Being comfortable with silence

… is not easy. As a generation we crave entertainment. Being kept busy. Before you think I am preaching, I have to admit that I am most guilty of this – more so than most. You know how the trolls ask how I get so much done in one day? It’s because I don’t sit still for a minute unless I am writing at my desk. When I moved to Delhi I remember being asked what I was doing on Saturday night. I didn’t understand where the question came from. Was it that they wanted to plan something with me on Saturday night? In small towns, you throw the party on the day of the occasion and you celebrate any night. Saturday night is just another night. But I slowly fell into the ways of a metro and now I have something planned every Saturday night. Also  Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

I am up by 6.30 am to get the kids ready for school. I go for a walk and catch up with my friends in the complex. I get back, bathe – wash the bathroom while I am at it, eat breakfast and watch the news while I do that, get to work, go for a shoot if I have to, read in the car, paint my nails while I am reading, doze off, wake up disoriented, rush into the shoot, make some calls while waiting for the person I am interviewing .. you get the picture. And it’s no different when I get back. I make the kids’ tiffin at night, lay out their clothes, do laundry, tidy a shelf of books and all with a facepack on my face and stitching buttons on the OA’s shirts or ripping open the hem and lengthening the Bean’s dress. I wrap up work, shoot off a blog post (without even running a spell check. eeps)  and finally sleep at 1.30 am. The OA who gets back from work, switches his laptop off in office and rarely switches it on once home. He watches mindless TV or reads a book, browses through the newspaper and really relaxes and eventually yells at me to stop fidgeting because it is driving him nuts just to watch me walk round and round the house moving plants, changing pictures in photoframes, polishing a piece of silver…

And each day I acknowledge my need to do things all the time. My inability to sit still. And I tell myself that I want to change, but I don’t.  With kids these days the problem is similar, they too can’t just sit still – the problem being, they need to be entertained or else you’re harassed with cries of I’m bored. The awkward thing here is that I am neither a working outside home nor a stay at home mom. I am a work from home mom and they’re sitting on my head while I work. Since we’re on the top most floor I conserve electricity by keeping  the AC on only in my room in the harsh afternoon heat and keeping the kids in the same room while I work.

It’s not easy. The Bean will want to show me a picture she drew, the Brat will want help with spelling a word in the book he is reading, the Bean will want a marshmallow, the Brat will want cheese. It goes on. And then they want to watch TV if all else fails.

The last few days have been a lesson in patience for them as well as me. I miss the old cool Delhi home and this hothouse keeps us cooped in one room getting on each others’ nerves. I need quiet while I make calls. I need them not to disrupt a chain of thought as I put down the words. Sometimes they pipe up with something just as I am putting my thoughts in order and instead of placing an order for a gas cylinder I call for yoghurt.

It was only a matter of time before I fell apart as I so often tend to do and today I decided yet again to simplify my life. I am letting go… slowly.  I’ve signed off most of the yahoo/google/FB groups that I am on. It is one less pile of mail to look at. I have quit one of the two jobs I was holding down and that gives me some more time. There is a pile of papers on my table lying untouched. A pile of mending on a settee. A pile of books on my bedside table, unread. Dust bunnies under the beds I am not disturbing.

And all I did was take the kids to play in the park and watch them. I didn’t get on the phone while I waited, I didn’t plug my iPod into my ears and walk around the park, nothing. Just sat and cultivated my arse. 😀 And before we left home, the Brat was playing with his animals, crawling around the floor talking to them and making up stories. He’s an easy one. The Bean came to me with a request of – Give me something to do. So I did. I gave her a bit of soap, a few mugs of water in a bucket and two little vests. She sat on the bathroom floor and washed them for a good half hour. And then the Brat joined her and they drenched each other. And then they bathed each other.

And I got in a good one and a half hours of work.

Dear God, there is a long summer ahead. Give us the ideas and the strength to get through it without falling back on to the idiot box. And give me the strength to stay offline and not fritter away time. Also, not to fidget. To just sit back and learn to be still.






77 thoughts on “Being comfortable with silence

  1. i totally superlike stillness, MM.
    a very peaceful place to be.
    even with kids.

    been on the offline detox too. i recommend it more than i recommend alphonso shakes with three straws and an umbrella.

      • and try putting alphonso shake (or even diluted alphonso) into ice lolly moulds. yummy. no need for iPad/iPod/PSP/FB/twitter/TV/etc to create silence, the only sounds you’ll hear are loud slurps.

        @mim: do you get alphonso in KL?

  2. My mom would ask me to give her a facial. That would keep me indoors during the hot afternoos and she would also enjoy (atleast till i was getting the cream into her eyes and mouth). You can also try paper mache, or playing with potter’s clay. Dad used to get the clay from the potter and also get our art pieces baked by them. Used to love it.

