Author: obsessivemom

Welcome vanity

Welcome vanity

When I go home for the summer the one thing I do is take a mental break from being a parent and reconnect with the person I used to be. There are enough people around to pull me back the moment they see the mom-in-me taking over me-the-person.

And so it was that my sister pointed out a change that had happened so slowly, so unobtrusively, that I had barely noticed it. Since I gave up full time office I stopped bothering about the way I look.

That doesn’t mean I have become sloppy or untidy or that I lounge around in my night clothes all day. In fact, I like the routine of sitting down at my work table neatly dressed and ready to take on the day.

The difference is – it’s all done mechanically. I don’t give a thought to what I wear. I wear what I always wear. When I was going out to work, I dressed with care. If I was out on an assignment I’d be even more careful, dressing up according to where I was going or who I was meeting. I enjoyed that. It was part of the happiness of going to work. Clothes, pretty clothes, cheered me up. They do still, but somewhere along the way I stopped indulging myself.

If you are a stay-at-home-parent or a work-from-home-person you might comprehend how that happens.

Comfort takes over fashion completely. Not that I was ever ‘fashionable’ but I did own at least one pair of heels which I would fish out when the occasion demanded, I’d visit the parlour regularly and I’d wear a sari to work somedays just for fun.

Now, I find I come up with all kinds of reasons to not dress up – the sari is too cumbersome, heels too uncomfortable, skirts make me look fat, salwar suits are too difficult to maintain and so on.

So I pull on a pair of tights or my jeans and a tee and I’m good to go just about anywhere, a dressy shirt when I’m going out, a plain one when I’m home. As for the sneakers – I practically live in them. Formal events, specially those where I need to wear traditional clothes, are few and far between and always lead to panic (WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR!) so much that I look for ways to avoid them. This really needs to change.

Watching my mom is an inspiration. She religiously sticks to her nightly self-care routine, never steps out for her evening walk without changing into a starched and ironed salwar kurta and spends hours at weavers’ exhibitions picking out the most gorgeous saris.

So here it is – my resolution for the rest of the year, rest of my life hopefully: I will have more fun with the way I look.

With the children a little grown up I do have the time. Also, the change might not be huge in the physical sense of it. All one might notice is an extra dash of lip colour, the occasional eyeliner, painted toe-nails, open toed sandals or a bit of heel. Flamboyance was never my thing. Besides, this transformation is more from the inside, more about trying new things, about taking an interest in and enjoying the way I look.

The weight is there of course, it’s going to be there for sometime, maybe longer, maybe forever. However, that really shouldn’t stop me, right?

Some amount of vanity cannot hurt.

This piece here argues that vanity can be an effective motivator. So if I start enjoying the way I look I might actually be motivated to lose weight and look better and get further motivated and so on in a delightful cycle.

Sounds good, huh?

Linking up with Linking up with Nabanita’s Mommy Talks

A normal birthday

A normal birthday

Amidst the crazy cheers of some twenty children ranging from the ages of 8 to 15 crammed in one small living room, H and N turned eleven this weekend.

This year they were very clear in that they wanted a ‘normal’ birthday party which, according to them, they had ‘never ever had’. The Husband and I were quite lost and if, like us, you are wondering what a normal party is here’s how they explained it to us: It should be at home (groan!). They should be allowed to invite all their friends (double groan!). It should have music and dancing and games, gifts and return gifts – the whole deal. Seriously, I see no signs of these two growing up soon.

Even the Husband, who is exceptionally good at bargaining, couldn’t sway them this time round. The only deal he could strike was that this would be the last of its kind and that at twelve they would really be too grown up to be found playing passing the parcel at their birthday party.

That is how, come Saturday, we pulled out every single birthday cliché to put up a normal party. And it turned out to be as crazy, noisy, chaotic an affair as they come.

While the children and their friends had the time of their lives here’s what I did through those two hours..

Separated bunches of younger ones as they wrestled on the floor
Yelled at the top of my voice to explain the rules of the games
Yelled again to get them organised into teams
Handled charges of cheating from the losing team
Yelled some more to reiterate that my decision was final
Pacified one of the girls when someone shot party snow all over her face
Ran out to get the candles because I had assumed the cake guy would put them in and he didn’t
Lighted the candles on the cake more than once because someone blew them before the birthday girl and boy could get to them
Nipped the cream smearing ceremony in the bud
Made sure the plates were piled with cake, pizza and noodles.

I couldn’t have done it without my ever supportive sis-in-law and my dearest niece. Whew!

Don’t get me wrong, I love to have the children’s friends over and every weekend we have a bunch of them huddled together in their room. That was one reason I started the book club too. However twenty of them together, each in a rowdier frame of mind than the next, is a little beyond me.

