Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunshine after the storm

Mother-daughter relations were at an all time low this past week.

The husband was off on a long (semi) work trip. Her Papa's absence left a big hole in Moppet's routine, particularly evenings and bed-time and she did not take it well. I'd countdown the days till his return every evening, but all she knew was that he was not there to brush her teeth and play aeroplane with her, and what does '6 more days till Papa comes back' really mean, anyway?

She responded by clinging even harder to me. Demanding to be carried everywhere, even within the house. Having meltdowns at the drop of a hat - the particular t-shirt she wanted to wear was in the wash, she must have popcorn RIGHT NOW, the cracker Mama gave her broke in two before she bit it, Mama must sit in the back seat of the car with her (and somehow drive the car, too!) - all these situations (and many, many more) provoked terrible kicking, screaming, raging tantrums.

I understood why she was acting out, but the understanding didn't translate into dealing with it as I should have. Physically, I'm not at my best. My back is in such bad shape that I have to wear a special lumbar support belt. Wrestling Moppet into her underpants when she's decided she'll wear orange ones or nothing, restraining her during one of her kicking rages, even just carrying her when she's actually being co-operative are tasks that are getting painfully harder every day.

Emotionally, I wasn't much better. The husband's long absence aggravated the loneliness that never quite leaves me. There was resentment that he was off having a good time in London and Paris, leaving me to deal with his monster child(ren) by myself. My reserves of patience were at an all-time low.

So I yelled back at Moppet when she screamed. I left her to her floor-smacking rages and curled up on my bed and cried. I turned up the music in the car to drown out her howling from the back seat. By bedtime every day, we didn't like each other very much. The hot, sticky, energy sapping weather did not help.

And then the storm came. Thunder, lightning, and driving rain. The wind whipped through the house, so strong it tore the netting off the balcony doors. A flash of light, a loud boom, and we lost power.

Our paths lit by the emergency light, mother and daughter met in the corridor as each came running to find the other. Moppet was a little frightened, and clung to me as I explained that the power had gone but there was nothing to be scared of and it would come back soon. She was only half reassured and sat close to me as we spent some quiet time reading a few books, drawing, colouring and doing puzzles by candlelight.

The storm died down, but the power was still out, so we moved out onto the balcony to enjoy the cool breeze and the refreshing smells of a city washed clean. Relief washed over me, like a fever had broken. It was the first time in many days that I felt truly at peace.

I began to sing softly and Moppet sat quietly on her little chair next to mine and listened. Occasionally, she piped up with a song request - Mama sing Jai Hind, Mama sing Ladki, Mama sing MashaAllah - and after a while, she said to me, "Now Moppet turn."

"Sure, baby, what are you going to sing?" I asked.

In reply she sang to me a song that I often sing for her:

"[...] Sunshine, ma onny sunshine
You make me happy, when skys gwey
You never know dear, how much I laab you
Peas don take ma sunshine away."*

It was such a perfect song for the moment. Tears poured down my cheeks as she sang in her clear baby voice. When she was done I gave her a great big hug, and she saw I was crying.

"No crying, Mama. Iss power gone. Come back soon. No scared, ok?'

*You are my sunshine, my only sunshine; You make me happy, when skies are grey; You'll never know dear, how much I love you; Please don't take my sunshine away"

Edit: Oh and the next day this happened. And then 2 days later the husband got home, so all's well in my world again :-)

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Blessed Virus

"Help! It's a virus!"

My first thought when I logged in to Google Reader yesterday and saw 15 unread posts, all with the strange title - Riddle-me-Ree, who can she be?

Without opening any of the posts, I went straight to my internet bible and googled 'riddle-me-ree blog virus'. I got plenty of results of course - you will always find an answer in the bible if you look hard enough - but nothing that suggested that this virus might be dangerous.

Still, as wife to a paranoid technogeek, who's only just managed to learn how to deal with all the firewalls and anti-spying technology he's installed on our PC, I didn't want to be the one who brought home a virus that would wipe out our hard drives with random riddles. So I hesitated and kept refreshing my reader and watched with increasing concern as more posts began to appear with the same title.

And then finally, something different showed up in my reader. Boo had come across the same strange phenomenon in her morning inspection of the momblogs, and had posted of her bafflement in her typical I-demand-to-know-what's-up-right-now style.

