Guest Post: Life of a Mother, Married to a Cop

Guest Post: Life of a Mother, Married to a Cop

Three Decades With a Cop
Lalitha Sai and her Husband- Just Married

Lalitha Sai and her Husband- Just Married

Life was not easy,

Life was also not bad,

Life had everything,

Life did lack something,

Yes, this is the life of a cop’s wife!

Our marriage is close to three decades now. Back in 1990, (June 13) I did not know what I was getting myself into. All I knew was I had to be patient and have a lot of understanding with a grumpy police officer. He too warned me that life would not be a bed of roses.

Lalitha Sai and her family after 25 years of marriage

Lalitha Sai and her family after 25 years of marriage

But was he actually grumpy? Were there thorns? No, his heart was one that would melt with the warmth that glowed from within me. His spells of anger would fizzle when his eyes meets mine, full of fear of having incurred his wrath.

Beneath his hardcore exterior were streams of love in which he still bathes me ceaselessly. I bore him two precious jewels which he cherishes from the bottom of his heart.

But his call of duty was his priority. He was married to his job. There have been many a celebrations (marriages, birthdays and outings) without him. His absence has made us wince with pain, cringe with shame, and cry out loud for want of love. But, his duty had always been his priority.

Still, the man did turn the family livelier.

There were difficult times, best moments, lovable minutes and tearful seconds. But in all we were united as a family. To the best of my effort I tried to steer him clear of any family problems and tried to give him peace. But, he would not move away.

He has held our hands,

…in times of need,

…in times of physical pain,

…in times of mental stress,

…in times of illness,

…in times of delusions,

…in times of joy,

…in times of pleasure!

He molded every one of us to be independent and a leader too. He gave us all the space whenever we needed it. He taught us to focus on the good and not the bad.

Though there were times of regret about marrying a cop, I still think it is the best decision I have ever taken in life. For, he has been a real inspiration to his engineer son, doctor daughter and journalist wife.

In my view, I also think that though he had misdirected his official stress on his loved ones at times, he has always made it up with all of them.

I would be thankful if he can, to all his intimate relationships, give more patience and diligence and make them his priority. I thank God for making us a family and giving him to me.

If not for him I would not have known love, affection, compassion, interactions, build communication skills, leadership qualities and interpersonal skills. May God bless him with good health and mental stamina to take care of all us for many more years to come.

My wish, as always: Whenever Nature thinks it is time, let me be the first to leave so that I can welcome all of them one by one till they reach the feet of the Almighty. For I know not how to live without even one of them.

How has your married life made you feel, after all those years of togetherness?

This is an original post for World Moms Network written by guest poster, Lalitha Sai, in India. 

Lalitha Sai, Journalist, India

Lalitha Sai, Journalist, India

Lalitha Sai, is a writer based in Chennai, India. She is happily married to a police officer. Her son is an engineer in Europe, and her daughter is a doctor in Chennai. She has 25 years of experience in journalism and has held posts of senior editor in the leading news dailies of India, “The Hindu” and “DT NEXT”. She focused on women empowerment in her articles.

She is now working as the head of operations of content releases in a private company.

World Moms Network

World Moms Network is an award winning website whose mission statement is "Connecting mothers; empowering women around the globe." With over 70 contributors who write from over 30 countries, the site covered the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Most recently, our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan was awarded "Best Reporting on the UN" form the UNCA. The site has also been named a "Top Website for Women" by FORBES Woman and recommended by the NY Times Motherlode and the Times of India. Follow our hashtags: #worldmom and #worldmoms Formerly, our site was known as World Moms Blog.

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Lumbini, Nepal: Buddha’s Birthplace, What Remains Now and the Ethos of the Heart

Lumbini, Nepal: Buddha’s Birthplace, What Remains Now and the Ethos of the Heart

THE BIRTH OF Siddhārtha Gautama

6th Century BC:

The old nurse looked at her radiant Queen, Maya Devi. She still had the same sweet smile on her face, and nothing seemed to have changed since the day she was born, the day the old nurse picked her up as an infant. Pregnancy only made her glow more like the full moon. She still insisted doing things her way in that same charming captivating way like now, when she went bathing all by herself in the Puskarini pool, even though she was about to give birth in a fortnight. Her nurse watched helplessly as Maya played in the pool, with her friends amidst the pink and white lotus flowers. The nurse sighed, and got up to ready the sleeping arrangements for Maya. Maya had wanted to leave for her father’s home for birthing her child as was the custom of those times. But instead of leaving earlier by a month, she spent more time with her affectionate husband, King Suddodhana, the leader of the Shakya clan. On the way to her father’s place, she wanted to spend the night at the beautiful garden in Lumbini, which meant ‘the lovely.’

