Tara and I spent the morning snuggling in her bed. I told her stories from my childhood. How my Dad used to travel a lot. And I’d look forward to seeing him on weekends. He never worked the weekend. It was not a thing back then. Since the days are all blurred and she saw me work some weekends, there is a new sense of fear in her voice when she asks me, “so are you free this weekend?”. I cringe every time she asks me. I am trying to draw the difference between weekdays and weekends for her, by doing something special on weekends. Today it was snuggling in bed till 9am. Since there was no meeting to get to.
We made French-toast together and plan to take a mid day walk. All to convince her that weekends are still ours to make.
My most significant the epiphanies come through Tara these days. Like yesterday when she and Agam were going for soccer and I kept delaying them since I wanted to finish something I had started. She reminded me that you can always take a break and come back and do it. I cannot do that. For some strange reason. It will be very difficult for me to get into that mode of thinking and I will procrastinate. But she is right, probably I should learn that behavior. It likely will add some fresh perspective to whatever I am doing.
You learn a lot from kids. I often wonder how it would have been if Tara was not in my life. I’d be that “don’t give a fuck about anyone” person that I definitely don’t want to be. Some of us need a Tara to become better beings. I definitely needed her. And I know that she will continue to evolve me. Like the day I was doing spellings with her. It hurt me so much to see her struggle with clove and stove, despite them being so similar. That similarity is known to me. But is a challenge for her. Agam always said that I have very high expectations from people. And my tough love is not for everyone. I understand why my expectations have to vary. Everyone is in their own journey of learning. I can not force them to accelerate. And some will never learn. They just don’t want to. Anyways , with Tara I know she wants to, and my patience is all that she needs, along with a nurturing environment where she can fail and still be loved.
I am glad to have Tara as I deal with this pandemic. She is teaching me so many things. She told me the other day that I cook with my nose and not my hands. She is right. I don’t do measurements and scales. If it smells right, it is right. At least with food I have that relationship. And I am thankful for that.
I realized yesterday that I have this insatiable need to be part of growing something – little human like Tara, our family and it’s needs, my indoor plants, my writing habit, my projects. If I am not growing I get demotivated. Stagnation and repetitive tasks are energy sucking. And that applies to people too. I get demotivated by interacting with people who don’t want to grow. Or don’t understand my need for growth. I guess that’s why we become picky about our circles as we grow.
Anyways – time for a walk.
We’ve come up with a good schedule for our evenings. I play soccer and frisbee with Tara and Agam for 20 min and then go for a solo 30 min walk around the neighborhood, and then I come back and we play a board game. That’s 90min of decompress time after work every day. It packs family time and solo time and it is a complete disconnect from work. It does delay dinner to 7pm. But Tara is till in bed by 8:30. So it works out net net.
I am glad to have found some me time. I love walking and especially when I don’t have a charted path in mind. Aimless wondering and exploring streets around my neighborhood is just enough for wet my adventurer spirit. We scale down our expectations to the context, sometimes. I might have to do that in some other areas too. I am not thrilled about that. But I don’t think this is the time to be ambitious.
Anyways. I love how our home which is not used much has become the center of all energy these days. I’ve started enjoying the piles of books lying on the table. We don’t pack up the LEGO anymore. There are crayons and stuffies all over the house. The sofa cushions are never in place. The table is full of Tara’s craft accessories. I am getting used to some clutter. Hah! Or rather I am de prioritizing solving for clutter. It now looks like a house with a 5yr old.
My 5 yr old is a source of such joy and love for both Agam and me. Her chit chat all day is entertaining. It gives me insights into her mind. Her bossy, and caring personality reminds me of my childhood. I used to love being the nurse to whoever was sick in the house. Tara is like that. She will try to help – and look for ways to help. In her own little way. She speaks to Agam just like I speak to him. Our sarcasm and dry wit and humor is infectious. We know she is listening and catching our phrases. It’s cute to hear it from a 5yr old – “daddy have you seen how much food is in the fridge. Don’t even think about ordering in” And she will say that with her finger wiggling a no! Adds to the charm.
I hope I set a good example for her as she grows up. To value me time does not come naturally to me. My mother’s generation did not have me time built into their day. I want Tara to not be shy about taking out time in the day for herself. She should know that it’s ok to be flexible with family meals some nights. Maggie with scrambled eggs is OK! And so is wine in the middle of the day when there is a pandemic going on. (Agam has started this lunch time wine concept which is a very bad idea. But it totally gets a smile on my face irrespective of how my day is going.)
I’m just rambling. I need to sleep now. A whole new days awaits!
A long and quiet walk can do so much cleansing. Feeling the air on your skin, listening to the sounds of the cars. No one wants your attention. Just one fleeting moment after another. It was the first time that I was by myself outside my home, in the last 40 days. It felt strange. And yet calming.
A few lyrical thoughts also passed my mind. I’ve been feeling very dry inside. Lately I have been writing to release, but not to create. It’s been bothering me. I have not created since this year started. It’s been one of those dry years.
Truth is that I am struggling again. It is not a pleasant phase. It drains my energy and makes me crabby and susceptible to my negative spirals. In a happy hour I was asked my happiest moment at work in last five years. And I couldn’t come up with anything. Not one happy moment stood out. How can that be?! I am thankful for a lot of moments. But happiness is quite different. I have felt proud of my team. I have felt thankful for the outcomes of various challenging situations. I have felt gratitude too. But happiness is different. You know it when you are happy. Happiness is when I am with Tara and we are reading together. As she uses phonetics to read each word, I feel my heart tugging at the attempt she is making to put together all the dots to connect the puzzle. It makes me happy. She is a good learner who likes a good challenge.
