because our first born, my then 11 years old daughter, had been begging us to give her a sibling and we couldn’t say no to her anymore. So we decided to try granting her her wish and God listened to her as well.

And the new chapter began. Everyone was thrilled. The grandparents on both sides, uncles and aunts, our friends and neighbors, whosoever came to know was exhilarated to hear the news. More so, because it’s considered important to have two kids and it might be a boy child ‘this time’.

And the anticipation or rather manifestation of the male child began. “This time it will be a boy.” I heard this almost everyday and almost always replied that it could be a girl too.

I almost every time said that because one it was a logical thing to say as we couldn’t be sure of what it would be. Second, it didn’t matter to us and we were as thrilled to have anyone as our second born. Third, I didn’t want my unborn child if it was a girl to feel unwanted or not talked about. She was as much wanted as the he was.

I have never understood people’s, especially Indians’, obsession with a boy child. There are special rituals and celebrations related to the birth of a boy whereas girl’s birth sometimes doesn’t even considered worthy of congratulations. This is how things had been since generations and I had begun to think that things had improved but I was mistaken.

There is definitely some progress now. A girl as a first born is celebrated because the childbirth is celebrated and she is a child and the hope remains that there will be a second time soon and with a different gender and so when the second time comes another girl is not expected, and definitely not verbally.

When it happened with me I was sickened by this biased anticipation. I am a well educated, modern, working, independent, proud woman and I was shocked to realize this brutal reality. Of course there were some exceptions who spoke neutrally but mostly it was the boy anthem I heard everywhere.

Personally I did not anticipate any specific gender because to me wanting one means not wanting the other. And that is so unfair. To the unwanted one.

And I didn’t anticipate anything in particular because I feel if is not what we wished for, then it is God-sent.

I just wanted a healthy child who would become our little companion for years to come and make our life’s journey more beautiful, abundant, adventurous, somewhat challenging and eventful.

And isn’t that the reason why we have children? To make our lives complete and hearts full with the love and care we feel for them and to evolve and become better persons as we are given the opportunity to become while bringing them up. And what does this beautiful life process has to do with a bias towards any gender?

We eclipse the light sent to our lives because of an age old belief that sons carry our names and legacy.

How wrong this obsolete belief is? Have you seen any name known in the history of this world because he or she was someone’s father, mother or grandparent?

People become famous and are remembered for their own deeds and contributions. They are known for their own accomplishments and attributes and not because of their successors’.

Our children are not the bearers of our negligible and insignificant names and legacies.

They are our gifts to humanity who come through us and because they come through us they get to be with us for many years. And for those years they become our companions and teachers.

Yes, I call my children my mentors. They have come to my life to teach me.

To teach me unconditional love and compassion in their initial years when I am required to just adore them and take care of them.

To teach me the value of my life, youth, good health and the way I live my life because that leaves impressions on their quality and perception of life.

To teach me patience and wisdom in their growing up years as without the two I can’t nurture their uniqueness and bring out the best in them.

To teach me all that I never learned as a child but have been given the opportunity again as their guide and companion.

To teach me humility as I have made and owned maximum mistakes as their mother and not in any other role and realized how fallible I am.

And one day they will teach me the value of my freedom and time for self when they will fly away from my nest to try their own wings.

Our children are our companions for many years in our own journey of life and its high time the society learned that the gender of our tiny companions is of no real concern in the world we live in today.

They are not for us to own, they are certainly not born to carry the burden of our unfulfilled desires and insignificant inheritances. There are here for their own journey and purpose and not to carry on with ours.

New life means new journey and new life’s arrival is an event of celebration because it brings with it new hopes, dreams, another carrier of the virtues and legacy of humanity.

Yes. Legacy of humanity is the only legacy we need to pass on.

So whenever I prayed to God, which i did very often in those months I was carrying another life, I prayed Him to bless us with a healthy baby and the wisdom and ability to bring him/her up to be a good and contributing human being.

