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Ten years of marriage, ten years of togetherness and loving someone despite rough situations, all the ups and downs in a typical marriage – have taught me many things. The expected things – patience, putting things in perspective, seeing bigger picture, thinking in ‘us/we’, putting someone else’s needs before yours etc etc…the list could go on. Now, I am very close to my due date and very hormonal, so cannot be writing about all of those…so let me make this specific to my Indian female friends who are confused about what they married into.

If your man has been raised in a typical Indian family, chances are he is dependent on someone else for little things. He might be good at doing household chores, but you have to specifically ask. He will definitely be used to of being pampered and not taking full responsibility of another human being, especially in emotional sense. So ladies, basically, whether you have known him before your wedding or whether you are getting to know him, the first thing you should do is – STOP expecting a Bollywood kind of marriage (aka happily ever after). In fact, expect that in the least, he will be lost and hence, will be acting out every now and then (sometimes, too often). But just remember one thing – if he is not doing what you expected him to do i.e. the ever-so romantic gestures other people seem to be doing, does not mean he doesn’t care about you. In all probability, he doesn’t have any idea how to care for you and your feelings.

Let me elaborate. Think of how a boy in an Indian family is prepared for his marriage. Chances are that he has been told time and ever again one or both of the two things below:

One, that his wife will listen to anything and everything he says and will be waiting to serve him anything that he needs (she would even wash his underwear!). He will be treated like a king once he is married and his wife will be someone who feels honored to leave her family, friends and loved ones to love him and his family. From the first day into the wedding, she will feel grateful to have been given an opportunity to take care of all his needs and even those of his family and relatives.

Two, that once he is married, he will have someone to count on. This person will be there for him no matter what, even when he is least bothered about being there for them. So he can save his tantrums and demands for her and she will happily mother him like an infant.

Finally, the boy grows up with as unrealistic expectations from marriage as we girls do. Of course the difference being that our expectations center around love and romance and theirs, around pampering and being the king of the universe, without giving anything in return. What do you expect from such a guy? He will probably take years to understand that he shares some responsibility in the relationship called marriage, like it will take years for you to realize that there are some small gestures that still show you that he cares, though they might not be grand or even what you expected.

I remember attending a seminar once where a counselor  told me that it takes Indian men to accept marriage much longer than it takes women since their upbringings are so different. Yes, things are changing now, but if you were born in the 80s, chances are you could be in a similar situation or know someone who is.

So be patient and start looking for those little things – like he calls you from work for no reason, just because you didn’t call to ask when he will be home; when you are not well, he asks if you want to eat out (most men won’t offer to cook, owing to an “Indian” upbringing); when you are irritated for no reason, he will not react thinking its PMS (it might not be, but at least there’s no fight just because he assumes it is!). Look for the not-so-grand things he does over the weeks, and you will see a pattern emerge. In the beginning, it would be unnoticeable gestures, which might start growing over time and before you know, he would one day do something that you did not expect him to do but meant a lot to you (might even be something you NEVER expected from him).

Here is an example of what my dear hubby did recently, apart from all the wonderful things he has been doing so far. We moved twice in my last trimester and I was experiencing all classical symptoms of premature delivery (thankfully. the baby decided to stay in till it was time), so I was stressed. My husband not only calmed me in those stressful moments, but also did most of the packing and unpacking. He even asked the kids to help me around and they happily did. In fact, I never expected moving and settling down into a new house could be so easy!

In conclusion, most Indian men brought up in a typical environment will behave like jerks for at least a year into the marriage, some even longer, depending on the conditioning. The trick is to be patient and look for the good things in him, tell him about those things and over the years, you will see the benefit of hanging on to him. He will love you more and more as you grow older.

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After giving birth to two children and raising them for so many years, I thought I knew what I was doing. One difficult pregnancy and another life-threatening delivery later, I believed I knew everything there was to know about pregnancy. I was sure it would be a cake walk the third time around. So, when I came to know about this pregnancy, I was not at all worried, rather I felt so comfortable as I knew what I was supposed to do…wasn’t I? Well, I was so wrong there!

