WHEN MY HEALTH SIGNALLED ME TO CHANGE LIFESTYLE

Few months after the birth of my first child,  I started having mild pain in the lower back. Thinking that the pain was one of the features of the post-pregnancy and post-delivery life of a mom,  I ignored it initially. “Of course”, I thought, “it’s due to the humongous changes that took place in my body”.

The pain worsened and before could schedule a visit to the doctor,  my back muscles were locked into the ‘catch’ position. Besides not being able to bend,  I wasn’t even able to walk, sit straight or turn on my side while in bed. When I was taken to the physiotherapist,  she immediately said, “It’s because of your sedentary lifestyle. Now, after childbirth, you must be doing so much work than you did earlier,  and since your body isn’t accustomed to take so much pressure, your back is locked.”

I was shocked and afraid at the same time. She said if 3 – 4 times more I face a similar situation,  then I might develop a slip disc. 

I did exercises session with my physiotherapist for a month who helped to strengthen my back. Meanwhile,  my husband got a project in Shanghai and we had to move. I was kind of reluctant to go because of the fear of getting into the similar situation in a foreign country,  where our moms couldn’t visit us easily. My physiotherapist, however, assured me that if I continued with my exercise regimen, nothing will happen. Feeling assured, I moved to Shanghai and yes,  my back did suffer from spasm, as I stopped months after I got better, but then resumed my exercise routine. If I used to get bored with the exercises, I took to dancing with my little one and also taking him in stroller for long walks. 

A couple of years later, when we returned,  my son started his preschool and so my physical activities also increased as I used to play with him. Sometimes I used to take him for nature walks in the morning or race with him in climbing up the stairs, which was great fun.

My job as a homemaker became more demanding after the birth of my second son. With the support of my in-laws, who took care of the children at home, I started working a pre-primary teacher, which in itself requires a lot of physical activities. However,  I had to quit as my husband got a job in a different city. 

Currently, I am back to my full-time job as a homemaker as my younger one has started his preschool. Until I resume my teaching job,  I am keeping myself physically active by doing all the chores myself. I didn’t hire any maid for cleaning the house or washing dishes because I feel that’s the best way I can keep myself healthy and the house immaculate!

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LET THEM GET DIRTY, LET THEM EXPLORE

Those tiny little feet are a bundle of joy. We do our best to take care of the little baby in the house, from massaging to cleaning, from caring and pampering to child-proofing the house. But, as the little baby grows up old enough, we forget that the tiny baby isn’t tiny anymore. Instead of making her/him independent, we go overboard in making the child dependant on us for every little thing. Why?  Simply because we fear that they might not be able to do themselves or think that doing things for them is easier than making them learn themselves. And as our little children grow up into adults, we expect them to take their own responsibility themselves and make decisions themselves.

(Image Credit – Pixabay.com)

Look into the picture, the soft pink feet of the baby are covered in sand. As the child learns to walk, those always so clean feet and legs are bound to get dirty. As the infant becomes a toddler and starts tottering, she/he is likely to get some bruises. So, should we stop putting the baby on the ground or the floor?

The answer is simply no. We can’t lock their exploring bodies and creative minds for the sake of safety. Children can’t learn unless they have hands-on experience.

It’s better to let them fall so that they learn how to succeed from their failures.  Instead of giving into their wants, make them learn how to wait and let them learn how to deal with NOs in their lives.

THE CRAWLIES WHO LIVE IN DARKNESS BEFORE GETTING WINGS

Eew! Eeks! Boo! Spooky! Scary! Aaa…!

We usually utter such words whenever we spot a creepy crawly around us. As I start writing on this topic, I feel the tickling sensation as if a bug is going to hop upon my arm or I am going to step on those wiggly worms!

In spite of the petrifying feeling these little creatures give, they are fascinating, at least for the kids. That’s why there are so many children’s books written on these creepy crawlies.

Lio Lionni’s Inch By Inch depicts the story of an inchworm who tries to measure the world around him and avoids being eaten by predators.

There’s an interesting book by Jane Yolen, Bug Off which is a collection of creepy crawly poems, which in fact are very inspirational, eg.-

An army of ants, in their working class pants,

They don’t sop for movies, they don’t stop to dance.

The Very Greedy Bee by Steve Smallman is about how the bees who apart from sharing the nectar, share the load also.

The crux of the matter is that there is a lot to learn from nature, even from the teeny-weeny organisms.

One of the favourite books of children is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. My kids love it so much that I read it to them almost every day, especially to my 3-year-old. It describes the journey of a caterpillar who starts his journey from an egg and transforms into a beautiful butterfly. It is such a fascinating book in which the caterpillar eats so much that he becomes big and fat from tiny.

