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Parents Say ‘What!’: Q and A with Neha Singh (Co-Founder, Confettish) & Mommy to 3 yr. old Janya)

This Thursday I’m back to asking parents to sleep a little less, think a little more and answer some questions about their almost always fun and never ever dull lives. Joining me today is Gurgaon, India based Neha Singh, entrepreneur (Co-Founder, Confettish) and mother to three year old Janya.

Neha and daughter JanyaNeha says she was an unprepared mother, never having held a baby in her hand. “Let me admit, I never really liked kids.” Her daughter Janya was her first ‘baby’ experience.

After a short break from work (six months), Janya became a daycare baby while Neha continued to work as a full-time Management Consultant. “Our evenings were our sacred parent-kiddo time when we played games, talked about our days (ya really! In Baby language!), discovered how the tiniest of things could make this blob of flesh to gurgle and laugh endlessly and explored crawling/rolling over/standing/dancing and finally climbing onto the couch.” Neha feels her motherhood journey has been spontaneous, honest and fulfilling because everyday she focuses on being herself first and then a mother. “I don’t allow negativities, judgements and ‘good to do’ advice guide me – I would rather look inwards for finding the best way to deal with any situation”. From traveling with her daughter (over 6 countries and 14 flights) to taking her for almost every party/movie/social gathering, she feels the two of them have grown together. From being a woman who really didn’t know what does one ever do to entertain kids – to being a mum who enjoys playing with her & her friends in the sand pit, Neha admits that her daughter has made her feel loved like she had never known.

As mom and daughter continue discovering new things together, I’m curious to know what makes their relationship tick and what Neha feels she could do without! Here’s how things look:

In one word, life as a parent is

Adventurous

The easiest thing about parenting

 Feeding, Bathing, Changing – these are the basics and a very very small part of parenting

3 things that make you want to pull your hair out

1) Judgmental Aunties – someone please tell them the world changed since 1955!

2) My daughter growing up to have an opinion of her own (already!) – she is just 3 yrs old! Its makes me mad but it also makes me happy that she is finding her own feet

3) The Constant Mess in my House!

Something you’ve lied about to your kid(s)

Small lies aren’t lies really – are they? Something funny though is that since she is used to my morning tea routine and ‘dipping’ her biscuits/rusk in it every morning – I have recently started getting her to dip it in chocolate milk faking it as ‘her own cup of tea’ – lets see how far this goes!

Most embarrassing moment as a parent

I think I left the word ’embarrass’ back at the delivery room – there have been so many moments since, that I’ve lost count.
Most recently, when she decided to constantly stay in her own make believe world (which is made up of Doreamon, Chotta Bheem and Princess Sofia) while I had an interaction session for her school admissions with the Academic Head. Now you see this was embarrassing because she is usually a quiet and shy kid – and I wanted to let this gentleman know that I need the school to pay special attention to this. Of course, he calmly told me – “I don’t think shyness is a problem here, ma’am!”

One thing you’ve learned from your kid(s)

Questioning everything – I think adults forget to ask! We just tend to follow now..

A pre-parenting thing you miss the most

My extremely social calendar – while I do a lot of home parties now, I’m always suffering from mommy guilt.

I’m also quite a workaholic – I worked hours on end even till month 8 of my pregnancy – I continue to work as much as I can, but mommy guilt never leaves me.

An unforgettable thing your child said or did

We have a good morning and good night hug and kiss routine in our house. On night just after doing the Good Night hug – Janya flings here arms around me and says, ‘Mumma I love you – main aapko kabhi chodh ke nahi jaungi” (I will never leave you) I swear I could have cried with joy!

You laugh out loud when

Janya breaks into her dance routine as soon as she hears the latest Bollywood number – lets just say, she has her own ‘style’ 🙂

A tip (or two) for new parents

Follow your heart and not anyone else’s words.

Really Listen to your kid(s) – its not about the number of hours we spend but how intently we try to understand our kid in the hours we spend with them.

If you’d like to participate in this series or nominate a friend, holler on Twitter or leave a message below and I’ll be saying ‘Hi’ very soon!

