Thursday, August 30, 2007

Theme For September

ISG chose a *hot* theme for August -- SAHM or WM?
That was a great topic and a tough act to follow!
What better than to take ISG's weather idea and run with it?

With autumn advancing, little chill in the mornings and maple trees just beginning to turn, I thought about this for a theme:

Back To School!

Do you have school-aged kids?

I sent my baby girl to her sophomore year of high school today, and on Monday will send my firstborn off to sophomore year of college; where has the time gone?!? As many Septembers as we’ve done this, I still feel that tiny twinge of bittersweet tugging at my heart… nostalgic longing for the little ones they once were, but more, immense pride in the young adults they have become.

One thing we moms all have in common -- sending our children to school can be a little traumatic for everyone involved — the young scholar, Mom and Dad, even a younger sibling left at home. This is especially true if we're sending our baby off for the first time! As a veteran of many “back-to-school” days, I can tell you that no matter how frightening it may seem to watch your little one toddle out into the big wide world, their joy in sharing their accomplishments with you, and your delight in them will soon erase any fears. It gets easier as time goes on, but you, too, may feel that little twinge tugging at your heart.

Feel free to share your thoughts, feelings, fears, hopes and aspirations for your kids as we send them “back to school”.

Also, if you take photos of the ‘first day’ like I always do, feel free to share those as well, if you’re comfortable with that! (Photos are ok with the administrators — I already checked with Sandeepa although I think she wanted me to post a pic of my classic PB-and-J sandwich!).

Here are my kids on their respective 'first days', way back when they were just babies, "toddling off" :)

If your kids aren't yet school-aged, or if they're grown and gone, feel free to share your thoughts regardless. Likewise, if you home-school, please share that with us as well. Or perhaps we have some teachers among us... everyone's thoughts are welcome! No hard and fast rules -- it's all about learning and watching our little ones grow :)

I look forward to reading your ideas, and thanks Sandeepa, for the chance to post a Theme of the Month :)

Introduction and my thoughts on WAHM/WOHM

Hello to all you wonderful Mums out there,

I'm a new member here. Thank you, Sandeepa, for adding me to the group.

Originally from Hyderabad, I now live in Europe - so I miss the sunshine! That says it all about the weather here, I guess :-)

I am a mother of 2 girls, and currently a SAHM (stay-at-home Mum). My girls are both under 4 years of age. I have grown to define myself first and most as a mother, and I marvel at this fact and wonder at the change in myself that motherhood has wrought.

It took me a while to understand this - that being a Mum deserves to be called a 'career' in it's own right - it's a job that requires endless patience and inventiveness. So now when somebody asks me what I'm doing about my 'career', I ask, "which one? I have 2. I'm concentrating on the first one. The second career is temporarily on hold. I'll go back to it when these 2 little critters don't need me as much as they do now".

I have keenly followed the topic of SAHM/WOHM on this forum. Many of you have written your views eloquently. They've all been interesting. You've mostly said it all, and I don't think there is much to add.

You know, it's not a 'this-versus-that' thing at all. It's not a question of which do you think is better, it's a question of what you want for your children/family and how you decide to reach that goal. It's a question of priorities. And it's unique to every situation, every family.

I think there are many people here who've worked and stayed at home at various times in their life. All parents would agree on one point - you do what you have to do to give your family the best chance in life. (Applies as much to me and you as to the poor women leaving their families and going abroad to do domestic duties. As far as this point is concerned, it's all down to our primal instinct to do what we think will be best for our kids.)

At the moment, I have decided to not work for as long as is necessary for my girls and family. I realize that as they grow older and spend more time at school, I will have plenty of time at my disposal.

I'll work again -later - because it's unfair to not use my professional talent and expertise. It took about 12 years to acquire it, so it would not be right to waste it away. As a medical professional, I can do immense good for the society I live in. So I will......just as soon as both my kiddies are in school for the greater part of the day.

On my first break, after working for 10 years, I was pretty much enslaved by my firstborn (she was demanding, temperamental, spirited and one step ahead of me - still is ). I had become a real homebody, when a very good job offer came my way. After a lot of thought, I started working again full-time. It was tough for all three of us. I worked till she was nearly 3, when I took another break for my second child.

This time, I had learnt enough from experience to make the decision to stay at home for at least 2 years after the birth.

Although some days they drive me crazy and make me admit that practicing medicine was a lot easier, on the whole I cherish the time I have with them. Their childhood won't come back.

I want to say that our children are not the only ones growing - so are we. We grow and learn from our experiences every day.

So I've changed from a staunch career-woman ("I want to be Head of the Dept before 35") to a 'working Mum' (oxymoron isn't it - who works harder than Mums?) who was willing to accept 'some' compromises("okay, okay, I'll get there before 45"), to a now mostly SAHM who won't even consider working till her child is at least 2 years ("I'll settle for doing something good for society while looking after my precious girls - somebody else can be the HOD").

That's how kids change you. And it's good that they do. I have accepted this change with happiness.

For now, I'm not in a rush to get anywhere further career-wise. At my own pace, I'll get there :-).

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

When there is no Choice....

Last week while I was driving back home from work, I heard an interview with Nisha Varia on NPR. Nisha Varia is a researcher with the Human Rights watch and I was not able to get the transcript of the interview on NPR, but her talk was centered around the abuse of Domestic Workers. This article, though not from NPR is on the same lines of her talk.

What touched me most was when asked why do these women workers choose to work abroad(in this case they were talking of Saudi Arabia which is a large employer of domestic workers) inspite of knowing the horror stories, she said that many of them cry to leave behind their children and family whom they might not see again for a long time but they do it to provide their children with food and basic amenities.

And I thought while we discuss our choices of staying at home or working outside let us take a glance at those millions of female migrant workers, many of whom are mothers, who work not because they have a choice but because they want to bring food to the table

"Human Rights Watch said that the numbers of women migrants has increased significantly over the last three decades, and they now comprise approximately half of the estimated 200 million migrants worldwide. The feminization of labor migration is particularly pronounced in the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, where national-level estimates indicate that women comprise 60-75 percent of legal migrants, many of whom are employed as domestic workers in the Middle East and Asia. " (Source here)

Inspite of the abuse these women turn to work as domestic help to earn money and to provide their children with a better life

Millions of women and girls turn to domestic work as one of the few economic opportunities available to them,” said Varia. “Abuses often take place in private homes and are totally hidden from the public eye.”

This is just an example, there are millions of mothers out there who work not to buy a BMW but to buy basic food for their children.

Do you think we as a community could do anything for them ? Please drop in your suggestions or if you are associated with any such organisation and have a clue as how someone could help let us know.

We at least have a choice and let's be grateful for that.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Baby Photography

Posted by Kavitha


How/When do you capture those magical moments of your precious little ones ?
Which camera do you use, what kind of photography skills do you need ?
How to take family/home photos that look like they were taken by a professional ?

Whenever I try to take a shot of my son smiling/laughing/doing something that I want to capture in my camera, he would have turned his face to another direction or gotten bored looking into the camera etc.

Stumbled upon
SJ's post where she talks about storing and organizing pics, but not about actual shooting though. Would love to hear from you all about how you shoot great pictures of your babies.

Potty Training

Hi Mommies ,
Chintu is getting close to turning 20 months old and I would like to start potty training him. Yes, I see the smiles in all your faces ;) . Can you give me simple tips as to how I can begin ? I have read a lot of articles , but I want to hear from real experiences ...

To be or not to be?

Long, long ago, long before Meera was born, long before Meera could be born, when me and my little sister were kids, we had talked about this question and sort of decided among ourselves (nope, our respective DH's didn't have ANY choice!) that we'll be home for our kids, at least for some time. Me, 2 years and my sister a little longer.. That was the plan. This was not influenced by our mom's work. This was influenced by mom's decision to take up work only after the youngest was at least 2 yrs old. We loved mom working... We were very proud of that. Though we had to eat our breakfast at 7.15 am everyday and wait outside for our auto till 8.30 am, so she could catch her 7.30 am bus; though we had to wait, eat tiffin, play at grandma's place after we came from school till she came back at 6.30 in the evening... we were still very proud of her going to work. You see, She was the only woman in our family circle to go to work. She had double masters degree and I don't think there were even any males in our family, with double graduation, at that time. She is a teacher by profession and one of the very best. We've seen her students come and visit her even after they had kids. Even with her soft voice and soft nature, She brought out and continues to bring out the best in each student. She is such an inspiration for us and her kids at school.

