Last On The List

Taking care of yourself is not easy. It’s especially difficult when you have 2 kids and they are your priorities. Every day, I take a look at my calendar and it’s filled with everything I need to take my kids to or get done for my family. Currently, I’m using their nap time to write this post.

It’s more than likely that if you have kids, you get caught up in their daily lives. You keep taking your one step in front of another to realize that you have gone a while without doing anything for yourself.

It’s another type of downward spiral. If you keep putting yourself last, you’ll be (guess where?) last.

The funny thing is that my husband would tell me to take nights off and go write or go spend time with friends or go do whatever. But I feel/felt guilty. I feel like he is working so hard to take care of all of us. How can I just push more work onto him when he is finished with his actual work? How can I not be there for my kids just because I’m tired?

And the worst part is that if I choose not to take the break, I resent everyone else for it.

It took me a while to figure this out. I wasn’t a better person for putting everyone else first. I was angry that I never got to do anything for myself. I was angry that I felt unimportant to everyone else. I wasn’t happy. Basically, I felt like my kids’ maid and that was all I was good for.

This wasn’t going to change without me putting in some effort. Obviously, the kids need me. Obviously, I need to do my part in helping the household function. So it involved some thought and practice on changing the way my life was scheduled.

Now, I wake up early to exercise so I can’t blame anyone else for missing a workout. The days I don’t is because I prioritize sleep since that is what my body needs that day. I’ve been making plans with people and not feeling guilty about it. Even if that little seed of doubt enters my mind, I try to make it leave because really, I’m a better wife and mom because I do take the break.

We try to go out on weekly or semi-monthly dates. I used to feel guilty about leaving my kids with their grandparents but I’ve realized that they all seem to be having fun so what am I feeling guilty about? I might as well have fun too.

And I’m loving writing again. It took me a while to get back into this because I was so busy trying to take care of everyone else that my mind became super blocked. The thought of putting words down started feeling overwhelming. I kept pushing it off until I couldn’t anymore. I enjoy doing this. So I have added it to the list of things I want to do for myself.

There are 100 other things that I’d love to add to that list and maybe as my kids get older, I can. But, for now, finding some way, any way to do something for myself that I look forward to on a daily basis is enough.

Why Don’t We Talk About It?

I met someone who was telling me about her journey to have her children. She was open about it which she mentioned was unusual for an Indian person.

She wasn’t wrong.

Why don’t we talk about it? I’m not just talking about things like miscarriages and infertility but also other things that we think are embarrassing or that we will be judged for in the Indian society.

Why should we be embarrassed? So many people go through things such as depression, therapy, divorce, miscarriages, in vitro fertilization, difficult births, and having a hard time adjusting to being a parent. The list goes on and on.

Why shouldn’t we talk about it? I’ve personally been through quite a few of these things and I try to be open about it because if my experiences can help one other person see that it’s normal to feel like this or go through this and it helps them figure out how to make themselves feel better, then it’s worth it.

We keep worrying about being judged by our community or society but seriously, what the hell? Who cares if some aunty talks about the fact that you had trouble getting pregnant? I promise you a fair number of the generation before us also had the same problems. So why do they believe that not looking like the “perfect” person is a bad thing?

As I said in Emotional Awareness- Yes, It’s A Real Thing, mental health is important. And as a South Asian Indian, we hide from our feelings. We try to play off that everything is always okay. Everything is not always okay. And most of us probably understand that even though we don’t share it. It’s a good thing to be able to recognize when you aren’t okay because recognizing that is a step to helping yourself.

It’s okay to not be happy 100% of the time. It’s okay to go through things. It’s okay to have physical and emotional health problems. And talking about it gives you a chance to finding a solution. It also gives you a chance to find a support system to lean on. None of these things makes you a worse person. None of them make you a weak person. Acknowledge and own what you are going through. Once you do, no one else’s judgment matters.

So let’s talk about it.

Mental Health

Mental health. It’s such a big part of our day to day lives but it is the thing we take the least care of. It’s an interesting thought. We will workout, eat right, and go to the doctor to keep our physical bodies healthy but what do we do keep ourselves mentally healthy?

