Confessions of a not-so-beautiful mind

I have a few confessions to make:

I have greater respect and regard for those who possess academic brilliance than those who do not. I believe a human being ‘s value is enhanced by coming first in class.

The problem is that I always stood first in class . I came first in school in the Class 10 boards. I made it to the top medical college in my state on my first attempt, and likewise to the best medical college in the country for my post-graduation in Ophthalmology. I was awarded for being the best post-graduate resident in my year, and was ranked first in the interview for super-specialisation training.

I think this has skewed the way I look at others. The main reason is, I feel, that in my own eyes, my own worth is linked to my having always been an excellent student.

I know I am wrong. A child coming 20th in class is no less precious to his parents than one standing 1st; a young boy studying English or History or Geography is as gifted as the one studying engineering or medicine.

I worry I will put undue pressure on my son to excel the way I did.

I only studied- no sports, no elocution and even no quiz competitions. I did learn singing for a few years, but gave it up in my higher classes- so that I had more time to study!!

I love to study.. as long as I was in school, mathematics was like my best friend. I practised sums when I wanted to relax!! Does that sound absolutely crazy?? I turned to Maths to keep me calm, sane and grounded. When I joined Medical College, I actually missed my Math problems.

In my journey to becoming and being a practising Ophthalmologist, I have studied with complete sincerity, and I will continue to..

But I worry when I find myself expecting my son to love his books the way I did. I tell myself that he is an independent individual, and the best thing I can do for him as his mother is to hone his own strengths rather than trying to shape into a mould of myself. And I’m working on that.. I am trying to be better..

When I see photographs or hear parents discuss their children’s certificates and scholastic achievements, I long for the day my son will do the same.. and a small worry, hidden away somewhere, that maybe he won’t , tugs at my heart..

I want to let my 6 year old enjoy his childhood.. to come into his own, discover his strengths..and I want to help him become the best version of the person he is meant to be.

I hope I get better soon!!

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Did I Say “I love you” Enough to Last a Lifetime

Our words really can make or break our little ones..let’s all be a little more careful. And really, who knows when our time may run out? Let’s tell our loved ones how much we love them and how much they mean to us.

kristentraverse

This was taken two weeks after my stroke when I was allowed my first day pass out of the hospital.
Within three months, my world has been turned upside down. I very recently had a cryptogenic stroke which left me with Broca’s aphasia and apraxia. Aphasia and apraxia are just fancy medical terms for saying that my expressive communication (speaking and writing) was devastatingly affected.

At the age of 31, with two boys to raise, a nursing career and training for a 1/2 marathon, a stroke was not on my agenda. Strokes very rarely affect someone of my years, but more so important then my age, was the age of my two children; 4years old and 15 months. My kids were much too little and they needed their mother.

It was three days after my stroke where the shock had subsided and the gravity of what disabilities I had been…

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does love beget love…a thought, a poem

Does love beget love?

Often?…sometimes?…..never?

Do your thoughts and actions matter?

Or are other things more important?

Your community?…your caste?…the language you speak?…the language your child speaks?

I know I tried..my best..to show them that I love, and accept them

But it seems too much to expect them to love our son

To want to make us part of a family celebration

I write this with a lot of pain in my heart

A lot of hurt

I feel like I have been slapped across my face

A door has been slammed shut

Will the light ever shine through again?

Will the love ever come through?

Should I teach my child to love them?

Knowing that he shall always remain an outsider to them

Knowing that the love will be hurt like mine has been today

But how do I tell my child not to love?

They shall always remain his flesh and blood

Maybe one day they will feel that having us around will not make them less happy

Maybe one day love WILL beget love

Maybe the love WILL shine through one day

I hope I am around to feel the joy of that day…..

a thought for today

A truly developed society is the one that respects and upholds the rights of its weakest, most defenceless members:its children.

The poor things can’t turn over till they are a few months old; can’t stand up till they’re a year old and can’t talk for at least a year after that. How much more needy can you be?

