What Marriage and Motherhood Taught Me!!

I married pretty young, it was a choice I made and I was and I am very comfortable with it. For a long time my whole life revolved around my husband and my family. I was always a very independent girl both in my thoughts and my actions and getting married did not change that and I did not want this aspect to change. You know how the initial years of marriage are, the merriment, the joy, the wandering, the carefree attitude. I was having a ball, all through this, I was so busy that my personal life ceased to exist or my personal life only existed around my husband and his friends as they became my new world. As fate would have it, we had a baby after a few years and life only became more busier (Let’s say “more” is an understatement). I was being drawn to this vicious cycle of nappy changing, feeding, managing home and work.

And one day, Boom, I got exhausted, I got tired of the mundane routine, of knowing that I had lost a part of myself in the whole process. My husband got busy with work, of course I did not expect him to be the same boy I had fallen for, he was a man now, but life suddenly was moving at an unfathomable speed which somehow I was unable to pace up with. And the moment I sat down to ponder I realized what was amiss. Marriage and motherhood was never meant to snatch my aspirations, steal my identity and frankly they did not. It was me who got drifted so swiftly that I forgot to anchor myself. I kept myself very low in the family pyramid and now I was pushing myself much farther down. I saw that my husband had maintained his friendships while I over the years had lost touch with many as I had not made the effort, because work and home became my priority. Is it wrong? No it is not, but what forgetting yourself is wrong.

There would be many who would differ from me, probably my temperament is different. But I see a lot of women around me doing this, somehow it is taken for granted that it is our responsibility to manage all. And the strange part is not many speak about it too, because we feel the same way. We panic when food is not on table on time, when the child is late for school, or we miss some assignments. In the pursuit of being the perfect wife and mother, somehow we stop living our lives and start living for others and trust me I have learnt that we raise their expectations much higher than our capabilities. We need to learn to speak up, to be able to set a threshold for ourselves.

And so I decided to revisit my earlier self, to start enjoying things I used to cherish earlier. I decided to make new friends, go out alone or with my friends, just start life afresh. This is no way means that I ignore my family but only means that I take out time for myself. It is difficult in the beginning and probably even the family gets a shock, but it would be alright eventually. It is important to value the ‘I’ that we are, loving yourself first is not being selfish it is just being fair to yourself. Let us make this non-negotiable, both marriage and motherhood should be an evolvement to be a better happy person and not a heap of responsibilities that weighs us down. In loving yourself, trust me you are helping those around you, because you will be happier and in turn they would too. Reclaim your lost identity, be brave to nurture yourself, it is alright to put yourself first, OK to say no, OK to set limits, simply OK to be just you.

And trust me your family would be supportive, they are what they are because you set your standards, after an initial jolt everything would fall into place. Be kind to yourself, it is important.

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The Perfect FairyTale

Early morning I get a distressed call from my mother, there has been a family debacle which needs immediate attention, she says. I am like blurry eyed, half asleep it’s a Sunday for god’s sake. I ask her to calm down, tell her I will give her a call after an hour when I am in a condition to hear and understand. But alas, she digresses and starts complaining instead how I don’t have time, I am not concerned, we raised you, on and on.

I decide to give up and instead listen to the family drama which has unfolded. It seems my cousin wants to get married. Well that’s good news, right, she is well educated, single child, earning pretty well and the right age (25 years to be precise, which is like the marriageable age). So what is the problem I ask? “Problem, problem” she says, “it’s not a problem but the mothers of all problems, one the boy is not of the same caste as ours, secondly she has known him for hardly six months and lastly and most importantly the groom’s family wants her to quit her job post marriage”. I am aghast, I know my cousin, if I am ambitious multiply it but 10000, that’s what her ambition level is. So I ask, “is she ready for this?’, and the answer comes as a ‘Yes’. I conclude that YES this is a topic of utmost importance and decide to give my cousin a call.

