Tuesday, September 30, 2014

And he's back!


We have had quite a month this September with family drama, cold season, and husband-ji being completely bogged down with work. Husband-ji was away on two business trips this month, and got his first-ever flu in the entire 9 years that I have known him! (Hmmmm.....looks like his Indian immunity is going down!)

I was on my own for most of the month... and forgive me for tooting my own horn, but I did quite well! Maya was an absolute angel and was perfectly behaved the entire time that he was gone (which totally proves my point that she is more naughty around her dad!) I really enjoyed spending time with her one on one, and we did lots of fun stuff like play dates with friends, trips to the Farmer's Markets, walks in nature, and hours of reading stories. Her favorite book right now is Mr. Tiger Goes Wild and she loves practicing her "Roar" for Halloween! She is also repeatedly saying to me, "Happy First Birthday mummy" - no idea why, but it reminds me of this sweet viral video. She is also completely obsessed with dogs and wants to pet each one that she sees. When husband-ji was away, she even let me take a shower in the morning by quietly sitting in her desk and coloring, like the little student she is! Her daddy likes to pamper her A LOT so I took the opportunity while he was away to work on encouraging her to be more helpful. It was an absolute success - she helped me load laundry, hold the door for me, helped me bring up light grocery bags and clean up all her toys at the end of the night. 


However, I am really glad he's back now and I really started to miss his company (or maybe I just selectively forgot all the ways he can annoy me...ha!) I missed him so much that I actually made him idly for breakfast! Normally I just let him starve in the morning, the poor guy. I am glad that he is back not only to have his company, but also to have my co-pilot-parent back. Now I can resume my morning exercise, and get back to my normal work schedule as well as working on my photography.

Motherhood was not too hard while he was away - it was really long days, totally non-stop, but it was manageable. Which kind of maybe makes me think that she was picking up on our stresses before, with her tantrums. Now I am pretty exhausted though, and can't wait to have a day to sleep in and also treat myself by getting a massage soon! I may just fall asleep and start snoring on the table!

We have a babysitter coming this week, which I am SO nervous about. Slowly but surely, we are building our little village and figuring things out! 
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Monday, September 29, 2014

Unapologetic

Fights happen in every family. In our family, how we deal with the aftermath of fights is that we cool down for 1-2 days, and the next time we get a chance to talk - we apologize and talk through it. And then we move on. We cannot move on without the key apology. 

Apologizing for something, whether it is deliberate or not, forces you to take accountability for your actions and the way things come across. Even if you didn't mean to hurt the other person's feelings, sometimes you have to accept that you did and say sorry anyway just because it's a considerate thing to do.

One of the things that I struggle with in my husband's family is that nobody apologizes. Ever. 

Early on in my relationship, I had fights with husband-ji and often he would come to me acting like nothing ever happened. And it was awkward. I needed an apology. Husband-ji didn't even know how to apologize. But for me, I needed him to say it out of consideration, and I also wanted to know why he was apologizing. This not only made him take accountability for his actions, but also think more deeply about why we had fought and if he could have done something differently. Therefore, we fought less because we communicated better each time on what we did wrong. It is something that I have had to work on with him over the years. BUT...I can't change his family...

Over the years I have had many fights with both my MIL and FIL. Some big and some small. Several years ago I had a fight with my MIL, in which my FIL had to apologize for her. And then this year I had a fight with my FIL, and my MIL had to apologize for him. It was like a diversion and a lack of responsibility that I didn't like about this. It would just be so much easier if the person who said the wrong thing would just fess up and say a simple "sorry" and explain why and then it would be over. But for them, it would be "losing face". And an elder can never "lose face". Sometimes I think it is embarrassing for them to discuss their emotions. For me, I am a big ball of emotions all day, every day, ready to talk, whenever, wherever! But for them, so much is hidden, pushed under the rug and not discussed. There is pride. There is ego. There is the family hierarchy. In husband-ji's family they have these big explosions and then everyone goes around pretending nothing ever happened, meanwhile I have PTSD!

In other branches of our family, you will see other family members pretending the other doesn't exist or not speaking for years. I think it is so strange. Nobody ever takes the time to sit down and discuss things. It is either: a)pretending like nothing ever happened, or b)never speaking to each other again. Even though sometimes people live in the same city, or even the same house. They can hold grudges for years, even over the smallest misunderstandings. When I ask husband-ji about the no apology thing, he says that "the apology is more of an unsaid thing" (unless of course you are never getting spoken to again!) It's like playing Russian roulette in a language I don't speak.

