Twin Mum Questions

50d4b665dc1140faf06be9785be3660f-twin-girls-twin-babiesIt never gets old. From the time GG & BB were born till now, every time people hear I have twins, people ask me questions, most of which, when I think about it, are almost similar in nature. BB & GG turn 14 this year and I have been fielding these questions for just as long. So here’s a list of questions that I sometimes wish I have prepared answers for and just pass it to them when they ask!

f8c92fd92da4a96a4c0882c314c4a2aeAre they twins? (I used to get asked this a lot when they were younger, but I don’t get asked this question anymore because BB is taller than GG and so people assume she is the younger sister)

Yes, they are….They look the same age, right?

Is it two boys/two girls?

No, they are not, can’t you see they are dressed differently, according to their sex? When they learn one of each – Wow! Fantastic, you hit the jackpot!

Are they identical?

No, they are not. Basic biology states that identical twins need to be the same sex and since they are of different sexes, they are fraternal twins and not identical

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Were they planned or did it happen naturally?

Gosh! Such intrusive questions about my life!

Were they conceived naturally?

Another super intrusive question, but to answer it, yes, they were conceived naturally

Do twins run in your family?

I am actually not sure here. My mum’s sister has twins, but the generation before that didn’t have. Maybe it runs my maternal grandmother’s family, but we are still not sure.

Do they look alike?

Hello! Twins of a different sex, so obviously they look different. But in all fairness, when they were babies, people did tend to feel they looked alike, but I never saw the likeness!

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Are they alike in temperament?

Nope! They are completely different in temperament, likes and dislikes. GG is a very girly girl who loves to draw, paint and sing while BB is a boy who, like most boys loves planes, cars and other vehicles, his obsession with planes is real and he has most likely decided to have a career in aviation.

Who is older/younger?

GG is older by 2 minutes. They were delivered by c-section and my gynaecologist/obstetrician felt she was not growing well and may not survive the trauma of a natural birth, hence the scheduled c-section. So she was delivered first, but we were worried in vain, as she was relatively healthy and didn’t need to spend any time in the NICU, which was what was told to us before the birth.

I could never do it

Well, before I had twins, I never thought of managing twins too, but you just do what you have to do! So I did it!

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To any twin mum reading this article, what are your favourite twin mum question?

Family Stories: Family Adoptions

Following my last post, I started thinking more about what makes a woman a mum. I have also been watching this drama where a woman is forced to give up her five-year-old daughter to her sister-in-law (husband’s sister) who is childless. She has another, older daughter and is pregnant with her third child, which also happens to be a girl. Her husband had taken loans from his sister’s husband who also pressurises the couple for the adoption. The woman’s mother-in-law also forces the issue as she wants her daughter to be happy since the daughter’s mother-in-law is forcing her son to divorce her since she is childless. The only person who is on her side is the woman’s brother-in-law (husband’s brother), but he is silenced by the others in the family. At this point in the drama, the child has been handed over, but everyone is miserable. I am sure the ending will be positive, as it happens in all dramas, but this got me thinking about something that has happened in my own family.

My mum is the oldest of four girls, and when my grandmother was pregnant with her fourth child (maybe in the hope of having a boy), her sister-in-law (my grandfather’s sister) who was married, but childless offered to adopt the child if it was another girl. My aunt was born and was informally adopted by her aunt. Why informally you may ask? This was because she was betrothed at birth to a cousin who happened to have the same gotra as her aunt. Now because marriage within a gotra was prohibited, the aunt could never formally adopt her or even have her call her mum. She lived with my mum’s aunt all her life, a mere 10-minute walk from her mum’s place and used to meet her sisters often. She always knew who her parents were and used to call them mum and dad and her adopted mum and dad as aunt and uncle, but she didn’t go to the same school as her sisters and perhaps in a small way resented the hold her sisters had over her.

When she got married, it was my grandparents who gave her away and this rankled my grandaunt all her life. She was incredibly jealous of my grandmother and my mum and her sisters and would resent anytime my aunt spent with them. This went on for around 60 odd years until the grand aunt died last year.

She was a mother to my aunt in all ways that mattered but never heard her adopted daughter call her mum, while she had to hear her sister-in-law being called mum all the time. I would think the resentment she had within herself was completely justified.

Then I started thinking about my grandmother. How would she have felt, having to hand over her child to someone else, even though she was her own sister-in-law? Would she have felt pressurised by her family to give her up? Or did she do it with full consciousness?