Dad was away most of the time - busy with his business. If we were lucky, we saw him twice/thrice a month, else it will be just once. So, She was almost like a single mom managing home, us and her children at school(that's what she called them, even though they were in XIIth). Since mom worked and did a damn good job managing her work and home, there was not a single question in our minds to go to work. We instinctively knew that we were going to work when we grew up. Amma had rejected many topnotch positions in the field of marine biology and fisheries department, she had rejected an offer to do Phd in her college with full aid from her university. All to be at home with her kids - till they were ready to goto school. Then She picked up the profession of teaching so that it wouldn't interfere/affect with her family and children. She gave up a lot, not because she had to, but because she wanted to. She made a conscious choice and took everything in her stride without any complaints.

Being Amma's daughter, I knew better to put family first. I'm not a very ambitious person. Though my colleagues might differ on that from the way I'm passionate about my work. I LOVE working outside home. And I like to do it really well. I don't care about becoming the next CEO or Director; I just like a job well done. Mine was an arranged marriage - arranged as in Appa found the 'varan' and was happy with the family and left it to me to decide. (Sometimes I think arranged marriage, these days and love marriages aren't very different, but that's totally another post!) I am of the opinion that, in an arranged marriage to work well, the couple should spend the the first year after the wedding together, esp the first six months where you argue and argue till there is nothing to argue about, anymore :) Of course you got to live together for all the years to come but very crucial especially for the first year for the couple to bond better. Since I worked a couple of years in US before my wedding, there was no question of me getting a job here... but it would have been difficult to get a job in the same city as my husband. So, I took a break (for those curious folks, yep! we did argue about almost everything in the first few months and settled down eventually!) and then we moved to Canada.

By this time, I was eager to go back to work. With the baby's arrival, me going back to work had been happily postponed. I wanted to be with her at least a year before I can get back to work. I couldn't have left her with anybody other than me. And we bonded beautifully. She's 11 months already. I might take a few more months before taking up a job. While I like being home and we have a great time, I'm not my happiest best at home. Some need caffeine. I need the stimulation that work provides and a life outside home and people (though sometimes not!!!) for me to function my best. I love the time I spend with my daughter and would do it all over again in a heartbeat.. but I think she'll have an even happier mom who can enjoy her even more when her mom starts working again. We would very much like a second child (not right now though) and I would love to stay at home for the next child too for at least year. It is going to be difficult initially for me to leave her at daycare when I go back to work, but I guess we'll manage somehow. Besides we need the extra money too. We want to take care of our kids' education and also have a safety net to fall back on. There won't be much guilt when I go back to work. I'll be much more happier.

Thanks everybody for sharing your thoughts... I could identify with at least one thing in every single post. Like our lovely Tharini who said so beautifully, we all look for happiness - for our family, for us and be at peace. May we all find that, in this life, without much heartache.

For if momma ain't happy, nobody is.

(There! If you read through my post carefully, you can even find my mother's day post in there somewhere embedded in this post. heheeeee!)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Rainy day activities...

[This post is written by Tharini of Winkie's Way.]

One of my fellow bloggers gave me the suggestion to put together a list of rainy day activities. And I had a pleasurable time recollecting all the little things me and Winkie have done so far, which gave us both many moments of absorption and harmony.

Cut-out sewing pieces

: I found these really interesting things at the Chalkboard

. Little cardboard cutout shapes, with little holes, and multi coloured laces. The idea is much like the basic running stitch. And it encourages the little ones to improve the dexterity in their fingers, which paves the way for beginner writing. This is one of the things Winkie did in school when he first joined Montessori at 2 and a 1/2. And he enjoyed it sooo much there, that I bought one for our home use, and it has filled many a lazy hour with purpose. Even now, he enjoys doing it from time to time whenever I remember to pull it out from the shelf. Another nice thing about it is that you can use these cutouts to trace figures with. And tracing is such fun and once again encourages the fine motor skills of the hands, and you can start off holding the shape, while your child traces, and then progress to letting him hold the shape himself while he traces.

Pasta painted necklace : This is another activity that they did in school. Simple pasta shells of assorted shapes, sizes and designs are coloured on with simple kid friendly paints, allowed to dry and then strung on a twine to make a necklace. It was quite a hands on project that you can do right away, without having to gather/buy too many materials. And with so many different pasta shapes out there....this is a fun project. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures to show for it, for that necklace of mine has gone missing. :(

Flash cards :

I first bought flash cards when Winkie was close to 2 and 1/2 and we were travelling to India on vacation. This was a means to keep him busy onflight. And it kept him busy for a long long time. There are so many different types of flash cards out there....right from beginner stuff to school level concepts and at least 3 different types of games you can play with each set. And who's to stop you from coming up with more of your own! Definitely a rainy day pick!

Bubble baths :

I resort to this even on regular days, when I am busy and he wants some fun which I can't provide. Run a warm bath, and put in my favorite lavender scent, throw in all the rubber playmates and bubble blowers and he's floated off into his own world for the next 30 precious minutes.

Board games :

He's highly into this right now and up for a game of Boggle, Sequence, Memory or Brain Quest anytime. It takes a while in the beginning to establish an understanding of the game in his mind, but once that is done and we have a few games underway, he becomes quite a delightful playmate, with an attention span of 30 min or under.

Activity books :

You the colouring books, connect the dots, find your way through the maze...that kind of thing.

Little sweeper :

I bought it more so because it was sooo cute but I think it holds good promise for the future. I am speaking of a small little kid sized broom to rope him in to help me sweep up the messy areas. Whenever I used to do it, he'd want to get his hands on the big broom and it was too long to be wieldy enough for him. So this was perfect. I am yet to see him help me properly in the task, but I think we'll get there!

The Cooker :

When he was that cuddly old age of 2 and thereabouts, he would just loooove to cook. He'd ask for a little pan, a spatula, some dried beans, a glass of water and a little bowl and he would happily absorb himself for a good 1/2 hour. Those were the days! Of course there was a bit of mess to wipe off, and he'd always love to help! Nowadays though, the attention span for the same activity is greatly reduced, he makes a greater mess and refuses to help clean up. But for what its worth, this little activity was a big favorite of his in those days and he'd cook everyday.

Baking :

This is still a hit with Winkie. He loves to help

me bake. Right from measuring and pouring the ingredients, breaking the eggs, whipping it all together, spooning lumps for cookies and being the official taster, he was wholly involved.

Sticker books :

He got the stickers fascination when he was gifted a sticker book by his teacher for his 3rd birthday. We used to work on it almost every evening, little at a time. It is pretty laborious finding the right stickers to stick on each page...and even now we still have many pages we haven't fully finished.

Well, that's it for now. Hoping to hear more suggestions from you guys and add them to the list so its gets more comprehensive for future use. So....write in! :)

Edited to add more activities based on your feedbacks:

Legos: A perennial hit and something that can grow with your child.

Foam Stickers : A very versatile activity, and tons you can do with it.

Indoor Camping :

This is sure to be a hit. Maybe the tents could be brought out only for these special wet days. This also reminds me of those cute tunnels that you get in Ikea. Pretty cheap, and nice to have in the basement, and Winkie can spend endless time inside it with all his favorite toys for company.

Some wonderful websites to look into:

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Pro Choice: In a different sense

[Also posted by Cee Kay at her other blog]

When it comes to a mother's working outside of home or staying at home, I am strictly pro-choice. I believe it should be the woman's choice, and hers alone. After all, it is she who will be juggling home and career and family more than anyone else in the family because, unfortunately, even today our social system is male friendly and doesn't put the responsibility for "balancing" things on men. But that is matter for another post. I shouldn't digress.

Another thing - I never say "Working Moms" because I firmly believe ALL moms work (I have mentioned this in another post of mine - I think). I always say "Working Outside of Home Moms". That's just me :)

For me there never was a question. I grew up watching my mom balance work with home perfectly. I learnt from her that it is possible. And she brought me up believing that I MUST have a career. In our family it was a given that both, my brother and I will study, get a job and get married IN THAT ORDER. My parents taught me from the beginning that the most important thing for me to do was to be financially independent. If I ever showed signs of not taking my studies seriously, my mom would threaten me that she'd marry me off :D And it worked! I took my studies and persuit for a career seriously.