As a foreigner, I find this absurd and puzzling. I feel that people should apologize no matter who did the wrong, talk it out and understand where the other is coming from. Apologizing humbles you, and it forces you to take responsibility. But then again, I come from a no-hierarchy everyone-is-equal mentality. For me, everyone is equal regardless of age or gender. Whenever family hierarchy is involved, ego is involved. And ego is not humble. An elder person will not apologize to a younger person, on the sole basis of ego. An elder sister-in-law will never apologize to a younger one, on the sole basis of ego. It is such crap!

It is awkward sometimes for me to be in India, and to be in a room with two family members who act like the other doesn't exist. The tension is like a pink elephant in the room. It is worse than watching an episode of the Real Housewives of New Jersey! It is awkward to me when an elder refuses to speak to another family member because of something that the elder said and refused to ever apologize to that person. For 30 years. It is awkward when we go visit our NRI cousins who both live in the same city, yet nobody knows why they do not speak to each other.

Sometimes I wonder if the majority of our Indian family drama could be solved with a simple and humbling, "I'm sorry"...

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

"Your husband is your God" and other sexist notes

There is something about having a daughter that enrages the feminist in me. Becoming a mother to a young girl has illuminated to me a lot of sexist things that are suddenly not-so-subtle anymore - both in my culture, and husband-ji's culture. These mindsets really bother me!

For example...

"Your husband is your God" but the wife is not the Goddess.

The husband can complain about the wife; but when the wife complains about the husband, she is a "nag" or "a complainer".

After children, the man is supposed to work; but if the woman works, she is seen as "a bad mother and wife" or "too ambitious".

Men can roam freely with no limitations, yet when women think of themselves even once in a blue moon, they are deemed selfish.

Women are to be silenced and controlled.

Women are taught that "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach".

Woman boss = bitch. Man boss = powerful.

Women wear up to sixteen symbols of marriage; men wear next to none.

Women's faithfulness and devotion to their families are consistently and constantly questioned, yet a man's are not.

Women work tirelessly inside and outside the home; men come home to relax and unwind.

You can swear at a woman and call her a "bitch"; but when you swear at a man, it is reason for divorce a la "talaq talaq talaq".

If something bad happens in a family (death, financial crisis, problem with a child), the woman is to blame and the man is faultless.

A young woman having to choose between getting an education and getting married, because both cost as much.


---

Just some things that bother me. That is all!

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Daughters over daughters-in-laws

One of the more shocking things that I find about Indian culture is the double standard that is pushed upon daughters and daughters-in-laws within many Indian families. Basically, the daughter of the family can act like a spoiled brat and practically get away with murder; while the daughter-in-laws every move is watched and criticised. This is something that I have noticed within the branches of our own Indian family, as well as many others from completely different regions. When I speak of culture, it is patterns like these that surpass region, religion, caste, social and financial standing. Daughters over daughters-in-law is one of these huge patterns.

For example, let's say the daughter of the family is a working mother. She relies on a lot of different people to take care of her child, but it seems she tries to avoid her inlaws for various reasons. She is unhappily married but will not tell her parents that for fear of upsetting them. She has moments of being bratty, spoiled and generally not nice or considerate to her parents. She does nothing for her parents. She is very materialistic. In the same family, the daughter-in-law is a stay-at-home mother. She makes an effort for her inlaws by phoning them often, including them in her life, and making every effort for them. She is the sole caregiver of her child and does not rely on anybody else for fear of inconveniencing them with her child. In this family, the daughter can do no wrong and is completely idealised. The daughter-in-law is picked apart, criticised, and told she is not taking care of _____ (fill in the blank: her kids, her husband, her household). If you're curious as to who this family is - I can tell you I know 4 separate families with this same setup....talk about patterns!

If anything, the daughter-in-law is doing a better job but is treated badly simply because she is not the daughter and can never measure up to her. The daughter-in-law is treated not as well because the inlaws cannot be generous with their love, are unable to emotionally connect with her, constantly compare the two women, and are also subconsciously are mourning "the loss" of their own daughter.

