Category Archives: Realization

Of burping babies, changing diapers and sleepless nights – part Deux

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It seems like ages ago when my daughter was born – I was just into my thirties, still young enough and naïve to the duties and responsibilities of being a father – a good father actually. Believing I could change the world of parenting and come up with my solution to what ails the world. It has now been seven years and I am not sure if I have been able to find the fix to all parenting problems. I, now closer to forty prepare for part deux. As this realisation dawns on me, I pause, look back at my years as a father and what it has taught me. With the benefit of hindsight, I can now make the choices to do what I did well in raising my daughter and avoid the mistakes. While I have so much more to learn, I continue everyday as I watched my daughter grow from an infant, to a toddler to a very pretty young girl with the ferocious mind of her own. Putting all this down to what I believe is sacrosanct and clearly non-negotiable, I get ready for the back nine. So what have I, the ‘wise one’ really learnt….

Firstly, always respect their mother. And I mean always. It may seem easy and maybe even surprising to many who read this, after all isn’t that the bedrock of raising a child and having a family. But life is not as simple as it seems – especially if the parents are no longer together and sometimes even when they are. You may have had your reasons to break up which you believed was for the best for everyone. You may have many moments when you both disagreed and made it unpleasant for each other and said things you regret but we are human after all. As I write this now, I realise it’s not single parent families that need to deal with this and even regular couples have their moments of disagreement. But your child need not see any of that. Your views about each other are personal to you both only. All we need to do is to ensure that we respect each other in front of them and they know that. After all, the way you treat their mother will set the benchmarks for how your son should treat women in his life or how your daughter will expect to be treated and vice versa.

Secondly, learn to let go and de-control (is that even a word). Let them be children, that’s what they are. There will be enough time for them and you to grow up and you will be very soon reminiscing about the wonder years and what they did when they were at different ages. We need memories of their childhood as much as they do and losing it by making them grow up too soon. Encourage them to stop and smell the flowers as Robert Frost would say J Let them make mistakes, after all we will always be there to pick them up after a fall, but they would have learnt so much. We cannot protect them from everything in life, and rob them of life’s experiences. Let go as much as you can, little at first and more later.

Thirdly, be their friend but always a parent first. This is a cardinal rule that I live by. I would love to be their best friend and maybe someday I will be, but I am the father for a reason. The forty years of my existence do chalk up to quite a few experiences myself and I will make sure that some lines are not to be crossed at all and there I will be the father whether they like it or not. I may not win the popularity contest at that time but I will have the satisfaction of doing the right thing – something I believe all children do inclulcate in them at some time or the other.

It may appear that I contradict myself by advising to let go and let them have their experiences and yet choose to play the father card when it would suit me. But I disagree and believe that with my experience as an adult and a father I can make a more informed decision on when to let go and when to be the father they hate. I know when they are older they will appreciate the vetos I did as much as I appreciated when my parents did it for me. Life is all about the choices we make and sometimes more experience just determines when to play which role.

Fourthly, make them sensitive to others and the environment around them. Life has changed and simple concepts that we knew so well are now so different. The family as we knew it is not the only one – there are single parents, divorced parents, step children, half children, parents of the same sex. There are people not as fortunate as us, people with special abilities or less fortunate than us materially. Teach them to understand everyone and appreciate what God has created. Let them now always say ‘Why me’ but understand ‘Why not me’. There are so many things to be grateful for and our children need to appreciate what they have and also be sensitive and aware of the world around them. Let their best friend be the girl ‘who sees with her hands’ or those who have two mommies and two daddies. The world is not what it used to be and children are quicker to understand that – if only someone would show them that.

Lastly and most importantly, the greatest bequeath we can leave our children are roots and wings. I grew up in a middle class Indian home, with an army officer for a father and a teacher for a mother. I have seen the effort they have put in to give us the best of what was possible, often at the expense of their own desires. We got what we needed and we appreciated what we got. Today I may no longer be seen as a middle class person but I live by the ethos of my upbringing – values of integrity, honesty, respect and responsibility. As a father I want my children to know where they come from and while they may have a lot more compared to me, they must always be guided by the values of the Indian middle class. Always appreciative of what we have and at the same time being fearless enough to chase our dreams.

I am the one that shall give them the confidence of being grounded yet daring to fly.

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Can you see with your hands?

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I walked up the steps to my apartment on a Friday evening and knocked on the door where I was greeted by my daughter and our dog. As I put my hands on her face and kissed her forehead, my dog kept tugging at my pants wanting his piece of attention of ‘papa’s time. I drop off my things and go into the room and have just about sat down on the bed when my five year old comes scampering into the room. She has just come from her mum’s place and I ask her how her week has been in school, how are here friends and what she’s generally been upto. In the middle of this conversation, she nonchalantly cuts me off

Kiddo – Papa, you know in our class, there is this girl, she is my friend Sagarika

Papa – oh, is she a good friend

Kiddo – tch, tch Papa, don’t interfere. You know, she can see with her hands…..

