Babying Around

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 litt-sml

Babying Around

Oh! If I were to be born again
To feel again the newness
Of being a brand new human

Cradle cap that never heals
Slippery skin that peels and peels
Changing color like a chameleon

Making bitter-sweet faces
Secretly smiling for no reason
And crying loud for every little

Looking around wide-eyed
In huge awe and wonder
At bright undefined hues

Amazed at all odd shapes
Jerking alert at rattle sounds
And at human voices

Sleeping the whole day
Waking the whole night
And keeping others awake

Lie on my back full day
Waiting to be picked up
And taken around

Convey hunger in loudest shrills
Making people run around
My family at my beck and call

Let everyone try to please me
While I amuse everyone around
By sucking my little foot thumb

Try to roll-over on my own
Fall from the bed crying
And get my mommy crying

Skin-to-skin with mommy
Looking at her angelic face
As she feeds me calmly

Cradling secure in dad’s arms
As and when he’s around
Till I grow too old for all this.

~Alka~

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. Now I am too old for all this babying around and fancying doing cute stuff.

But we are still like a brand new baby on the day we are born, aren’t we?
And for me, that’s today…my birthday

Also a great day to be back to my blog…with my new baby poem

These Veterans of Motherhood

motherhood

These Veterans of Motherhood

Young moms are moms. Sure!
Are older moms moms too?
Seen it all. Been there. Done that.
Rotund tummy, birthing nerves, joy at the new-born
Ones, who once changed and washed far more nappies
And soothed their colicky babies
Have now left teethers and rattles behind
Disposed them, barring a few…for sweet memories.

Arriving in an alien land, landing double-shift jobs
No extended families ever, lonely media-less times.
Walked their toddlers to child-care, settled them in a kindy
Initiated their primary schooler’s A, B, Cs and Ds
Exhausted weekends at (selective-school) coaching centres
Helped their prodigies with high-school projects
Made secure their future, saw them soar high
Empty handed moms – from their nest the kids fly
Soft-hearted moms become hardened moms

Young moms, still learning about motherhood?
Older mommies, the walking encyclopaedias
Been there. Done that. Seen it all.
Kind of still young, but growing older
Preparing for another dose of mom-hood
Booster shot, of becoming a grand(er) mom.
Some already are content grand-moms
Older moms, not less of a mom, if not more.
Not exactly passé, definitely not past

©Alka Girdhar 2016

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While writing this poem I had in my mind women friends who once arrived here in Australia as newly weds, or pregnant with their first child, while some had a toddler or two.

Over the years I have seen many of them undergo most of the above experiences as busy mothers, and now some of them are getting their children settled in jobs or marriage, while other moms would probably join them sometime in the coming years.

Recently I joined a mothers club. Many if not most women there are young mothers discussing problems faced by very new moms. There still are too many motherhood problems in this easy era of social media, even when most of them have plenty of helping hands around, that older moms never had.

Hence, I felt a need to remember the evolving role of the older, or should I say more experienced, mothers as well. Because the joys as well as responsibilities that come with motherhood continue for the whole life..

First Journey

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First Journey


Oh! It’s all so scary. Save me God! Please. I can’t bear this ordeal. 
I am happy where I am. Why do they want to take me out?

Now they’re pulling my head with something. It hurts badly. Please let go!

They think they should help me. That I’m stuck inside, drenched in fluids and darkness all around me.

No!! I don’t ever feel sad in here. Never did. That’s my small home. Only mine. My mom’s womb. I feel very safe here. I get food. I feel warm and hugged.   

I again feel like crying. I fear so much. Where are they taking me? Such bright light! Strange sounds I can very faintly hear! What would it be like on the other end? Help me God! Don’t take me away from my mom! I will die. 

©Alka 2016

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Written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers that is hosted by Priceless Joy, and inspired by this week’s above photo prompt.

It/he/she will not die, as that is what we call ‘life’.
Is this piece a bit exaggerated? Probably 🙂  Who knows what birthing bubs feel! May be some discomfort as their senses are not fully developed yet.

Selfie-less Girl

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 Selfie-less Girl

“Mom, why is it that we never take selfies?”, little Ivana ranted as she stomped behind her mother from one room to the other.

“Honey! We do take sometimes”, replied Savita, albeit a bit indifferently, for she was too engrossed thinking about her work project.

