Our world in our hands

We’ve got our whole world in our hands.

Literally.

At 3.5 kilos that’s not hard to accomplish. I suspect, the sentiments will not have changed even at 35 kilos. Though, by then, our little man may very well be out of hand!

This precious cocktail of ours has German and Indian blood coursing through his veins. Needless to say, we’ve had plenty of opinions from well wishers about how he will look, the colour of his eyes, hair, toes….

As a couple with several spectrums of interests and affinities; we’re more concerned about his “inner features”

There’s no doubt he will use his multilingual skills to con his first fans- namely the grandparents. This has already sent my non-German speaking mother scrambling to master the many nuances of this language. The other grandmother has already brought out her English text books from school. Imagine the heartbreak, they say, if you can’t understand your only grandson! I trust my son to have other tricks up his sleeve to con his unsuspecting, language-proficient grandmas.

Breakfast humour this morning was anticipating future tantrums from this mini version of us. We envision a mixture of Indian/Goan emotion and German structure. I can already see a 2 foot tall ball of energy informing us- “Mum, Dad; I’m going to scream and have a fit for the next ten minutes and you can’t stop me!” Ten minutes later, all normalcy will have returned. Bravo German punctuality! Worst case scenario, he will sway towards Indian time sense and still be screaming an hour later!

The snowboarding, ballroom dancing, IT bent Papa is itching to get his son on a mini-board at 3 and have him go nuts at Slow Fox music.

The basketball wielding, blog writing, Homoeopathy practicing Mama wishes her son takes to sports and languages with equal passion.

Neither of us will be surprised should our boy decide to ski, play heavy metal, do ballet or major in Math.

That’s the way of life, isn’t it?

We are dreamers, but also realists. No amount of romancing about our son promises us a smooth ride through parenthood. We are gearing up to have our worlds turned upside down and inside out. (already happening to a certain degree), to expect the unexpected and to celebrate the challenges.

I for one (the emotional half of the couple) will probably lose my marbles when my son crosses limits. The structured half of the equation, Papa, will deal better with impish behaviour. So between the two of us, nuturing our boy into a responsible young man shouldn’t be that much of a struggle, right?

Wrong.

The longer we are together, the more we absorb the other’s qualities! That makes us a punctual Indian and emotional German couple!

Role reversal is both confusing and hilarious! Things which would have sent me into a flying rage before, now no longer ruffle my feathers. But come 15 minutes late to an appointment and I’ll bite your head off! Similarly, snowboarding Daddy goes berserk when I suggest our son may ski!

This is going to be an interesting journey. Keeping our world in our hearts is no problem. Making sure he is not out of hand, will be a whole different ball game! ❤

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My hat-trick 100 day

This is a celebratory, centenary post- it seems hard to believe it’s already number 100- and I’m spectacularly delighted to share it with you!

Today, the 16th of March 2018, is one hell of a milestone for me! No, scratch that. It’s a hat-trick of milestones.

For starters, my beautiful baby boy turns a month old today. That means I’ve managed to keep us alive a whole four weeks without any major disasters. The small ones are plenty and happen multiple times a day. 😉 Strike one!

Having a beautiful birth experience was one of my big goals for 2018. Despite all the fear, old wives tales, queer warnings from queerer people; I made it! I even got promoted to an All You Can Eat Buffet! Strike two! (The birth, not the buffet)

I’m a big believer in writing down goals and micro managing them until I nail them on the head. In case you’re interested, here is my strategy.

Today I have in hand my licence to practice in Germany. Exactly a year ago today, I bombed at my first attempt. Re-qualifying in a new language and in a new country was no piece of cake. I was forced to romance failure, even to find a friend in it and now, finally, I’m armed to heal. How contradictory that sounds! But I come in peace! 😉 Strike three!

Over and out.

PS- stay tuned, I’ll be back soon.

21 down, 21 to go

That’s days and years. 21 days done. At least 21 years to go.

21 days to form a habit they say. I guess that makes Zane my new habit.

I’m talking about my newborn son and how much time we have left in our Provider-Consumer relationship.

Many wise parents scoff at 21 and say it’s more like 21 times ‘n’.

For now, I have new-found respect for cows. How do the poor things stand being constantly milked? My bub makes sure I know how this feels. While I enjoy being food and comfort giver, I also sometimes crave to not have a 3 kilo attachment at my chest, with the suction prowess of dental tools.