Obviously much smarter than I am, she had already partly figured it out, and begun what would end up being an almost 10 hour collaborative effort to solve the mystery. Addressed to the MTB's - Boo enlightened us that this meant Mothers-To-Be - this was an online treasure hunt that spanned blogs, continents, and time-zones and the prize was entry to a blog where an online baby shower was being thrown for us ( Boo, Poppins, Kodi’s Mom, Lavs, Desigirl, Planethalder, Random Vignettes, Rohini and me)

What fun! I headed right back to my reader and began the hunt. Fellow MTBs Poppins and Lavs had been doing some good work ahead of me, and they'd already figured out some tough ones. By the time Kodi's Mom joined in the action, I'd already put together an excel sheet and was getting enjoyably confused by it all.

I had had a long and tiring day and by 11 pm my time, I decided I had better get to bed. But my head was full of bits and pieces of rhymes and clues and I knew there was no point my trying to sleep. So I turned the PC back on and stayed up till we were almost done. At around 2 am, I finally decided the rest could wait till morning, especially since there were some missing clues that had still not been posted.

Rushed to the PC in the morning, teeth unbrushed, and crackeroo! Boo's done it! There were a few loose ends, which Kodi's Mom and I quickly tied up and WOW- we had found the most fabulous pot of gold at the end of our rainbow!

The fun of the hunt itself would have been worth it - but here was a most wonderful site, with love, good wishes, music, and counsel from so many of you. I was in tears when I saw how much time and effort you had all put in for a bunch of women most of you don't even know the real names of.

I am touched beyond words, and all I can say is thank you. Thank you for the thought, the love, the time, the effort, the fun, and the friendship. Much love and virtual hugs to you all.

Monday, April 21, 2008

What sort of a person

...sees a very pregnant woman carrying a sleeping toddler across the building lobby, and actually hurries forward and takes the one available lift, leaving the woman and toddler to wait for the next one, a good 3 minutes later?!

Anyone good with voodoo? I need to give that guy some some serious lower back spasms - that'll teach him!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Pregnant pics

This is me, today, at 31 weeks:
Now before all of you start composing stinging comments on how I've been frauding you about how big I am, please watch what happens in profile:

Isn't that a big bump? With 9 weeks left to go? I'm already almost at the weight I had reached with Moppet at full-term. I was looking for a picture of me pregnant with Moppet at the same stage and I found this one:

See what I mean? I think this might have been around 28 weeks or so, and maybe the denim overalls make the bump look smaller than it is, but still...

Funny story about that maternity dress - one of my biggest cribs when I was pregnant with Moppet was the unavailability of decent maternity wear in Bombay. Pants and capris came in the most horrendous colours and materials and the tops were either in ghastly prints or in cutesie colours with teddy bears and silly messages on them. And as for skirts and dresses, ha, forget it! (Quite a contrast to Bangkok, where the range of maternity wear is absolutely stunning. I've even seen maternity hot pants and mini-skirts!)

But coming back to the story of the dress - I had mentioned casually to my dad how I really wanted denim overalls, but couldn't find any in Bombay. His next overseas trip happened to be to Prague, and sweet man that he is, decided to spend his spare time finding denim maternity overalls for me.

Finding a store was hard enough, but that was the least of his difficulties. The salesperson spoke no English, and my dad didn't know a word of Czech. After several minutes of charades, he managed to explain what he was looking for, and was shown a few suitable options.

Then came the biggest hurdle yet - what would be the right size? He looked around the store and saw no one - customers or salespeople - who could function as a proxy for me. The only one who came close to my size was...himself.

So what does he do? He tries it on, causing much consternation among the sales people. Heaven knows what they thought of this lone middle-aged man, trying on maternity clothes!

Anyway he found a size that fit, and brought it back for me, much to my delight - the dress is wonderful, but its story makes it even more precious to me. I love what he was willing to do for me, despite the cost to his dignity. I love even more that he is cool enough share the story. He could so easily have just given me the dress and not told me that he actually had to try it on himself :-)

After Moppet was born, I gave away all my maternity clothes, except the denim overalls, of course. I haven't worn them much this time around because they're heavy denim and it's way too hot here, but that's one item in my wardrobe that I know I'm not going to give away. Ever.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Introducing Maggie

So it's Maggie by a mile. And what better way to get to know her than by this general questionnaire type tag from Tessie:

Last Movie You Saw In A Theater:
JodhaaAkbar. About 45 minutes too long, but Hrithik Roshan was a revelation - I'd never paid him much attention before. He's totally droolicious!