“Nooo…but they’re just photos. They are not selfieeees!!” Ivana’s words dragged in rebellion while her mouth pouted.

“That means the same”

“Nooo Mom! As if I don’t know!!” Then after pausing for a while to think, Ivana asked “OK! Do we ever do like this in our pictures?”  She came in front of her mom and pursed her lips out in a pout, to make a duck-face. But the mom was amused.

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I’m everything I am…because you loved me

You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn’t speak
You were my eyes when I couldn’t see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach
You gave me faith ‘coz you believed
I’m everything I am
Because you loved me

Happy Mother’s Day to you all!

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Of Abandoned Truths and Pleasant Lies

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abandoned_child_with_basket_by_eveblackwood-d5zjhrs

deviant art: Eve Blackwood

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Living with Abandoned Truths and Pleasant Lies

She left me, this mother mine
But fills my whole world
Leaves no place untouched
No moment unharmed
Nothing intact!

Oh my perturbed mind!
Come with me to a realm
That’s beyond Continue reading

A rant…From Me to You…

The Daily Prompt: From You to You  has asked us to…Write a letter to your 14-year-old self. Tomorrow, write a letter to yourself in 20 years.”

Oh baby! Was I ever fourteen?  I can write about 40 as that’s not distant, but 14 seems so remote though I do have vivid memories to share. My sensitive and studious 14 year old self does need some sermonizing on practicalities of life but I’ll leave it for some other time.

My son should answer this prompt. In fact, I can write on his behalf as I know him inside out. I think I do. On the contrary, maybe I don’t. He’s always been a thoroughly good boy during his schooling and now university but generally, as they grow up they have their own lives, esp. our sons. As such, in these times we all live in our own cocoon. Particularly at young age they want to carve their future, spread out their wings so they’re busy trying out new ventures and journeys.

Right now at this moment my son is in London. He went all alone for a month long academic trip to Europe. After Switzerland and Germany, he’s now in UK.

The last few weeks were anxious anyway but today I’m worried like hell, for he has not been picking up the phone since yesterday. Right now it’s midnight in London and I assume he must have been caught up in tube transport strike during the day or when coming back home late evening. Something to do with that.

When I last talked to him almost two days ago, he said he will not go out of his accommodation on Thursday as the city may get chaotic. But the whole day on Thursday, his phone was switched off, so I have no idea what’s been going on. Due to his hectic schedule and the time-gap between the two countries, his phone calls have been generally erratic throughout his trip, but this one’s the longest disconnect we had.

Of course, all this gave me a sleepless Thursday night. On top of that, today on Friday morning, I woke up to a power shut down. It’s not usual for Sydney to go without power, but that’s what happens when you need something the most. A few hours of no electricity meant phones can’t be charged, problematic net connection and all. Finally the power is back so I’m writing all this.

Now…waiting for his phone call. Possibly he’s asleep at this time. He will wake up and call us. But I have the phone numbers of Australian Embassies ready and also that of London Police.

My husband, who is busy with his inter-state tasks, tried to contact him as well but was amused at my panic. He laughed and said …”Police. Huh! Aren’t you too worried?“

Yes I am.  For I am a mom.

So yeah… 4, 14, 21, 40, 60, 80…nothing matters as long as we are safe and alive.

mother and child

My son with his mom when he was younger, she was younger but not 14

Whether we get little miseries or bigger woes, abundant achievements or tremendous failures, small joys or exhilarating happiness, it all holds value only when we ourselves are secure, and sure of the safety of our near and dear ones.