That’s one of the most important jobs of a caterpillar- to eat. They eat as much as 27,000 times the weight of their body during the life cycle. Also called the eating machines, caterpillars have the fastest growth rate than any animal.

(Preeta, with her tiny friends)

Another distinct feature of caterpillars is that it may have upto 4000 muscles in its tiny body. No, I am not kidding. It’s really strange that nature has made us such- we humans with just 650 muscles in a huge body might suddenly start feeling so small!

Caterpillars outgrow their skin and also shed it 3 to 5 times. After the final detaching, they stick themselves on a tree branch and enter the pupa stage. After the process of metamorphosis, they become moths or butterflies.

Sometimes, I also wish I could develop a cocoon around myself so that I can have a “me time” and transform myself, shedding all the pessimism inside me!

One typical trait of caterpillar really surprises me is that despite 6 pairs of eyes, it has poor eyesight and relies on its antennae for searching food. In order to be safe, caterpillars group themselves in a row, mimicking a snake and fooling the predators.

Some caterpillars also associate themselves with ants in order to seek protection and provide them food as a reward. Now, that’s I call business!

We all are vulnerable, yet unique. We feel inferior, yet are beautiful inside. So, keep the faith, just hold on and fly high.

“Just when the caterpillar thought “I am incapable of moving,” it became a butterfly.” 
― Annette Thomas

TO SAY OR NOT TO SAY, THAT’S THE QUESTION

The moment this topic “Hidden in my heart” was given, one of the hilarious incidents flashbacked in my mind and I immediately messaged my sister Prabhjot about it.

It was her tenth board exam that day and I walked down to the bus stop with her. On our way,  one of the neighbours shouted to Prabhjot, “Best of luck beta, do your best.”

Thank you aunty”,  replied Prabhjot sincerely. That was her simple reply to a simple wish. But in her mind,  there was something else. As we came to a distance from that neighbour, Prabhjot spoke her heart out to me – “Thank you, aunty, for reminding me that I have to put in my best,  else I was just going to while away my time in not writing the answers properly. Thanks for saving me.

We sisters burst out laughing till our stomach ached.

Now,  getting back to the serious stuff- hidden in my heart.

When someone asks, “how are you”, we simply reply, “fine,  thanks”, but many of us want to say much more like, “No, I am not fine. My maid didn’t turn up today, I had to do the cleaning chores myself, got my daughter ready for school, who told last night that she has to submit her science project today. So, I completed her project by waking up all night, and after 4 hours of sleep, I am here in your office, tired and sleep-deprived, for your stupid meeting, which could have waited. So, if you think, it’s ok, I am fine, having a great time.

Of course, we can’t say such statements to anyone, except with those whom we can share our thoughts and talks. And it’s better to talk out your heart to your near ones, whenever you feel heavy because that burden will weigh you down and bring in the negativity around you.

Recently, I was vacationing in my hometown, with my two sons. I was updating my pictures on social media after every event. Most of the people felt that I was having a great time. Of course,  I did, but that was only for a few 3-4 hours of a day. Rest 20 hours, I was busy in my permanent ‘refereeing’ job. Yes, I had a gala time indeed, but simultaneously had a terrible time in being a referee during the frequent quarrels between my sons. Shouting at them,  raising my pitch almost every 15 minutes, pulling my hair out, I almost felt that I made a mistake in coming with these two little monsters. Other than that, my summer holidays went smooth as silk (pun intended). Of course, all this can’t be put on social media. Thank God,  I have many ears to listen to the saga of my ordeals!

A couple of years more, as my near and dear ones say,  then it’s all going to be fine. As I wait for their sibling rivalry to turn into the best friendship, I will try being patient (as in sufferings). Till then I am fine,  thank you!

DON’T STOP KNOCKING, THE DOOR WILL BE OPENED SOMEDAY

I reached the crossroads where I had to choose between living and dying. I chose to live.

Imagine the life of a woman who fell in love with a man and left her parents for him, at the rebellious age of 17. Her love story had a disastrous end when she left her abusive husband who was also a drunkard and a drug addict. With no finances, apart from her two children as assets,  she had arrived at the life’s crossroads. She chose to live and is now an independent flourished businesswoman.

She is Patricia Narayan,  director of Sandeepha Chain of restaurants in Chennai. Starting with a negligible income of 50 paise per day,  her earning has touched ₹2 lakh per day. She started with making and selling jams and pickles, and now owns a restaurant chain. It’s all because of her determination to live and succeed. She didn’t give up at any point and continued to struggle.

We often arrive at that point in life where we are clueless to go. The life comes to a standstill and we think that this is just the end. It’s easy to give up and wait for the right time. But, to keep working hard and not giving up is difficult.

Above-cited is just one example. There are so many people in real life whose hard work,  determination and the ‘never give up’ attitude has made rags to riches, misery to success stories.

