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In the last few weeks we continue to have multiple conversations around myriad of matters.
#1 One evening, during the Pride month, he causally mentioned about Pride month and all that he has been reading about it. So I asked him what’s his opinion on LGBT. He asked me back instead, what do I think? I know this is my turn to answer if not I will never get to know what his real opinions are. I mentioned honestly and earnestly, ‘I know its sounds very weird as it seems against the norm. But I believe there are other factors that has contributed to question what the norm is too. I will not discriminate or treat them differently. It’s the way they are born and that’s okay. I will respect them and I will treat them same as anyone in the society. I will practice inclusiveness!’ Now its his turn… Yuvan said, ‘Personally, I am not for it. But I won’t discriminate them and I will accept them as they are!’
#2 He is still a teen who has not decided what he would like to major to have a profession in the future which is absolutely fine with me.. Because, I believe he will eventually figure out his interests, his passion and his purpose. For now, all I wish to focus on him and for him to focus on is becoming a better person, better human being with empathy, kindness and respect. Amidst some casual conversations he told both his Dad and myself he envisions to go to NZ for his higher studies after schooling. That was completely out of no where. We haven’t had an in depth conversation on the ‘why’ yet. But I am super glad that he has put in some thoughts! However he also comes and asks me once in a while, ‘Ma, what if I become a You-tuber? A professional Gamer? a Sports Manager?’ and this keeps changing. As long as he is thinking, exploring and having conversations, I believe we are doing okay.
#3 I personally have had anxiety attacks around Yuvan being a single child and what after me? During one of our dining table conversations he opened up, ‘Ma there were days I wished I had a sibling. But you know what? After hearing from all my close friends about their siblings, I am fine being a single child.’ I know as an adult what we feel about siblings when young! However I made peace nothing is guaranteed even when we have a sibling! If its meant to be it will be.
I believe that every conversation is meaningful, when your child speaks to you. Being a teen doesn’t and ideally should not (preferably) change the relationship which is what I am striving hard to maintain. But I have to accept there are good days and bad days, him trying to know himself, mastering independence. I do know left alone if I salvage the situation with no blow ups, it is better for both!
We still have a bed time routine (for most days) and that is talk random things, before he sleeps. Though Yuvan is very straightforward like me, sometimes his straightforwardness put things into perspective for me – the way he looks at the World around him, the way my speech impacts him, the things he enjoys and what he does not.
I am still learning every day, especially parenting a strong willed yet sensitive teen. I have many a times lost it, salvaged it, recovered situations and this is real and only mothers do know what it means!
I have also been very straight forward to him that he being emotional, being upset, angry is all fine but own up for it and don’t hurt others including me. Practice kindness and empathy at home. If I am hurt, I tell him am hurt but I don’t expect an apology. (Apology or saying sorry is another topic for discussion by itself. Let’s save it for another day!)
Kids/children are great teachers when it comes to life lessons! Only we adults think we know better, which may not be the case all the time!
For me photos bring not just lot of memory but also its such a therapeutic experience seeing it either alone or with family and friends. Growing up, I think photo opportunities were rare and I cherish the few pictures of my childhood that I still have in India. However, amidst the many house moves, as I was not as organised as now, have lost some and only when we moved to our now permanent mom’s place, we managed to put together all pics that we had in one place. That whole process was soo soul searching I would say. The special bond we had with one of the uncles, me crying so badly during ear piercing, grandmom’s farmhouse home and what not!
I have some print pics of my school and college life but all scattered. Since Yuvan was born, Eash being an avid photographer every single meaningful moment (that is whatever we thought so) of him has been captured.
Whilst we maintained digital albums, at some point, may be due to my own personal experience of missing my own childhood pics, I told myself, I want to start maintaining print albums for Yuvan not just for him to look at later more selfishly for me!
I love this whole exercise of seeing print albums as a family, be it at my in-laws when we go home and photos are pulled out, or at my mom’s when we have friends visiting, starting from childhood pics to our own wedding albums and pics of Yuvan. I find at that point everyone is so ‘present’ with no inhibitions and enjoy the whole process and I can sense so much joy! (Oh on that note, I do also know people who don’t care to show wedding albums with their own family and that has made me go insane. sigh!)