I call her after sometime and she is smitten in love, the boy she says is wonderful, the chemistry is just hard to believe. She paints a mills and boons to me, but seven years into a marriage, trust me no mills and boons can wooooo me now. I try to reason with her if she wants quit working amid the lovey dovey story she is telling me. “Ahh who wants the job when you have all the love,” she quips. But she goes on, quitting was not her idea, but was one of the conditions from the groom’s family. The idea is that they are like really well off and don’t need to depend on the daughter in law’s income, ‘What will the world say”? I left a sigh, I did not know what to say, she was one of us who could never let anything come in between her career. I mean I am OK with the idea of leaving jobs for family, only if I want to and not out of compulsion or LOVE as she puts it. I realized that this was beyond reasoning with her and hence I gave up.

She would get married of course, I pray for the best for her. I am into the seventh year of my marriage, and I have realized we don’t remain the same person, the one we fell in love with changes, we ourselves change and so I think leaving or changing your identity for someone does not make sense. Independence, financial, emotional any kind I think in today’s time is very important. I know women who took a sabbatical or totally left their jobs to take care of their families which is perfectly fine if the couple decides it mutually. Relationships should be given paramount importance, but the relationships based on conditions, I don’t know how far they go. I believe a day comes when the loves fades a bit at least, things change and then you ponder on your decision which apparently gets late. So I am ok if my cousin has really thought this through completely, I hope she can see a picture beyond the love web that she has created around her.

The other day I was telling my daughter the snow white story at bedtime and I preferred ending it like this:

“As snow white is in deep sleep and all efforts by the seven dwarfs to wake her up fail, a prince crosses by on his horse. He stops to see what the fuss was all about and is smitten by the beauty of snow white, he bends down to kiss her (That’s like a bit inappropriate I think, right, anyway it is fairytale, I don’t have to use my brains here). She wakes up baffled. Their eyes lock and the prince proposes marriage to her, he tells he wants to make her the queen of the kingdom. She blushes and replies, “Not now my loving charming prince, let us know each other a bit more, let me take a job be independent and still if we think we should, we would.”

Ahhha that’s like a perfect fairy tale ending.

Marriages That Empty Your Bank Accounts

The other day I was having this very regular and mundane conversation with my mother. Ever since I got married, my mother and I have become exceptionally close. She is my solace. So the other day we were enjoying our alone time together when one thing led to another and the conversation turned to my brothers’ marriage, which apparently is not happening for another 5 years or so. But the Indian mothers you see, nothing is dearer to them than the marriage of their sons. Ahhh and dare anyone, burst the bubble of that perfect wedding.

Weddings in India are a lavish affair, and must I admit lavish is an understatement. We like to indulge in our weddings to the point of insanity if I may say so. The affair is pompous, grand, bombastic, ostentatious, showy, and at times over bearing. And here my mother and I were discussing of the future much much ahead of time. I was astounded by the details she had planned in her head, her plan was crystal clear of how she wanted that wedding. What I was overtly amused with was the guest list and gifts she was planning to invite and give. As she kept indulging in some gibberish I was unable to comprehend, I intervened; I asked if she intended to weigh the brides’ side with all the expenses she was calculating right now. Her answer was plain and simple, “Of course not, they can do as much as they can do comfortably, I won’t force them and all this is from our side”. She was counting all the long lost and far away relatives we had, many of them I had not heard of, plenty of them I have not met in more than decade.

And I listened to her meekly and patiently as the expenses list kept on increasing. Trust me the budget she was making, if I can call it a budget was enough to feed a whole state for a day at least, all three meals. Finally I budged in and said, “Mummy, perhaps brother would want a simpler wedding, perhaps we can give the newly wed some cash in hand, that would help them”. And as expected she was offended and exploded, she started the melodrama of how she has only one son, how everyone in family is looking forward to this marriage, why earn then if you can’t spend on the marriage, so on and so forth. I interrupted in between by mentioning a cousin she had forgotten on her list and she gladly got back to the topic.

