Many ways

My son is beginning to get stressed. Grade 12.. this is it.. the events this year will play a major role in his life. The past few days the weather here is extremely hot and I make it a point to sit outside with the kids at night. At the moment, Venus is visible in the South West sky and I like watching the stars and talking to the kids while enjoying a bit of breeze.

“Mom, what if I don’t pass IB exams?” He asked me this evening.

I told him ” sky wouldn’t fall if you fail the IB exams. You can go to TAFE, get a diploma, use that and go to Uni and get a degree then use that degree and go and do your masters. There are many paths you can follow that will take you to your final destination. Your job is to give your best shot and that is it.”

He looked a bit relieved. And I know I will be repeating this a few more times.

Seriously though, I remember the stress I used to be under. “oru varsham povum” ( you will lose a year) that was the only thing that mattered. It was something worst than dying. People used  fake their birth certificates at the time of applying for jobs, in order to gain an extra year of work and therefor more money.

I wish someone had told me when I was young that the sky wouldn’t fall if you didn’t follow the standard format

 

Gosh

I moved my residence twice, refused to give the forwarding address to the realtor. Changed my house telephone number and pays for having it unlisted. I am not part of any mallu organization. I do not speak to Mallu friends who knew me here for fear of my older sister contacting them to find me. I walked away from every support network I had here including my relatives.

I have gone to all these extent because I really do not want anything to do with my sisters.

There came a point where I had to make a choice. I just couldn’t go through the theatrics any more.

I have my share of struggles, but that is ok for I am capable of handling it. I like my life the way it is. I get to choose who I want to talk to and what I want to do with my life. I also get to choose how I raise my kids. I get to decide what I consider as my success or my failures. I am the captain of my ship and I sail wherever I want to go.

I was so angry when my sister attempted to contact Yaya. First of all she was undermining my authority. I guess she was trying to show me that she doesn’t give a fig for my feelings, after all she was speaking to her niece!. Now that Yaya is 18, I will not tell her not to talk to my sisters, I have to let her make those choices even though I will not be happy.. I hope she wouldn’t talk to her aunt because my child has no idea how vindictive and vengeful my older sister can be. Or how my sister will play her manipulative games and turn my child against me.

I have been so happy and peaceful. I love the house where I live, we have so much of laughter and fun.. I have a beautiful garden… and yet I am beginning to feel the need to take my kids and run.. some where far away from my family.. My family is a like jelly fish..and I keep cutting the tentacles and it keeps growing. It is a nightmare that I can’t just seem to escape.

 

Let it go

My oldest sister attempted to video chat with my daughter using a fake name couple of days ago.

I find her attitude wrong for a number of reasons.

First, Yaya is alone at the place where she is staying and imagine a stranger attempting to video chat with you on FB. She was so worked up that she called me immediately and was in tears. My sister had absolutely no right to scare my daughter.

Second, My sister has total disregard for my feelings, I walked away from my family and clearly informed my siblings to leave my children alone.

Let me explain why I walked away.

On the first day of school (three days ago), my son had to stay back at school to mentor the new students. He was hungry and bought a snack pack of Shawarma from a Lebanese store nearby. When he came home, he called his younger sister and gave her half of the snack pack. He even made sure that her half had lamb(her favourite, while he likes chicken) and no spicy sauce(she doesn’t like to eat really spicy food unlike her brother)

With my sisters, this will never happen. My oldest sister sent the link of this blog to my ex-husband while we were in the middle of our messy divorce. There will never be a day where my sisters and I will ever do anything good for each other. My youngest sister wrote to me that I must remember when I am on my begging knees that she will be there. Which was in a way a good thing because I knew I could never ever be on my begging knee. My sister younger to me wrote that I was a failure and should seriously consider my right to a breath.. as it was such a colossal waste. In other words, she felt it would be better for everyone if I just stopped breathing.

I have one chance to raise my children well and I will go to the end of the world to make sure that I protect my children from my family. My kids love each other and care for each other. I also have a good relationship with them.

What my sisters forget is that, I am my children’s mother. They simply can’t do things without my permission  I sent my daughter to my sister’s house when she was 4 years old and she came back with blonde hair. My sister bleached and dyed my daughter’s hair without even bothering to ask my permission. What is even more worst is that, she didn’t even do a dye allergy test. How dare she put my child under so much of risk? My daughter was not a play thing. My younger sister and my mother had taken Yaya for a haircut without telling me. Again, I am her mother, I should have some say about my child.