In Indian culture - even in modern day - when a girl gets married she is seen as belonging to the groom's family. Sometimes she even must ask her inlaws' permission to do many things. She is seen as an object who is belonging to her husband's family. This is partly why Indian parents try to control their daughter's choices - they want to make sure she gets "married off" to a "good" family. Which is exactly where the problem lies - if Indian parents would let go of the mindset that the girl belongs to this family or that family, they would not be mourning the "loss" of their daughter. As they say, "the grass is always greener on the other side" and it surely reflects the comparison between the daughter and the daughter-in-law. The daughter is held on a pedestal because the parents wistfully feel she belongs to another family, while the daughter-in-law is a never-good-enough substitute for her. The inlaws may tolerate any kind of ridiculous and immature behaviour from the daughter, but constantly boast to the daughter-in-law, "Oh my daughter would never do THAT". The hypocrisy and the double standards can be quite astounding. When I witness patterns like these, I feel like shouting, "HELLO! Isn't anyone else seeing these unhealthy patterns?!?!

For example, the daughter may rely on many other people to watch her child constantly. When the daughter-in-law wants to go out for 2 hours, she is berated by an elder "for depending on other people to take care of the child". Oh, the irony....! (Is it just me or do Indian parents unleash on the daughter-in-laws what they feel they cannot dare say to the daughter?)

In reality, the daughter is not so different from the daughter-in-law. They are both women, mothers, and they both have inlaws to deal with. They are both trying to do the best they can and they are both women trying to juggle and balance it all. What the parents don't realize is that their daughter is also a daughter-in-law who is facing the same treatment - but they are just blind to it. And that the daughter-in-law is also someone's daughter. Daughters-in-laws are expected to be like the daughter, but if they did even half of what the daughter did, they'd be completely disowned. Many daughter-in-laws are not as valued, not as loved, and unappreciated - which means they often feel like they have to give up more to please the inlaws. A vicious cycle...

In their defense, the inlaws may not realize they are even doing this. But by doing this, the inlaws are creating an unsaid familial hierarchy in which the daughters-in-laws are at the bottom of the food chain. Because of all this comparison, the daughter and daughters-in-law - who are sisters-in-laws - may never get along or find a connection. Instead of being sisters and friends, they are pitted against one another. The daughter-in-law feels isolated and doesn't bother contacting the beloved daughter too much. The daughter may think her sister-in-law is aloof and may feel as if she is a little hostile. Instead of becoming close and sharing advice about motherhood, they barely speak. Everyone loses in these patterns, especially the women.

Daughters over daughters-in-law is a prime example of how patriarchy pits women against each other. One can only hope that our generation will be conscious of this and do it differently...

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

To the market, we go!

One of the things that I love about Vancouver is that not only do we have a grand daily public market (Granville Island), but we also have these nice little pop-up farmer's markets around town, on the weekends. 


I'm always searching for fun things to do with Maya, so I decided to take her to the weekend farmer's market just to check it out. I haven't taken her since she was an infant, so it was really fun to do it with her now, as an older kid who can understand things. We had such a lovely time!


The farmer's market had fresh, seasonal produce from local farmers as well as artisan baked goods, teas and crafts. It was a lovely atmosphere that was friendly to families, as there was a violinist band and a balloon man there as well.


Maya loved all the fresh produce stalls and pointed to each one and stated what it was. She also got lots of samples of sweet apples and bagged a couple of free peaches that people gave her - just for being her cute self! (People are always giving this kid free stuff!)


We got lots of fresh produce for the week and I also got some lovely gourmet items like loose leaf teas (Apple Pie Chai....to die for!), and white truffle potato chips (A-M-A-Z-I-N-G)!


It was such a fun and educational activity to do together, especially for children - to show where their food comes from, to teach them what fruits/vegetables are in season, to get them excited about food and the things we will make with it. Not to mention, meeting the farmers face to face gives you a sense of community and trust.


 I've penciled it in to my calendar so I can take her more often!

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Career or baby #2?

(The ultimate working mother - Licia Ronzulli - img via)

The question of when to have baby #2 has been on my mind for a while now - roughly speaking, I have been thinking about it since Maya has turned one years old. Now she is nearly 2.5 years old and I'm still undecided!

When she turned one, I got bogged down by toddlerhood, with her being newly mobile and SO fast. And then when she turned two, even more so with the toddler tantrums, plus outrunning me. Now I have noticed that she has started to calm down a bit (thank god!!!) or (on the flip-side, maybe I have calmed down a bit!) I kind of feel like I'm getting to be a more experienced parent and I could handle having another one....I think...!