The person who was most stressed was my aunt according to me. She was constantly under pressure between her mum and adoptive mum and had to play a balancing game all her life. It is only now, when she is past 60 and her adoptive mum has passed on, that she is planning a holiday to stay with her birth mum for a month. How sad is that! She had to always watch her thoughts, words and actions in case her adoptive mum took offence in something she said or did, especially when it related to her birth family.

This situation was something I’d lived with my whole life and was not something I really thought about till now because this was normal in my family. But watching the drama and then relating it to what happened/is happening in my own family made me see it in a different light, one that is more emphatic, I hope.

I hope sharing this family story helps you see adoptive families, especially those who have been adopted by their own family a little differently. Life is never black or white and this is one situation where the shades of grey are more prominent.

What makes a Mother?

 

This Sunday will be celebrated as Mother’s Day almost throughout the world. Across the world, children (and dads) will buy presents and flowers for the mums in their lives and also make a special meal for them. Facebook and other social media will be filled with photos and Mothers Day wishes and mums all over will realise how much they are loved.

 

My mum lives far away in India, so other than wishing her via phone, there’s not much I can do, but we do try to take S’ mum and aunt (who is a second mum to him) out for a meal on that day.

 

So what makes a mother? Is biology the only reason someone gets the privilege of being called a mum? What about adoptive parents? They don’t give birth to their young ones but spend far more time and effort in nurturing them, so are they not also mums? Take S’ aunt for example – she never married as a result of a handicap she incurred as a young girl, the result of a sickness. She has always lived with S’ family and has been an equal partner in looking after and nurturing S and his sister. So she’s another mum we honour.

 

So in honour of all mums out there, here’s something I wrote….

What Makes a Mother

 

The first person we know in this world,

She is the one who makes our world unfurl.

She loves us unconditionally and with balance,

Guides us through life with infinite patience.

She is a friend, philosopher and guide, all rolled in one

She is your one guiding star, she is your sun.

She brightens up your life, she fills your world with laughter

For every question you may have, she has the right answer.

We all know that God can’t be everywhere, so he made mothers

She, who is the zypher, the anchor of your life.

To all the mothers in the world, those who gave birth and those who didn’t, but are mother figures in our lives, here’s wishing you a very Happy Mother’s Day!

As for me, I need to wait till Sunday to see what GG & BB have in store for me….

 

 

 

 

Theory of Multiple Intelligence

 

 

The other day, while randomly clicking links, I came across an article which spoke about intelligence not as a single entity as we know but splitting it into nine different types. The more I read, the more it made sense to me. We all may not be intelligent in the traditional sense, which when you are in school means scoring more marks, but you could be street smart or even people smart which may actually stand you in better stead than being just book smart!

The theory of multiple intelligence was first coined by Howard Gardner who proposed this model in his 1983 book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. According to Gardner, an intelligence must fulfil eight criteria: musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic.

 

Musical-rhythmic and harmonic or Sound Smart:
This area has to do with sensitivity to sounds, rhythms, tones, and music. People with a high musical intelligence normally have good pitch and may even have absolute pitch, and are able to sing, play musical instruments, and compose music. They have the sensitivity to rhythm, pitch, meter, tone, melody or timbre. Musical intelligence is the capacity to discern pitch, rhythm, timbre, and tone. This intelligence enables us to recognise, create, reproduce, and reflect on music, as demonstrated by composers, conductors, musicians, vocalist, and sensitive listeners. Interestingly, there is often an affective connection between music and the emotions; and mathematical and musical intelligence may share common thinking processes.

 

Visual-spatial or Picture Smart:
This area deals with spatial judgment and the ability to visualize with the mind’s eye. Spatial ability is one of the three factors beneath g in the hierarchical model of intelligence. Spatial intelligence is the ability to think in three dimensions. Core capacities include mental imagery, spatial reasoning, image manipulation, graphic and artistic skills, and an active imagination. Sailors, pilots, sculptors, painters, and architects all exhibit spatial intelligence.

Verbal-linguistic or Word Smart:
People with high verbal-linguistic intelligence display a facility with words and languages. They are typically good at reading, writing, telling stories and memorizing words along with dates. Linguistic intelligence is the ability to think in words and to use language to express and appreciate complex meanings. Linguistic intelligence allows us to understand the order and meaning of words and to apply meta-linguistic skills to reflect on our use of language. Linguistic intelligence is the most widely shared human competence and is evident in poets, novelists, journalists, and effective public speakers.