For reasons I have discussed in another post, my career stalled when I got married. But that didn't change my views on this matter. I still believed that a woman should work outside of home even after having children if she wanted to.

I have discussed my views on this in another post on the same debate. But that was in response to a post by MadMomma which, in turn, was in response to a comment of mine (and other similar comments). This time, I will just list my reasons for my choice without getting defensive or offensive. And my views in this matter are solely based on my personal experience and observations.

I work outside of home because I want to. And because I am not stay-at-home material. I believe a happy mother makes a happy family. For a long time I was not a happy mother. Because I had to stay at home. Not by choice. I have seen the effect a woman's unhappiness can have on her entire family - firsthand. I was that woman. There is a marked difference in my home's environment since I started working. But that is a choice that works for me and my family. My husband and I make it work. We work really hard at it so that my working outside of home affects S (and now M) in the least possible way. Because he knows how important it is for me.

I work for intellectual fulfillment. Yes. I need it. I want it. Nothing wrong in that. (I remember reading another post where the tone insinuated it is). When I was home with my daughter, I could feel my intellect stagnating. It doesn't happen to everyone. It happened to me because we were new to this country, with no friends. And later the friends that I did make were moms of my daughter's preschool buddies. We connected because our kids liked each other. There was no other reason. No other connection at an intellectual level. I am not saying that these moms weren't capable of carrying on an intelligent conversation. They were. Many of them were very accomplished in their own fields. But when we met, our conversations revolved around our kids and their needs and our dreams for them and such. I wanted a break from that.

I wanted to work outside of home because I wanted to utilize my skills for something extra. I wasn't content just teaching my child math, and colors and alphabet. I didn't need the whole day to do that. I still teach her a million things in the time that I do get with her. I desparately wanted to be "needed" for my skills. And now, when I am on my maternity leave, I can tell from personal experience that it is a good feeling. When I get calls from my colleagues asking me to help them fix things that no one else can, I feel validated. I feel satisfied that I am making a difference that reaches far outside my home.

I wanted to work outside of home because I firmly believe that will make my daughters more confident and self-dependent. No - I take that back. I am not working to achieve this, but I am sure as a result of my working outside of home, this will happen. Working moms need every family member to pitch in to keep every thing going smoothly. The more things my daughters tackle in their day-to-day routine, the more independent they get, and confident too.

I work to bring in the extra paycheck. Because, like every other parent, I want to give my daughters a better life. I don't want them to have to take out loans to study. Granted it is easy to get student loans in this country but I am an old-fashioned Indian that way. I'll pay for my kids' education like my parents did for me. When I was in college, it was really a comfort to know that my parents would pay for my studies as long as I wanted to continue. On the other hand, J had to work full-time to put himself through graduate school. He would leave for work at 9:30 in the morning and return at 11 in night after classes. I believe he could have worked much harder at his studies if he didn't need to work full time to pay for it. And we are both sure we don't want to put our children through that kind of struggle.

I work outside of home because I worked very hard to get to this point. I didn't bear shitty behaviour from my uncle and aunt (yes I did) and still continue my studies for three long years to sit at home. I did it because I wanted to get somewhere. I went through that hardship to make a career for myself.

I don't believe that my kids will miss out on life if I work out of home. I don't think they will come to harm either. Of course, if I am going to work, I am going to make sure that I find good care for them. It will be criminal on my part if I don't do that. I will make sure that the care available to them is the best possible and will keep an eye on things to make sure everything remains the way I want it to.

I also work outside of home because I worry about the future. If something were to happen to J, I want to be able to provide for my kids without having to depend on anyone - even family. I have thought a lot about what I will do if worse came to worst. What if I cannot pay the mortgage on the house or save for the girls' future? I have even made plans in my mind(like moving to a low-cost-of-living state, or to a smaller house) and we are also looking into Life Insurance to make sure that the girls will be least affected should something happen to either or both of us. Recently a dear friend had emergency surgery and then later found out he has B-cell Lymphoma (cancer of the Lymphatic system). He has already been at home for a month. His wife had to take two weeks off to take care of him. His mom came here from India as soon as she heard about his surgery. This all involved expenses. If they didn't have any savings, they would have been in a serious jam right now. If his wife didn't work, she would have one more worry of finances on top of everything else that is going on. One has to be capable of and prepared for anything that life throws at them. It is easier to think that one can find a job if the need arises than to find an actual job. If, God forbid, the need arises there are going to be a lot of things clamoring for my attention and at that time looking for a job might be impossible for me even if my survival depended on it. In such a situation, I will have to accept the first job that comes my way instead of holding out for one that suits my qualifications and needs better. Of course, this is "galss half empty" kind of mentality but I always believed in hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

This is not a complete list of my reasons to work outside of home in any way. I have too many things going on right now to sit down and compile an exhaustive list. And the haze of sleep deprivation often obscures any rational thought I get in my mind. This is what came to my mind just as I was typing this post. I have been delaying the posting of it because I wanted to complete the list but now I can't think anymore. So... much... thinking... my... head... hurts...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Home is where the heart is....and my heart is lodged deep within my home. :)

[This post is written by Tharini of Winkie's Way.]

I never knew much about or thought too much about the terms SAHM and WM, before I came into the blogging world. And never have I thought so deeply about my own choices in this matter until I started to understand what a complicated decision it tends to be in many of our minds.

I love being at home. I l.o.v.e it. It is really as simple as that. I am qualified as an accountant, and have worked in consulting before I was married, and after coming here, I was lucky enough to secure a job with a small business firm, as a full time staff accountant. I worked full time, until Akhil was born. That was 4 years ago. And then, predictably, I took the next year and 1/2 off. I took a long holiday to India, and just generally got into the groove of being a mother. And I didn't miss my job one bit. That's when my boss called and asked me to come back. I wanted to work only part-time. He was ok with that. If my son was sick, I wanted days off. Fine, he said. And so I started working again. And Akhil started part-time babysitting. It was the perfect age for him too. At close to 2 years, he needed little periods of separation from me and interaction with the outside world. He got a bit of both, in a home environment. His babysitter even potty trained him for me, as a bonus. :)

When he was 2 and 1/2, he started Montessori, again part-time. It was the perfect arrangement for us. I had some time away from home and kid and got to use my mind in a professional capacity, and then I got the remainder of the time to spend like I wanted catching up with my son and his life. But even thru all this, there was always this yearning to be at home (sounds crazy I know!) and just be in my own space and do my own thing. That's just how I am. I love to just be. By myself. Being alone with my own thoughts does not bore or frighten me. I don't crave for external stimulation. I can always find loads of things to keep me busy in my space. So many new things to learn and discover....for instance...I took up sewing on my own once I had a chance to be home, I learnt a lot of new softwares, photo editing, home video editing, dabbled in a bit of craft work, began to write (my biggest love), caught up on my reading (second only to writing), and ultimately discovered that I have a interest in children's books and would love to try my hand at it. So even when I went to work and enjoyed it, I always looked forward to the times I could be home and do all these things that kept me happy.

So when I got pregnant with Sathya, it was the perfect opportunity to once again break free from those obligations and commit myself to a home life once more. I worked until my 8th month and then enjoyed my 4 walls the rest of the time. Now, he's 6 months old and I am still riding on that high wave of being free to be. I love having the time to actually go to the gym and allow myself a peaceful workout, rather than cramming it into an already packed day. I love cooking fresh meals 3 times a day and feeling satisfied that I am doing something that nurtures my family. I love trying to get better organised in keeping house, and having a clean home at any given point of time, such that if a guest were to drop in unexpectedly I wudnt have to scramble to tidy up. I love having a few uninterrupted hours with Sathya in the mornings, the way I used to with his brother. I would have hated to miss any chunk of his baby days. They're too precious, this is my last baby and time is flying already. I love making myself a hot cup of tea on a rainy day and just watch the raindrops, if I feel like it. And I love that I can just switch on the TV and watch a movie if that's what I felt like doing.

