December 28, 2010

{Did I Let Raka Off Too Easy?}

This morning, Raka called me before she left her mother’s place.  Her tone was not the same old happy bubbly self.  I could sense something was not right. She confirmed it by saying, “Dad something happened, and you will not like it!”

My first reaction was, “Are you alright?”

She told me, “Yes, but as I was backing my car out, I did not realize that mom left the trash can in the garage so close to my car.  I did not see the trash can as I was backing out of the garage and I bumped my mirror into it. The mirror came off but I am sure it can be glued back on.” As I listened, she went on, “Mom should not have been keeping the trash can so close to the car!” 

I realized that the attention was switching to Raka’s mom. She had put the trash can there even before Raka had parked the car, so really Raka should have taken complete ownership for the error instead of blaming her mom.

These conversations are always better in person than over the phone, so I asked Raka to drive over to my place. I was outside, waiting for her when the red Nissan Sentra came over with the passenger side mirror hanging precariously from the side. Raka was very apologetic.  She kept telling me that the damage was minor and it could be glued back on.

I was not sure. Whether it could be glued back on or not, this could have been avoided. It was a clear case of a teenager rushing out of a garage and the consequences could have been way more serious.  I expressed all that to Raka and then sent her off to drive to school.  I told her we would talk about solutions after school.
As she left, I kept thinking.  It was time for “second chance Arjun” to take over.  I realized accidents happen, sometimes because we are careless and sometimes because they just happen.  Of course Raka could have been more careful and should be in the future, but instead of the consequence defining the event, I wanted to look at what lessons Raka should take from this. The real lesson was definitely not in the cost of fixing the mirror.

So I decided to drive to Raka’s school armed with super glue and masking tape.  Once I got there I assessed the damage again and realized it was worth trying to glue it, as if that failed then we would have to replace the whole piece. I got to work in the school parking lot. After I glued it back on, I used all the masking tape I had to make sure it stayed in place. Then I wrote some instructions for Raka on a note and left it on the car then came back home.

Raka and I continued our texting on the subject throughout the day without me mentioning my repairs. Raka soon announced that she had talked to her friend and her dad would be able to fix it.  I told Raka that it is that time of the year when miracles are in the air and that she should go and check the car out.  She went and came back completely excited.  She could not believe that the car was fixed!  At least for now, until the mirror falls off again.

When Raka got back from school we talked about the lessons and consequences. We talked about how she should take ownership instead of blaming her mom for keeping the trash can in the wrong place.  She also was lazy the night before when she drove in, as she should have moved the trash can at that time instead of trying to maneuver the car in.  Finally, she has to be more careful while backing out of the garage as it was very clear that the impact could have been far more serious.

Raka listened.  I realized that it was an easier discussion now that the car was miraculously fixed. The conversation was still assertive and directed, but in this case we were actually listening to each other. Of course it did not hurt that she was hungrily attacking the freshly made mac ’n cheese, and then caramel ice cream as she listened to me.

I love you Raka and you should take this as a warning sign and drive extra cautiously!

December 22, 2010

{A Timely Reminder of the Spirit of Christmas}

It is that time of the year. The Christmas spirit is in the air. Of course the Christmas spirit is all about peace, love, and joy to all. But in my mind true Christmas spirit comes from the act of giving, giving without thinking, and having no clue what impact the giving might make in the lives of others.

This holiday season, I want to celebrate one such giver, a friend of mine, Julie Ann Debenham. Fortunately Julie may not get the Christmas-ONLY-spirit, as her acts of giving continue year round.

A week or two back I received a message from a classmate of mine from Brigham Young University, it was Julie. As we exchanged messages, I learned that she was visiting Colorado Springs and we could meet for breakfast or lunch that week. I was very excited to see Julie again.

Let me first take on a flashback so you know the kind of person Julie is:
A lot of my BYU classmates and their families were kind to me during my early days in the country, but Julie always stood out in my mind. This tall blonde classmate of mine first introduced herself to me during our first week of MBA classes as, “I am Julie from Alaska, and you are the smartest kid in the class.”  Of course, I liked her immediately; as any new student is a sucker for compliment. But I soon realized that inside Julie there is a soul that is genuinely caring and spontaneous. She always observed me and then acted instantly without hesitation.

