Friday, November 02, 2007

A Taste of the Life That Was

Last weekend, we went to Delhi for a family wedding and came back sans Ayaan. Since I was going to be heading to Jaipur for the Diwali week in just five days, it didn’t seem to make sense to lug him all the way back to Mumbai. Plus my mother always craves for some alone time with him without my interfering presence… so he went off to Jaipur with my mom while we headed back to Mumbai. Overall, we were quite excited about having some time to ourselves for the first time in two and a half years.

I am writing from a plane, headed towards a reunion with my son after a five day separation and I have to say it’s been an interesting and revealing five days. The most surprising thing has been how much I have missed him in these days gone by. I have been away from him longer on my travels but this time, I felt the separation much more intensely than I ever have. Because this was the first time since he was born that I have been home when he wasn’t. It just didn’t feel right – it was like there was an Ayaan-shaped hole in my house and in my life.

On all the five days, I actually stayed in office longer than I needed to. Since Jai was working late or travelling, it was positively depressing to come home to a dark, empty house. Especially since I have got used to being greeted by my little eager beaver who responds to the very sound of my key turning in the lock and comes running to greet me with his toothsome grin and a ‘bick (big) huggy’. I always knew that my homecoming was one of the high points in Ayaan’s day – now I realise that it is the high point of mine too.

It was not all bad, though – there were some upsides to this mini-break from being parents. I managed to go to my fitness class every day for some heavy-duty guilt-free exercise.

And on Tuesday, Jai and I finally went on our first dinner date in two and a half years. Since the nanny leaves when I get home, we have never been able to do this and most night outings have been limited to one of us going out with our respective friends. Our ‘dates’ have usually been lunches and movies grabbed on Saturday afternoons, so this made for a refreshing change…

Somehow when we go out for lunch, I don’t feel a need to dress up and tend to just hop along in whatever outfit I’ve chosen to wear for the day. But dinner is different – so I came home from work, bathed, put on some fancy clothes, slapped on some lipstick and sprayed myself with my best perfume. It just made it a lot more special than a Saturday lunch can ever be.

Also, our Saturday outings are pretty slotted in terms of time. I like to give Ayaan his lunch before we leave and be back before it’s time to take him to the park. On Tuesday however, we got dressed in a leisurely fashion, had a relaxed drink at the hotel bar before moving on to dinner and didn’t even look at the clock once during all this time. We had a nice, aimless conversation throughout, largely sticking to our ‘no talking about Ayaan ban’.

This brief time-out also got me thinking about how we tend to mourn over our carefree, baby-free days in a manner that is almost half-serious. But I have realised that in many ways our quality of life has actually improved after becoming parents.

  • We eat a lot healthier. I already wrote in my last post about how we eat a much greater quantity and variety of fruits and vegetables than before. We also order in and eat out much less often. This week, I completely reverted to my old habits - on Monday, I ate a bowl of instant noodles; on Tuesday, we went out for Chinese; on Wednesday, we ordered pizza and yesterday, I ate at a friend’s place and we ordered Indian food, in all its greasy, calorie-rich glory. I think I need to detox!
  • We actually spend more time together now than we did before. Before Ayaan, both of us were certified workaholics (Jai still is) and used to drag our weary souls into the house just in time to eat dinner, watch some TV and collapse into bed. Now, we both make an effort to be home at a more acceptable hour and though a lot of our time together also involves Ayaan, it’s no less fun and intimate thanks to the shared moments of amusement, pride and frustration that abound when we are together as a family. Actually, that’s the difference – earlier, we were a couple and now we are a family – cheesy and clich├ęd as it may be - and I like this better.
  • We watch much less TV because there is a blanket TV ban during Ayaan’s waking hours as opposed to switching it on the minute we get home. I used to be quite a couch potato in times gone by and in the last week, I slipped back into the habit with complete ease, randomly surfing channels even though I knew there was nothing worth watching.