What Book Are You Reading:
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. Depressing book- would've ditched it but for my OCD of having to finish every book I start.

Favorite Board Game:
Scrabble. Also known as the Get-Ready-For-Divorce game in our household.

Favorite Magazine:
Don't really have one, but The Economist is always an interesting read, and Vanity Fair is fun too.

Favorite Smells:
Wet earth, freshly baked bread, Moppet right after her bath...

Favorite Sound:
Moppet's giggle. It's infectious.

Worst Feeling In The World:
Being alone. No, scratch that - thinking that you're alone.

What Is The First Thing You Think Of When You Wake?
These days it's usually - "Wow, Moppet only woke up thrice/ twice / once last night"

Favorite Fast Food Place:
I don't particularly enjoy fast food, but I love MOS Burger - a Japanese burger chain.

Future Child's Name:
HA HA HA HA! At the rate we're going, it will be Baby Boy [Surname].

Finish This Statement. "If I Had A Lot Of Money I'd...”
Travel round the world.

Do You Drive Fast?
Yes, but don't tell my husband - he thinks I'm a staid old lady type driver, and I'd like to keep that image with him :-)

Do You Sleep With A Stuffed Animal?
Well, there are nights when the husband certainly feels like one.

Storms-Cool Or Scary?
The garden variety thunderstom - totally cool. The horrible ones that cause death and destruction, not so much.

What Was Your First Car?

Favorite Drink:
Ice cold water.

Finish This Statement, "If I Had The Time I Would .....”
Travel round the world.

Do You Eat The Stems On Broccoli?
This assumes that I eat broccoli - which I don't.

If You Could Dye Your Hair Any Color, What Would Be Your Choice?
I really wanted a deep, dark, ink blue - the sort which looks black, but shines blue in certain lights. But on the one occasion I went to a fancy salon in Bombay and asked for it, I was persuaded by the stylist to go for hot pink and red streaks instead. It was ok - I particularly enjoyed the looks on the faces of friends, colleagues and family when they saw me - but I'm not doing that again. If I ever see the right shade of blue, I might try it though....

Name All The Different Cities/Towns You Have Lived In.
Chronologically - Hyderabad, Manchester, Brack (Libya), Hyderabad again, Ahmedabad, Bombay, Chennai, Bombay again, and Bangkok.

Favorite Sports To Watch:
English Premier League Football with the husband. Under duress, I must add.

One Nice Thing About The Person Who Sent This To You:
She's a newly in love bride-to-be.

What's Under Your Bed?
A floor that I'm proud to say is as clean as the floor that's not under my bed.

Would You Like To Be Born As Yourself Again?
Sure, just with better hair. And better eyesight. Oh, and while I'm at it, legs like Gisele Bundschen.

Morning Person Or Night Owl?
Actually, I'm a day person. I like to sleep at night, and don't like to nap during the day. Unlike the husband, who if he had his way, would work all night and sleep all day. So when I say we're as different as night and day, you know I mean it literally.

Over Easy Or Sunny Side Up?
Any way you like. I LOVE eggs - can eat them in any shape for every meal of every day.

Favorite Place To Relax:

Favorite Pie:
I love all sorts of pies - both sweet and savoury.

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:
Mostly anything chocolate.

Of All The People You Tagged This To, Who's Most Likely To Respond First?
I don't know, maybe
Or Swati?
Or Timepass?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Operation SoloNight

It is much harder than I thought it would be. On me, not her.

I really thought I wanted a toddler-free bedroom. No more tiptoeing around in the dark getting ready for bed, no more muffling coughs, sneezes, and curses, no more reading in bed by the woefully inadequate night light...I had thought I would be dying to get her into her own room.

Not so much, as it turns out.

I embarked on Operation SoloNight with much enthusiasm. The 2-week school break seemed like the perfect time to start - in the event of a few bad nights, neither she nor I needed to be up on time to be ready for school.