The first instance of this was when she realized that I lived ten blocks from campus in the Cinnamon Tree apartments. It was a long walk to school and as fall was slowly turning towards winter, the walk was getting longer. I did not know when Julie saw me walking, but one day after class she walked me to her white Toyota Supra, opened the trunk, and took out her mountain bike. “Arjun” she said, “You can borrow this bike till I need it.”

Wow, life all of a sudden became so easy.  What took 15 minutes to get to class, now turned into 4 minutes.

Another time, I was walking back to my apartment carrying plastic bags full of groceries. As winter was in the air, the heavy plastic bags started to bite into my fingers. From time to time, I would stop and rest the bags on the pavement and warm my hands before continuing my walk back. During one such instance, Julie drove by. She waved at me, and ,made a quick u-turn, and came back towards me. She pulled over and with a smile asked me to get in the car. She dropped me off at my apartment. After that it became a ritual for her to pick me up and take me to the grocery store, every week.

Then came my first thanksgiving in the country. I had no clue what the significance of the holiday was. I was planning on using the holiday as a much needed break before the finals. On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Julie told me to pack and get ready for the weekend. I was startled. “Where am I going?” 

By the time I asked I knew Julie well enough to realize that asking would not get me an answer. But this time she smiled and said, “I am taking you home.” 

I did not know what to think. I was not very familiar with social norms in the country, nor was I dating this girl. But then I did not have any other options for the weekend.

On Wednesday after class she picked me up and we drove towards Salt Lake City. As we drove, she told me that we were going to her parent’s home in Bountiful. I was excited. As we got close to her home, I was startled by the enormous sizes of the homes. I was staring at each of the homes, when we Julie pulled into the driveway of her parent’s home.

I was expecting an awkward moment when I met Julie’s family. Today if Raka were to surprise me by bringing a boy home with her over Thanksgiving, I would immediately focus on getting his finger prints and running a background check on the boy. But Julie’s family was kind and generous and welcomed me with open arms. It was a great weekend of amazing cooking and fun. When I think back, my fondest memories of the weekend are the moments I shared with Julie’s grandma, as she reminded me of my Maiji.


I was thinking of all the past moments of Julie’s kindness as she walked into the restaurant. We were meeting after nearly 18 years. She had not changed. The same smile, the same big hug, and the same way she always pronounced my name.

We sat down started catching up. I shared with her some of these memories and how she was kind and helpful during my stay in Provo. She smiled and said, “I helped you? Hmmm,” and smiled.

Then she shared with me what she had been doing over the past few years. She talked about how she spends as much time as possible helping others, whether it is an individual in her church or traveling around the world to assist the Red Cross on their next project. She had just come back from one such trip in Azerbaijan. It was amazing to see that she had not changed all.  I realized that if I was walking with bunch of plastic bags full of groceries she would still pull over and say, “Jump in Arjun, let me drop you off at home.” The only thing that had changed was her car, now it was an xTerra, perhaps she anticipated that my grocery needs have increased.

As she shared her thoughts something she said made me pause and stare at her. “Arjun, I want to help others, I want to make the world better in any way I can.” As I listened to her, my memory went back to Raka’s statement as we were driving from Boston to New Haven, when she had told me the same thing.

Soon lunch was over and after a hug, she was off on her long drive to Salt Lake City.  As I started driving back home, I remember that Maiji used to tell me that there are no accidents in life. Everything has a purpose and the challenge is to find the purpose.

Julie’s reconnecting with me must have a purpose. In the holiday season this was a reminder to me of the true Christmas spirit. And the spirit of giving is a yearlong thing and not restricted to a one time act of goodness.

As Raka and I try to get ready for Christmas this year, I am simply thrilled to meet my friend and in the process relive her goodness. Goodness from people like Julie not only changes other’s lives but also inspires others to goodness. I told Julie that I am so glad that I have a daughter and a friend who are both great people and they are trying to change the world for the better. It feels good to be surrounded by goodness. Reconnecting with her is one of the best gifts I could get this Christmas.

Raka and I wish happy holidays to all of you.

December 16, 2010

{Kindle Holiday Pricing Only $1.99}

To celebrate parents and families during the holidays, purchase the kindle version of Raising a Father now for only $1.99. 
Click here.

