Couple of days ago, when I got back from work, my son looked visibly distressed. So, right away I asked him what is wrong?

It turns out that he forgot to accept/defer his QTAC ( for Queensland) university round 1 admission offers. He got an OP1  and that meant he gets admission to whatever degree  he chose and in his case it was dual degree in Engineering and economics and minoring in mathematics. On the same day, he also realized that he forgot to apply to UBC and deadline has already passed. I would have liked him to apply to UBC because they have an exceptionally good Mechatronics department and he could go to Whistler for skiing/snow boarding during winter and as a Canadian, he would pretty much be guaranteed a place at UBC. So UBC was supposed to be the standby.( Yaya too applied at UBC and was offered a place)

So, here is an OP 1 student with no Uni guaranteed admission anywhere and looking at a minimum loss of two years ( if he wants to go to US/Canada)

I wanted to scream at him, but I didn’t. Only because I had  promised myself that if I ever have children and when they are already upset, I won’t do anything to make it worst. My mother used to make me feel horrible every time I went to her because I made the wrong choice/decision. She would go on and on and all I wanted from her was her support. Eventually I learned not to go to my mom with my troubles, which beat the purpose. Your parents are meant to be your rock, the ones you can lean on.

So, I made myself a cup of tea and talked to my son.

He had two options. Contact QTAC and wait for round 2 offers. Find a full time job, travel around a bit and see where life takes him. I told him, if I was in his place, I will work like crazy the next 8 months or so, save every dime and travel to Costa Rica and then on to other S.American countries and of course head to Peru and  drink ayahuasca. He looked relieved. It is not that I am deliberately trying to make my kids addicted to drugs. My son just needed to know that sometimes you make a mistake, and some times those mistakes can have life lasting consequences, but it doesn’t mean that it is the end, there are plenty of other things to do. I want my kids to have hope.

He managed to get the admission offer from the QTAC round 2 offers. He has deferred it for a year. and now the waiting game starts.




The first time I saw her was on the eve of Yaya’s birthday. I was making Yaya’s favorite fish cutlet when she came in to the kitchen to say Hello to me. It was about 9:30 p.m. Because fish cutlet is a very labour intensive process, I was making it the night before.

I remember seeing her eyes and thinking, she has the saddest eyes I have ever seen. When she came, we had already finished dinner and I thought she looked hungry. So, I fried few fish cutlets and made a bowl of soup for her.

Her existence was a bit of surprise to me and I had not anticipated her arrival. My son told me that there is a classmate of his who needs urgent accommodation because her life is at stake and there was not enough time to ask for more information.

Every year, for my children’s birthday, I bake their birthday cake the night before, so they can wake up to a surprise birthday cake in the morning. I only started the baking process after they had gone to bed. When they were little, they used to try and stay awake to see what I was going to bake and I waited till they slept. There were times I baked the cake at 2 a.m. when the monsters finally slept. Once my son woke up in the middle of the night and ate half of the beautifully iced birthday cake I baked for his sister and we all woke up to a surprise half eaten birthday cake and  fridge door covered with icing.

She was sleeping on the couch in the living room and I guess I was making too much din while baking the cake. She woke up and came to me and asked if I needed any help. I didn’t. I was making tea for myself and I made her one too and we started to talk.

She told me her story.

Her father was in his 50’s when he came to Australia and shacked up with a woman to continue staying here and in the process had three kids with her. The woman is an alcoholic and drinks two bottles of wine a day. He buys the alcohol because he feels feeding her the alcohol is a lot easier than dealing with the violence that follows when the woman doesn’t get her drinks. Neither of them are employed and have no money. They take every dime the kids earn to pay the rent and bills for the house. Spending 16 dollars on an average a day for wine means there is no money left for food. For months the kids only had bread and sausage. The woman has some issues with the girl and deliberately attacks her every chance she gets and like every child in an abusive relationship, she thinks what she is going through is normal. Besides there is no escape for her.

I have been in her place and I know just what she is going through.I told her that she can stay with us as long as she wants.

Just like I did, she misses her family, runs back to them, get attacked, escape and then this cycle repeats.

