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Play Day, a Covid bonus

My workplace has declared today as May Play Day. A day we have been mandated to NOT work. We have received multiple reminders from our management throughout this week to stay away from work today.  My company recognises that with having to work from home, the line between work and home has faded. Working harder, working longer, working without respite has been the norm for the past several weeks. Not just that, having to do this while balancing the other finer aspects of life that are demanding more of your time, energy and attention has added to the load on our backs. So they are giving the day off today, making this Memorial Day a longer weekend. No electronics day, the subject line said. Read a book, tend to your garden, take a hike, spend time with your family. Rest, relax, and come back rejuvenated!

I can’t say I have been struggling with balancing work and supporting my children. Both kids have been on their own. Hari is grown up enough to manage by himself. Ram has been forced into self-sufficiency as we simply don’t have the bandwidth to support his learning. Inspite of having the bar low for ourselves, some days are more stressful than others. Unwinding for a bit to just BE helps to gain some semblance of balance. You certainly cannot have it all at all times. Some days work take center stage and at other times life.

Note: As I write this post, I am acutely aware that there are millions and millions out there who would do anything to have a long workday and I am sending a silent prayer for them. We are certainly not treating this gift of fullness as a burden. Just saying that on some days it is harder in the moment.

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  • Nothing screams life is not a level playing field like Mother’s Day. As I celebrate my mom and my children, I say a prayer of healing for those that have lost their mom, their child, or their dream of having a child.  
  • Someone who has fallen through hard times gifted me a plant today out of love. Touched and humbled by the generosity of her spirit. She makes me want to be a kinder person. 
  • Our state has made wearing masks mandatory. While the direction is to wear a face covering only when not social distancing, you hardly see anyone without a mask. I really miss seeing the smile on people’s faces. 
  • Gratitude for the gift of togetherness with the Jing Bang gang.
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Covid Chronicles – Routines

Over the past three weeks, we have slipped into a routine of sorts. For the first time today since the stay at home saga began, the boys said they miss school. Over the weekend, there were some rumblings – “did you see how snappy he was?”, “ We are not sick of each other yet but we are heading in that direction.” So we had to shake things a little bit this week so we could create some space in togetherness. We also resolved to hit the pause button on Netflix binging from Monday to Friday in an effort to cut our screen time and make room for some more meaningful activities. 

6:00 to 7:30 am – wake up, bath, prayer, meditation, appa-amma call, dishwasher unload, prepare lunch and dinner, news catch up on podcast

7:30 to 8:30 am – catching up with work emails, daily check in call with the team

8:30 to 9:00 am – check in with kids, breakfast time. 

9:00 to 12:00 pm – work

12:00 to 12:15 pm – catch up with kids while having lunch

12:15 to 12:45 pm – go out for a jog

12:45 pm – resume work

3:00 pm – tea and snack break

5:45 pm – wind up work

6:00 pm – dinner preparation, touch point with friends here and there, news catch up on podcast

7:00 pm – kids activities via zoom/family time – carom/TV

8:00 pm – catch up – work emails, personal emails, social media

10ish pm – hit the sack

Wash. Rinse. Repeat. If monotony and lack of social life are our biggest complaints, we should consider ourselves blessed.

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay home.

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Covid – work life balance

“Amma, you are making English muffins for breakfast tomorrow, right?” the first offspring reminds me. This is the fourth time I have received a reminder around what to make for breakfast for tomorrow. Ayoo kadavule, I want to pull my hair out. Truth be told, it’s not the children that I am frustrated with. Poor thing, food is probably the only thing that they come to me for. Some TV time in the evening and interesting food to thrill their taste buds. Not a tall order given that they are pretty much on their own all day everyday.

The real reason I want to pull my hair out is because work emails wouldn’t stop flowing. One email after the other, it simply is endless and all consuming. Everyday I wonder, is it me? Am I being inefficient? Am I not drawing boundaries?