I had been quite good until 2014 making sure the albums are updated but after that had been printing and safekeeping but did not make time to update the album. This had been bugging me to the extent I used to worry I will forget my safe kept place!
This weekend, in need of sanity picked up the abandoned photo project, updated it and feeling accomplished! The best thing out of this exercise Yuvan looked at all the albums himself spent time reminiscing memories and having great conversations about it with us!
I spent more time home since April but pretty much really ‘working’ from home, though it had been intense, the solace was knowing that I am part of a chain that’s contributing to making a difference to many.
Yuvan and Eash were understanding enough though they were worried for me at some point and frustrated at some. We sailed through…
Amidst all this, I noticed my strong willed boy is growing up fast..
He has become taller teen (suddenly) exhibiting more and more physical resemblance to my side of the family. He still is the very upfront honest person who tells me difficult concepts of life I grapple with, with so much ease and puts across it as a fact and makes it feel like a real bearable deal.
Yuvan has started drinking coffee few times a week, which I had restricted for years now – that it has been only a holiday drink when we go back to mom’s in India! I still put my foot down for the morning milk with typical Indian Bournvita❤️ (small wins do matter.. 😂)
We still don’t buy soft drinks at home and is allowed only when we order in fast food once in a while or eat out. Even then its very rare a Pepsi or a Coke.
He was genuinely so surprised when I bought four cans of Pepsi home during a recent grocery run!
For the first time, he asked me to buy three home wear shorts. Still thrifty!
He agreed to pack food from home as we gradually return to school and work with safety measures in place.
He appreciates the investment we made a family in buying him a laptop.
He continues to help with grocery runs for home.
He loves pulling my legs (and continues to annoy me 🙄) But I love it that we have that rapport!
He still has before bed conversations. We play master mind and ludo and he talks about random stuff.
He started helping with the small eCommerce start up the dad is trailing out.
He has his own non-school based friends (from family friends group) of his age who he has bonded well over the last few years, with whom he was digitally connected amidst the pandemic including hosting non online game sessions over Zoom, birthday celebrations etc.
He understands the nuances of the family and difficulties as we thread a slightly complicated phase.
He has been ardently exercising at home using the Nike Club app!
We have spoken about Covid, George Floyd, racism and discrimination to name a few – some deep conversations and some not..
I love this chatter box! My happy pill❤️
I had long wanted to write about this however its just not been on top of my priorities, I suppose. Now I realise writing serves a purpose for myself… So, I have decided to do a series on this!
When COVID started developing into a situation in early Jan, Yuvan was into his two weeks of boarding programme. It was still not a situation that was sounding as serious yet like what we experienced later. We were actually coping with separation anxiety in that period, both him and myself to a certain extent. I wrote about it here
Singapore Government started instituting precautionary measures at the same time and we all went into prep and activation ready mode. I am so grateful to have called SG home since 2005. And hence as a result every organisation stepped up and I was in the thick of things. A good learning opportunity amidst the craziness.
Right in the middle of these, two days into the CNY weekend, the school sent a note to boarders to vacate as a precautionary measure. Yuvan went alone to vacate as I couldn’t make it back from work on time. His minimalist behaviour proved to be handy as he had much less to bring back home. But that was not just my mom guilt moment but also my proud mom moment, as this boy managed it himself! Grateful moment #2.
As we prepared to take precautions, my bestie shipped masks for me from India. At that moment it was so needed though 5 months into the situation now, I still have quite a lot of them, also supplemented by reusable masks supplied by the government to every household here. Multiple grateful moments here!
Then, the closing of borders started and that really was a soul searching situation for me. The images at the Causeway, SG-Mal land crossing, my personal conversations with a few impacted just made life real.
All it matters is the now, being grateful! As long as we have food, clothes, shelter and I will add on access to education, one should count the blessings. I came from a place of being grateful and used these scenarios very honestly and openly in leading my team too.
In all this, another thought train that has another track is always about my mom who lives in India on her own with a bit of a support system whom I call my closest circle of family and friends.