For a few seconds, I am stumped and can’t figure it out, but before I have time to react and actually assimilate what has just been said, she continues

Kiddo – papa, you know, Sagarika can’t see with her eyes and our teacher told us that she can see with her hands.

I am stumped again and finally figure out that she is talking about Sagarika’s ability to read through braille. I stare at her for a few moments and she goes onto to tell me that her friend has the most beautiful laugh and without wasting a second starts clapping her hands from way low as she throws her head back in gay abandon, flicks her hair and continues to laugh with her hands now raised high above her head, clapping and laughing with reckless innocence.

I look at her and can just smile at the beautiful and innocent moment and she goes onto say

Kiddo – Papa, you know, whenever I go away and come back to Sagarika, she always asks me what my name is

Papa – but sweetheart, that’s because she can see with her hands

Kiddo – ya, she always touches my face and starts laughing, as she says, that she knows me…

I was just getting sucked into this innocent yet beautiful conversation and could not help thinking of the immense contribution of the teachers here – who chose not to highlight the lack of a certain ability but instead chose to highlight the heightened ability of the child and make the other children see the same. It was pure genius and hopefully the start of a confident start of a really beautiful life for this little girl.

I couldn’t help myself from brining this up when the met the teachers the next time at the PTA and I told them how great it was for them to have educated the children in that way – not many people would have thought of it, atleast not me. I could feel a lump in my throat as they talked so passionately about the child and her abilities and it just made me realise how lucky we are to have all our abilities, in the most traditional sense.

This one incident took me back to my days at school when in the 11th grade, my teacher came upto me and told me that we had a new student joining our class and she wanted me to initiate and guide him through the classes as he was visually challenged. She told me I would need to be there to assist him through classes, help him with some assignments and just make him feel comfortable in the new surroundings. I didn’t think too much of it readily agreed. When we met him (my friends and I) we were surprised at how normal the kid was. While we clearly had no expectations, his ‘normalness’ surprised us. The initial time was tricky, helping him through but before we knew it he was part of our group as if he had always been and we could not imagine how we didn’t know him earlier.

He appeared to be sweet but he was a bad ass like everyone else 🙂 and was cracking dirty jokes as good as anyone else…..He and I got very close over a period shared a lot of stuff, infact, he was not the good boy everyone thought he was. But it was to be our little secret.

Well, we finished school, and moved on with our lives, being regularly in touch initially and less and less as time moved on. I got a job, married, had a kid, divorced and married again while he kept up his education ending up with a PhD and being a professor in a local university. He is independent, travels to college everyday, prepares his lectures and comes back after a very fulfilling day. I understand he is also a very popular professor at the college. His life would be a great book which I hope someone will write someday – just for the sheer grit and determination he has shown and how he has fought against the odds and the googlies life has thrown at him and emerged better that any of us ‘normal people’.

We are still very good friends and when we catch up I am just so happy for what he has achieved professionally. I am not sure I could have done it had the higher power dealt me the same hand he was.

I come back to the present and see how things are still the same, the system (atleast the one I am in) is giving everybody a chance to succeed and my daughter is also making a friend whose abilities are different from hers yet she is being taught to appreciate the uniqueness of every individual.

That night, as my daughter goes off to bed, by habit, I clear the hair off her forehead and kiss her goodnight. As I am walking away I look at her and have the same lump in my throat as realise how lucky I am to have me and my loved ones to have been blessed with all the gifts and not having to work against all odds……

A few days later as we are driving in the car, my daughter looks out of the window and pointing to a man standing at the side of the road says

Papa, why is that man acting funnily.

I looked around and very simply tell her – sweetheart he’s not acting funny, it’s just that he can’t see with his eyes but he sees with his hands…..

Part time father, full time daddy

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The alarm goes off sharp at 6AM on the Monday morning. Lazily, I turn around and hit the snooze button. Ten minutes are precious and with that I turn around and drape my arms around the little bundle that is rolling all over the bed.  I finally hit the shower at 6.30 while my daughter gets her milk and my wife begins the ritual of getting her ready for school.  We need to leave at 7.30 and its always a mad rush with us just about make it to the car, after the customary goodbyes and ‘see you on Friday’ routine……

The school bus picks her up from her mother’s place and the mother and daughter catch up over the next ten minutes before we get her onto the bus – her mother goes off into the apartment building and I drive off to work…. Well that’s the culmination of the weekend that I have spent with my kiddo until the next weekend.