My oldest sister might have a short memory, otherwise she would have remembered not opening the door on a Christmas morning when Yaya visited her. Unfortunately, Yaya has even better memory than me. Do you think she will forget it?

I can give so many reasons why I will not allow my children any contact with my family. My family think that  I am using my kids as a mean in our fights. Which is not what I am doing. I am protecting my children from the vengefulness my sisters and I dish on each other in liberal doses. That is not what family is supposed to do and there is no way we will ever have a day where we will treat each other with respect. I had dreamt of a happy family and I have learned to accept that it will not happen.

It would have been great if my children could experience the love and care of their own family. It is not possible with my sisters or my mother and I have accepted that. I have friends who have stepped in and play the roles of aunties, uncles and grand parents. Every year, one of my friends would buy a ticket to Sydney for my son, so our sons can visit her mother who lives in a farm near Sydney and spend time with her. The grandmother dots on my son and they have so much fun together.

My sister younger to me had threatened me and told me that I must ensure that I am in the good books of my cousin in Sabah because in the event anything happened to me, my children will need to be looked after by my cousin..in other words my sister wouldn’t be looking after my kids. I never asked any of my sisters to look after my kids and I will never. My best friend has full custody of my kids if anything ever happened to me and in three years when my youngest turns 18, Yaya will get full custody of her siblings. I am glad my sister sent that email, because it made me evaluate my financial position and today, I probably am the most insured mother among all my friends.

As I said many times, please leave my children alone. I am totally capable of raising them and they have all the love they need.

Leave my children alone. Let it go.

 

Hmm

A friend committed suicide.

I stayed away from the blog the past few days hoping that my anger will subside.

But it hasn’t.

I am still angry.

If there is one thing I do know, it is despair. I have been there.. in the throes of despair.. so many times.

Most of my battles, I fought alone. Apart from my kids, I don’t even have any family. But there was one thing I never forgot, that even in the darkest moment, even when I felt there was no point in taking another breath..that I chose to have three kids and they don’t deserve the heartache of the knowledge that their mother took her own life.

My friend’s son is in grade 12 this year. A bright intelligent boy and the past few days he has been drunk..to the point of exhaustion.Last year, he wanted to go to Caltech to study. This year, he hasn’t stopped crying.

Because she was a single mom, her son has no where to go. All of a sudden he is an orphan. I have offered a place for him to stay. But I know I can’t fill the void in his life, especially at this crucial period of his life.

As I have always written what I really felt in this blog and I know what I am going to write next is going to piss many of you. I don’t care.

My friend was incredibly selfish. Trust me, I know how life can wear you down. But she forgot, her son didn’t ask to be born. She made that choice and she made the choice to abandon him when he needed her the most.

If you are depressed, or if you feel like giving up the fight

First . you are not alone. There are so many people who love you and care for you.

Go to a doctor, ask for help. Call one of those helplines.. Do something.

Taking your life is not the solution to your problems.

 

Resolutions

I didn’t make any resolutions this new year, because I felt I don’t need to. There is nothing in my life that I want to change. There is nothing I want more than what I already have. I like who I am and what I have and where I reached.

I saw this quote on FB and it occurred to me that this is pretty much my credo.

The journey to this point of knowing that I am absolutely fabulous(love that show) the way I am was not easy. But I got here and it feels wonderful.

 

 

Little women

Few days ago, when I came back from work, Yaya was vacuuming the living room, my son was in the pergola hanging the laundry and my youngest was in the kitchen cooking dinner. They are 18, soon to be 17 and 15 years old respectively.

I had always dreamt of a house like the little women ( L.M Alcott) More so because I never did any work in my mother’s home. She didn’t want me to help her and even if I tried to help her, she had a million complaints and found fault in every little thing.

If I wanted to complain, I could find a million reason too.. Yaya had forgotten to dust first before vacuuming, my son had not turned to socks right-side out and baby should have checked if the yeast was alive by proofing it before making the bread dough. (I think she used really hot water that killed the yeast while making the dough)

I didn’t complain because I am really grateful for every little help my children give. I am not expecting them to be me or like me. They are individuals with their own personalities and when they make a mistake, they learn from it. Earth won’t stop spinning just because the TV had dust on it or the socks were not as clean as I like them to be..We ate  hard bread rolls for dinner and my youngest now knows the need to proof the yeast.  And because the house work was done by the time I got back home, we had time to go out for a movie and ice cream.