So. What will I say to my fourteen year old self? Maybe some of the above. And much more.

~~~

He called later in the day, as if nothing happened. So everything is ok now.

I can’t hold his hand anymore to keep him within my range. I should realize that it sets me free as well.

I rock!!!  By being my own rock.    

With time, I have learnt to be my own rock!  Even in times of dire need I’m well able to keep my worries to myself till I can.  I feel, any time spent asking others for help, can be utilized trying to do it myself. That’s because now I know many life answers.  Other than that, even though I try to help others whenever possible, I do not find it easy to ask others for help.

Not just asking, I sincerely do not expect or demand any help from others. Life is very busy for all such families who are working full-time or over-time so I try to avoid telling people to take precious time out from their busy schedules. I also do not judge anyone for not having helped me.

But I was not always like this.  Being born and brought up in a big family was a different thing altogether, when we all were dependent on each other.  Later on, the family I got married into was also the same, quite big though smaller than my birth family. In both these cities, both families had huge extended families with all their social events, perpetual marriages, birthdays, religious events and what not.

In big families people are just there for each other – simply by being there.  They do not have to ask each other for help yet all the work load, little miseries as well as bigger problems, literally every little thing is automatically shared, often without a word. Emotional problems also get taken care of.  Thus, inside home-front or outside, my native cities were full of relatives and friends who, despite occasional conflicts, were co-dependent on each other as well as stood by each other.  I too found strength experiencing the merits and the demerits of such dependency.

These were the lessons learnt during first half of my life.  But that’s that. Thereafter it’s been a life that was pretty much lived alone.  Alone means, as a couple with no extended family at all in the city I live.  A growing child is a company but he could not be our rock as such.  By the time a child is grown up enough to understand what life is all about, parents have already become their own rock.  So it was for me.

Years ago, when we initially migrated to Australia and we were younger, there were friends galore, rather one too many. There was too much of mutual dependency as our kids were born, school issues arose or we were generally helping each other settle down in a new country. But soon people got busy and scattered to different locations. Actually my family moved away. More new friends came along but we left them behind after once again moving to a distant suburb.  All these wonderful friends, who were very close once, seem to be totally changed whenever we see them after a long time. Our priorities changed, lives moved on. None of these groups could ever be our constant rock so we learnt to rely primarily on ourselves. Of course, other than these ever-evolving friendships, there are ever-changing workmates, besides the wider Australian community, new neighbors as well as Indian-Australian organisations. Helpful but they can’t be our rock.

Overall, when this process of change occurs a number of times in life – this parting from family and friends – we become stronger. Thus after this vagabond life, at some stage I became my own rock.  Literally I seek strength mainly from myself.  And it comes. It always comes. It’s there inside us.

For example, owing to my husband’s work hours as well as work-related tours, I often got to experience a life where, along with my own career goals, I had a major share in household work as well as taking prime onus of bringing up our only child who never had any grandparents or extended families around him. I had to do my best. I could do it.

Only after his schooling finished that I finally felt free to spread my wings around, to seek local people who can be of some help.  Such people are many and yet they are not many. Because only a handful of people in the world truly care for us. That’s not surprising given the fact that most people can’t relate to our life and circumstances, esp. those who live far away have not seen our life’s ups and downs.

And yet, through all this, my mother who lives in India has been my constant rock, even if it is more of moral strength.  I should not and do not expect her to be my rock, as it is rather they, our aging parents, who need us to be their strength which we cannot be as we live so far away.

Lately, as my son got busier with his higher education, another realization has dawned upon me that parents can’t keep centering their lives around their children, as they eventually leave the nest sooner or later.  Getting prepared for the inevitable time, I too am gearing myself to become stronger than I have always been.  Moreover, if the family structure and priorities change, all my previously acquired strength is not going to be of much use. That’s because growing young children need a different kind of all-round support and love.  But soon it will be more of mutual exchange without any expectations from parents’ side. Parents need to become a rock as they learn to let go of the usual smothering and clinging love they once had for their off-springs.

Parents approaching middle-age also need to strengthen their physical health, while fulfilling their pending career dreams and hobbies, as well as learning to be happy for themselves rather than seek joy only through their children who are about to move out to have their own life.  When children become less dependent, parents also need to renew or strengthen their family friendships and look after their own social needs. At this stage, I too will need more friends for things big or small.  Being busy with our young families and career issues, we ourselves drift a bit apart from our close friends and families, we isolate ourselves mentally.  That uncaring attitude has to go to a certain extent.

And yet, I may still not rely on too much help from others. I will always try to be my own rock – mentally, emotionally and physically – at least till I can. I usually seek internal strength through prayers and music. That will continue.

~~~

In response to The Daily Prompt:  I Am a Rock
‘Is it easy for you to ask for help when you need it, or do you prefer to rely only on yourself? Why?’

Many Shades of Motherhood…

On Mother’s Day, various blog authors expressed their feelings in their posts. Here are some of them. I picked them up randomly and must have left out some good ones. You can share in your comments
Please have a look.