I lose track of the day and get home later in the evening to what seems like much quieter and emptier house – there is no noise of small feet coming running towards me, ready to jump on me with a hug or a visibly upset little girl boxing me with all her might when she her daddy does not understand her :).  Yeah, it is much quieter and an evening that I clearly dread every day of the week.  I realise, that its amazing as I have been used to this routine to over three and a half years now and yet every Monday seems like the first.  I am not a man to exaggerate, but every Monday morning leaves a void that slowly gets filled as the week moves on only to split wide open the next week.

My wife and I sit, discuss the day, watch some TV and invaibly end up laughing at all my daugter’s antics over the weekend. Yeah, Mondays are depresessing for the world and for me even more so.  I have a shorter fuse, I don’t have time for anyone really and I just want to sit with my drink at the end of the day and not have to worry about anyone else. Wishing to drown away every other thing that surrounds my existence right now….

Every Monday I keep wondering whether I could have done things differently, been a better husband or a better parent to have avoided this dual life that my child now needs to lead.  She clearly associates weekdays with ‘mumma’ and weekends with ‘papa’.  As she has grown over the years, I have tried connecting with her during the week so she knows that I miss her and love her through the week. But not even being five years old right now, she clearly has other priorities when daddy calls her in the middle of play time with friends.  Even then, she will come speak with me, tell me what she’s upto before she runs off to play.  The girl’s a sweetheart and breaks my heart even more.

So what do I really do on the weekend – hmmm… I make sure I feed her atleast two to three meals myself, give her one bath atleast, help her select her clothes (but with her sense of fashion she doesn’t need too much help from daddy :)), help her with her homework – we agree on a schedule of what needs to be done and when, read her a couple of stories at bedtime (if she has already not passed out with all the activity over the day), take her to a mall where daddy and kiddo play games together (she does bring out the kid in me as we race cars and zoom on bikes in the gaming arcade :)).  In between, she will run off with her young friend, who she calls her little sister, go play with my bro’s pet beagle, catch a nap together, top up daddy’s drinks with ice and also watch an overdose of ninja hattori…

We make sure she gets to bed on time on Sunday night so she is bright on Monday morning and by the time its Sunday night, both my wife and I are sombre – not always because we are tired of having done much but just dreading the quiet that would descend on the house next week.

In such weekends, I have often had a conversation with my daughter which goes something like this

Me – So sweetheart, papa is really going to miss you during the week. Will you also miss me?

Kiddo – I will miss you too papa

Me – so sweetheart why don’t you stay back with papa – after you go papa will be all lonely and so sad…..

Kiddo – but I will back no papa?  Hmm… When will I come back????

Me (smiling ) – on Friday

Kiddo – see papa, I will be back on Friday, mumma also must be missing me no ?

So much of sense is a body so small is crazy and amazing. I just hope I can be level headed enough to match this pint sized person.  I can’t argue much with that and more often than not I will end up giving her a kiss as we move back to whatever we were doing before that.

So it always brings me back to the question as to whether I am really doing enough to make a lasting and positive impact on my child’s life?  I remember recently reading many articles which stressed on how fathers should spend atleast a couple of hours a day with their children, understanding their day, having a conversation, reading them stories and just connecting with them at some level so that they build that long term relationship with their child.  Well, I really don’t have the option do I?  All I can do is make sure that I connect with her during the week as much as I can or she permits with the hope that she will be more willing as she grows up and yearns for more daddy time…..

And this situation does drive me a little to paranoia most of the time – to ensure that I really get enough face time with her and yet she has fun when she comes over. After all, after a few years, she will most likely choose her friends over her ‘fuddy duddy’ daddy anyways and unless she has fun here this face time is likely to reduce even further.  So trying to be involved and maybe doing many of the things that regular dads do over the space of a week I need to sometime cram into the two precious days I have with her.  My biggest fear and also my biggest driver being that I will look back on my life and realise that I really don’t have a bond with my daughter. That is by far my greatest fear……

I recently read a proverb which I had long since forgotten – “Any man can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad”

I became a father nearly five years ago, but I hope I make a dad at some point in my life and there will really be no proof other than the bond I will share with my daughter.

The fragility of life

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As I opened the newspaper today, the following headline grabbed my attention

Baby Falak leaves for a better world

Five surgeries and 56 days after she was admitted to hospital, two-year-old Falak suffered a third heart attack at 9.40pm on Thursday. All efforts by the doctors to revive her failed — and Falak left the brutal world she had briefly inhabited for, hopefully, a better one.

It was a tragedy that sickened and shocked a nation and had millions offering prayers. On January 18, the little girl was admitted to the AIIMS trauma centre with severe head injuries, both arms broken and human bite marks all over her body. The same day, she suffered a heart attack, followed by another on January 21. But she clung on tenaciously, to a life that had offered her nothing but pain and trauma.

Public outrage at her plight spurred investigations that uncovered a sordid tale of exploitation and callousness, and led to the arrest of 13 people accused of human trafficking. Police finally tracked down her biological mother, Munni — herself a victim of circumstances — in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan. Munni, who had been separated from her three children, was reunited with them, but the happiness proved short-lived.