A few months after the first time my son brought her home, they started to date.

The mother in me looks at this relationship and is worried like hell. She is totally messed up. She is insecure, has regular panic attacks and is a lost soul. She will need years of therapy to get over all the traumas she has gone through. How can I wish my son to have a terrible future?

The woman that I am, the one that went through shit and still managed to pull up to reach where I am, I know I am the only hope she has.

Who do I save? My own son or the girl who is my own reflection.


I know I have been away from this blog. My apologies

Currently I am a sobbing mess.

It all started couple of weeks ago, when my son asked “Mom, would you be ok, if I move out and stay with my gf”

I have always known that children will grow up and leave home. It is nothing but the truth.  Yet, I couldn’t stop the tears and I haven’t the slightest clue as to why I am behaving this way.

My son was a bit taken aback too. It isn’t very often that he has seen his mother cry.

Of course, I told him that if he wants to move out, he can. That is his right. I wish I could have said it without crying.

The thing is, I didn’t cry this much when Yaya left home. I missed her terribly. But I accepted that she needs to find her wings and soar high.

I honestly don’t know why I am behaving differently with my son.


A lot has happened in my life the past few weeks and I am unable to blog about it. Everyday, I open the blog tab on my laptop to update the blog and every single day I ask myself, is this something I want my sisters to know about? And I end up not updating. This blog was a place for me to write whatever is bothering me and I loved the sense of relief it offered me. But now I am just lost.

So, we will leave the bad things out.

The good things

Yaya is home. She came back couple of days ago and my son and his gf came with me to the airport to pick her up. I counted down the hours till her flight landed and the moment I saw her, much as I was happy to see her, I also felt a bit sad.. How many more Christmas do I get to have all my children  home? They are all flying out of the nest and creating their own nest. In 2 years, my youngest will leave home. I can’t imagine a Christmas without my kids. But that is inevitable. I have started to write a list of things I would like to do once the kids leave home. I want to learn to sail a yacht and perhaps spend a year or two at sea.

My son is busy working and his shifts now ends after midnight, which means instead of driving back home which is a 45 minutes drive, he goes to his gf’s house which is 30 minutes away.  I would like to be magnanimous and say that I really don’t mind him spending the night at his gf’s house. But the truth is, I do. I have so little time with him before he leaves for Uni and I want it all.. every single second of the time I have left. I know I sound so irrational. It isn’t that he didn’t spend the last 17 years with me.

That brings us to the Ammai amma role I get to play. I remember the word my grandmothers and other older women in my family used every time a new girl arrived in our family after the marriage. “parishkaram”  I have no idea what would be the ideal English word for it, so I apologize for not translating. The first parishkaram in our house was the toothpaste. My washroom is small and the mirror doesn’t have a decent light. As I am blind as a bat, I use the common washroom (Bigger mirror and better lights) to brush my teeth and to put my makeup on. I have so little time to get ready in the morning and my blood comes to a rolling boil when I look for the toothpaste and not find it. She brushes her teeth while she is taking her shower and leave the paste in the shower. My son has also started to do the same for he thinks it is really cool to brush the teeth while the shower is running. The simple solution would be to have two for the idiots who use it in the shower and one for the rest of us. But I don’t want to have a two tier household. My house, my rules. Toothpaste on the toothpaste holder next to the sink is where I decided to keep the toothpaste  and it is where I expect to find it. (Don’t I sound like a typical mallu mother in law? I swear all these traits are in our genes)

Couple of days ago, I was at work and I received a text from his gf. The message said ” tell your son, his room is worst than a pigsty”  I knew what brought this up. She bought Brie and crackers to eat and was running late for work. As she was leaving I heard her telling my son to ” please remember to keep the Brie in the fridge ” and my son said “yes, I will do it” She came back three days later to find the Brie rotting on the table and she was pissed.

Should I get offended because she thinks my son is a pig? Nah. My son is messy. If she can make him get his acts together and keep his things clean and tidy, I am all for it.

