Sunday, May 22, 2011

I want my Mommy NOW

A few people exercise to lose weight and a few more go on a strict diet to shed those extra pounds. A Lazy few like me are fortunate enough to get diarrhea.  

It all started with Baby no. 1 demanding that I cook something sweet that day. Unfortunately I am not one of those moms who will embark on a cooking spree at 2 in the afternoon just to please their toddlers. There are other ways to please them, one of which being driving to the store and buying the desired dessert. Which is what I did. Because if you discount the trouble of coaxing kids into a car seat, driving is much better than cooking when you have just finished lunch and loaded the dishwasher to its maximum capacity.

The ulterior motive behind driving to the store was that sweet tooth runs in my family and by that I mean my Mom and Dad and Uncle and Aunt and cousins and the list goes on, basically, MY own family. Many find it strange that I still put my parents and the extended family on that side before anybody else when I talk about family. Tradition demands that once married, your husband’s family is your family and it should take precedence. I happen to have a different take on it. Well, I am not saying that I am not a part of my husband’s family, but do you honestly expect me to consider anybody at par with the mother who gave birth to me or the father who dots on me since the day I was born or my sibling who I grew up with? Folks, I am not going to mince words here, the in- laws are very special to me, the bond with them tremendously strong, but my parents’ place in my heart is irreplaceable. I would be doing a hell lot of injustice to them if I allowed that.

See this is the problem of amateur writers; they don’t know a thing about keeping a story on track.

So we were discussing a sweet tooth. We came back with a box full of goodies. Thank God that baby no. 1 fell asleep in the car and baby no. 2 was too small to have store bought desserts. Both these occurrences, on which I had no control, sealed my fate. There lay the box of sweets right in front of me with nowhere to go but the tummy. Fast forward 2 hours later, I am horribly sick with food poisoning and the house is in chaos as hubby can’t figure out who to attend to and how.

The downside of being an adult is when you are sick, you can’t wail at the top of your voice and you got to figure out how sick you are. Do you need a doctor or will waiting help? Should you take some medicine or give it some time? Decisions, decisions. Things were simpler when medicine was poured down your throat whether you wanted it or not.

I was miserable all day and had asked to be left alone in the room to get some rest. But as hours passed I wasn’t sure if I was feeling any better, in fact emotionally I was feeling sicker. I wanted a hand on my forehead gently trying to put me to sleep. I wanted the reassurance of being told that I was going to be all better soon. I longed to hear those stern words telling me to eat something even if I felt like throwing up.  

Since I was unavailable, the kids needed even more of their Dad. He tried his best to juggle duties with little success. I was sick, but I was not a child.

Children change life irrevocably. You can’t afford to be weak when you are parents. Your children look up to you and you can’t let them down. Knowing this didn’t stop me from being a little girl again.

Way past mid-night I sat in the rocking chair in the guest bedroom, unable to hold it any longer. Silent tears gave way to sobs and soon I was shivering and crying uncontrollably. A very light sleeper, hubby rushed into the room in panic assuming the worst. Since I wouldn't stop crying, he couldn’t figure out what I wanted and kept on asking what he could get for me. And between muffled sobs I said I want my Mommy, NOW.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Customer Service

Step into a store and browse for a while. In no time you will be pleasantly greeted by a customer service representative asking you if you needed any help. Most of us decline and make a positive note about the store and its personnel. Accept the offer of help and watch the smile decline.

11 a.m on a Tuesday is hardly a time one would expect a footwear store to be crowded and it wasn’t. I was the only customer who walked in and that should have given the person at the register something to cheer up about. But I suppose a baby in one of the arms, a diaper bag in another, a sling bag dangerously close to coming off the shoulder and car keys dangling out of the right pocket didn’t make me look like a real shopper. The lady at the desk mouthed her customary words “let me know if you need help finding something” in a well practiced tone meant to convey assistance. I mumbled ok and walked further inside the aisles for I was on a mission today. I needed a pair of black sandals that had heels but not too high, appeared glossy but didn’t shine too much, were simple to wear and yet stylish enough for any occasion. And yes, they would have to go with any damn thing I wore. According to me it wasn’t asking for too much.

Dear hubby had patiently accompanied me to a couple of stores over the weekend and even tried to convey as subtly as possible that what I was looking for was actually 3 different kinds of footwear. Do you even know what you are looking for, he asked, nearly on the verge of breaking down from the sheer exertion of watching so many sandals being tried on and tossed aside. Of course I do, that’s why we are still looking, I said. If not I would have simply picked up the first pair I liked. In the end we both knew if there ever was any hope of finding those perfect black sandals, it had to be done by me alone.