In essence, I just love these little freedoms that you have when you are on your own turf. I think its part of my Saggitarian tendency to not feel bound to anything, else there is the violent need to break free. Work always felt like a restriction of my impulses. I know that sounds utterly selfish, but this is what I have figured out to be the reasons why I do what I do. Sure, the money is tight on a single income. And with 2 home loans to support (here and back in India), we barely manage to get substantial savings. Perhaps that ought to bother me more, but somehow it doesn't. We live simply. As simply as we can and try everyday to be even more basic. Its like what Sheela said in her post....we curtail containable expenses like not subscribing to cable TV, having a very basic phone connection with no extra services, buy only the seasonal veggies and fruits which happen to be cheaper, don't go overboard buying things to do up the house, but instead work towards keeping it clean and clutter free, and in loads of other ways.

My husband is very very supportive. He is not an ambitious person either. In that way we have found ourselves very compatible. We like to drift along with the current, putting our trust in nature and our faith in our spiritual quest. And for my part, since I have learnt to be more and more organised with more and more time at home, he doesn't have much household duties. I see to that. But he is still a very involved and hands on father. And when I ask for help, he gives it without question. And I try to keep things stress free and pleasant for him at home. This works for both of us. I am happy in my element, and he is happy when I am happy, and when he can relax at home. Of course, the day he feels that he would find it helpful if I worked too, I will jump in to help. It will require a lot of sacrifice on my part but I will do it.

In any case, I don't see my SAH position as a permanent one. It is just something that I want to do right now. As time goes by and should my needs change, I would love to take up something of my own. Maybe a home business, or working in the non-profit sector, or getting involved in a cause, I would love to give my time and effort to something that I see would make a tangible difference to things that matter on this earth. I don't know what those things are yet for me....but I have faith that when the time comes, I will recognise my calling. Right now, I am cherishing this time I have for myself, this time to dedicate to nurturing my family in full...and to just be within, in peace.

On a final note...I think what is of value is to be happy today...whether we work outside for a pay or work at home for ourselves. Find contentment....find bliss. And learn to empathise sincerely with all other women and people. As women, we are amazingly resilient and when I see the sheer diversity of all the various choices we make in our lives, and try and balance everything to the best of our human abilities, I feel s.o i.m.m.e.n.s.e.l.y p.r.o.u.d of all of us. I read all the posts on this topic and just marvel at what a range of thoughts there is, and how they all lead ultimately, to the same simple find happiness, to do our best by our children and family, to be at peace. May we all get there, in this life, without too much heartache....bless everyone!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Inputs requested for Project YehiSahi

A mail I received yesterday. Haven't checked out the site yet but intend to do so soon. I think we at Desi Momz Club can help by giving inputs, what say ? Looks like an interesting project, if you think so please give your inputs at their site.

Dear ...,

We, at the Incubation Centre of SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai, are working on a project to help young parents create a stimulating and fun home environment for their children and help them spend quality time with their children.

For this purpose, we have 2 things line up (So Far).

1. An interactive session on "How to spend quality time with your children?". This is specially designed for young working couples. The tone of the session has been kept very empathetic. Its along the lines of "how to make the most of what you get?"

2. A service to help parents obtain age appropriate toys, books, cds etc. ( )

What we need right now is feedback from parents about our offerings and what else would they like to see from us.

It would be really great if desimomz could contribute to this project by giving their inputs.In return, we can link your blogs to our website and drive more traffic to your blogs.Also if (and after) you find our attempt honest, we would be glad to put paid links on your blogs.

Giving feedback would be very easy, as we have a "we are listening" section on our website.Please let me know if you can think of someway of working together. (For your reference, i am also sending a brief about our team)

Look forward to your response


Arpit Agrawal,

Founder-Director, YehiSahi.

Ramya for you on Neo-natal teeth....

Rajasree sent a e-mail to Desi Momz Club after reading Ramya's post. She could not post a comment so she mailed.

It was so very kind of her to do so, that I am reproducing her mail as a post rather than a comment. Thank You Rajasree

Dear Administartors of Desi Momz Club

I could not post a comment to the post "Neo-natal teeth ? Do you knowanything"Even I couldnot find a email id in Ramya's blog,so writing here , sorry if Iam causing inconvinience.

Comment :My 3 year old was born with a tooth( the lower middle one ), even one of my cousin's son had a tooth since birth .I am in US , my paediatrician hadrecommended to remove it , beacuse of a possible choking hazard , but as thetooth was not loose , I didn't and the tooth is still there .My cousin's sonhad his tooth removed and there is a gap , doctor has told that he will gettooth at that place when the kid gets his permanent teeth .

So do not worry, its not very unusual.Hope this helps.Anyways do get it checked with a paediatric dentist.-

Rajasre eend comment

About me -I am a SAHM of two kids , i enjoy reading the posts at DMC.If itis ok , please send the comment to Ramya.Thanks

Working/ Not-Working moms

Hi all,
All the articles on this subject are so close to heart, you can relate to all of them. Yes, I can relate to one aspect of one, and then another of a second. What I mean is that, all these decisions are/were taken based on real life situations...most of which we are familiar with at some time or the other in our lives. Plus the fact that we are mothers , makes it easier to understand the feeling of the other, even if you have a different opinion.
My writing is again MY story, MY opinion..

I joined work first time after coming to Holland...I had just finished my Phd in Japan , came here to join my husband A+. We were miles apart after marriage (me in Japan, he in Netherlands) for more than a year. So as you know, the first 3 months were as colorful as the tulips here.[not that the colour is gone now!!;-) ]. I had left home for hostel when I was 19, and then left India alone when I was 25 for Japan....this made me a very independent woman...maybe this was the reason that I became very impatient to stay at home within the first 3 months [+ the weather here which is gloomy most of the time]...even though I was enjoying every bit of my new home. This impatience landed myself a job very soon but in a totally different field. I travelled a lot...learned a lot....mostly to cope with work atmosphere..was once again financially independent..made me happy.

The dizzy feeling came after 2 years!! ;-))
Travel was not possible due to pregnancy problems after 3 months.....but the medical insurance/working insurance took care of that...I stayed mostly at home..but got fully paid.
lucky me! A was born..... our lives changed...I DID NOT WANT TO GO BACK TO WORK ANYMORE JUST THEN!!!
so I took unpaid leave for 9 months. At the end of it , the impatient me was winning again....I can blame it on my sun-sign [geminis want change.....]!! So I went back to work this time being thankfully transferred to a office close to home..
A was in a heart cried when I left him there every morning....the practical husband scolded me at times....however,things got better within a few weeks... the husband had a "I told you so" look in his eyes....
The work by this time however was SUPER BORING!!!!
So out came my resume....the search was on! Then I got this dream job as a research scientist...which was again far from home but too good (and finally in my own field) to let go.
A+ helped me to take a every step he encouraged me more.....we even decided to move houses.... I am really thankful to have him as my partner.[ have to give him this site so that he reads this !!;-)]
A was moved from one creche to another.....again a bit of getting-used-to problems...but he did fine! I work full time now....4 days in office..1 day from home when A stays at home too. i love this situation....A comes to office with me..his creche is 5 mins walk from my desk!
I did have my days of feeling-bad when I left him for the first time....but now its not that bad anymore.
And here comes a very honest sentence: "I have no guilty feeling...I dont miss A during my working hours".

Three main reasons which contribute to the above sentence are:::
1. This little person A also loves his creche now where he can play with other kids...when he gets home we(A+ and me) try to spend good time together. He does not cry when I say bye in the morning....occassionally makes unhappy faces....and and and sometimes refuses to go home in the evenings!!! can you imagine THAT??
2. I love my current work.
3. A+ encourages and supports me always. (lets say most of the times ;-))

THAT was a long post....................


Working Mom by choice

Born a rebel perhaps, had a difficult childhood, gave quite a tough time to my mom I suppose. A board topper and post grad in Maths Mom with a range of extra curricular accomplishments, she had opted to become a SAH Mom, and perfectly raise her own two daughters. It was definitely a reflective decision as she lost her Mom at 4, and grew up in a home with an indifferent step mom. However, this increased pressure for performance on us across curricular as well as extra curricular disciplines

Me having a very strong mind since childhood, converted every non agreement into a huge war for independence.... and the war continues. As I grew up, one realisation was pretty brutally etched in my mind.... I will not sacrifice my work life and try to find personal success through that of my child.... in fact, funnily it was one of the pre-conditions for accepting D as my fiance and later hubby.

