As I breathe and think and dream

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Of Learning Curves

I have been a mom for nineteen months now (incredible!). I have survived the difficult first year – the sleepless nights, being used as a milk production unit, the dirty diapers, the tonnes of laundry. I would like to believe that these past nineteen months have toughened me up so much that I can take most things in my stride now (namely the meltdown in the supermarket aisle, the tantrums in the car, the puke on the best dress (hers and mine) on the way to the party, etc). But no – that was me being self delusional. In all honesty, I am still pretty clueless. However I am not as clueless as I was three, six or nine months ago and compared to my naive self nineteen months ago, I am a venerable Yoda now.
Each day I am learning something new as a mom. Well, that is good. I am not scared of learning. It is the teaching bit that gives me the heebie-jeebies. I am worried about the heaps of things that I will need to teach my daughter in the days and months to come. They are (in no particular order) –
1. How to brush her teeth (she screams bloody murder as soon as her toothbrush comes within a meter of her mouth).
2. How to chew her food properly before swallowing (Put in mouth-chew-chew-no, no! don’t spit out- swallow!)
3. How to use the loo in an adult fashion (Ooh, the all-important potty training!)
4. How to dress herself (yes, sweetheart, a hat goes on your head because… it just does!)
5. How to spell her name (why did I not name her Eve or Liv or Skye?!!)
6. How not to bite/scratch/push others – and yet not be a doormat
7. How to eat broccoli and spinach without complaining
8. How to fix breakfast for herself to give mummy and daddy a break on weekends
9. How to share her things with others (lovely sentiment – though as with most things in life, easier said than done)
10. How tie her shoe laces
11. How to color inside the lines (and not on the wall or… gasp.. the white couch!)
12. How to climb down the stairs (she can manage the climb up pretty well but loses nerve while trying to get back down)
13. How not to dig her nose in public
14. How to look this way and that before crossing the street
15. How to ride a scooter…. a tricycle… a bike
And … the list goes on and on. Now I am not a very good or patient teacher. And if truth be told, I myself struggle to remember to do some of the things on the list. So the idea of having to re-iterate these things a million time each to an independent and rebellious toddler seems like an uphill task. Why can’t kids come pre-programmed with the basics?


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Happy Weight Vs Unhappy Weight

I bought and read my first ever diet book yesterday. Many times in that book, the author refers to something that she calls ‘happy weight’. Sure I understand what she means – a weight that one can happily live with. However looking back on my life, there is a little bit of confusion. Some years back, I was at my slimmest (my personal adulthood best of 54kg). I felt good about stepping onto the scales and I could wear whatever I wanted to. But mentally I was at a really unhappy stage in my life then. Now I weigh 63kg. Weight wise I am pretty unhappy (hence the diet book!). I have love handles and bulges and have had to relegate most of my old clothes to the back of the wardrobe. However in all other spheres of life and in stark contrast to my earlier state of mind, I am happy now. So which one was/is my ‘happy weight’ – phase 1 of ‘Weight happy – Life unhappy’ or phase 2 of ‘Life happy – Weight unhappy’ ?
I am not dumb. I will take phase 2 over phase 1 any day. But I am a woman, there is no pleasing me and so I am now aiming for the elusive ‘Life happy – Weight happy’ state (if it at all exists!). Geez! There is really no such thing as a content woman, is there?

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Love Thy Baby

You know how all books, articles and forums talk about that moment during childbirth, when the new mom looks at her baby for the very first time and feels this overwhelming deluge of love. She feels that the baby in her arms was worth every ache and pain that she suffered for the last nine months and more. Swimming in oxytocin, she can feel love gushing out of every pore and she wants to move mountains, slay dragons and cook spag bol for her baby.
That IS what is supposed to happen. and I knew it would happen to me too. I had heard all the stories, read all the narratives and seen all the tender photos. Only it did not happen to me. I looked at my daughter for the first time. I felt relief that the ordeal was coming to an end (they were still stitching me up at the time). I felt some worry that the baby did not cry all that loudly when she made her entry into the world. I marveled at the fact that she had very long fingernails. I felt mild disgust that she was placed in my arms still caked with yucky stuff. I thought my husband should probably not be making the first call to family right at that moment (wasn’t serious medical stuff still going on?). I thought many things.
But where was that extraordinary rush of love and devotion? I did not feel all that and I was very conscious of not feeling that way. I felt cheated. I felt guilty. Where was the bloody oxytocin? Maybe the epidural had affected my brain along with my lower extremities. Ten minutes into momhood, I was already a failure.
It was only much later that I read an article that said, while 70% of women fall in love with their babies at the moment of childbirth, the other 30% take more time in bonding with their baby. So thankfully I am not the monster who lives in a crooked houses on legs and routinely stews sweet innocent babes for lunch. That is a relief.