Falak was in the news for a while when “this story broke” but just disappeared to be one of the stories that was just not ‘breaking news’ after a point. Other stories came and went and we heard of Falak again today when she was no more. Not just as a parent but as a human being it makes me wonder and a little sick at how callously we treat the value of human life here. Till the time she made news, Falak was all over the press, who would compete to provide the sordid details of her tragedy to have that bit of an edge over the reporters. When something more newsworthy came along, she was forgotten and we just went ahead with our lives—– Me included.

What does that really say about me as a human being? Am I so engrossed in my own personal life and immediate surroundings that I really don’t see anything beyond it? A child lost her life in the most heinous circumstances and I really did nothing!!!! What’s more, will I even feel this way after a few days when the initial disgust has worn away? Am I so numb to the suffering of those who do not affect me that I really don’t care? How close does it really need to be for me to really care????

But the day was just getting started. I just got back into town to hear to the passing away of a young boy (well a very nice man really) who was family and my daughter’s godfather. In his late twenties and one of the most decent people I ever met. And POOF just like that he was gone. I had not really been in contact with him for a while but it never occurred to me that I would never see him again. I could only imagine what his parents and family were going through. It’s not easy to deal with the loss of a loved one and I can only shudder how it must be to deal with the loss of a child. Someone you have seen born and grow in front of you. You nurture them, watch them blossom with the love and grow into beautiful human beings only to be lost forever – leaving you with memories and all the things you would have wanted to say and do before they went. Always putting things away to deal with later and the appropriate time…. So when is the appropriate time?

These two incidents made me think of all the people who I have lost over the years and it all came racing back……my doting grandparents, my uncles and aunts, the classmate who I competed with to be the top of the class, secretly hating her guts because I thought she was better than me yet going onto become good friends when we moved to another city to study. I remember feeling the emptiness when one day she was gone… just like that…..just 19 years old. I remember being upset, numb and yet accepting it as a part of life and, dare I say, even forgetting about it when I got caught up in my own life…..

The other buddy who I lost – in his mid-twenties, just married and starting a new life and POOF, gone again – Just like that. It came back all over again, the good times and just how we grew up together…..

I often hear that time heals everything…. well atleast most of it…..But is that really the case? Or is it just that with time we learn to put these thoughts and feelings into the deep recesses of our heart, never to access them again and it is only when we are forced, through incidents such as this, that we have to open our hearts and remember it all over again…. The fragility of life……So has time really healed anything for us or are we just better at putting it away in a part we never want to remember and hope that we will never have to.

As I look at what I am writing there is really no connect between the two losses – in one, I am saddened at my own insensitivity to the loss of a child’s life. Could I have done anything to help that baby? Maybe not, but the more important question, really is that whether I even consider it? It did not directly affect me so why would I? Is this what I am becoming? Are there more such people like me and is this how we are as a society?????

The second loss is closer to home and has just opened pandora’s box of all the feelings that I have bottled away for so many years. It has also made me accept that I will not have all the people that I love, in my life forever. I have to accept that sometime I will be alone or will lose the ones closest to me. But can I not push that into the deep recess till I actually have to face that in person.

I read somewhere recently that “Every night we go to bed without any assurance of being alive the next morning. But still we set the alarm to wake up. that’s called HOPE”.

Is it really hope or am I just caught up in the routine of life that it never occurs to me what a gift it is to be alive and have all the love surround me….

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive. To breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.

~Marcus Aurelius

But can I really do it? Or will it also just pass and get lost in the routine of life only to be jolted back with another loss I want to avoid…….

The pursuit of happiness

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I have just returned from work and it’s been a regular day –not very hectic or a one that would totally sap the energy out of me. I look at my watch and its 8.30PM, hmmm not bad. I get out of my jacket into a pair of shorts and one of my oldest and scraggy t-shirts. Looking at it, I wonder why I even wear it now. It’s one of the oldest and has clearly run the course of its useful life, but it is the most comfy and just feels like second skin. Casting that thought aside, I pour myself a glass of single malt and park my ass in front of the TV in my new and improved living room (I have had my house re-decorated since the split and tried to just clear out a lot of the memories from the past). It’s been my ritual now and I am in my comfort zone – surfing channels, having my dinner and crashing to bed, hoping to get up in time to hit the gym before work.

I then realize, it’s a thursday evening and my daughter comes home tomorrow and I need to wrap up everything before the weekend so we can truly spend ‘papa-beti’ (father daughter) time together doing absolutely nothing on the weekend 🙂 all together, just the two of us….. I like that!!!! But something is different today and somehow in one of my moods, and I ask myself – AM I HAPPY? Just like all the other non-simple questions – this too must be broken down and analysed.

