Perspective

The jerk store called. They ran out of you.” ~ George Costanza in Seinfeld

Little N used to take the bus to school. But I give her a ride on most days now. It gives her an extra 20 minutes of much-needed sleep. I love driving with little N, and chatting about anything and nothing. This morning, the conversation steered towards violin performances. Little N smiled. “Mommy, remember the time in 5th grade when I messed up my solo a couple of times in Miss L’s class?”.

Oh, did I remember.

I have thought about that particular performance of little N’s several times over the intervening years. After a group performance, Miss L gave her students the chance to play solo the piece that they were currently learning. Some kids couldn’t wait to show off, while others hung back. I, seeing that little N was not raising her hand, called out “Oh, Miss L, Neha would like to play her solo”. That moment features amongst my most cringe-worthy moments as a parent (unfortunately, there are quite a few of those). Really do not understand why I was so clueless and pushy. But there I was.

So. Little N stepped up, entirely unprepared (and likely rattled by sudden pushiness from mom), and played the piece that she was then learning. Perfect it was not. She missed hitting the right notes a couple of times but performed bravely and with poise. But I didn’t stop there. I ranted all the way back in the car about how she didn’t take the initiative when Miss L asked the kids to perform the solo, and then, how she did so badly. I lectured on and on (and on) about practicing more and performing well. N told me a couple of times that I was way out of line and should shut the he!! up (I always do so much better when I listen to him, really).  But I was too far gone that day to listen to any voice of reason. I continued to holler away heartlessly at my munchkin for not delivering excellence under pressure.

And now, here we were, 6 years later. Driving along to school on a mild winter morning, with little N asking me if I remembered that performance. “Mommy, I remember you roasted me so hard on the car ride back from that performance in Miss L’s class.” I waited. Little N continued, “I totally deserved it. I remember I did so badly.” I told her how I have thought back to that day many times with a lot of regret and how insane it was to have pushed a 5th grader that hard. “That’s ok, Mommy. Sometimes, you need to do that. It’s not like I am traumatized or anything.”, she smiled reassuringly at me.

The fact of the matter is, I behaved like an ass that day. No two ways about it in my mind (sadly, I know that you agree too).

All things considered, though, little N’s gracious take on the incident makes me so happy. 🙂

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13

My little A turns 13 tomorrow.  Cannot believe that we will now have two teenagers in the house!!  We will celebrate tonight with a houseful of her friends (and one crazy puppy). We are planning a visit with little A to a local art store (thanks to my friend B for the suggestion) so she can pick out some special art supplies as her birthday present.  Little A can wander around an art store for hours, inspecting their wares with a discerning eye and choosing her goodies carefully. She is super excited about our outing, and that makes me so excited too. Hmmmm…. maybe I should also try my hand at creating some art (especially since I don’t seem to be blogging much these days).

Wishing you a wonderful 13th birthday, my babycakes!! May all your dreams come true and may you have the bestest year ever! Lots of love, Mommy 🙂

My 19 for 2019

I came up with my 19 for 2019 – a list of 19 things that I would like to do in 2019. I also came up with an 18 for 2018 (check out https://momto2cuddlebugs.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/my-18-for-2018/). Looking back, my 18 for 2018 was quite a bit pie-in-the-sky. I mean – “Try 300 new recipes”, “Walk a 1000 miles” – really?!! Yaarudi ivo?!

My 19 for 2019 is much more attainable, as you can see.

  • Try 12 new recipes
  • Meditate for five minutes every morning before starting on work
  • Paint powder room and at least one other room
  • Keep a gratitude journal and record at least three entries daily
  • Learn to sing one Pancharatna Krithi perfectly
  • Donate or discard clothes, coats, and books that we never use
  • Create our living will
  • Eat at least one fruit or one vegetable at each meal
  • Create at least one photo gallery at home
  • Do something every day for one person other than family
  • Get fresh flowers for the kitchen at least once per week
  • Eat out once a week or less
  • Get a haircut at least once every six months
  • Eat dinner together as a family at least twice a week
  • Clear out and de-clutter at least one closet or one room every month
  • Make an album of family and vacation pictures
  • Have friends over at least once every quarter
  • Lunch date with N and one-on-one activities with the munchkins once every month
  • Clear out or set aside for donating at least one thing in the house every day

Feel poised for success in 2019 with my manageable list, I say!