Just as the nurse was about to walk away towards the tents, she could sense something waswrong. She turned to see Maya’s face contorting in pain for just a moment. Or did she imagine it? She squinted her near-sighted eyes, and watched intently for a longer moment, and noticed the same expression again. Maya met her gaze, and the nurse knew it was time. She waded mid-pool and quickly helped her out of the water. Maya insisted on walking all the way to the tent without support, wincing during every contraction, supporting her hips with her arms. She did not reach the tent. She took a quick detour and halted below a strong and sturdy sal tree, under the full and bright moon of the first lunar month Vesak, of the New Year. She rested for a moment, as her womb contracted in divine agony. Her nurse held out her hand, but the all-time-self-sufficient Maya supported herself by clutching a branch, and birthed her handsome Prince, whom she named Siddhārtha, the one who achieves his goal. The Gods from heaven showered a stream of lukewarm water to clean the baby, and then another cooler shower. She thanked the Gods silently. As she gazed lovingly at her just born beautiful new baby boy, Siddhārtha walked seven steps on the lotus in the pond, as the lore goes.

 

Nativity Scene: The Birth of the Buddha

Nativity Scene: The Birth of the Buddha

Maya passed away 11 days later, leaving Siddhārtha in the hands of her sister Prajapati, who was also the second wife of her husband. Prajapati’s motherly love for Siddhārtha never made him realize the absence of his birth mother. The court astrologers predicted that the Prince would either become a great saint of modern times or a mighty Monarch.

As the story of the Buddha goes, Prince Siddhārtha abandoned the palace and the kingly riches in search of meaning for life and wandered away to the forests, at the age of 29. Through the strictest of penance, he eventually attained Nirvana or enlightenment at the age of 35.

Just before passing away at the age of 80, Buddha told his primary disciple and cousin, Ananda, that Lumbini his birth place would be one of the 4 holiest places which would attract Buddhists for all time.

***

May 2018:

LUMBINI, BIRTH PLACE OF BUDDHA, UNESCO World Heritage site

2500 years later today, the Lumbini garden remains so, as predicted by Buddha. In my eternal quest for all things Buddhist, I was taken to the serene land of Nepal, which is adorned by the whitest and most beautiful Himalayan Range to the north, and by the rather nondescript town of Lumbini to the South. I won’t go into details of how to reach Lumbini by road/air, where to stay once you reach there, or the best things to do there. You can find all of that in travel websites and travelogues written by travelers and tourists who have visited the place before me and who would visit after me.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

UNESCO World Heritage Site

For the travel-lusting curios, however, I am going to briefly share my experiences of visiting the Maya Devi temple in Lumbini. This temple is housed inside the Lumbini development complex which also has the Monastic zone and a Lumbini village zone. In 1978, many nations came forward to build monasteries depicting the evolution of Buddhist culture in their countries and I am going to share a few pictures of those different monasteries below. To confuse you further, when you visit, there are many gates to this complex, depending on how you plan to enter. Whichever of the 9 gates you choose, be sure to cover all the monasteries. They are absolutely lovely and unique and give you a flavour of their own respective countries.

A few of the monasteries below …

The Thailand Monastery

One of my favorite monasteries. It stands magnificent in snowy, pristine white glory; embodying purity. It is very well maintained with manicured lawns and neatly trimmed trees.

Thailand Monastery

Thailand Monastery

The insides of the Thai monastery is also very beautiful. The decorations of the Buddha, the culture reflecting in the ornate decorations, information on neat bulletin boards, and so on – all gave a very nicely organized monastery.