Lucky I am, as neither D nor my Dad ever encouraged my ' will leave job for my little one' blues. Had it not been for my father, I would have never even dreamt or achieved whatever little I have done so far. He was instrumental in sowing the seeds of unachievable ambitions, through my life. However, in this path, my Mom played the role of rationaliser, often too pessimistic to swallow.

Last year D was to take a seconment for 3 yrs to US and happily I quit to accompany him, for the first time. Excited, organised as ever, we had everything worked out while waiting for our L1/L2 for me visas for 4 months.... yah!!! thatz what we had to wait for a visa interview. We got our visa s in June, ready to board a flight in 10 days, when for some reason we called off the shifting project and D decided to go for a domestic role in the same company and not disturb our son with a coming back home at 13yrs.

All this while I was freaking as a SAH Mom. Initial 2 months, everyday I walked and window shopped for 2-3 hrs, till my feet ached. Then I started watching TV through the day.... till I started working part time teaching in some Mgt schools and doing work on project basis.

With D gone for his domestic posting, me and Reik tried hard to settle into a life. The three men in my life, Dad, D and Reik started pushing me hard to join work back. I had somehow got used to my lazy slowpaced life, but gathered and joined back work. Initial one month was painful. But thanks to my 9 yr old son and his immense cooperation I am back, running, happy, by God's grace.

So, I believe, motherhood is neither enhanced nor reduced, if Mom is not by the side of a child for 24 hrs. It is the bonding, the 'When' and ' How' we spend the shared time that matters rather than the ' How much'. Since I always fought for a recognition as an individual rather than a child, I have always tried to treat R, my son as an individual. This has empowered him ,with decision making ability on small little things in school or life at home.

It is our approach to raising a self reliant and resilient kid, who has feet on ground but eyes on the moon. If we succeed, he does, if we do not, yet he might in his own individual style and steam, and face the world

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Some more...

There are so many reasons why a Mom chooses to stay at home or go out side to work.

A particularly touching story, from a different angle here from On Balance

Monday, August 20, 2007

Piano lessons anyone ?

Quick question:

What is a good age to start piano lessons ?

How to get a teacher ?

What are the rates ? I found one who says $25 for 30 min, isn't that too expensive ?

Kay, I remember you had suggested a music class your daughter/friend's kid go to. Can you please post the URL.

Neo-natal teeth? Do u know anything?

This post is written by Ramya of Aromas of My Food.

First Hi to All. It's been long i wrote a post here. These days i am a little busy with everything except blogging. Pleas forgive me. Coming to the post i am writing i don't know where to start.

Does Anyone know about Neonatal teeth? Have anyone experienced them (with ur kids or u or anyone u know) ? If u have any information please tell me.

This is all regarding my daughter. She got her first teeth which r considered as neonatal or natal teeth 9 days after her birth.The doc in India suggested to take them off. First i was reluctant to touch them thinking how can we do that to such a tiny little girl who is hardly 2kg (5lb) and so tiny to touch. And mostly we shouldnot give her pain poor little baby. Then after 4 or 5 days one tooth grew long and soft like gums moved a little resulting blood pouring out. Startled by the scene and not knowing what to do went to dentist and made the hanging teeth pulcked away (well after consulting pediatrician). They did it easily and my little one forgot very soon. Not even cried. She is happy. then to my nightmares came another one. it was there for 1 week. I thought this was ok so no need to bother her. then it sarted to hurt her tongue and she unable to drink her milk. The next morning i took her to dentist again he checked it and told it already moved half way and ready to comeout. findin no way out we even took that out. they were placed on top like some had glued them.Here plucking means not with tweesers but using cotton and hand itself as they moved already. After that my baby was happy.

Now After nearly 2 yrs she is not getting the teeth those r removed. What i learned from my own search for this is they r not sure that they r gonna come again. If u have 3 sets of teeth she may get or else she won't till she gets her permanent teeth. I am very much worried about this maybe this is taking a toll on her speaking skills. till now it's fine and she got all the other teeth. But i am not sure she is going to get her teeth until she reached 6 or 7 yrs. but i had no other chance.

Any dentists in this club or anyone experienced please help me out.

We r trying to take dental insurance here. so i can take her to a dentist. Till now we waited but no more.

Here u can find some info regarding this link. My daughters looked similar to the photo but they r mobile and sitting on the top.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Lucky Me!

Posted by Saheli

Yes, I am very lucky. I had the opportunity to experience both as SAHM and WM. After going through all the ups and downs, I finally wanted a bit of both worlds so, I chose part time WM and major time SAHM. Currently, I work Mon-Thurs 9-3 for a very understanding and cooperative boss. After 3, I become the "bechari" with 2 demanding bosses. Nah, I should say 3 counting my husband P too. Well, I do fulfill some of his demands too. (well I try)

Well, here is how it all started...

I grew up in a middle class family in Bombay. My mom worked very hard to raise us 4 siblings she was the bread maker whereas my dad was the sole breadwinner. I always saw my mom working, always busy with cooking, cleaning, laundry and dishes. I think watching her work so hard every day, I had subconsciously made up my mind to become a working woman and be financially sufficient.

After graduating, I was all set to look for a nice stable govt job (well, thats what all middle class girls were doing at that time). But, God had different plans for me. A few of my friends from college were all going to attend the entrance exams for MCA (well, they had bigger plans). And since we did all masti together I was dragged into this too. Unfortunately, the ones that were most interested didn't get through and I the least interested got admitted. With my dad's encouragement and support and a long lecture on how fortunate I am to get into such a prestigious college and blah blah..., I started my masters degree. Well, here is where I met my husband. Destiny - thats all I can say. After 3 yrs of projects, assignments and ofcourse dhamaal and masti, both P and I got good jobs and finally my dream had come true.

No, not so soon... P got a good offer and an opportunity to go to US. That was his big dream. We got married and without thinking twice I gave up my dream and in an instance resigned from the wonderful job and set out to be with my new dream - my husband in his dreamland.
Now, in this wonderful country of opportunities, I was all set to start a career. I had prepared my resume and then of course God had yet another plan for me, we found out that I was pregnant...(damn those faulty condomns). We were happy and everything seemed right. Without second thoughts I decided to stay home till the baby was born.

From that time till my son was 1.5yrs old we moved to 4 different cities. P had a contract with his consulting co. and had to move wherever the project was. My mom couldn't come to help me during my delivery because she had medical problems, why my MIL didn't come is not even logical - just because. Well, with God's grace my whole pregnancy and delivery was normal (well other than the labor pain that was not normal, it was evil) Anyways, M started growing up I didn't miss going to work at all. I was happy taking care of my house and my family and I loved it.

Once M started going to preschool, I started getting more free time and then all those forgotten dreams started to surface. I remembered how thousands entered and only 30 were selected for MCA. I was feeling guilty that somebody more deserving could have got the spot and become a desi Bill Gates. I felt as if I wasted a spot which somebody else was dying for. Luckily, soon enough I got a good job. It was like "meri life meh char chand lag gaye". M is my easy child. We didn't have any issues with his eating or going to daycare. Parenting seemed so easy with him. Every thing was perfect, happy family, satisfying job what more could you ask for. Well, if you have a son you could ask for a daughter and God listened.

After two years of full time job and enjoying the WM part, I became pregnant with S. S is not my difficult child but, she sure makes my life difficult. I didn't have any complications but, had a huge tummy and had miserable back problems. Nobody came for this delivery too. Well, my mom had passed away and my MIL didn't want to come - just because. I cried so hard because maybe I missed my mom and all around me other girls had so much help from their moms or MIL, that I felt very unlucky. I was very depressed during my 2nd pregnancy and just was emotionally distressed. Somehow, I got my courage and continued to work. Before S came out, I made arrangement for her. A friend in our neighborhood agreed to look after her. Everything seemed fine till S was born. The 8 week period went in a blink of an eye. Just two days before I the day I had to resume to work I had these guilty feeling of leaving my baby with somebody else. I don't remember how but, I decided to quit my job. I am very grateful to P that he supported my decision and I am also grateful that I had the liberty to take that decision as P's income was enough for us.

Well, getting back to SAHM was easy and I was enjoying it till I got a call from my ex-boss asking if I would consider working parttime. First time in my life I felt very lucky. I got flexible time, same position and salary and flexibility of long vacations during summer. As if this was not enough for somebody as greedy as me, I asked if I could take Fridays off during summer and I got that too. I feel very blessed.