May 2019 bring much happiness, good health, well-being, success and peace to us all! 🙂

My Word for 2019

 

2019_Generosity

Generosity. Not something that comes easily to me. The most striking thing about both my MIL and chittappa is that they were both wildly generous people. They truly believed in treating their neighbor like themselves. Indeed, their generosity is what most people spoke about over and over again when reminiscing about them. It struck me as something awesome – to be consistently remembered by so many for your generosity after you are gone.

For the record, this level is not what I am aspiring to reach.

My situation is this. I am super tight with my purse strings and mostly resist spending of any kind. It also doesn’t help that I totally detest shopping. My word will remind me that it’s ok to spend out a little – give the hairdresser or the waiter a larger than usual tip, donate more to charity, buy that lovely pearl necklace and those matching earrings, spruce up that wardrobe (for crying out loud!), give time to someone that can use help – you know, fun stuff like that.

My words in previous years have been “relish”, “lighten up”, and “energy”, to name a few. “Generosity” feels different – somehow more outward facing and transcendent. I like that.

Looking forward to more generosity (from self) in 2019! 🙂

2018

2018 has been quite a significant year for us.  Lots of things happened – both good and bad – and mostly on a larger than usual scale.

  • My MIL and my chittappa both passed away suddenly and unexpectedly (it’s never an easy year when you lose a close, loved one)
  • W joined our family and totally warmed his way into our hearts (my babykins)
  • I became a stockholder at my firm
  • Little N turned 16, and started driving and working part-time
  • I finally read (and was totally bowled over by) the Harry Potter series
  • Visited London, Lisbon and the Algarve coast over the summer (so fabulous, that Europe, I say!)
  • Visited Miami over Christmas and just lay there like beached whales doing nothing on most days (should really do this more often)
  • Finally met up with my cousin B after 15 years (the last time we met – little N was 6 months old, and little A was nowhere in sight yet)
  • I started two book clubs that I am enjoying so much – one with friends, and one at my work
  • Coordinated a dinner outing with my neighbors and everyone had so much fun that we are planning to do this monthly in 2019 (let’s see how that goes)
  • Met up with N and with a few friends for lunch dates
  • Didn’t write too many blog posts – just couldn’t find the words on some days with too much going on, and was beyond exhausted on other days (thanks to our energetic W)
  • Bought my treadmill desk in January 2018 and didn’t do one day’s walk or work on it (some things are just not meant to be)
  • Really got into using my Instant Pot in a big way and started trying out several new recipes

My word for 2018 was “Energy”. Energy didn’t feature much into my thinking in 2018, except that it was tested big time on some tough days. Well, I have a more fun and inspirational word picked out for 2019. I think I will do so much better with it.

So. How was your 2018? And do you have a word picked out for 2019?

Dasu Chittappa

Dasu chittappa.  The youngest of Appa’s three brothers.  A simple, sweet, generous and gentle soul, always ready with a smile or a quick joke. My earliest memory of chittappa is from his late 20s, when I was not quite 5 years old yet. Chittappa, V, and I would have breakfast together almost every morning, sitting on the kitchen floor in Mandavelli – V and I cross-legged and Chittappa with his legs stretched out endlessly on one side.  Chittappa would sit there regaling the women of the household with his stories as they bustled about. I (always motivated by food) kept one ear open but stayed on target. V, on the other hand, would be all eyes and ears on Chittappa (and get yelled at by Amma that the clock was a-ticking). I remember Chittappa calling me “keda” and me calling him “Uncle Dasu kandu” in return (luckily, we both outgrew that phase very quickly).