It is a lot better not to complain when your children help you with chores.

 

Investment

Couple of days ago, I woke up hearing mother of all racket coming out from my son’s room.

“What the heck is going on?” I asked

“Nothing, Iam just looking for my money”  He replied. He spent most of his savings on the car and is  now looking for spare change.

Turns out, he has found a subwoofer for his car on gum tree and needs money to buy it. He wants the ground to shake when he drives his car..and the modified exhaust that already lets my neighbours know when he is coming home just don’t cut it.

Then I heard his younger sister asking him how much he needs and then telling him that she will pay for the subwoofer.

Wow, I thought, that is pretty generous.

Later, when she and I were in the kitchen, I told her, “Baby, that was really sweet of you to pay for the subwoofer”

“Not really Mom, I am going to inherit his car when he leaves for Uni, might as well get the car done up perfect”

I had no more words to say.

Achievement

My son bought his first car with his own money.

He will get his P plate in March and because he is going to be in grade 12 this year and won’t have time to shop around once the school reopens, he decided to buy a car now.

When we were  living in Canada and he got his first job as a news paper delivery boy(he was in grade 3), I had explained to him the need to save money to buy  his car when he gets his license and he has been saving money ever since that day.

About the same, my parsimonious landlord bought a Volvo for his daughter when she got her license. I was a bit surprised that he splurged so much money on a car and he explained that, as a new driver, she is bound to wreck the car and since Volvo is built like a tank, at least he can be assured that even if the car is wrecked, it might still save his daughter’s life. That was a valuable lesson for me, especially because I had always thought of buying the cheapest car(as in an old junk) for my children when they get their license. Cheap cars and not necessarily safe cars for young drivers.

In grade 3, my son wanted to buy his own batmobile car. In grade 5, he shed bitter tears when he found that Pagani Zonda stopped making cars..

So, when it was time for him to buy his own car, I  had two conditions. It has to be a BMW, Audi or Volvo and secretly hoped he would go for a Beemer and that it should have Road Worthy Certificate. I didn’t want the headache to go through the hassles of getting the car registered.  He started searching for his car and reading up about them and finally found his perfect car and that too owned by a lady (he believes that women drivers are safer drivers, even though he is related to me!) He finally made an appointment with her and informed her when we left the house that we are on our way. (She lived in Bribie Island, pretty far from where we lives) Almost and hour and a half in toour journey, she called my son to tell him that there is another person who is interested in her car and is willing to pay 100 more than the asking price. I felt this was a cheap stunt and told my son to forget about the car. He was really annoyed with me and since it is his money, he should counter offer. I refused… He was really mad at me..he felt if we had gone to her place in the morning rather than the evening, before the other person made the offer,he would have been able to buy it. I told my son, if it was meant for him, it would be there and clearly this car wasn’t meant for him.. “I don’t believe in your stupid Indian Philosophy mom” He yelled. I knew he was upset, he had looked forward to owning his own car and was disappointed. When we got back home, I made Dosai for him for dinner.  I always keep few packets of dosai batter in the freezer for moments like this. There is nothing that cheers up my son as much as the sight of crispy dosai.

A week later, he saw his perfect car ad on gum tree.. Chrome rims, modified suspension and exhaust.. what else could make an almost 17 year old boy happy? But it was in Frazer Island, really far from here. The ad had so much spelling and grammar mistakes and even the text messages from the seller were dodgy. I was a bit sceptical. My son negotiated with the seller and he said he would meet us halfway, in Gympie.

The seller was one of those typical surfer dudes, blonde, long hair and young (18 years old). He is passionate about cars and spends all his money on modifying them. He bought a V8 and was selling his old car after spending an enormous amount of money to modify it . When I gave him the money, I noticed that he was struggling to count. So, I told him, let me help you. I counted the money, sorted the currency in to 1000$, so he could check it. Clearly, he has learning disability, yet he is still living a great life. I was also surprised that his parents didn’t accompany him.. you know, your son was driving halfway across the state to meet strangers to sell a car..

And now, my son is a proud owner of a souped up BMW.. and he is now a firm believer of, if it is meant to be, it will be yours.. for  the first car he wanted to buy was just an ordinary BWM… and he would have had to spend an enormous amount of money to get it souped up

 

hmm

After having an awesome Christmas dinner with my children, the next morning,I went to the beach with the kids and one minute I was walking on the  pedestrian walk and the next instant I was on the ground. Clearly, I was not looking where I was going. I tried to break my fall using my arm(very smart move) and ended up with a fracture/sprain on my  arm, couple of abrasions on my knees and pure embarrassment of falling down in front of all those hot surfer guys.