I know I sound a bit bitchy about my son’s gf. I am not. I adore her. However, I do find the role of an ammai amma a bit hard to play. I wish there was an ammai amma school where I could go and learn few skills.

As for my daughters, I was surprised to see that they do all they can to make my son’s gf a part of their lives. Yaya summed  up her brother’s relationship perfectly. She calls it a microwave relationship. According to her, a relationship is like  Christmas ham in an oven, it gets cooked on a low heat over a very long period of time, till it is done to perfection. According to her, a microwave relationship is the one where no one has the patience  and rush the relationship like cooking food in the microwave.

And that is that


I know I have not been updating the blog. I had a week off and went to do the Bibbulmun track in Western Australia. I am tired and sun burnt, but my soul is at peace.

And today I thought I would write about the minefield my son is traversing at the moment.

Before we go any further, I want to mention that when I was his age, all I ever wanted was someone to love me. I grew up wanting to be loved because no one in my family cared about me. Sometime ago, there was this thing everyone did, write a letter to the 17 year old you. If I did that, I would have told myself, it is ok to look for love, but check first if the guy is worthy of your love and also mind the expiry date of your relationship. When I look back and think of the days I shed tears for the guy who broke my heart, I would tell my old self that I really had a lucky break. There indeed is a guardian angel that kept me safe from living a terrible life with a guy who was not worthy of my love. What I was trying to say was that, when I was young, I was all out to please the guy because all I wanted was to be loved. Clearly I was an idiot.

And now I watch this relationship my son has ,going through various stages.

My son is attending Chemistry bridging class at the moment from 8.30 to 5 pm and after that works from 5.30 to 9,30 pm. He came to pick me up from the airport few days ago in the evening and in order to do that he had to take time off from his  work. He also went to pick up his gf from work and she did an 8 hour shift that day. I was too tired to cook, so we ordered a pizza. After dinner, my son went on to play the xbox (first time in about 8 weeks) and the gf who was exhausted from her work slept off laying down on the couch.

Next morning, I heard this argument where the gf was accusing my son for ‘not paying enough attention to her and ignoring her and  for playing xbox”

I heard my son reply, “i thought you wanted to rest, especially after an 8 hour shift at work”

They argued back and forth and there was no clear winner.

I didn’t say anything because it is not something that concerned me.

But I do know that my son will have tough time if he doesn’t learn what a woman wants.. and I guess this is a good learning experience for him. I just hope he won’t come out as a cynic at the end.


She called me “mom” and it felt so good to hear.

I had often wondered how I would treat the people(my children’s partners) who  will eventually be part of my family. I don’t talk to my family members and I just don’t want history to repeat. ( I am always worried about that, my kids could always throw that at me and say “you never talked to your own mother and how dare you expect us to talk to you?”)

I also learned that it really doesn’t take a lot out of you to be nice. I treat her exactly like I treat my kids. My best friend met her husband when she was 15 and he was 15.5 years old. They moved in together when she was 17. He did two jobs a day to help her through med school and after she graduated, she helped him to finish his engineering degree and they are still happy together. So, there is every likelihood that she could be end up being my son’s partner. I have not asked if they are serious in their relationship as I think that is their personal matter and they should decide.

At the moment, the days my son has exams, she fills his water bottles, make sure he has taken all the documents/pens etc and go with him to school to offer moral support and he does the same thing when she has exams.

In a lot of ways, I have learned so much in a few weeks. I have learned to accept that my children are not babies who depend on me. My children can have partners that might make me think what in the world were they thinking? My children’s partners will take over the nurturing role that I have been playing until now. But most of all, I have learned that if you treat them with respect and love them unconditionally, they will consider you like their mom and it is worth it.

Oh the things that you learn.

I have OCD. I have my way of doing things. In fact sometime ago, my youngest was helping me to fold the laundry and as she was leaving she mentioned very casually ” Don’t think that  I don’t know that  you are waiting for me to leave so you can refold the undies that I just folded before you put them away” Which incidentally is nothing but the truth. I like things to be neatly organized and if my daughter didn’t fold it the way I want, I do it again the moment she is out of sight.