Denmark has widely been found to be the ‘happiest’ country in the world. The Danes outlawed corporal punishment of children several years ago. How can hitting a child be justifiable? If hitting a spouse is wrong, how is it that hitting offspring is acceptable behaviour? Do you really want to inflict physical pain on your child? Not to mention the lifelong mental trauma and scarring that ensues. Why? Is it because they cannot protest? Is it because they are totally dependent on you and have no one else to turn to? A wife can call her parents if her husband hits her..who will a child call if Mamma is hurting her?

If it is discipline that needs to be taught, rules that need to be enforced, there are so many better ways to do it, aren’t there? Children learn best from example..let us be good examples. Let us say ‘sorry’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ first..let us be obedient and disciplined too. If you never listen to your child, your child will also learn to not listen. If your child keeps telling you to turn the television off and you don’t listen , will he learn to pull himself away from his blocks when it’s time for dinner?

And what does hitting a child teach him? What message does it send across? That it’s alright to hurt people who are smaller than you? That you can hit someone who doesn’t listen to you? Do you really want your child to grow up thinking that way?

How can you tell your child not to hit others if you hit her yourself?

To our children, we are the world..let us not shake the fundamentals of their being by turning on them. Mamma and Daddy are their best friends, their allies..their support, their succour..let us not make them question our love for them..lets try a little more love instead. It’s not easy being a child..we find it difficult to control ourselves sometimes..how can it be easy for a five year old to control himself?

Children want our love and affection..they want their parents to play with them, to read to them..they want to feel important and involved..but they sometimes get a little too excited, a little carried away. Let us guide them and help them understand..how confusing it must seem if Mamma or Daddy suddenly start screaming and striking them..they were just playing..it was just another experiment in a long day. We need to set limits..and enforce them with love and guidance. Love and guidance..lots of cuddles and kisses..not spanking. Let’s make words our tools..once you’re not angry anymore, tell them what made you angry, what drove you mad, and why it did. They will understand..they understand a lot more than we give them credit for.

I get angry too..I shout too..but once it’s over, I say sorry to my child if I scared him..I try to make him understand why I got angry, and he does listen eventually..he does begin to understand. The same thing will need to be said many many times..but he will listen because he understands..not because he is scared of you. I try to emphasise feelings..how his disobedience made me feel, why I was hurt by his behaviour..

Oftentimes it is our frustration and anger towards others and other issues that explodes when our child does something wrong. You are tired and so so sleepy..and your child decides to squeeze a tube full of baby cream over the table..oh my my!!! But would you not have reacted differently had you been feeling happier, more rested? So we should take care of ourselves, mothers and fathers..if we are happy, we will not feel like screaming at our kids so often.

Children are testing limits..and they need boundaries to be set..but shall we try to do it with a little more love and a little less pain?

By the time he/she grows up and realises we did it because we wanted them to be better adults..the emotional and physical trauma will have been inflicted..they may understand one day..but the scars shall always remain.

When I used to push Ashu’s pram when he was tinier, it used to often occur to me that maybe one day he will push me along in a wheelchair. I don’t want to hurt you, my child..I too will be helpless and dependent if I live long enough for that..and I would want you to choose love too when it’s your turn to do the looking after..

Parenting is tough, isn’t it? One day we are just husband and wife,.and the next day..mother and father. We stumble along this journey one day at a time, we all make mistakes. All parents want only the best for their kids..they do only what they have been told works best..a mother who hits her child doesn’t love her child any less than one who doesn’t..maybe even more. We’re all just trying to do our best..but maybe it’s time to question what we have been told works best.

my prayer for my child

I came across an excercise in a parenting book I was reading during my pregnancy: It asked the reader to write down 5 qualities he/she would want to nurture in his/her child. I thought of these 5

1) High self worth and confidence

2) Kindness/compassion

3) Empathy/understanding

4) Discipline(of the self)

5) Integrity

To elaborate,

1) High self worth and confidence:

I believe very strongly that, as parents, our primary task is to make our children believe that they are loved. Even when we are angry and may be screaming at them, they should not feel unloved, unwanted, unworthy.. When I get angry, my four year old waits quietly for me to finish whatever I’m saying..then comes up to me, gives me a hug and quite a few kisses, and then says sorry, and asks me if I’m feeling better, and then, ‘will you please read me a story?’!!! And I like that, because it makes me happy to see that my admonishing him does not make him feel less loved, or less sure of my reciprocal affection. He is confident that his hug will make me happy, that his kisses will make Mamma happy, and that we will soon return to whatever we were doing before Mamma went a little crazy!!