I would like to give Maya a sibling, as well as feel the intense love for another child - multiplied. Even though I'm vocal of how hard motherhood is (hey, I'm just being honest...) I would do it again in a heartbeat. I have a dream of being surrounded by my children at the dinner table. Even if it's chaos...that's just my dream.

BUT...there are so many factors to consider. What about my career and my own personal dreams and goals? Lucky men, they never even have to consider this! I will have to get pregnant (and most likely be sick again a la Kate Middleton), give birth, recover from birth, take maternity leave, and probably take even more time off to raise the child.

After putting my career dreams aside for so many years (even before I had my daughter), I feel the inevitable pangs of maybe-I-should-be-doing-something. All of my mother friends are back at work now and it's just me at the park with a bunch of Filipino nannies. Sometimes I literally feel like I am just cooking ALL day and I wonder if I should be doing something more with my god-given talents. But, at the same time, my daughter will only be young once. She's already going to school soon. And motherhood has taught me so many invaluable skills - I can multitask like no other, can do anything under extreme pressure, and generally working my ass off. Even more so, being a mother has taught me that I can do anything. The mere act of giving birth to my child was like growing invisible courage.

I graduated with my heart set on a career in photography, but then life got in the way. Immigration issues, deaths in the family, and my parents needing my help uprooted our life. Then we had to work. We had to work to make a living and help my parents. I didn't have the luxury of sitting around to think about my own hopes and dreams and how I would get there. I was on autopilot 6 days a week. And then we had a baby, and I have been on Motherland ever since. Now husband-ji is nicely settled in his career and absolutely loves it. He was meant to be in the Fashion industry. He loves running a store. He is designing things and he loves the creative process. I have to admit, I feel a little jealous that he found his calling and I wonder if there is something out there for me. 

I have been thinking about going back on my original dream of my career in photography for a while now. It has flexible hours, it makes money, and it is very natural to me. It doesn't feel like work to me - I love to do it. But it will take a lot of time to build this career and get a client base. My heart is being pulled in two different directions - I want the career AND baby #2. Or CAN I do both at once??? Is it only my mind thinking that I can't???

Sometimes I feel like men never really have to consider the work/life balance or family planning. They work, they come home. There is dinner on the table. The sleep, they wake up, go back to work. They don't have to consider things like debilitating morning sickness or postpartum hemorrhaging or breastfeeding latch. Or who's going to watch the kids (some woman, I guess...LOL!) When I ask husband-ji about our future family planning, he says, "It will happen when it happens, da! No need to worry or think!" But for me, there is a lot to think about...


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Thursday, September 18, 2014

The trouble with Girls' Halloween costumes...

Now that it is Fall season, my next project is getting Maya's Halloween costume ordered and delivered (Yes, I do everything ahead of time!). Even though Maya is only 2, because of her height, she is fitting into size 4 girls' clothes right now. Hence, the problem....

Halloween costumes for kids usually fit into three categories - infant (under 18 months), toddler (18 months to 3 years), and girls size (4 years +). I was appalled at the Halloween costume selection for little girls. It was all either extremely sexualized or princesses!!!!

What ever happened to kids just being kids? 

And don't get me started on the selection for adult women - it is all "sexy policewoman" and "sexy teacher", as if we are all strippers for hire! Because clearly, our main goal in life should be "sexy"...gimme a break!!! Although I knew adult women costumes were like this, I was shocked to see that it starts from the little girls' costumes as well. It is really gross.

My main concern is that she should be fully covered because the weather is going to be very cold and we will be going trick or treating, door to door. So I want her in a warm costume, so she won't catch a cold. And I don't want a bulky jacket to cover her costume.



Evidently, even characters like Minnie Mouse have the shortest skirts. And I don't even know any of the other characters because we don't watch the Disney channel. And I'm really not big on princess culture because I don't like the sense of royal entitlement or the fact that the main goals of these princesses in the stories is to keep a man. It just rubs me the wrong way. Maybe Cinderella doesn't want or need to be rescued! (DUH!!)

The rest of the selection looks very pageant-y. I can't stand it!!! The boys' selection however, has so many animal costumes. Why can't they have animal costumes for girls too? Why are neutral animal costumes considered to be only for boys? Why can't a girl be a dinosaur or a lion? I don't want my daughter to have to choose between a princess costume or a sexualized pageant costume!!!