Logical-mathematical or Numbers or Reasoning Smart:
This area has to do with logic, abstractions, reasoning, numbers and critical thinking. This also has to do with having the capacity to understand the underlying principles of some kind of causal system. Logical reasoning is closely linked to fluid intelligence and to general intelligence. Logical-mathematical intelligence is the ability to calculate, quantify, consider propositions and hypotheses, and carry out complete mathematical operations. It enables us to perceive relationships and connections and to use abstract, symbolic thought; sequential reasoning skills; and inductive and deductive thinking patterns. Logical intelligence is usually well developed in mathematicians, scientists, and detectives.

Bodily-kinesthetic or Body Smart:
The core elements of the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are control of one’s bodily motions and the capacity to handle objects skilfully.Gardner elaborates to say that this also includes a sense of timing, a clear sense of the goal of a physical action, along with the ability to train responses. People who have high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence should be generally good at physical activities such as sports, dance, acting, and making things. Bodily kinesthetic intelligence is the capacity to manipulate objects and use a variety of physical skills. This intelligence also involves a sense of timing and the perfection of skills through mind–body union. Athletes, dancers, surgeons, and crafts people exhibit well-developed bodily kinesthetic intelligence.

Interpersonal or Self Smart:
In theory, individuals who have high interpersonal intelligence are characterized by their sensitivity to others’ moods, feelings, temperaments, motivations, and their ability to cooperate in order to work as part of a group. Those with high interpersonal intelligence communicate effectively and empathize easily with others, and may be either leaders or followers. They often enjoy discussion and debate. Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand and interact effectively with others. It involves effective verbal and nonverbal communication, the ability to note distinctions among others, sensitivity to the moods and temperaments of others, and the ability to entertain multiple perspectives. Teachers, social workers, actors, and politicians all exhibit interpersonal intelligence.

Intrapersonal or People Smart:
This area has to do with introspective and self-reflective capacities. This refers to having a deep understanding of the self; what one’s strengths or weaknesses are, what makes one unique, being able to predict one’s own reactions or emotions. Intra-personal intelligence is the capacity to understand oneself and one’s thoughts and feelings, and to use such knowledge in planning and directioning one’s life. Intra-personal intelligence involves not only an appreciation of the self, but also of the human condition. It is evident in psychologist, spiritual leaders, and philosophers.

Naturalistic or Nature Smart:
Not part of Gardner’s original seven, naturalistic intelligence was proposed by him in 1995. This area has to do with nurturing and relating information to one’s natural surroundings.This sort of ecological receptiveness is deeply rooted in a “sensitive, ethical, and holistic understanding” of the world and its complexities – including the role of humanity within the greater ecosphere. Naturalist intelligence designates the human ability to discriminate among living things (plants, animals) as well as sensitivity to other features of the natural world (clouds, rock configurations). This ability was clearly of value in our evolutionary past as hunters, gatherers, and farmers; it continues to be central in such roles as botanist or chef. It is also speculated that much of our consumer society exploits the naturalist intelligences, which can be mobilized in the discrimination among cars, sneakers, kinds of makeup, and the like.

Existential or Life Smart:
Gardner did not want to commit to a spiritual intelligence, but suggested that an “existential” intelligence may be a useful construct, also proposed after the original 7 in his 1999 book. Sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence, such as the meaning of life, why we die, and how did we get here.

Gardner also opposed the idea of labeling learners to a specific intelligence and maintained that his theory of multiple intelligences should “empower learners”, not restrict them to one modality of learning. According to Gardner, an intelligence is “a biopsychological potential to process information that can be activated in a cultural setting to solve problems or create products that are of value in a culture.

Even after so many years of this theory being proposed, there is still controversy about it. I am not a psychologist, but this theory does make sense to me. I know that not everyone can be defined as ‘traditionally intelligent’ and this theory does put to rest why some people are widely successful in varied fields. Take music for example. Every years, hundreds of thousands of aspiring musicians audition for jobs and reality shows, but there are just a handful who are successful. That’s probably because they are blessed with musical intelligence, which a whole bunch of the others do not possess. This does make you think, right?

There are a couple of sites which allow you to take a test to determine which intelligence is your dominant one. I did one and no surprises there, at least for me – I got linguistic ability overwhelmingly which is right in my mind.

This is what the result said about me “Your dominant intelligence type is linguistic/verbal or in other words… you are word smart! You have an eloquent and sophisticated way of expressing yourself verbally as well as in writing.

You are passionate about literature, history and current events. You also have a knack for pursuing and learning new languages. You have a charismatic personality and because of you are talented in many areas of communicating, you also have strong interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. You are social, people smart and extremely self-aware.

If you want to do the same test, here’s the test link

Do you agree with Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligence? I’d love to hear what you got? Please do comment below….