I am at a cross road (again)! And I will keep pushing myself towards these cross roads until I find home. It is true that I have not found home in five years. Home is my happy place. Which also explains why I have not had any happy moments that I could share with the team last week. I’m still on my way home. And I don’t know how many more cross roads I need to deal with.
I miss tulips. I miss going to the farmers market and buying fresh flowers for the week. I miss my strolls in grocery stores for pleasure. I miss meeting friends and cooking meals for them. I miss my work place. I miss stopping by at Tara’s school and enjoying with the kids at pick up time in the playground. I miss hugging Tara’s friends. I miss going to restaurants and meeting strangers. I miss chats with my weekend helper. I miss running to 1oz coffee on weekends. I miss travel. I miss feeling normal. I miss my friends. I miss the life I got so used to that I never questioned its purpose. And I miss Papa. He just made it easier to deal with things like this.
I love that we don’t have to rush out the door every morning. I love that we have breakfast together. I love board games, paintings, activities with Tara. I love eves dropping on Tara’s virtual circle time. I love listening to Tara’s voice in the middle of my work day. I love Agam helping me with laundry. I love how peaceful our life is when we don’t feel rushed and we are not always on the edge. I love our evening walks in the neighborhood. I love cooking meals for my family. I love extended chats with Tara. I love teaching Tara spellings. I love to write books with her. I love reading books to her. I love watching family movies together. I love how there is more to each day than auto pilot operations. I love spending these months with Tara before she goes to school in August. I love that this phase gave me an opportunity to seek balance that I lost 15 years ago.
Although I know I will miss all of this when this phase is over and we go back to our normal routines. I love the fact that I am not in denial of that.
My best Monday yet! Tara and I played school in the morning. It’s a pretend play activity where we talk about important stuff like 5 rules of good kids and 5 ways to be awesome, to teach her things like being kind, helping others, making her bed everyday, and helping with chores around the house (haha), speaking the truth, and staying happy and positive. We set up school with the stuffed toys and Tara and we take turns personifying the stuff toys 🙂 It’s a heavy dose of creativity to kick off the morning. Following that we listened to songs and planned our day while drinking milk and coffee. She is such an emotive chatterbox. I wonder where she gets that from 🙄. And then we played with Playmobil set and set up 121 pieces (I counted) together. It was sooooo much fun and a wonderful way to disconnect.
While she dialed in for her virtual circle time, I caught up on some work emails. After class her friend invited her to a FaceTime sketching play date and the two shared a good 30minutes drawing and coloring together. It was super duper cute.
Lunch and then nap. And I caught with someone from work whom I had not checked in on for a month. It was therapeutic to chat with her. She makes me feel heard. Tara took a looong nap and missed her second circle time. And I let her sleep, while sheepishly finishing a document I started on Friday. I finished right when she woke up and we enjoyed an episode of Peg and Kat and a memory game, with popcorn. As always we fought over popcorn and then the daddy daughter duo slipped into their evening bonding time with a stack of four books.
So here I am. I food prepped over the weekend and hence fewer steps to dinner.
And that’s it. Just like that from one week to another, one day to another, and one moment to another – we will find our way out of this madness. I simplified my priorities and it is helping already. Tara is happy, I am happy and Agam is always happy 😃.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of making your schedule work for you. To each their own. There is no one size fits all here. And the more one accepts it, the easier it gets.
Sleepless night. Comfortably numb. If only I could sleep hearing the humidifier’s hum. A storm of thoughts, occupies my mind. A rush of emotions flooding the eyes. I can always rely on myself to make things more difficult for myself. In times when one needs to be kind, I am challenging myself.
Tara is taking a nap and so I have some moments to myself. I am sitting here on the same chair that I always do at 3pm on a Saturday, and I wonder, if this world will ever go back to being the same. If the restaurants will survive. If something as common as a flu will ever be taken lightly again. How will this impact travel? How will this impact the airlines? What about concerts? Will people ever go to football games again? I am sure that to a large extent the answer is yes. But just like 9/11 took away a sliver of our freedom, this virus will do the same.
LOFT is having its spring sale. Every year I watch out for this sale to determine my annual wardrobe – linen, paisleys, stripes, whites, smocking or something else. Today, I scanned the sale, and thought to myself – will there be a Spring of 2020. Or will we just leap into Summer this year. And with that thought I closed the tab and went back to reading depressing news from around the world.
I am taking Monday off to reinstate my sanity, and spend some time with Tara. I am thinking of building more routines. We already have a few. Our meals have adopted a routine over time – Boiled eggs, smoothies, oatmeal and millet porridge take us well into 2pm on weekdays. Simple to make, and nutritious. We try to step out of the house after work for a walk or soccer in the park outside. This is all new for us. We are working parents who don’t quite know how to balance the ping from a co-worker to have a video conferencing session right then, and the needy eyes of a five year old asking us to spend a little bit of our time with her. Routines will help us draw the lines. I want to take a 30min break and sit and chat with Tara as she eats her lunch. I want to make her breakfast in the morning and enjoy it with her on the kitchen counter. I also need some time for myself. I am not alone for even a minute in the day. Will I get used to this? I don’t know.
As I type, the music of Neil Young’s Harvest Moon soothes my nerves. Some things are still the same. Like a good tune, and its effect on my mood. For now, that is enough.
Tara is up and it’s time for some popcorn and board games. Another routine we adopted for a rainy evening. Off I go…