Watch Something Progressive

Have you watched a kids’ show lately? Maybe if you don’t have children, you haven’t seen one since you were a kid.

My kids watch Sesame Street on a daily basis. I remember watching it when I was growing up and liking it. Now? I seriously love it.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m an adult and more aware or that our country suddenly has a serious number of issues that have been brought to light. I’m finding that kids’ shows are more progressive that our actual world seems to be.

Before everything got kind of crappy, I would have been proud that Sesame Street showed episodes about the Indian culture. Now I’m relieved. They also have episodes about other cultures (such as Chinese New Year and a South African exchange student), bullying, autism, and just liking yourself as you are. It’s amazing. They are teaching my kids (and myself) so many positive things that sometimes, I wonder if we are actually in this time frame where people are acting as regressive as they are.

The other 2 shows that my kids have been watching lately are Doc McStuffins and PJ Masks. While it hasn’t come up in the few episodes I’ve watched, both shows star children of different backgrounds doing awesome things. I especially love that my little girl is watching Doc McStuffins because I love the idea that she has a role model that plays doctor and isn’t just into a bunch of princesses.

I feel like there are plenty of adults that need a good dose of some of these children’s shows. They have fantastic messages and teach you a lot about the world. You can stream Sesame Street on HBO, Doc Mcstuffins on Hulu, and PJ Masks on Netflix. Take some time out of your day and learn something new.

Second Class Citizen

Yesterday, while I was on the treadmill at the gym, some older white guy got on the treadmill next to me. When he turned on his tv, it was on Fox News. As long as I was there (for another 5-10 minutes), he hadn’t changed it. I don’t know if it happened to just be on and he wasn’t paying attention or if this is the channel he meant to watch. He had also socialized with a few other people around us. One of the men he spoke to was watching CNN. The other man that said hi to him then proceeded to go hug an older African American woman. So I’m really not sure what the guy next to me believed.

I’ll tell you what I do know though. I felt awkward. I felt like if this guy actually watches Fox News (while it was talking about the Muslim Travel Ban), he had no reason to actually want me around. It made me feel severely conscious of my skin color.

I was born here and have lived here my whole life. I’ve barely even moved out of the city I’ve lived in, let alone the state. I’ve always been proud of my dual heritage of being South Asian Indian and American. I’ve always thought it was so much cooler to live in American with its progression while also having a cool background where I get to wear gorgeous clothes, have a huge movie and music industry, and still participate in my cultural traditions.

Right now, with the way this America is, I don’t feel that. I feel like I’ve been downgraded. I feel like I have to second guess who I am. I feel like I am going to have to protect my family from all the problems that have still yet to come. I have thought of where we would go if it got that bad where we couldn’t live the life we were used to living. Would we go back to India? Another westernized country? Do you know how hard it is to even think of leaving our home?

I’ve always been more on the optimistic side of how these things resolve. Right now, it is extremely difficult to be optimistic. I can’t imagine how people can’t care for other people. I can’t imagine what it feels like to be threatened by people of another skin color or religion. Maybe it’s because being Indian means a whole variety of skin colors and religions already. To me, growing up in American already meant a blend. I don’t know it any other way. I’ve never understood it any other way.

Now, based on the fact that I’m more tan than that guy next to me on the treadmill, I get to feel like less of a person.

I really hate that.

The First Thing To Go Out The Door

Self-care.

As a mother, I think this is the first thing that we abandon when we have kids. Our priorities shift enough that the order of important is the following: kids #1-however many and our partner, work, home, extended family, the world, everything else, ourselves.

We forget we exist until we run ourselves down enough that there is only a shell of our former selves left. Then, all of a sudden, we are locked in a bathroom, crying our eyes out because this isn’t the life we imagined.

We have to take care of ourselves. If we don’t feel good about ourselves, then how can we be a good example for our kids?

I’m not only talking about the physical stuff like showering, grooming, exercising. We have to take care of ourselves mentally and emotionally. We have to take that time in the day where we can focus on ourselves.

Doing all of this other stuff is wearing. It’s tiring. It’s hard to refocus on yourself. When I finally get a few minutes of quiet, I just sit there and stare into the abyss. Okay, the abyss in reality is the tv. It’s like I forget how to function. I can’t even think of what I’d want to do for myself. If I do figure it out, I don’t have the energy.

It’s easy to get caught up in resentment and anger when you get used to putting yourself last. As a South Asian Indian mom, I’m programmed to put myself last. I’m supposed to put my kids and husband first. And every time I feel neglected, I end up feeling a mixture of sadness and anger.

The thing is that you have to find the solution. Your kids are never going to put you first and your partner can only help so much. You have to find the time and energy to do things for yourself. You have to be okay with putting yourself first sometimes. You have to find ways to take care of yourself.

If you have any self-care tips, I’d love to hear them. I am always looking for new ways to take care of myself.