Maybe I am just getting old even as the twins show no signs whatsoever of growing up. Oh while on growing up I have to add they did help with the party. They handled the invitations all on their own, from designing to printing and distributing them. During the party, H conducted the games and helped maintain order (when he remembered that he was the host, that is). N gave her inherent diva a rest and played the perfect hostess, passing out the food like a pro and making sure the younger ones were well looked after.

The two of them finally got their heart’s desire – the post party hugs and thank yous were proof enough and that made it all quite worthwhile. Doesn’t it always? As I hugged them close, glad that they were in my life, a part of me was praying they would remember to keep their deal next year.

Linking up with #Chatty Blogs from Shanaya Tales

And with Mackenzie at Reflections from Me

Raising Financially Savvy Tweens

Raising Financially Savvy Tweens

The annual visit to the hometown means the children come back loaded with cash. That their birthday is round the corner and that this is the only opportunity for both sets of grandparents to pamper them silly, makes it only worse.

Last year they collected huge amounts of money from various relatives and then had huger arguments over what was to be done with it. I vetoed all their plans and amidst an epic battle deposited it all in the bank.

This year I categorically banned everyone at home from giving them cash. And if someone (who I wasn’t able to intimidate) did hand them some, I appropriated it right away and directed it into their accounts.

Very high handed of me, I know. But I do dislike the constant obsessive discussions about money with little thought for saving.

When the children were younger I tried to get them to save but it didn’t quite work out. And I gave up on the idea.

As they turn eleven perhaps this is the right time to give the money thing another serious shot. I’ve considered giving them pocket money as also paying them for household chores but I’ve not been able to work out the How of it. The questions that bother me are:

How much and how frequently should they get pocketmoney?
Also, how do we demarcate what it should be used it for?
Should I pay them for household chores?
If I do, how do I prevent them from putting a price on ALL household chores?
Or refusing the ones they aren’t paid for?

After much research and thought here are ideas that I think might work for me:

1. Start giving them pocket money (a small amount maybe Rs50 or Rs100 a month). They can use it for candies or small stationery. As I see it, that is all they should need to shop for on their own.

2. Make a Spending Jar and a Saving Jar. I loved the concept. To prod them towards saving I will offer to double whatever their Saving Jar has at the end of the month. Also, whatever goes into the Saving Jar goes straight to their accounts unless they need the money for a specific purpose like a birthday or an anniversary.

3. Take them to the bank and let them handle their Pass Books so they feel a sense of ownership for the money rather than thinking, ‘Mum took it away’.

4. Make them my Financial Assistants: Let them participate in day to day handling of money – for instance when we go grocery shopping or out to places like McDonald’s. They can do the Math, pay the bill and give me an account.

5. Our apartment complex lets kids put up stalls for Children’s Day. So they could put up a stall and try to work out the Profit/Loss. We used to have things like this in school where we’d put up stalls of Bhelpuri or Aaloo chaat – simple things that we could make and sell. In fact, it isn’t a bad idea to get more children involved in this initiative.

6. Involve them in household budgeting, specially for special events. I intend to start right away with their birthday – planning the expenses and deciding how much should be spent on what.

This post is rather exploratory and I know this really isn’t enough but I hope to make a start. I’d love to hear your views on how you get your children to understand about spending and saving. Have any of you tried paying them for household chores? What kind of chores did you give them? Was it a monthly thing? How did you handle it if they missed a day or a few days?

I’d love for you to share.

 

Linking up with  Kreative Mommy for her #MondayMommyMoments. Do drop by for ideas from other mums.
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Birthday shopping and strange choices

Birthday shopping and strange choices

 

The twins celebrate their birthday this week and we’ve been out shopping. The thing is, generally I pick out clothes for them on my own. And it works fine for us. We rarely shop together. But come June and they want to choose their clothes for the big day.

I like shopping. Or at least I used to think I liked shopping till I started doing it for the children, with the children. Now I just plain dread it. Do read my previous post on my experience in the mall.

If you’ve read the post and are back here you’ll know how I feel. Of course the children have grown since then however one thing remains the same – my firm belief that shopping and kids do not mix.

But something’s just have to be done. Hence, it is with great trepidation that we set out for the shopping trip and with even greater apprehension that I enter that first store. In the girls’ section we look for a place for H to make himself comfortable. We move onto the dresses the and N likes one almost instantly which I think is borderline over the top – a white frothy concoction with shiny lace. I prefer another one in a slightly muted colour, a lovely colour, if I may add. She tries both. Pictures are promptly dispatched to the aunt who is perceived as the more fashionable one. (Seriously!) She okays the daughter’s choice. I give in, glad to have gotten over with it in the very first store. We keep the dress aside and walk to another floor to look for the son’s clothes.