December 14, 2010

{Should a father apologize to his daughter about his divorce?}

As Raka crossed seventeen and gently started to move with confidence to adulthood, she and I have been more open about life and our past. Raka has been talking about her challenges in friendships and her occasional insecurities about performing at her peak during a sporting event or academic testing. As Raka talks, I listen. Even though I empathize with her struggles to be better, deep inside I say “You are so cool girl. I really wish I were half as cool as you, half as wise as you, and half as caring about others as you are when I was your age.”  

Over time I started sharing my own regrets and challenges with Raka.  It started with explaining how my social circle shrunk completely after my divorce which occasionally can make me quite lonely. She listened and gave me a hug. Then one day we were talking about regrets and I finally told her that my biggest regret is that Raka is growing up in a divorced household. Raka tried to coax me and said, “Dad, I am better and stronger because of the divorce. You and Ma are each better because of the divorce.” 

I knew she was simply being nice and trying to pacify me. I asked her “how can you say that the divorce made you stronger when you still feel the pain?  How can you say that this was the right thing when you hide pictures of you with your mom and me together in your room?”

Raka was quiet. I was in sharing/preaching mode. I went on to tell Raka, “ Baby, I believe when two adults get married they can do whatever they want… until they get have a child. After a child is born, it becomes essential for each parent to redefine their identity as ‘Raka’s Dad’ and ‘Raka’s Mom.’  I think that understanding that the smallest distractions can, over time, result in a divorce which will change a child’s life forever, should guide parents in their actions on a daily basis.” 

Then I stopped to see that Raka was doodling on a piece of paper.  I was not sure that she was listening.  But the moment I stopped, she stopped doodling and looked up to me.  “Baby,” I continued.  “Think. Divorce is one of the only acts in life when two adults fail at something (in this case it is a marriage), but get to move forward with hardly any consequence. The consequence is borne entirely by the child as a life sentence.”

Today when I think back, I completely agree that a divorce is better than a bad marriage, but that is looking at life selfishly from the adult point of view. Should two parents, when they are blessed with the most amazing gift of all, a child, not strive hard every day to be the best parents they can be, and in the process keep the marriage together?

These thoughts and discussions of course made Raka wonder if I would like to get back together with her mom. I raised my eyebrows when I was asked the question.  I think by not answering I told Raka “not in a million years.”  I also realized that talking about what is the right thing to do is easy, but walking the talk is where the challenge is.

I feel bad and hate to think this candid discussion rekindled any hope in Raka to have a unified home with her dad and mom. 

Sorry baby.  I did not mean to hurt you, again!

December 8, 2010

{Being a Dad is Not About Baking Cookies for Your Daughter}

Last October when I was in Mumbai, Oni (my brother), Rachna (my sister-in-law), and I were up one night chatting about our parenting styles and other life issues. Usually Rachna and I go on talking while Oni dozes off in the middle of the conversation.

This time, somehow, Oni had become the center of the discussion. Rachna and I were pushing him on a multitude of issues ranging from not showing emotions to parenting. Oni was being his evasive best, but finally he snapped. “Being a dad is not about baking cookies for your daughter.” 

I knew that comment was directed at me.  I was hurt as that shot was uncalled for.  I wanted to go after him for the comment, but then decided that I loved him too much to pursue this any further.  I just let the statement go.

But the statement did not simply vanish. I did not forget and I have been thinking about it a lot since then. I do not know what Oni meant by the statement or why it was said, but as I thought hard, I realized that being a father cannot be judged by a few random actions. It made me go back to the basics of parenthood I learned during the journey of Raising a Father. Being a father takes a lifelong ongoing commitment to be present. The manifestation of being present could be baking cookies, driving your daughter to sports events, taking pictures as your daughter performs, or cooking for your daughter’s study group after they finish an immersion into the world of mathematics.

I finally came to peace with the statement when I realized that my relationship with Raka is only for us to savor, for us to evolve, and for no one else to judge.  Raka and I have striven hard to continue to be close, especially through Raka’s transition to a teen and now a near adult, and also through my insecurities in relationships and my uncertainty of how to be a better dad. 

We are enjoying every moment together, who could ask for more?

