Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Neighbors Upstairs……………….

Over 35 years ago, my family and I lived in an apartment of a 4 unit building that my father owned.   Dr. and Mrs. Gupta (not their real names) and their 4 children lived in one of the other 2 bedroom, one bath apartments upstairs.  Dr. Gupta was studying for his American medical credentials while Mrs. Gupta worked. 
Over the years, the Guptas and my parents became friends and so did the kids.  My brother and I went to the Guptas apartment to play and the Gupta children came to ours often as well.   As time went by,  though, there was one issue that was straining  the relationship.   As would be expected  with  4 young children and busy parents  who had limited time to clean, the apartment was often filthy.   Cockroaches infested the unit and soon were invading the other apartments.  The other tenants started complaining.  At some point, my father had no choice but to ask the Guptas to vacate the apartment.   And so ended a relationship. 
Time went by and a couple of years later my parents ran into the Guptas while shopping at Sears.  They exchanged pleasantries, caught up on the kids and my father invited them over for dinner.  And  so began  a renewed friendship, one that has lasted to this day.  The Guptas have been to my wedding and those of my siblings.  My parents have also  had the privilege of seeing all the Gupta children married and even attending  some baby showers.      
I’ve always believed that there is something wonderful about the older generations.  Tom Brokaw wrote about the men and women who lived through the Great Depression and the 2 World Wars.  He coined the  phrase “The Greatest Generation.”   My parents generation  also saw turbulent times and social unrest  during  the 1960’s and ‘70’s.   Maybe that’s what made them great.  Having seen uncertainty, turmoil, violence, death and destruction, I believe, taught them  integrity and  helped them value human life and  relationships.
Today we live in a fast paced, ever changing, transient  world  where people sometimes don’t know the person in the house next door.  Our homes just got  bigger with fewer family members people living in them. We thrive on change and get bored with things easily.  Fashions and fads come and go.  The neighbors we didn’t know move on to other places.  Could we be as forgiving and embracing? 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Some Day………………….

My older son just celebrated another  birthday.  Time truly does fly by. The kids grow up so fast and soon leave the house before we realize it.  I still remember that day in October when I gave birth to a baby boy too eager to arrive into this world, presenting himself  8 weeks early.  Who knew that that shriveled up little being,  hooked up to all the contraption in the hospital incubator  would be asking me today, “Mom, Really….?!!” 
From the moment they come into our lives, they become the center of our existence it seems.  We find ourselves recording every babble, blurb, word and mischief.  Some days we can’t stop hugging them and some days we just wish we could beat the nonsense out of them!  Some days we marvel at how they learn so readily and some days we wonder where they picked that up. 
Last year when my younger son turned 4, I wrote a poem that I wanted to share for my older son’s birthday.   Whether it’s the older child or the younger one, whether they are 4 or 14, the feelings remain the same.  My son keeps reminding me that he’s not a baby anymore.  My answer is still the same, “You are not a baby anymore…. but to me you are still ‘my’ baby!”   

Some day……….

Some day,
he might be a pilot
…..Soaring high above the clouds
Holding 200 lives in his hands.
But for now…..
He needs me to hold his hand…
As he traces his name,

Some day,
he might be a great writer
Taking readers to an imaginary world
But for now……
He can’t fall asleep
Until I read him
Dora’s next adventure.

Maybe one day,
…..he’ll be a rock star
With screaming fans and paparazzi
But for now…….
He insists I sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider”
….for the 100th time.

Some day,
he may be a celebrity chef
And open his own restaurant.
But for now ……..
He needs me to make
my “special” Mac N Cheese
Because I make it…
“the bestest ever!”

Maybe some day,
….he’ll be a surgeon
With many others looking up to him
But for now……
He looks up at me for praise
For going to the potty
“like a big boy.”

Some day…..
he’ll be all grown up
Some day…..
…….he’ll be a man
Some day…..
he won’t need me any more.
But for now
……..he does.

And though some days I wish…
he could put on his own clothes
And tie his own shoes
I wish…
I could slow down time.
So that the SOME DAY would come
……. just a little more later.

Happy Birthday, Love!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hey You Brown Lady!!

