Look at this pic. My wife. Stunning. My daughter, dressed to an adorably fine pout. This is one of my favorite pictures ever. Because it’s modeled on one of my mom ( Renu Bhatt ) doting on and kissing a 2 year old me. And it fits with the others of my wife holding one or both of our kids. #iamgrateful and #iamthankful for these moments captured. And pleasantly re-shared.
Tag Archives: unconditional
“pliable twigs, typically of willow, plaited or woven to make items such as furniture and baskets.”
I haven’t started a blog post off with a definition so I figured I’d go that route. We all know what wicker is, but I’ve never stopped for a second to define it. The plant-based origin makes tremendous sense but I also appreciate wikipedia confirming that we now allow wicker to be made of other materials as well.
It’s definition not withstanding, wicker is also a pretty wicked texture. Discretely there’s a contrast in fibers for those elements woven over and under. Bends, tucks, all side-by-side no matter the direction. As you take a slightly more distanced view, individual waves turn into an undulating sea of consistency. Depending on the piece of furniture, this can go on for what seems to be infinity. I am still captivated by wicker. When I sit in a wicker chair I will repeatedly catch myself running my fingers along the grain enjoying what the rising and falling of textures feels like against my fingertips. Varying speeds. Varying pressures. Wicker is one of my favorites.
Which is why it was so neat to watch you interact with wicker for the first time yourself. I took so much pleasure in watching you reach for and work with the patterns presented. First under your feet, than as an aspirational lean a bit further ahead, and finally, a forceful grasp at the edge of the table. We didn’t get to spend long immersed in this ebbing and flowing of fibers (at your lovely Neeru Masi’s place, mind you) but for what time we did get, I can tell you, the two of us made the most of it.
In the moment, I enjoyed your reaction to something so utterly simple and yet something so amazingly captivating for me still, to this very day. One of those “simple things” moments that’s so simple you actually forget about it. But as I looked back on these photos and reflected back on the moment, I realized a more powerful layer of pleasure on my end: watching you experience something for the first time. You are my first true world of firsts. And I am committing to immersing myself empathetically in your firsts so I can relive them with you and always find the beauty in those things, in those places, where you find inspiration and beauty.
It’s why wicker has gone from the furniture we use on our patio, to a symbol for how I need and want to be as your father.
In some ways, my time has come and past. The greatest thing I can do for this world is commit to seeing the world through your eyes and supporting you as you make your way. And perhaps the greatest thing I can hope for, is that you see yourself and all of your beauty and potential, through my eyes. Unwavering. Unflinching. Unconditional. But that’s a separate story.
Today we’re talking wicker. All that from wicker. My inspiration to be a better father and person. Now we have this post, and these visuals, to keep me honest if there’s every a question.
I’m happy to share one and celebrate one on everyone else’s behalf, but I don’t want one. I don’t need one. I don’t deserve one. What’s more important is how we interact with each other every single day for the rest of our lives. How I make you feel. How you feel because of how you’re treated and loved. And the highest expectations in the world that I hope you have of me.
- Tell me when you don’t feel as loved as you need to feel, munchkin. And I’ll listen. If I’m being consistent and transparent about my love for you, I will know, based on the confidence you have in yourself and in everything you do.
- Tell me when I’m putting too much pressure on you, munchkin. And I’ll listen. If I’m being fair with you, I will know, based on the happiness you express in your smile and your actions every single day.
- Tell me when I’m being too easy on you, munchkin. And I’ll listen. If I am inspiring you to be better, then I’ll know by the goals and standards you set for yourself.
- Tell me when I’m being too hard on you, munchkin. And I’ll listen. If I’m supporting you the right way, then I’ll know by the manner in which you do the things you do.
- Tell me when I’ve disappointed you, munchkin. And I’ll listen. If I want you to trust me, I will know, based on the increasing faith you place in my perspective and counsel.
I don’t need a Father’s Day. I don’t want a Father’s Day. I want you to have the ability to tell me, every single day, where and how I can be a better Father. And I will celebrate you as a daughter, an exceptionally loved daughter, every single day, based on the baby, girl, and woman you become over the years.
No day required. Just you. Just this.
What a great family weekend in the Poconos. We haven’t spent nearly enough time with the family, which means you, my loveliest of little ones, haven’t built that connect yet either. We’ll get better about it. There’s no choice. These are the people who raised me and every single person in one of the following pictures has had such a profound influence on my life, it’s disappointing to me how little time you’ve actually spent with them. That is on me to fix.