The only hitch to that being, technically speaking I am never alone. I sometimes have an infant stuck at the hip, other times I have a toddler pulling at my sleeve, most of the times, I have both. The exceptional occasions when I am kid-free, my mind is not.

If it has to be either of them, I try not to go shopping with the toddler because these days she has her own shopping list ready before mine. The baby saves me some money but makes it difficult to shop. Like today. Once again the familiar stage was set. I had a row of sandals lined up at my feet waiting to be tried on, a task not as easy as I had to balance myself while holding baby no.2 who decided to swing in action that very minute. She spotted the sales lady sorting some shoes a little distance away. “EEEEEE” baby no. 2 calls at her wildly waving hands as if thrilled to bump into an old friend. Having recently experienced the horrors of what happens next, I braced for the worst possible reaction.

Nothing so dramatic happened. The lady came a few inches closer and asked me a few customary questions like how old is she and isn’t cute? The sweet talk seemed to have healed baby no.2’s bruised ego and she happily looked away at the colorful footwear. I followed her eyes and there on the top rack I found my perfect sandals.

Now comes the customer service part. Struggling with my belongings and a happy baby, I asked for help. Of course, the lady said in a voice slightly higher than the welcome address and with a note of faint irritation. I was in no mood to forgive. I gave her a look which if translated into words would have meant this – listen up lady, I haven’t asked you to change a diaper or carry the baby to the car, I am just asking you to take those black sandals out of the top rack and bring them to the counter where I can pay for them. Incidentally, you asked me twice if I needed assistance and also since the store is empty but for me, you might as well make a customer happy!

For the second time in the day I was relieved to be out without hubby, he would have approved of neither the look nor the sandals. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Social Network - Part II

Coming to the next episode, baby no. 2 who has been extremely shy and unfriendly till date suddenly decided that her social skills needed improvement. When a 10 month old wants to broaden her horizons beyond mommy, there is bound to be trouble.

With baby no. 2 trying to reach out to anyone and everyone in sight, a few valuable lessons were learnt.  The world suddenly seemed divided into two kinds of people. One, who adore babies and do not try to hide it, the other kind, not so fond of babies but try not to show it.

Behavioral analysis has never been my subject of study or expertise but when presented with 50 minutes of idle time, an infant and those two kinds of people, all in the same room, scrutiny seemed inevitable.

Baby no. 1 started with a dance class. Not a serious kind of dance but the types where girls giggle and hop and jump and learn a few moves. I fail to understand the significance of classes these days where kids are so young, not only do they have to be dropped and picked up but also be accompanied by an adult during the duration of the class. More like a punishment for the adult. Sure, I love to watch my daughter do stuff, learn new things and dance with a couple of other kids but not every Wednesday and not for nearly an hour and definitely not with a restless baby in tow eager to try out a few moves herself.

So while the girls all take position with their teacher, the parents, mostly moms are provided with chairs to sit and watch from a little higher up. I take my place between two other moms, one of who warmed up to baby no.2 instantly. For her part, the baby needed no further encouragement.  She cooed and grinned and even offered the friendly lady her pacifier, now that was a huge step! Me, I was happier than the baby herself. Someone else entertaining the baby is always a huge relief, even if for a short while. After sometime, baby turned direction and set off to conquer the attention of another person sitting on the chair a little away. Using the same tactics, baby no.2 started cooing and calling out with a smile guaranteed to melt any heart (ok, that’s the mother in me speaking). Unfortunately the object of her affection had better things to do. She was intently watching the dance floor where her son or daughter must be participating and baby no. 2 was a distraction. She smiled back once and continued watching, a clear dismissal. Baby no.2 was in mood to accept rejection. She called out again, first in soft tones and then louder, demanding attention. My effort to calm the baby with a pacifier resulted in it flying, landing on an empty chair.

By now I was embarrassed and angry. Embarrassed to be the mother of this ill mannered child (wait, do infants know a thing about manners?) and angry at myself for not being able to keep her quiet (lack of control!). Another important lesson learnt. The concept of a controlling mom, simply a myth.

I had always thought it was impossible to ignore a baby in either case smiling or screaming. That sweet lady did prove me wrong. She just sat at her place ignoring all advances by baby no.2. To her credit, she didn’t appear to be irritated. Wisely, I stepped out of the class to amuse baby no. 2 with friendlier things in view like the green trees and a flying bird.

We drove back home humming songs on the radio, me and my princess while baby no.2 gazed away into nowhere out of her car seat. Was she sad at being ignored, I wondered. Nah, I said to myself, the remarkable thing about being a baby is all you need is your mommy. She is your world, everything else almost nonexistent. And someday when she is old enough I will tell her, the same goes for mommy too. (hope Dad isn’t reading this!).