A New Mom Reclaiming Her Life

We all talk about how you shouldn’t lose yourself when you get into a new relationship. We work so hard to maintain our individuality while merging into a relationship so that we still feel independent but can enjoy the aspects of spending time with a partner as well.

Well, what happens when you have a baby? As a new mom, I found myself really losing who I was.

Even before I had the baby, I didn’t recognize myself. I define my self worth by what I do (and if I really do it well). I had been working for the last 8-9 years and I had been dancing for a really long time and finding peace and happiness in that. But, as soon as I was a few weeks pregnant, I left my job due to the distances I was driving and I wasn’t allowed to do any other physical activity other than walk due to doctor’s orders. It was really hard for me. I still did see my friends but a lot of the activities I used to do were limited.

After I had the baby, there was obviously the time I needed to heal and get used to having a baby around. So that’s all I was doing for the first few months. But it was hard. You give yourself so entirely to this little human being. All of a sudden, the only label you have is mom. All of the other things you were disappear. At least, that is how I felt.

I’ve never been able to function in a one dimensional sense. Even though I worked in one profession, I was involved in so many other activities that really helped my life be well-rounded. So this was really a difficult way for me to live. There are women who fit so easily into the mother role and make themselves so well-rounded within that role. I’ve seen moms who plan activity after activity for them and their babies and it sounds amazing. I wish I could do that. But, after a recent breakdown, I realize that it’s not me. I need certain things in my life for me to feel like myself. And feeling like myself is the best thing I could do for my child.

I felt guilty wanting to be back in the workforce or wanting time to myself. I still haven’t gotten up the courage to have a girls night out without my baby. I want her to be with me at all times. But I have taken steps to reclaim who I was. I joined a gym and get an hour workout in a day which has done wonders to my self-esteem. I am looking to find other moms to hang out with. I have a found a new dance class that I’m really excited about. I also have taken steps to see if I can find a job that fits a schedule that would allow me to be home for my child whenever I want.

As much as I really wish I could do the stay at home mom thing with great joy, I know it’s not me. I need to find the things that help me feel like me so that I can really show my baby my best self, the person that I’m proud of, the person I want her to be proud of.

Independent Career Woman vs. Stay At Home Mom

This is a topic that I never thought I would have to consider since I grew up believing I’d always be working. I grew up in a household where both of my parents worked and I spent a lot of time in day care. I actually believe a lot of my independence came from this so I had no problems believing that I would go a similar route and be a full-time working mom when I came to that point in my life.

Life doesn’t always work out the way you imagine it to. Because I was already pregnant when I left my job and that job was over 45 miles away in LA traffic, it seemed to be the best decision not to look for another job through the pregnancy. And, obviously, I’d stay home with the baby for a while since we didn’t have a need for me to go back to work right away.

And while this was the best decision for me and my family, it was a hard one for me. I have always been the type of person who did multiple things at once. I worked at my day job while being involved in a lot of activities. All of a sudden, I was limited by my own body during the pregnancy. I couldn’t maintain my level of physical activity. Even when we went out socially, I’d get tired a lot. I would have to be careful with what I was doing and where I was going.

Now, let me get one thing straight. Everything I had to do or not do in order to get my beautiful baby, I do not regret. She will always be totally worth it. But this is an emotional time with a lot of change for anyone and I wanted to share what I was feeling (and still sometimes feel).

I’m still going through figuring out who I am now. I’m not the same independent woman I was 3 years ago. I’m now a mom whose primary job is to take care of my child. Until I decide to go back to work (if I choose to do so), my life is about raising my baby. I have to figure out how to reconcile the person I was to the person I am now. It’s difficult. How do you go from being someone who participates in all of these activities to someone who only possibly might be able to do it again some day but not at the moment? You can never go back to being the person you were.

Somehow, a new person has to emerge that combines both the independent woman with the stay at the home mom. And, somehow, I have to learn to become that person.

