Sunday, January 14, 2018

New Year in different Style

That night I walked into that room not knowing what to expect. Have been with center for few years now but hadn’t been to many of the activities. Anand never felt at home with center. When to think of it he never felt at ease anywhere except his own home. It’s an irony how a son born to a mother who belongs everywhere. Center soon became my place and I found my village there. Many of you remember my story about mother’s retreat. Center is basically designed to build a village for our children. The whole team is so passionate about helping families in need.
Our family is not part of any family gathering. I go there once a year for Mother’s retreat and get my Mama energy for a year. We meet our old friends and make some new and keep in touch.
When a friend posted something on Facebook and asked if I was coming for New Year’s party I decided to go. It was on Dec 30th. It was a snowy and very cold week in Boston. But that never stopped any of us anyways. I decided to put my bling on and be part of that party.
What I saw that night was an idea, a brilliant one. Imagine that. Celebrate New year with our kids on Dec 30th and at 9 PM. Parents could hangout with other parents without worrying about anything. There were photo sessions and decoration and popups for photos
 The kids ate and mingled and then DJ and Music started the party. He played few songs and then kids started the karaoke, some of them were really good singers, after some time someone walked on dance floor and then before you know many joined and it was a big dance party, that was pure magic, everyone was just having fun. So many accommodation for sensory overload and quite space and everyone just respected everyone’s need and space. I couldn’t resist dancing with a cutest partner on earth. around 9 PM the countdown started and sharp 9 PM we all shouted happy New Year and then it was a wonderful beginning to 2018.. a warm, musical, colorful, glittery welcome.  To the Idea of hope, progress, happiness, inclusion, wish for a better society and peace for everyone.

Saree from a dear friend. A Surat creation, I couldn’t imagine me in this but couldn’t be happier. Sometimes its best to listen to friend and not question their choice for you.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Wishes for next 365 days

This morning I type this post feeling hopeful for all of you. Logically as my husband mentions nothing changes, we just get a day off, a reason to have another party, drink and stay up late watching TV. If at all anything changes it’s the calendar on kitchen wall, last digit on your date stamp and lots of phone calls, messages and Facebook post and thousands of pictures. But at the same time, I feel it gives us a reason to look back and think what worked for us and what didn’t.
I always say our mind changes every 10 years and we redefine what our life is. Our body defines the way we should live and mind dictates what is important for us. I wish for everyone to find that balance and not wait for body or mind to dictate.
The #HOPEFULL campaign is really all about that. Wishes for a better world for us, for our kids. A change for world, a new philosophy to live by, a dream for a mom, to reach out to people who need a hand, hope to be the motivation, have a motivation, be inspired and be an inspiration, a change maker in some way in someone's life. a smile, a dream..

I wish you all that next 365 days will make you do things differently, will make you a better person and above all you will contribute to make this world a better place.
This morning My Facebook status update was -
Its one of those kind of days.
I started writing about wishes and hope in the morning, Couldn't finish, wished a mom from our tribe whose daughter turns 16 today, spoke to another mom whose daughter is transitioning to adult world soon, visited someone who has known me for 35 years, had a very meaningful discussion in the afternoon about being involved and making a difference in Indian community , and then a heart wrenching talk with a dad who just learnt his 2 yrs old son has Autism.. oh how I wish I could reach across the phone and give him a hug that he is not alone.
I wanted to write about my New year date with a toddler who was fascinated with my saree and Bindi on New years party..
Well that has to wait.. Today lets be #

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Time to seek help, offer help and pay it forward.

After my last blog (about Mom’s get together) I got a text from a very dear friend –“I confess I need to be educated about days in your life and how can I help, We need to be a more aware society and help when and where we can”

I have been thinking about it for a long time, every time I talked about Autism awareness and acceptance I did understand that explaining the spectrum is very difficult and talking about Anand and his ability will not help everyone on spectrum. I have been looking for ways to do it in a better way. And then this text again proved my point. We just don’t have to talk about awareness we need to build a better society with understanding.. not just ask for acceptance for our kids.

I am working on this draft, please help me explain in a better way.
Your journey is sure different than mine, but again we are in this together. I appreciate having friends in my life who try to understand what our life is with Anand. Over the year, they have seen Anand grow and their existence in my life is the strength. I wish you all have someone to go to, I wish your friends have understanding of your difficulties and I wish they have heart to offer their help to you.