Grandmother Tales

grandma09When I woke up this morning, the first thing I thought of today was my paternal grandmother. Somehow I kept thinking about her and thought I should dedicate this post to her.

My paternal grandmother, whom I called ammama was a remarkable lady. Ammama in some Tamil dialects and in Malayalam actually refers to your mum’s mum but I used to use it interchangeably for both my grandmothers!

3eeb889d8100ad16e6837259a7c58518Actually, there’s a story to why I called her ammama. Growing up, it seemed normal to me to call both my grandmothers by this name. I realised that it was different when I heard others call their grandmothers pati which in Tamil means grandmother. But I never really gave it a thought. Following my example, my sister and later other cousins from my maternal side also started calling our maternal grandmother as ammama and used to call their paternal grandma as pati. Years later, probably after I became a mother myself and my mother became a pati, I asked her why I used to call my grandmothers ammama? Her answer actually made me pause because apparently, it was my paternal grandmother who wished that I used this name to call her. I never had the chance to ask her this question, but I guess she must have been quite young when I was born and a streak of vanity in her didn’t want her to officially become a grandmother so young! So by making us call her ammama, she didn’t become a pati, yet we had a unique name to call her.

She was married to my grandfather when she was around 9 years old and came with him to Bombay (as it was then called) sometime in the early 40s. She was not very highly educated, she probably just finished high school, but was a very voracious reader. My dad always tells me that my love for books most likely came from her.

I was also named for her. In Tamil nomenclature, the first born child is usually named after the paternal grandparents (so paternal grandfather for the first born son and grandmother for the first born daughter) and the next child of the same sex is named after the maternal grandparents.  So, though the name I legally go by is not hers, I have her name on my birth certificate and can legally use anytime I want to do. This tradition is to keep family names alive and is probably the reason you see many south Indians with long and unpronounceable names!

In addition to being a reader, or perhaps because she was a reader, she was also very skilled in telling stories. I remember countless nights when I was very young when my sister and I would huddle against her and listen to stories before bedtime. She was the one who introduced mythology to us and would regale us with stories from the Hindu pantheon. She was also quite good at making up stories with the prompts we gave her and now I wish I had recorded those stories to share with BB & GG.

When I was around six years old, she moved away, first to a city in Western India and then to a city in Southern India because of my uncle, who was considerably younger than my father, and who was single then, moved for work. My grandfather had retired by then and so they decided to spend their last years away from the hustle and bustle that Bombay had by then become. They loved the southern city they finally moved to and when my uncle got married and moved away, they decided to stay there permanently. They first rented and then bought their own home there which my ammama lovely restored (the house was being used as student accommodation when they brought it so you can imagine the condition it was in).

We, especially I, waited impatiently for ammama to come to Bombay for their trips and when she was there, I probably forgot my parents completely. It was always ammama this and ammama that for me for the month or two that she was with us. I also used to wait for the summer holidays to come so that I could go to spend time with her. In case you wonder, it was not all a bed of roses with her too! She was very traditional and conservative and I used to chafe at the restrictions she used to put on us, especially some which I never understood since we were girls. For all her conservatism and traditions, she was also quite liberal in her outlook and encouraged my dad to give us far more freedom in terms of what we could do (within reason and boundaries) as compared to other girls around us. Perhaps this stemmed from what her daughter, my aunt went through in life which she didn’t want her grand-daughters to go through too.

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The last time I spent time with her was when I was starting my class 12 year (equivalent to the A-levels in India). Since the exams would end much earlier, we had made plans before leaving that I would travel alone to be with her for a whole month before my mum and sister came. I was so excited going back to Bombay that I was making plans in the train, a whole year before the trip! She and my tatha were travelling on the same day to another city to attend a wedding and we had gone to the station together. Their train was before ours and so we said our goodbyes at the station. We reached Bombay late at night the next day and the day after that, around 5:30 am, we got a call from one of my dad’s relatives that she had passed away! She had a massive heart attack at the wedding venue and before she could get any medical attention, she passed away!

Writing this last sentence brought tears to my eyes, even now, more than a quarter of a century after the event! My parents rushed back to her town and left us back in Bombay. I never got a chance to say a last goodbye to my beloved ammama, which at some level, still rankles me, even today! When I first started writing this piece, I was happy sharing my memories about my ammama, but the last paragraph made me sad! I am still happy that I have these memories with me, I have friends who have no memory of their grandparents at all!

My maternal grandmother is still alive and healthy for her age and I am glad she is around. My children have and know their great-grandmother and she knows her brood of great-grandchildren!

Writing this post has been difficult, yet cathartic for me. Do you have memories about a favourite grandparent? Do share!