Though she was apprehensive that I was over reacting, I ensured that she bought slightly more than needed for the monthly groceries, medications, masks, hand sanitizers, additional Dettol soaps etc. My cousin pitched in to help me and after few weeks when India closed its borders and went into lock down all my mom said was, ‘Suhi… good that you prepared us…’ Its just not for her own good, no one knows making sure she has all these actually served me, bringing a bit of semblance and assurance.
Having one surviving parent, retired, and living alone miles apart is a different ball game all together!
should never be based on trade-offs. Its a mutual giving-accepting journey. That’s my personal opinion and that’s how I really see it. Relationships I mean here is just not about spouse or love interest but our relationship with our children, friends, mom, family members, colleagues, anyone. However I have realised not everyone comes from this space and there is a need to thread murky waters that hits emotions (there isn’t a choice with what comes your way, but definitely how we react to it)! But I do have learned to run as I learn to walk, just like all of us.
I believe any healthy relationship should thrive and not survive. But the matter of truth is not every relationship is on thrive mode.
On another note, it takes only simple efforts to show kindness and say better things! This week the best thing I heard that made me feel so good and touched was what Yuvan said when we both were contemplating should we watch DoLittle after reading the reviews. He said, ‘Amma, its okay. Let’s go and watch. As anyway you like Robert Downey Jr..’
I know he knows that Iron Man is my favourite Avenger! But this statement made me feel sooo good – a feeling inside the heart ‘oh, someone knows my likes and makes an effort to acknowledge my liking!’ It was a simple act of kindness I would say but that made my day. ‘Only being kind to others we can be kind to ourselves – DoLittle’ echoes in my ears!
Also when I reflect back, I have done something right in parenting this boy, though everyday I am learning!
This weekend, after his first week of boarding he declared, when I asked him how Friday dinner was at home, ‘Absolutely awesome… now anything you make I know it tastes the best.. don’t ask me what I want.. whatever you make I will eat..’
I can see he has become *more* responsible, humble, disciplined and even more grounded! I am thankful and praying/hopeful that this continues!
could itself be your own teaching moment. Yuvan is 14 now and am happy that he is becoming a fine young man. As part of his school curriculum he is boarding this term in school, starting from this week for about 2 months.
As he has been always, he shares his feelings and thoughts with both myself and his dad (but have to accept and kind of cheekily proud to say he is more open to me with no filters). Before the start of the programme, he was open to share that he was looking forward for the boarding programme and at the same time was honest to acknowledge that he would be better may be after week 1. We were just laughing about when I said I will miss him and he pulled my legs to say he won’t.
Today after school, when I was at work received a text to say that he feels lonely, he misses home and me (Awwww… that was so unexpected) Digging out some more, I found out it being a short school day and his closest friends busy in other commitments for the afternoon, and him deciding to do his work on-campus and not in his room added to the home sickness. Me being me used it as a teaching moment, gave him quick tips and arranged to meet him in the evening.
The minute both of our eyes got in contact, his eyes became watery though he was trying to be the “big boy”. We both spent half an hour having a heart to heart conversation and he spoke with his dad on a video call too. I shared some practical tips for the short days and he looked and sounded better after the 30 mins. My most non-distracted 30 mins! Mental note: I should work to improve on to have focused conversations with no distractions on a regular basis
When I hugged him and said bye, there was a teacher who noticed (thankfully not Yuvan) and smiled at us too. And after that when me and Yuvan looked at each other, we burst out laughing too. That brings sanity and reassurance. Also, he was happy to take back his old friend from me – i.e. his book to keep him company – the last two installments in the Percy Jackson series. Blessing in disguise.
In all this, I felt so so horrible for some of my actions earlier in the year and I went through a massive self-reflection in that 30 mins I was with him and after. I had, a few times in the last two years told him in anger, “I know you don’t value me or will miss me.” How mean I had been and how it would have hurt him then! I could completely understand (now) why he was so upset with me then when I had uttered those words. I was a horrible parent at that moment, now I realise and that connection we felt without any words spoken today and his words in the text and later, vouches for the little boy of mine’s love, affection and bonding. Whilst I am thankful for these, I could not forgive myself for those actions of mine and it constantly has been hounding me. However, I cannot take back what I said but what I can look forward is to be mindful especially when I am emotional. Teachable moment not just for Yuvan but for me too!