I tell myself, I will do better tomorrow. I will get more efficient. I will compartmentalize. I will stick to a routine that balances work and life.

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Covid Chronicles – Start of Second Week

The weekend was a welcome change of pace. The work week last week was focused on work, kids, and checking in on family here and back home. No time or energy to do anything at all. 

Come Saturday, the four of us rolled up our sleeves. Da took charge of cleaning the bathrooms, Hari repurposed the outdoor vacuum for some indoor cleaning, Ram took care of cleaning surfaces, and I did the rest. We were all bone tired but we were proud of the fruits of our labor. 

As I swept and cleaned, I took turns listening to Covid related podcasts and catching up with my tribe. I called my cousins, whatsapped friends, and talked to my gang of friends back home. All conversations started and ended with Covid. We exchanged stories on how we were coping and how the governments have been acting. This is what socializing feels like in the days of social distancing and Covid. That’s ok, we are dealing with bigger problems here and the lack of social life is honestly the least of worries.

Today is the start of the second week of work week from home. The kids are fine being home. The only thing that Ram wished was he could visit the library. So finally, we got our act together and brought our Kindle to life and borrowed some ebooks from the library. Hari got pulled into a project that involves researching on ventilators. 

We received communication from our school stating that remote learning will start next week. Hats off to the administration. The whole thing has been well thought of, it has been structured keeping in mind the stress and demands of these unprecedented times while providing a sense of routine and structure to the kids. It takes into account that some families have both parents as working parents and even if families are able to make the time and willing to put in the effort, they lack the pedagogical knowledge required for the curriculum and that they should not be forced into doing something that they are not trained to do. 

On that note, closing for tonight. Take care, stay safe.

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Little Moments in Covid Times

It has only been a week but feels like a lifetime has passed since our lives turned upside down. Even in these overwhelming times, there are moments of joy and delight if only we are able to surrender to the present moment. Recounting the little moments that brought lightness to my week.

  • Social distancing has brought us closer as a family. Having all of us huddled under the same roof in these distressing times has been comforting. The kind of feeling you get when you wrap yourself in a soft blanket or an old sweater. Warm and cosy.
  • Spring is here! The sight of perennials, the touch of crisp air, and the predictability of the changing seasons. A constant in uncertain times. 
  • Binge watching British Bakery Show with the family and Parks & Recreation with Hari. I do wish we spent some of that time playing board games or doing something more actively as a family. But you know what? This is a phase, right now this is our family favorite, and I have decided to revel in it. We all LOVE it! 
  • Working with sunlight streaming through the glass window while plonked on the bean bag. I love my work space, if it can be called that. It’s casual, just the way I like it.
  • Anthoni Fauci, 79-year old immunologist in Trump’s task force. He is a voice of reason that I have come to trust over the past few days. He has a way of putting facts in perspective without causing a sense of alarm about it while nudging the public to act in a responsible manner. Imagine doing that! 

I hope you were able to see the little moments in your life despite the turbulent times we live in. Take care, be healthy, stay home!

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Covid Chronicles

The past two days have been business as usual at our end or at least that’s what I have been telling myself. Work has been relentless for Da and I. The school has advised us to treat these two weeks as snow days, so it’s pretty much AVK (avithu vitta kazhudhai) days for them. Hari is grown up enough to plan his day. Ram and I put a schedule together consisting of  things he wants to do and things he has to do. Both of them are used to being on their own during vacation days, so this is not unusual routine for them. They don’t terribly miss the socializing part because they are soaking in each others’ company. Ram gets to meet his Destination Imagination friends virtually and today another family took the initiative to organize a virtual Dungeon and Dragon play date. After wrapping up work, the boys have been trying their hands on making dinner. And then together, the four of us binge watch British Bakery Show. Between work and kids, the day is quite full. 

All seems fine and dandy as long as we are cocooned in our tiny little world. I can almost convince myself that everything is normal. Except when I turn the TV on or hop on to social media, reality hits me like a ton of bricks. A sense of gloom and doom overtake me.