I am both SAHM and a WM. For me its just a matter of choice. There is no debate as what one should opt for. It matters only what works for you and your family. Its like whether you take up a job or start your own business. It all depends on your circumstances.

If it is still not clear please refer to the other wonderful posts under this theme...

Just kidding... read them anyways - they are all awesome!

Maybe this is why I do what I do...

(This post by Sandeepa and the thoughts are entirely my opinion)

Why do I write this?

I was hesitant writing this because it is something very personal and I do not share it with everyone. But I also needed to get my thoughts straight maybe. The hubby says I am a “kinesthenics” person, I need to do to understand and that is why maybe I write to clear up the thoughts that are jumbled in my mind, the conflicts, the two opposite desires that I face every day of my life. And in a place where everyone is a Mother, maybe I am better understood

Why I did not and then want to stay at home?

While growing up, my goal had always been to do good in studies, to prepare for a career, to get a job. That was kind of the end, a nice job. That was all I wanted while I studied. It never ever crossed my mind that there could be anything else that I could want out of life. And that is how it was, a nice job out of Engg. School and I was happy.

When my hubby was asked by his company to move to the USA, I chucked my job, and moved for Grad Study. Now that I look back, I see, I never really said I wouldn’t move, I didn’t try to get into a Univ. which was in another State, in short I did not do anything to break the family routine. Maybe that was how I was, though I wanted a career, I wanted a family as much, albeit unconsciously.

While finishing up Grad School, I had a Plan A, to get a job in a company I have been aiming for all the 2 and ½ years of grad school, to have a baby, and join the company after 3 months. I never thought about daycare, about work life balance, nothing. The fact that the baby would go to daycare didn’t seem outrageous at that time, it was normal. Plan A seemed to go well in the initiation stage, and then there were heartbreaks and sorrow and no Plan B.

I graduated, preponed the job offer with the company and a month before joining found I had conceived again. Because of my past history, I was seeing a High risk Doctor who suggested that I should not do the 40 minute commute each way to my job and its better if I stay home. It was a brand new job and I couldn’t ask for a work from home option, neither did I even think of leaving it, so we used to stay during the week at a hotel near my office and weekends come home. Yes, that is how much I wanted to work then.

However soon after, I had to rush to the ER, middle of the night due to some emergencies. Soon there were 3 more ER visits and more complications and I was right in the hospital in complete bed rest for next 4 months. Fun, huh?

There I stayed in a small hospital room, unable to get up for even the basic necessities and all I could think and pray for is the little life which had not yet seen the light. I couldn’t get up for a shower or for anything else, couldn’t see the world outside except for the piece of sky visible from a window far from the bed, had no internet (how did I ever survive without Google Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket), nothing except a very caring family, friends, nurses and doctor. However everything else seemed so very unimportant and useless at that point. All the 4 months that I was there I could think of nothing and just hope and pray that everything went well this time

Why do I say all this?

Because it took all that and more to get me into the right perspective, to help me decide what was more important.

Because of what we had gone through, I had a radical change in my thoughts. I came to realize that there are many things that I can take upon myself and decide what to do, I can study and give a good exam, I can work hard and do good in my job, but there are certain things where I am helpless, the fact that my daughter was born healthy was a great gift for me and that is why her position is far above anything else in my life. The other stuff I can work towards and can achieve, so they can wait.

But this little girl needs me most because I am the one who is responsible for bringing her and I will just not be in peace delegating others to do it.

So I was at home till she turned 2. (Yes it helped that D supported my thoughts and we did manage to survive on a single income)

Why did I go back then?

It would be wrong if I said I was totally at peace staying at home. I did enjoy and had fun especially after S turned one and I could take her to library, the Mommy&Me etc., but I would also fret that I may not get a job because I was not utilizing the left side of my brain Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Of course there was no time to utilize the left brain because I was utilizing my heart and two hands (and legs) much more. Now don’t think I was doing aerobics all day but staying at home with a baby without any outside help makes you do much more than cardio

Once S turned 2+ I wanted to go back to a job.

But not a full time one. A full time job is hardly ever 8 hours a day, it usually spills on to more and I couldn’t bear the thought of a 2 year old staying outside home for more than 5-6 hours. Again I think that until a child turns 5 or 6, home is the best place to be and if possible I would have loved to keep it that way with some hours of pre-school. Think of this, anyway all their life they have to do the 9-5 and even more routine so if possible why not give them some break now.

Finally I got what I was looking for, ok kind of. I have a nice balance now. S is 3 and enjoys her school. My job has minimum stress, less hours and as a result not much growth. But I still do the logical work I love doing and I have a very nice boss, so I get a lot of relaxed time with S including long weekday evening and also some time for myself.

My hands still itch and I want to shoot off my resume to a more demanding and challenging job. But when I think what I might lose in the process, I resolve to stay put until S turns 5.(Ok, the truth is I do not know even if I can do it when she is 5)

Does the child need me less when she turns 5?

No definitely not. But that seems to be an age when the child is more competent of doing their own stuff. Why do you think almost all over the word, the official age for a child to start school is 5 ? Why do you think some Mom friendly companies (IBM ? is there any other such company ?) gives 5 years off to a mother if she wants. In many European countries (I know of Germany because I worked for one of their companies) they have a policy to give the new Mom a break of 3 years (if she wants). So I think ideally a child needs to be close to home and to loved ones till a certain age.

I was NOT able to do it for all the 5 years and it saddens me.

What have I lost?

Nothing except for some material stuff which can be summed up as follows:

I get paid less. Doesn’t affect me much. I have never been much into clothes and stuff for myself so I don’t have to get the Dior hand bag and work for that. But yes, I do think financial independence is important especially in an economy which is so unsure of itself.
I miss working for a core technology company. I still have my hopes. Once S turns 5 I want to go back to a core technology company to do something more challenging and concentrate more on my work
I am nowhere near in career path where my friends who did not take breaks are. Fortunately some of them did and so it’s not that I am totally alone being the martyr.

What have I gained?

But this is what I want to do and be happy about. Even if S does not remember and she probably will not, (I hardly remember my life before I turned 5), I want to look back on these days and be happy because I think what I did, I did to be in peace with myself more than anything else.
I wanted to be there for her when she needed me and trusted me most. For my sake, I wanted to have fun with her without the nagging thought of pending work or deadlines.

As she grows up there will be more people in her life, she will slowly be able to use her instinct to know whom to trust, she will be able to voice her opinion, she will still need me albeit not every minute and I will be happy that I did do some work towards building a strong base of security and love in her.

Ooops, forgot to add, that going back to work also makes me happy, the constant thought that I am out of touch of what is happening in the tech industry is gone and I can keep myself updated which means a lot.

I still crib, when I have PMS and now if I do, I will come back and read this postPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I think everyone of us has a story for doing what they are doing. There is no set rule and at times even the most carefully laid plans go awry. We are what our circumstances make us be and within that small boundary we try to exercise our choice and do the best for our children. Rejoice as at least we have the Freedom of Choice to whatever extent it might be.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Say Cheese!

Hi Moms!

I am not a great photographer, but I love taking photos. I guess what I lack in quality, I make up in quantity :-) I have thousands of digital photos of my daughter - I am huge fan of picasa and use it to organise them, etc I'd love feedback from other moms on how they save and organize their photos. Do you create backups on CDs, hard drives, DVDs (someone told me they last longer than CDs)

Also coming to videos - my camera has a video option which I use (far more often than I have ever used my camcorder). Mainly since I always keep my camera handy and also because picasa makes it easy to view the videos. So far I have been shooting clips of 5-8 min at a time, so this works fine. Yes, the quality of video is not as good as with a comcorder, but this works better for me because.... now here is my problem...

I have not been able to download videos from my panasonic camcorder to my computer. I would love what software/hardware you girls use to do this... a friend of mine at work says she has bought a DVD recorder, they connect the camcorder to the TV and as they view the pic on TV they record to a DVD. What do most of you do? or do you now care of the only copy is on the mini-DV tapes and not on your hard drive?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Happy Independence day to all the Desi(and not desi) mothers of the Desi Momz Club!!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Conscious Choice :

My Life was bed of roses till the job market crashed..unfortunately right after my marriage !!! The next 3 years was really hard struggle fighting with Visa requirements. working on odd jobs..just tugging along to pull through ,all the while keeping the real struggle as secret from the family back in India in order to keep them happy...(mine is love marriage so need to prove ourselves was even more compelling situation then..)

