Friday, September 29, 2006

We Are Doing It!

Carol Evans, the CEO of Working Mother Media in her book, ‘This Is How We Do It’, shares

“Today, as CEO of Working Mother magazine, I'm often asked how we working mothers manage to juggle motherhood and career, life and work, self and job. And I always think of Dr. Wan. (My doctor who delivered my second child; encouraged me through ‘pushing’ when I almost gave up) Because sometimes being a working mother feels overwhelming, and some days we're convinced we just can't do it. We want to yell at someone, "I can't do it!! I want to go home!"

And then I see Dr. Wan's smiling face in front of me saying, "But you are doing it!" And I realize that we are. Twenty-six million mothers—more than 72 percent of all moms in the United States today—work full- or part-time. We raise strong and happy kids. We fuel the economy. We earn money that keeps our families safe and secure. And we get a ton accomplished in a day at work.
Still, most of us draw a blank when friends and family ask us, "How do you do it?" Nine times out of ten we laugh (or cry) and say, "I don't know. I just do." But in our hearts, we know that response doesn't do justice to the real answer. How do we do it? We do it with old-fashioned elbow grease, with humor, with sleepless nights. We do it with the help of family and friends who pitch in, with great babysitters and caregivers, with husbands who learn how to support us (or not!!). We do it by cramming more into a weekday and into a weekend than should be humanly possible. We do it by finding confidence in our own choices. And increasingly, we do it with the support of our workplaces and our husbands. However, my husband, Bob, now a devoted partner and father, wasn't always that way.”

If it was not for photographs; I would have had hard time believing that it ever happened – pregnancies, babies, toddlers, kindergarten and so on. My children are now almost teenagers and memories are already fading. Raising children at first seems like a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, we realize that it is an endless essay. No parent knows everything. Being mother of three, I can reassure you that they not only look different but they respond differently too to the same loving mother. One child responds well to positive reinforcement while other can only be managed with a stern voice and/or a timeout. One of them is toilet trained at the age of three but the other at 2. One likes bottles of baby food, while other wants to eat daal-roti out of your plate. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself; learn to lean on Waheguru for all the decisions you make for and about your children. One such decision I made to continue my job after the babies arrived. As Carol puts it; I also believed “We earn money that keeps our families safe and secure” but to my dismay I can open journal of my memories and write a novel about the guilt moments. Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, we all learn through our mistakes. Now when they are not babies any more I wish I lived in the moment at that time. I wish I wasn’t in hurry all the times; wish I stopped and captured the moments in my heart. Once, when they were 4, 2 and 4 months, my husband was gone for work-related trip for a week. Though I had nanny at home during the day while I was at work; I was left alone with the munchkins before and after my work hours. One evening while I was busy with the baby; the older two found box of ‘Aatta’ (wheat flour) in the kitchen & played in it like sand. When I turned around, I could only see their big black eyes in the flour covered body. Our family room carpet was all white. While giving them bath again, vacuuming the carpet that evening; I was in tears. It did not even occur to me to laugh with them and take few pictures before cleaning it all up. I was so much attuned to the clock; doing everything by the clock and if anything ever fell apart like this, I would be all tensed up. Over the years I have learnt to relax but now relaxing is not enough. They need my time to hear their school's stories, to ask all kind of questions that arise in pre-adolescence and during adolescent years. No, I strongly differ with Carol; we can still ‘push’ ourselves but this time it will be at the cost of well-being of our babies . Sometime s it is absolutely necessary to do Caesarean and cuttin g second job outside the home is that c-section fo r me .

Monday, September 25, 2006

There are three little kittens
Living in this house,
None of them is bigger
than a little grey mouse,
But they sound like cattle
when they romp down the hall or they run through the house.

While chasing a ball
These three little kittens
Can make so much noise,
When they play with the pots and pans
As if they were toys.

These three little kittens
Now nested in my lap,
Are so cute and sweet
When they finally take a nap.

- poem by a budding poet

Monday, September 11, 2006

Artwork storage

School has started for our as well your children. These sweethearts bring home more not only brighter smiles and fresh knowledge but also fill up our homes with more paper! I can’t find an empty corner in a week on my refrigerator if I do not treasure my young Picasso’s art work.
Are your walls almost wallpapered with that art work? Do you have difficulty finding that important phone number that you posted on your refrigerator last Monday? Wait!!!!! Don’t start looking for a bigger house just yet - I have used couple of quick solutions to solve my display dilemmas that take up very little space and requires very little time out of your busy schedule as well (if done routinely).

* Create a simple art portfolio using two pieces of poster board taped together on three sides. Leave the third side/top, open for dropping in artwork as it is received. You can use this same principle for other schoolwork as well. Each day, or week, when your daughter or son brings home her treasured work, write the date on the back and drop it into the portfolio for safekeeping. You might want to replace the "display of the week" with the new one, and file the old one away.At the end of the semester or quarter (ok, could be every summer if you are busy mom like me ), it will be time to purge your portfolio. Begin by sorting by type of art: paintings, drawings, collage, mosaic, seasonal, writing samples, tests, awards, etc. Then choose a sampling from each category, perhaps several scattered throughout the school year.File the keepsakes, and get rid of the rest. (I have been doing that religiously since my first born went to kindergarten seven years ago.) If you can't bear to throw them away, recycle them by giving them to relatives. Scan the artwork, email it to relatives, and throw away the original. You can also turn that scanned graphic into note cards, stationary, or greeting cards.If your child can't bear the thought of you tossing any of her artistic samples away (well who does?), DARE to delegate this task to her. Move the storage into her room with her things, and let her be in charge of sorting, dating, stashing, and even purging. Amazing how they will decide they can actually bear to part with things when their closet is filling up faster than they can find storage containers!

* Purchase a stackable cardboard storage chest from your favorite organizing company. These sturdy units have removable drawers to fill with archived treasures, then stack vertically to conserve space. Use them as your sole art storage system, or for "keepers" only with the portfolio system as mentioned above.

* Someone has wisely said “A picture is worth the thousand words.” If storage is really a concern, take photographs of your daughter's artwork and discard the original. Either take individual pictures, or line them up for a group shot. A disposable camera kept on hand is a perfect solution for this task, or you can use a Polaroid camera and take them individually.Dedicate a special photo album or box for these treasures to be shared and enjoyed.

Encourage your child’s creativity, and eliminate the terror you once felt as you saw them dragging an oversized self-portrait out of their backpack. Create a home in which these masterpieces can safely and securely reside for years to come. Share them with friends and family, preserve them, and relish the creativity of your blooming Artist….save the wallpapering job for another day.