Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Adapting to change

Moving to a new place put forth before me two challenges - one, managing an entire home all by myself, and two, managing Puttachi all by myself.

I learned the management of the house fairly quickly, with ample help from S~, but looking after Puttachi all day long was very difficult in the beginning.

Let me clarify. Ever since I recovered from the shock of giving birth (heh), I have done nearly everything related to Puttachi myself - cooking her food, feeding, changing, bathing, putting her to bed, taking her out to the park, keeping her engaged, entertaining her - almost everything, with support from my mom at first, and then from S~. So workwise, it wasn't too great a challenge.

But what has become a challenge is to keep her entertained all day long, all by myself, without losing patience. She has been used to having people around her all the time, and besides, since I never really had any major work to do around the house previously, having been living with my in-laws, I would always be available for her. She never was really alone, and every time she called me, I would be there.

But now, I have other work. I have cooking and cleaning to do, and the other miscellaneous work that always seems to crop up around the house. Puttachi isn't used to it. She wants me when she calls me, and she will not accept that it is no longer possible. As a result, she goes "Amma-amma-amma-amma" like a stuck record, and says it loud and continuous a million times a day. She dances around my knees when I am in the kitchen, demanding to be picked up, pleading for me to come out and play with her.

I went crazy initially, nearly pulling my hair out in frustration. It was all I could do to finish the cooking and get out and engage her.

That was another thing. Previously, I had never been in the position to have to engage her continuously. My mom-in-law would engage her in play or my father-in-law would take her out for a bit, when I would have a few moments to myself. And when she got back, my patience would be back. But now I have no such relief. Sometimes, by the end of the day, I look at the clock willing the hands to move to the time that S~ gets back. And when he does get back, I literally beg him to take Puttachi away from me for a while, while I rediscover myself.

Generally, evenings are the slowest, and that would just go by in a flash when I took her out to the park. But in the past two weeks, because of both of us being sick, the park visit was ruled out. Those days were the worst. [S~ did stay back when I was feeling particularly sick, but then he had to go to office after that]. I was feeling terrible because of my illness, and to top it, Puttachi would demand all my attention and more, and there was no escape. I would lose my patience time and again, and Puttachi seemed to take pleasure in irritating me.

Those few days, I understood many things. I understood one of the reasons why mothers employ maids in spite of being stay at home moms. It is for just this reason - to have someone to watch your kid while you grab five minutes to breathe. I understood what makes mothers switch on the television and plonk their kids in front of it. Sometimes, it is necessary. I never thought I would, but I resorted to that technique too. When things got too unbearable, I would put on some rhymes or songs on my laptop, put Puttachi in front of it and just lie down or read a newspaper or do something mundane. It is unbelievable how quickly I would be back to normal after that.

Now, with our illnesses clearing up (Just the flu - but severe in my case), things have changed. I am generally more cheerful and patient because I'm feeling better after a long time, and miraculously - touchwood - Puttachi has suddenly learned to play on her own. Her demands on my time have reduced quite a bit. If I tell her, "Puttachi, I want to read the newspaper, play by yourself for a while", she actually does it. Sometimes she is in the enclosed balcony for quite a while with her toys and books when I am in the kitchen, and I go in from time to time to peep in and see that she is not getting herself in any trouble. And it warms the cockles of my heart to see her playing quietly by herself. She is learning too.

But all is not perfect yet. There is still a long way to go. For example, the only way I can get to eat my lunch in peace and then clear up the kitchen after that is to put on a Baby Einstein CD and put her in front of the laptop. I convince myself that it is only about half an hour per day, and it is, after all, educational. And I get to taste my lunch!

Changes.. and more changes.....

Thursday, January 08, 2009

A brief vacation

I haven't checked, but this is probably the longest that I have gone without posting anything. We had been on a vacation at the end of the year, and after we came back, both Puttachi and I fell sick - and blocked noses and throbbing heads are not really conducive to writing - I slept every moment I could. I wanted to write a travelogue about our trip, but I find that I have lost that urge, now that nearly ten days have passed, so here are the highlights.

We had been to my mom-in-law's native place, a small village in Chikkamagalur district. It is an old house, with a central courtyard, and rooms all around, opening from a raised platform. I have described it previously here. Only, this time, it wasn't as relaxing, as I had a toddler to mind, and we travelled around quite a bit.

We had been to Kundadri hill to see the sunset - and it was quite gorgeous. The sun is such a perfect orange ball. It is difficult to believe the clarity with which you can see the sun there, due to the clean air. Of course, clean air also ensures that the colours of the sunset are not too spectacular, but there is something about seeing the sun set behind ranges and ranges of mountains. And the stars at night! Mindboggling!

We had been to the temples of Shringeri, Horanadu, Saligrama and Anegudde, over two days. We also passed through Kudremukh National Park (famous for the iron ore - but there is no work going on anymore, and the place isn't worth visiting for itself, any longer. Just okay to pass through). We went to Soothanabbi falls, to see which you have to descend some 200 feet (called Hanuman Gundi) in beautiful environs. Getting down was okay, getting back was torture. We also went to Malpe beach near Udupi.

Of course, in all this travel, we passed in and out of the exquisite mountain ranges of Chikkamagalur district. The sights around Agumbe are particularly beautiful. ("Malgudi days" was shot in Agumbe).

What Puttachi did:

She was in her element at the house in the village. She likes cows, and was beside herself with joy to have such easy access to cows in the cowshed adjoining the house. She stroked them, fed them, and giggled with delight when their rough tongues grazed her hand. She would have even slept there in the cowshed with the cows if we had allowed her. We got her to see the milking of the cows, hoping that she would give some importance to milk if she realizes that it came from a cow. But I don't think it really registered. She made friends with the dogs in the house. She went down the steps behind the house, down to where the Tunga flows, fed the fish and wet her pyjamas. She ran all around the spacious houses, up and down, across the courtyard, along with her cousin Ani, with whose family we had been there.

A little way from the village is a place where the banks of Tunga have beautiful pebbles and fine white sand. She rolled around in the sand and ran about with the wind in her hair. When we visited Soothanabbi falls, there was a place near the foot of the falls where the rocks made little pools of water. She sat in one of the pools and played with the pebbles and got herself completely wet.

The beach at Malpe was the high point for her. She couldn't contain her delight to see so much water, so much sand. She stayed in the water until she shivered with cold, and after that, came out, changed and played with the sand as if she would never have enough.

The trip was entirely worth it just to see her joy.

But her daily routine was affected (not that it showed in her activities). First of all, because of all the travelling and the odd meal hours, she hardly ate anything, even surviving on four bananas one day. She also refused to do her big job, perhaps because the toilet in the house is actually situated outside the house, as was common in the olden days. She hated her baths there too, because of the extreme cold. She shivered and shook and cried all through her baths. The only thing she did beautifully was sleep.

Looking forward to many many more holidays :D
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