Insides of the Thai Monastery

Insides of the Thai Monastery

The Cambodian Monastery

This monastery reminded me very much of the Angkor Wat temple in its looks and structure. It is still work in progress with construction work going on, and dust billowing towards us, in the heat. We were forced to make a hasty retreat to the other monasteries, though this breath-taking beauty did not stop beckoning us…

Cambodian Monastery

Cambodian Monastery

The Myanmar Monastery

The Golden monastery from Myanmar decorated with green and gold paint, and a maroon balustrade to match, was a splendid sight from outside and inside too. It is a replica of the monastery in Yangon. My husband’s bucket list grew, with Myanmar as one of the places to visit, before the end of this year, as we breathed in the sight of this beautiful monastery.

Myanmar Monastery

Myanmar Monastery

The German Monastery

As we kept walking, we came across a circular lake, and on one side there is this beautiful German monastery called, ‘The Great Drigung Kagyud Lotus Stupa’. Do not let this humble, yet beautiful monastery mislead you, for you are about to witness wonder inside it.

German Monastery

German Monastery

As we entered this monastery, we were slowed down. There was not enough time in the world, to complete admiring the beautiful murals on the walls. There was a prayerful atmosphere which the monks tried hard to maintain inside the prayer room. It was simply splendid. I recommend, you sit down for a few minutes to meditate here. No photography is allowed inside, for which I am thankful, because our senses were already assaulted enough, just admiring the murals inside.

Inside the German Monastery

Inside the German Monastery

At times, I was so glad for these “No photography” signs because Nature was giving us a chance to just sit, allow the beauty to descend into you, both in a way of the senses and also into the heart. No more thinking about Portrait mode or Normal mode or other modes, light exposure, and all those umpteen photography things which my husband and son keep discussing about, but just a mind which needs to calm down, and a heart which needs to look inward.

Colorful Murals Inside the German Monastery

Colorful Murals Inside the German Monastery

And we moved on, because a noisy group of tourist arrived and were discussing with the care taker, as to how they could seek permission to take pictures inside the prayer room.

The International Nuns Temple of Nepal

On the right side of the International Nuns Temple, you can see that there is a place of stay for the nuns from Nepal, and is maintained by the Government of Nepal. It has a long courtyard where footwear was not allowed, and as our feet were getting burnt, we were reminded of childhood memories of playing hide and seek with our cousins, during summer break, on the hot terrace at midday. We had to make a hasty retreat this time too, because we could not bear the burning of the hot grounds on our naked feet.

(*If I did not tell you earlier, you are requested to leave your footwear outside most of the monasteries, as a sign of respect and cleanliness.*)

International Nuns Temple in Nepal

International Nuns Temple in Nepal

The Singapore Monastery

This was closed and we could not learn much about it. So we resorted to taking pictures of it and us.

The Author and her son in front of the Singapore Monastery

The Author and her son in front of the Singapore Monastery

The Chinese Monastery

The Chinese have built the biggest monastery in the complex. It is very well maintained and organized with a lot of information displayed. There was so much to assimilate about the culture and history of Buddhism in China and about the monastery itself.

Chinese Monastery

Chinese Monastery

The entrance of the Chinese monastery is guarded by their traditional ‘Four Heavenly Kings’ and other deities. There was even a Maitreya Buddha at the entrance. This is a very beautiful and colorful monastery.

Guardians of the Chinese Monastery

Guardians of the Chinese Monastery

Though the entrance looks not so huge, the courtyard was heavenly. The visitors who entered never felt like leaving. You would also notice that the entry and exit of the monastery is structured such that it makes you circumambulate in clockwise around the Buddha which is a holy practice of Hindus and Buddhists.

Courtyard of the Chinese Monastery

Courtyard of the Chinese Monastery

World Peace Pagoda

We were then directed towards a path by one of the tourists, saying it led to the Eternal Flame, The World Peace Pagoda and the Maya Devi temple. They are all in a straight line.

Inside the Peace Pagoda

Inside The World Peace Pagoda

As you walk on this path, you can find the golden Bodhisattva statue glistening in the sun. It is a fairly recent addition, in 2012. It is supposed to personify that image of the infant Buddha when he took the seven steps on the lotus, as soon as he was born.