We tried to prepare Moppet by making the whole thing a fun adventure. I bought some nice, brightly coloured sheets for her bed which caused much excitement. "New-new bed!" She squealed, bouncing up and down on it. We moved the music system into her room, which brought on further paroxysms of delight ("Iss Moppet music!") and burned a CD with all her favourite songs on it to play in the evening before bed time.

We showed her how the new two-way baby monitor worked, and how I could talk to her from another room. She liked that too, and dashed between our room and hers, yelling out to me from her room, "Mama, hullo-hullo?"

The first night in her room, bedtime was one big circus. Both her Papa and I danced with her to her music, and did a little song and dance number with Barney and a few other stuffed toys - a complicated routine which involved hanging them upside down and singing 'LOOK OUT! here comes the PI-der-MAAAN', then throwing them off the bed. Anyway, by the time things wound down to lights off, it was already long past her regular bedtime, and all the excitement and jumping around of the evening had tired her out. I stayed with her until she fell asleep and then slipped out.

My newly toddler-free bedroom had lights blazing, and a grinning husband sprawled on the bed, trying to read 3 books at one go, so happy was he that he would finally get to read himself to sleep again, a lifelong habit that he'd had to give up cold turkey when the extremely light-sleeping Moppet took possession of our bedroom. I grinned back at him, opened and shut a few cupboard doors simply because I could, brushed my teeth with the bathroom door open and more light streaming into the bedroom, hummed loudly as I arranged my pillows, and finally stretched out contentedly on the bed.

It was late, and I was tired, but I found myself lying in bed staring at the little green light on the baby monitor. What was that sound I heard? Were all the settings on the monitor in Moppet's room correct? Was the temperature in her room ok? She would already have kicked her blanket off; she might be feeling cold. Maybe I should go check?

Over the next 3 hours I tossed and turned, convinced myself that the monitor was not working, and made 2 trips to her room, standing with an ear pressed to her door, listening for any sound that would give me an excuse to go in. So it was a perverse relief when she did wake up and her call came loud and clear over the monitor. I rushed into her room, and patted her back to sleep. It barely took a minute or two, but I knew I couldn't go back to my room.

And so it was that at 2 in morning, carrying my pillow and duvet, I tiptoed into her room, and spent the rest of night on the other twin bed there, muffling my sneezes and coughs and feeling my way to the bathroom in the pitch dark.

I slept like a baby, as did my baby.

Moppet has now spent 3 nights in her own room, and seems to be doing well. She still gets up a couple of times in the night, and I usually end up sleeping on the twin bed next to hers for a few hours every night, but she does seem to be sleeping better overall. For one, she no longer gets up at the crack of dawn, but at the far more manageable time of 7.30 am. We have quite a way to go yet, but for 3 days, I think the progress is satisfactory. Mine, I mean.

*Anti-jinx sign courtesy Dotmom

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I give up!

Too many complaints about my chosen blog moniker - some subtle, some insistent, some polite, some downright rude (those last mostly being insults from the husband).

I'm pig-headed enough to ignore this, except that I've lived with the name for a few weeks now and I have to admit, when I happen upon my own comments on other blogs, it takes a second or so for it to register that that's me!

So I give up - now YOU can decide what to call me (and live with the consequences! :-) But don't start rubbing your hands together and coming up with the world's most outrageous names just yet, I've got 3 choices for you to pick from.

(Ha! I may be a cotton candy head, but I'm not that stupid!)

So here are your options, in no particular order of (my) preference:

1. Maggie / Mags:
This is an old real life nickname I've had on account of my Maggi noodle like hair. Plus, on occasions when I'm being really insane, you can call me Mad Mags - a sort of Mallu Mad Max, get it?! :-D

2. CurlyQ / Curly:
Another take on the curly hair, a curlicue is a pattern of concentric circles, and can also refer to a twist or a curl.

3. Peppermint Penny / Penny:
You know, like Peppermint Patty of Peanuts. But Penny because that's short for another of my real-life nicks that people still call me by occasionally. Plus there's the obvious fact of my being 'peppy' and cool (and genetically incapable of letting a PJ go, apparently :-)

Those of you who feel that this is all a bit of hoo-ha about nothing, and I should just stick with what I've got, please do pipe up.

All 4 options are up on the poll I've got going on the sidebar, so get over there and vote!

Lurkers, you too, please!