So here goes. My life has been pretty predictable since the split. I focus on wrapping up work during the week, enjoy the evening with my single malt and some actual real live friends 🙂 (and I have a few very nice ones) and spend time with the daughter on the weekend. It’s sort of a routine but I have gotten used to it. Truth be told, I have not really dated much since the split (since we are telling truths, have not dated at all really :)) but there’s been no time. Yes, I have missed a companion and there have been some occasions when I have had this strong urge to call my ex. But I was most likely a little wasted, alone and the logical thing to do was to delve into the past. But over a period of time, realization finally dawned on me, that I did not miss my ex, as a person. I really just missed a companion. While I didn’t like being alone, those times were few and far between and the hum drum and chaos of daily life really did not let me ponder on such thoughts t too much. I didn’t want to be in a relationship just because I was alone – that’s the worst foundation to a fresh start. So I brush this thought aside and think, yeah, am not sad, life is good and if am not moping about am happy……..Logical? Well, seemed to be.

That was 8 months ago. A month later, a dear friend of mine, very reluctantly and cautiously broached the topic to trying to set me up with her colleague. My friend, who shall remain nameless, like everyone else in the blog, works in a different city and my first reaction, was to tell her that she had completely lost her mind. Relationships were clearly not my forté and long distance ones to boot…phew…But I agreed, with the clear understanding that I was not committing to anything and if it did not work out there would be no hard feeling. Finally and above all, this mystery lady would need to understand that my daughter would always be the single most, top of the line, priority in my life. That was that.

Nothing happened for the next few weeks but co-incidentally, I was travelling to the city on work fairly soon and we were officially set up. For the sake of anonymity, lets juts call her X. As I got ready to go, I picked out what I thought was my best black suit (it was a formal client meeting), nice tie and a dress shirt which everyone told me really fit me well 🙂 I had been working out, so if the lady, got a hint of the decent chest and nice(ish) arms under the shirt why not 🙂 If you are back in the ring, might as well dress to impress. I also could not help but realize how nervous I was. It was like being seventeen again. The pressure to impress, the pressure make intelligent, good conversation, the pressure, the pressure the pressure!!!! Gawd, I dealt with professional client situations better than this…. Here I was worrying about meeting X. Why?

Cutting a long story short, I really did not make intelligent conversation and was infact a bumbling idiot. How I behaved that night was clearly not something I would like to reproduce in print but all I can say was that I was looking at all the wrong places (since I am telling the truth here – I thought she was smoking hot) and saying the wrong things :). I was like a puppy with my tongue hanging out on a hot summer day and drooling to my heart’s content :). My experience (here it is mine) is that men (read I) can’t make intelligent conversation when am distracted by hot women around. And the best part was that she knew it and was enjoying this 30+ year old man make a fool of himself. But I just knew that there was something there. By the next day it was as if I had known her for a very long time. She understood me, my idiosyncrasies, my tantrums, my attention seeking ways, my love for my daughter and also made me feel like a good man. It was a great feeling after a very long time.

It was not right but it was natural for me to compare situations now and with my ex and I realized that I was in a much happier (???) place now. Life was good, I missed X and not just ‘a’ companion and being in different cities, for the first time in 3 years I stared feeling lonely when I was alone. My logical mind couldn’t really understand what was happening here and I would always try and find some fault or the other and an excuse to be unhappy (?) and go back to the time of no expectations, no other person that I needed to worry about.

It was in one of those evenings with my single malt that I really got thinking all over again. I had been there and done that. I had experienced the entire expectations that came with a relationship. Was I ready for that all over again? I had been on my own for over nearly three years now. I was used to having to deal only with my emotions, my feelings, the expectations that I set for myself and no one else. Was I ready to make space for someone else in my life and not just in my closet? Was it really worth the effort anymore? As I had realized, I was not unhappy or sad. I had my own routine and I had made my peace with it. I had no time to think of anything or anyone else. Was it all worth it? Was I ready to start all over again? And more importantly, did I want to? I would be hitting the dreaded four O in a few years and really did a man need a companion after that? Was your life really not about your children after that????

Then I looked at the little girl lying next to me and I wondered – as a parent was it not my duty to think of her before I thought of myself? Isn’t that what being a parent is all about? I was now a father and was that not it…… How would she comprehend the entire change in my personal life and how would she accept or understand it? Was it not my duty to see what was best for her? And I would always have her….. She needed me, even if it was only on the weekends. Was that not enough? Should I not make her the sole focus of my life and make sure my being is really revolving around her. After all, I was her father???? I could never be ‘the mother’ but that’s the least I could do as her father……

I just could not figure out how to analyse this entire situation that I was in. In was torn in the need to be the best father possible and also embrace the woman who really made me feel alive all over again. It was really tough, dealing with what I felt was the guilt of at some level ‘betraying’ my little one of trying to have a life that had something more than just her. She would always be my little girl and would always need her daddy. Could I really risk trying to focus on something else? What if she were to need me at the precise moment that I was busy with my own feelings? What if she never understood why I was not there for her? Would she forgive me and more importantly, would she understand? And I just had no clue…..