And I thought to myself, there is no point in explaining to her, something at our end would never change. We are the happiest lot being the pompous lot that we are, nothing excites us more than lavish extravagant weddings. Don’t get me wrong, I would not say they are waste, after all it’s the time when the whole family gets together but I only feel that it can be done in a little simpler way, spending at least a bit less. A little introspection is required, we are a country where many go to sleep without food or blanket in winters. I know nothing much would change, it takes a lot to change a mindset, I can’t change my parents’ perspective on this one, let alone preaching others, but we as a generation can change a bit. Demand less and do more. Marriage is not a platform to project our exaggerated status, but a new and most important turn our life would ever take. And trust me ask the Indian groom if he even wants all these celebrations, after all I assume he is the saddest of the LOT 😛 .

The Joy of Being NewlyWed

As the train shrieked to a halt at a station, she entered the third class AC compartment. She was followed by a swarm of women and men, girls and boys who had so many luggage bags and cartons, that they shook the entire compartment to place all the baggage in place. She sat down near the window with an old lady with tears in her eyes, the old woman was instructing her to embrace her new life with love and respect. The newly wed bride was looking down at her bangles which were colorful and bright. Her head was covered by her saree which her mother, which I presume the lady sitting next to her was, kept adjusting for her. Her body weight was not very capable of taking the weight of her saree it seemed. She sat on the berth opposite to mine, adjusting the end of her saree.

As she was absorbing in all the priceless information to married life that her mother was pouring her, a man, but a boy like man entered the compartment, he immediately had that new groom, the new son-in –law aura to his persona. The bustling in the compartment stopped as everyone started making space for him. The girl flinched and recoiled. The train blared for departure and the family members rose up to leave. The mother hugged the bride who started crying inconsolably. The groom sat in the corner, too engrossed in the newspaper he had brought along. He seemed unperturbed to the whole family drama being unfolded. Then a boy not more than 15 years of age came forward to hug the girl. She cried a little more as the family started to move out of the compartment. And the train left. I could see the whole family huddled on the platform bidding their goodbyes! And slowly the train caught up speed and the platform was left far behind.

She sat there glancing outside the window without batting an eyelid. I looked at her and she appeared lost, it seemed that tears had welled up in her eyes, but she hastily wiped them off by the nook of her saree. She sat there unmoved glancing outside the window for a good one hour while her husband busied himself completely in the newspaper and then his phone. The chai wala came chanting “Chai, Garam Chai” in his monotonous baritone. The groom ordered one and asked his bride if she wanted any, she refused. It’s the first time that she had raised her head directly and I got a glimpse of her. She was fair, with a bright red lip color, wide red bindi and red vermillion filling her centrally parted hair. She looked young, perhaps 20. As her husband sipped his tea she again got back to watching the scene outside the window.

I got back to the book I was reading before seeing the newlywed couple and put earphones in my ears. I saw the groom approaching the girl and try to hold her hand. She flinched, but she made no effort to free her hand from his grasp but she was visibly discomforted. Her husband caressed her cheek. I saw that she was not willing to be touched, but from the look of her husband he seemed to be believe that he had the right. I coughed to make them uncomfortable on purpose; there was a certain urge in me to free the girl. He moved back a bit and started fidgeting with his phone.

As the train moved between the mountains time passed, the groom excused himself for the washroom. She just nodded and kept straining out of the window. Something in her piqued my curiosity. After all she was a newlywed, why did she lack all the charm and happiness around it. I was just going to start the conversation with a ‘Hi’, when her husband barged in with another man laughing and clapping his hands. As they entered he introduced him as a childhood friend, and said that he was accompanying him in his compartment for some time. The friend offered the bride to come along but the groom answered in negation for her. She sat there nodding her head and said she was comfortable here. As he left the bride went back to stare out of the window. I was perplexed by this time and finally muttered a ‘HI’, to which she looked at me confused. I asked where she was travelling, I was being intrusive I guess as she still had not responded to my HI. She did not respond to this either and I decided to go back to my book offended and hurt. Its then when she spoke, “We are going to Mumbai, my husband has a job there”. I told her that Mumbai was a great place, I visit there often for work, and she would like it there. I told her that I was originally from Delhi and that going to Mumbai is always memorable because that place is different and very accepting. She kept listening to me watching outside the window in between. I stopped talking realizing that I had been talking for quite some time now. After a while she said, “You like going to Mumbai because you always have a chance to come back to Delhi, the place which is home to you”. I was baffled by this response, I wanted to ask some more but she added on her own preventing me feeling encroaching. She said that her husband four months into their courtship after engagement and one month before marriage had announced to her that she would not be coming back to her place ever. If any of her relatives wanted to visit her they had to travel to Mumbai. He wanted nothing to do with the place anymore, where apparently he was born too but now he felt the place was too tawdry. I gasped at her, as she moved her stare from outside to me and smiled with tears in her eyes. I asked her why had not she reasoned with him as this was not a practical thing to do. She said that theirs was an arrange marriage and reasoning with him would have meant calling for trouble. She had not told anyone in the family except her brother who was too young to do anything. She had decided to live with it. I could not say anymore, her tale had explained her sadness; she was leaving behind the city she grew up in, the family she grew up with someone who had decided to start the relationship on his terms. I could not muster the courage to talk to her anymore; I opened the book and started reading again.

