Finding roots again

Hey! It’s been a while. And things things look quite different around here no? Well, it’s been an impulsive revamp. I have been in a bit of a funk lately, feeling a bit out of control and unmoored; thus the impetuous changes in other, trivial aspects my life (hair, blog, screensaver, laundry detergent, tea bag, loofah….you get the drift).

The genesis of this virtual space is rooted in the singular loneliness of a new parent, especially a mother (sorry, I cannot be gender impartial at times like now). I have spoken of this before. Of how lonesome, tiring, and generally hard it can be. Of how nobody really tells you that is how it is going to be. People always warn you about any impending exams, tests, professional choices, homes, automobiles, phones even; but the act of having children is never reviewed or warned about, at least not until you’ve had them. Once in the club, people commiserate, but they would never tell you these things before you enter the hallowed halls of motherhood/ parenthood. Damn all of you!

I started writing on here as a mother of a newborn. The first one. The early posts were outrageously mommy- centric. And as I grew into my role, I starting writing about other aspects/ topics. There were even some attempts at fluff pieces (make up, bags, shoes), as I’d like to call them, but I have realised that at the end of day, this is one aspect of my life that is all- consuming. Therefore, it is a manic- mum- life (the title has greater meaning- I shall maybe someday share them).

I thought maybe it is the early days that are the hardest. Helpless bundle of cells and organs that human babies are. But I’m here to report (from the trenches no less), that it doesn’t seem to get any easier. Listening to Michelle Obama talk about it (how she was her own person, doing her own things and chasing life, even while in a marriage- until she had her first child), I realised- the resentments and feeling of helplessness aren’t entirely my own. My homemaker mother feels them, my working- mom friends feel them, our grandmothers felt them. Your other half generally gets to flit in and out, and contribute when they wish, but you have the major burden of responsibility- barring any unusual circumstance.

I now wonder about these things, because amidst the chaos of having young children and trying to have a semblance of a professional life, I had to move in with my parents for a while. Two years, in fact. And now that those two years are up, reflecting on them puts into perspective another thing that I’d heard from the Obamas – Mrs. Obama asked her mother to move in with them to the White House the entire duration they were there. For the childrens’ sake. For some order among the chaos.

Moving back with one’s parents has its downsides no doubt. Being treated like a child sometimes, when you are thirty and used to living life your way isn’t easy. Especially when you consider living in an Indian household. But the complete and utter freedom I felt of having my mother with my children while I was off to work (a surgical fellowship can be as taxing as a Presidency!) for long- stretches of time is unexplainable. You have to live it to believe it. I travelled to attend workshops, conferences; stayed away for days. I missed my kids, so did they; but not for one moment was I concerned about their well- being or safety. My children had another person to be ‘their person’, apart from me. A person to run to when hurt or sick. The next best thing to their mother- or maybe even better (the selflessness of a grandmother trumps the duty- bound cares of a mother). It was in short, a miracle. Suddenly, at least for a while, I had found an island of calm. I could learn my craft, be a good mother, be a better surgeon, work on projects and things that were important to me prior to becoming a mum; and generally find myself again.

Like all things in life, that too had to come to an end of course. Shorn of the luxury, moving to a new city, looking for a another job and trying to get used to ‘ the new normal’ again has been gritty. I am often left thinking of the early days with my firstborn, the utter all- consuming nature of them. The children suddenly bereft of their ‘people’ seem to cling to me with a fervour that I haven’t seen since they were nine months old. Staying at home with them full time for the past couple of months has amplified it all. And yes, I have lost my people too. The upside of being treated like a child by your parent is the care and attention you receive. Someone actually puts food on the table for you, someone asks you if you want a cup of coffee, the laundry gets folded (magically) more often than not, people fuss over you when you are even slightly under the weather- unfathomable luxuries while being an adult and parent. It is a gift and a bane, for you start to lean on a crutch that is likely not permanent.

Anyhoo, all that’s done and dusted. And now we move on to new adventures. New lessons. New troubles. The city now is Thiruvananthapuram- the capital of God’s Own Country!

Let the parenting conundrums continue.

Till next time,

J.

Exhaustion.

“My head aches, my eyes burn, my arms and legs have given up, and my face in the mirror has a grayish cast. The bed, across the room, calls in its unmistakable lover’s croon, Come to me, come, only I can make you truly happy, oh, how happy I’ll make you, don’t resist, remember how you moan with pleasure the instant we touch…..

Laura Acosta”
Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Fatigue Artist

And so my dearest beloved, my friend forever and my closest confidant (as I often murmur unspeakable secrets into the non-so-fluffy-anymore cushions) calls out to me. Unkempt and chaotic, my bed seems to purposefully mimic my life and circumstance; so as to say-

I am just as you, like you.

And therefore shall not judge you.

I shall welcome you to my soiled but loving sheets with nothing but comfort and understanding.

I shall not croon words of advice or sing songs of fake commiseration.

I shall offer you the biggest gift of all.

Silence.

And a gentle place to rest your tired limbs and jaded mind.

Come to me, my love.

And we shall together dream dreams of a brighter, better day.

I realize now, that exhaustion, like everything else in life is relative. And incomparable. At 23 I thought being on-call for 30 hours was exhaustion. Little did I know, there are levels of exhaustion that are far, far beyond the limits of my then young, juvenile mind.

There are also several kinds of exhaustion. Metaphorical, physiological, philosophical, physical, mental, notional, fruitful and utterly unproductive. And then there is a type that cripples you. A dark, demonic concoction of all of the above.

There is price to pay for everything, folks. But it is thoroughly unfortunate and oddly ironic, if the price for material contentment is arrant exhaustion. For the latter shall never let you savor the former.

Sigh!

Till next time,

Dr J.

Goodnight folks…

There are such days.

You wake up with leaky nares and lead in your sinuses. You face is puffy with lack of sleep and your lab-coat and clothes aren’t ironed for the day. You drink too- hot- coffee and scald your tongue. The traffic is more maddening than usual and the honks seem fitted with speakers which amplify the immensely chafing sound a million times.

Things at work are uncommonly dull and the patients particularly pestiferous. Your headache grows to monstrous proportions by the end of the day and your baby has a pesky cold, a blocked nose and is teething. She also refuses to sleep for any stretch of time and cries with a start- stop rhythm. She has recently learnt the art of saying no and of testing Mama’s patience.

There are calls to be made to the phone company and the internet is patchy. There is a pending post- office visit and a missed dental appointment. You are in dire need of a dermatologist to address your skin allergies and there are papers to be edited. The closet is a creeping, stuffed-to-the-brim mess and clean underclothes are in short supply.

Emails need replies and books need to be read. Your favorite pajamas rip and your are out of dental floss on the day you actually need it. There is package that is lost in the mail and the fridge needs restocking. You are also out of Paracetamol, and you realize this at 11 PM.

And to add to your woes, The Mister is nowhere in sight.

There are such days!

What can one possibly do on such days?

Say goodbye to the wretched day and hit the sack.

Hence goodbye and goodnight folks!

Till next time..

Dr J.