I spoke with X and always told her of the dilemma that I was going through and she just told me one simple thing – to just go with the flow and see where this led. Why create the pressure of significant expectations and try and find fault and convince ourselves we could never be happy? Hmm… seemed like a logical thing to do.

But it was not the easiest thing to do. To top it all, how soon was too soon? It had been less than 3 years since the split? Was there not a required waiting period before I threw my hat into the dating ring and sounded out that I was ready all over again? Aren’t men expected to wait longer to ensure that they are not labeled as cads? When did this period really end and when would it be ok to be seen with a woman other than my ex? Would there ever be such a time? As always I never had any answers…

I did mention that my extended family (my friends) had really been very instrumental in keeping me together. Infact my ‘bro’ once told me ‘dude, whenever you are wasted and have the urge to call your ex – just call or text me….I will be your 2AM friend :)” sounded perfect. The one time that I did call him, when I was wasted and needed to avoid making a fool, he did not take my call and it was only midnight 🙂 Very sheepishly, he told me next morning “dude, I fell asleep. I must be the worst 2AM friend ever” The guy had good intentions and knowing that was good enough.

Coming back, X made such an effort for the things important in my life, my daughter, folks, my friends (see above :)) and just about all that I cared for that I just knew she could not get away. And the fact that my daughter got along with her like a house on fire really sealed the deal.

A funny ritual that has developed over the last few months – we had just started dating and X sent me a text at 1PM saying ‘lunch?’ I responded with a very cool ‘yup’. This went on every day and now it’s become of our daily ritual. Same time, every day. Now I don’t even respond and I feel she does not expect a response either. But if I don’t get the text I am as surprised as she when she gets a response 🙂 Life is good, it’s comfortable, and I seem to be a relatively calmer and dare I say a much happier man?

But it is also due to my realization that not everything is controllable and sometimes you have to pick your paths and make your own decisions and live by them. They will determiner greatly your own state of mind and happiness. It’s weird now, when I see my ex these days and I don’t feel anything other than a small amount of regret. I used to feel angry, hurt, frustrated and now it’s been replaced by just a tinge of regret as I think I don’t see her as anything more than the mother of my child. It’s really sad, since at one point in my life, she was my life!!!! I have moved on, made peace with the past, accepted my mistakes and hopefully never to make them again. Life has a strange way of making one see perspective…….

I remember reading recently, where a woman said that she hated the movie Jerry McGuire. The whole idea of someone else completing you just did not make sense to her. After all, we are all ‘whole’ individuals, so why did we need for someone else to complete us? We should be with someone because we want to and not because we need to or because they complete us. A very interesting take I thought…..

So what’s really been my take from all of this? Just two things really.

Firstly, that we need to be happy personally and that will spread. Are we just so caught up trying to find our happiness through others – be it our children, our friends, our spouse, our family, whoever it maybe that we forget that we are individuals too? My daughter needs me now but in a few years she will have a life of her own. Can I really live my life around her completely? Children will soon have lives of their own and can we ignore our individual needs at the risk of being a bad parent? My personal happiness makes me a better father and I think my daughter does notice that. Don’t we owe it to ourselves to find what makes us happy as individuals and make us better people? Just because I am happy as an individual does not make me any less a father.

Secondly, the absence of sadness is not necessarily happiness……… I could go on with my life, the absence of change and potentially realize that there would be a day when I would have none. My daughter would still love me but have her own life to lead. She will always need her father and just because I have a relationship outside of her does not diminish the bond that we have.

So as I ask myself the same question today, I think I have a definite answer, yes I am happy and it’s not just the absence of sadness. The only catch being that we all have to take out own paths to find this happiness. Sometimes, it may take us days and sometimes it may take us even months or years. But don’t we owe it to ourselves and to everyone we love?

The eternal conundrum

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Just wait and watch out for the “hormone overdosed dude” she gets home to meet u…before u get the shotgun out reflect on the fact that in her eyes he is YOUR REPLICA!.  I was not sure what to make of this statement from my ‘Bro’.  Should I be worried that someday, my daughter, my little princess (who I hope will remain a cute little girl forever) would actually start dating and —–holy smokes—-get a guy to introduce to me???  I know these young fellas (I was one not so long ago) and I know what goes on in their twisted little minds :).

Or should I be happy, that my little girl would actually try to find pieces of me with some guy she wants to spend her life with?  So what I know for certain is that I don’t think any guy will ever be good enough for her and I will always see him as a loser.  Ok maybe not completely.  So I should be happy the she will find some loser who she thinks is like me 🙂 WOW, no one told me in parenting class 101 that I would need to deal with these kind of life altering decisions (in addition to changing diapers and cleaning soiled bums).