Growing up, Halloween was a special holiday for me. My grandparents lived at the University Lands and there were tons of kids in the area. Since my parents worked in Fashion, they always made my costumes. I was a cat, a tomato, an angel, a bunny, and my favorite was a wicked witch. I loved the magical witches from Hocus Pocus and Roald Dahl's The Witches. Back in the day, I don't remember the selection of girls' costumes to be so god-awful. None of my friends growing up wore stuff like that, nor were things like that sold in stores. Looks like I may have to make her costume or get it made, in upcoming years, which means even more preparation!

(Me circa 1990, angel costume)

Luckily, after days of searching, I was able to find two possible costumes online - a lion or a ladybug - which were age appropriate and weather appropriate. And Maya picked the lion costume!



Stay tuned....!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

On honesty...

(Img via)

Some of the comments that I keep coming through again and again are people commenting about me not being silent "airing my dirty laundry". Last week, I was berated in person, and online (by two separate individuals) for talking too much about how overwhelmed I am with motherhood and generally living my life like an open book. It's kind of shocking when you realize that honesty and the right to tell one's own story is......not allowed. That it makes some people uncomfortable...that it makes some people irritable that I don't fit into a nice little box (read: coffin).

What, like I'm supposed to shut up and act like it's easy? 
Like I'm supposed to act like a robot and do it all with a smile on my face? 
Or act like it's effortless, just to make OTHER PEOPLE comfortable?

Being private is one thing. Purposely painting one's life as sunshine n' rainbows, with a deliberate detraction of anything remotely negative - well, that's dishonest. Life has it's ups and downs - who are we to lie about it? How does lying about our triumphs and struggles help us? Being dishonest about struggles doesn't help us and it doesn't help anyone else. It doesn't help others who are going through the same struggles and are wondering how they are going to make it through in their darkest nights. Being dishonest alienates us from others and further isolates us. It puts us in a constant state of denial, which benefits no one. Being dishonest dehumanizes us.

As a woman, I'm expected by society to do a hundred times the work of a man, without breaking a sweat, complaining or commenting on it. I'm supposed to function like a robotic doll with a permanent smile on her face, just to put everyone at ease. When a woman stays quiet about her life out of fear of what other people think, a part of her dies inside. I have been there. I have not been any use to the world when I was hiding in an emotional cave.

Yes, I gave birth to a child that I love dearly and more than I could have ever imagined, but this shit is hard. A lot of it doesn't come naturally. It doesn't come without effort. Yes, I married my soul-mate, but we fight and make-up just like every other married couple. And often, too. Our marriage is not perfect. I'm not perfect. It takes me roughly 1-3 hours to look presentable and it takes a LOT of effort. Our family is not perfect. Our home certainly is not perfect (mental note: must clean up those bread crumbs on the counter).

(Img via)

Why should I be afraid to talk about it? Why should I be afraid to speak? Why should every word coming out of my mouth be carefully crafted to perfection? 

Maybe, just maybe...other people should know. Motherhood is complex and it's not some big secret. Women are complex and have emotions and that's not some big secret either...and that doesn't make us crazy. It makes us human. 

(Img via)

Some call it "airing dirty laundry". I call it brave...

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A (negative) domino effect

Sometimes in life it feels as though everything goes wrong at once, one thing after another, like a domino effect - catastrophe. Last week was one of those weeks for me, and I'm still processing all of it and trying to come out of my depression about it.

Husband-ji was facing his biggest season in work and was extremely stressed out. You know what that means. One spouse feels the brunt of all the other spouse's stress. I was trying to be as supportive as possible, but I can't pretend that I'm not dealing with my own stresses. So, we were arguing, and generally not getting along. Instead of being the supportive marital team that I idealize, we were constantly at odds. Husband-ji had to leave for his bi-annual work trip right in the middle of our marital issues, which acted as a barrier between us getting a chance to communicate deeply, with both of us busy with work. I was left hanging, wondering if he would be coming back and making the effort to work on the marriage WITH me. I am in this marriage for life, so I had the fear of "what if he doesn't want to work on it? And where will that leave me? And us?" For me, my marriage is the most important thing to me in the world - more than my daughter, more than family, more than work. So whenever husband-ji and I are not getting along, it makes me severely distressed.

So, he went on this work trip. And the next domino effect was that my daughter got sick with a cold. Huge ordeal, as other parents know. My poor baby was crying that her nose was stuffed and coughing, had a fever, and generally very clingy because she wasn't feeling well. She was up most nights crying that she couldn't breathe and there was not much I could do, besides the usual remedies and hugging her gently. Of course, she has been sick so many times that I should be used to it now, but I'm not. Huge ordeal. And I couldn't really take her out that much because she was sick, so we were stuck in the hot house, running out of groceries.