She was still looking out of the window when he came back again with a tray of food. She did not want to eat but he forced her to. As the train screeched to a halt again at a station, a young couple entered the compartment, they sounded happy and gay. They sat next to me and I could see that girl would not stop talking. She instructed her husband to keep the luggage in a specific way, her bags on the upper berth, take out the chargers from the bag and the husband abided. As they sat down they said their hellos to all sitting in the compartment and I responded amicably. Just then the girl pointed out, “Darling, you realize that this summer we have to go to my parents’ place to stay as you promised, you know they miss me a lot, right”. And the boy answered in affirmation. I looked back at the bride sitting across me, she gave me the look as to say look at the irony. Just then the all talkative couple left to see the outside view from the door of the train at the behest of the girl. And the groom sitting uttered “What a henpecked husband”. I flinched in disgust and anguish.

More than Just Getting Her Married

As I woke up this morning and grabbed my newspaper to read, this particular piece of news caught my attention, “A good number of girls become college drop outs and get married before they finish their studies”. This did amuse me, but distressed me. Why is the marriage of our daughters such a hassle and the why does it become the epicenter of our worry and savings. The day the doctor announces, “It’s a girl”, following a 15 seconds silence (Yes trust me the first choice in India is still to have a boy), there is happiness in the air, and a thought in the back of the mind, “Alright I need to plan and save for her marriage”. This is how it is in India, inadvertently parents of a girl in India have this outlandish worry in their minds of getting their daughter married.
We do educate our daughters, we do, the literacy rate has improved, but more than usual the education is only to add value to her resume as a marriageable material. There are only a few girls who are privileged to live a life they want. One of the girls in the article revealed that she came from a rich family of businessmen, but she knew that she would be married off to a suitable boy by the time she finished high school, she bargained for a year at college before marriage to live her life, and she was allowed. She married at the end of her first year, not completing her college. This disturbed me, not because she could not finish her studies, many don’t and go places, but the fact that she had to bargain for her freedom, it is her life for god’s sake. The simple fact that girls are considered burdens adds to this whole situation, dowry, rape, molestation, abuse within marriage, only overwhelming the parents with worries to get her married before she is exposed to the brutal world.
There are still many powerful women in the country women who have made their mark, and I believe it is because their family supported her. They let her explore herself, her needs, aspirations, desires everything. Being married or not should be the prerogative of the girl, let her decide when she wants it, with whom she wants it. She deserves this much. Our aim as parents should be to give her a life she enjoys, cherishes, and not burden her constantly that her looks should be perfect to lure the perfect match. She should have a beautiful heart, an intelligent and reasonable mind; she need not dress up for anyone else but to make herself happy. She needs to educate herself as much as she likes, marriage should not be barrier, I don’t find any reason why she cannot be doing it if she thinks she can.
There is too much emphasis of marriage in this country, especially for girls. Some parents only want to get rid of the burden of having a daughter and fail to fathom how many undergo martial abuse; they get a life they don’t want to live. I have examples within my family wherein parents decided to spend money on the daughter’s marriage rather than her education, “She eventually has to get married only, so why waste money on education”. A woman has an identity beyond her man, and this needs to be accepted in the society fervently. We are much more than just being a marriageable girl.
I was fortunate enough to be raised in a family who believed in the same ideology as mine, I was given the best of education my parents could afford, liberty to question and demand, I was no less than a boy to my parents, and yes I had my moments of being on the road feeling vulnerable because I am a girl, but my parents instilled in me the confidence to take on the world. I voice my opinions, I am the so called modern day girl, wife to a loving husband who is supportive and encouraging, mother of a little girl who I intend to raise on the principles I believe in. I want to give her wings to fly, explore, travel and find herself. Her marriage is on my mind because I want her to enjoy this part of life too as I enjoy it, but only when she wants it and the way she wants to. We have to stop fretting about her marriage, and fret more for her well-being and keeping her happy, giving her a life she deserves and commands since we brought her into this world.
May sound a little over board but I love this line my father sent me once:
“A girl is not tension, but she is equal to TEN-SONS”
Let us embrace this thought and give our daughters the privilege of a wonderful life they deserve.