And then His blessings came as a beautiful tiny bundle of joy who we named Rubayat which means God’s verse and lovingly call Sria which means joy. And it was a girl ‘this time’ too and we couldn’t be happier as our little girl brought into our lives much more happiness than we had dreamed of. Her protective father, her doting elder sister and her thoughtful mother, which is myself, have been on cloud nine since then. She is a dream come true and why not.

She has made our family complete and our hearts and house full to the brim with love, joy, beauty, cuteness, her smiles, her cries, everything that wasn’t there before she came along.

And another reason why she is a dream come true is because subconsciously I think I wanted to have her. I think I had always felt fascinated with the idea of becoming a mother of and bringing up two beautiful, bright, lively girls. Whenever I would come across such a family – mother, father and two daughters, I loved looking at them and would fantasize having a similar one myself.

To me all children are good, boys and girls, but it was a very personal emotion I never consciously thought about or even verbalized because I am not biased. I actually realized the feeling when my subconscious fantasy became a reality and filled me with an unparalleled joy. I would have been very happy to have a son too but having you, my most anticipated one and the God-sent, I became ecstatic.

Thank you God for being so kind and listening to the said as well as the unsaid and thank you my little girl for choosing me as your bearer, companion and guide for the years to come.

I will try to do my best. I promise!!!

Featured

A Message For My Contemporaries

Those who were born around 1980 and are now almost forty or a year or two plus or minus, I call them my contemporaries. Me and my peers, we are a very special genre and are going to have a very special place in the future history of mankind. I take our place and position in the world very seriously and I will explain it why and thus want your absolute attention on every word I write here.

Earlier we either fell under the Generation X (born between 1965 to 80) or the millennials (born between 1981 and 1995) cohorts, but now we are called “xennials” a combination of gen-X and millennials as we were born at the cusp of the two. So if you were born between the year 1976 and 1984 you are a xennial, someone who has seen the best and worst of two worlds.

As the ones born in the transition we have some very significant distinctions from our predecessors and successors. We have the dual traits of two very different generations.

1. We have both the hardworking, workaholic genes of gen-X and the easygoing attitude of the millennials. That probably makes us seek a good work-life balance in our life.

2. We have the gen-X conservative values as well as the liberal ways of millennials. And that’s why we are mostly conflicted in the inside.

3. We are neither completely devoted and loyal generation X nor we are absolutely indifferent and impatient generation Y. Hence, we are less rigid and more flexible and agile to change.

4. We lived our initial twenty years of life without mobile phones and internet but have been using the technology and social media for almost twenty years now. So we are tech savvy and also know both the advantages and disadvantages of the necessary evil.

5. Like our predecessors we did not get to reap the economic boom for good 15 to 20 years and like our successors we did not start career in global recession. We had had five to ten years of career amid plentiful prosperity under our belts before the meltdown began. Thus, we may enjoy extravagance but we aren’t pound foolish.

6. We love our families and care about the society as we inherited it from gen-X and those before them and we are somewhat self-infatuated narcissists too as that’s what our next in line evolved to be.

7. We are neither pessimists and over-cautious like the ones born before us nor we are audacious optimists and outgoing like those who came after us. We are realists and are trying to deal with the realities of life in the best possible way.

In the nutshell, we “xennials” are neither old school nor we are new wave and this distinction makes us a very good mix of the two worlds. We are the last generation to have lived our old traditions and the first one to go ultramodern. We have read books and we have played video games. We have owned audio tapes and we have used iPods and Bluetooth earplugs. We can wear chic westerns and can carry traditional wear with equal elan. We relish our local foods as well as the global cuisines with identical fervor.

All this duality at times makes us confused and conflicted especially while dealing with our children who unlike us belong to a pure cohort, generation Z. Generation Z are those who are born between year 1996 to 2015. Most of xennials are parents of almost or already teenagers which is the generation Z. This generation was born with phones and tabs in their hands, have ambitious and indulging providers, are compulsive consumers of all kinds of trends and desire absolute freedom without questions asked.