Because husband-ji was away and Maya was sick, I fell off the wagon with my daily routine of self-care. I didn't have time to wake up early and exercise since there were so many sleepless nights, and I also was getting overtired and feared of getting sick myself. 

Then, I got hit by pesky internet trolls all weekend. They decided that they wanted to remind me that I was a "daft cow" and a "fat slob" and a bad mother for putting Maya in preschool next year. Not to mention the other ones calling me "a bad DIL". Thanks trolls, like I needed that...

The worst part of everything was that I got into a fight with an elder from the Indian side who I had been previously getting close to. (Note: "getting into a fight" with an Indian elder is basically them screaming at you and not being able to get in a word edgewise). It really broke my heart and it was like the final dagger in my back to complete my bad week. It left me feeling confused, baffled, and feeling like I'd been through an emotional tornado. Not to mention, since there is obviously a clear elder hierarchy, I will not be getting an apology since I am lower on the food chain. I'm just the Firangi Bahu that "takes things the wrong way" and can't just tolerate-tolerate-tolerate. And I have to somehow live with that and come to terms with that, pretend like it never happened and jaisa desh vaisa bhes, and I don't even know how...with all the cultural things, it's not your average rodeo...

Towards the end of the week, I switched my phone off, because I just couldn't deal with one more hurt. I didn't want to answer the phone, my door, or even go outside and see anybody because I literally couldn't deal with one more thing. So I just stayed home with my daughter and read her books and colored with her, and tried to feel emotionally safe in her company. 

Now the week is over and I am so glad to put it behind me. My daughter is almost better and husband-ji returned, and has been more supportive and gentle with me than when he left. My dad was also very supportive and I leaned on him a lot. I am back on my daily routine of self care, and on the mend...


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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

(Almost) back to school


After Labour Day there has been the hustle and bustle around town with excited schoolkids and their backpacks, the weather changing and leaves turning yellow and falling to the ground.

I am planning to put Maya in preschool after the New Year so I have been busy looking at preschools in our area. I thought I found the one that she was going to go to, but something instinctual told me to seek out another one. Lo and behold...I kept looking and I found the perfect school for her! And she was accepted and will start in February!

I was amazed at this little school with doting teachers, a perfect classroom, an involved and caring headmistress and a beautiful little vegetable garden. They even have a miniature sized toilet! It was a wonderfully quaint school that looked just like they do in the movies. They will be teaching her the ABCs and teaching her how to take her shoes off and put them in her cubby. They will be taking the kids on field trips and doing lots of fun things with them.

And the first thing I felt was a sense of elated anxiety. I was so happy that I found the right place and I know she will love it...but I felt anxious for me....of me separating from her for part of the day. 

There is a gradual entry over 2 weeks so the children can get adjusted to the classroom and I'm just supposed to drop her there to minimize distraction. For example, the first day she will only go for 20 minutes or so, while I wait outside. I got anxiety just thinking about it - of leaving my daughter. Even though it's the perfect place - I started to realize that it's time for her to do things without me. I thought of all the field trips they would do and my disappointment that I wouldn't be able to go with her and watch her expressions as she learns. When am I going to cut MY umbilical cord?

Over the past two years, I have been so attached to my daughter. I have been by her side at every moment or just a stone's throw away. In times of extreme fatigue, it has been to my detriment. And now I have to send her to school because she's so ready for socialization and to learn. Somehow, I think it will be harder for me than for her...

It also really made me wonder about what I'll do with my extra time when she starts. I'll have half of my day completely free - now what the heck am I going to do? I haven't had this much freedom in three years! I want to spend my time doing something worthwhile, not just waiting for her to finish school. I have a bunch of ideas and I'm really excited to finally get the chance to work on my own career. It'll be a piece of cake compared to being a full-time "Supermom"!


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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Book review: Partnership Parenting


I decided to read this book, "Partnership Parenting: How Men and Women Parent Differently - Why It Helps Your Kids and Can Strengthen Your Marriage" (by Kyle & Martha Pruett) after my recent clashes with husband-ji over handling discipline. I began to suspect that we as individuals would have parenting differences and how to handle that. I read a lot of parenting books, and they all seem to be geared to mothers OR fathers, and never have any tips for parents to work as a team. Luckily, this book had tons of helpful tips on how to handle parenting conundrums as loving, respectful partners. I actually wish I had read this book earlier! 