Golden Bodhisattva statue

Golden Bodhisattva statue

The Maya Devi Temple

Our walk brought us to the Sacred Zone at the Maya Devi Temple. There was an ambience of tranquility in the atmosphere. But something else was also missing. I couldn’t quite sense what, yet. There is a pond beyond which the temple stands tall and majestic, in white serenity. It felt that the temple was celebrating Buddha’s mother rather than the Buddha.

Maya Devi Temple

Maya Devi Temple

There are rows of small stupas outside the temple. Excavations seemed to be happening continuously since the discovery of the Ashoka pillar in 1896.

Ashoka Pillar

Ashoka Pillar

King Ashoka in the 249 BC is supposed to have originally discovered Buddha’s birth place and built this iconic pillar with detailed inscriptions and the various stupas around it.

Details - The Ashoka Pillar

Details – The Ashoka Pillar

Around the temple building, there are numerous small stupas and they have been archaeologically dated back to the second century BC.

Archaeological Ruins Around the Temple

Archaeological Ruins Around the Temple

We entered the temple, and began walking on the wooden floor, following the signs. People were throwing coins below into the ruins, as offerings for good luck. We stood above and gazed from the railings, there were coins from different countries. As we kept walking, we finally reached the Marker Stone which marks the exact spot where Buddha was born. Devotees were praying, some tourists were gazing intently trying to capture everything in their memory, as you see, photography is prohibited inside the Maya Devi Temple. The path further leads to the Nativity sculpture where you can see mother Maya Devi holding the branch of a Sal tree and Buddha standing on a lotus. As we walked beyond, the path led to the exit of the temple.

The sun was very bright and almost scorching, and glared my eyes, because the temple was very dimly lit, like the insides of a movie theatre. I waited for a moment, for everything to sink in. Everything seemed like nothing.

I noticed the colorful prayer flags in the garden outside. There was a small pond, and a few monks were sitting around a tree, chatting. There were benches for tourists, and some were meditating on it.

I got the feeling that perhaps it was time to leave.

What did I seek in Lumbini?

As we made our way towards the exit, we halted for a drink of water at the watering pool. A few monks were filling up their plastic bottles too, and we waited patiently for them to move. It gave me a moment to reflect.

When we made this journey, all the way from Chennai, South India, what did I anticipate to find? I was allured to Buddha’s birthplace, but I couldn’t find him here. Lumbini is no doubt a very important and holiest of sites for followers of Buddhism and even followers of other religions and I appreciate the beauty of the Lumbini development zone and commend the effort of the Government to preserve this as place of value and heritage.

However, as I fill up my bottle, with the cool water from the tap, I wonder, “What did I get, which I sought from this visit to the birth place of Buddha?”

Did I get enlightenment like Buddha? But did I seek that? I don’t even know what that means…

Did I seek to find Buddha somewhere hidden in the beautiful monasteries constructed by various countries? Or somewhere near the Marker Stone, which claims he was birthed there?

I was not seeking his physical presence – surely not!

Was I seeking to find some meaning to the strong presence he left behind in this world? Perhaps…! But what of it?

Well, whatever I was seeking or not, I surely was trying to find some essence of Divinity in all of this. One could call it peace, or bliss or a meditative calm or any other word… and it all can be identified with something akin to Divine. But I was vaguely disappointed. I felt generally at peace at a superficial level in some of the monasteries, but I still was trying to figure out what I was searching, assuming that I would know once I found it. And here I was experiencing an anti-climax of having found nothing at all.

My water bottle overflowed and I sensed an impatient monk behind me who was being fidgety with his bottle, tapping it against the railing of the water taps. I closed my bottle and allowed him to use it. He smiled his thanks but I did not have the energy to smile back. I was drained by the heat and my own contemplation.

We walked back along the long path leading to one of the exit gates, each of us silent in our hearts and in our own world.

Long after I came home to India, and decided to write about my experience in Lumbini, I felt emotional about not having experienced Buddha’s presence. I just did not feel him or find him anywhere in Lumbini. It felt like ‘time’ had trapped all of Buddha back in the 6th century BC.

