On Encouragement

In Tamil there is a word called “sevagi”.
It means a woman who serves.
That is how I see myself when it comes to the family.

A sevagi.
A person who serves.

I am a friend, a coach, a nurse, a counselor and all the job roles encompassed that every mom is.
I see myself as a sevagi….that is my primary role.

ll of us could do with a lil pat on the back and encouraging words.
Don’t we?

So, I am very grateful for the fun notes the boys leave around the house for me.
I was elated to see this page that was propped open and left on my laptop.

On Winning with Compromise

The stuff one has to do to raise kids is overwhelming.
Of all those things, having to compromise is the BIGGEST.
That skill doesn’t come easy.
It is kind of like growing a muscle.
It requires very hard work.
It requires lots of practice.
It requires going through pain.

Compromise. That is the BIGGEST. For any relationship.

If I had known I have to compromise so much to raise kids, I am not even sure I would have had kids in the first place.

That said, I realize that when I compromise, I ultimately win….well, JOINTLY.

Not bad, eh?

On (At Least) Giving Back What You Got

My mother-in-law (Girijia) had a rather quirky relationship with her mother-in-law. But, when it came to building a relationship with her own daughter-in-laws, she tried her best. She put the right foot forward and always tried to grow and nourish our relationship. She wanted to maintain a strong bond with her grandkids as well. This task, as we all know, was never easy. I applaud her for trying her best till the very end of her life.

She gave me what she never got – a loving, caring, nurturing relationship.

So, I just continued to enjoy all the things and moments my mother-in-law gave me for as long as I was blessed and privileged enough to receive them…the things and moments she herself had been deprived off during her lifetime.

Amma (Devi) lost her mother when she was still a toddler. Thatha (Grandpa TVS) didn’t re-marry. He raised Amma by himself. Thatha adored his daughter and did everything possible to give her a good life. But, he was also a very busy man. He was a Muncip (sort of a Mayor) for his village and also a full time farmer. In short, Amma didn’t get any of the things she gave me. The feeling of coming back home to one’s mom, mom’s comfort food, mom’s tireless effort to raise one’s child to a better future..she didn’t get any of those.

Every time I came back home after a long day and got fed hot sambar or potato fry (trust me, when you come back from a super-hot-day in my hometown, all you wanted to do was drink was something cold and relax under the fan), I didn’t ever complain. I took it from Amma’s hand and told her “Romma nalla irruku Amma.” (which meant, “Mom, is it very good!”) Once in awhile, I would casually, drop a hint saying, “Nallika vena coola thayir sadam pannriya?” (which meant, “Mom, can you make some cold yogurt rice tomorrow?”). She didn’t get the hint whatsoever. Serving hot fresh food to her daughters was her way of showing her love.

She gave me what she never got – a loving, caring, nurturing relationship.

So, I just continued to enjoy all the things and moments Amma gave me for as long as I was blessed and privileged enough to receive…the things and moments she herself had been deprived off.

Let me ask you a question.

What are all the things and moments you  have been blessed and privileged enough to receive?

I am not asking you or me to pay forward those things we haven’t received.

That is too much of a stretch and requires a very BIG heart….much like the one your mom has.

But, whatever we received….those things..those moments…those gifts…at least that, we need to give back and pay it forward, right?

Don’t you think so?

You don’t have to feel obligated and rushed to say “Yes Ambal!”.
Just think about it. That is all I am asking for.

What are all the things and moments you  have been blessed and privileged enough to receive? Are you giving it back and paying it forward?

On Work Life Blend

We all seek to find balance amongst our various responsibilities.
It is easier said than done.

My colleague Anne and I caught up after work hours on Monday. Anne thanked me for always being available to her. I told her this – “Anne, Yep! I am always available to you. Because, you are one of my favorite girls. Moreover, over the years, I have learnt there is no such thing as work life balance for me. There is ONLY work life blend.” Anne agreed with me and appreciated my observation.

I have all kinds of asks of myself and my life. For example, I don’t believe in not showing up to one the boys concert during work hours. I also don’t believe in not working after I get back home because there should be supposedly be clear boundaries between work and life.

Given the contradictory asks that I have of myself and my life, I do what works for me.
I huddle with my colleagues both during and after work hours to make progress on projects.
I start meetings early or leave late during weekdays…whatever works on that day.
I gain permission (by building trust) to reach colleagues when I have to.
I give colleagues permission to call me when they have to.
I routinely pour over work stuff during the weekends.
I want my boss and colleagues to know that I will always rock heaven, deep earth and everything in between to keep moving the ball forward on all my projects…no matter what the odds.

I also show up to most of the boys events….even if it means showing up a few minutes late.
The boys are elated to see me when I rush in to a performance hall or tournament and wave my hand crazily at them.
I want them to know that they are very important to me…and I will always show up to cheer and support them…no matter what the odds.

In my current state of life, given my varying responsibilities, there can’t be clear boundaries between work and life. If I want to be able to be a parent and an employee, I can’t balance…I need to blend.

Think about it. What works for you?

Whether it is work life balance or work life blend…you do what is right for YOU.
It will all work (pun intended) out eventually!

On the Bonds that Bind us to the Beyond

She firmly believed that I never ate or rested enough.
She didn’t worry as much about other things in my life…she knew I would survive.

When y’all ask me how I am doing without her, I don’t know quite how to answer that question.
Yes, in the worldy sense, she is gone.
But, to me, she is never gone.

I see her in everything.

When that sun rises in the morning and peeks through the clouds, I know she is out there looking out for me and asking me to lead a purposeful life that day and everyday.
When that speedy car came so close to ramming me on 183, I know it is her mysterious hand that added that inch worth of buffer space to save my life.
When that strong stench of vadavam emanates from the pantry, I know it is her reminding me to add that vadavam to spice up the sambar.
When that light breeze caresses my face and runs past my hair, I know it is her coming to soothe all my pains and worries away.
When y’all tell me about how I walk fast with an upright body, my head held straight and with my piercing gaze, I know it is her decades of encouraging me to be confident and strong…even during the rough days.
When y’all embrace me with all your soulful love, I know it is her way of making sure I am surrounded by never ending love, care and support.

I am not delusional. I just KNOW it with my gut.

Today, as I made rasam for the boys, I thougth of her.
I thought of how she would make the best rasam on this planet.
I thought of how she would filter the hot rasam and pour it in a tumbler.
I thought of how she would walk over slowly with her arthritis legs and place the tumbler on my work desk.
I thought of how she would nag me to drink up the rasam right away or else she was going to smack me.
I thought of all the things she would say to threaten me to eat on time and laughed and cried all at the same time.

To me, she is never gone.

I see her in almost everything…every day.