Here are some quotes that I found valuable from this book: 

"The transition [to parenthood] throws the couple into a whirlwind of change in values, roles, and expectations, not to mention emotions, from which some couples land on their feet and nearly as many do not"

"When two adults share the parenting of a child, the nature and quality of the relationship between those adults will have a strong impact on the child's development"

"Families are whole entities larger than the sum of the pairs (mother-child, father-child, or couple). The system of relationships between and among all these smaller parts of the nuclear family make up the dynamics and determine so much about how each member adjusts to family life, day by day"

"Ideas about how to parent are often based on one's own childhood, seasoned with lessons from relationship experiences along the way. Since no two people have ever grown up in exactly the same way, there are bound to be variations on how to raise the baby"

"What is good for one is good for all" (on self-care)

"Couples need alone time as couples to recharge their common, collective battery and to talk about their partnership outside the world their child inhabits or pervades. Many mothers and fathers bring an intensity and tunnel vision to parenting that renders them myopic; that is, they focus too much on the children. Parents need time away from their children in order to thrive, grow, and evolve together as a couple"

"Acknowledge that good fathering is a part of good parenting. As soon as the nurturing needs of children activate the nurturing potential in men, many seemingly unrelated aspects of their personalities begin to soften and open"

"The tie that develops between a father and his child strengthens - not weakens - the couple's relationship. When dads take the initiative with their children, many women report feeling as if their husbands are caring for them directly"

"Consider everything you and your spouse do for the good of the family, and stop keeping track of what your partner is not doing"

"Differences [in parenting] offer the kids two perspectives on how to live in a world with two different people who love them"

"Children know and deeply appreciate when parents show each other respect, positive attitudes, and affection - even when they disagree. That teaches kids that differences are not deficiencies. As children grow older, they feel proud to have bits and pieces of both parents inside them to count on"


Partnership parenting is:
- valuing the other parent for his/her differences and accepting the differences as part of what makes family life interesting
- putting your children's well-being first when disagreements arise
- committing to finding ways to grow individually and in tandem in response to your ever-changing family's developmental stage

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Dear readers, which of the quotes speak to you?
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Thursday, September 4, 2014

A busy Labour Day weekend


In North America, we have a long weekend called Labour Day which is considered the last long holiday before the cool Fall weather sets in, and before kids go back to school. Usually we have no plans on the weekends, but this past weekend we were very, very busy!


On Saturday morning, we had one of our friend's children's birthday parties to attend. It was really fun because it was a fire truck theme and there was also a clown there. Not to mention, we were one of FOUR South Whindian couples there....so it felt like home! I dressed Maya all up and I made sure to do a nice braid in her hair, which is getting really long. For party favors, they had fireman badges and she just loved it!


I remember their birthday party last year, and it seemed like it was just yesterday. This year of toddlerhood just went by so fast. I feel like as the years progress - and as I get quicker and more knowledgeable as a parent - it just goes by so fast!

On Saturday evening, we had to meet with my FIL's friends who are sending their daughter to UBC - school is starting this week.

And on Sunday morning I was busy cooking up a storm for our Tamil relatives who came up from Seattle. I made papads, lemon rice, tomato chutney, aloo jeera, and basmati rice.


Then, I had to rush out to my family friend's baby shower - of course still smelling like a big fat papad! Some of my readers may remember the couple Stewart & Daniela from my post last year of their fabulous intercultural wedding we attended. This year they are thrilled to welcome a baby (which I totally think is a girl), due this month. It is such a blessing and the whole family is so excited.


The baby shower was absolutely gorgeous and it was held in her photo studio, because Daniela is a professional photographer. Seeing all the baby clothes and nursery items, I felt the buzzing excitement in the air of welcoming a newborn child into the family. It totally gave me baby fever! To make it worse, there were not one, but TWO newborn babies there who were so sweet and beautiful. It has been such a long time since Maya was a little baby - I totally forgot about how amazing and exciting it is in those early days. (Of course in those few moments of seeing a peacefully sleeping newborn I got total selective amnesia and forgot how stressful those early days were of night wakings and breastfeeding!) I promptly came home and discussed with husband-ji about our future family planning! (i.e. Me demanding that we should have more kids soon...LOL!) Absolute baby fever, I tell you!