I remember watching Chittappa’s circle of friends standing around the front of the house every evening for hours talking in the fading evening light. I remember wondering what they talked so much about. I remember Chittappa bringing V and myself rare stamps and magazines like the Illustrated Weekly when he returned home from work.

As teenagers, V and I prayed that we would climb the seven hills of Tirupati on foot (I think we prayed that we would do this if we got the first rank in class or some such triviality – Good lord, really!). Chittappa, by then in his early 40s, offered to accompany us on our climb, and so off we went, the three of us. I remember Chittappa also carrying a bag filled with water and snacks for us, and me and V clinging on to him on either side super fatigued with all the walking and overwhelmed by the hills just looming (and looming) endlessly in front of us. I remember being totally amazed that once we reached the top (and V and I plopped onto the bed to rest our weary legs), Chittappa actually went walking again with Appa to figure out the logistics for our temple visit that night.

When Appa passed away in 2011, Chittappa would accompany us to the ceremonies every day. On one of those days, the priest asked me to make rice balls for the departed as part of the rituals, and gave me a bucket of water to cook the rice with. As I was getting started, Chittappa stopped me. “Don’t use the water from that bucket. Mani would not have liked that. He always liked to drink Aquafina. Let me go get a bottle of Aquafina, use that to cook the rice.”, Chittappa said.  I was so touched.  It was so impractical and yet the only thing that made sense to me during that difficult time.

Amma is in India now. Every day, over the past couple of months, whenever I called to speak to Amma, I also usually spoke to Chittappa. On some days he would talk politics, on other days he would ask about W (“do you keep him indoors, really?”).  Sometimes, he would inquire why I had not called at my usual time (even though I would only be a few minutes late). I loved bantering with Chittappa, his voice filled with laughter and sometimes sounding startlingly like Appa.

Chittappa turned 70 earlier this year.  He would have marked his 70th by celebrating his Bhima Ratha Shanthi next week. But he is not here with us any more. He passed away today after suddenly collapsing (on his wedding anniversary) and being critically ill for a couple of weeks. Just like that. It is so hard to believe that he is gone.

My Uncle Dasu kandu. May he rest in peace.

Sh*t Just Got Real

November 12. In 2010, this was the day that N got a big promotion at work. It was also the same day that Appa first told me that he felt his illness was something major. I woke up this morning and remembered the date. “Something important is going to happen today”, I told myself out of the blue (I do these things, really don’t know why).

I went to my first meeting at work. It was with my colleague J, who I have worked closely with for the past couple of years. She has been an incredible mentor to me, and my cheerleader. She has been instrumental in helping me advance so much within my company in a very short time. As I sat down, she smiled at me. “I have some news. I am retiring in February.” I have always been amazed at her high energy levels and her no-nonsense, don’t-mess-with-me demeanor. I knew that she was turning 60 in December, but it never occurred to me that she would retire anytime soon.

So. I sat there gaping at her as she told me her news. And finally collected myself enough to convey my congratulations and wish her a happy retired life with her husband. But here’s where  the sh*t gets real. We just got a huge contract with a major client. I was always going to play a significant role in driving this new contract in the years ahead. But I saw J being a big part of this for at least the next five years. Guiding me, (sometimes) chiding me, being that safety net to catch me, if needed, while I learned the ropes. And suddenly, that’s not how it’s going to be anymore.

I just started reading Book 7 of the Harry Potter series. After hearing J’s news, I feel like Harry Potter, who must find and destroy the Horcruxes after Dumbledore has just died. The enormity of it is slowly hitting me. There is something scary about the buck stopping with you. But I think I will do ok. I love a challenge, especially when it’s work-related (which comes easier to me than, say, making murukkus or laddoos).

J’s around for the next three months. Man, I listened to her in today’s meeting like I have never listened to her before. So much to learn. So little time. Wish me luck.