Today was the nth time I was asked my occupation. I answered I am a homemaker or a stay at home mom but the person on the other side of the table looked at me in disdain. He had an expression which was that of a person waiting for me to complete the sentence by adding a connecting word. I am a homemaker and …. But hello, there is no AND; on the contrary there is a FULL STOP. I am a Homemaker. PERIOD. And in American parlance that also means I am a soccer mom. Then the natural question that follows “so, when are you planning to go back to work?”

My DH (Darling Husband) has a traveling job. A few years ago, on being asked by my Hispanic help, what my husband does and telling her that he works for an IT company, she gave me that all-knowing nod, “ah ha, you mean he fixes computers in other people’s homes”. Well, unfortunately, my husband does not possess any such technical skills but, yes, he does travel a lot, and by virtue of that, I am left to run the household. Apart from the mundane stuff of cleaning, laundry, cooking etc., it also includes trying to balance both my kids on my hips (God Almighty, I now know why you BLESSED me with such wide ones) and walking down a flight of stairs because invariably one wakes up coughing, sneezing, wheezing and needs TLC but the other one feels it will be UNFAIR if he does not get the joy aka hip ride!!! It also includes fighting the milk battle every morning, brushing one child’s teeth while the other is screaming in frustration that he is done with his poop and what is taking me so long to clean him up, running after 2 brats in the school parking lot, one of whom chooses to run in exactly the opposite direction of his brother. Hey, are you sweating? Awww! Come on! I am just warming up. I have only given you a glimpse of the first 2 hours of my day. After I pick them up from school, I have got to take them for their various activities – soccer, ice-skating, swimming, play dates etc. while listening to the track “Five green and speckled fogs sat on a speckled log...” the 287th time. And all of this while giving them their snack and smoothie/juice. And God save me if I give one the “Elmo” juice and the other “Big Bird” juice. If I dare commit that crime, our poor Honda Odyssey will transform into a battleground and I will be forced to single-handedly take on the role of UN peace keeping force, all of this while I have one hand on the wheel, one eye on the road and the other focused on the rear view mirror which has been strategically angled to show my adorable angels err sparring cats. I had once read “A soccer mom delivers once obstetrically and for the rest of her life by her minivan.” I couldn’t agree more. My day also includes taking them to the supermarket where we will keep driving around the parking lot till we spot an empty car cart where they can imagine that they are Michael Schumacher and are driving their Ferraris. And only after I finish paying up at the checkout counter do I realize that apart from my list of groceries, I have bought 2 packets of M&Ms, some Oreo and chocolate chip cookies and a Diego toothpaste that will sit by the 6 other Dora, Diego and Spiderman toothpastes and adorn the vanity in the kids bathroom. After all this, my DH calls from across the ether and asks rather innocently “So, what did you do today?” I am very tempted to say, “I went to the club with my girlfriends, we had a couple of cosmos and then we hit the dance floor and gyrated our hips to Shakira’s music!!!” My moment of redemption came when on my return from a sudden trip to California, hubby darling proclaimed, “Here are the kids. They are all yours. How do you do it?”

Kelly Ripa had once said that children are like pancakes – you spoil the first one, get better at the second and are the best with your third. I got 2 at one shot (my DH and I took BOGO – Buy one get one free, the American mantra, to heart). And now, reverting to the big question asked of me on any and every social occasion, I am NOT planning to go back to work. Yes, I am a homemaker, and I am very proud to be one. Yes, I am a soccer mom and I love my pancakes even if I am spoiling them a wee bit. I have deep admiration for mothers who have a great career going for them and who are able to bring up wonderful children with great ease – hats off to them and more power to them. But I am content and happy in my role. This is one “Occupation” that gives me immense joy and a huge sense of pride. Yes, there are moments of helplessness when I feel like pulling my hair. But those are far and few and are a reminder that I am a human being before I am a mother. I remember the moment when Taran said his first word “Dada” in January 2005 to now when he entertains me with his endless stories and songs. I can still visualize the time when Roshan started walking a few weeks after turning one to now when he has turned into a daredevil trying new stunts on his bicycle and doing cartwheels. I remember vividly when they both learnt their ABCs to now when they have become voracious readers. I look back at the time when I decided to put in my papers. I had a good job, a decent paycheck and everyone at my workplace was super supportive and yet, the decision to leave was simple and easy. I am so glad I chose to stay at home lest I would have missed out on these priceless moments. So, no matter what anyone says, I am delighted and proud to be a SOCCER MOM. PERIOD!