1).  Simple thanks to one’s mother:  Everything

2).  A mother thanks her wonderful son: On Being Mom

3). Mothering a sick child: Happy Mother’s Day

4). Mother and child…a snug feeling:  Happy Mother’s Day 

5). Becoming a mother, early motherhood:  Born Again

6). Beautiful thoughts of a daughter: My Mother

7).  How many candles?:  Mother’s Day cake

8).  Cute bond:  Best Bargain Ever

9).  Is it just a commercialised Love? :  The Truth About Mother’s Day

10).  On royal baby and royal mom:  Baby Princess Charlotte

11).  A son shares his thoughts of motherhood: Give her your time

12).  God is the true mother: Mother’s Day (?)

13).  Mothers who give (sacrifice) their child away, for his/her benefit:   Jochebed

14).  Simple love and little excitements on this day:  Mothering Day

15).  What if you lose your child, or you have none? :  Why I hate Mother’s Day

16).  Separated parents – a child opts for her/his mother:  A Day in Court 

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Many shades of motherhood indeed!

There are birth mothers, grandmothers, step-mothers, adoptive mothers, surrogate mothers, young mothers and older mothers.
There are children born in adverse circumstances, their parents have no choice but to hand over the kids to someone who can look after them. Often, such children feel huge anger their whole lives, esp. on Mother’s Day (as I read in some blog posts but I decided not to put them up here).

There are neglected elderly mothers/parents who live in old age homes, not cared enough by their adult children but still continue to bless them.

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This is the emotional journey I undertook on Mother’s Day – visiting various blogs and sharing them. I wanted to experience all kinds of feelings, not just the usually accepted happy mood. There are all kinds of families in this world – all kinds of mothers and all kinds of children.

 

5 Reasons I like Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana

Folks!  During the last few days we all loved watching the pictures of our little princess. Are you amused when I call her our little princess?  Who am I after all?  I am an Australian-Indian. No, I’m an Indian-Australian. See I don’t even know properly who I am. On top of that I am bent upon forming affiliation with the baby girl born in Britain’s royal family. Well, there are many reasons I feel directly connected and indirectly influenced by the baby girl.

1). Firstly, I love babies in all shapes, sizes, colors and backgrounds.

Such is this charm, that I am embarrassed to admit that at one stage I used to throng all such places where babies are found in huge numbers. Those days, I had prim office jobs but I hugely admired motherly jobs like that of child care workers. Babies must not be neglected! I never neglected mine. I’ve now got over my regular urge to sneak peek inside every pram that passes me by but little bubs still continue to amaze me. We should bow before them for the world belongs to them. Think of it, they’re going to outlive us and it’s a matter of time before they take over us, the mature aging adults.

And it doesn’t matter to me whether the baby I admire is a royal baby or some random four-month old miraculously found alive during rescue operations after the recent killer earthquake in Nepal. When they are highlighted by the media, all babies make a pleasant sight of a new life, meant to be enjoyed. Moreover a sleeping new-born cradled in her mother’s royal arms doesn’t even know she’s the highest ranking female in line to the British throne or that she is being photographed.  Hence, there is no reason to dislike the cute princess.

2). The second reason for my affinity is that Charlotte’s mother Kate is just a a mother.

In her role of a mother, Kate Middleton is like any other mother. Whenever any woman becomes a mother, I get a warm fuzzy feeling. Not just human female but seeing videos showing cats and dogs giving birth to their kittens and pups, is no less amazing. The way these animal mothers look after their young ones is no different from that of a human mother. Motherhood is a miracle that restores our faith in God. In fact I suspect, God is a woman.
So if Kate became a mother during the Mother’s Day week – she deserves this menial tribute from us, that her baby be well-liked.  Hats off to all mothers on this Mother’s Day!

3). Thirdly, the feminist in me feels good when a baby girl, a daughter, a future woman, is valued so much

Little Charlotte is a girl born when there already exists a boy in her family – brother George. If Kate and William had an existing daughter, the joy felt for this new baby might not have been what it is now for her being the first princess. She gave a general feeling of joy for her being the first female in anyone’s family.

As the first daughter born into the British monarchy in 25 years, she’s a privileged woman in the making, something that most others are not. Let this girl avail her good luck!  Born with power, she might grow up to be a strong woman, a harbinger of great changes in the world. The first change is, her grandmother Diana’s name has been given respect it deserves as it has been included in baby Charlotte’s full name.

4). Fourthly, baby Charlotte is an actual princess for all Australians, including me.

Now that’s something!  Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II continues to be the Australian head of state. That makes baby Charlotte the princess of Australia or is she the future queen – being fourth in the line?

