Tag Archives: daughter

FATHER’S DAY ’21 or HAVING MY BAR, RAISED

This is a hard one to write. But I’m writing it. Because if I don’t, I will miss the opportunity to bring the accountability I’ve brought to the rest of my life to the most important people in my life: my kids.

This post isn’t for anyone else; this post is for me to read and reference over the course of the next 12 months as I hold myself accountable to continuing to grow, improve, evolve, get better, as a Father.

Today was an exceptionally tough Father’s Day. The range of emotions I continue to work through, balancing the day-to-day effort I make and the perception of that effort is … dissonant. I haven’t found a way to reconcile the reality of it all but I know it won’t be for a lack of effort or self-awareness.

In a sense, it parallels the experiences I find myself in across my personal and professional interactions. Which in some senses, makes it easier to therefore find healthy ways forward. 2021 in many ways, has been my healthiest year on this planet. Not my easiest; but in many ways, my healthiest (honestly, I think with each year, you gain more perspective, more responsibility, increased expectations, and as a result, in some senses, with each year, it all gets heavier to carry; the question is whether that weight is harder, which is a separate discussion for a separate day).

Juxtaposed with that weight associated with growth, is this increasing sense of responsibility.

See, Anaiya and Jaanu, you grow and transform at such an extraordinary pace on a daily basis. It’s impossible to keep up with your progress. And what I think really resonated with me over the past year was the fact that to keep up with you, my growth as a Father needs to keep up with your growth and evolution as a human being.

It’s 10:51 pm and I entered today fully expecting to take another step forward as a Father. One way I planned to do that was to ask my children to tell me what it was they wanted me to do better in this upcoming year.

It’s always hard to hear; what you can do better. But this evening, before the kids went to bed, it wasn’t harder, it was simply a bit more clarifying.

When you ask a question, expect to hear the truth back. Otherwise, don’t ask the question.

For Anaiya, her ask was that I find more time to put her to bed during the week. There are so many reasons this has become a near impossibility, but when I look at them, in reality, they’re more excuses than reasons. I’m excited to look back on this past year in 2022 and see if Anaiya remembers what she asked me, and, see if she acknowledges any progess I’ve made. I’m excited for it.

For Jaanu, perhaps the most heartbreaking, was that he asked me to be more patient with him when he’s not listening. What’s hard is that since the last time I truly raised my voice at him, in January, I’ve made an active effort to be patient with him and talk him through calming him down. It tells you how fragile our children are; because for all that effort I think I’m making, he still remembers … the times I’m not.

I feel the weight of the world after these two conversations. Because I know that even here, I feel very little space to reason, to rationalize.

All I have are expectations.

And like everywhere else, when it comes to expectations, you can have them thrust upon you, or you can ask for them, seek them out, and make them a choice.

I want to be the best Father I can possibly be; which is why I promised myself that as hard as it was going to be to hear, and as many excuses and rationalizations as I could make about what I heard, the only thing that mattered was the honest answers to my questions.

Because in pursuit of being the best Father I can possibly be, I’m not looking for validation, I’m looking for motivation.

Anaiya and Jaanu, thank you. For relentlessly holding me to a higher standard.

Thanks for raising the bar on me, about me, for me.

I’m on it.

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A LITERARY JOURNEY or I MISS THIS ROOM

When we moved into Jersey City we had reserved the downstairs bedroom for our first kid. I had an image in my head of where I wanted to take it and with some vision, with a Craigs List illustrator to help bring it to life, we created this scene across two walls in the bedroom — weaving a path through my favorite stories as a child and ultimately, through what became Anaiya (and later Jaanu’s) favorite stories as well.

I miss this room. I loved going into it. Every night before Anaiya went to bed she’d say goodnight to each character and it’s those kinds of rituals that I’ll never forget.

#iamgrateful and #iamthankful we were able to have fun and bring this to life; and I love that we brought that same energy to our new house.

I hope when the kids see rooms and walls, they’re inspiration around what they can turn a space into is open and unconstrained. Every wall you see every space you see, is truly a canvas as long as you ask the most powerful question … how?

Love FB for bringing this room back to me today. I needed the dose of inspiration and a reminder of the energy that was.