 

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10 Lessons from 15 Years of Love

Jacqueline Roque by Pablo PicassoLast month, we turned 15. “We” meaning the husband & I before we were the husband and I, including the time we didn’t feel very “we” if you ask me. We’ve known each other too long you’d think, for there to be any surprises. But surprise each other we do, every now and then, with the serenades, the same yet different notes in each other we’ve come to recognise and love and with how colossal fights can be (the frequency is 1 almost-tear-us-apart sort every 5 years).

Like all things in life should do, we’ve accumulated lessons (which I dole out to love newbies every other day) and which hopefully he and I will remember each day, particularly when the next big war is due.

1. You’re a team

As easy as it sounds, this one gets lost in the melewe of the daily grind, resembling You vs Me most often. Life (spent together) will take enough rough shots at us, and our ability to fight them will always be determined by whether we add each other to the enemy line or stand beside each other (with the gloves on) and take ’em down.

2. Simplify Simplify Simplify

For the sake of arguing, there’s a whole lot to pick up on. But very little of that is truly important. So before you start building ammunition to take each other down, stop and think if it’s really that important. Because some arguments are important and deserve to be shared. Do them justice by leaving out the riff raff.

3. When it comes to each other’s families, play a good guide

You know your respective families the best. So guide each other on some basics on what might be within respectful behaviour lines. Each family is different (don’t have the which is better argument EVER) so just follow each other’s lead and you’ll be fine, as long as you respect the guidance and follow through. (Corollary to #3: Never begin a sentence with “Your mother…”)

4. Go for Core Competencies

It’s amazing how we’re so happy to delegate responsibility in accordance with core competencies at work but in personal relationships we’re often hoarders, refusing to budge from ‘our terrain’. The home world is a happier place if you share work. And avoid a postmortem analysis!

5. Don’t Sleep on an Argument

Unlike other problems that seem to improve when you revisit them the next day, it actually helps to sleep on a clean slate when it comes to things bothering you about your relationship. If your concern passes the test in #2 then it’s better to say it now rather than later. Collecting only results in avalanches much later and are certainly more damaging.

6. The Little Things are the Big things

Vacation romances and weekly/fortnightly dates are important, but the morning hug, the random email during the day (because it feels more like a letter than an SMS), the smile at dinner are markers of the “we” you chose to become. It’s the reason you wanted to wake up to and with this person every day of your life.

7. Don’t let the humour die

Jean Luc Goddard said a couple that doesn’t enjoy the same films will eventually divorce. I like to believe a couple that doesn’t laugh at atleast some of the same things will grow apart. A common language of humour is the pillar that holds it all together. Because if you can’t let out guffaws with each other, life will resemble a silent motion picture that isn’t even cool.

8. Introspect

To become better versions of the “we”, you need to make time to look within the “you”. We’re always so busy telling the world what is wrong with it that we hardly have time to know ourselves. Don’t lose out on a wonderful opportunity to understand what you’re all about. Then every relationship will not be reactive, but rather a conscious, living action of who and what you want to be.

9. Don’t Compare

We all know that couple who always posts happy pictures from countless holidays or their always – perfect home. Sometimes we play that couple too. But it helps to remember that everyone is fighting some or the other battle, even if they’re doing a wonderful job cloaking it. Holidays are for leaving the phone behind, life is for the relentless pursuit of your version of happiness. Do it your way, carry along the people that truly matter and focus your energy on the living, not necessarily the way – it – looks – on – Instagram variety.

10. Give Thanks

How often have you said thank you to your partner? Yes there are things you think is their duty but it certainly doesn’t hurt to show love and gratitude, especially when our daily lives resemble a chihuahua on a sugar high & roller skates going downhill. Stop, take notice and let them (your partner, not the imaginary chihuahua) know why they’re extra special & why you feel butterflies-in-your-stomach excited when you spot them in the crowd.

Have any lessons from your (im)perfect love and life to share? I’m all ears!

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17 Lessons from Driving for Vrooming through Life

DrivingThe act of driving can teach you a thing or two (actually several, as I found out) about life.

Your reactions and the decisions you make behind the wheel can often be replicated in the non-driving situations you face in life.

 

1. Staying calm is an art, especially when horns are bellowing around you and bus drivers are screeching past within centimeters of your vehicle. But if you can manage to BREATHE EASY while the world around you is dancing to chaotic tunes, you’ve got yourself a lesson well learnt.

