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Warm, Inviting and Beautiful

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Summer is starting to peek around here and we are loving it. The people seems less pale and the skies seems bluer, mostly because they actually are. And for this brief window- between now and when it starts getting too hot (in the 90’s, we’re talking about Seattle here so let’s not get too crazy) the Seattle freeze melts and everyone smiles at each other. One thing is for sure, in the few months that the sun shines here, Seattle sparkles and everything is right in this striking corner of the world.

Gia like a true Seattleites knows how to make the most of the sunny days. She wakes as early as possible with a “But it’s not night now, it’s bright outside!” and protests as much as possible about going to bed at her usual bedtime, with “But it’s not night now, it’s bright outside.” On most days, we give in and let her enjoy it, I guess we are getting to be like true Seattleites ourselves.

This summer will mark the eighth year of our lives together in Seattle- of calling it home. Every year on this day I experience conflicting emotions, my heart feels a little heavy and I feel thankful for the life I have had. Eight years ago I came to Seattle on May 16th. It was much like any other Seattle summer day, warm, inviting and breathtakingly beautiful. Although it was a gorgeous place, Seattle was scary on so many levels. Not just because it was a beginning to a very different sort of life for me but also because it was so alien and so many miles away from home.

It tantalized and teased me in many ways; the kind of fear that a new place evokes and the kind of excitement that a new place can evoke. I eventually learned to accept it and came to love it- its rainy days and all. Seattle and I have now fallen into this steady rhythm, the kind of camaraderie that comes from driving down familiar streets, having friends who you can drop by without calling and knowing exactly where the best spots to eat are.

I never planned to live so far away from India. Somehow things just fell into place the way I never imagined they would. So, here I am reminiscing and typing away with a sigh on another Seattle almost summer day, warm, inviting and breathtakingly beautiful. I’ve faced the kinds of challenges that most expats do and I’ve also had the kinds of triumphs that most expats do- nothing more, nothing less. But mostly, I’ve found a home so far away from home and for that I am utterly grateful.

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Turning Three

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Dearest Gia,

Last Friday you officially turned three. So now when we ask you how old you are, you say “Three” and then just to be sure you add “Three, not two.” And you do it every single time I ask you.it should’ve gotten old, but it hasn’t yet. We celebrated with an intimate gathering over the weekend and made plans to do more over the summer.

The best thing about raising a three year old is undoubtedly the chance to raise a three year old. The chance to be able to see that you are kind, empathetic, tender, wilful, wise, compassionate and independent. Ah, independence, that one really seems to be getting to me nowadays. It flows in with the good and then slams you with the bad.

You want to dress yourself and watch me closely as I put on my makeup. “What is that?” you ask as I put on some lipstick and obviously follow it up with “I want some too.” So I let you have some, only it’s the Burt bees lip balm. You stand on your little step stool and pout your lips as I put some on for you. As soon as I am done, you run over to the mirror and ask me ‘Do I look as pretty as you mom?” I smile and say “Yes.” And think “Only a million times prettier!” I am equal parts humbled and flattered that you want to be “just like mommy.”

Today you fell over backwards and mostly just scared yourself; but when Dad tried to grab you, you pushed him away and called to me. As soon as I was there you flew into my arms and wrapped your little body around mine. You dug your face into a nook in my body and cried until I sang and soothed you. I haven’t had you need me that way for a while now. I miss it. I miss being needed the way that you used to need me as a baby.

There is a perverse pleasure that only a mother can derive from being able to pacify her crying baby. It comes from knowing that nothing and no one else in this universe can make things better the way that I can. From knowing that I am precisely what my baby needs, just the way that I am.

I remember those nights when I would try and get you to sleep. It was never easy, it was never quick. One bedtime story always somehow turned into three, there were always a few tears shed for just one more song and you always wanted to be hugged just a little bit tighter, for a little bit longer. I just wanted you to go to bed! Why couldn’t you just go to bed? Most nights I felt trapped, I had a million things to do before I could just sit down and not do anything. For fifteen minutes I wanted to be not needed. For fifteen minutes I wanted to be left alone. I wanted bedtime to be quick, painless and efficient.

And more often than not that is the case now. You just need me to come in and say “Good night, sleep tight! Lil one.” And then you pretty much go to sleep all by yourself.

Except tonight. You couldn’t seem to fall asleep and you wanted me to come in and stroke you silken hair for a little while and tell you one story and then you begged for another one. I realized how much I miss that nightly ritual. How much I miss being begged to stay, how much I miss being wanted that much. So much for efficiency, where is the warmth in being quick?

The weird thing is that the mundane of raising a baby, the things that exasperated me the most are the ones I miss!

The unfortunate tradeoff of my baby growing up is being needed less and less. A mom goes from being needed 24X7, to not so often, to rarely ever. I get that this is the natural progression of things and yet the idea is beginning to terrify me.

But I can promise you this:

For as long as you will need me to hold you while you drift off to sleep, I will gratefully do it.