Friendships Come and Go: Just Make Sure the Good Ones Stay

I had a dream last night about a bunch of people I had made friends with in college. It was interesting because I haven’t spoken to those people in years. I have no idea why they appeared in my dreams but it did bring up old memories even within my dreams. It reminded me of why I left that school to join another school back in my home city.

They say blood is thicker than water but when your parents have migrated from a different country, that means that it’s possible that your family might not have ended up in the same place you have. It also means that you have to surround yourself with people that will become your family even if they aren’t related.

I’ve spoken about this in a previous post regarding the people I’ve grown up with. Now I want to talk about it with regards to those people we meet along the way.

When we enter new situations, we have to find people who make us feel at home. We have to find like-minded people who we can depend on, who we can trust, who we grow with. Sometimes, this doesn’t happen.  In those cases, we have to walk away. We can’t put ourselves in a spot where we feel bad about ourselves.

Situations come and go so what we need out of friends change. But no matter what the situation, we should feel like we can really depend on those people that are there at the time. But when we can’t find those people, it makes it hard for us to really thrive in that situation.

The only thing we can do then is change our situation so that we can find those people. As independent as we want to be, we need people that love us around us. For whatever reason, that’s not always possible. It is our job to try to find those people and keep them around us. It’s our job to appreciate them and make sure that we do our best to make sure the friendship lasts. Good people are hard to find and when we do, we shouldn’t take it for granted.

Mama’s Boys

Yes, you know you know them. Yes, you know you might be one of them. 

Let’s get something straight right off the bat. When I say mama’s boy, I don’t mean someone who cares for his parents. I don’t mean someone who wants to spend time with his parents. I’m not even talking about someone who really goes out of his way to make sure that his parents are taken care of. My family has a pretty tight bond and knowing that these are the people who will always be there for you is a great feeling. 

I’m talking about that guy who really can’t function without his mother. And no, I don’t mean when he is 2 years old. I mean when he is 32 years old. I’m talking about the guy who can’t make a decision about his own life without consulting his parents. It’s one thing to have their blessing or advice. It’s another thing to ask your mom for everything you need on a daily basis. 

And this seems so much more prevalent (well, maybe, at least to me) in the Indian community. You get that guy that wants to date you. Well, until he finds out that his parents are never going to like you because of a multitude of reasons: different caste, family background, different religion, age difference, not pretty enough, not thin enough, etc, etc, etc. Then, what? Will he fight for you or will he let you go? Will he have the strength to really stand up to his parents if he knows they are wrong in their decision or will he let them make the last call? 

Again, this is based on the idea that the girl chosen is someone good. It’s based on the fact that there is real love between the couple. I know this is another discussion but just to assert my thoughts on this, I think honesty will come from your friends and siblings. If they like who you are with and will stand by you, then maybe it’s time to stand up to your parents. 

Anyways, back to the idea of the mama’s boy. This is the guy who will still run to his mother if he needs something instead of his wife, even though his wife can probably take care of whatever it is. 

My mom has a theory about these guys. As the women in our culture get more and more educated, they are opting not to marry guys that aren’t independent minded. The problem is that they haven’t had a need to change. If someone took care of me all the time, why would I want to grow up? The women, though, have decided that instead of depending on someone to take care of them, they will go out and make a career for themselves and give themselves options. And they won’t settle for someone just to be married. So where does that leave these guys? 

I’d like to believe it’s changing. I see more and more guys who really have started becoming more independent in their thoughts and actions. There are always going to be those that will marry someone just to fill a void. I know guys who have done that. But, I believe there are now guys who have started really understanding what a relationship is. The relationship isn’t just a duty but something that both partners have to work on. 

I have hope for the mama’s boys. I hope that they will learn that the world is changing and what used to work for centuries won’t work as much anymore. And, in the meantime, to those women who have children, please remember to raise them as the man you have or would have liked to have married. 

Culture and Women

I had to deal with someone a few days ago that ended up sending me a very demeaning email. I’m not sure what this person’s perspective was for writing it other than his ego was hurt. After talking to a few people about it, the general consensus was that he had a hard time with women who were in a position of authority over him. Now, this person wasn’t the same culture as I am but he was from another culture with a similar background. 

