Thursday, August 17, 2006

Uh jo chhote han na vaade

“………….but I want to do what I want to do”. The loud voice of ‘once’ sweet son, came from the family room as I asked him to turn the TV off and ‘practice’ that he learns after school and on weekends. I was not only shocked but almost in tears as this was not my same son who religiously followed the evening routine and took everything seriously that he learnt in extra curricular activities, along with his learning at school. Above all that he has been ‘Mama’s helper’ in tutoring his younger sister, passing on all the good stuff that he learnt to his sisters. Like his first-grade teacher still says about him "They don't come in better package than this one". I had no complaints and said prayer of gratitude for these children every morning and before going to bed. But what happened this last week? I don’t know except that I know he is going to celebrate his 12th birthday in few weeks and he is growing.

I think that is what they call adolescence. If I remember it right it is the time in life when a child is entering youth and waives good-bye to childhood. It is the time when parents’ authority begins to blur in child’s life. As young adult he tires to figure things out himself, he begins to search within for answers to his own questions. That is the mark of growing up; but how do I deal with this ‘change’?

As I was taken back with his answer, I took a deep breath to compose myself and called him to kitchen where I was cutting vegetables for the dinner. I handed him gently a beautiful pen that he gave me on mother’s day and my personal note pad. Bringing a broad smile on my face & hiding my real emotions, I said “ok, fine with me, just write on this paper what exactly you want to do; so I know your priorities. If they are good enough for a 12 yr old young man, I will respect them.” Well that took him away to study room for 15 minutes and I tried to sooth myself in the aroma of tarka of Aaloo-gobhi. As he brought the paper back to me, he had this big smile on his face. I was so relieved as what he wrote was even better schedule that we had before; assigning proper timings and days to his ‘practices’; TV time and free play time. I thanked Waheguru ji once again. That night we had discussion how learning Gurmukhi-reading, kirtan, karate is important to a Sikh along with perusing worldly education. We have always wanted our children to learn all this for the joy of it; and just hope that they begin to love it as they move up in their training.

I spent quite a bit time thinking and realizing that he is entering adolescent years. Now the question is how does a parent deal with it? The answer is not as simple as we would like it to be but also not as difficult as I thought. Now I know that the main answer is that old word “communication.” But what does this boring word really mean when it comes to your teenager? It means encouraging your son or daughter to not just talk to you about facts of his/her life but to tell you things that are important to him or her. You can accomplish that by being non-judgmental but good listener.

Experts agree that if your adolescent can trust you with feelings, attitudes, and values, parent/child problems are workable. So, put yourself in your child’s shoes; try to remember what it was like to be that child’s age. Yes, teens try to manipulate mom and dads. But they are imploring for guidance even when they are unable or unwilling to express it. After listening you will have your chance to be heard. Don’t lecture but discuss. Be open to your teen’s opinions that indicate the struggle to mature. And, in the end be true to yourself by being firm with your decisions. Your adolescent may pout and complain but down deep will respect and honor you. Wouldn’t you if you traded places?

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Intruder

Our house is very often visited by relatives who come from out of town and spend two or three weeks with us. Most of them are very nice but it is still an inconvenience to have all of these extra people in your house. Recently, we had a relative come to our house late one evening. It was a young lady. She came about three and a half months ago and is still with us. We are very much inconvenienced with this young lady as her habits are very different from ours. She likes to sleep during the day and at night she keeps us awake to amuse her. We must always keep her in good humor as she becomes cross at the slightest irritation. She has her meals regularly enough but they are not at the same time as ours and this is a big problem. She also doesn't eat what we eat. She has her own special foods. She smiles when in good humor with such a broad and pleasant smile we can't help but smile back at her even though she has disrupted our lives completely. In spite of all of these things, we hope that she never leaves for we love our baby sister very much.

- By a 12 yr old brother about his 3 month old sister

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Kee Kahiyee!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Fauj of Mai Bhago

Have you ever thought that the ones who gave their head to Guru forever were only ‘five’ and the ones who wrote ‘be-daava’ (disclaimer) and deserted Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, were eight times more than five? Why is there any wonder that today more young sikh boys and girls are apostate than rahatvaan? There is again pressing need for Mai Bhago….not just one but Fauj of Mai Bhago to awaken the youth.

When Mai Bhago came to know that some Sikhs of her area had deserted Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji at Anandpur Sahib and renounced his guruship in writing. She could not hold herself, as she was zealous to serve the Guru. Boiling with rage, and moved by love for the Guru, she, the great heroine, said to her husband, “Guard up your lions and let us lay down our lives for the Guru who has sacrificed his father, mother and four sons for the Sikh faith. We must not sit idle when innocent lives are being bricked alive.” She was determined to wipe out the badge of infamy from the face of her area.