All Our Indian Aunties Were Also Stay-At-Home Moms

I always imagined that I would be a working mom when I grew up. My mom was a working mom. I knew that a lot of the stay-at-home moms I knew weren’t necessarily college educated. I assumed that all of these aunties were stay-at-home moms by default. I thought that they had no choice and this is what they did. I thought it was definitely an easier life than to work and raise a child.

I don’t know if staying at home was a choice or a default lifestyle but that didn’t make it any easier to be a stay-at-home in the previous generation. I think about the things I face now on a daily basis with my children. I think about how many times I burn out and need time to myself before I send myself into a nervous breakdown. I have a supportive husband with the flexibility to allow me to take time for myself.

But what about those aunties I grew up with? Were they able to get time to themselves? In the Indian culture, there is definitely a “put everyone else first” attitude for the women. Your husband and your kids come first. If you have in-laws or your parents, they also come first. You are definitely last in line when it comes to being taken care of. So is that what happened to the women I saw raising my friends?

Our culture here in America has evolved enough to recognize that everyone needs some time for themselves. It’s encouraged and recommended. I’m not sure if the Indian culture has evolved as much yet but I can see the trend leaning towards it. I know if I ask my husband for some time to myself, he will do his best to give it to me.

I really wonder what the generation before went through when they were raising kids. Was it easier or harder? Did they expect anything more of themselves than being a parent or was that enough for them? How did they deal with the day in, day out of being a stay-at-home mom? Were they happy? Did they care if they were happy? Or was it enough if everyone else in their household was happy?

Someday, maybe I’ll try to have this conversation with some of the aunties I know.

 

How Do You Talk To An Indian Auntie?

I can’t relate to Indian aunties. If I run into them at different events, it’s literally a “Hi, how are you?” situation and then I’m on my way. I’ve tried the small talk thing but honestly, it’s usually a fail.

I always thought that it was the fact that I was younger and it was something I’d outgrow but after going to recent family events, I’m now accepting that maybe it’s just me. Even now that I have kids and we have more in common than before, I still don’t know what to say to them.

It seems to be mutual. They are nice enough to exchange the social norms with me but that’s as far as it goes.

And I’m not really sure why this is. I can connect to some people but maybe I just don’t have much in common with the aunties. I have some friends who seem to be able to talk to everyone. They are able to be friends and make people laugh and it’s no problem at all. I just don’t seem to have the ability. Maybe it’s also partly that I never developed a relationship with some of them past being their friend’s daughter.

I also started thinking that maybe I’m not an easy person for aunties to relate to. I don’t know how to be myself and connect to them. Maybe it’s a generational gap, maybe it’s being raised in India versus being raised in America, or maybe it’s just a personality thing.

Who knows? I wish I could figure out what makes it easy for us to talk to some people and really difficult to talk to others.

Until then, we just hang out with those who make it easier for us to be ourselves.

 

This Is My Country Too.

My skin is brown. If someone saw me and didn’t talk to me, it is very possible they would think that I wasn’t from America.

But fact of life: I am from America. I was born here, I was raised here. I have spent as much time in India as any other given person who has gone on vacation to any other country.

So when people start talking about sending us back to where we came from, I wonder exactly where they think someone like me should go. If they think they could send me back to India, it’d be the same as if they were sent to the country of their ancestry.

I don’t know the systems there. I know how to go on vacation there.

My home is here. Everything is here. If you want to send me back to where I was born, it literally would be about an hour away from where I’m sitting right now.

America is my country. For those of you who can’t seem to get that we are a country of many different ethnicities, get over it.

Being Creative

Almost every Indian can tell you that when you were growing up, you were encouraged to find a career in something stable. The idea was that if you were a doctor, engineer, or accountant, you wouldn’t have to struggle in your life. You were set and financially stable. It makes sense for that message to be passed down. A lot of our parents left their homes to find that stable, successful career. They gave up a lot to make sure their children wouldn’t ever feel like they couldn’t have everything.

But what about that creative side of us? What about those of us who are writers, dancers, artists, and musicians? Do we lock that side of us away?

And what about our souls? If all we do is focus on our left brain jobs, then what happens to our right brain?

I once had a job interview for an accounting position with a company. When I was offered the opportunity to ask the interviewer (who would have been my boss) questions, I asked her what she likes to do in her spare time. I asked her if she had any activities that she was passionate about outside of work. She actually said that she just did accounting and nothing else. Seriously??? I knew right then and there that this wasn’t the place for me. My previous boss supported my passion for dance and the show that we organized. She knew how much it meant to me and that it was good for me emotionally and mentally. Would this new boss have supported this part of me?

I’ve found that if I ignore my creative side for a little bit, it does affect me. There’s a happiness, a positive energy that comes out when I do use my creativity. I need it to balance out the rational, logical side of me. I do thrive on schedules and lists but I need the free-flowing side to make me whole. I’ve found that to be a consistent trait in the people I know. They have their stable┬ájobs and then they are creative on the side. They get the best of both worlds.

What about you? What is your creative outlet?