Now the question is how our conflicted cohort is dealing with this overindulged, narcissistic gen-Z? This is our life’s current scenario:

1. We are liberals so we give them liberty but get worried because we are conservatives too.

2. We mostly earn well and are indulging. Hence, we have provided them with almost everything but we flinch when we see them not valuing what they have and feeling entitled to have more.

3. We use technology in every form, we are all over the social media but we want to limit their access when we see them overdoing.

4. We eat, drink, party hard as a modern way of life and when we are being replicated by the gen-Z we aren’t sure if it is right or wrong.

Everyday, we are facing one or other dilemmas in our life especially as parents of teenagers because we are a mixed generation. We can’t completely let them loose and we don’t know how to stop the inevitable without being the despised hypocrites.

My fellow xennials, what to do in the fix that we all find ourselves in, just because of the year we were born in?

In my opinion it is not a predicament but a blessing that we are where we are. Our generation has been given a perfect chance to evolve and become better than all our preceding generations. Our prerogative is not to choose to be either X or Y but to take the best of the two and let go of the worst of both. This generation has a unique chance to amalgamate the finest of two wonderful worlds and be the best breed ever.

The job may sound tedious but is doable. Our generation actually has a lot of de cluttering to do. We are almost everything that our parents were and all that they were not. We have all the inheritances as well as the new learned ways of life influenced by the two generations overlapping our lives. For a life less complicated and conflicted we need to emerge as a new entity. If you agree to what you have read so far, there are simple steps to follow.

1. Be mindful of all that you are. Separate your own inherent attributes and values and the ones you have merely adopted to fit in among others especially the newer generations. Ask yourself, “Am I really a very social person or I just hang out because everyone does?” “What purpose the use of technology is serving for me?” “What is my true calling?”

2. List down the characteristics and values that have served you best and are important for your well being especially as a parent. Retain those.

3. List down all those features, values and habits in your life that are detrimental to your peaceful existence but you are holding onto them for sentimental reasons or merely because you never realized that they were undesirable. Unlearn them or give them up.

4. After the unlearning and de littering if you feel the need to learn a new skill or value, learn it. Remember, we have to have the best of the two worlds.

This process will take time, conscious effort and especially a lot of self consciousness, but will make you free from lot of unnecessary baggage. If you aren’t able to manage it on your own, you can take a Life Coach’s help. Do it yourself or with someone’s help, just do it because you are overloaded, over-burnt and overwhelmed by the old and the new and the contradicted, unsorted and inconsistent you cannot guide the gen-Z.

My fellow xennials, it’s high time we do our self appraisal because it’s around 40 that midlife crisis strikes and we are almost there and some self discovery and decluttering will certainly help us find our balance and become the better people we were certainly born to be.

Will share my thoughts on how to deal with the gen-Z in my next blog. Till then help yourself.

Featured

Fatherhood, A Casualty of Conventions

This blog is for those of us who miss and/or have missed their father’s active participation and/or attention in their lives. It is also for the fathers who think their children, who they work so hard for, are more closer to their mothers and do not share an as good rapport with them. This blog is also for the mothers who want their spouse and offsprings to share a bond better than it is right now. All those who don’t fit in any of these categories may stop reading here.

What are your best childhood memories? I am sure many of those memories would be those rare parent-child things you got to do with your father.

Why did I write rare? They were rare because our fathers were mostly either too busy working outside home and earning a living for the family or they were too tired after a day’s work to play with us or help us do our homework. We probably never even expected them to do those tasks because fathers, the men of the houses weren’t supposed to do those.

If they did have time and there was a moment when they were needed by the children, they were hardwired to not show us their feelings and emotions and if we did sit down to talk, it was mostly critical appraisal of our behavior or misdoings and moral preaching, that we got.

So those times were very few when we hugged, laughed, played, had simple funny times or experienced mushy moments with our personal superheroes.

