Friday, August 21, 2015

Blogiversary- 8 years as a Mom Blogger

Eight years? Has it really been that long since I opened up a blog page and typed my first ever post on this blog? 


Um, I think I am more shocked than anything else. For one thing, I can't believe I have a nine-year-old child in the house now. Actually, scratch that. I KNOW I have a 9-year-old in the house now since she reminds me of it daily!

As for the blog, I doubt I can do justice to this post today, because, as crazy as this may sound, this piece of virtual real estate is so much a part of me. I just cannot begin to tell you all how good it feels to type a post here, write a snippet, relate an anecdote or share a parenting lesson I've learnt. How can I possibly say all that I want to say in one blog post?

This last year alone has been so incredibly wonderful. I've made many new blogging friends, started and maintain a new fiction/writing blog, started a new blogging group, got my own domain name, began a new job and just so much more.

What do I have to share from these 8 years that I haven't said already? Considering I was so sporadic when I began blogging and then jumped into the posting frenzy last year and slowed down to a regular schedule this year (more or less), I'm hardly the authority on blogging practices. But then again, that's never stopped me before, right? So, let's give it a whirl.

  1. Happiness- Well, obviously! Happy that my blog is 8 years old, happy to be in this thing called blogging and happy that I can share this with so many readers.
  2. Gratitude- I cannot thank enough people for the existence and survival of this blog. But, primarily, I am grateful to Gy, my daughter, for the original inspiration and the continued lessons that she imparts through her wisdom and witty repartees!
  3. Relaxation- From worrying about publishing blog posts one after the other to slowing down and relaxing about publishing when I feel like it, has been so liberating. I write now when I want to write, except of course for sponsored posts ;)
  4. Peace- There is a sense of calm when it comes to blogging now. Maybe it's the writing process or the idea of doing it regularly, but I feel calm when I blog. This absolute sense of peace settles on me when my fingers move over the keyboard.
  5. Purpose- There is a greater sense of purpose today when I blog. I know that for many people, it seems odd or weird when I seem to plug away at posts here and on my other blog, but writing gives me a sense of purpose. It puts my heart on display, so to speak.
  6. Connected- The best part about blogging, for me, is the engagement which turns into connections. Some of these are such solid ones that I can start listing the people who have shaped me as a blogger and not be done with the list even a week from now!
  7. Openness- I wouldn't say I was ever the 'jumping to conclusions' type, but I have been guilty of being judgmental, especially where other parents were concerned. Starting and running a parenting group in conjunction with the lessons from my Yelling Less challenge has helped me embrace the differences in parenting styles much better.
  8. Inspired- 8 years is a long time to be doing one thing. If anything, it has strengthened my resolve to continue doing this thing that I love. Without my blog, I really wouldn't be where I am today and although that sounds trite, it's the absolute truth.

You know, I had intended to do something special- a contest or a giveaway or an ebook of some favourite posts- anything, to mark this day. But I just never got around to actually doing it. I'm not a big fan of doing something for the sake of doing it, as those of you who know me will attest, so I decided not to push myself. Maybe all of that or some of it will happen, at a later stage, when I am ready for it.

Till then, I just hope that what I write will continue to touch readers in any way possible.

Thanks for sticking with me and thank you for coming along on this journey.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Talking about the tough days

You'd think it would be easier. 

We have far more resources than ever- the Internet, the myriad blogs, the self-help books jumping off the shelves, the e-books on our Kindles and iPads, the numerous moms out there who've seen that and done it all- but we still fall short.

We are still not in complete control of every single thing that happens in our lives. We can't be. It's just not physically possible.

Yet, we balk when it comes to talking about the tough days- as a mom, as a wife, as a daughter, as an online friend, as a bosom buddy, or to put it quite simply, as a person. 

Talking about the tough times, Parenting,Shailaja, Doting Mom

Why? Is it the fact that we will be judged, no matter what? The more painful the situation and the more openly you talk about it, for every ten supporters that you have or fifty, there will be that one person silently shaking her head in disapproval.

Talking about my depression was so hard for this very reason. There's always been this image that people create of another person, based on their limited understanding of what they know. And once you've created that image- through your actions or behaviour- there is a pressure to keep the mask on. If you let it slip, for any reason, be ready for the judgment.

Nowhere is this more clear than in the realm of social media.