I am grateful today for the time spent with Yuvan, the opportunity to understand my son better!
After note: Yuvan sounded better over the daily call at night and back adjusting to boarding life.
Family is where my heart is! Whilst I am always a Work In Progress, I have always put my heart into whatever I do – be it family, relationships, work or whatever I do! I am a person who genuinely gives 100% into everything to the extent there was a time a well wisher told me that he is worried I would burn out and I may not know that, but he is amazed with what I do! He did ask me to Slow down. that was exactly 3 years ago!
I have steadily been making progress since 2018 into self-care and have started being body-confident. I have figured out what I need for my soul – me times; yoga and reading whilst I cope with parenting a strong willed teen who also has lots of energy, opinions and questions, which I believe is quiet natural, engaging and it is what that makes the bond stronger! There are other personal close but limited family relationships that matter to me the most – husband, mom, extended family and friends! I agree and accept that anything is always a work in progress as I have my meltdowns, learnings, reflections and actions!
Sometimes I do wonder, am I enough? am I doing enough? Then after some real self – talk, I realise these questions about the ‘enough’ is not helpful or purposeful and then I circle back to the purpose and what I really want! It gets complicated at times, though!
Reassurances always comes to me when I am at the most confused state – I think it’s God’s own way of telling me “I have your back”. Be it some unexpected “well-done’s” for myself or Yuvan’s Primary School teacher sending me a heart felt text about Yuvan’s letter to her on teacher’s day; how special Yuvan is for her or those freaking conversations with random strangers that always gives me an answer to my ‘then’ confusion!
Somewhere, I tell myself, though I agree I am always a work in progress – I have been giving my best to this little man of mine my fullest as a mom (nagging, annoying, kae po and what not). Conversations with him have been eye opening on various topics, I learn every day from him, as I see how he handles new school, new syllabus, new responsibilities! Whilst he knows I have his back, we do argue, melt down and reconcile. I am open and I tell him “I am learning every day being a parent and I am doing my best. I am sorry, if I have hurt you”.
Whilst I thought I have been making efforts, I also realised that in recent times, I have been exhausting myself, stretching beyond. I have now accepted I need to consciously pause and do things that also gives me soulful experiences (just like what I am doing right now.. reviving a post that was sitting in the drafts for good 4 months). Ultimately what matters in life is something different than what I may be chasing now. I had my big wake up call in late last year and that has impacted my whole outlook towards life.
It’s time for perspective thinking and give myself every day simple but immersed experiences – like blogging, listening to music (now I know why Y listens to music before bed almost everyday), reading, ‘be present’ conversations and self-care!
Bravo! Aren’t we all work in progress everyday?
fills you, when you see things happen out of the blue in the way you may have wanted, at the right time! This is true for anything:-)
I had this guilt of not building a routine for kids household chores, as I genuinely believe that it has to come with shared responsibility, interest and acknowledging one another and not forced upon. But what has been bothering me in the back of my mind was ‘Am I taking efforts and creating opportunities for it to happen?’
Over the years, Yuvan has willingly done house chores like setting the dining table, clearing it, grocery shopping as well as assisting on anything when one needs help at home; learning to reheat food etc at a pace of his own, on top of being responsible for some of his very own chores – that mummy insists must be on his own. This also seemingly worked well with ‘wanting to be more independent’ phase of his!
But I had always thought about why he has not been picking up chores like mopping, which I genuinely believe is a core job on top of cooking and cleaning to be shared by everyone in the family. I had also thought of his mind set etc (now I know it was unnecessary..) towards these chores! Suddenly, in the last week or so, he had willingly learnt to use the pail with spinner and mop small areas such as kitchen, store room and living room after cleaning the fish tank etc., And I can see he is genuinely willing to do it and I appreciate that. And off course no mind set issues! He has been learning how to wash the rice before cooking too.He also has conversations about me being naggy and at the 5th minute after complaining and being grumpy, checking on how am I getting home/office after I drop him at school.This boy never fails to amaze me as much as he makes me go crazy!Love you Yuvan!The important thing I want you to remember is Be respectful and be a Gentleman!