The salesman shows all kinds of fancy shirts – formal ones, informal ones, jackets, hoodies as also trousers, shorts and what not. He looks at them, rejects most, tries a few then says no to the rest of them too. I want a plain tee, he keeps insisting. The salesman pulls out all kinds of plain tees but they are all rejected. No one can fathom what he wants.

Never mind, I console myself at least one is done. Down we go to pick up N’s dress. And she refuses to buy it. Just refuses.
What if I find something l like better in the next store, she argues.
But there will always be better clothes out there somewhere, I reason. if you like this one, take it.
She digs in her heels, No she says, I want to check out more shops.

So we leave the dress and go on.

We spend an hour and half sorting through scores of clothes in scores of shops with an extremely bored H dragging his feet, disappearing in the lanes and by lanes looking for ‘something to eat’. And then when we would finish with one shop we would have to go looking for him before we entered the next one. He didn’t find any food and nor did we find another dress. So back we go to the same store, pick up the same dress (which mercifully was still there) and we are half way through.

We then head to a nearby mall for a quick lunch. H spots a branded sports store and drags me there. He picks out a jersey set.
This is what I want, says he with absolute certainty.

What? A teeshirt and a pair of shorts? That, by the way, cost way more than the daughter’s dress and don’t look half as as glam.

It’s their birthday, I remind myself, even as the son is saying the same thing on a loop. So we buy the jersey and head home after a good four hours. I’m not complaining though, I’ve been let off relatively easily this year.

Wait for their birthday pictures people – while she will be looking like a frothy concoction out of a fairytale, he is prepared to look his own version of Messy on the football field.

Choices I tell you!

Linking up with Mackenzie at Reflections from Me

Of friends and friendships

Of friends and friendships

Really, writing a post on friends and friendship is so very hard. Not because one doesn’t have much to say but because everything that one would say has already been said, over and over again, till all that remains is a bunch of tired clichés.

I’ve written about it often enough too. Friends have helped me become less judgemental, more accepting. They’ve helped me try out new things, offered a shoulder to cry on, heard out my rants and made me stick to resolutions.

As you grow older you move on from having a single all-purpose BFF, so to say, to a vast category of friends. As I try to write about some of them I’ll go with those that are top of my mind now.

It’s been a week since I got back from my hometown but I’m still a bit hungover so School Friends are bound to top the list. They are the best kind, aren’t they? I mean how can you not be friends with the girl whose plait got yanked by the teacher along with yours? Quite like Krishna yanked the reins of those horses in the battlefield of  Kurukshetra. School friends have been witness to the ultimate insults heaped upon you and not believed a single one of them. They are the ones who’ve known you from the time you were a plump tween battling the bulge and, if you are lucky, they are still with you as you turn into a middle age woman battling the bulge.

The thing is – to them it doesn’t matter.

They only remember you as the girl whose mum made the most smashing tiffin, the one who made a Bollywood parody out of Macbeth, or the one who could touch her tongue to her nose or one who couldn’t stop laughing even when she was sent out of class.

Those are the things that matter to them and that’s why they are special.

Neighbourhood friends were an integral part of my childhood but then as I grew and got caught up in academics and work I thought I’d didn’t need them at all, where was the time? Life seems to have come a full circle and I cannot imagine what I’d do without them.

 

Neighbours might not all be the sexy kind but they’re still a blessing

They are the ones who host you the time the door bangs shut just as you step out to put the trash. They also give you the number of the keymaker and assure you, you looked just fine in your frumpy faded nightdress. They take your couriers when you’re not around and even hand over the COD amount.
 They make rangolis at your doorstep and light diyas for you when you’re out for Diwali.
They’re the ones who hear/see your Taraka avatar with the children. They not only keep your secret but also keep loving you despite that.

How did I ever do without them!

And finally my very favourite kind – the Slightly Crazy-so-not-my-type of friends. This one is a bit of a peculiarity because you are pretty much poles apart and yet you connect at some strange level – the level headedness of one balancing the craziness of the other, mixing excitement and caution for a perfect cocktail that keeps you high but holds you back from going over the edge. These are the friends who got me to do things I’d never have done on my own. Things I would have wished I had done but never actually gone out and taken the plunge. But for them I would never have trekked to a fort with zero level of fitness, run a marathon (not a full one, just a baby one but id did get me walking), bought dangerously high heels or joined a Zumba class. What fun all of that turned out to be. I might soon be heading to Spanish class rather than slogging it out on Youtube as I’d originally planned.

Life would drab and dull without these crazy ones.

There, those are the friends I am grateful for today. Which are the friends you cherish most?

Linking up with Amrita for #ThankfulThursdays. Thank you for a fabulous prompt Amrita.

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Also linking up with Vidya’s Gratitude Circle Blog Hop. Do click on the link and head on over.