She, along with her husband, went from village to village and told the people the reality of deserters. Ladies of the deserters did not talk to them when they came back, cursed and taunted them. These ladies dressed themselves as soldiers and wanted to proceed with Mai Bhago. She said to the deserters, “Guru Ji has sacrificed his family and comforts for our freedom. We must stand up and protect our rights and faith. We should not hide ourselves like cowards. Everybody has to die. Why not die like a brave person? If you don’t join me, I shall take a party of women and die for the Guru.” She exhorted the ladies not to entertain the deserters and not to allow them to enter their houses. Her sharp and frank words pricked the conscience of the deserters and awakened their souls. She challenged their vanity and made them regret. She displayed manly spirit and courage.

They, along with their leader, Mahan Singh, marched to help the Guru and seek his forgiveness. They got armed and they took the oath to die fighting and not to retreat from the battlefield. They meant to make amends for the apostasy.

It is duty of every mother, every sister and every wife to become another Mai Bhago and form a ‘fauj’ to bring back these apostate youth in Guru’s feet. I know it will happen when each Sikh woman looks at herself in Mai Bagho’s image.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Women and Work

Maxed out. Stressed out. Worn out. I am out and out ready for a change. Well, after years of planning, gathering the much needed courage to ‘quit’ I am ready….so I began to clean up the mess of 14 years from my file drawers, reading, deleting and of course ‘saving’ e-mails in archives. Majority of my e-mails consisted of e-mails exchanged with my beloved husband about our munchkins….some are heart-breaking…to recall those mornings when a wailing toddler wouldn’t let go of my leg…those teething days when my child depended more on Tylenol than my warm lap…shuffling between baby-sitters and pre-schools. It made me think hard on ‘why did I continue to work?’ It is hard to pin-point one single reason but I will share my thoughts on it from self-experience as well as gathered from having conversations with different mothers who I worked with over the years.

Yes, I enjoyed working, but that is before I was reincarnated as mother of our three children. There are lots of women who hold two full-time jobs, one at work and one at home; but I always have had trouble finding the elusive balance between work and family.

The two worlds waged a daily tug-of-war over my attention and devotion. As time went on, my maternal instincts began winning out over my long-range plans at work. As holding down the two full-time jobs, is wearing me down; becoming a stay-at-home mom is looking real attractive. Nonetheless, here are my observations from the experience of work-life for 17 years as a woman, as a wife and as a mother.

Although today’s women are still assigned responsibility for the family relationships, many women's satisfaction does not correlate highly with care giving.

Women need to understand and develop both aspects ‘pleasure and mastery’ of well-being, to feel good about themselves. Women who work hard at a challenging job are doing something positive for their mental health. Marriage and children do not guarantee well-being for a woman.

Doing and achieving are at least as important to the lives of women as are relationships and feelings. Being able to generate some income is critical for self-approval, growth, security, and development. Monetary rewards and interesting careers are definitely confidence builders for women. If that side of a woman's life is neglected, her self-esteem is endangered.

Developing self-interests of and close relationships help to balance woman's life. A woman needs her own time, space, and her own life. To be totally dependent on a male and/or her family for fulfillment is perilous.

Today's woman is encouraged by some to be independent and career-oriented. While it is true that more women are developing careers, it is also true that many have a long way to go to catch up with men. Most women say they would like a career along with successful relationships and happy families. However, for many females, timing is a problem.

The phase of life devoted to forming relationships and establishing families is also the period of life when career-oriented individuals devote almost exclusive attention to developing their careers. Since many women in the workforce also carry the primary responsibility for children, this responsibility is often a time-and-energy restriction to career development.

Because in many circles, women are expected to be home makers, they find it difficult to take the time necessary to acquire job skills. However, without adequate work skills, a woman must be cared for financially. This fosters a child-like dependency on the "caregiver."

Women without their own assets are at risk of losing their financial support from separation, divorce, death, or their partners' loss of employment. They are also in danger of losing the financial support of their children. Therefore, job skills, far from being selfish, are extra insurance, both for her children and herself. In fact, in today's times, many people consider it selfish to have children without the job skills necessary to support them. Whether in or out of the job market, women often suffer feelings of guilt. If a woman stays at home, she thinks, "I should be contributing financially." If she works, she worries, "I should be at home with my children."

This generation of women has been prepared to enter the workforce and have actually done so in record numbers. But all too often the woman, husband and even segments of society itself believe in this selfless, all encompassing role of motherhood. Such an image leaves women bearing most of the responsibility for child rearing. It also leaves them guilt ridden and filled with fear.

Overwhelmed with guilt, some women quit work entirely, a solution that can leave women economically vulnerable and depressed. The choice should not be whether to work or stay home. Couples should share the responsibilities of parenting; when a woman is emotionally insecure in quitting her job. Mothers need to let some of the responsibility go to fathers and respect that men have equal say in parenting decision. Yes, men are capable of nurturing as much as woman and sometimes even more; when given the chance. Women may have to make some material and/or career sacrifices in order to spend more time with their children. In fact, for many mothers the greatest luxury is time. So from what I have observed around me, for many women, stopping employment altogether is not a reasonable answer for the years of motherhood. Having faith in One Provider Akaal Purkh, careful planning, setting priorities, commitment and support form the bedrock for a family to obtain parenting freedom.