Overall, I am happy to be heading back to meet my darling son. Armed with the absolute clarity that I did the right thing when I decided to have a baby. I knew then that I’d never regret it and I know now that I wouldn’t have it any other way…

Update: I couldn't post this yesterday due to connectivity issues. Ayaan came with my mom to pick me up at the airport and he was satifyingly thrilled to see me - he shrieked at the top of his voice, ran into my arms and gave me the tightest hug ever, followed by some seriously sloppy kisses. The welcome almost made the separation worth it - almost but not quite :)

42 comments:

  1. I'm the first commentor!! Shocking!!

    This was a really sweet post - I already identify with the family versus the couple bit - yes, it's cliched, but there's no better description - and I like it much better too!

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  2. Somehow I admire you at having the strength to stay even for a few days without your son. I just cannot although there are days when I really want to break free. I know I don't have the guts to do that.

    How wonderful the meeting after the break was is obvious from your ending lines :) I wold have had a river of tears flowing down my cheeks :)

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  3. What a sweet post. I have read a few of your other posts now and then...

    The longest I ever spent without seeing my kids was 2 days - I was a tearful bundle of nerves by the end of that period! I didn't enjoy it - but then, it was while I was working and my child was only a year old so I guess that's different....

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  4. I've so been there--sometimes being without the kids is just the thing to make you appreciate how much you really like having them around.

    But dinner out without a timeline is important and nice, too.

    Thanks for this post--it felt kind of like a hug. Have a great week, Rohini.

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  5. nice post!

    when n3 was 5 she went off to stay over at my BIL's place with her dadi - while hubby, n4 and i were parking at my mom's in the same city. i couldnt sleep till late night because i felt exactly like you say - an n3 sized hole.

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  6. Agree wholeheartedly. Though I worked only for around nine months from the time brat was 3 months to a year, I know I missed him so terribly at work, that coming home was the high point of the day...And yes, one eats healthier, one is more responsible with one's health because one knows one is responsible for another. And no, brat has not slept apart from me for the past four years (thats only because of his seizures, and no grandma strong enough to volunteer to handle an episode if it ever happens with me not being around), but even the days he wants to sleep in dadi's room, I am the one dragging his scrawny butt back into our room (much to hubby's disappointment)

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  7. welcome back after the break!!

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  8. earlier, we were a couple and now we are a family - i completely agree with that. in fact, my husband and i were just discussing this before i read ur post :) this is a great article and i know precisly how you feel. i went back to work when bonbon was 4.5 months and i miss her terribly every minute that i'm away from her....and i'm positive this will only grow worse as she grows older.

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  9. [Y] Well, I am glad you said that - seems less cheesy when someone shares the sentiment :)

    [NM/ Mummyjaan] Actually I've done it in baby steps and each kind of separation was a milestone. There was the first day trip, the first night away, the first time I was away for more than a day, my first international trip and now his first trip away while I was home... the first time has always been tough but then I get used to it...

    [Talena] *Hugs*

    [Choxbox] Yep, this time was weirder than when I am traveling because I was at home and he wasn't and 'home' doesn't work without him anymore...

    [Kiran] That sounds scary... you would obviously not want to let him out of your sight!

    [Itching] As in a blogging break? Not really, just too busy to write... or did you mean break from Ayaan?

    [Noodlehead] It does. Now Ayaan gets pretty vocal about his displeasure at my leaving for work - he now insists that I don't need to go to office because it is closed :)

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  10. :) and to think there are studies that say marital satisfaction is higher when there are no kids in the picture.
    I think even our quality of life has significantly improved since Li'l A so I agree.

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  11. Not disagreeing with what you are saying exactly but I do wish V and I had had a little couple time to ourselves before The Bhablet came along. What with the in-law stuff and the quack's incorrect 'doctoring', we lost out on the only 8 months we did have to ourselves.

    By the time we have an empty nest once more, we'll have changed. I'm sure there will be stuff we want to do then, but we'll never be this age again either.