So I get thinking (I have been tending to do quite a bit nowadays) and think (ok I already said that before). When do kids really stop being your kids and when do you let go? Therefore the eternal conundrum – when does the cute as buttons little one become an adult with a mind of her own?  As a parent should I not protect her from all harm and make sure she is fine? Or should I let her make her own mistakes as she goes through life? Isn’t it one of the beauties of living that one really goes through so much and finally you have so much to really draw from?

My recent conversation with my 4 year old at 8PM on a friday as I drove back home from work

Kiddo – papa when will you get home?

Me – am driving baby I will be home soon

Kiddo – but why are you taking so long?

Me – because, sweetheart, there’s a lot of traffic as everyone is going home and papa is coming as fast as possible

Kiddo (without batting an eyelid) – but papa, why can’t everyone stay home so you can come home quickly?

All reasoning aside, can I really let such a sweet and innocent thing really stumble, fall, get bruised, hurt, cry, have her heart broken (by some jerk who was never good enough for her anyways), laugh etc etc while I put it all down to her tryst with life? As you can see, I quite suck at making parenting decisions and have no clue how to deal with this one.

As most wise people say (am told it’s no longer politically correct to say wise men…LOL) ‘time heals everything’ and I hope time will also provide me an answers to these questions and how to deal with such awkward situations. My dad, he was never the most expressive person when we were kids, but he always engrained in us that we had to experience our own lives and he and my mum would always be there for us.  For that I am eternally grateful.  I think I and my siblings are more independent adults primarily due to my folks. Not to say that we are not close to our parents but I think we have the ability to deal with whatever “googlies” (or curve balls as some people half way across the globe would say) the cosmic powers have to throw at us.

So, as always, I started off this rambling as an insecure dad dreading meeting the “hormone overdosed dude” and have reached the other end of the spectrum where am contemplating the little one flying off the nest and how to deal with all that would happen in between.

So my friends, now you know why the blogs are the ramblings of a confused man and I bet it all makes sense now……

It’s interesting now that I look back and think I have a lot more empathy for my ex father in law (may god bless his soul).  He was a very good man but somehow there was always something missing – he had a really quirky sense of humour but somehow I always felt that he held back when it came to me.  Maybe I did not try to hard (truth be told I was a much younger man and more truth be told…was quite scared of him too).  He was a man of uniform like my dad and had this aura about him which made me just a tad bit weak in the knees. So coming back to the point, I can totally relate to him now.  In me, he saw, a good looking but scrawny guy 🙂 (ok I was not the Greek god then that I am now :):)) and he said the same thing in his head as I do now “what the hell is my daughter doing with this loser? She can do so much better”.  We never really got the chance to bond but am pretty sure even if we did I would never have been able to measure up to the expectations he had for someone worthy of his daughter….

Such is life and I can see it coming across a full circle.

I recently read a small piece which I think summarizes the situation completely and really puts a lot into perspective for all us parents

Little girl and her father were crossing a bridge.  The father was kind of scared so he asked his little daughter, “Sweetheart, please hold my hand so that you don’t fall into the river”. The little girl said, “No, dad. You hold my hand.” “What’s the difference?” Asked the puzzled father. “There’s a big difference”, replied the little girl. “If I hold your hand and something happens to me, chances are that I may let your hand go. But if you hold my hand, I know for sure that no matter what happens, you will never let my hand go”. 

So my little sweetheart, your dad will never stop you from discovering your own life and making your own destiny. But he will always be there to pick you up and put you on your way when you do have a fall.  Your dad will, most likely, never find anyone good enough for you but will accept that in your best judgment he is the best for you and accept the compliment that you see some part of me in him. And finally, your dad will never let go of your hand but he will learn how to slowly let go for you to find your wings………

Mums, kids and the other parent

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 As I sit down to write this piece, off the bat, I visualize two very distinct reactions 1) from the few guys that do read this – “dude, stop acting like a chick” and 2) from more mature people – “this boy still needs to grow up and understand life”.  Well, what the heck, it’s my blog and I write what I want.

So a small context to the entire piece – I am a divorced man on the wrong side of 30 with a 4 year old daughter, who lives with me on the weekends and vacations.  It appears that I suffer from an uncommon ailment called “insecurity” of “the concept”.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a good looking, confident and very modest man 🙂  but I just can’t seem to understand the entire society’s obsession with maa kya pyaar (a mother’s love)  when it comes to a child.  So the title of this piece and “The concept”.

Ever since I can remember – for the male species and in the last few years for me as an individual member of this species, it has been engrained into our psyche that we are the lesser parent.  Talk about the weaker sex!!!!!!  So we may be the most accomplished, confident men but when it comes to a child (no less our child)….dudes….you are never in the race of being a model parent.  It’s like you’re preparing to run the marathon and Usain Bolt has already won the sprint gold…..