I don’t clean any of my children’s room. It is their room and keeping it clean is their responsibility. I however do put away my son’s clothes in his closet. He and I have come in to an agreement on that. I just couldn’t stand him chucking freshly laundered clothes on the floor, on the chair or where ever he found the place to chuck them. The problem was with me. My son had no issues where he kept his clothes and he felt  if I had an issue, I should deal with it and in this particular situation, I could put his clothes away.  And since I am doing the putting away part, I get to do it my way, it is all color coded and follows a specif pattern. Formal outfits, pants, shorts, sportswear, t shrits in 4 colour groups, school uniforms and winter wear.

Few days ago, as I was taking the clothes from the laundry line ‘she’ asked me if I needed help and I said “sure”. She took my son’s clothes from the laundry line and I was just about to tell her how she should hang them in his closet. And that really was an issue faced by all mothers in law world over. ‘She’ is not my daughter in law yet, but she could be. The truth is eventually I will inherit a daughter(in law) and I need to get my acts together. Just as I won’t allow anyone to dictate how I should hang my partner’s clothes in my closet, I don’t have the right to dictate how ‘she’ should hang my son’s clothes. It really is her choice.

I don’t deny that I am tempted to go in to my son’s room when no one is in the house and sort the closet to the way I like. I considered doing it couple of times. But I do know that I need to let it go.

I also treat ‘her’ very well. There are two reasons for that. One of which is that one day, some other woman will inherit my daughters as their daughters(in law) and I hope they too will treat my daughters well. The second reason is that I want the best for my son. If I treat her well, (I am hoping that) she will treat my son well and that is very important to me. Yesterday when I went to buy the groceries, I bought her favourite tea (Honey and Vanila) and gave it to her.  No in laws ever bought me my favourite tea.  However, that shouldn’t stop me from buying it for  the girl my son brings home.

Plenty of good lessons I have learned in such a short time.

Circle of life

Life has a way of repeating events.

Couple of days ago, my son woke me up in the middle of the night to ask if it is with me if a friend of his came to stay at our house.

That was a very odd request at a very odd hour, so I asked for details.

Turns out that a classmate girl is having family issues where her life may be in danger and needs an urgent intervention. My son already had the car keys in his hand for he was  very sure I would say Yes. And I did say Yes, even though I was worried about a lot of issues.

The first reason I said yes was because 27 years ago, a friend of mine offered me a place to stay when I had no where to go. I was doing 3rd year Medicine and we were living in Bangalore. Amma had gone back to Kerala and only I and my sister younger to me were at home. We never got along (and will never). Once in a while, I used to go out late in the evening to have ice-cream (mint chocolate ice cream, it cost 10 rs then)at a small shop in the city with a friend who stayed few blocks away from our house. We usually went for the ice cream and then for a long walk and he dropped me back home. That particular day, my sister locked the house from inside and pretended to be asleep. No amount of my knocking could rouse her from her sleep. The worst was that at one stage when my friend and I were standing downstairs and contemplating our next move, we both saw my sister looking at us through the window in her room. Clearly she was not asleep and clearly she wasn’t going to open the door. Where was I going to go in the middle of the night? My friend(bless his soul) took me to his house and let me sleep in his room, while he slept in the living room, It was too late in to the night and he didn’t want to wake his parents up. (perhaps, he felt if his parents said No, I would be sleeping outside on the street and he didn’t want to take that risk). I know he got in to solid trouble the next day. But I was given a place to stay when I needed it and it is only right that I do the same to another person in times of need.

The issues I worry about

  1. My son’s IB final starts this Monday. I have always felt that there is no point running a marathon if you don’t cross the finishing line. I worry that all this dramas are causing my son too much of distraction. However, I console myself that whatever has to happen will happen. I also teach students who have come to the School of Medicine from various backgrounds and I know there is nothing that stops my son from achieving whatever he sets his mind to.
  2.  Allowing a  teenage girl and a teenage boy to stay in the same room is not an easy decision to make. Both are 17 and are past the age of consent. Callous as it may sound, what they do in the privacy of their room is their problem. Not mine. However, I am still an Indian and struggle with cultural issues. This morning, while I was in the garden, both of them came out and were talking to me and my Indian neighbor was walking his dog and I introduced the girl to the neighbor. I did worry about what he thought. I know very well that the opinion of a stranger is immaterial, yet I worry.
  3. Precedent. Am I setting some sort of precedent here? Would my youngest ask for the same privileges? I have always had the same rules for all three of my kids. I am not sure why I am even worried about it !