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  12. I can totally relate to couple vs. family bit. I have been away from Chip for a weekend, and allt he while I couldm't help but think and talk about it him!

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  13. I hope you guys had a relaxing week and all those shrieks, hugs and kisses make it worthy..doesn't it? That is leaving him at his grandmom's for a week...I guess even they need a break from us parents once in a while.

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  14. awww, the update brought tears to my eyes :) this was a warm post - I like the bit abt spending more time together now even though you have less time than before. one of the sweet paradoxes of being a parent.

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  15. Very sweet and warm post. 100% on the fact that our quality of life improves. Just as you say, they keep us on the toe, help us stay fit :) We are forced to stay disciplined, be it food or TV.
    The happiness one feels looking at their innocent faces it priceless.

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  16. Nice post! Sometimes separation puts things in perspective. So glad you guys got a break. It is important to have time for self and husband. ;)

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  17. Greetings, Ro! Bloghopped from Sue's. Or Kodi's.
    An open heartful post this was.
    The eating healthier bit, more time together and less TV -- all those makes complete sense and I totally relate to them all.
    Though I am still struggling to find out if we fight more/less post baby.
    A very happy Diwali and let there be more lights (and kids?)!

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  18. [Orchid] I know. It's totally the opposite of the way I thought it would be like to have a kid...

    [Sue] Totally get what you are saying. Thankfully, timing was on our side - Jai and I were together for three years before we married and then had another four years of married life before Ayaan made his appearance - couldn't have asked for more couple time than that.

    [Dotmom] It helped that I had a busy work week while he was away o I didn't have too much time to brood

    [Shobana] Not particularly relaxing since work was busy and I woke up at the crack of dawn everyday to make my fitness class...

    [Kodi's Mom] It almost makes me believe the 'kids make your marriage stronger' philosophy...

    [DDMom] My post pregnancy weight with virtually no dieting or exercise is testament to that!

    [Big Zed] And also important for kids to spend quality time with the grandparents

    [Upsilamba] Definitely fight more!! But who said fighting is bad - it is a kind of communication, after all...

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  19. i get this post...i get it in a way only mothers can. men tend to be a lot more stoic and it reflects in their parenting style too i think.
    the hugs and shrieks must have melted your heart. awwwww! seriously...my life pre rogue monkey is a blur. can't imagine life without them rogues now can we? :)

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  20. Ro, this brought out a tear in my eyes...coz exactly this is what we are going thru....am actually torn between the lack of time i spend with the Mr and the little time i spend with Kaju....sometimes i wish...i really WISH i should be a SAHM....spend time with both the people in this whole wide world who make my LIFE...but being this obsessive career minded person that am...am going throughh hell to decide whether to quit or not....

    i guess i have digressed and not really commented appropriately...but the lack of the couple time triggered me to write this incoherent comment....

    sometimes i feel frustrated with this hectic mundane life....
    and that is why this post brought a tear in my eyes....

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  21. A very heartfelt post indeed. I can totally understand even though I havn't yet had to spend a single night without Apple in her 2.5 years of life. I don't thnk I'm ready to do that yet. Earlier I had a job that required me to travel. After her birth I changed my job because I could not bear the thought of leaving such a tiny baby. I keep telling myself that once she's older I might be able to leave her with her dad for a day or two to get a much needed break. But will I ever think she's old enough? I don't know. All I know is I'm not ready yet.

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  22. Happy Diwali to you and yours! :-) Will read the posts and comment later.

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  23. hi rohini. i agree with you loads of people complain about how having a baby changes their lives but i feel you ont he fact that the quality has changed for the better.
    we're more involved. in everything.
    and you're right, my fave part of the day is coming home from work and seeing the excitement in my daughter's eyes and the way her tiny 7 month-old body goes out of control in response!
    :)

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  24. The dinner with not time limit sounds heavenly. I'm glad you got the chance to do that.
    Kids come in and permeate our lives to such an extent that their absence is always obvious and never welcome.