December 1, 2010

{Acting in the Present, Without the Help of Hindsight}

Raka’s senior season on the cross-country team did not start of well for her. She had a knee injury that caused her to lose nearly six weeks of practice, but eventually when she was back running, it was a delight to see her run with friends.  The first few races were tough. Raka knew she was capable of a faster time but there was a limit to what she could attain with her healing knee.  She progressed through the season and did better with every race and was ready and feeling good when the last race of the season arrived.

The weekend before the final race I realized that this would be Raka’s last cross-country race in high school.  Though I was sad I was absolutely determined to enjoy every moment of it.

The morning of the race, I visited the 5k track and ran/walked the whole course to identify my opportunity points – points where I would be able to see Raka and then dash to my next point.  Even if I was allowed to run with her I could not keep pace, so I identified the points to be the starting line, mile 1.1, mile 2.1, the last 400 yards, and of course the finish line.

The afternoon of the race was the most beautiful running day in Denver, ever.  It was sunny, in the 70’s, and all the runners were bubbling with enthusiasm.  Just before the race, Raka dashed to me, gave me a hug and whispered to me, “Dad, this is my last race.”  I gave her a tight hug and then she was off to warm-up with her friends.

Hundreds of girls started the race together. Raka was focused. As the runners took off, I dashed with my camera on a monopod to my first opportunity point. As I stood at opportunity point #1, Raka came through 15 seconds before my anticipated time.  She looked happy, she looked pain free, and she was pacing with another classmate of hers. I took my pictures and then dashed over the to 2.1 mile mark. 

As I ran across to the 2.1-mile opportunity point, I realized I was not the only parent who saw it as an opportunity point. We parents had our own race to get the same spot. Raka was there, this time 20 seconds ahead of time. I could see that this was Raka’s day, she was going to have her best run ever. I yelled for her, encouraging her to give her best and finish strong. Raka was still pacing with her classmate.

As I moved to the finish line to catch the last 400 yards of the race, I saw Raka still pacing with her friend, and then both finished the race within microseconds of each other. I went across and gave her a big smile. I was so proud of her. I was happy that she was out running, as during the time her knee was injured, I only dreamt of this moment. 

Then I had to open my mouth.

I asked her, “ Why did you hold back? You could have finished another 45 seconds faster. You looked strong today, why did hold back in the last mile?”

A sweating Raka looked at me as she stretched her upper body. “Dad,” she said, “You realize that all season my friend and I have competed to be the best of the JV group in our school.  Today was her last race too.  Yes, you are right, I could have finished faster, but I felt today neither she nor I deserved to lose.  So we ran together.  And together we passed more runners than we have each done on our own before.”  With that she finished her stretches and joined her other friends as they went on to cheer the runners in the next race.

I was quick to capture on my camera the moment of her walking away after the last cross-country race.  As I did that, the meaning of Raka’s words hit me.  “Today neither one of us deserved to lose” and “together we passed more runners than we have each done on our own before.” 

Wow, I told myself.  That is simply brilliant.  But what struck me more was Raka being in the moment, realizing this and acting on it.  Many I times, when I think back at life, in hindsight, I come up with things that I could have done differently.  But thinking back is different from acting in the present.  Raka simply did that.

I guess the opportunity points were more than an opportunity to take photographs of my daughter.  It taught me a valuable lesson in life.

November 23, 2010

{Asian-American Work and Home Life: TV Asia Interview}

There are too many parents in my situation who, in an effort to provide the best for their children, neglect to give them the most important thing every child needs, time. I recently was privileged to be interviewed on TV Asia to recount my experience in the corporate world and my rash decision to get out of it and spend more time with my daughter. It is my hope that this book can inspire you and your loved ones this holiday season. If you are interested in giving the book as a holiday gift, they are very reasonably priced online and can be purchased using the links to the right. Happy Thanksgiving!

November 11, 2010

{Take Time to be a Dad Today!}

It seems Google is not the only one to focus on father-daughter relationships. A great new series of public service ads is encouraging dads to take time for their children. The ads were created pro bono for the Administration for Children and Families and the Office of Family Assistance and introduced three weeks ago. Their resources for spreading this message will have the advantage of using television, outdoor, online and mobile advertising.

Check out  and scroll down to the bottom right of the home page to see some of the media spots.