The first 3 months were hard as expected, but this time around, the nausea was as bad as it can be. And I finally realized it was much better to be throwing up all the time, than to be having the feeling without any output…errgh! I started hating food items that have been a constant presence in my life till now. I cannot even look at certain of them. On the other hand, I would sometimes have strong cravings for something and when I ate it, I wouldn’t want to have it again. I am still not able to able to understand what I like these days – sweet, spicy, Italian, Chinese…there is no constant anymore and variables are all in some other plane than my little mind can comprehend.

Anyway, I counted weeks since they say the second trimester is the easiest, and guess what…does anything in my life go as planned? The onset of fourth month brought different set of problems with it. I was even bed ridden for a week. And now, I am thinking “God, just give me the strength to go through all this with a smile.”

Then, there is the issue of finding maternity clothing….either I have too big a bump (though I see them all around, but the makers of maternity clothing seem to think so!!!) or this place is not good for being pregnant (of course another surprise since Qatar is one of those countries where people are encouraged to have more kids). Anyway, I have come up with some temporary solutions, since I know anything that I buy will anyway last only for a couple of months! I even went to the extent of using hubby’s rarely worn long and loose shirts, and I wish he was fatter 🙂 (he will hate me for this but I am desperate).

All in all, as they say every pregnancy is different…I got rid of my “know-it-all” syndrome and dealing with each day as it comes; I think this is the only way.

The best part this time is that since my other two kids are grown up enough to understand, they are pretty excited about the ‘new baby’. In fact, they are counting days and keep asking me questions – the gender, when exactly he/she will be born, how are babies born, what size are they on their birth, when can older siblings start taking care of small babies etc. Of course, their excitement keeps me excited too, and sometimes I too get impatient like them…but then I think,  it’s really easier to take care of yourself in pregnancy than to take care of a new born…so let me just enjoy it while it lasts 🙂

Today is Mother’s Day. Ideally, my kids would have written something for me. They did. My daughter made me a wonderful card, wrote very loving things in it and she even fixed me a snack. They hugged me and kissed me and wished me. And I was touched. Again. I don’t know how the children manage to touch a chord inside your heart so often. I wonder for how long this will last. This thought scared me a little. So I sat down to write something for them today – a message for them when they are older, when they need me and I am not around.

This is what I would say to them.

My dearest Chunchu & Shiku,

If there is a God, I experienced His love through you. I felt love that I could not ever imagine existed, with you. There are many people who have loved me and I have loved, yet what I have with you both cannot be compared with any other joy in my life. I wonder how incomplete my life would be without you. I cannot begin to fathom if I would even know the depth of my own feelings, if it was not for you. So thank you, for becoming a part of my life and showing me what love is all about. Thank you for being my wonderful children and for loving me.

I would like you both to understand this. I know and I believe that whatever life throws at you, you can handle it with as much finesse as you colored with your little hands and as much dedication you put in learning a new thing, when you were little. I assure you that there will be at least equal measures of good and wonderful moments in your life as any tough moments you have to face. I can tell you that no matter what choices you make, you will achieve what you ought to achieve and you will be your best, always. I was and will always be proud of you.

Children, you were my angels, who brought light and hope into my life. Know this. My life meant a great deal because of you. Irrespective of any arguments we ever had, I was always on your side.

I wish you experience the same joy and same love with your children. I have and will always love you more than my life.

Your mom,

Manisha

Creativity is a good thing to have. And it is even better if you can use it in your everyday life, especially when you have very curious young children. My son is one of the most inquisitive people I have seen 🙂 His questions never stop coming. Even while I am giving him a bath, he is asking me one question after another. So I need to be thinking on my feet all the time in order to satisfy his inquisitive mind and to put it in simple enough way to make him understand. Also, sometimes, the questions cannot be answered by simple truth, so I have to make all kinds of stories around them so that his young mind can take away a good thing/value from the conversation. In a very strict sense, I am not telling the truth and probably being manipulative but then the truth might not be interesting enough for a child. So I create stories about simple things in life.