During this time, is when I lost my dad. was unable to even see him pay my respects due to being held by clutches of visa..No question of having baby ..somehow at that time everybody I met whether younger or older than me were having babies ....It was We didn't even know whether we would have any problems when we actually try for one..

Then though things weren't that good..but we had kind of survived the major battle..we decided to start a family..or I should say rather I decided to start a S was still in doubt whether we will be able to manage..I was still working 10-14 hours in odd jobs(baby sitting, tutoring, Dunkin Donuts..)..S working round the clock..just making ends meets..

But somehow after losing Appa..i had to find solace somewhere for myself and my amma..I decided either it's now or never to have baby..

By God's grace, I conceived immediately...I was working on odd jobs till I was 6 months pregnant and then due to complications and other circumstances I quit and just did part time work..Then came Shyam....We moved to Canada when Shyam was 5 months old..He brought us all the luck and prosperity..With PR in Canada, finding a job was relatively easy compared to US being on visa..Still took a couple of months..till S landed in his dream job..

I was SAHM till Shyam was 18 months old..I had worked so hard during those 3 yrs that I had no intention to going back to any kind of work..S kept feeling that I should start looking and shouldn't let my career take a back seat..As, even in those 3 yrs of struggle, he made me finish my BS Math in US (--double bachelors that's another long story --Bcom in India), currently finishing up MS Statistics..
Then I got an great offer --my first real job ..from a really good firm with all perks just out of trying from my side.. S had just posted my resume on workopolis long time ago..

Well decision had to be made...we decided to take one step at time..went ahead with the interviews..cleared them all..this was in July 2006..accepted the offer to join by Sep first week !!yes they even agreed to mom was supposed to be coming by then.When opportunity comes knocking on your don't turn it down..I have been on the other side of the door too !!!

Heart of hearts I cried ..I loved being at home with him..during those 18 months I didn't crib even once !! It's true and I am not lying about it !! But again I had really yearned to have a baby...S was born exactly year after I lost my Dad....He was a gift from my Dad....So leaving behind S at home was like battling a personal struggle...But I had already been in a place where I couldn't even plan for S ...

And here is when mind intervenes and points out the importance of work.Though I miss him, I love my work..and everyone around me is proud about the significant role I play in my concern.

Being financial independent for both parents is essential in current working situations. where lay offs are a common thing...Most of us are in entirely different country with almost no support of family..what will we do in any unforeseen circumstances down the road..Sorry to be harsh..but I have seen lot in my few yrs of marriage.. I was again reminded of the fact how fragile Life can be after reading about Kay's friend, who has been recently diagnosed with B-cell Lymphoma cancer.

Yes indeed we need to be there to cater to a sick child, leaving them with strangers pains..but as long as we are not compromising on our kids happiness & well being ..we are justified...To give them better education, consciously trying our best to give them quality time, to be able to pick up a career path for oneself (if one had planned for it ), to be bit better prepared for life's challenges..

Again all these thoughts are coming from a mom of just one kid, who is taken care by his Grandma.He is her only solace after my Dad,I don't know how the story goes with managing 2 or more kids ..
We all have our wishful long as we are happy & content with our decision..We have achieved our goal..and our kids will appreciate our decision & grow up fine..

Sunday, August 12, 2007

an age-old battle...

[by Sheela, also posted at The Joy of My Life]

A couple of points I have wondered about: 1) Women are biologically primed for child-bearing, child-nurturing/rearing etc. 2) society has defined Man's role as bread-winner/provider.

To be honest, before I had my own baby, I used to dismiss that as hogwash - in this day and age, roles can be reversed - so what if I am biologically birthing the baby, after birth I can hand over the baby to the husband and head out and be the bread-winner, right?

Wrong! At least in my case. The hormones and the surge of maternal biochemistry over which I seemed to have little control made it extremely tough for me to even leave my baby alone in another's care for longer than few hours (even though out of necessity I had to get back to work, leaving Ana in daycare).

Rational thinking flew out the door in a flash under the maternal surges I felt then. I was fiercely possessive, incredibly curious about raising my baby and quite determined to get it all right the first time around.

Do I envy the SAHM? Not at all! It is hard-work, and best suited for people who have made that choice and stuck to it.

Am I proud to be a WOHM? Not at all! I have made a choice and am trying my best to stick to it and make things work.

Is one inherently better than the other? Clearly not, or we wouldn't be having this age-old battle in our minds.

As I had written earlier, many women don't come this decision - of being a WOHM - lightly or easily.

The dance with the numbers is a tough one. We calculated and re-calculated the budget to see if there was any way we could make it meager-er:
--We don't have cable or DirecTV or any such additional expense;
--we have basic land-line phone with no extras like call-waiting, call-forwarding or even voicemail, as we have a good cell phone deal and have relied on it for all our telephonic needs;
--we buy in bulk from Costco and buy our groceries from local farms getting mostly seasonal produce and maybe some other fancy stuff from one of the eclectic places nearby, plus growing our own as much as possible (season-permitting);
--we are very careful about electricity - unplug wall outlets when not in use (except TV, of course), turn off lights as soon as we exit the area, energy-star rated dishwasher/fridge/oven/water-heater etc.,;
--we decided to use only one car for all our needs (keeping the second one only for emergencies) and plan the shopping trips and commute to work/daycare and such to minimize waste...

Now, if only just recovering the daycare expense by being an SAHM would have made our budget balance better...

Circumstances arranged themselves to make it a necessity for me to supplement D's income. I try to look upon it as a partnership where the sole burden of providing for the family should not rest on his shoulders. By the same token, D looks at raising Ana as a partnership and has helped a lot in taking care of her say two or three evenings a week to give me a couple of hours off to take care of myself and my needs.

A lot of Life is about compromise, planning and doing what seems best under the given constraints.

Either I can complain about it, or, find a good work around to establish some semblance of balance in my world.

My solution was to look at a job as just a job, not a career path, not something that would define me in the long run, but something that helps me raise my family in a comfortable way.

Also, my mom is my role-model in that sense - she worked as a teacher all her life, and raised us, and is a great cook and does wonderful crafts and sewing and such. So, naturally, I consider myself a failure if I can't do at least as much as she showed me it was possible to do.

Besides, we kids turned out fine despite our mom being a WOHM, so, I am possibly not depriving Ana of a well-rounded childhood by not being an SAHM...

But, the day and age in which my mom worked is different from my work situation. At least as far as IT goes, when projects need to be delivered on a deadline, one cannot excuse oneself and work only from 9-5 and head home and forget all about it until the next day.

That aside, my mom had neighbors and family around to walk us kids to school, bring us back, feed us, play with us and know we are safe even if my mom (and dad) had to work late some days. Such resources are hard to come by here, unless one is very lucky indeed!

Also, who doesn't want to be one's own boss, and command one's time as one wishes, instead of pretty much being a bonded laborer on someone else's clock and payroll? Alas! Not many of us really have that luxury, except sincerely wish for circumstances that let us make such a decision and abide by it - for better or worse...

And, when the need to be professional at all times combined with callous and inconsiderate bosses drain the cheer out of us WOHMs, no wonder we doubt whether it is all worth it? But, I prefer not to complain, I prefer to abide by the decision to help bear the burden of raising the family - financially and otherwise.

But, would I be happier as an SAHM? I'll never know... but, all I know is happiness is a state of mind that comes from accepting the situation one is given and making the best of it, drawing a sense of contentment about the way things are - instead of constantly trying to make the current situation better before one can be happy.

Somehow, despite all the Feminism and Equal Rights, it irks me when D suggests that it is not fair for him to bear the sole burden of providing for the family. Especially when "providing for the family" involves more than the basic Food, Clothing and Shelter.

Why have I subconsciously come to accept that the Man should not have a choice? Why am I worked up about making my choice, knowing that I have the luxury to make a choice, whereas upset when the roles are reversed?

Rhetorical as these questions may be, sometimes, there are no easy answers to our brooding. Hopefully, I am making the choice that is right for my situation, just as other women have done over generations and will continue to do way past my lifetime.

As I had written in another post, the need for perfection, the need for things to be a certain way before one can feel inner peace, is clearly convoluted, and conflicts with achieving the said inner peace.

If we are striving for something to be better than it currently is, well, therein lies the paradox...