November 2, 2010

{Staying Connected to Your Children, From Anywhere}

As part of Google's summer search series, they put together this great video dedicated to dads and daughters. Technology really does allow us to be involved with loved ones on the other side of the planet in ways I never dreamed possible. What a wonderful time in history we live in! Maybe its not so bad for all of our kids to have laptops and iPhones...

October 26, 2010

{Parent's Day Essay Contest: 1st Place Winner!}

On October 3, 2010 I was invited to the Colorado Parent’s Day Awards Banquet to speak and to judge an essay writing contest.  To read more about the event scroll down or click here to read my October 6th post. It was a heart touching event organized by Peggy Yujiri and her team at the Colorado Parent’s Day Council, which celebrated  parents of excellence and the parents of the year. 

This essay, submitted by Irena Smith, has a simple writing style, and I love the fact that she reflected on small stories and her changed perception over time. Congratulations to the first place winner!

by Irena Smith

In our lives we meet thousands of people. Hundreds of thousands maybe. Maybe we’ve known some of them all our lives, since before we can remember. Maybe some of them are just people you once said hi to, and they said hi back. Maybe one is your kindergarten teacher, one is that kid at camp who taught you how to hacky sack, one that old lady across the street who once asked you to help her bring in her groceries. And of course, two of those people are your parents. You get the idea. Hundreds of thousands of people.
Every one of those people changes you in some way. Every one of them puts a little part of themselves in you when you relate to them, when you reciprocate with them. Now, we’ve all heard the phrase, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, but I doubt many people picture a village of hundreds of thousands. Every one of those people makes you who you are.
Parents are unimaginably valuable to a child. Childhood is when a person is developing themselves, when you need someone to look up to, to show you the way, to support you. That is the role of the parent. Naturally, the parent can’t do everything. That’s where all those other people in you life come in.
We’ve all been in a parental position to someone else at some point in our lives, whether we realized it at the time or not. We are all a part of the community we live in, the society we live in, the world we live in. It is our responsibility to take care of and teach the people around us. They are invaluable.
When your mom tells you not to hit people when you are too young to figure this sort of thing out for yourself, it is because someone once told her that, in a different time, in a different place. In general, it is an accepted rule that one does not hit other people. This is how a society is built. When you are a parental figure to someone else, you are changing them, just a tiny bit. And someday they will change some one else, and so on and so forth. Our mothers could just as easily spread the general rule that when someone else offends, for God’s sake, knock them out. That certainly wouldn’t create a world based on goodness.
When I was younger, I used to think that being a parent wouldn’t be a very good job. You aren’t saving people from fires, or teaching people how to read or anything important really. I couldn’t have been more wrong. My mom would try to explain it to me, “Maybe one of my children will save someone’s life someday,” she’d say. I just thought that was an awful lot of pressure for us. Now I am beginning to realize how true that is. Not just about your children literally, but all of the people you have been in a parental position to. All of the people you have put a little bit of yourself into.
So, next time you are in a parental position, think about what sort of rule you are spreading, what sort of world you want to see. Because parents have that power. Parents really can change the world one person at a time.

October 19, 2010

{Parent's Day Essay Contest: 2nd Place Winner}

On October 3, 2010 I was invited to the Colorado Parent’s Day Awards Banquet to speak and to judge an essay writing contest.  To read more about the event scroll down or click here to read my October 6th post. It was a heart touching event organized by Peggy Yujiri and her team at the Colorado Parent’s Day Council, which celebrated  parents of excellence and the parents of the year. Many excellent essays were submitted and I was privileged to read them all and want to share the three winners with you.

A Daughter to Her Parents
by Giselle Davenport (age 16)

Those of you that put faith
In believing you are on your own
That only you are reliable
Only you are worthy of your love

Must remember where you came from
One birth was not spontaneous
You don’t owe yourself that credit
Give that to who deserves it most

You know them very well, I’m sure
They’ve been next to you for years and years
Helping you to walk those first uncertain steps
And being there to laugh when you flat-bottom fall
But sure to pick you up again

Sitting you cautiously
On the set of that bike you just had to have
Screaming for you to hit the brakes
But all in vain as you flail helplessly down the sidewalk