For as long as you will allow me to engulf you into my warmth, I will happily do it.

For as long as you need to hold on to me to feel safe and warm, I will do anything to be there.

Happy Third Birthday my darling!

Love,

Mom

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Pink Tea Parties and Enchanted Evenings

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Gia is really into pink. What am I talking about! She has always been into pink. But now she is into pink tea parties and pink dresses and other little things that run around in pink. She asks for a playmate every single day. She begs for a sibling and we mostly smile and mumble something about getting “to it” later.

So when my girlfriend asked if we would “please” baby sit her little precious, I think I said “of course yes!” somewhere between doing my stupid happy dance and wishing I knew how to do a cartwheel.

Gia talked about Trisha baby coming over all day. We planned what we would do with her, we conspired and we then we planned some more. Yet when she came over, Trisha seemed perfectly adept of deciding what she wanted to do- which was two things, put every single toy in her mouth and roll all over the house. And when that was done she sat there all grown up being a pretend princess (or fairy, I forget which they were) and drinking tea out of their pink teacups, well almost anyway.

Gia talked and talked and talked “Oh what about some tea? Would you like three spoons or two? I think you should have two? And do you like my pink dress? I like pink too!”

And Trisha, she just sat there, looking all intent and sage- we had our own little laughing Buddha- in pink. Laughing Buddha who liked to taste every single toy in sight that is.

And so they spent the entire evening – one talking a million words a minute and the other babbling in perfect understanding. The older one conspiratorially whispering sweet nothings to the younger one and both of them filling our home with squeals of happiness. They sat there looking like two little dolls made of candy floss. So delectable that you couldn’t resist and so delicate that you were almost afraid to even touch them.

When it was time to nap, Trisha looked keenly into my eyes and held on to my index fingers firmly with her chubby little fists. She seemed to know exactly how to convey what she needed without a single word. Gia sat there singing to her and we all let out a collective sigh as she drifted off to sleep.

Babies- sigh! Time goes by and you tend to forget about the gooey, chubby, unbridled happiness that envelopes them and sucks you into their world. Everything about them is intoxicating- the smell, the giggles and the barely-there wisps of soft hair. Also something about holding a baby, makes you forget the bad- the 4 am feedings, the getting shushed on airplanes- all of it. And babies that are not your own seem miraculous since they go back home and you get to sleep for 6 hours at a stretch and wake up missing them.

And that was it, our perfect adventure, in a perfect little world. The sort that only itty bitty babies can bring- if only for one evening.

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Roads that lead to Nowhere

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Roads that lead to nowhere;

have much to see and much to do.

The means to get there-

Inconsequential, hopefully unhurried

Questions with answers beyond the obvious

Who do these flowers belong to?

Is this grass the greenest green?

Exchanging notes,

maybe some treasures too

A novel experience,

To touch and be touched

 

New friendships, inquisitive minds

moms chatting happily, and their babies too

Conversing about all things that are and the things their babies do.

Dandelions in the breeze,

Soft, summery, warm.

Hard to keep a track of,

Like these lazy afternoons are wont to do.

Roads that lead to no where;

have much to see and much to do.

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Have a Nice Day!

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This Monday we had a couple of errands to run before we got to school. To save us some time, I handed Gia her snack and told her she could eat it in the car. As usual I was running just a little bit late and was rushing Gia along. Just as we were settling into the car, she saw the garbage truck pull up and she insisted we wait. While the garbage man was going about his business she stood there watching him and when he was done they waved to each other. Almost as an afterthought she yelled out “Have a nice day!” to him.

We were almost in the car while the post man came around in his little van. We just had to turn back and go see him while he stuffed the mail in the boxes. He was nice enough and chatted with Gia. She saw him off too and yelled “Have a nice day!” as he drove off.

Now I was officially late so I unceremoniously buckled her into the car seat and we drove to the UPS office to drop off a package. As we drove she seemed unusually silent in the back seat, I chalked it up to my brusqueness. We got to the store and I asked her “Well! Do you want to come in or not?” She didn’t say anything so I got her out of the car and walked to the store- her hand in mine, it wasn’t like she had a choice, and I was merely asking so as not to be rude.

We got to the store and the two older women inside were fawning over her. They followed their “ooohhs” and “so cute!” with some questions. They asked her “So where are you off to?” she didn’t say anything, “school.” I answered for Gia. “What is in your little purse?” again, with the silent treatment. I was beginning to get pissed with my daughter, three year olds aren’t supposed to have attitudes are they?

It wasn’t a very busy day and as we were leaving they came to the door to wave goodbye to us. She still didn’t say anything and it really ticked me off. I am certainly not going to be that kind of mom, my daughter will certainly not be rude! I got down on my knees to level with her and said “Well, don’t you have something to say to them?”

She looked at me for a second, spat out about six half chewed almonds on the floor and said “Have a nice day!” and walked out the store.

Still goes to show be careful what you wish for with toddlers :)

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