Try finding out such heroes near you. Someone might be struggling at the workplace, someone might be having a terrible marriage or someone might even be working hard to earn a loaf of bread for the family. The point is they don’t stop doing their work but, keep on working harder and harder. They don’t blame the destiny for their ill-fate,  but try to make their own future by finding a way out.

So,  keep knocking that door. Who knows the door may be answered the next moment!

THAT OLD LADY WITH THE HUNCHBACK

We come across many helpless people in our lives. We see them, feel pity and move on, not because we are not sensitive, but because we don’t know them. We look at their sorry state, think about them, feel bad and angry simultaneously simply because we are unable to help them. We even thank God for being generous on us and not putting us in that situation.

There is one incident which I still remember and perhaps that was the first time when I felt sorry for someone. I must be in my early twenties. I was in a photo framing shop and was paying for my stuff when I noticed an old fragile woman with a hunchback, walking slowly into that shop. She waited for her turn as the shopkeeper was handling 2-3 customers at the same time. She asked for her photo lamination which she had ordered. He said, “That is not yet done.”

I covered a lot of distance to walk till here and you haven’t done the work”. The old woman said.

I will complete it today and you can come tomorrow to take it, I assure you.” The shopkeeper said.

The old woman sat there for a while as she must have been too tired to walk back. Meanwhile, I took the balance amount from the shopkeeper and returned home.

Throughout my way, I kept on thinking about her and questioning:

Why was she alone?

Why did no one from her family accompany her?

How could her family members send her alone?

Why did that stupid shopkeeper didn’t keep her order ready? My order could have waited, her order should have been priority. How could he didn’t sense this little thing?

I was full of anger, yet I couldn’t do anything. I felt so sorry for that old lady with the hunchback. Her family members didn’t have any empathy for her condition. I don’t know the reason behind her coming alone, but whatsoever may be the situation, I felt her children ought to have taken care of her and somebody should have accompanied her.

I feel sorry for those parents who nurtured their children with love and care, but as they grew old, they left them to be on their own. More than that, I feel sorry for those children.

I feel sorry for those who lose their loved ones. I feel sorry when I read news of the newborn girl child being killed by her cruel family members. I feel sorry for those who don’t realise the importance of love. I feel sorry for those who don’t love their country. I feel sorry for those who are too self-obsessed to cherish their relationships. Above all, I feel sorry for myself because I am not able to help them out!

MOTHER TONGUE-HAECCEITY THAT FUELS CULTURE

Born in a Sikh family, I managed to grasp the basic vocalizing skills required for my mother tongue Punjabi. My uncle once taught me to read and write Punjabi as well, but at that point of time, I didn’t give it much importance only to regret later.

My grandfather was a learned man. He was a polyglot and was well versed with English, Hindi, Punjabi, and Urdu. He used to write articles for various magazines and newspapers in these languages. I used to think that one day when I grow old, I will also learn many languages, but I couldn’t because I never tried.

My grandma, on the other hand, used to ask me not to speak in mother tongue, just because she feared that I may lag behind in school and may not be able to cope up with other children. So, I hardly spoke to her or anyone else at home in Punjabi. Though, I was well aware of this language, because all the elders in the house used to communicate in mother tongue only.

My father, however, used to emphasize speaking in English, that being the universal language. And I used to tell him that in school, we were already conversing in English, so at least at home, give a break!

It’s only after I cleared my X boards that I started talking to my grandma in Punjabi. I was hesitant initially, but the more I spoke, the more confident I became. That’s how happens with every language.

After my marriage, when we went to Shanghai, we were amazed to see the majority of the people didn’t know how to communicate in English. Being the world’s second-largest economy, people didn’t know English! We had troubles initially, but later on, it was fun. People of our age group and the elderly usually didn’t speak or know English so they would ask their school going children to be translators for us. At that time, I realised that no matter how much expert is a person in his/her native language, he/she must also be open to learning other languages, especially English, which is used globally.

We moved to Karnataka last year from NCR and chose CBSE board school for our elder son so that in future if we change the city, the board remains the same. However, recently, the state government has made the rule of making Kannada as the second language to be taught, replacing Hindi, (the first language being English). Currently, it’s being taught as the third language, where difficulty level is very low. With this news, we were initially perturbed, but later on were relieved when our son’s school agreed to continue Hindi language also, without changing its level. Children pick up languages so well and I am glad he’s getting exposure to a new language here. People often boast of schools teaching international languages, but I guess it’s always better to learn our regional languages first. However, making a particular language mandatory should not be the rule. In fact, the children should be free to choose any language at their will.

Culture should not be imposed. It has to be imbibed. As parents, we should speak to our children in the mother tongue more often. My son tries to speak in Punjabi with my parents and I encourage him to do that because that way he will become more confident as a learner. Who knows he might be a multilinguist one day!