I hope that over the years, I am able to transform this into an unshakable belief in his own worth, a confidence in himself, his abilities. Let’s not pretend that life is easy or that the world is an amusement park..and as we prepare our children for their own lives, away from us, let us arm them with the strongest tools: self esteem and self worth.

2) Kindness and Compassion:

As I get older, and experience more of life, I increasingly feel that the ultimate wealth is peace of mind..you should be at peace with who you are, what you do, how you are to others..and it is here that kindness comes in. It’s important to be kind..as a habit..I don’t believe you can be rude and impolite, putting others down..and be happy and peaceful. Kindness does not mean donating lakes of rupees in charity, but I would want my child to greet others with a smile, have a kind word or a hug for someone needing it..that interacting with him should bring a sense of joy and peace to those around him..his spouse, colleagues and friends..and even the waiter at the restaurant and the security guard at the gate.

3) Empathy and Understanding:

I believe that empathy is the key to fulfilling human relationships..the ability to try and understand that other person, to put oneself in another’s shoes..it is the secret to many a lifelong friendship and one of the keystones of a happy marriage.

4) Self discipline:

I read once that the greatest battle that one can win is over oneself..and I agree. Before we try to control anybody else, we should stop and ask whether we have ourselves under control. Discipline should not need to be administered by somebody else, it should come from within our own being. Discipline is doing what you know needs to be done, and staying away from what you know should not be done.

I hope for my child to grow up with a strong inner moral compass..that he should know right from wrong, and have the strength and the discipline to do the right.

5) Integrity:

The best definition of integrity that I have read is that integrity is doing the right thing even when you know nobody’s watching. And integrity is probably one of the greatest virtues one can possess..integrity in all matters, big and small..another secret to achieving that good night’s sleep.

My mother has always told me that bringing up a child is the most challenging of all tasks..and our greatest responsibility too! I am almost four years into this journey, there are days when I feel I’m doing it all wrong, I’m becoming who I never wanted to be..but there are the good days when it seems like it’s all coming together and that I’ll succeed in being the mother my child needs me to be..

Mushroom Soup

Ashu had a mystery fever one night, and I didn’t send him school the next day lest the fever return. I stayed home too, and made this soup for him that day.

Ingredients:

1) Button mushrooms: 200 gm, chopped into medium sized pieces

2) Olive oil :1 tbsp

3) Onion: 1 medium, chopped

4) Garlic: 2 large cloves, finely chopped

5) Butter:2tbsp

6) All purpose flour(maida):2tbsp

7) Milk:2 cups

8) Water :1 cup

9) Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1) Heat the olive oil, and add the chopped onion and garlic.

2) When the onion turns pink, add the mushrooms.

3) The mushrooms will give off water; once the water dries up, the mushrooms will be cooked.

4) While the mushrooms are cooking, make the white sauce.

5) Melt 2 tbsp butter in a saucepan, and add the flour. Stir for a couple of minutes, and pour in the milk.Season with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, and switch off the flame once it has thickened.

6) Add the white sauce to the cooked mushrooms, and adjust to desired consistency with water.

7) Bring to boil, check seasoning and we’re done:)

Notes:

1) Do definitely use chicken or vegetable stock in lieu of water if available.

2) I have realised that the surest way to achieve a lump free white sauce is to use equal quantities of butter and flour.

3) You may add dried herbs for added flavour.

4) Shredded boiled chicken can also be added for chicken mushroom soup.

Quick Shrimp Capsicum Masala

I was on duty till 8 PM today evening, and needed to rustle something up quickly for dinner. This is what I came up with:

Ingredients:

1) Prawns/shrimps:300 gm(cleaned and deveined)

2) Onion:1 medium, chopped

3) Capsicum: 1 medium chopped

4) Oil: 1 tbsp

5) Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp

6) Curry leaves:5 or 6

7) Coriander powder:1 tsp

8) Pepper powder:1/2 tsp

9) Turmeric powder:1/2 tsp

10) Red chilli powder:1/2 tsp

11) Salt to taste

12) Ginger garlic paste:1 tbsp

13) Readymade tomato purée:3 tbsp

Method:

1)Marinate the shrimps/prawns with the turmeric powder and salt for at least 10 minutes.