Does that make me a bad mum? Definitely not. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t asked myself that question. A million times over.

“I make you feel like a cow, you say?!”

This morning at 4 am when I took a carefully timed pee-break, hoping my son didn’t wake up and start screaming bloody murder, I looked in the mirror and did a double take.

The sleepy face with scraggly hair and smudged mascara-like dark circles was me! I looked so ridiculous, I had to laugh. And laugh I did. Loudly! The experts weren’t lying when they said medicate with laughter. Almost immediately my sleep-deprived body perked up and I started appreciating the lighter side of being a new mum.

Did you know one in four women get depressed after delivery? It’s not difficult to see why. Added to being almost solely responsible for keeping a tiny babe alive, (often with zero prior training); comes the fact of having him/her attached to you at the (far from proverbial) hip, breast, tummy, heart and soul.

Heart and soul are both beautiful and devastating. Hearing your baby cry is sufficient to tear that heart into pieces. Seeing him giggle and smile makes you soar to the high heavens. The joy is indescribable!

Not to mention leaky boobs. The mums that breastfed know precisely what I mean. When one is active, the other is anything but passive. Get upset and your eyes are not the only ones producing fluid. Lie on your belly or try to and you’ll see who’s in the way!

My favourite is tummy to tummy with my son. The warmth and proximity are simply heartening. There’s just something magical, mystical even, about connecting like this with my baby. Maybe it’s gut instinct?

This minute fellow is so precious to me. I love my new toy, er.. boy. Hubby gets instantly nervous when I say toy. He starts checking for signs of depression or any other feature that doesn’t fit my super-mum avatar. I’m not sure he believes me when I say I’m kidding!

All jokes aside, I am in a good place now, after a tough start. I am content with being a less than perfect mum, with not brushing my hair because that’s a time consuming luxury I’d rather spend sleeping and with crushing every inevitable challenge through the miracle I hold in my arms.

21 years sounds like a nice, long time to provide for my son. Hell, it sometimes sounds scary!! (I left home at 18 but was parent-dependent for way longer; as was my hubby. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…)

Perhaps the 21 years will be longer or perhaps shorter. Either way, I intend giving every moment my best-even if my best is sometimes 40%.

My mantra for the t(c)rying times is- “This too shall pass!” My mantra for the happy times is- “Enjoy it while it lasts!”

As my bub grows, daddy and I will graduate to chauffeurs, bed and breakfast organizers, chaperons, sensor-board and ethical committee. This goes without saying.

What I truly hope though, is that we also work our way into our son’s heart as his confidante, friend (someday later, not when he’s 8!) and inspiration.

Here’s to our 21, son!

Cheers!

Son, today is Women’s Day

Dear Son,

You’re only 20 days old today; so you’ll understand this a few years later; but no one can fault me for starting early.

We humans have a funny way of showing how we care. Sometimes we set aside days to honour people-mother’s, father’s days; sometimes we wait for occasions to express love- birthdays, anniversaries, valentines and tragically, funerals.

Today is a day set aside for women. All over the world, there are cards and roses and chocolates doing the rounds. However, at the same time there are women being ill-treated, shamed, raped and killed.

“But what can I do about it mum?” I see you asking me soon. So here’s a list I have ready for you.

Whether the woman you are dealing with is me, your mother, a friend, a colleague, a new love or a total stranger; first and foremost, respect her.
That also means respecting what she says. Even a no. She has her reasons and she doesn’t always owe you an explanation.

In most instances you will be physically stronger than her (unless in those special circumstances when she is better fit and decides to beat your ass 😉 ). Use your strength to make her life easier. If need arises, protect her.

In a world with ever decreasing charm, be chivalrous. Hold open a door for her, cook her breakfast and bring her flowers. PS- this is something your grandfather unfailingly did for his wife and daughter every 8th of March, every birthday and every anniversary.

Most of all, love her for who she is. Not who the world says she should be. Not for who you think she should be. She is a woman and has dreams, crazy emotions and a tremendous spirit. You won’t always understand her. In fact, she will often drive you nuts. Love her nonetheless.
Cherish her and know you are privileged if she chooses to share her heart with you.

Go out into the world and celebrate her son!

Then finally, we can have women’s day everyday and not just today!

Promoted! To All-You-Can-Eat!

Last Friday, I went through the most raw and primal experience of my life. It was also the most excruciating yet satisfying one.

I gave birth.