It’s hard to recognize that your mental health is important, especially if you’re Indian. As a society, we don’t acknowledge that our mental health is something that can be positively or negatively affected. We weren’t raised in families where we talked about the way we felt (although I do feel things are changing now).

It is important though. It’s important to talk about and address what we feel and how it affects our lives.

For example, as a stay at home mom, I go through difficult periods due to all of the changes that happen. Just as I finally got used to managing my life as a mom to my first kid and became comfortable with my life, I had a second kid and everything got thrown off again. Now I have to get used to a new norm and balance. I felt like I lost a little part of me when I had my first kid. It just doubles with a second because now there are 2 people who are relying on you for everything. And as much as I love my kids, I also need to find a way to love and feel good about myself. If I am not strong for myself, how can I be strong for my kids?

The first step is always recognizing that you aren’t at a good balance mentally. Then, you can decide on what you need to do to figure yourself out again. Sometimes, it just takes some time and focus on yourself. Sometimes, it requires help from outside.

There is no shame in admitting that you need help with your mental health. If anything, I believe that it makes you a stronger person because you recognize that you do need help.

So be strong. Know yourself.

Where Did My Passion Go?

I used to have passions. A weekend wouldn’t go by where I wasn’t dancing. Even now, the thrill of performing is like nothing else to me. When I started this blog, there would be a new post every day. The feeling I got from putting my thoughts together and out into the world was amazing.

But, somewhere along the way, my passions seem to have disappeared. It’s not that I don’t love dancing or writing anymore. It’s that making time for them has become more and more difficult. Taking the time to do so requires a lot of careful planning and effort. And,sometimes, it feels easier to just do nothing than to use your down time to do any kind of work.

I know that having a kid changes certain things. Your priorities change. Your child comes before anything and everything else. But should we let everything change? Or should we still find time to pursue our passions?

How do we balance the things that make us happy? How do we keep up the motivation to do everything that really defines who we are? Do we owe it to ourselves to make the time and put in the effort to do the things that give us a sense of fulfillment?

How do we keep our passions from disappearing when our life changes?

Do You Want Something In Your Life To Change? Then, Change It!

Sometimes, when you aren’t looking, everything just seems to fall into place. All of a sudden, things seem to make sense again. How? Where? When? What happened when you weren’t paying attention?

Life works like that. Struggles happen and we wonder why is this happening to us. We don’t understand when everything will come together and we can look back and really understand why certain things happened the way they did. In the process, we sometimes have a hard time remembering who we are as well.

Everything is a step to something else. I find it easier to accept the things that are difficult if I can believe that it will help me move toward something better.

I also find it easier to deal with these times of struggle when I’m actively trying to do something to change my situation. It’s so easy to fall into the mode of “nothing is ever going to change” or “nothing is ever going to get better” and then sit around and hope something will make you feel better about your life. It doesn’t work that way. If you’re lucky, some opportunity will fall into your lap. But most of us have to work for it.

If you find yourself in a spot where you want things to get better or be different than what they are, find a way to change them. Step out of your box and towards something new. Be an active participant in the changed you want to see in your life. I know you’re thinking “well, easier said than done”. Actually, I’ve tried to change my life and I’ve seen plenty of people who also have made an effort to change theirs. And, all of a sudden, I find myself in a whole new place than I was before. Things look better than they did before. Opportunities arise that you would have never expected.

Give yourself a chance to really find what you’re looking for in life. Even if you don’t have a clear picture of what would make you happier, try to find something small that you know would make your day better than it was. Every time you take a step forward, you’re creating change in your life.

Eventually, you will look around and realize that everything is right where it’s supposed to be.

Raising A Child Is Hard. Figuring Yourself Out Is Even Harder.

For some people, being a mom, especially one that doesn’t have to go to work everyday, has got to be the greatest job ever. Even though it’s hard at times, the good parts make everything else worth it. Especially after you pass the first month or two of having a new baby and get used to everything.

The mom part is definitely a challenge but the thing I’ve found even harder is becoming someone new. I’m no longer just a friend, girlfriend, wife. I’m a mom. That means that even though I had to learn compromise as a wife, I’ve had to learn compromise even more so as a mom. I no longer get to put myself first. My whole life is planned around my child. What she needs, when she needs it.