Who took you that first day of school?
Prepared your lunch all nice and pretty
To show off at snack time to envious eyes
All the “I’ll trade you”s are due to them

When peers’ harsh words brought tears along faithfully
When opinions of others were most important
And sticks and stones could break your bones
But words could hurt much worse

It was they who made you love yourself
Believe in the bountiful beauty that is you
It was they who told you so
And turned the tears to ashes as they fell
Never to fall for that reason evermore

Finally done with studying, working
All those late night essays, readings
Are finally done with, those long sixteen years
Your tasseled cap and gown adorn you graciously

And who but they sit front row
Smiling bright, pride shining in their eyes
The same eyes you have, there upon that stage
They are due the highest reward

Now as you sit in your pretty white dress
Nervously stand at that alter, forever promise
You look to the ones who so happily gaze upon you
Hearts full to bursting with love

Sadly, now you wear your black
Flowers tightly held in your shaking hands
Tears roll down that face they created
As all those fond memories flow back to you

Melancholy fills the air, yet a hint of happiness
A funeral is not for sorrow and broken heart
It’s for loving reminiscence and a proper heaven send
You know you will someday reunite again

But now, as you proudly reflect
Just remember to never forget
Who was there to walk alongside you
As you took those first uncertain steps

October 13, 2010

{Parent's Day Essay Contest: 3rd Place Winner}

On October 3, 2010 I was invited to the Colorado Parent’s Day Awards Banquet to speak and to judge an essay writing contest.  It was a heart touching event organized by Peggy Yujiri and her team at the Colorado Parent’s Day Council, which celebrated  parents of excellence and the parents of the year. Many excellent essays were submitted and I was privileged to read them all and want to share the three winners with you.

My Relationship with My Parents
by Krista Smith

In this essay I will share about the ever growing and changing thing that is my relationship with my parents.
I wish that I had a better word to use; the word “relationship” doesn’t seem nearly powerful enough to convey the bond between parents and their children. For one thing the connection we have is much more than just the affiliation between people, or a “mutual exchange”, as the dictionary defines a relationship to be. As we’ve been told, the love of a parent to a child is the most powerful, beautiful kind of love there is. But in this essay I would like to write not only about the unconditional love of a parent, but also about some of the stages and feelings (both loving and not) of the child.
          From the very beginning of my relationship to my mother and father, that is from the beginning of my life, my parents made mistakes. They would do all sorts of little things to regret, they were only human, and learning the complicated difficult process of raising children. It didn’t exactly make it easier that they had four children within three years, and then a fifth only three years later. At this point my parents had a five-year-old, two four-year-olds, a three-year-old, and a new born baby to worry about, not to mention the difficulties of a matched marriage and a low income. Just today we were talking to our parents about what an insane time that must have been, and they were telling us how much they would yell at us and then regret their anger almost instantly. My parents were probably stretched so far by the stress and noise and chaos of five young children that they yelled at us more in that crazy time than they do now with four teenagers and a preteen. The funny thing is that when looking back on that time of my early childhood, my parent’s frustration and difficulty with us is not at all what prevails in my memory. What I remember most from that time is an unconditional love and admiration for my parents that I had, especially my mother. In my eyes they were absolutely perfect. Although there were (and are) a lot of us, I don’t remember ever feeling unloved or attention needy, I just recall how in my innocent, childish eyes my parents never did anything wrong.
As time went on and we children grew into preteens my mind, as every mind does, began to mature and change. I began to look at the world, and at my parents, in a very different way. Although they were as good of parents then as they were in my early childhood I began to view my parents as less and less perfect. One might say that at that time in my life I became aware that my parents were human, that they made mistakes, that that they were, at times, unjust. I saw that they too got tired and grouchy, that they got impatient and angry and sad. And I was mad at them. Shouldn’t they, adults, be mature, responsible, and right all the time? It just didn’t seem fair. It never entered my mind that I should thank them for all that they did or that I should try to shoulder some of their burden by helping them in whatever way I could; in my immature mind I thought that it was their job and responsibility to care for me and everything else. Of course another part of this was that my once entirely innocent vision had now been clouded by other things. When I thought that my parents were being unjust or unkind, they really had my best interest in mind. A parent’s job is more than just loving their child, parents also have to discipline and shape them into the person they will be. So when I didn’t understand why I had do the dishes and wash my own clothes when my friends didn’t, it was not because I was growing up and becoming more mature as I thought, but because I still had a lot to learn.
I am currently in yet another stage in my relationship to my parents. Now when I see that they are human just like me and can be worn down with worry, can want to cry for frustration, and sometimes wish that things are different then they are, when I see that sometimes they make mistakes too, that they do things they regret, instead of making me mad, it makes me proud. I cannot even comprehend all that they’ve done, that they do all that they do. I am in awe and beyond grateful to think that they do it all unconditionally for their children, for me.
As I grow into an adult, and perhaps have children of my own and, in some way, walk the path that my parents have, I know that I will only grow closer and closer to my parents and that my gratitude and admiration for them will only increase. I know that our “relationship”, the beautiful bond I cannot find a name for, will continue to grow as the most perfect, breathtaking, powerful love in the universe.       