  3. There’s this game my mother used to make my sister and I play when we were kids. She’d give us a long word, something like ‘Exhilaration’ or ‘Celebration’ and ask us to make small words out of the letters contained in these words. It was good fun 🙂 And you can tweak the rules to allow the kids to use one letter any number of times. It’ll build their vocab too 🙂

  4. wanted to say one last thing – it is very important to get bored. only then can the brain think creatively.

  5. The bathroom has been our savior this summer (and its not just the potty training battles). I usually put Nikki in her bathtub or her baby pool with all her rubber ducks and fishes and squishy toys and sit nearby with whatever I need to do so I can keep an eye on her while she blisses out in the water. Peace and happiness reign! Till she gets bored and the next cry of Mammaaaaaaa rings out at least.

    • 🙂 yes at that age I did that with mine too. I think I had pics up on the blog during summer. My nursery flooded with an inch or two of water. Now with wooden flooring I can’t do it anymore.

  6. Woman, what you have asked for is like asking for beauty with botox.
    Have you thought about summer camps and workshops? There are some workshops where you don’t have to send them away to a different place, its just like playschool, same hours but they teach the children a lot of stuff.

    • Oh yes, I know of them and once in a while they go too. I just believe that the entire point of a summer holiday is for them to do nothing. Why must they always be in learning mode? The only problem is that all the kids are going for it in the neighbourhood and that means they have no one left to play with. And they want to go, only because they want to be with their friends. But I wish they’d leave them alone to play instead of doing art and craft and yoga. I mean when do the kids get a break to just lie around and think thoughts?

      • Hmm thats true, but kids hardly stay still. theres something or the other running in their mind. I used to love going to the lending library near my house… Tinkle and Gokulam were my favorites. You could buy them those kids science books that have try-at-home experiments using materials always available at home.

      • I’m glad I read this comment statement from you MM. It really helps me to understand some of Winkie’s needs better and to give him the space to be himself. I must remember this for balance over our upcoming summer too. Gosh, I love my kids! 🙂

      • Craft, art, yoga and all the other stuff is suppose to be fun for children no?? its only the adult’s mind that realizes that its “learning”.

  7. Dear MM,

    I can really relate very much to you as it is the same with my case – i am restless – always onto doing something or the other. Few days back I had the same thoughts ‘ I should sit back and learn to relax without doing anything’. I felt I am crowded up with too many ‘things to do when free ‘ that I don’t feel like it qualifies for a FREE TIME anymore…:)

  8. yep! my all time favourite T-shirt slogan is “there’s never enough time to do all the nothing i want”.

    all well said, but i fervently wish i didnt get bored when i DO get enough time for all that nothing.

  9. cool! I can get onto the site, read your full post and even comment. Amen! 😀 Good luck with the summer. Any idea if Alphonsos are called Banganapallies too? If not, try them- the Banganapally mango. Mmmmmmmmm………

    • NO JLT. Alphonsos are not Bainganpallis. They are also heavenly though.
      *Goes off to hog a B’palli*

      • I love Banganapallis. I am a philistine who thinks that Alphonsos are overrated, though they do smell very nice. They are known as ‘hapus’ in Maharashtra, and the best ones are supposed to grow in Ratnagiri district.

  10. That is why I absolutely love summers. You can let the kids get drenched without worrying about them catching cold. Just let them play with water and watch the summer go 🙂

      • arey behen granted she is vrat-mannat-lighting candles a plenty but she still has not attained Kunti-Mother Mary status yet. Ab tak immaculate conception possible nahi, when her whereabouts are less Ajmer abouts and more Dhoni abouts phir batana. Sigh! noble woman she really is taking one (fast/mannat/yatra) for the team.

        • Aneetaa , MM is too smart when it comes to privacy settings but personally lavanya is a much better name then MM’s real name 🙂

          • How polite of you to say so, IMVI. I’m sure my mother who named me after my late grandmother, will be very pleased to hear your opinion.

            Thank you for at least being generous enough to say I’m smart – clearly not smart enough!

            And yes, Lavanya is a beautiful name. Just like the person it belongs to.

          • awww maybe i shld keep my name after all eh? All in favour say ‘aye’.
            MM, funnily enuf, had P been a girl, I would have given him your name. Start off with the Mad Baby, then mad girl, mad teen, mad babe and finally, mad momma and mad grandmomma. how versatile would that have been! cha! missed!

          • MM the above comment in no way reflects what i feel abt ur name , it just implies Lavanya is a beautiful name..

            • really? sounded a lot more ill-mannered than that! how is my name anybody’s business anyway? for all intents and purposes I am the mad momma on this blog and i think that should be respected instead of oblique references to my “real name” and how much or how little you like it.