This means that I will never again be who I was. My whole definition of self has changed. And I don’t know about anything else but I’m not very good at changing. I’m struggling to reconcile the person I was before child to the person I am after child. So far, I’m not doing a very good job of it. I am trying to figure out how to evaluate my self-worth in a way that I can believe. It’s like I have to become this new person that I don’t recognize at all. In the meantime, I’ve been trying to become who I was prior to having a child.

A realization I finally came to (even though I’ve had a few friends tell me this several times) is that you don’t return to who you were prior to having a child. You have to become someone new. I don’t know if others have had a different experience but so far, I haven’t found another option.

And maybe I’m not supposed to. Maybe I am supposed to become this person I don’t know and don’t recognize. And like getting to know any new person, it’s going to take a while. Eventually, I hope I know this person well. I hope I know what her strengths and weaknesses are. I hope I feel comfortable enough with her that I can take her out and show her off proudly.

This new person has to learn to relate with everyone as well. I have a new relationship with my husband, my siblings, my friends, my parents. We all have to figure out what the dynamic is all over again. That has also been a struggle because this new person still has to learn how to communicate when everything has changed. This isn’t even accounting for the changes that those other people have gone through as well.

There have been a few times in my life that have really caused me to reevaluate myself and grow as a result. Here is one more time I have to do this. I just hope I can figure out who I am supposed to be and learn how to really be happy with that new person because that new person is the one who will be having relationships and really raising the child.

That new person is the one who will be teaching her children about life and showing them how to live it.

What You Need To Survive Pregnancy (and much more)

All right. Let’s get down to it. I mentioned in an earlier post that I wanted to talk about this in much more honest terms than you hear out there. So here we go.

Pregnancy is tough. There is so much you go through that only another woman can understand. You could have the nicest, most understanding significant other in the world (and I did) but there are times when he won’t understand what you completely feel. Things hurt, everything changes. I had morning sickness for the first 3 months. My legs ached literally from the beginning to the end. And that second trimester that everyone says is easier than the other 2, well, I spent that one worrying about all of the scans where the ultrasound specialists told me that various things could potentially be wrong.

The worrying kills you. Like I’ve mentioned before, you become a parent the second your pregnancy test turns positive. From then on, you watch what you eat, what you drink, what you do, all in the name of not hurting your unborn child. I stopped eating sushi, burgers, soft cheeses, and other various items. I googled every food I was unsure of.

Every doctor’s appointment I went to, I held my breath when I went in for the ultrasound. And I’d relax as soon as they found a heartbeat and took a look and said everything looked good. That would last for literally half a day and I’d start worrying about something else. I had a new pain or something felt different. I was definitely not one of those people who relaxed into pregnancy. I couldn’t even look at baby stuff and feel excited until I had hit somewhere over 30 weeks where I knew if needed, the baby could survive outside of me.

And then there was all the help from the ultrasound specialists. They are programmed to tell you the absolute worse case scenario (I’m assuming in order to avoid a lawsuit). I spent so much of my second trimester worrying about things that might be wrong like the placenta wasn’t doing its job or my baby wasn’t growing according to schedule. I learned a valuable lesson in how to think positively in this time frame because guess what. There’s nothing you can do at that point. You just have to think positive and move forward.

One of the biggest helps I have had is other women friends who have been pregnant. Every time I had a question or felt something new, I would text them and find out what they had been through. It helped me remain calm because I knew I wasn’t alone. There are no rights or wrongs when it comes to pregnancy. We all are just trying to survive it so that, at the end, we can hold our beautiful baby in our arms. I still text them with baby questions. And luckily, I’m surrounded by a bunch of great women who don’t judge or think there is one way to do everything. So I definitely get the best advice possible.

Let’s face it. Pregnancy is tough. The best thing you can do for yourself is to make sure you have a great support system. An amazing husband goes a long way but you will also definitely need friends who have gone through it so that they understand what you’re feeling and can truly empathize with you. It’s a long 40 weeks. Do what you can to make those weeks as good as possible.