Friends who know you well (virtually) will take umbrage if you don't reply to a private message or respond to an e-mail. Acquaintances who send you a friend request wonder why they haven't been accepted into the circle of trust. People you've known for a while will turn their noses up and leave a sarcastic note saying how you never seem to have time for them.

Of course my life isn't a picnic! I am not sailing through parenting with a know-it-all crown on my head, doling out tips on yelling less and parenting with positive thoughts all the time! 

There are days I completely lose it, where I break down and cry in the confines of the shower, where my sobs cannot be heard.

I sit and brood with a cup of tea in my hand, wondering if I am doing the right thing by being firm with my daughter on some days.

The terrifying thought that I could be snapping emotional connections with her crosses my mind, every three days, when things don't happen the way that I expect. 

Amidst it all there is the Pinterest-worthy image of this Doting Mom who seems to handle it all, with a serene smile on her face. Yet, that isn't the whole reality. It never can be.

I've done it too, you know. The judgement, the taking offence, the sarcasm- yes, I am guilty. But if the last few years of blogging have taught me anything it is that I must expand my sphere of acceptance. Just half an hour of scrolling through my Facebook feed is enough to show me that all people really want is to be loved.

They want to be accepted.

They want to be taken for who they are.

To begin with feeling that compassion for others, though, I must first begin with myself. So, I start by talking about the tough days- the ones where I yell, when I feel so sad that the earth could open and swallow me up, the ones where I feel like slamming my fist into the wall to stop the anger from crushing me, the ones where nothing seems worthwhile. 

To offset it all, I have the glorious days- the ones of pure joy, the ones of incredible openness, the moments of sheer exhilaration to lift me out of the depths.

Why? Because life is like that. Life is not peaches and cream. Nor is it a rocky road. It's like a tub of vanilla ice-cream with chocolate chips and a plate of salted chips on the side. You don't really know why, but taking a bite out of the salted chips makes you savour that sweetness even more.

So let's begin by embracing the tough days, reveling in the good ones, enveloping everyone in the circle of compassion. Face it, we need each other. That's the Zen of existence, to be honest- Not to always be calm in the face of grief or joy, but to observe it all with a quiet detachment.

Through the sad times and the happy days, we need each other. Let's pledge to talk a bit more frankly about those tough days and help each other heal.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

4 Steps to a Kinder You

You've become kinder now, you know?

In an almost matter-of-fact way, tossing it into the conversation right between an anecdote from school and how she really disliked onions in her food, Gy made this statement yesterday. I was standing in the kitchen, washing up the dinner dishes and I paused and turned to look at her, with a sense of curiosity.

At that moment, a veritable mixture of emotions flooded my mind:

I have become kinder? What does that mean? Wasn't I kind enough before? And what does she mean now? Does she mean this moment, this very instant or is she referring to the present, ongoing state?

Yes, as you can tell, I tend to analyse everything. Blame it on the psyche. As far back as I can recall, it's always been a trait of mine- good or bad, you get to decide.

So I decided to suspend the train of thought and actually ask her what she meant. Staring into space, she said, 'I don't know. I guess you just learnt to be nicer to me, after I've been doing things right for the last two weeks.'

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Should your child watch TV? Teewe has the answer

We're all part of the Technological Generation; make no mistake about that. In any given home, we are likely to have mobile phones, a tablet or two, laptops, HD  TV sets and iPods. It's probably getting more difficult to answer the question, 'Should my child watch TV?' because of the explosion of stimuli at hand today.

Now, while that's largely true for our home, the one thing that we have categorically ensured is that Gy gets very little gadget time. The reason for that is quite simple: it's going to be an integral part of her life anyway, once she crosses a certain age. At this point, we'd prefer it far more if the control for what she gets to see or do online rests in our hands. This is where Teewe has the answer to our dilemma.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Curiositi Activity Box: Review- Standosaurus

Curiositi- the world's first syllabus-based activity box- promises to bring fun back to learning in innovative ways. 

When they reached out to me by e-mail, asking if I would be willing to review one of their activity boxes, I agreed, after checking their website to find that they design boxes based on the academic grade level of the child. Well, that seemed like fun, all right!

Since Gy is in Grade 4, I requested for the box designed for that grade. They willingly complied and sent it by courier.

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