              No offence to her name, or anyone’s name. But the moment you say – much more or much less, you’re comparing. It’s juvenile and ill-bred if you don’t mind my saying so. Else the correct thing to say is – I really like the name Lavanya. Period.

    • aneetaa
      cos i am running a test on how much traffic she gets as every domain we book seems to fall apart around our ears. So I moved her to my domain so I can fiddle with it easily.

          • Common MM , u r not being fair here ..first of all u read in between the lines and then u take offence ..thanks for teaching the correct way of writing (dont we all know how correct and beautifully u write) but my view is if u felt my comment was “illmannered ” / ” illbred ” / ” juvenile ” , then ideally u shud not have printed it and that would have been the end of it and once printed its as much ur responsibilty as mine dear .. so we are equal partners in this.. u r taking this far too personally and if u ask me the adjectives would fit ur response too..i know this is not the end of it but had to respond to ur comment

            • IMVI – you walk the line between ill-mannered and not, far too often. To tell anyone – your name/face/XYZ is much better than ABC’s, is rude. I am not your “dear” as you are not mine. I didn’t delete because I had no other way of replying. I have said a million times, stick to the post in question. Don’t get personal and discuss my name, my life and whatever else if it has nothing to do with the post. What you think of me/my name, is none of my business. What you voice in my space, IS. You can choose to agree or not, but now I’m not debating it further. You know my opinion on it, I know yours, nothing more to say except that I hope you will not do this again.

              And I do want to tell you what I feel about this whole – MM’s real name business. My real name is not your business either. I am friends with 500 people who read this blog and no one has ever referred to it. What gives you the right to do that?

              Finally, two people don’t have to agree on an issue. What is polite to you may not be polite to me and vice versa. But if I unintentionally hurt someone’s feelings, intend to continue a relationship with them and mean no harm – my response is, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. Not a defensive – oh its your fault for publishing it. Excuse me?!

      • Deej,
        So thats why we are able to hit MM’s website all at a time and still not fall apart like the last times 🙂

  11. Amen sister, amen. I wonder what it is about our generation that feels like we have to be productive all the time. Or is it mothers. I wait and wait for the weekend and then come Monday morning the thing that makes me smile most is my memory of the 20 minutes my daughter and I spent rolling around silly in bed. Clearly the other uber productive times didn’t leave their mark. But you have it right with the babies na? About doing nothing being a perfectly good way to spend time. So, do the same. There are a couple of blogs that broach this type of topic (rowdy kittens is one) if you want ideas around digital (and other) sabbaticals. But they don’t blog much haha.
    I will miss you if I don’t read you but will appreciate what you are gaining from the rest.

  12. Hmm – I’ve been accused of not being able to sit still either, but reading this tells me I am normal! 🙂 I can’t multitask when I read – at all other times, yes, but reading *is* my quiet time, always has been…If I ever start doing something else with a book in my hand, it’s a given that the other job is a mess 🙂

    As for kid entertainment ideas – ugh! Nothing new to add. We do some summer camps for the reason you mentioned – all the other kids are in them and my kids have noone to play with. Camps here aren’t necessarily so structured, so the kids get plenty of playtime…

  13. Facepack everyday! N nailpolish! So proud of ya… I’m so lazzy when it comes to self-care.

    Summer vacation for the babies! So much fun!!! And ya, so much work for the elders :).. Our summer breaks were alwez in Chennai , in paati’s home.. we played dayakattai(is it called ludo in English..i forget!) and that other game which was with li’l shells, name-place-animal-thing and lots more….i struggle to recollect.

    • no no.. naturally not facepack everyday! I do have a life 😀 but I dont do facials and beauty parlours so this is the only way to get in a clean up once in a while. shows how crazy my life is that I cant even lie down for ten minutes with a pack on my face.

  14. Very sweet! Amen to a peaceful and relaxed summer.

    Water is the biggest life savor for us too ..washing trucks and all kind of toys, hand, feet, body paint ..the best thing is floors are so easily moppable.

  15. I think you’re fine … when I relax then old issues get into my head. Before I know it, old and new issues clog and gunk up my thinking and Im no better than I was when puttering. I remember an old friend telling me – its better to work, that gets your mind off problems…
    question now is – are you working yourself to the bone to avoid something? ;))

  16. Amen, indeed!
    I think this is one of my favorite posts. Has instant appeal and is so “mom”. You remind me of my mom (I am not as fidgety as her or you actually so that’s good…but I have days when I get that burst and can’t stop).
    I am glad you took the time to just be and I have faith that you will find the ideas necessary to keep away from the idiot box!!

  17. You cannot stop doing things I have just seen the colour coordinated bookshelves at your place……

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