In-Laws: Glad to have Them Around

So we have recently shifted to our new home which I always wanted to for a long time now. There are five of us who have relocated from our family home in South Delhi to Gurgaon, both my in-laws, my husband, my little daughter and of course me. And life has been good. I have my office close by so I don’t waste much time travelling, there are lots of activities for my little one here so she is happy and I can manage time now to cook and bake which I absolutely love doing.
It has been an easy and happy change for me, life is more comfortable now, as for my daughter she is too young to comprehend a change like this, my husband well his opinion does not matter much as I had left my family when I married him and shifted to his home, so baby its payback time!! Well this brings us to my in-laws, they had to shift with us as my daughter is little and I am working, so for me to continue working somebody had to tag along us to take care of my daughter and obviously who better than grandparents ( my mother in-law is anti-daycare).
So in the complete picture it is the biggest and drastic change for my in-laws to shift here with me, leaving behind the home they stayed together for almost 35 odd years. We still visit that place over the weekends but we are here for the better part of the week. And I totally commend and applaud for what they are doing. I understand it is not easy; change is not easy, especially at this age when you get acclimatized to ta certain way of life. New place, new surroundings, new people, new everything it is not easy. To do that all over again for your kids, I totally respect that but fail to understand the unconditional love behind it. How, why, can they be so selfless, to give up everything and start afresh. It appalls me to see their flexibility to change. I cannot do it, just cannot. There is so much I can learn from them in this regard.
There is no way I can ever thank them enough for what they are doing for my family. RESPECT.

Aside

Early Morning Bathroom Marathon!!

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Arrrgghhhhh, early mornings are such a chaos always, ever so I got married I don’t remember having a smooth morning to work. For starters my husband and I share our bedroom’s bathroom, neither of us is ready to compromise and use the guest bathroom, for the simple reason that ours is much better, (It’s a dream come true bathroom). All through the day we are out at work, and have different timings to get back home, so that gets sorted. What never get sorted are the mornings when we both have to leave at the same time. And it is such a nuisance!!

SO I get up early in the morning, finish my chores in the kitchen and other parts of the house, giving instructions to the domestic help and everything, it roughly takes an hour, and by the time I am ready to march for a nice shower, BOOM my husband is up and already marching his way. All my cries to spare 15 minutes because I know this is all I will take to get out of there go in vain. And I know he would take no less than ONE hour inside. Yes ONE hour, this is the minimum he takes inside. I fail to fathom what the hell he does inside. One hour on a working day trust me it is too much when you know you are sharing the bathroom.

In the meantime I am cribbing, knocking frantically on the door, but he remains unperturbed, and when he does come out, it seems like a tornado has hit the place. I need a minimum of 15 minutes to compose myself, clean the bathroom a bit and then finally plunge to take a bath. And as it would be I hardly have 10 minutes to take a bath. Isn’t it irritating??

So all my mornings are like this, it is only on the weekends that I can indulge in some soothing time in the tub, and enjoy. But what keeps me wondering always is the same issue after five years of marriage, “What does he do Inside for an hour ;)”.

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Perks of being MARRIED I guess!