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GIRL SCOUTS PEACEBUILDING or EVERY THING AND PERSON HAS A STORY

I had the opportunity to lead Anaiya’s Girl Scout Troop meeting yesterday. The original goal was something around one of the books I’d written at Dream Village, Where Kids Build Better Tomorrows; but we quickly realized that the meeting fell perfectly on World Thinking Day 2021, with a theme of Peacebuilding.

How would I connect Just Shoes, a story about all the people involved in bringing a simple pair of shoes to life (helping kids realize a simple pair of shoes aren’t so simple)?

It clicked though as I thought more about it. When I wrote Just Shoes I wanted Anaiya to appreciate that everything has a story. And I realized that’s kind of the basis of Peacebuilding.

Taking the time to understand that everyone, everything has a story. And when you invite that story to be told, and when you hear it, you’ve inevitably set the first brick for a peaceful interaction.

That was the narrative arc I tried, inelegantly, to walk the Troop through. We started with defining peace. Than building. We then brought pants and shirts and read the tags about where all their clothes were made. We set up the “everything has a story” vibe.

I then quickly read through Just Shoes.

And tried to bring it together. If your shoes have a story. Imagine what your classmate has? Your sibling? Parent? At a time when they do something that maybe doesn’t make you feel happy.

You can be upset at what they did. That’s fair. But as peacebuilders, at some point, the best way forward is to start by asking them “why”, and then hearing their story.

It’s not just relevant for our kids. It’s a lesson for me as an adult too.

#iamgrateful and #iamthankful for the opportunity to teach a small lesson and learn an even bigger one.

Also … every Daisy participated. At least 2x. And that warmed my heart. Thanks Mary Barrett and JulieAnn ZoMo for having us.

We closed with “Random Act of Kindness” Bingo for the Troop to do at home over the next month; ideally every Troop member gets a new badge when they hit their RAK. One of the highlights of the night? Was having each Troop Member start by doing one of the Bingo actions, which was fun and adorable and heartwarming.

The night ended with my tucking Anaiya in and asking her how she felt about the day. She was hyperactive during the session. All over the place. When I asked her about how she felt she said she was so excited she couldn’t control herself. 🙂 Not a bad way to close my night.

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CHEEK TO CHEEK or THE BEST PART OF SHAVING

Ain’t no thing today but that cheek thing today

I shaved. Anaiya came home.

She couldn’t stop smiling and giggling while we talked about her school day.

She just kept staring at my face and smiling and giggling in her best way.

Then, finally, she stopped her story mid-thought; and grabbed my face and pushed her cheek against mine.

May be an image of 1 person, child, standing and food

#iamgrateful and #iamthankful for the few hours between when I shave and when my face gets prickly again.

And … for this girl. My magic. This is a rotating week where she’s home by 3. Which means my hugs start in earnest and 3:01. The best part of this whole darned world happening as it is, is stuff like this.

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#TMLFYI … | Artistic Fandom

We all need fans.

There’s something powerful about knowing that, in advance of an achievement or an accomplishment, or in advance of something you release to the world, there’s a receptive audience.

For your ideas.

For your visions.

For your dreams.

When you think of the greatest achievements the world has known, you often think of two universes circling the achiever. The ideator.

You think of those who came so close to genius, and instead of creating space for it, cast it aside. Walked past it, or even more powerfully, stopped, stared, and let it walk on by instead.

“I’m not even going to do the work of dismissing you; you can do that yourself.”

That’s one universe.

The other universe though, is the fan.

People rise and fall to the expectations we set for them. That message is meant for the people setting expectations.

It’s most important though, for the people upon whom those expectations are set.

Which is why in those stories of genius it’s amazing to think of the power of being a fan.

One fan can offset hundreds, even thousands of detractors. One fan can negate all of the doubt, and set a bar so extraordinarily high, the doubters fade from the rear view mirror and are soon so far gone, it’s ridiculous to think they even existed.

Today, on your birthday, my magic, you did it again. You reminded me why I’m your biggest fan. You reminded me why from the moment you were born, everyone had a name for you, but I had a feeling.

“Magic.”

I watched you set up art stations in our garage for all your friends. I watched you circle the room to make sure everyone was taken care of. I watched you pick individual paint-by-numbers for each person based on what they like and what they’d like to paint.

I watched you.