I can talk about the Poconos in so many ways. A few highlights:
- Dadaji being your formal stroller pusher. He likes predictability and schedules. And now he’s got one very clear place to own the relationship with you.
- Dadiji filled with pride. When you smile. When you turn. When you eat. When you do anything, I swear I can see her heart swell from the outside in.
- Dadi Naniji. One of the sweetest and most purely loving people in the world doing what she does best with everyone, with you — loving.
- Hitu Dada Mama. One of the quirkiest members of the family and one who will undoubtedly become one of your favorites. He’s always behind the scenes but he’s always there. Like in the pictures…never the subject, always enabling. And he was the first one to hold you each morning because he was awake, there, and waiting. Like he always is.
- Charu Dadi Mami. She’s going to make you stronger and she’s going to make you laugh. And she’s also going to make you famous with her photography. With so many boys around, she’s one reason you’ll be spoiled and supported unconditionally.
- Chetu Dada Mama. The baby whisperer. You already have some amazing photos with him but they don’t capture his thirst for life. His will be a pair of arms and a lap that you will always gravitate to — every child does.
- Prity Dadi Mami. She fought hard to have you sleep in her room but we were silly parents about it. 🙂 It happens. She’s the one who made this weekend happen and you’ll see, that when family events happen, she’s such a powerful glue. She was the first person to welcome your mom to this side of the family.
- Tito Foi. If there’s a person who loves you and thinks about you more, please let us know. She gave you one of the longest, most relaxing, and most public (there was quite an audience) massages you’ll ever have. Expect more such pampering through eternity.
- Suraj Kaka. The human jungle gym. Not just for kids, for adults too. It was his first time meeting you but you can see the love in his eyes. You’ll always be protected when he’s there. He’s truly all heart.
- Holly Aunty. For many of us, the first time meeting her, so you were in no different a place. But she embraced you the right way, and you’re going to have a friend for life in that one — for now though, we’ll jus tfocus on commenting on each other’s Facebook walls. 🙂
- Sohum Kaka. Daddy’s older brother. He’s off to San Francisco to become Teacher Man, and do what he does best — make other people better. I couldn’t be happier that he got time with you before he left. You know, he was the first baby Daddy actually remembers holding and changing diapers for?
- Neil Kaka. Swoon. That’s what most people do around him and I’m sure this time will be no different. But I think, he’s met his match. And you can see it in his face and the way he talks about you to his friends. The swooning is going the other way. And you know he’s made so many trips to see you here in Jersey City — though maybe it’s because of Daddy’s fridge, too?
- Eeshan Kaka. He took you to your first coffee shop, you know. Eeshan Kaka is saving the world starting with North Carolina, so it was great to make sure you got extended time with him here. He’s got a mind and brainpower that reinforces your pedigree — and compensates for Daddy in so many ways.
- Amu Kaka. He’s been the same personality since he was 12 months old — and it’s bound to be one of your favorites. We’re going to drive down to visit Kaka while he’s at Delaware, and we’re going to let him carry you and push the stroller. Because that’s a great way to pick up girls. The problem might be, that based on how he looks at you (and tweets about you), he may miss all the action around him.
That’s part of your family, munchkin. Look at all that love. And if it’s hard for you to read all this, maybe it’s better for you to check out the pictures below. One of my favorite goodbyes. As a man who has struggled with goodbyes for ages (one of the best parts of my childhood were when your Dada Mama’s used to come visit almost every Friday, one of the worst parts of my childhood were when they would leave on Sunday) this brought me to tears. Every person having their own unique moment with you. Every person smiling at you smiling back.
It’s the one thing I think everyone in the world needs more of. It’s the one thing I want most for you: to feel loved. Always. Unconditionally.
As your family hugged you, kissed you, reinforced their love for you, and then passed you along to the next in line, I couldn’t help but feel certain that you are one who’s loved in ways that go beyond any form of measurement. And that, makes Mommy and me, the happiest people in the world.
Now, to the handoff!
I’m a Dad. Which is fantastic. But as amazing as that is, I’m not and never will be a Mom. Which is humbling. Mom’s are cut from a different cloth. Which is why the best thing we can do is surround ourselves with them. As our own. As grandmothers. As aunts. As siblings. As friends. As … my wife. I’m blessed and amazed to have been raised by someone so amazing and now, to find myself standing next to someone equally brilliant.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mumma. I am and would be nothing without you. My compassionate and loving sister and I are and would be nothing without you.
Happy Mother’s Day too, Mom. You make a word I never thought I could associate to someone else, roll off the tongue.