2) Heat the oil in a Kadhai, and add the mustard seeds and curry leaves.

3) When the mustard seeds crackle, add the onion and capsicum and cry till just starting to brown.

4) Add the ginger garlic paste and sauté till the raw smell goes away.

5) Add the tomato purée, coriander powder, pepper powder, red chilli powder and cook till oil floats.

6) Add the prawns, and cook on medium heat till prawns are done.

7) Adjust seasoning.

Notes:

1) Omit the curry leaves, and add chopped coriander leaves at the end for a different flavour.

2) Do not over cook the prawns; once they turn opaque and curl up, they are done.

3) Adjust pepper and red chilli powders to suit your taste; Ashu and I are both not fans of ‘hot’ food, so I cook accordingly.

4) Half a cup of medium thick coconut milk may be added at the end if a gravy consistency is desired.

5) Use fresh tomato purée from 2 medium sized tomatoes in place of the readymade purée if desired.

Thank you for reading, and happy cooking!!

Let’s begin with a recipe:Paneer Butter Masala-My Way

There are several variants of this popular dish, and this is the one that works for me. Went into Ashu’s lunchbox today, along with a simple matar pulao. Now for the recipe:

Ingredients:

Paneer:200 gms, cut into small cubes

Onion:1 medium, chopped

Tomatoes:3 large, puréed

Ginger garlic paste:1 tbsp

Turmeric powder:1/3 to 1/2 tsp

Red chilli powder:1/2 tsp

Garam masala powder:3/4 tsp

Salt to taste

Readymade tomato purée:100 ml(around 6tbsp)

Thick curd: 2 tbsp, beaten

Cashew paste:from 1/4 cup cashews

Cream:1/2 cup

Water

Kasuri methi:1 heaped tsp

Oil-1 1/2 tbsp

Method:

In a Kadhai/wok, heat the oil and fry the onions till just turning brown.

Add the ginger garlic paste, and sauté till the raw smell goes away.

Add the puréed tomatoes, red chilli powder, garam masala powder, salt, turmeric powder.

Cook on medium to medium high flame till oil floats, and the masala no longer smells raw.

Cool the masala, and purée in a blender.

Return the puréed masala to the Kadhai.

Now add the readymade tomato purée and the beaten curd. Bring to boil.

Add the paneer, and simmer for around 5 minutes.

Add the cashew paste, and cream. Water may be added now to give gravy of desired consistency.

Adjust seasoning.

Simmer for a couple of minutes, add the kasuri methi, and switch off.

Keep covered for a little while for flavours to mingle and settle down.

Enjoy with chapatis, parathas or rice.

Notes:

1) Since I generally use store-bought paneer, I soak the cubed paneer pieces in warm water for 15 – 20 minutes before adding to the gravy. This makes the paneer really soft. Another option is to shallow fry the paneer pieces before adding to gravy.

2) To make the cashew paste, dry grind first; then with a little bit of milk or water. This gives a smooth paste without the need to soak the cashews beforehand.

3) If the curd is not too fresh, add 1/2 tsp besan while beating it; this will prevent it from curdling.

4) You could omit the cream, and add half a cup of milk instead.

5) If the tomatoes are sour, add 1/2 tsp sugar when you adjust the seasoning.

I’m sorry there are no photos this time, will definitely add them the next time.

Hope you try this out 🙂 happy cooking ( and eating)!!

An Introduction

I am 32 years old, and an ophthalmologist. I have a loving husband(also an ophthalmologist), and a three and a half year old boy. I plan to use this blog as a platform to express my views on things I consider important, and learn how others feel from their opinions on what I have to say.

I have two great passions: motherhood , and the kitchen. I love being a Mamma to Ashu, and I really enjoy putting good food on the table for all of us to relish(well, most of the times we relish!!there are exceptions though, as hubby will surely recall..). I hope to share some recipes along the way, and the rest we’ll just build along.

I always felt I wanted to write..so here’s giving that a shot..