I also watched you heave after all was said and done. As your friends clustered off together. I watched you circle our house alone. And then, when I tapped you on the shoulder I watched you shake your head free of some of that self doubt and questioning, and come back to earth, and make sure nobody else played alone, and make sure everyone had their goodie bag.

You make friends everywhere you go. You design, build, construct, friendships. When you make friends, you truly make them.

I watched you love and care at age 7 like many at my age can’t even fathom.

It’s when I realized that I need to be an even more vocal and bigger fan of you and the love you’re capable of bringing into this world. And so I shall.

I’ll forget sometimes. But I’ll come back to this post. I’ll look at these pictures. And I’ll remember.

That for you and your ability to love so creatively — so artistically — I’m downright fanatical.

As you turn 7, today my love for you is like what the greatest connoisseurs of art feel for their favorite artists. And then some.

I love you my magic. Keep loving the world as exceptionally as you do. I’ll remember my place and I assure you, like all great things, the world will take not and celebrate it more and more.

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DADDY | 12/40 or HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PRIYA

Today marks Day 12. 12 days since my Daddy left the physical world. Hinduism is incredibly ritualistic. I’ll leave it at that. But in essence, our family is using the next few days as a way to help my father’s soul find peace as it rises to the universal soul, while also slowly bringing an end to the mourning period at which point the family is supposed to more formally transition back to normal life.

Yeah. Thanks for the roadmap, Hinduism.

What I do love about the way we celebrate someone’s death is one key point: danam, which literally translates to gift or offering, but in the context of mourning and death rituals, it more spiritually means charity. Our family will travel to a local school for children facing physical and mental difficulties, and bring them a fun, healthy and indulgent lunch. 200 kids. My father spent his life serving people (family, friends, the community at large). For all the pujas, prayers, moments of silence, and fantastically colorful and sense overwhelming procedures, this is the single greatest thing we are doing to honor Daddy’s legacy and soul. This is the single greatest thing we can do to help him achieve universality (though he’s done more, with plenty leftover, to cover his journey and credit a world with what he has left over).

12. That’s the 12.

The 40? That’s my wife. She turns 40 today. You’ve heard me write, over and over again, that Daddy said out loud and often, that Priya is the single greatest thing to happen to me and to our family.

He knew his sh*t.

Today’s her birthday. A big milestone birthday. On the day that the celebration of my Daddy’s life moves from the inauspicious (mourning) toward the more auspicious (celebratory), I don’t find it to be any coincidence that we’re sharing this day with Priya’s 40th.

DADDY | 2-14 5

She’s spent the past two weeks dealing with two kids, bouts of the flu, kids with nightmares, kids with 4am fevers, all while facing an incredibly demanding stretch at work, all while mourning and grieving for her Daddy too. And she’s done it with grace, dignity, huge smiles, and without missing a beat.

She spoke at an impromptu religious ceremony held by our community in South Jersey (what an amazing extended family, those friends we’ve known for 50 years in South Jersey) and carried the full thoughts and weight of our family on her shoulders, and delivered the kind of thank you that my Daddy would have raved about for years.

She made him proud. As she always did.

This is the woman whose vows to me during our legal ceremony 7+ years ago anchored in her promise that we will always be there for our family (collective). We didn’t know how soon or how often. But she’s never wavered.

The way she has handled the past 12 days is evidence and validation of Daddy’s earliest words to me about her: she’s the best thing.

12 days.
40 years.

12|40. Priya, you and Daddy are bonded together in eternity, in service and in the most celebratory and auspicious of ways. I smile wide today for that reason.

Hey, best thing. Happy Birthday. You make all life and love possible. Udabes. #iamgrateful and #iamthankful for you. We all are.

Note: I’ve collected all the posts and thoughts I’ve shared about my Daddy’s death in one place. Some people have found it helpful as they’ve navigated through their own experiences, or, as they’ve had to step in to support others. This is one in a series, and you can find the full list of posts here.

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DADDY| MY SIS or CREATING SPACE

My sis is my guardian angel. She always did everything at home, for my family, for our parents, so I could run off and explore the world. For 17 years, splitting time with my mom, she was the primary daily caretaker of my bedridden ba (grandmother). While I was off being a kid and a teenager, my sis went from 11yo to grownup overnight. With a daily list of responsibilities that filled the day, and reset at midnight. It wasn’t until she was approaching 30, when my ba passed away, that she was able to focus on herself. But at that point, life was in full swing. Work. Expectations. Society. My sis never had a childhood and she never had the chance to truly focus on herself later in life.