For example, consider this. When I knew I was expecting my son, my daughter was just about a year old. And I had read all these articles about older siblings feeling jealous of a new baby that I was scared. I figured the best way to help my daughter accept and love her baby brother was to start before he was born. So I started telling her how Goddess Gauri* was going to grant her a beautiful wish. I let her spend time with her favorite doll and kept telling her she will have a  baby like the doll to play with. I used to point at my tummy and tell her that her gift was growing there and will be out soon. I tried to tell her in the best way I could and I am not sure how well she understood me, but she responded to my son’s birth very well. She never felt jealous of him and though she was only 19 months when he was born, she behaved like a responsible elder sis towards him. I don’t know if my talking to her about his arrival had anything to do with it, yet I continued to tell her the story. The story was this. A little girl was born to a couple who had prayed for her and they loved her very much. Then, she grew up a little and would play with her mom & dad. Though she enjoyed their company and loved her parents very much, yet she wanted to play with a child. So she prayed to Goddess Gauri to give her a little brother. Since Goddess Gauri is very kind and listens to everyone’s prayers, especially children’s, She granted the little girl her wish and said “Dear little girl, your brother will come to your home on May 8, 2008, who will love you and be your friend for life. You have to promise to love him and take care of him.” So, Shiku arrived into our lives on the promised date.

I thought I was quite smart and started using this story every time the children fought with each-other or complained about each-other, reminding them that they were supposed to love each-other. But this generation of kids is even smarter.

One day, while I was telling this story the nth time to Chunchu and Shiku, he really got irritated and said, “But mom, this means didi (big sister in Hindi) wanted me as her brother. But I never prayed for her! So why do I have to put up with her?” I must admit I was stunned for a few moments! His question was right at the mark! For few moments, my mind went blank and I uttered a few ahh’s and umm’s. Then, I turned to him and told him another story.

I said, “Shiku, I am glad you asked. But do you really think this choosing for siblings is a one way process?” And he was like, “So? What happens?” And I replied, “You know where little kids stay before they are born?” He said, remembering my answer to another of his questions, “Yes, I know. The little kids stay with Goddess Gauri. I remember you had told me some time back.” I was encouraged by his belief and continued with my story, “So when Goddess receives a wish/prayer from a child for a younger sibling, she asks all the unborn children to gather in a big room. This room has a big projector. The purpose of this projector is to look into the lives of the children who are already born and praying for a sibling. So Goddess shows the unborn children a few hours from the life of the child who has wished for a brother or sister. Same thing happened when Chunchu wished for a brother. The Goddess gathered Shiku and all children in the room as is the process and she put on the projector. Everyone saw one-year old Chunchu playing around the house. Every few minutes, she would go to her mom and would cuddle her. She was talking in baby language and was so happy. She looked very beautiful and lovable. Then, Goddess Gauri asked every child in the room who wanted the little girl as their elder sister. Shiku liked Chunchu so much that he raised his hand before anyone else and started yelling – I want her to be my didi. Gauri smiled and asked him if he was sure or if he wanted to look at more footage to decide. Shiku replied he was sure. So then, it was decided that Shiku will be born in Chunchu’s home.”

And to this day, I do not know how I thought of this whole situation about Goddess Gauri and unborn children, but I smiled to myself after the narration and said, “Well done, Manisha!” So now, whenever Shiku and Chunchu fight, I tell them the complete story – of how they chose each-other. Also, they love the story.

Perhaps some day, when they grow up, they will know I was just cooking up something. But who knows – perhaps that’s how it really happens 😉

*Goddess Gauri – A Hindu diety, who is believed to very kind hearted and an epitome of mother’s love.

Yeah, my adorable daughter, my little princess is 6 years old. And all I remember of these six years is tonnes of wonderful memories…beautiful days…’happy tears’ moments…everything that comes with the joys of motherhood!

I look at Chunchu and I wonder – what good deed I do to expect this joy in my life? They are right when they say “every child comes with a message that God is not disappointed with man”…my children, in fact, are a message from the Almighty that He is looking after me and loves me! It is a privilege to be surrounded by such immense love, every single moment of your life (touch wood)!

Ever since she came into my life, I have never been short of inspiration, strength, positivity and contentment. She is not a part of my life, but a part of me. Together, Chunchu and Shiku complete me.

I pray to the Lord to bless my dear children with lots of happiness and love in their lives.

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