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My Badge of Mediocrity

I always knew I was mediocre, average, unexceptional. And prone to self-pity, as you probably can tell. However it was still crushing to have my average-ness certified by a professional. We had this work traits review recently done by an allegedly well-known psychiatrist at work. I use the word allegedly not to malign the good doc but it is just that I don’t hob-knob in those circles and so I have no idea who is renowned or not. Anyways the survey results prove I am neither structured nor flexible but somewhere in the middle of the two. I am neither practical nor creative but somewhere in the middle. I am neither an introvert nor an extrovert but … yes, you guessed it… somewhere in the middle. And so on and so forth. The doctor asked people at the ends of the spectrum to narrate their experiences, their preferences and their troubles in making themselves understood. However I got asked nothing as stories of sane average people are unexciting.
Sigh! All this mediocrity is crushing me.

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My Body is Spinning

Last month I had a disastrous session with a personal trainer. Despite my telling him that I had been pretty slack on the exercise front for the last couple of years, he made me go through a number of gruelling circuits . Around midway into it all, I had give up. Or rather the trainer made me stop as he was probably scared that I would die and he would be banned from training forever! For the next couple of days, I was so sore that I could barely walk.
So it seems the personal training method which apparently has very good results is not for me. However I am a determined soul. Lose weight I will! So I have now started attending spinning classes at my gym. I had given spinning a try 3-4 years ago and found it uninspiring. This time however I find myself liking it quite a lot. Maybe a part of it is because I read it somewhere that a 45 minute spin class can burn up to 500 calories if you do it right. Also I have discoeverd a trick. Instead of focussing on the trainer barking out instructions like “Hill ahead” or “Race”, I try and lose myself in the music. If I close my eyes, it almost seems as though I am in a nightclub. So I am nightclubbing my way to fitness. How cool is that.

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Bad Mommy

Are we moms nasty, bigoted, mean? I would love to say no – but all evidence seems to point to the contrary.
1. Moms are judgmental – stay-at-home moms make snide remarks about working moms and vice versa; breast feeding moms look down their noses at formula moms.
2. Moms tend to fall over themselves trying prove that their offspring is extra special (‘Look, he is sitting up at 2 months”; ‘my DD crawled at four’; ‘she speaks 2 languages at 18 months’)
3. There seems to be a mad frenzy amongst moms to compete at all levels (better mom than her, more caring than her, my kid is more cute/intelligent/well-behaved etc) – at the daycare dress up day, on the soccer field, at the family gathering, amongst friends on Facebook. There is this relentless one-upmanship everywhere.
4. If you still have any doubts – trying reading the comments of any slightly controversial article on parenting (and almost every article is!) and you will find moms are intolerant. They have scant regard for beliefs for others and are full of themselves and/or their precious offspring.
Conclusion – We are not a nice breed. We wouldn’t normally be behaving this way about ourselves but somehow our kiddos seem to bring out our worst bits. Hmmmmm. A point to ponder on.

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Home and Hearth

We moved into our new house in December last year. The months leading up to moving day were pretty hairy. For one, getting a home loan approved is not for the faint-hearted. The bankers kept us hanging till almost the last day. Whoever said ‘In order to get a bank loan, you first need to prove that you do not need it’ was spot on. Once that part was done, there were legal hassles. The land titles document went missing at the vendor’s bank. The settlement got delayed. The couple who were selling us their house were in midst of an ugly divorce so getting them to agree on anything jointly was like extracting teeth. When even all that got sorted out, there was still all the pain of moving of moving – the packing, the cleaning, the disposing, the thousand phone calls to get addresses changed and utilities moved. Once we had moved into the house there was of course the rush to unpack because everyone knows what is not unpacked within the first couple of weeks stays boxed up for the next few years.
Now it has been more than two months that we have been living in the new house. The stairs are beginning to feel familiar. The creaks in the night do not seem that alarming. We know that the hot and cold indicator on the kitchen tap is labelled incorrectly. Waking up in the new master bedroom does not bring the first thought of ‘Oh my god, where am I?’. So all is good. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot of work to be done. There is an extra large mirror to be put up, artwork that needs to be framed and hung, the dishwasher needs to be replaced, furniture needs to be bought, some furniture that has been bought needs to be delivered (isn’t it ridiculous that furniture takes 3-4 months to be delivered in some cases? And no, this is normal furniture that I am talking about – we have not ordered for something to be brought in from Mars!). Most rooms are sort of ‘work in progress’ in some way or the other. There is a lot of decorating to be done, so I am scouring around for design ideas and trying to find out the best look I can get within our budget. This bit is seriously fun and I am enjoying every moment of it. Helping me out in my quest are these wonderful apps/sites:
1) Houzz – I love this app and everynight without fail, I look through the latest ideabooks. Some wonderfully talents designers and decorators there.
2) Novica – A wonderful site where artisans from different countries sell their wares and while everything is drool-worthy, I am especially enamoured by their masks section. I so badly want to buy the masks from Mexico and Bali. However I got to know that the Australian customs often levies hefty charges on the items. What a bummer! I wish I lived in America where the customs bit is all taken care of by Novica itself.
3) Etsy – I had always heard of Etsy but never really browsed around much before. Now that I have, I am in love! I have already purchased a number of prints from differnt shops and I am impressed by the professionalism of most sellers who are prompt and kind. The only negative is that not all sellers ship to Australia.
Part of me wants to rush through this process of house decoration so that I have my house decorated just the way I want it and then I can enjoy living in it. But then there is another part of me that is enjoying this whole process so much that I want to stretch it out. Dream some more and shop some more.