Oh, before I go further, a word of caution. This post contains explicit descriptions from a hormone-pumped, one-week-new mum, which might make you queasy. Consider yourself warned!

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All throughout my labour, I had a front-row ticket to everything. There were times when I wished the clock would tick faster and not crawl over the 15 hours it took from start to finish. But there were also fun times- taking two warm tub baths, listening to my birth playlist (embedded for the curious ones) and chuckling at some appropriately  inappropriate songs- like It’s now or never or the German oldie Atemlos (Breathless).

The midwife that assisted my delivery was simply wonderful. Thanks to her, my tremendously supportive husband and the Lion King hits (mainly Hakuna Matata) I went through the whole ordeal without any pain-killers.

That doesn’t mean I was brave throughout. Far from it. At the height of my pain, I was willing to take anything against it. Even a horse tranquilizer. I tried laughing gas, but no ha-ha’s there. It proved utterly useless.

Just when I thought I couldn’t go on any longer, the midwife excitedly announced that  she could see the head of the baby. She asked me, “Are you ready to bring out your son?”

“Hell yes!” I nearly screamed through gritted teeth., sitting on the semi-circular chair that I chose as my birthing position. I then turned on all my animal instincts, seized all my worth into one big muscle and let out the most primal cry.

Make that cries. I screeched myself hoarse and my boy out. At that dizzying point, nothing in the world mattered more than sending him flying out. I didn’t care if I broke, and I did; but I simply didn’t care.

With the last mighty heave, out came my son- a red mass with a mop of black hair, lying at my feet and squealing his little lungs out. I expected to feel a rush of motherly love and emotion as soon as I saw him.

But all that registered was shock!  How did something so big (relative proportions here) reside for 9 long months inside me and then come out of what I thought to be, a tiny exit. The idiotic saying playing in my head was- pushing a watermelon out a hole the size of a lemon. And I did!

As I had my son on my chest and he did the I’m-looking-for-milk-crawl; my veins coursed with oxytocin and I drowned in happy emotions. My heart felt like it would burst with joy, pride and a sheer sense of I DID IT!!!

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Now thanks to having a pain-killer free birth, my son and I were very active and ready to run. While all the other mums and bubs in the area slept peacefully in their beds and cribs; my bub and I were super active. I, the awkward new mum, clueless how to do almost everything; and my son roaring like a lion on LSD; regularly brought the floor nurses to check that no one was getting mortally injured!

One week into being entitled my new status, I have several factors to thank for staying sane:

  1. I gave up the notion of being the perfect mum. I started by putting on diapers the wrong way, panicking when I wondered if I was producing enough milk to feed another human being! I resigned to letting myself learn from those around me and most importantly, from my 51 cm tall boss.
  2. I accepted being an All-You-Can-Eat 24/7 Buffet for my son. Then the sleep deprivation and sore nipples suddenly turned utterly do-able.
  3. My awesome support system and baby daddy. I sometimes think he inhaled some of my motherly hormones. He does that fantastic a job! In fact, he’s talking about giving up his job and trading places with me. Thankfully, until men can breastfeed, that won’t happen.
  4. And finally I wholeheartedly gave in to all the crazy/wonderful/exciting changes my body is going through. Like crying out of my eyes and my boobs when my son sobs.

All 3 kilos of this bundle have my heart in their baby-fisted love grip and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a wonderful life!

Happy one week on earth son!

Posioned Cookies for Christmas

What does Christmas mean to you? No, I mean, what does it really mean to you?

This question has been swirling in my mind since early November and the more I thought about it, the more I realized how differently we all look at this season/holiday/festival.

For some of us, it’s a time to unwind, take a holiday. For others it means more work, more family pressure and more stress. Or simply a combination of all of the above.

Of course, I know what Christmas is supposed to mean. My strong catholic upbringing took care of that- The birth of the child Jesus, the saviour of the world.

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What Christmas actually meant to me, seems to have taken on different forms every couple of years.

As a young child, my biggest thrill was the presents Santa left me on Christmas morning. Savagely tearing them open was an instant ticket to the top of the world!

Come my pre-teen and teeny years, the season was peppered with my desire to socialize at one or more Christmas dances; after midnight mass (also a matter of great fashion and social concern). Shaking a leg until the wee morning hours and then brunching with friends always made me feel great. Still does. 16-year-old me detested having my parents chaperone my Christmas specials, but today, I’m glad they did.