Baby Puzzles

Puzzles happen to be a lot of fun and essential activity for child development. So they say, and I believe they might have a point. Each child develops at his/her own rate. So, it is not easy to know when exactly to introduce these activities... we let Ana guide us mostly.

Once baby knows to sit up steadily and has enough dexterity to pick up food and other toys items intentionally and place them at a different spot with certain premeditation, as well as have enough focus to recognize patterns, it seems like a good time to introduce the puzzles. When Ana could recognize animals, shapes, fruits and such, around 15 months, we introduced what I call Stage One puzzles pictured above.

I call these Stage One for these reasons:
1. easy for baby hands to pick up using the little plastic knobs (caution: never let the child do it unsupervised at this age - they tend to put things in the mouth and these little plastic knobs are a hazard); and if it doesn't have the knobs, the pieces are large enough to be held by baby hands comfortably.
2. easily recognizable shapes for the puzzle pieces (unlike jigsaw) like animals or fruits and only one would seem right - not a lot of ambiguity.

In the picture above the farm animals puzzle (Melissa & Doug™) was a favorite as Ana used to love stating the animal name and putting the right piece in the right spot. All wooden shapes are the same in this farm animal puzzle, but for the color and pattern which helps identify whether it is a sheep or a horse or a cow or a duck...

Next is what I call Stage Two puzzles:

These don't have knobs for easy pick up, but, have large enough pieces, not quite jigsaw, that will only fit one way, no ambiguity. But, it is a bit more challenging as the shape of the pieces are not uniform or easily recognizable. For instance the Peanuts one in the picture or the Pluto one, all the kid has to know is where the head and feet and such goes and then try to assemble them such that the pieces fit. But the challenge is in the fact that it is not easy to put certain pieces in place before the others are in place. Between 18 and 24 months, Ana seemed to like these.

Next are what I call Stage Three:

These are basic 9-piece jigsaw puzzles with very open and simple themes. Ana loves the animals one - with dog and cat and goldfish and bunny and such. In this category, slightly more challenging 9-piece is the abstract one of the multicolored elephant puzzle in the picture - which is actually 2-in-1 where front is a single elephant and rear is many elephants - aimed at introducing one and many - but the picture is abstract enough to be challenging, yet, easy enough as there are only 9 pieces and only one way they will fit. Around 22 months, closer to turning two, Ana started to focus her attention on these jigsaw puzzles which have a general overall pattern, but the individual pieces don't always seem to make sense.

In my mind, Stage Two and Stage three overlap. They seem equally challenging and interesting.

Next are the Stage Four:

These are more challenging 24-piece jigsaw or block puzzles. Ana is about 27 months now (2 yrs 3 months) and she is into these. The block puzzle is actually 6-in-1 "farm cube puzzle" where 16 blocks need to be assembled in proper order to complete each of the six puzzles.

My favorite puzzles for Ana so far have been Melissa & Doug™ wood puzzles. However, some of the ones in the pictures above are possibly 30 years old as they were gifts from my mum-in-law - apparently D, my husband (her son) used to play with them when he was little! I love the fact that she held on to those and passed it on to Ana.

What usually worked with Ana is, I used to set one puzzle out at a time - all jumbled - in her play area, very handy and at a convenient spot for her to find and assemble them. In the middle of playing with her toys, she would notice this and start putting it together and scream when she gets frustrated and needs some gentle direction or nudge.

By no means am I an expert in child development activities, but, I wanted to share some of the puzzles Ana has enjoyed doing since she was about 15 months or so. Perhaps children are ready even earlier and we can let our children guide us...

This post is completely inspired by Sandeepa's thoughtful comment left on one of my posts. Thank you Sandeepa for giving me an opportunity to share one of my favorite activities with my baby.

Friday, August 10, 2007

WM Vs SAHM - Trying to find the ever-elusive balance

The inevitable question that pops up in every Mother’s life, the ones that have a choice, that is. I always wanted to be a working woman when I was growing up. My Mom is a working woman and I think of her as my role model. I should admit that my Mom didn’t have a choice back then. She had to work to make both ends meet, just to put a roof over our head, feed and clothe us and give us a good education. My Father passed away when I was very young and it was my Mom who brought us up single-handedly and made us the persons that we are today. But I have a choice, unlike my Mom and I chose to be a WM.

I was married very soon after I finished my B.E. My engagement was actually immediately after my final semester exams in B.E and my marriage soon after that. So I never had any real work experience when I first came to USA with hubby. I decided to pursue my Master’s degree and joined graduate school soon after I came to the US. It was not easy for me as a full time student juggling my Studies and a part time job at School. I graduated early ’02 with a Master’s degree in EE. Like Dee had written, it was one of the worst times in the market for job hunting particularly for a newbie like me. So we decided to postpone my job hunt a little bit and made the big decision of starting a family. We did not know the surprise that was in store for us. I was on intensive job hunting spree when I got my pregnancy confirmed in July’02. In the 9th week of my pregnancy it was confirmed that I was carrying twins and the doctor asked me to be extra careful. I was in risk, for a lot of pregnancy diseases like Gestational diabetes, Pre-term labor and Preeclampsia and I was advised by the doctor to take things easy and not to exert myself at all. All my job searching attempts were flushed down the drain after that. I was determined to give my babies a head start and prayed fervently so that my babies would be born normally at full term. My Sister was a Preemie and my Mom had a very difficult time with her, during her first year. I knew all this and I did everything in my power, to stay healthy and give my babies a better chance. During that time job hunting was probably the last thing on my mind. The first few months after M & N were born is almost a blur, with all the three of us (Me, My Mom and hubby) being busy all the time. We were groggy and red-eyed all day long due to the lack of sleep. It was me and My Mom who handled all the chores at home and hubby also pitched in as much as he could but there was always more work with two babies around! It would be 1’o’ clock in the night and I would change, feed, burp and rock a baby to sleep only to find the other baby awake and needing a diaper change, the minute the first baby sleeps. But things improved, and their eating and sleeping schedule became more and more synchronized. I had my Mom or my In Laws staying with me here in USA until M & N became 2 and half years of age.

I went on a job hunting spree again when M & N were 2 years old. I found it very hard to break through the job-market at that time and my morale was at an all time low. I started losing confidence in myself and was so disheartened and I was starting to wonder if I could be half that wonderful woman my Mom is! Like Pop Mom so lucidly writes, I tried to emulate my Mom who is a Super-Mom. On one hand I felt happy that I was with M & N, when they needed me most during their early years and I watched with pride every one of their milestones. But on the other hand, I would think that I should never have went to Graduate school if I knew that I was going to stay at home. Also I knew we would be much better off, financially if I worked too. When M & N were 2 years and 7 months old I got my first real job! It was the most exciting day of my life. M & N had already started preschool at a home based provider in our neighborhood and they were going there for about 2 hours each day. I started working as a contractor by the end of September ’05 and M & N started full time day care/preschool after that. However, the transition was not easy. Everyone felt miserable and I was almost on the verge of quitting. My Mom or my In-laws couldn’t come to the US at that time because of various reasons and I was managing everything on my own. Each day was excruciatingly long and I was weighed down with the amount of work that I had to get done both at office and at home. It was too much for me to handle and I was almost on the verge of tears, most of the days because of the work load at the office and home chores. As a contractor I was working 40 hours a week and did not have any flexible timings or benefits and it was complete pandemonium at home. I was even starting to wonder if it was all worthwhile and hubby had started to insist that I should quit. After about 3 months my client company gave me a job offer and I opted for flex timings whereby I could work 30 hours a week. Of course during crunch time at office, I always pitch in more, but I get paid for the extra hours of work I do. This arrangement is very beneficial to me and to this day I feel happy about my decision to work part time. I get Fridays off every week, and I have a very understanding Manager and team and I always put family before work. So overall, it is a Win-Win situation for us. But like Tharini so beautifully points out, it always feels like we are racing against the clock all the time and are totally tired at the end of the week. Sometimes I feel that weekends are even busier than week days! But on a brighter note, I feel that we are much stronger financially. I feel much more confident and I feel overall I am a better Mom to M & N ever since I started working. I have been both a SAHM and WM and I can empathize with both the choices. After all, Motherhood is the most beautiful thing that can happen to a woman and she is always a Mom first, before she puts on any of her other hats.