That’s what my Daddy wanted for her more than anything. For her to take that step back, find out how amazing she is, achieve her fullest potential as one of the sincerest and purest and most loving people the world has ever known. They had that discussion in December before my parents left for India, and even in January he was telling her “2018 is your year.”

The power of love, with family and with friends, puts the world’s most powerful force (love) against the most delicate of subjects (human feelings). What my Daddy and my Mumma have always wanted for my sister is what they believe is best for her. It didn’t always work for both sides. For all the mutual want, she never had the space or the opportunity or the impetus to create that space for herself when the world wouldn’t give it to her.

DADDY | 2-9

As we search for our “why” around all of this mess, Anu Kiran, I have found one that gives me peace. Daddy wanted to give you space in a way nobody else in the world could. The single thing that will make him the happiest (not would, but will, as this is not a past tense appreciation) is reading your note below, and watching you move forward with that torch firmly in hand.

#iamgrateful and #iamthankful for the power and selflessness that the most powerful father/daughter bond I have known for my lifetime, has created. Godspeed, my angel. Godspeed.

Note: I’ve collected all the posts and thoughts I’ve shared about my Daddy’s death in one place. Some people have found it helpful as they’ve navigated through their own experiences, or, as they’ve had to step in to support others. This is one in a series, and you can find the full list of posts here.

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MY GIRL

Got a lot of QT in with this one this weekend. Lots of growing pains this weekend. Lots of tears this weekend. Not a lot of sleep this weekend (nothing like going to bed next to your daughter at 230 in the am only to be woken up with a tap in the shoulder at 4.) But lots of laughs.

#iamgrateful and #iamthankful for her and all her goofiness. She cracks me up. And she takes care of me. And I adore her in a way I didn’t think was humanly possible.

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TMLFYI… | All About Fire

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. You’re on fire. And this blog is about to be reignited as well. The music video below says it all, doesn’t it.

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TMLFYI… | Sleepless

World, if you’re reading this, I’ve got a question? How jealous are you of me in this picture?

Sleep

Let’s talk about origin, Anaiya.

Maybe it’s because your teething. Maybe it’s because we woke you up early. Maybe it’s because we pushed you past your normal limits on the sleep front. But on Saturday afternoon, at your brother Hukam’s first birthday party, you were not going to be put to bed the normal way.

Your mom is much more gracious about all of this. She’s got an amazing calm with you. You can read older posts if you’re curious. But we all know that the fact that she’s home and with you is the reason you are the amazing child that you are.

I’m different. I get anxious. I hear you squeal and I want to fix something. I see you squirm and I get anxious when whoever’s holding you doesn’t accommodate. I’m sure I do a better job than not of masking my instinctive reaction. I’m also sure your mom has the same impulses. But this isn’t about her. Look at that picture. I’m fine with saying it. This post? Totally about me.

See, I’m a Dad. What I don’t have in the way of biological connections to you I compensate for in as many ways as possible.

So on Saturday afternoon, when I spent an hour trying to put you to down for your afternoon nap, you and I knew three things quickly:

  • You were exhausted
  • You weren’t going to make it easy on us (we deserved it)
  • I wasn’t going to give up (it’s my job, and I won’t, ever, on you)

I fed you. I massaged you. I burped you. We read Where the Wild Things Are on my phone. We listened to lullabies. We listened to Billy Joel (I have no idea why you were so into Allentown this weekend, by the way.) I tried to let you cry it out. I sat up and held you. I tried laying you down and patting you in the crib. Everything.

An hour. A whole hour. And every time you would get close to sleeping, in my arms, I’d lean over to put you into your crib and you’d grab a hold of my shirt for dear life. The greatest feeling ever, mind you (and my first memory of a baby is a similar one, of your Sohum Kaka.)

But we found a happy place. On the floor. On my back. You on my chest. Any attempts to alter this position resulted in you simply not having it. So we slept there. With a birthday party going on around us, and with neither one of us wanting to be anywhere else. At some point soon, that’s going to change for you. Just know, it never will for me.

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