It just felt like memories of Buddha lost in time, accentuated by celebrated tales, and an active humanity in the future which tried to relive the enlightenment of a single man (or God) of the past. 

The Ethos of the Heart

As I was wondering about my experience, my friend texted me and offered to have a Heartfulness meditation session, where one meditates on the source of light in the heart. I could not say no. After the session, I felt lighter and peaceful in a general way. Later, I remembered something I read long ago, written by Daaji, the Global Guide of Heartfulness. This seemed to be a fitting climax to my experience.

“Imagine for a moment that we don’t have to go anywhere, or to do anything, except simply sit wherever we are, and allow ourselves to be found? Imagine that heavens are waiting to enter our heart, right here and now! What a powerful concept! How do we make this a reality and allow ourselves to be found? How do we create such a state where the higher presence naturally settles within our hearts?”

He goes on to explain as below …

“The answer possibly lies in cultivating the seeds of contentment within our hearts…

It starts with a simple suggestion that everything we need is already present within us. All the love of the world, the beauty of life, the seed of perfection is present in our heart represented as a source of light. This suggestion is strengthened through actual experience in meditation, as the idea of light leads to a feeling of an inner presence.  This inner presence becomes a reality as our consciousness expands, and we become aware of a wholeness of being. When we begin to experience this state of wholeness and perfection at our core, the clouds of discontent and ignorance start to dissolve. The heart regains its light and innocent nature.

Under such circumstances, the egoless heart, the humble heart, automatically draws the heavens towards itself. Such a heart is perfectly adjusted to its external circumstances.  It creates heaven around itself.”

Full article here. 

I felt light instantly. This seemed to be the missing puzzle to my experience-jigsaw. I had read this article almost 2 years ago, more or less agreed with it, and swiped away to the next article, devouring words and ideas. But the joy of the pudding is not merely in the eating, but in the conscious experiencing of the taste, or the sweet of it. The Universe is so vast, and the world of learning and experiencing is also as broad as the Universe and perhaps even more so. As the human soul tries to imbibe everything or parts of the universe in a quest which is directed external – to new places, new understanding of the senses, and new knowledge, there is something limiting to that, as the façade never fully lifts.

As I try to understand what he meant in the article, I also realize that perhaps humanity is unconsciously seeking an ethos of that content heart, which satisfies itself with everything within, which knows with confidence that indeed the Universe is present within. 

What do you look for, when you visit holy lands? Tell me, your experiences … 

Photo Credit to the Author.

This is the first in the series of articles by #WorldMom, Purnima from her travels in #Nepal.

You can read the series of articles from her travels in #Bhutan here.

Purnima Ramakrishnan

Purnima Ramakrishnan is an UNCA award winning journalist and the recipient of the fellowship in Journalism by International Reporting Project, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her International reports from Brazil are found here . She is also the recipient of the BlogHer '13 International Activist Scholarship Award . She is a Senior Editor at World Moms Blog who writes passionately about social and other causes in India. Her parental journey is documented both here at World Moms Blog and also at her personal Blog, The Alchemist's Blog. She can be reached through this page . She also contributes to Huffington Post . Purnima was once a tech-savvy gal who lived in the corporate world of sleek vehicles and their electronics. She has a Master's degree in Electronics Engineering, but after working for 6 years as a Design Engineer, she decided to quit it all to become a Stay-At-Home-Mom to be with her son!   This smart mom was born and raised in India, and she has moved to live in coastal India with her husband, who is a physician, and her son who is in primary grade school.   She is a practitioner and trainer of Heartfulness Meditation.

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The magic of a mother’s handbag

The magic of a mother’s handbag

Flipping through my travel diary of some years ago, brought me to this entry. Dear reader, I, as a mother, if you have ever come face-to-face with logic-defying moments, while preparing for travel, do read on…

Others have “aha” moments. I make do with “What on earth am I doing?!” ones. Such a moment happened to me last evening, as I filled a clear plastic bag with salt and put it into my handbag.

No, dear reader, I haven’t completely lost it. Salt hasn’t become the new currency. Nor am I on some kind of strange detox that calls for the everyday kitchen ingredient. The salt owes its presence to the leeches. “Which leeches?” you ask. The ones that inhabit the roads from Bagdogra, West Bengal, to Darjeeling, and further to Kalimpong, and Gangtok in Sikkim.