I left the party in awe of the cycle of life and what a blessing it is to raise children. Despite all the stresses and pressures of being a mother, the bottom line - is that children are an absolute miracle. And it was wonderful to be around a tribe of women who were celebrating Daniela become a mother.

I think one of the things I loved the most about this weekend was that I got a chance to do my photography again. I photographed both of the events with such a joy and vigor, and both of the families were very happy at the way the pics turned out!

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Dear readers, what did you do over the long weekend? Did you travel anywhere or stay at home?


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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Recipe: Grandma's Brownies


These brownies have the perfect consistency - they are not too dense or fluffy. They have a moist cake flavor and are a hit with people of all ages! They firm up a bit in the days after, so it's great to grab on the go in days to come.
Note: You can also add nuts and/or raisins.

Madh Mama's Grandma's Brownies

Ingredients:
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup butter (softened)
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 4 eggs
- 1.5 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)


Tools:
- large mixing bowl


Directions:

First, heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the brown sugar and white sugar.


Then, add the softened butter and beat it to a paste.


Add the cocoa powder and vanilla, and mix.




Add the eggs and beat it to a paste.



Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix.


Add the nuts (optional).

Grease a baking pan with butter, and then fill it with batter.



Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.


Let it cool, and then slice into bite size pieces.


And voila

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Summer of Swimming


Maya is in such an active stage right now that basically the only things that I can do with her are: take her swimming or take her to the park to run around. Basically anything with movement! I have been taking full advantage of the Summertime in Vancouver by taking Maya swimming every single day, as well as her usual weekly swimming class.

For our Summer session of swimming classes, we have been taking it in the evening so that husband-ji can come and watch her. He is simply amazed at the skills and he loves to take photos and videos so that my inlaws can see it too.



In the last few weeks, Maya's skills have greatly improved wherein she has learned how to hold her breath and blow bubbles (before she sometimes swallowed the water). She is also stretching out and kicking, so she is propelling herself. She also wants to swim completely by herself!

It makes me so proud to see her develop these important skills!





Related articles: Swim BABY!
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Monday, September 1, 2014

The 5 Love Languages

I recently discovered this craze called "The 5 Love Languages" which I saw on an episode of Oprah. (Confession: my Sunday mornings are spent in front of the TV having a spiritual experience watching OWN's Super Soul Sundays. Don't judge me!) The theory is about how each individual has different love languages and how they express their love their partner. As I get older, I realize that you can't love every person the same. Some people appreciate support through words, and others prefer actions. Some people like receiving gifts, and others do not. Some people are touchy-feely and others are not.

I thought it sounded really interesting so I decided to look it up online and take its Love Languages quiz. I was curious to know both husband-ji's and myself. I was completely surprised by both of our results. We answered the questions in a fast, subconscious way so we didn't have time to think about it.


I kind of already know that I am high maintenance, but seriously - I am soooooo much more high maintenance than I thought! I just require so many bloody words of affirmation! Husband-ji is always trying to get me gifts because he thinks that women like material things - which certainly I do not. Whenever he gives me a material gift I literally think of clutter. Little did he know that he is dealing with an emotionally high maintenance wife, not a financial one! Poor husband-ji....the man of few words!

Husband-ji, being such a typical Indian man - wants predominantly acts of service and quality time, and only very few words of affirmation. So that basically means I need to pamper him whilst always being by his side - and silent. The ideal Indian wife...ha!!!!

I was definitely surprised that husband-ji requires a good amount of quality time, since he told me last month that he doesn't require any alone time with me! I guess he does appreciate our date nights, after all! And I was also surprised that diva husband-ji (who has 80+ pairs of shoes) doesn't like to get pampered by gifts. Basically, instead of gifts - I should cook him something (looks like I was spot-on with his birthday this year!)

Another thing I was surprised at is anti-PDA husband-ji is a way bigger pervert than me. Seriously. His physical touch category is TWO points higher than mine! I have been joking him for the past week and calling him a "secret pervert" at every chance I get! But in reality, for him - it probably means he requires an extra back scratch or a hair oil massage!

After nearly 9 years of being together with your spouse - you think you know them like the back of your hand. But taking this quiz really surprised me! Perhaps going forward, we can really speak the same love language.

I think this quiz is especially helpful when you are married because you are in it for the long haul. It is helpful to know in what ways your spouse wants to feel supported or loved, and it is helpful to know your own needs in a relationship as well.

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Dear readers, have you taken the Love Languages quiz? Were you surprised by the results in yourself or your partner?


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