I don’t remember when was the last time I fell down and hurt myself like this. My arm hurt like hell and ideally I should have gone to the hospital. But it was too much effort and I didn’t want a cast ( I was sure if it was a fracture it would be a simple fracture and it would heal on its own anyway). So, I spent the past 10 days, crying, consuming copious amount of pain killers and cursing in colourful language every time I had to lift my arm to do something.

Christmas was really fun. Yaya and my youngest baked a great deal of cookies. For dinner, I cooked prawns in lime, chilli coriander sauce, lobster in Mornay sauce, Singapore chilli crab, turkey and gravy and then our usual Christmas staples of devilled eggs, saddleback potatoes, mushroom in wine sauce.

Years ago, just as I was leaving India for good, I had bought a recipe book from one of those book shops on MG road Bangalore. Devilled eggs and saddleback potatoes were from that recipe book and I have cooked both on every Christmas since 1994. It is the only time in the year where I cook devilled eggs(although it is the easiest thing to make). Kids look forward to having devilled eggs and the saddle back potato every Christmas meal.

Just as I was cleaning up after cooking the feast, I remembered that a classmate of mine is alone in Brisbane as he couldn’t afford to go back home for Christmas. So, I called him and asked if he would like to join us and he said Yes. And then I remembered he is a staunch Christian and wouldn’t eat shell fish(lacking fins and scales). So, I took some salmon out of the freezer, defrosted  and marinated it in maple syrup soy sauce marinade (I was given this recipe by a first nation man while I was travelling through the Yukon territory. Equal amount of maple syrup and soy sauce and few slivers of ginger and marinate for 15 minutes(or longer if you have time) and grill it)

For dessert, we had pumpkin pie, Christmas pudding and all the cookies the girls baked.

I have used this Christmas pudding recipe since I came to Australia and it turns out really well. I don’t bother soaking sago overnight, I just cook it in milk.

The biggest surprise was the Christmas gifts kids bought for each other. My youngest usually sucked at buying gifts. Last year, she sent photos of the gifts she was thinking of  buying for her siblings and then asked for their opinion. This year, she bought them all their gifts in advance and they were all really good things.

Yaya bought me a clay pagoda for my garden( I have wanted it for so long), my son got me 4 glass llamas in varying size with one odd colour llama(representing him having to live with three women) and my youngest bought me real emerald earrings. She knows my favourite colour is green and bought it using her own money.

So, all in all a great Christmas.

 

Happy

I was woken up this morning at 5 a.m. by Yaya, who told me ” Mom, I am hungry, can you please make me the crispy noodles (kon lau mein)”

She came home two days ago and is suffering from severe jet lag. What shocked me the most was when I went to pick her up from the airport, the moment she saw me outside the arrival hall, she started to cry. She then hugged me and told me how much she missed me. I had already made her favourite fish cutlet and took it with me to the airport.. which made her cry again. She missed home cooked food as well. She missed the beautiful blue skies, scraggy(her words) gum trees, dried grass (summer sun) in our lawn, the birds, the quietness outside my house.. In other words, she was really homesick.

10 minutes after I arrived back home from the airport with Yaya, her friends started to drop in. I was hoping to spend some time alone with my child.. instead, I cooked biriyani for everyone. (I learned long ago, if you can’t beat them, might as well join them)

My son arrived yesterday evening from Peru. I dropped a handsome bloke at the airport 6 weeks ago and picked up a sunburnt, scrawny bloke wearing gypsy Peruvian pants, 6 bracelets on the left hand and 4 on the right, silver pinky rings and two chains with unknown charms around the neck. I was a bit shocked to see the transformation.. He looked very happy. Both his sisters came with me to the airport to pick him up. He bought handmade chocolates from Santiago for his sisters and they ate it in the car on the drive back home.

Right now as I type this post, both the girls are singing Mariah Carey’s All I want for Christmas out of tune while rolling the cookie dough. My dog is looking at them bewildered. My son is trying to distract the girls to steal the cookies.

I was once told by a very dear friend that with age comes confidence and happiness. I don’t know if I can attribute my current state of happiness to my age. Clearly I am happy and contended. I am also getting old 🙂