I’ve been dropping comments for the past few days and I finally thought “oh to heck with it! I’ll just explain what’s going on.” Plus, it will be a fun post for you all to read while I drive back and forth and back and forth and have two birthday cakes.
67 years ago, my mother was born. In Philadelphia, where her family was living temporarily. And then they left never to return, but there is always this kind of funky family connection to Philadelphia because it pops up whenever I have to fill out a form with where my mother was born.
(See how sad Shahrukh is? It’s because he knows he is moving to Philadelphia 56 years too late to be at my mother’s birth)
And then they went from Philadelphia to 11 other places I can never remember. My Mom’s father was called up back into the army, so their little family of 4 (my mother the baby, her big brother the toddler, her mother and her father) traveled all over the place from army base to army base.
(Picture this, but if Hrithik was going back to a tiny falling down married couples’ quarters and hanging out with his tiny children after class)
For my mother’s very first birthday, my grandmother went around and gathered up the other officer’s wives to blow out a candle on a little cupcake. And then soon after, my grandpa shipped out and they all went back to their little house outside Chicago, my mother’s final arrival in her hometown, after a first year of life spent migrating around. Yes, 11 places in one year with two children under 3. It was not the greatest time.
(Picture this, but with a house in a Chicago suburb instead of Delhi, and a little tiny baby instead of Shahrukh)
Oh, and then my mother grew up. Her brother, my uncle, was always kind of the athlete and she was more the studious reader type. But mostly they all just got along, had a big yard, big garden, lots of kids in the neighborhood to play with. Basically ideal childhood.
(Like this, only with less singing, and no parental fighting in the background. But they did share a bedroom in early childhood!)
And then my Mom went off to college and met my Dad, I already did that post. But, after college, before/while falling in love with Dad, she did all kinds of interesting things. Like, worked as a nanny for a while, for a wonderful family that we are still in touch with. The little boy grew up to be a cowboy!
And after a variety of jobs, she discovered that what she really wanted to do was work as a social worker (like, with a Masters degree in the health field, not “social worker” like it is in India) with the elderly. Essentially like Vidya Balan in this song. Except not at all.
And then the day before her 33rd birthday, she went into labor with my sister. The due date was two weeks away, but thankfully she had already started taking time off work. So my parents thought “okay, this is neat, we will have the baby and take it home on Mom’s birthday”. And then the labor kind of slowed down a little and they started thinking “okay, so Mom and baby will share a birthday, that’s not bad, kind of neat I guess. We can make birthday gift jokes and stuff.”
See, the thing you have to know about my sister is that she is very very very slow to make a change. Why risk it? If what you have is good, who knows what this new thing will be like? So, the whole college application process, for example, involved a fair amount of last minute decisions because she just wasn’t ready yet.
And thus, a very very very long labor. As she sat inside the womb thinking “gee, I don’t know, I could go outside, but am I really ready? Maybe I will just stick around in here a while longer and think about it.” It’s easier now, because I just tell her when she should do things, and what they should be (lunch, quitting her job, buying shoes, all kinds of decisions that would otherwise never be made). But tragically I wasn’t born yet, so she had to make that first decision all by herself and took FOREVER.
And thus my sister was born the day after my mother’s birthday. Which does allow for the excellent family joke, “my mother aged a year giving birth to me!”
Anyway, BABY!!!! And now we enter the part of the post that my mother and sister will have to share.
My sister was the first baby for my parents, and also the first grandchild for my grandparents. They were all very excited. It was essentially exactly like this.
My sister spent her first 3 years in Chicago, which I was always very jealous of. Because I was only there for a year. But she had actually memories of the place and could legitimately call herself a Chicagoan.
(See that back porch in the alley part? We had one just like that and my sister remembered playing on it, while I did not)
But then we moved when was too little to remember to a place with a house and a yard and stuff. And had pretty much a perfect childhood, Mom kept working off and on but mostly was home with us. And with many other children who just sort of gravitated towards our house. We always had snacks, we always had a parent around ready to play with us or set up a card table or whatever we needed, and we had a tire swing in front and a sandbox in the back, it was all pretty great for a kid.
(tire swing! Picture this, but in a yard, and we are all like 10, and Mom keeps bringing us snacks)
And then my sister went to college (after an AGONY of decision making, she ended up going to the place I told her she should go to. And then my second choice for grad school), and my Mom started working almost full time. As a waitress. Which was fun, because we always had tip money around the house to pay for things in cash.
(At a really nice bakery/cafe. There were no sad underground fighters coming around, more like doctors and nurses from the clinic across the street and fancy ladies who came in for lunch)
My sister in college found this great group of friends, who she is still close to today, including one with the same name as me! Which has lead to SO MUCH confusion. We finally just started appending either “NMSM” or “MSM” after the name. (Not My Sister Margaret or My Sister Margaret) See, if only they had thought that through in Kuch Kuch, oh the problems it would have solved!
(At least me and Margaret NMM are closer in age, so if there is some kind of last minute wedding issue, we can easily swap in for the other one)
I went off to college too and my mom got a “real” job working as a social worker again. I assume it was exactly like this, since Aish says every other line of dialogue in this movie that she is a social worker.
And then, as discussed in my post for their anniversary, my Dad retired and my parents moved back to Chicago FINALLY. Which, so far as my mother was concerned, was kind of this sort of feeling. She really really loves Chicago. Like, if you think I love Chicago, that’s just because you haven’t met her.
Meanwhile, my sister had moved off to what we think of as “The Edge”. People are not meant to live right up against an ocean! The middle of the country, that’s where everything feels right. I mean, I guess The Edge hasn’t been that bad for her, she met her husband there and has a semi-nice career and all that. But still, saltwater? Hurricanes instead of tornadoes? It’s just weird!
(Also, it’s bumpy! See, what you want is a nice glacier flattened plain with lots of farms and houses, this is just ridiculous)
But right now, since last Thursday, we are all back in the same place where we are meant to be. Sort of. My sister and my parents are staying up at a family house about two hours outside the city since Thursday. And then I stayed in the city until Friday so I could see the movie Mom and review it for you all, got up early on Saturday to finish getting presents ready, drove up to join them on Saturday, drove back in later that same day to pick up Margaret NMM from the airport, drove back up, had a massive party with 16 people on Sunday, got hugely sunburned, drove home again late late Sunday night, got up and went to work Monday morning, came home and watched a Malayalam movie that night, got up and drove to work, and then straight from work back on the road for two hours, big birthday dinner for my mother, stay up past midnight so I can give presents to my sister too, then go to bed, on the road at 6, drive back into the city for work. And then after work I forgot I promised to go to a meeting at church so I guess I do that, then come home and go to bed.
So the point of this post is mostly “YAAAAAY!!!! Happy Birthday Mother and Sister!!!!” and a little bit “yaaaay! Margaret is letting herself skip Tuesday Tamil this week because she has to drive back and forth and back and back and forth and has written as many posts as she can in advance but didn’t have time to watch another movie!” But I will try to do it on Thursday instead.
But again, mostly “Happy Birthday Mother and Sister!”
(Ignore the “wife-life” part, the main sentiment is what I mean)