I sigh. It is what it is. I can do what is required of me and my family. Today, it is to just stay home, cherish my family, and be productive.

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In the times of Coronavirus

Jotting down this for my diary

“Oh god, I simply cannot believe that this is happening,” I have been telling myself this past week. We are in the middle of a PANDEMIC. The Coronavirus has brought life to a standstill. 

Last sunday, we heard the first presumptive Coronavirus case in our town, that too right in our backyard. The parent of a child going to our school was impacted. Families were furious that the school was not taking a more aggressive stance and closing.  I listened and read in an attempt to wrap my head around this, to separate the noise from the issue. The message was cautious but one that was lacking in aggressiveness. We went with the flow. 

Our lives have turned upside down since then. State emergency, school closures, national emergency, travel bans, activity cancellations, panic hoarding and buying, and all of us being home bound.

I take a deep breath. It’s ok. Social distancing is fine. Cooking all three meals a day is manageable.  Having kids home for three weeks is not a big deal. There is much to be grateful for. So far, we are all healthy. We have the wherewithal to buy in excess and store. We have the ability to work from home. We have kids who are fairly flexible and will understand and listen. We are in touch with family back home and here. We have Skype, Facetime and Whatsapp for socializing. What is there to complain about considering that we are in the middle of a pandemic that is wreaking havoc.

And today, we are hearing more stringent restrictions. The governor has stipulated school closure for an extra week, no eating in restaurants, and gathering of more than 25 people at a time. Desperate times call for desperate measures. It’s time to rise up to the occasion to do our bit to flatten the curve.

Keeping everyone in my prayers. Stay safe, and healthy.

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Some notes

Jotting down some notes from a webinar I attended on raising high schoolers. All these seem common sense but they are easier said than done. Noting down some key takeaways for myself. 

Listen more, listen better – A lot of times I find myself entering into a conversation with my children with a talk track in mind or with a mindset to give advice or I am royally preoccupied, which means I am not truly listening. My listening skills can use some honing.

React less in the moment –  I always tell my kids that even if I get upset in the moment, the frustration is fleeting and temporary. Appa or amma may get upset but always remember that they are your ultimate well wishers.  They understand it intellectually. However, their brains are wired to avoid confrontation and unpleasantness in the short term. They don’t think long term. In the moment, seeing their mom upset is excruciating for them. As much as I don’t want to embrace sainthood and keep it real, it does look like I need to put in the work to stay calm and be objective.

Trust them and Praise them – Trusting is not a problem for me but I do tell myself that it is important to verify even when I trust them. For e.g. I trust my child to spend the money I give him wisely but it is good practice to share with me how he spent the money. 

Junior year is hard – they are taking tough courses, they have to take SAT and ACT, they are learning to drive, they will be visiting colleges… simply too much going on in that one year. Go easy, stay empathetic, be supportive, be less judgmental, do not be dismissive

Stay engaged and involved – They are physically developed and selectively mature. Often this can mislead us into thinking that they don’t need us as much. Nothing can be farther than the truth! They will not ask for help unless it is too late. It’s good to let them figure out but it’s important to BE there.

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Utter gibberish…

… born out of wanting to but not knowing what to write. Don’t tell me, I didn’t warn you.

What do I write?
How much do I write?
Do I even want to write?
There is nothing to write.

It’s the same old stuff.
The same routine.
The same breakneck speed at which life is racing.
The same juggling act.

Days turning to weeks,
Weeks into months,
Months to years,
A few decades go by,
Just like that!

I learn about myself,
And the world at large,
The good, the bad and the ugly.
It’s all a package!

The small differences that I overlooked
Are now staring at my face.
Elders – aging, fading, vanishing
The inevitable cycle of life.
Peers – greying, adulting, whining
Thank God, I am not alone.
Offsprings – love, nurture, and let go,
That’s how it works best!

NOW is all I have,
Off I go,
To live my mostly mundane
Ordinary life,
In an extraordinary way!