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  25. [Aqua] You bet and nothing makes you realise it than some time away from them...

    [IBH] That wasn't incoherent at all. I go through the same, exhausting spiral of choices every single day and can completely get what you are saying. I only know that there is no single, right answer and we all have to bumble our way through finding what works best for us.

    [Naina] When I travel longer than a day or two, I usually get my mom to come over or send Ayaan to her. I think that works well because I think it's as important for kids to get quality time with their grandparents, something that tends to get missed out with nuclear families in separate cities. Ayaan as a result is very close to my mom and settles in with her without a murmur... makes for reasonably guilt-free travel.

    [JLT] Hey thanks. Happy Diwali to you and your family!

    [Mona] It only gets better as they get older and get more expressive with their delight. Till the point they turn into sulky pre-teens, I guess... :)

    [Squiggles Mom] True. Can never imagine being truly happy or relieved to be away from Ayaan.

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  26. Rohini,
    It is great that you have your mom nearby who can take care of Aayan. I wish we had that. But since we are thousands of miles away from family, the only family Apple knows is her dad, mom and mama(my younger brother). So she's not confortable with anyone else. She was too young to remember when my parents and in laws visited last time. Hopefully now she'll be able to bond with them and remember them when they visit this time.

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  27. Hi Rohini...
    Happy Diwali to you and your family.
    I am motivated to b log after reading your blog.
    Please take some time out of your busy schedule and read my blog.

    TC

    J

    http://jayashrivemuri.blogspot.com/

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  28. This was such a heartfelt post Rohini.It's true that these little ones do change the lives towards the better.They teach us so much to slow down and reflect on things that really matter. I'm also glad you and hubby managed to catch that dinner date ,couple time is just as important.
    By the way Happy Diwali!

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  29. Nice post this. I've never been separated as such from Poppin but I've left her at my mom's place sometimes and the husband and I have both worked from home and still felt guilt :) So I get what you're saying.

    As for the quality of life improving, no doubt about it, if and only if you did all you wanted to when you were a couple.

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  30. [Naina] I know. Would not be able to take the travel that comes with my job if mom wasn't there to fill in...

    [Jayashri] Happy Diwali.

    [Fuzzy] The dinner was the best part of the week! Happy Diwali.

    [Kiran] Thanks

    [Poppins] So true. Thankfully we had loads of couple time before we had a kid.

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  31. Ro, i came back here to ur space to tell u how good you write your posts....i always have great admiration for people who write excellent with lucid flow of thought and the great command over the language....i just finished reading all your previous posts :)

    Keep writing gal!

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  32. I hope all is well there. Why no new posts? How was diwali at mom's place and how did Ayaan enjoy it? Give us a post soon!

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  33. Hey Reunited-with-Ayaan-Rohini,

    Of course I can totally understand what you must have experienced. Mahesh and I may think sometimes about the way things were, but hey, this is good too!! I end up missing Adi's smile when I am away for an hour at the gym, five days can be a long time...

    Looking forward to the bloggers' meet - it sounds so terribly important put that way!

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  38. Tagged! *phew*

    http://winkiesways.blogspot.com/2007/11/more-sunrises-and-gift-hands.html

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  39. oh you bet. I've left the brat twice - once when he was 11 months old for a week while the OA and I went to Goa...

    and once for abt 20 days when I was pregnant and on bed rest. you are right.. its harder when we stay home and they go away.. the brat shaped hole eats away at me.

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  40. [IBH] Thanks :)

    [Shobhana] It's been an eventful couple of weeks - post coming up soon

    [Parul] See you on Saturday :)

    [Tharini] That doesn't sound too hard though Mumbai is on the West cost so it won't be as scenic as yours

    [MM] I know. Can't imagine how I felt ok with an empty house before Ayaan came along :)

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