I am not stressed, but I am not very comfortable either. The Indian in me is desperately trying to get out and I wish this process was a little bit easy, that somewhere in me there is a middle ground.

You learn

Years ago, while living in Canada, I was at my Pakistani friend’s house when the postman delivered the mail. She is a very traditional Pakistani woman and I didn’t agree to a lot  of her parenting ideologies. She wouldn’t let her kids attend the school dance, prom etc and was paranoid about every second her kids spent outside her home. But what happened that day was something I will never forget.

So, she collected the mail from the mail box. Rushed inside, quickly opened the letter and then yelled “yesss”

I thought she won the lottery and can you believe how shocked I was when I learned that what she was holding was an Infringement notice (skipping the red light) from RCMP with a photo of her son’s car skipping the red light.

I thought my friend had gone in to shock, how else can you explain such a weird reaction.

After seeing my puzzled face, she explained

“You have no idea, how many days I have been waiting for something like this. My son had recently got his license and I was worried about him speeding. There is nothing more terrifying than receiving a ticket from the police. It teaches you that you are not a kid anymore, but an adult and there are rules to follow and consequences to face for not following the rules. After today, my son will be even more cautious while driving”

I thought about and felt she was right and saved the lesson in my head.

My son got his first speeding ticket. 20 KM over the limit!. He not only had to pay 259$ fine, he will have to drive like a granny till next April, cause if he gets one more demerit point, he will lose his license.

You have no idea how long I have been waiting to receive this particular letter. When my son came home, I gave him the letter and left it at that.I didn’t yell at him. I didn’t scold him.  which is even more harder for kids to deal with, for they are used to being admonished for doing something wrong. But now he is almost an adult, he doesn’t need admonishing. He needs to man up and face life.. He was miserable, but I do know that this was a really valuable lesson.


Enjoy the ride

I know the blog updates are becoming rather infrequent.

Here is the thing. I have reached a point in my life where I decided to please the only person who matters. And in this case that is me.

James Taylor sang the secret of life is to enjoy the passage of time (Secret 0 Life) and that is what I have been doing,

I stopped stressing on things that doesn’t matter.

One of the major thing was my children’s education. Although I am no way a pushy mother when it comes to my children’s education, I have always been worried about them getting somewhere in life. I wanted to give them the best opportunities. When Yaya declined UCLA, UCSD etc admission offers, I was disappointed. But I had always given her the right to choose and she is happy where she is. I now teach students who wrote the Gamsat exam with me. I would have been one of them if I wasn’t deaf.  I find it really odd that I teach them now. Life is really funny at times eh?. One of my student is a famous researcher whose papers I have read. After completing her PhD and Post doc, she decided to do medicine and wrote  Gamsat. The thing is, after PhD, you are not entitled to receive student loan, so she is self supporting herself by working 20 hours each week and living in a share home. I have another brilliant student who has done PhD in Chemical engineering and then felt that is not what he wanted to do and is now doing Medicine (Again self supporting by doing construction labour). I have a student who is the only child of a single mother with questionable past ( her words, not mine) and doesn’t know who her father is and determined to change her destiny. Interacting with students from various backgrounds, I have learned that if you want to get somewhere, then you can. All you need to do is to work for it.

Hardest part for me as a mother was to stand aside and watch.. When Yaya was in grade 12, during her study hols before the finals, she read novels. She even worked when she had two days off between her exams. It is the same with my son. He is currently binge reading Jeffrey Archer novels. His finals will start end of this month. I only ever studied just before the exams. So not studying when you are on study holidays used to bother me a great deal. But not anymore.

So all in all, I have changed. I decided to enjoy the passage of time doing things I want to do. In this instance, I stopped fretting.