After having lived through the uncertainties of the job and housing market, we finally bought a house to call our home.  We decided to buy in a school district we thought would best serve our 2 boys and where we felt the community was quite diverse.  
My biggest concern about moving was  my older son who would be going from a very small private school into a school with 3 times the population.   For the past 4 years he had been in a school  based on a neo-humanistic* philosophy, where the children did meditation every morning and were  taught to love each other, their fellow human beings, the earth,  and everything on it. 
The same group of kids had been together since kindergarten and they truly had come to care for and love each other.   They had their differences and like other children they argued, yet if any one of them were to fall or get hurt, they would all come together and make sure their friend was all right.  It was an unlikely group, of the sort I hope my sons will have the privilege of knowing again.  I can only hope.
I had picked up my boys from their new school one day and we were heading to the car when I heard a boy’s voice call out, “Hey you brown lady!”   It came from the bus that had stopped near us, waiting to make a turn.  I looked to see if I could see who had noticed my beautiful tan but since the bus was rather full, it would have been difficult to pin point anyone.  I decided to keep on walking but those words resonated in my mind for the rest of the day.  
From his perspective, the boy was right.  Brown I am.  But why did he notice just my color?   How would it have been received, say,  by a black person, to be reminded of their color? Did this child live behind a massive white picket fence with no real contact with people of color or of different cultures?  What were his parents like?  More importantly,  I worried that this child, and others like him,  noticed that my sons was “brown” too.   How were my 2 boys received by the other “non-brown” children in the new school?  Would my boys face adversity and challenges in 2011 for being who they are?   Did the school not teach them about diversity and acceptance?  I spoke to the principal about the incidence just to make her aware of it.  In my desire to shield my children from hearing any further nonsense from this ignorant child on the bus, I had walked away without noting the bus number. 
I thought about what I would have said to this child if I had the chance to meet him?  I would tell him that yes, I am brown.   I am brown and could never be peach or olive or white,  even if I wanted to be.  But the irony is that many light-skinned people lay in the sweltering heat of a scorching sun, hoping to avoid deadly UV rays, just “to be” brown!  Since the school only went up to grade 5, I knew he couldn’t have been any more than ten years old. The logic of my argument would have been lost in his young mind.
 I truly would not have wanted to see him punished in any way.   How can you blame a child for having been sheltered?  A child’s ignorance shouldn’t be punished.   What that child needed was a first-hand education in culture, acceptance and loving.  Children, I believe, are much more open-minded, loving and accepting than adults if they are given the opportunity to socialize and mix with others.  Personally, I would have invited that boy to come to my house and play with my two boys. Maybe then he would find out what people on the other side of his picket fence are really like.  They  may be brown………. but they are beautiful……………once he got  to know them. 


……….by the implementation of Neo-Humanism, as put forth by P. R. Sarkar.  Simply stated, if extending the sweetest touch of the heart to include all humanity as one's own be termed Humanism, then expanding that embrace to include the animals, plants, and even the elements is termed Neo-Humanism. The fact that the fortunes of all are intimately wreathed together must be recognized, if not today, then surely tomorrow. (PSOLI website)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Will 2011 Be My Year?

Once in a while, something happens in our world to make us reevaluate where we are in life, what we became and where we are headed.   Once in a while, certain events in our lives reawaken within us the desire to find the essence of who we were before we found ourselves buried beneath the weight of daughters, wives or mothers.  For some, it might be mid-life crisis.  For others it may be a new addition to the family or the death of a loved one.   For me, it knowing that this time next year, my littlest one will be in school full day and wondering what I’ll be doing when he’s in school.  Motherhood, as I knew it up till now, is ending and I need to fill the void it will create.  I need to reinvent myself.  Maybe I need to “find” myself.
Many years ago, I gave up my career as a teacher and decided to be a full-time mom.   Some women are career oriented but I knew I needed to be home with my children and having done so, I can tell you, it is one of the hardest, unappreciated jobs in the world.   I don’t look back on it with any regret and know that it was the best decision I could have made.   And the fact that my teacher’s salary would have just barely paid for daycare didn’t really leave me many options either other than to stay home. 
Somehow, the kids grew up faster than I expected and now I find myself trying to get my teaching credentials in order here in the state of New York.   I’ve been told that despite having many years of teaching  experience,  I may  need  to do student teaching and will eventually have to go back to school and get a masters degree which,   by professional estimates , will take about $30,000.    The bigger struggle still is questioning myself, “Do I really want to teach anymore?”   But what else am I qualified to do?  Being a mom and teacher are all I really feel trained for.   Hence my need to find myself!
The thought of going back into the workforce after so many years   is a little daunting.  Also,   there’s still the desire to want to be home for my children, be home to greet them, help them with homework, talk about their day, and still be a mom.    Unfortunately, society places such a premium on work outside the home that we fail to notice the value in having a parent, mom or dad, stay at home to raise the children.  That’s why so many moms turn to real estate,   jewelry making, selling Avon or some other home-based business so they can fulfill their need to “work” and be there for the children.  
I recently met a woman who gave up a marketing career to stay home and raise her only child.  Being handy with the sewing machine, she started making ladies handbags at home, in her dining room.  After overwhelming response from family and friends, she started designing and manufacturing the handbags to sell to retailers all over the country.  She has  rekindled an old wish.
The ideal job for me would be one which had no set hours, no office, and no boss!  What I really want….need… is to be my own boss.  Being a children’s writer, would be a great option if I could get myself into the industry somehow.   A few years back, I started writing children’s stories.  I spent countless hours  sending  my manuscripts to many publishers.  But just like in show business, for every Dr. Seuss, there are thousands  and thousand  of  would-be, wanna-be writers just struggling to find a publisher.  I know, J.K. Rowling and Dr. Seuss were rejected a 100 times before they became big. So I guess I still have many more rejections to face if I want to see my dream to reality.
In the meantime,  I keep thinking about my other options and  the next  “million-dollar idea!”    I know it’s out there.  Who would have thought that kids all over the nation would  force their parents to buy useless rubberbands in the shape of cars and dinosaurs?  If  Sillybands can make it big,  well, I’ve got a couple ideas of my own!  Now I just need to find time, money and most importantly, ….guts!   Let’s see if 2011  is my year.