Sunday, February 28, 2010

Older & Grateful

A lot of people crib about getting older. Many women especially, are very touchy on the subject and will either give you the "its rude to ask a woman her age" line, or else, outright lie about how old they are.

I don't understand why.

Too many people are snatched way before their time. Too many don't make it into their 50s, 40s or even lesser. Too many don't even make it past childhood.

Thinking of all those millions of unknowns who die young, I promised myself some years ago, that I'd never, ever lie about my age, never moan about getting older; instead each birthday, I would just truly thank the Lord that I had made it through one more year.

The thought for this post came to me yesterday, on the eve of my birthday, and I felt that I must take the time to put this up, despite the numerous distractions that have kept me from this blog for so long.

I woke this morning, not with the euphoric thrill of childhood birthdays, but with a more mellowed contentment that I had arrived at another birthday with so much to be thankful for. I began my daily routine, interspersed with calls from family members, wishes also pouring in online, and that sense of contentment grew.

Then we got the news that a neighbour at home in Bombay, my sister's best friend's brother, had died in an accident yesterday. A young man, barely in his 30s. Completely unexpected, and even more tragic because that family lost their mother just last month. That dear lady's death too was just as out-of-the-blue, a sudden heart attack.

I actually staggered when my mother informed me. I can't begin to imagine what that family must be going through: two deaths in two months, both before their time. And I came back to the thought that propelled this post: why many people hate the fact that they are ageing.

Growing old is such a blessing! Its nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to hide and you realise that all the more in the wake of tragedy. Each day, each year you live is a privilege, a miracle, that so many, too many, don't get.

I don't know who said this originally: "I'm not getting older, I'm getting better!"

"Better" or not is debatable; "older" is indisputable. Why even bother denying that???

Today, I turn 26. Some might scoff that its easy to be frank when the number's small, but no matter how high that rises - 36, 56 or Inshallah 96 - I will always gladly & gratefully celebrate growing old :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Looking Back at 2009

I'd wanted this to be my last post of 2009, but with one thing and another, couldn't get to it. Though its not as timely as I'd intended, I still must go ahead with it to keep a record of one of the most defining years of my life.

I have always been a creature of stability, but stability was the one thing that was a stranger last year. Barely had 2009 begun, than I was knocked off my feet with the realisation that I was pregnant. Before I could fully come to terms with it and its life-altering consequences, the physical changes hit full force, and I spent the first two months of the year in a nauseous daze. This period was a total emotional roller-coaster: wonder, resentment, guilt, excitement, depression ...... I swung between them all and more.

All thanks to God, that terrible energy-sapping nausea passed off over the next couple of months, and slowly, from the lowest point of my life, I blossomed into the best I've ever felt ...... refreshed, rejuvenated & revitalised!!!

As those first flutters of movement started within me, I began truly bonding with my baby. The nesting instinct kicked in, and I realised that while our then flat had been adequate for hubby & me, there wasn't much room to accomodate a baby and the 101 things needed to comfortably raise it. So thus began our house-hunt.

Most of our family & friends couldn't understand why we wanted to shift when I'd entered my last trimester, and I don't blame them because I too previously used to perceive pregnant women as incredibly delicate. But my actual experience was the exact opposite: I felt immensely strong!!! Firmly believing in 'God only helps those who help themselves', I put my good health to good use by actively looking for a more spacious flat.

It wasn't easy. It took much longer than I'd thought with many false hopes along the way. But right when I'd slump to thinking that maybe this wasn't possible, I'd hear some messages, either in church or on Joyce Meyer's show, encouraging me on. The message with the greatest impact came on Joyce's show. It was:

If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of your boat.

This awesome sentence not only motivated me towards getting the new flat, it has transformed my attitude towards life in general. I have always clung to stability, facing change only with great reluctance. But this one simple statement gave me the strength to be more accepting of changes, to deal with uncertainty without being afraid and renewed my faith in God and His guiding power.

That power led us to our new flat, at the beginning of the ninth month. With the support of family, the shifting and transition took place smoothly. Three short weeks before my due date, we moved in. Ten days later, my baby moved out :)

Life since then was a total whirlwind! Right after coming home, we were absorbed in planning my daughter's baptism, to be held just three weeks away due to the work schedules of my dad & sister. The occasion was a success; most of our family could make it & it was lovely to have our home bustle with so many relatives.

After this, the first major event of Kris's life, things settled into a routine.... for a bit! Both my mom & MIL had come to stay with us. Under their care & support, I recuperated and hubby & I both received a proper initiation into parenting. There were so many things that seemed so frighteningly huge at first: feeding, diaper-changing, massaging, bathing the baby ..... even just learning how to carry her properly, soothe away her tears. But with the guidance of our mothers, we learned.

Around this time, I heard another message on Joyce's show:

God is a God of excellence; if you want to be a real worshipper, you must be excellent too, especially in the mundane, ordinary things of life.

It hit home, and it hit hard. No, its not that overnight I have become this super-excellent person (just look at this blog post, for example ...... its been languishing half-done in my drafts folder since last month!) But that awareness that I can improve - that I'm expected to improve - has set in, and now, in every big or small thing I do (and in many things that I've yet to get around to doing!), there's a voice going "excellence, excellence" in my head. Honestly, I wish I could shut it up sometimes; its bloody difficult pursuing excellence especially when your biggest faults are laziness & procrastination. But I cannot hush it.......

So anyway, that again spurred me on to give my best towards everything. These messages, and the absolute belief that God was watching over us, gave me the strength & courage to accept uncertainty when our new routine was shaken up: first my mom had to leave way earlier than expected, then MIL had to go home for a few days, leaving hubby, me & our baby alone for the very first time.

Well, we were not completely alone; we did have a truly wonderful maidservant who took care of the cleaning. But still, it was my first time running the house, handling the cooking & taking care of the baby by myself (while hubby was at work, at least), ....... and I did it. Hubby & I both did it. We used to function well as husband & wife; now we learnt to function well as papa & mama too :)

The last few weeks of 2009 were again a bustle of activity as we prepared to travel to the UAE, to spend Christmas with my family. Not just hubby & me, everybody was apprehensive about how Kris would handle her first flight. Very fortunately, she remained as cool as ever through the journey (I pray this continues whenever she travels!)

The few days that hubby was here too now just seems a blur, but a wonderful one! Christmas was heart-warmingly crowded, with my uncle & family and some other relatives all gathered at our place. Hubby had to leave a couple of days later, and so he was the only one missing here when 2010 entered.

For me, 2009 zipped by so fast, I still find it unreal sometimes that we're in 2010, more so because 2009 was such a momentous, life-changing year! It was not just becoming a mother, it was also those two messages that make me feel like a different person. Which way this new year will take us, I don't know. The only constant is the infinite grace of God, and in that infinite grace, the support of the wonderful family He has blessed me with. As long as I have these two things, I'll be fine.

So now, finally, I can bid a proper (and a looong overdue!) goodbye & thankyou to 2009, and look forward to the rest of 2010!

A very happy & blessed year ahead to all who read this!!!