2. There is also the neat skill required in WALKING THE THIN LINE between knowing when to let things be (like when the car behind you touches the bumper ever so slightly) and knowing when its alright to throw decorum out of the window and let the choicest abuses roll off your tongue (but all this while being aware that the latter reaction should be resorted to when all else fails and when you’re unlikely to ever meet the person/people you’re addressing in this manner).

3. It is to your benefit to know that people can’t always be trusted. A person indicating to turn left is just as likely to create hassles for others and instead turn right. The key is to realise that ANYTHING can happen and EVERYTHING is what you need to be prepared for.

4. If you always let others manoeuver their way to get in front of you, soon enough you’ll fall behind. So it’s quite alright to honk and move ahead to MAKE YOUR PRESENCE FELT and your stand crystal clear.

5. When you have a car breakdown, there will be those (very few) who stop to help and the majority who pass by thinking “I’m so glad that didn’t happen to me”. The idea is to be grateful for the former (and become like them) while ignoring the latter. And if nobody stops to help (or watch) you’ll have the When-I-managed-it-all-alone story to tell and be proud of.

6. Sitting in the co-driver seat can often be a nerve-wracking experience. But when you’re not in control its best to advise on things the driver can’t see and you can, while trusting the person to take care of everything else. Things usually run smoothly that way. After all it isn’t good sense to get anxious about things you can’t possibly control. So DO WHAT YOU CAN TO HELP and then just SHUT UP.

7. If you want to drive rash and throw caution to the winds, do it on your own time. It’s unfair to get people to partner you on the road to possible self-destruction.

8. If you must break the rules (jumping red-lights, speeding, etc.) you better not harm others. And also…DON’T GET CAUGHT.

9. Someday was your first day behind the wheel. So just give the slow-moving newcomers a break. DON’T BE A BULLY. If anything, give learners a smile and a thumbs-up when you cross them.

10. No matter how great the spot looks before you park, you will see a better spot after you have parked and are getting out of the car. DON’T FRET. You’ve managed to park you car and at that moment it’s all that matters. Nobody’s distributing prizes for getting to the best parking space. Just get over it and go do what you actually came for.

11. Traffic jams don’t last forever. So when your plans have been temporarily halted, first look for a possible way out. When you’ve tried and can’t find any, just MAKE THE MOST OF THE TIME YOU HAVE. Do something exciting enough to remember this traffic jam for a long time to come or at least till the next jam comes up. Call a friend and make small talk, listen to your favorite song on loop (and sing along, if you don’t mind the stares), read the book in your bag or if gentleman-luck is shining on you, you could feast your eyes on fellow traffic-jammers. Give yourself a break and have a good time.

12. Wearing seat-belts (or helmets) makes sense, even if their absence can’t give you deadly diseases. If things can protect you from possible harm, it makes sense to use ’em.

13. Rearview mirrors are a blessing if you’re the kind of person who likes to know what’s happening around you. While you’re moving on ahead, it’s great to be able to SEE WHO’S CATCHING UP.

14. It’s always nice to HAVE A CLEAR VISION, so keep your windscreen clean. Because when people come riding in the opposite direction with headlights shining on you, you don’t want to lose your focus by being blinded.

15. You’re as powerful and capable as you think you are. Just because you’re sitting in a Maruti 800 doesn’t mean an SUV has the right of passage. THE ROAD DOESN’T CARE HOW BIG YOUR VEHICLE IS. If you know how to manage the turns (and the bumps), you’re as good as anybody or better than most.

16. It’s always good to CONCENTRATE ON THE BIG PICTURE – Your final destination. When you do that, getting lost doesn’t seem so bad. You might have to take a detour and it will take longer than usual. You may even need to go back on the road you just passed, but if it gets you out and onto your final destination, it can’t be the worst thing to happen to you. And asking for directions doesn’t show you to be incompetent. Admitting your lack of knowledge may be a small distraction if other people can help you get where you want.

17. And more often than not, the best thing is to TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. If you travel on the road that ‘seems’ right to you, pure joy is what you’ll feel when your decision is vindicated. And if it turns out that you were wrong, at least you can be happy that no one else got the luxury of spoiling things for you.