Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sign of Light

In light of our recent challenges with J, DB send me a short note this afternoon :
"You are making J feel like she can never make a mistake, you need to prove and demonstrate to her through actions that you will forgive her when she does make a mistake.. her recent behavior is her way of testing a self fulfilling prophecy"
That is possibly the best summary of everything that describes the dynamic between J and I. On the one hand I want to be the mother who is always available, is able to walk in her shoes and understand the importance of balance. To that end, her schedule is fairly light, the supervision is on an as needed basis and I never talk down to her or be disrespectful. On the other hand, I do have a high bar in terms of my expectations from her - I want her to be a very genuine person, have the capacity for empathy and be brave.  It turns out that meeting these standards is significantly harder than making good grades. So DB is right that I expect her to be perfect (as a human being) and not make mistakes. It would be much easier for her if I was holding her feet to the fire over bad grades. In fact, my lack of interest in her grades is somewhat frustrating to her being that she is not able to parley her As to gain my favor - or use them as a pass for bad behavior
As a remedy to the situation, I have set free J from the stranglehold of expectation. I told her today that it was her choice to meet my expectations from her or not. If she chose to repeat mistakes or withhold information from me, there might be consequences that would not be in my power to save her from. No matter what decision she made, I would still do everything I was doing for her as a mother and love her just as much.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Perfect Gift

This was a Mother's Day with difference. J is of the age now when she makes less than judicious choices about what to share with her parents and what to keep to herself. While she does not care too much about fitting in with her peers, she does have the need to have to lead the pack. The way this comes about is not always good for her but the only way she knows right now.

It has not helped that the hormones have just started to kick in and boys are starting to become interesting. The combination of forces, have produced some unexpected and unwelcome resultants recently.  So when J asked me like she does every year, what I would like for Mother's Day, I asked for a few things instead of one.

Being kind to me - as in not betraying my trust, telling me everything  no matter how unpleasant, unnecessary (in her mind) or disappointing. I also asked that she make an effort to express anger and other negative emotions instead of bottling them all up. We talked about how unexpressed anger can lead to anxiety and depression ; how everyone had a right feel anger and resentment - that it was okay for her to be angry at her parents. Since writing comes to her easily, I suggested that she write exactly how she felt in that moment of rage and keep it private. And today, to come clean with all everything she's kept from me for a while - out of fear, shame or plain old carelessness.

So we spent a couple of hours talking and when we were done, it was time for breakfast. I made J's favorite - pancakes. J said "I feel like my insides were emptied out" as she enjoyed them. It may have just been my imagination but the child's body language suggested a sense of lightness. This may not be the last time we have to do this "detox" but at least, I am learning there will be a  need to do so - I should be able to prompt her when I see her being weighed down, being abrupt, taking too long to formulate answers to simple questions - a few of the many signs I am learning to read. I hope in time, J will give me all the gifts I asked for this Mother's Day on her own, without me asking for them.

Friday, May 11, 2012


Vignettes from a day past,
the shade of myrtle
an unlocked door
to darkness at noon
The furious wind that
husked tall blades of
grass. The sun had moved
along the western sky
The smell of fresh soap
mingled in water,
before the last time.

Monday, May 07, 2012

J's Coming

Eleven years too late to log this.. I must written this the Feb 2001. Seems like a past life..and in a sense it was. This is meant to be my "return gift" to J for Mother's Day. As every year, she is getting anxious about getting me the perfect gift can't imagine what would be perfect enough.

I was getting used to having the magic inside me, the daily wonder, deep emotional stirrings unlike anything I had ever felt before. In the meanwhile a more material business of looking for a new job was at hand. The interview was a little different this time. A recruiter met me for lunch at the Red Bull Steakhouse – the nearest place from my work. And then a couple of phone interviews though the company was local. I was a little surprised. I was made an offer even before I had a chance to see the premises. R and I decided to drive down to the address (which was a seedy part of town) before accepting it. We drove down Smallman Street which is lined with old unused factory sheds to get there. The bars and pubs along the way were getting ready for the evening’s business. A general sense of gloom if not spookiness overtook as darkness gathered apace at sunset. We reached our address after circling around the block a couple of times to find a place to park.

My new office was this beat up colorless building that looked very little like the corporate America I had seen thus far. The company had started out from a woman’s bedroom a few years ago and then moved to here – a residential area that was now being converted to house small businesses. R was rather skeptical about the deal and asked me to think hard if I really wanted this.

Only a few days ago I had interviewed at a swank office on Fifth Avenue – the woman seemed very distracted and confused. The interview was more like a chat about life's vagaries hers and mine and how her whole world was thrown out of gear when her car had to be sent to a garage after meeting with a major accident.

Apparently with all the snow storms many cars were damaged and they were all lined up waiting their turn at the machine that would fix them. Our friend was a late entry on the accident scene and was assigned at the tail end of the queue. She wore this big diamond ring and some other interesting jewelry and I spent my time invaluably contemplating the intricacies of the designs.

The contrast was appalling but one factor decided me. I would be working from home three days in a week. I could not ask for more with my overpowering morning sickness, I could have killed for those few extra hours in bed. My body begged for rest. It seemed a God-sent proposition and I accepted without the slightest hesitation. After five years of quitting jobs whenever I so fancied , here I was at last, wishing to stay on at this one for ever and ever. What a few hours of bonus sleep can do for worker motivation is amazing.
We had in the meanwhile started these little apartment hunting excursions that took us all over the burbs. Beautiful journeys but not very exciting destinations. We hardly ever liked what we saw. It is an old city where people come to settle down. Homes are easier to come by than apartments are. The floating population is quite minimal. We had made a conscious decision to stay on in the North Hills as we loved the place and its conveniences.

That narrowed our choice to just a few apartment communities – most of which we had seen when we first came to here. However, on Saturday afternoons we drove down to check out the possibilities and came back almost resolved to stay on at the Oaks. It was a decision that we were not too unhappy about but we still hoped to make it elsewhere by Fall when my parents would visit me and the most important person in my whole world would come into my life. I wanted to do something new and different for the homecoming of that special someone.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Turtle Necklace

J got me a gift from her recent field trip - a necklace with a mother of pearl pendant shaped like a turtle. This would be the first time I have got such a gift from J and it felt very special. Small rite of passage in her life and mine. She would likely not remember anything about it in a few years but the turtle has found a home in my jewelry box. To me this is another "first" in her life - the oldest and the fondest memory being the first time she smiled at me. To J, it is just a pretty trinket she picked up at an aquarium gift shop.