It happened like this…

I called up a well-read and senior neighbor who is rumored to be the inspiration for the Lonely Planet series. Her expertise in all things related to travel, is legendary. So I thought of requesting for her travel-tips before setting off on a 19-day vacation to the afore-mentioned places. And our pleasant talk stopped to a halt upon hearing of the leeches that live in these regions. “No stepping on the grass during breaks in the long car journeys” she said, “And wear your footwear when you need to respond to nature’s call”, she added.

I repeated this to my family. Abhishek, my cautious 10 year old, knows all about salt and leeches. He was convinced that hordes of these blood-sucking fellows were eagerly waiting his visit to their home, ready to pop out of the grass at the first onset of rains, which is once every day or so. He would imagine them falling upon unwary tourists (us!), with maniacal shouts of laughter (o.k. so I made up the last part!).

He looked at me with a knowing look. Turning to his father, he said, “Mamma will carry salt in her hand-bag”. Not asked. Not requested. Simply declared. After all, past experience has shown that Mamma does indeed carry a mini universe in her hand-bag, all for the express purpose of being able to keep him healthy, happy, comfortable, safe, cut-free, and non-bored.

Is there a term like the last one? There ought to be; parents know all about how much it takes to not have a child say those dreaded words, “I’m bored!”

Why not follow the “Prevention is better than cure” dictum and simply avoid presenting one’s blood to leeches? “Sure” responded Abhi, “I’ll wear my shoes at all times. But you will carry the salt too, won’t you?” Yes I will. Is there any doubt? And so the evening found me trying to fit in a bewildered guest of my kitchen into an equally bewildered handbag.

 

“Just look at me, I’m already bursting at the seams” declared the harried handbag.

I looked. My money pouch stared back at me. Next to it was my cell-phone, a handkerchief, a comb, my address book (yes I still have one of those antiquities), the house keys, a tiny box of cloves and cardamom, two pens, some sticky-paper and my “usual travel-bag” containing credit cards, the airline tickets, Abhi’s passport, frequent flyer airline cards, photographs of family members, photos of my gurus, my driving license (which is a handy identification document but otherwise completely useless as I don’t drive), some hygiene essentials, a taxi and rickshaw tariff card, some “carry at all times” pain killers, band-aids, an emergency “looks-fixer” kit with a mirror, bindis, safety-pins, 2 tiny vials of perfume, a lipstick, a pair of earrings, a tube of lip balm, hair clips and hair-bands, and finally, the little tag that was tied around Abhi’s neck at the nursing home where he was born (I know, I know! But am sentimentally attached to it).

Next to this nestled the vacation-specific mini-bag that had a torch, a scarf, some anti-nausea medicines for Abhi, some tissues and plastic bags (to wipe up the mess if and when the above-mentioned medicines failed, which they usually do), a tiny box of pepper powder (helps digest oily food, I swear!), some soothing ointment for the skin (mosquitoes and assorted insects like to make a beeline for Abhi and greet him like a long-lost friend.)

“Where’s the calendula”? The irritated boy rubbing his red arms will invariably ask, within twelve minutes of venturing outdoors. And last, a bundle of assorted toffees and chewing gum for the family.

I looked at the handbag in one hand and the bag of salt held in the other. Time to say goodbye to something…

Out came a bigger handbag from the cupboard. And the residents got transferred into a larger home. My husband saw the activity and admitted that he was relieved; he had plans to make me carry the digital camera in the handbag. “And the hotel allotment papers too”, he added smiling sheepishly.

I picked up the new handbag and sighed. “Oh well, my shoulders and arms will look more defined by the end of the trip” I muttered.

At dinner, Abhi asked, “Did you take enough salt?”. “Enough for an army of leeches”, I smiled. Watch out jungles, the Mukherjee handbag is here!

INDIA: Kaleidoscope

INDIA: Kaleidoscope

How fast can the years rush by?