When I think of my early years’ fondest recollections, I think of my father cooking an occasional delicacy for us, our once a year one day trip to visit the temples in our state (this was the only annual trip when he accompanied us), when he went with me for my admission in the University, when he once told me that it tormented him whenever he saw me crying, when he couldn’t eat the good homemade food thinking that I must be eating awful hostel food, when he occasionally spoiled me bad by indulging my reasonable and sometimes unreasonable wishes.

These memorable instances were very scarce and sparse, when I got to feel my father’s love and affection for his favorite offspring and how I wish that there very many many more such times to hold onto especially when heavens didn’t grant me many years with my favorite parent.

These countable on fingertips occasions are few not because your or my father wasn’t emotional, loved us less or didn’t want to be around us more than he did but because of the stereotypes that are attached with being a man and a father.

Here are some of those cliched conventions:

  • Men have to be strong and unemotional.
  • It’s a man’s job to earn for his family.
  • Men can’t cry or have a sentimental meltdown.
  • It isn’t a man’s job to do household chores.
  • Fathers have to be strict and discipline their children.
  • Fathers only have to provide comforts and materials to their children.
  • Either they have to be critical of their progeny, else they become spoiled or spoil them with stuff at the end of a work day.
  • All else is a mother’s job.

Because of these stereotypes, fatherhood and its role in a child’s life hasn’t changed much with the changes in generations. In today’s times when women are better equipped to earn and are earning and hence sharing or are capable of sharing the bread earning responsibility, when there are just one or two children and enough opportunities to play, travel, bond together, fathers are still shy of expressing love, spending quality time with the young ones and being more supportive and less critical.

It is an established fact that children benefit from quality presence and active involvement of their fathers in their day to day lives. Children who have involved fathers do well academically, have lesser behavior issues, are not delinquents, are physically fitter, are emotionally more stable, are less prone to anxiety and depression in their adulthood.

But more than the children, the fathers will gain from the increased camaraderie.

Fathers are as human and sentimental and sometimes even more than their female counterparts. The more involved father gets a much needed emotional outlet which can be the best medicine and de stressor for him.

Ever wondered why men are more prone to heart attacks, hypertension and depression. There are high chances that an involved father who doesn’t keep himself bottled up will be spared from these deadly ailments.

Fathers too need love and being involved gets them their share of love from their young ones, the love which they can never earn with the money they make but only with the time they spend with the kids.

The counsel, advice and guidance is more naturally accepted by the growing up adolescents when fathers have been involved from the very early years. In the opposite cases the teenagers mostly find their father’s new interest in their youthful lives intrusive and annoying. In such cases the youngsters don’t listen to their best guides and the poor fathers feel unwanted and isolated.

So what should the superheroes sans capes do? It’s very simple.

  • Break some stereotypes. Do a fresh appraisal of your own childhood and see what your own father could do more or differently.
  • Feel entitled to the love and companionship of the tiny or now not so tiny bundles of joys and earn it with more quality time spending.
  • Make time to attend all their meets, activities, drive them to their classes as often as you can, cook for and with them, find your common passions and pursue them together. Have some pure father child rituals and times.
  • Give some break to your alpha male and let out your beta father and spouse.
  • Be more expressive of your love and emotions. Let your child know how much he/she means to you.
  • Be an authoritative parent who empathizes, communicates and disciplines only when required and not an authoritarian parent who only demands obedience and discipline
  • Treat your wife as an ally in the upbringing of your child. Seek her help, ask for inputs and feedback and make amends. Stop showing each other down. You are not competition, you are collaborators when it comes to rearing the lives you created.
  • Relish the newfound role.

Parenting is God’s way of giving us another chance to relive and relive well. Fatherhood can be as rewarding and rejoicing as is motherhood. It’s high time when some role reversals happened, for everyone’s sake. Fathers need to shed some command and control to gain more space and stature in the young lives and hearts. Remember, the hands-on fathers are the happiest fathers and happier fathers are better than wealthier fathers.