When someone asks, what is autism I still struggle to explain, I say for my son it is comprehension issue, he has trouble with filters, cannot understand abstract and flowery language, he doesn’t understand when people talk very fast. He cannot foresee, predict and plan. He doesn’t have “what if” scenario, he doesn’t understand the consequences and absolutely cannot bend the rules. He doesn’t know how to make and keep friends and complexity of situation or relationships are beyond him. Unknown is the scary world for him and because he doesn’t get many things he doesn’t want to be part of any circle now.
I still remember the Soccer days, when everyone in the team was running around for ball my son was busy watching stuff on ground, going in different direction and not understanding what coach was shouting.
He is much better with non-abstract stuff. He loved board games. He is very good with chess or scrabble and his grammar is perfect. He is wonderful with younger kids because they don’t question him. He loves to help if he can.
 Huh, I think this description is good enough for now, for me and for you too. At least it gives an idea.
Please help me write this, help me explain what goes in our life. How we don’t have a day to day life because it can change its mood any minute. I want to help the special families as well the typical families to understand our life. So, they can be help when needed and believe me so many would love to be part of your world, just need to know how.
Time to seek help, offer help and pay it forward.

Anand cleaning my car this morning, BECAUSE I asked for help.
Dad woke up with leg pain and couldn't do much. so we explained to Anand how can he help. and here he was all geared up to rescue us.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Making of a village. A desi one

The energy, the laughter, the happiness and the excitement in that room was so obvious, for a moment I forgot that these are the moms whose lives are far from easy and it was nothing short of miracle to have all of them there in one room on a cold, Friday night in December. BUT they were there and were REALLY present, the feeling of gratitude washes over me as I write this. Some day you really need an assurance with what you are doing is right, it was one of those night.
I have been planning for this for sometimes now and wasn’t sure how will it work out. Venue, time, date, convenience and logistics too many things to worry about, ON top of that we are special mothers, nothing is certain in our life. One meltdown can change the direction of the day. I haven’t met most of them in person so no one knew what to expect, and to give an evening to someone you never met is little too much to ask and I totally get it.
A friend and I joked that we might end up alone. Well, I believed in the mission and decided to go ahead with the plan. I am sure there were many questions in everyone’s mind about the whole idea. Meanwhile some of them read some of my blogs, some read Saree stories and I am sure some agreed just for the curiosity. As day drew closer more agreed. I think it was peer pressure in that what’s app group. A night before we learnt the restaurant won’t take the reservations for Friday night. These are the times you thank your stars, a friend who owns a restaurant agreed to host us. Meanwhile another persistent mother could finally convince the Olive Garden manager and we were in. Friday morning, we were around 18-20 mothers. By the time, we met we were party of 27. When I walked in I was a happy and worried woman, I really wanted everyone to have great time. The manager gave us a room and the best staff. We met, we laughed, hugged, complimented, commented and joked. We did introductions, we shared our dreams and celebrated what we have and decided not to worry about what we don’t have. We promised to help and support each other. We posed and took pictures. Someone toasted for positivity in life. We joked with our wait staff and had so much fun that other people in restaurant asked the manager what kind of celebration was going on. I am sure they were in shock knowing we were special mothers. We all walked in not knowing many and after more than three and half hour we left having many by our side. Promised each other to meet soon. I drove back home with gratitude in my heart. So many emotions and so many happy faces, that’s all I can remember.
The next morning my phone was buzzing with messages and pictures. One of them said it was one of the best night she ever had, the other said it was her first night of this kind and she is glad she came. One said she thought her life was just cooking, cleaning and taking care of kid but that night she found something beyond that.
I was asked to plan another one soon. The moms who couldn’t make that night want to make sure they attend the next one.

That one night redefined strength, motherhood, optimism, enthusiasm, persistence, support, hope, confidence and sisterhood. I always believed in having girlfriend support system, I am so glad many of those have a village of their own now.

This beauty is a gift from a high school friend's wife, whom I never met. He came to see us in Boston when he visited NJ for work. I think he spent more time in flight and on road than with us. we are not only lucky to have great friends but their spouses in our life too.