Happy Mother’s Day to my Ba’s (gone too soon), my Masi, my Fai, my Mamis, my Kakis. And Happy Mother’s Day to my friends’ moms who represent the village that raised me. Happy Mother’s Day to my sisters, through blood and (or) through my own sheer luck. Happy Mother’s Day to all of my amazing friends who have served as role models leading up to 1/12/2014 and now, beyond.
And Happy First Mother’s Day to the love of my life, my wife. I’ve always been awed by you. And the past few months have only proven that I’ve had every reason to be. Happy Mother’s Day. Happy, Happy, Happy Mother’s Day.
“She’s got to be hungry.”
“But she just ate 45 minutes ago.”
“Maybe she’s gassy?”
“We gave her those probiotics. I held her up for 40 minutes. And she was all burped out.”
“Did she poop?”
“Yeah. And she’s all clean. I checked.”
“We should try swaddling her with her arms in.”
“They were in. And then she jailbroke.”
“Maybe she’s hungry.”
“You already said that.”
Anyone who has a newborn has had exactly that kind of conversation with their spouse, parents, nanny, experienced friends. You instantly turn into Henry and Liza trying to figure out where the hole in this d*mn bucket came from in the first place. All the while, your baby is crying (wailing) in the background.
I’m a marketer by trade. I tend to think I’m a pretty good one, but maybe that’s just because I’ve done such a good job marketing myself to myself. We’ll leave that alone as it becomes an infinite loop. Marketing is a fairly broad discipline but one of its foundational principles is the idea of test and learn. I will probably write a post on this separately so I’ll spare the details here, but the bottom line is that the only way you get to the right answer in Marketing is to test your ideas live with your audience, and commit to learning from them. No amount of analysis up front will bring you all the way to your answer. The right answer.
Munchkin, you put my test and learn skills to the test. Some people tell me you’re supposed to have different cries. It’s been 3.5 weeks and I agree, you do have different cries. Heartbreaking. Gut-wrenching. And awe-inspiring. Three very different cries, but they don’t help me a lick.
What has happened over the past few weeks is a few things that I believe change our lives forever.
First and foremost, I believe that I now have in my power, the ability to stop you from crying. Somehow. Some way, I can make things better just about all of the time. If I don’t get frustrated. If I don’t give up. If I don’t get lazy. If I don’t let tired dominate. I can find a way to make you feel better. That’s a beautiful feeling. Because you are both my responsibility and my concern. Knowing I am getting better at fulfilling one and alleviating the other makes me feel better about the father I can be to you forever.
Next, comes the approach for solving your crying. I can sometimes feel myself making it about me wanting you to stop crying. Those are the times I fail you. My body tenses. I am not holding you as softly. You feel my energy and are thrown off. If I allow myself to get overwhelmed in trying to make you stop crying for me, I can expect you to continue crying in spite of me. Instead what I need to do is pay close attention. Life is better when I make the answers about you. Isn’t that what parenting is about?
Even at 3.5 weeks my munchkin, you are extraordinarily expressive. I can tell so much about how you’re feeling by how much I pay attention to how you respond to all of the little things. To being cradled or being placed on your back. To being in a swing or in the MamaRoo. To being swaddled (hands in or out) or being left to roam free. To being stroked from your bottom up, or from your shoulders down (and being stroked with the whole hand or just the palm of the hand.) To having your head near my heart or having your heart near my heart. To hearing a babbling brook or standard white noise.
What I have learned is that as a father, it is my job to listen to what you tell me and pay attention to what you don’t tell me. But no matter what I do, I have to make it about you. About all of you. It’s not enough to be wrapped around your fingers, because that means I can’t hear or see what the rest of you is telling me. What a realization the past few days! And there’s nothing more inspiring than finding a way to put you at ease. To stop you from crying. To get you doped up on milk to a point that you’re limp and wiped out. To get you to sleep for a few consecutive hours at a time. All of these nuances change frequently, with the things that worked yesterday not quite working today. You’re teaching me already how to stay on my toes and pay attention to you. Not because you’re demanding. Not because you’re spoiled (if anyone says or thinks that ever, let them feel my wrath.) Simply because you are my daughter. And that is my job.
Finally comes recognition of something I have noticed more and more since your birth: I will not have all the answers. Many timesyou’re just better off in your mom’s hands (who isn’t?) Some times we need to let you soothe yourself (we haven’t quite gotten there yet, but we know we have to soon.) Some times you don’t want anything specifically, you just want to be held. My job is to try when there is an answer, and let you know I love you and am there for you when we can’t find one. That will never change.
I promise to always do that for you, my lovely. Today my love for you manifests itself via trial and error (and god willing, success.)