Shifting images:

Imagine putting your eyes to a kaleidoscope and marveling at the beauty of the image. Now, just a tiny flick of the wrist and the image shifts and coalesces into something completely new. Beautiful, but new. That is the feeling I have each time I get off the phone after talking to my rapidly-growing teenage son, studying 1800 kms away…

Image 1: Abhi at 6 – Ma, I can’t read this book. What lovely pictures! Will you read out one story?…One more, please?…One last story, Ma, promise!

Image 2: Abhi at 19 – Ma, did you read the book I recommended to you?

Me: (sheepishly) Nope, been too busy. But will soon begin.

Abhi: (a trifle exasperated) Ma, promise me you’ll read a chapter today – it’s excellent! I’ve been telling you for ages!

Me: I promise…

Image 3: Abhi at 7 – Ma, I forgot to wear the hoodie jacket. I was having so much fun at the winter carnival! I won’t catch a cold, hopefully.

Image 4: Abhi at 19 – Ma, when will you begin to take your own advice on health? Why are you working so hard? And the next time you are unwell, you are not accepting a new assignment!

Mom with sonny boy with their favourite stray at Gokarna beach, summer of 2017

The contrast:

And so on it goes…My heart turns into a happy mush with equal parts of pride and nostalgia, each time I listen to the oh-so-mature and earnest young man. Wasn’t it just yesterday that the voice by my side chattered excitedly about a hundred random things? Today, the deep voice travelling through all the distance between two cities, tells me the little chick has turned into a bird that can fly on its own.

Motherhood seems like an enchanting journey with twists and bends that are unpredictable and inevitable. No one tells you that one fine day the roles of parenting will get neatly reversed. Or that the constant flow of questions and words of the little one will one day taper down and that the ever-burgeoning timetable of your young one will need you to schedule calls. That you will watch and marvel from a distance while your teen will deal deftly with the demands of life, surprising you with his or her decision-making abilities.

Enjoying the kaleidoscope:

The temptation to step in, to answer the question directly, to supply the ready solution, is still there. But these days, I have learnt to wait. To answer a question with a counter-question. Notwithstanding the vagaries of distance and time. To be patient as he figures out the right solution.

In other words, I am enjoying the kaleidoscope! ☺

Enjoy the shifting patterns of the kaleidoscope!

INDONESIA: What I Learn From Meditating for 3 Months Straight

INDONESIA: What I Learn From Meditating for 3 Months Straight

I had heard about meditation before. I’ve tried it several times before. I didn’t just wake up one day and say to myself “C’mon Maureen…let’s try to meditate for 3 straight months!” No, no, no!

Actually, it wasn’t until I felt completely out of whack that I decided to install this app full of guided meditations, meditation music, and the likes.

“Nothing to lose,” I thought.

So I started…Eyes closed…I choose to lay down since my back was having a terrible flare up from herniated discs and all the stress I was carrying with me.

“Okay let’s do this…”

Music flows…the soft voice coming out was gentle and loving. I followed the instructions to the dots.

“Inhale…hold it in for 3 counts…” “Let it out…”

When I first started, my breathing was shallow. I could never inhale fully. A blockage maybe. I’m not sure but it was challenging. After all those guided meditations I feel light. Calmer! I kept doing these short guided meditations twice a day. Slowly, I began to see how much the simple acts of lying still, breathing deeply and allowing whatever thoughts came to my mind to just flow like clouds passing through started to shift me internally.

Here’s what I learned from 3 months of meditating every day:

  • I found peace. Cliche as it may sounds but I did find peace. I was able to find that soft spot in my heart that fills me up with a sense of peace. Each and every meditation sessions refilled it.
  • I am able to react less emotionally to things that are beyond my control. Example: One time at work, an angry lady shouted to my face so loud that the whole room heard her outburst of complaints. I was able to stay calm and actually sympathize with her. If this were to happen before my meditation days, I would have taken it personally and probably ended up in the bathroom stall crying! I thanked my daily meditation practice for this.
  • Patience. I am not the most patient person especially when it comes to parenting. When I am tired, my fuse is short and I often quickly feel irritated and I burst. At first, I didn’t notice this until my fiance pointed it out. He said I reacted in a more gentle and loving ways to my boy. Score!
  • I feel happier! No, it doesn’t mean that I wasn’t happy before I started to meditate regularly. It doesn’t mean that my life is automatically perfect after meditating. But somehow by being calmer, more positive and grounded, it allows me to feel happier.
    Increased happiness level also allows me to be a happier mother to my son.
  • More Mindful. By focusing on the breathing, on how my body feels during meditation and examining my thoughts with clarity, allows me to be more mindful.