On hearing the news, Australian PM Tony Abbott said gleefully “A great day for all Australians”. The Government also announced the gift of a cot blanket made of Australian merino wool. Obviously, Australians who love Monarchy and those who are neutral, love the birth of royal babies, a feeling of Britain being an extended home.

But the Republicans who believe it’s high time Australia became a republic with its own head of state, play it mute. There are also other social groups who do not like to go over-the-top about royal weddings and royal babies. They argue that there are graver issues like that of children in detention centers, there are Aboriginal Children with no belonging left in their very own native land and here we go crazy for a rich and royal baby.

Personally, I do not disagree with Republicans and other protest groups. I live in Australia, and if I allow my mother (who lives in India) to run my house from where she lives – how feasible and practical would that be? Other than that, although I’m not exactly a Communist, yet I’m not too much in favor of hereditary privilege; inherited name, fame or wealth. Earn it. Go through hard times, bring out your own mettle.That’s what true democracy should be about – unadulterated equal rights to all.

But even with such views, being an Australian I’ve been opportunist enough to fully enjoy watching the playful antics of baby George when he came to Australia last year and now this new girl too gave rise to simple good feelings of liking.

5). Lastly, my Indian identity make me relate to any news about the British Monarchy.

That’s because, there would hardly be any Indian anywhere in the world who can forget that their ancestors were ruled by the British Crown for so long. I felt the wider impact of British Raj, when after migrating to Australia I come across Indians who have never been to India, as their ancestors were transported by the British Rulers to work in Fiji or Kenya but the descendants of these Indians could never find their way back to their roots.

Modern India itself carries all the good and bad gifts of the British Rule. English language, in all its Indian accents and dialects, is officially used all over India. The Indian Constitution, road names, architecture, pretty much everything has English stamp on it. Calling Bombay by the name of Mumbai and calling Bangalore as Bangaluru does not erase the remnants of India’s colonial past. The way we Indians continue to refer to each other as Sir, Madam, Aunty, Uncle, Sahib – holding on to little relics of British legacy. Then there is this gift of ‘tea’. India is the largest consumer and second largest producer of tea in the world, thanks to monarchist rulers who commerialized the production of tea in India.  I too blame as well as thank the Royal Family for my addiction to tea.

Given their historical relation to the British royals, anything British including birth of a royal baby girl, stirs up previous connections within Indians as well as Australians. How did the two countries react to the birth of royal princess?  Australia’s reaction was either over the top or warm to luke warm.  Going by the news coverage in Indian newspapers about this baby’s birht, there is no anger, no ego issues – general warmth and cuteness galore!

Reason could be that India became a republic in 1950 where as Australia still finds it difficult to cut the umbilical cord. India’s fight for freedom from British Raj was not at all easy but they finally acquired what they wanted – complete sovereignty. Australia on the other hand has a dilemma, of being a separate country while having another country’s queen as head of the state. Some self-esteem or ego issues do arise that inhibit some people from overtly cheering a royal baby’s birth.

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If modern generations leave the good or bad of colonial past behind, other general positives give us some reasons to enjoy as well as benefit from news coverage about British Monarchy, its births or weddings.

Australia and India along with other countries are a part of The Commonwealth headed by Queen Elizabeth. It unites nations on the basis of language, history, culture, and shared values. In this world full of factions, anything that brings people together is welcome. And that’s what this baby girl’s appearance did this week as the world went pink with joy.

Moreover, middle-class people the world over come together in their fondness for this well-behaved royal family, as they get to see lives of Kings and Queens. It’s like history come alive when a town crier announces the birth of a princess. There is general sense of equality upon seeing that humans in royal families are like ordinary men and women – normal lives with birth, death and weddings.

The royal family too has more or less been a role model for others. With all the riches and abundance they have, they continue to support family values and relationships, maintain respect for older generations and lineage of many generations bonded closely. A perfect father and a doting husband, Prince William is a good exemplar for common men and women. Simple ettiquettes like carrying the baby capsule to the car, his caring attitude towards his wife and the way this new mother Kate is looked after – let every other mother be treated like that on this Mother’s Day – 10th of May and every other day.

As I sit writing this article, Australian media is chirpily reporting on Prince Harry who is on a visit to Australia. Royalty over-dose. No escape. Better like them as they are likable.

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Did you like this article? Please feel free to comment. Thanks for reading!

My previous poem on being a mother: Born Again

© Alka Girdhar