I wanted to touch on this for a second because I still see this. I can see where the women are treated as an accessory and not as a partner. 

I went to an engagement party quite a few months ago. It was interesting because all the men that I saw left their wives by themselves and hung out with their friends and you didn’t really see them talk more than the required amount of social interaction. I remember specifically that one of the wives was talking to me and said “I lose my husband to his boys at these events”. And then she watched my husband come over and check on me and be with me whenever he wasn’t required somewhere else. I felt bad for her. It must suck to feel like you’re not important enough for your husband to pay attention to you at all when you’re at a public event. I understand that some couples have their understanding and that’s how they are but I saw the look on this girl’s face (a really nice girl, by the way, since she really did make me feel welcome as an outsider) when my husband didn’t abandon me. 

One time, my sisters and I had an Indian astrologer tell us if we had been men, we would have ruled the world. I don’t know what he was thinking but I wasn’t planning on my gender dictate what I did with my life. 

So what is this about? Why aren’t women considered equals? The guy from my first example called me stupid in the email. On one hand, he said that I was trying to control everything and, on the other hand, I wasn’t smart enough. 

I’m not going to lie. It’s nice to be taken care of. But it’s also nice to know that you don’t have to ask anyone for permission to do something, to spend something. The women I am lucky to be friends with are strong and independent and really know how to handle the world. They haven’t taken their gender into consideration for anything they have wanted to do. 

My personal opinion is that the weakest guys are the ones who need to keep women weaker than them. If a man is strong, he isn’t intimidated by a strong woman. Instead, he finds that this person matches him in everything and really knows how to use this to progress in life. 

To all my strong, independent women out there. Don’t ever let someone else tell you who you are. 

Who’s Cooking Tonight?

Last night, my husband made a full-fledged Indian dinner from scratch. Like from scratch from scratch. I don’t even know how to do that (not to say I’ve ever been a master at cooking or that I couldn’t learn how to). It was a pretty impressive sight. I’m definitely one of the lucky ones.

It’s a slightly odd feeling as well. I’ve grown up in a household where my dad can cook really well too so I’m not sure why this is the case. It’s odd just because I’ve grown up in a culture where it’s the woman’s job to cook and clean and take care of the family and house and it’s the man’s job to financially support and help out. These stereotypes are starting to be challenged and it leaves a gray area for us to figure out what we are supposed to be doing.

As a couple, we went 50/50 on almost everything. Initially, this did throw me off. Doesn’t the guy pay for everything? Here I was, this self-proclaimed independent woman and I was stuck in a stereotype of how it should be. In reality, 50/50 is the way an self-proclaimed independent woman should be approaching any situation. Once I reached that realization, it was easier to adjust. I also believe that that helped us respect each other more because we held our own.

Now, living in the same household, all of the duties are still supposed to be split 50/50. I can’t say that is always the case. Sometimes, I think my husband carries more than his weight. And knowing that makes me feel like I’m not doing my job. I’m still trying to figure out how to become the typical Indian wife where I do cook and clean and take care of everything. Due to the fact that responsibilities are being pretty equally distributed (at least in theory), I do manage to get confused about what my role is.

Trying to reconcile who I am to who I want to be to where we are in this world isn’t easy. Trying to reconcile being Indian to being American to being an independent woman isn’t easy. Trying to understand that there might be responsibilities that are stereotypically a woman’s job that the man does better and vice versa is a whole other challenge. You grow up with all of these ideal thoughts about what the world should be but being within your culture will still have an effect on you. I just didn’t realize how much. Breaking down the stereotypes is a challenge that we face head on in this generation all the time.

I’m proud that we are the way we are.  It gives our children a chance to have a more modern belief system intertwined with the parts of our culture that make sense to us. It also allows us to really do what we enjoy since we are not limited by pre-defined roles. I look forward to seeing how everything settles down in our lives and to see what our roles end up being like.