Not to mention there are tons of scientific studies that have shown the benefits of meditation.

How about you? Do you meditate?

Maureen

Founder of Single Moms Indonesia, community leader and builder. Deeply passionate about women empowerment.

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SRI LANKA: What do You do When you Chose the Wrong School?

SRI LANKA: What do You do When you Chose the Wrong School?

What are you supposed to do when you can tell that the school your kids are in isn’t exactly what you’d like a school to be like? Not everyone has the luxury of just moving kids from school to school just because they don’t like it. I am thankful that our constant nomadic lifestyle let’s me make drastic decisions like taking the kids out of school and doing a year of homeschooling before moving on to the next country. The road of decisions getting here wasn’t exactly easy though.

Basically, we’ve taken the kids out of school and I’ve given up my free time so I can homeschool them as best I can. Everyone gets up later now and I admit it take lots of patience to get them interested in anything but I’m trying and I hope the decision was a good one. Whenever I think of the teachers notebook slapping my son, it becomes completely worth it

Before

For about a year I managed to get up before 6 am to wrangle my kids out of bed, into uniforms and every day was tougher than the next. It was hard for me to hear the little one cry every day about not wanting to go and how much she hated it. The older one put up with the daily routine but grew to also hate it. We all ended up hating it.

I obviously put up with it because well, school life is like that right? You get up unwillingly and go to school and go on with your life. But something just wasn’t clicking.

When we were in Bali they loved their school. The little one was allowed to go in pyjamas with the uniform in her bag and the teacher would dress her nicely and even braid her hair into “elsa” braids. My son has always been rambunctious but not once did they notebook slap him across the head there.

The year they spent in the Cambridge style school here in Colombo could have easily been a torture for them and I was telling them to suck it up because I needed my space.

Insert the mom guilt.

Those five free hours in the morning were mine, all mine and no one else’s! But things just kept getting worse. My daughter was constantly picked on by a little boy, every single day and the teacher took months to finally intervene. She was miserable and her only friends would switch to Sinhalese at any time, leaving her out of conversations.

The first day I took the kids to that school, it had me wondering; a first grade teacher was yelling at the top of her lungs about rules while the kids sat as still as possible in their seats in a room way too hot for comfort. I sort of brushed if off because it was the end of the school year, but later I feel bad that my kids had to put up with these teachers for a whole year.

I can’t tell you if the teachers are bad or just have had too much, they were nice sometimes and horrible other times. My son got notebook slapped quite a few times because he was tired of writing. My daughter was told to put her head down if she didn’t want to work. She wasn’t given other choices, like coloring or puzzle building. She was four.

Are all “academic style” schools like this now?
Forcing four year olds to write and read by the time they are five?

So, I took them out of school completely. I sent an email to the school which they never answered back, not even with a “bye bye it was nice to have you here”, nothing. Good Riddance, I say.

We are Expat Homeschoolers once again.

My son has come to hate the art of writing but he loves making up stories, my daughter says “no pencils allowed” everyday and I have to figure out other things to do with her. She will trace letters but won’t let me tell them what they are. She still can’t count to ten properly but you know what? I doesn’t matter, she will learn eventually. I have a feeling one year in that school has left a bit of a mark that now I have to erase.

I’ve lost those five free hours that I used to have but at least my kids aren’t being forced to spend their day in a hot uncomfortable room being picked on for being different and made to work incessantly with a fear of notebook slaps!

How do you feel about your kids’ school? Do you ever just want to take them out and do the schooling yourself? I know I have the luxury of doing something like that, and I am thankful to be able to.

Orana Velarde

Orana is a Writer, Artist, Mother and Wife; Peruvian Expat currently living in Sri Lanka with her husband and children. She writes on her blog Crazy Little Family Adventure about Worldschooling her kids and the trials and tribulations of being an Expat Mom.

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