My early 20’s were a constant tug of war between career, relationships and wanting to have the perfect Christmas. It usually played out with a very groggy, hungover me, dragging myself out of bed to Christmas lunch at grandma’s. Oh, and not before fulfilling the Goan tradition of Konsuar- distributing and exchanging homemade sweets with neighbours and family in the vicinity. Awoken by nagging requests from my parents to be the delivery girl; I wasn’t the friendliest face around.

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As my 20’s progressed, so did my thinking. I started asking uncomfortable questions about religion, politics, family and life in general. The answers I got were even more uncomfortable. The rebel in me broke out; I met and married a German and at 29, moved to Hamburg.

This may sound fairly non-rebellious. But for me, a Goan, Indian catholic girl, an only child; marrying a non-catholic, European and moving halfway across the world; was not the expected course of events. Suffice to say I have been and still am the topic of much tea-time gossip. Thankfully my parents and family are darlings and have not just come to terms with my decisions, but joyfully celebrate my differences.

My first Christmas in Germany had me completely gaga. The fairy-tale like decorations, quaint little Christmas markets and the ever-flowing hot red wine made me dizzy with delight. The love hormones accelerated my growing fascination and it was two more Christmases before I began questioning again. This year.

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I saw commercialism all around me, capitalism shouted out from every street; while the poor and homeless struggled to find a suitable corner. The focus of the season seemed to be only on getting bigger and better gifts, the more the better. Amazon and similar services, promise delivery until the 11th hour.

It isn’t all bad though. The focus on family takes first place for most. The holidays are spent together and most shops are shut. You use the time to bond and re-connect with loved ones. Christmas menus are also pre-decided; usually the same every year; the family watches Christmas movies at home, cooks together or plays silly board games.

To answer the question I posed to myself in November, I first listed what is important to me during Christmas- family, music, church and a single present exchange (not 6-8 per person as seems to be the norm). I realized what truly matters to me; what I need to do in order to feel happy is to GIVE. In any form. It is in giving that I feel most at peace. And strangely, also at the receiving end. Am I making any sense to you? I hope so…

So how would I give this Christmas? I had a couple of options up my sleeve. Some went south and others are still playing out.

For one, I continued my activity Advent Calendar tradition and used my blog to reach more people. The results have been heartening.

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Then against all odds, I convinced my Husband to have an Advent party for close friends. We had them over from as far away as China and India. It was an evening of deep conversations, lots of hot red wine and Pav bhaji (an Indian delicacy). Many confided it was the first time in a long time they felt truly Christmas-y.

This next one wasn’t a Christmas giving decision, but one we took a few months ago. We no longer needed to answer the question- do we want to bring a child into this crazy world. We had a new one- how do we bring up a child in the best way possible? My body is in the process of giving. As I come to the close of my 9 months as an expecting mum; I am fascinated by how this life inside of me is growing. I am bursting with anticipation to see how it turns out.

My fourth act of giving was the one that seems to have given me most food for thought. Funnily enough it has to do with food.

Germany celebrates the 6th of December as St. Nikolaus where kids and adults alike leave clean, polished shoes outside their door and St. Nick rewards them with a tiny gift. Dirty shoes and bad behavior are bestowed with coal and potatoes.

 

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So, I decided to play St. Nick to the 16 families living in our building. I was beside myself with joy as hubby and I tip-toed through six floors and left each flat a bag of freshly baked cookies.

A few days later, our Portuguese landlord asked us if we were the ones behind the cookies. He chuckled when we answered in the affirmative. He said he knew it had to be us, because he had entertained several panicky calls from his tenants describing the white paper bags at their doorstep. They wanted to know if it was safe to eat the cookies or not. Could they be poisoned?

 

My first reaction was flashes of annoyance and disbelief. All we tried to do was make these people smile. It hit me hard that an act of goodness was met with suspicion and the looming question of whether another intended them harm! This made me immensely sad. But I understood. In our world of today, who’s to say you can trust anyone? Unassuming vans have mowed down innocents; children have been bombed out of their houses and millions are suffering injustice.

Perhaps if we all start to give a little; even a teeny-tiny wee bit; we might change this world of corruption. Maybe then our thoughts won’t need to travel the poisonous way. Our children might have a chance at a decent life and we might preserve what’s left of our unstable environment.

That for me, I realize could be the true meaning of Christmas. Each of us giving. Each of us receiving in the act of giving. And thus, being saviours of our fragile world.

Merry Christmas!

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