Beginning the first week of December, news channels and the general populace speculate whether we will see a white Christmas but who could have imagined that we will see a white Diwali?! Yes, it snowed for the most part of the day. And if that does not prove that climate change is at work to Sarah Palin, then I do not know what will (and I know that I digress but I can not help it). And now getting back on track....
We started the day with droping the kids to school and returning home to shine the silver for the “Lakshmi puja”, make rangoli on the porch while wearing an overcoat (brrrr) and contribute to our telephone provider by making the innumerable calls to wish Happy Diwali (that is what happens when your laptop dies on you for 2 weeks and you have no way to send Diwali wishes online but miraculaously it started working this afternoon. YIPPEE! Now, now, if only I get blessed with "dhan" and "lakshmi" too).
The afternoon was super exciting as I went to Taran and Roshan’s school to make a presentation to the kids on Diwali. The school kids and the teachers were very enthusiastic about the little show where I showed the presentation on my laptop, treated the kids and teachers with some home made “pedas”, showed them some “diyas” and “rangoli” powder. At the end of the presentation I asked my kids and their best buddy to sing a song (I had asked them to sing “Jai Ganesh” but they chose to sing “Bachna ae haseeno….” ‘coz they felt that was “cool”. Of course, the teachers did not understand the words and congratulated me on teaching my kids such wonderful religious hymns!!! And that truly made it a cool Diwali, literally and figuratively! Happy Diwali!

Last weekend my friend, Shruti and I walked 39.3 miles in New York for the Avon Breast Cancer Walk. We kept our promise to you of walking every step for every penny that you donated and for every wish that you sent our way. The event and the journey towards our goal are memories we will cherish forever.

Along the journey and before embarking on it, I learnt from friends and family who had been there before. My cousins and friends who have run the marathon, climbed mountains, walked 60 miles were not only an inspiration, they also gave valuable inputs.

The journey was beautiful, interesting and challenging. What seemed to be “just walking”, was actually a little more complicated in reality. Managing the kids calendar (school, activities, summer camp etc.) and my “training calendar” was not always easy. There were days when I walked in the neighborhood of their school while they were in their class so as to maximize my training time and not lose on the commute home and back. Yet again, there were days when I walked for 5 hours excluding breaks, picked up the kids from school, gave them a snack, hit the walking trail for 2 more miles, took them to their swimming lessons, and walked a mile on returning from there, rushed to their school for the “Back to school night”, returned home to put the kids to bed and went back to wrap up my 20 mile walk for the day. Apart from the calendar challenge, the physical aspect occasionally bothered me as well especially when my hamstrings would ache. But these and other challenges only kept me going forward as with each step I figured I am a step closer to my objective … of chipping in to eradicate this dreadful disease. Also, the faith that so many of you had put in me by supporting me, either with good wishes, donations or both, was the most important factor in keeping my spirits high. So, thank you so much for your support. It means a lot to me.

The actual event was surreal (for the lack of a better word). We were 4,500 walkers in the NY event who had collectively raised $11.5 million, a record in the history of Avon walks for breast cancer. Shruti and I collectively raised $4094. Since Avon started this walk, they have raised a whopping $525 million.

The opening ceremony was exhilarating. Dr. Susan Love (from The Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation) took center stage and urged us to join the Love/Avon Army of Women, an initiative launched on Oct 1st, 2008. The key goal of this revolutionary initiative is to recruit one million healthy women of every age and ethnicity, including breast cancer survivors and women at high-risk for the disease, to partner with breast cancer researchers and directly participate in the research that will eradicate breast cancer once and for all. You can find more details at survivor stories were very moving as was the commitment of one particular walker who had participated in 96 walks and had single-handedly raised $1.2 million over the years. The icing on the cake was having my friends who had come to cheer Shruti and me on the event eve and on the opening ceremony. Sighting Tabu (a well-known Indian film personality) at Times Square on the event eve and having a picture taken with her added to the fun. Check out our pictures at:

Our walking path was very well organized with cheering stations and rest stops every few miles. They were well stocked with snacks, water, medical supplies etc. The Volunteers, crew, staff and NY locals were there for every single walker with a constant smile on their face. We were in complete awe of the commitment of the thousands of people--walkers and crew alike--to make a difference. Personally, I was also in awe of Shruti who flew all the way from Atlanta to walk with me.

Walking in NY was charming and exciting. While I have lived in the suburbs for 9 years, I observed things that I had never noticed before. It was exciting to walk through trendy SOHO where one could shop in the hip boutiques, chain stores and even sidewalks all in the backdrop of an outstanding cast iron architecture. Walking across the iconic Brooklyn bridge was thrilling. I couldn’t help wondering what a giant leap of faith it must have been when 125 years ago, this bridge, the largest suspension bridge of its time was built. On a separate note, I must admit that I was half expecting Karan Johar and Shah Rukh Khan to peek from behind the stone towers singing "Har Ghadi Badal Rahi Hai ….Kal Ho Na Ho" (Just proves, you can’t take Bollywood out of me!).

Crossing the finish line was extremely gratifying. I noticed many walkers wearing Avon T-shirts which aptly said “Ready, Set, Hope.” I wanted to cry, look up at the sky and said a silent prayer thanking God for helping me in this journey. My parents, husband and kids were there to cheer me, as they have been doing always. What a blessing! My friend who came all the way from San Francisco pampered us with gorgeous lilies, roses and her infectious exuberance.

What was once a dream is now a part of my life. With your support I made it and I am proud of it. I have made a promise. Since I have discovered a strength that I did not even know existed, a determination that keeps my confidence soaring, a cause that keeps me going, I will try to use it again and again. Who knows I might just discover a walking trail and embark on a new adventure.

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