October 6, 2010

{Where were you on the morning of Sept 15, 1993?}

Last Sunday, October 3, 2010 I was invited to the Colorado Parent’s Day Awards Banquet.  It was a heart touching event organized by Peggy Yujiri and her team at the Colorado Parent’s Day Council, which celebrated  parents of excellence and the parents of the year.

When dinner started and everyone was settled in their seats, Peggy invited me to talk about my reflections on parenting.  As I walked up to the podium, I kept thinking of the life story of James and Jenny Davenport, the 2010 Colorado Parents of the Year.  I was quiet for a minute as I stared at James, sitting happily with his family around him.  Somehow my prepared speech was not important to me anymore.  I addressed him and the other parents present as I started speaking.  

“What were you guys doing at 3:08am on September 15, 1993?  Why didn't you come and smack me on the forehead the moment Raka was born, to make me aware of the responsibilities of a father.”  I paused, then went on to ask, “What were you guys doing in December 1988 when I got married and took a vow. Where were you to tell me what it takes to stay married?”

I shared with the group the consequence of the divorce as faced by Raka.  She has to hide pictures of her with her mom and dad in her closet.  Divorce, among other things, makes a child defensive about sharing her parents in public.  This is only one of the many challenges a child goes through, but it did not just happen. It was baby steps taken after marriage, that eventually resulted in divorce, and that put Raka into her current lifestyle. I really wish that the consequences for children of their parents wrong turns could be reinforced when a couple gets married.

I had to leave the Colorado Parent's Day Awards Banquet early to be with Raka. As I left the room, I was sad. I also felt the energy from the parents who were in the room, celebrating their 24-7 commitment to their children.  Of course as I started driving, I had to call Raka and say, “Baby, I am on my way.  I love you.”

Raka was very excited about her day.  She enthusiastically told me what she was doing and then she said, “I love you too. Be safe as you drive, Dad.”

September 21, 2010

{Welcome Home Daddy!}

Earlier this year I traveled to India to visit my brother and his family.  Raka would have loved to join me, but she could not leave school. While I was in India, every minute with my nephew Agni was fun, but my heart was back here in Denver, thinking about Raka.  I called Raka often while I was away and of course every conversation would end with, “I miss you,” and “I love you”.

Raka was in school the day I got back. My good friend and neighbor Sudhir picked me up from DIA and I arrived home quite jet-lagged.  As I entered home from the garage, I saw a sign on the door with the words, “Welcome home Daddy! I love you!”   As I read the sign, I stood there and said to myself, “Aww!”  

Raka has been amazing in sharing her emotions and feelings for me all through her life. Ever since she was a little child, she would draw cute thoughtful cards for me, but this one was special.  I made plans to remove the sign and take it to my office, but decided to leave it there just for a while.

A few weeks after my return, Raka reminded me that I was “already back home” and the sign should be removed.  I pleaded with her, asking if I could keep the sign up for a few days.

Today, the sign has been up for more than six months.  I have no intention of taking it down.  The sign has been a permanent fixture on the door. Every time I come back home, I stare at the sign and smile.  It reminds me of Raka and her kind gestures. It reminds me that I am home and my baby loves me.  It also reminds me that while I am away, my daughter is always waiting for me.  

There has not been a single day when I have failed to read the sign as I entered the door.  There has not been a single day when I have failed to say as I walk in, “I love you too, Baby!”