One of Yuvanz school holiday project was to analyze poems given in particular themes and come up with mood boards. The theme of his poems were Poverty and one of it was on Hunger specifically and the other set in Mumbai.
Whilst I was helping him with logistics as he was putting together his project, a lot of reflections crossed my mind:
- There is so much out there happening around me and I am not anywhere in that zone.
- Hunger is the World’s biggest epidemic
- The divide is very huge – social, economical and political
- Why hunger?
- Am I being truly grateful for what I have been provided for and what I am able to provide for?
- What can I do? Am I doing my part being a responsible human being?
Why Hunger? It reminded me of this famous thought-school, ‘Consuming only what exactly you need is indirectly making it available to the needy!’ This I think is a powerful thought, which needs action. Starts from within!
I am grateful that this served as an opportunity to have meaningful conversations with Yuvan. Yuvan questioned whether it is the respective government’s responsibility to ensure no one goes hungry as much as possible? He seemed quite taken aback with the whole issue of Hunger for Food and Poverty.
I was thinking: Has he been so sheltered?
It was interesting when he mentioned hunger drives people to be desperate. He continued that hunger can also be related in terms of hunger for success, money etc. not just hunger. ‘Desperate’ for food could lead to stealing or begging; The other worldly hungers leads to cheating, power struggles and a huge impact on undermining values.
This thought process from him literally gave me a shock in both ways, though very insightful!
I told him, yes I completely agree. But there are so many millions in the World who go hungry every day for food, with no basic necessities like shelter and clothing too. We spoke about the Dabbawalas and the ‘Share the dabba’ initiative in Mumbai. Looking at what transpires and the humble lives they live and impact they create in so many people’s lives as well to come up with initiative to feed those in need is a point in reflection by itself! It was also point of reflection for me on food wastage and sharing!
One of his image was the World famous one by Kevin Carter and that brought out subjects like famine, depression and suicide – talking about Kevin Carter’s death.
Millions in the pocket would do nothing if there is no heart to share and care!
Being consciously grateful is the way of life! Be Kind, Love, Live and Let Live!
and being grateful are some habits I have been practicing recently and I do acknowledge its increasingly difficult to be aware of it consciously every moment!
With a boy at the brink of breaking into being a teen, trying to identify himself, being aware that every choice he makes he also have to embrace the consequences and wanting independence and yet falling back to you is a very intensive phase of parenting! Me, fighting hard about letting go and yet having an eye on him, doing the ‘kite-flying’ parenting, the decision of how much to let go to strike a balance adds to it!
I am in a phase in my life where I have started to acknowledge, practice gratefulness, be thankful as well avoid comparison. I am celebrating myself and people around me for who they are and making mindful choices following my heart! I feel very raw at times!
Having said all this, it all comes back to seizing the moment! But yes it comes with its very own challenges; about losing it, being argumentative and losing the vision of what I want to achieve out of the very moment! I am getting there… getting there… slowly…
Last week there was a need for his phone to be repaired (thankfully it was the glass and not the screen), I spent time with Yuvan right after his school getting it done combined with a late lunch with him. It was a first, including me taking some time-off from work at that hour!
We took the train and we both were standing opposite to each other in the section where the two compartments are joined and truly enjoyed the motion of tge train and we smiled at each other! A previous memory by itself!
As we were walking after lunch to collect the phone back, I spotted a McD ice-cream and said, ‘Lets have ice-cream!’ That’s when he offered ‘I shall treat you for ice-cream from the money you gave me for today’ and it was an ‘aha’ moment as a mum. I just looked at him in awe as he queued up, bought and handed one to me.
He also noticed that the lad who served us was physically challenged and told me later on ‘I am so glad McD does this.. Isn’t a good thing to treat everyone equal?’ Well, another moment to cherish that he noticed; he is mindful, appreciating and accepting!
Sometimes I do think that he completely throws me off guard with his conversations and at the same time I accept he is argumentative for very minor things. But at-least now I know, scientifically proven, a 12 -16 year old brain works that way!
We did have our ‘argumentative conversations’ and I immediately spotted my emotions, his and did some recovery! More to come! As I learn and grow with him everyday!