Having never been at the receiving end of any discrimination I got a first real taste of this discrimination (not sure what else to call it) when my ex-wife (including her large family) would continually tell me that no matter what I did I would never understand the depth of a mother’s love for her child.  So don’t get me wrong, my ex is a good person and a fantastic mother, but it’s not really my fault that I did not carry our daughter for nine months, or give birth to her…hell knows, I guess, if it was biologically possible…I might have done it…. (note to self – google up the man who recently had a baby before making such claims in future).  Does that make me any lesser a parent that my daughter’s mother? NO SIR.

So when we do have these discussions, which re quite animated after a few drinks, informed people, then quote studies and tell me how it has been proven that both parents are equally important in nurturing a child. But (and there’s a big one here), the same people will not bat an eyelid and quote the dreaded words “but she’s the mother you know, understand that” at the first sign of my attempting to assert fatherly dominance in my daughter’s life.

This entire concept was further beaten into me during the entire legal process of the divorce. Starting from well-wishers and finally my lawyer nailing the coffin and telling me that the law would also favour the mother unless proven otherwise.  It’s like being guilty until proven innocent!!!!! Sure, my work schedule is tougher than my ex (like a lot of men), but would the courts even consider custody to the father if the professional roles were reversed… Am not a legal eagle but I think I know the answer there.

So this whole “concept” has been irritating me for a while now and by the time I have reached here, the few readers that I have, have already logged off at the nonsensical rambling of a lunatic.  But I shall continue for the pleasure of the few that persist 🙂  So what did I do next….like any reasonable tech savvy person, googled up to see if there was some godforsaken formula or something where I could input some random data and see a result that said — dude, you are actually more important than your ex – to your daughter.  Alas (for my poor male brethren out there) there was no such algorithm. Can you believe that?

And that really brought me to the deeper question – WHY AM I COMPETING FOR THE LOVE OF MY CHILD?????? That little mite has so much love to give everyone that there is enough to go around and some……

Even though I do my best to ignore the obvious, realization dawns and I finally figure out that in a way, I am a still bitter about my divorce and maybe the pangs of guilt still exist that I could not make it work.  I have always been good at anything I did, (I did mention I am very modest) and the crumbling of the marriage was the first real sign of failure in my life and maybe a big bruise to my large but fragile ego.  I somehow needed to prove to myself that I was the better parent and that my exs decision to end the marriage (there’s goes one more secret down the drain) was not the best decision for any one of us….So this entire aversion to “the concept” appears really to be an effort on my part to consciously massage my ego.  At this point, the handful of men still reading this are like “dude you just lost your right to be invited to a boys night out and the next thing you’ll tell us that Titanic is your favourite movie”….hmmmm…. never really thought of that but no….it’s just to sugary for me….. More such realizations and I could be an enlightened one very soon….

Also, it never occurred to me to check with my sisters what their views were and how was their relationship with our father.  I know, there are some things that a daughter will always confide in her mother – her first crush, her first kiss or even her boyfriend but I just wish that would be me.  In my case, it would be even more unlikely since I have been convinced since her birth that I need to buy a shotgun the day my daughter hits her teens.  I was once a young man and I know :).

So this really has nothing to do with me competing with my ex but just the love I feel for my child. Is that any less? Then why is it always beaten down on me that “she’s the mother, you have to understand”.  To top it all off, during one of my random net surfing episodes I read an article (another proven study, mind you) that confirms that boys lose more in the absence of a father figure and not girls….WOO HOO… way to go on building the confidence, buddy!!!!! Somehow such ‘empirical pieces of evidence’ have a way of finding their way to me.  Reminds me of one of the episodes of THE Simpons – where Homer ends up seeing donuts everywhere…while I do love the show, I think my parenting skills are by far better than that of Homer’s…..

So where does that really leave me now…..All I can say is that I have a great relationship with my daughter but where the relationship would be 10 years down the line is potentially all up to me and the effort I make…. Hopefully at that point in time my insecurity would have gone (to some extent) and I would grab the love she doles out with both my hands. Maybe I will even have the courage to show her this piece and watch her expression as she reads it…. What she will say I don’t know but I know what I want her to say…..

Till then I just need to reconcile to the fact that ‘the concept’ will most likely always exist and there’s not really much that one can do to fight it……kids have so much to give and we waste the time trying to fit them into our moulds and make them our pretty little trophies to brag about….

So LADIES and GENTLEMEN (hopefully atleast one man has survived through this long, winding note), welcome to the ramblings of a confused man and many more to come.

In the words of the great poets of the modern era – JOURNEY – Don’t stop believing, hold onto that feeling, streetlight people……