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.

Accomplish Something?

I’ve probably written about this before but it’s a topic I’m going to revisit because I have been thinking about it lately.

I think I’ve always been the type of person who validates myself through my accomplishments. I know I’m worth something but it’s hard to get my heart to agree to that.

Now, as a stay-at-home mom, what do you judge yourself by? Getting your laundry done? Feeding your family? Making sure everything is done on time? Honestly, I’m not sure. They don’t seem like big goals to achieve (although, sometimes, it is a lot to get done). They don’t even seem like important goals to achieve even though your family’s life does depend on it. It’s probably worth more than I’m assigning importance to.

I do realize that I should probably figure out a way to accept myself as is. I’m not sure how to do that though. I like striving for things. It helps me feel like I’m improving myself and achieving something. Otherwise, I’m just standing still.

Being still is really difficult. Being still gives me too much time to criticize myself on what I am unable to do. Being still makes me think I’m worthless.

How do you get to a place where you feel valuable? It’s not a quantifiable measure. It’s completely internal. I don’t want to reflect my value off of other people because I went through my 20s doing that and it really sucked.

Maybe it’ll take until my 40s to really be able to validate myself by who I truly am. Maybe I’ll be able to see my worth based on me and not my accomplishments. Maybe it’ll get easier to see myself.

Am I A Bad Mom?

Today, I yelled at my kid.

Let me be completely honest.

Today, I have constantly been yelling at my kid and considering the day isn’t over yet, I’ll probably be yelling at her a few more times.

I tried having patience. I honestly tried to dance it out and be silly with my child. I love her a lot and can be so proud of her a lot of the time. She amazes me in so many ways and is a really great kid.

But, man, can she push my buttons! It’s like she knows exactly what to do and what to say that will really push me until I do get mad.

I don’t want to be the uptight, angry mom. I want to be the fun-loving laid-back mom. But I can’t seem to find a way to be consistent with my kids. No matter what my intentions are, I feel as if I’m going to lose by the end of the day. And then, I feel terrible. I feel like I must be the worst mom in the world. Who gets angry at their kids all the time?

I only feel like myself again after I either exercise or sleep. I do those as much as I can but the breaks don’t come often enough. There are some days I just want to give up altogether. It’s draining constantly trying to make a toddler and an infant understand that I’m saying “no” to them for their own safety.

I feel like I used to be a patient person….until I had kids.

I hope that this is something that I can improve on. I’m hoping that both the kids and myself will grow and it’ll help our relationship. I hope that I can prove to be a better parent to my kids.

All I know is that I will keep trying to be the mom my kids really deserve.

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.

 

What Indian People Think

Sometimes, I read what other people write about being an Indian raised in another country. It’s scary to see what they think. I read a couple of articles written by these Indian people about how we are losing our culture if we are born and raised in America. We defy our parents, we ignore our traditions, we don’t want to participate in anything even remotely Indian.

I’ve written a few articles about this in various forms already. Just because I’m American does not mean I’m not Indian. Yes, there are things that have changed since the good old days where the daughter or daughter-in-law would just blindly do what her elders asked but that’s called progress. It’s called knowledge.

In exchange for me not being the world’s best cook or the Indian woman that cleans all day long, I am independent. I know how to financially support myself. I never needed to get married to someone in order to survive. Instead I chose to marry someone who supports my passions and interests and we have a relationship based on friendship and love. We are here because we want to be not because we have to be.

On that note, I chose my own life partner. I really got to know myself myself and having gone through previous relationships only helped me understand who the right person was for me to take this journey with. In exchange for that, I won’t resent having missed out any part of life. I won’t feel stuck in a relationship because it was my duty to be there. I will love myself and my partner because I have gotten the chance to chase my dreams.

Yes, I don’t agree with or listen to everything my elders say. In this day and age, with all of the information out there, the ideas that we had grown up with might not be the same or even accurate anymore. I also believe in making my own mistakes. But guess what? Neither of us, my elders or I, know everything. We all have to learn. It doesn’t matter if they had done something before us and we are in the process of doing it now. Times have changed! Things have changed!

It’s frustrating that those of us who were raised in a different country still get judged for it. The truth is that our parents left India to make a better life for us. Our parents wanted better opportunities for us. So then why do we get judged when we take advantage of these opportunities? You can’t expect us to move forward in one thing and still be behind in something else. I can’t be an educated woman and then be expected to sit at home, cooking and cleaning all day (unless it’s truly what I love to do). With knowledge comes change. With knowledge comes progress.

I think it’s time that the Indian people who keep thinking we are losing our culture and traditions realize that it’s not that we’re losing them. It’s that our culture and traditions are evolving. Things will change. They always have. Even if you believe that everything has been the same for thousands of years, I can promise you that it hasn’t. Even in India, things have changed over time.

So please stop judging us. Accept change. It’s the only way that you’ll really ensure that the things that are important to you stay around (unless you expect me to wait on you hand and foot because that’s not happening).

FOMO

FOMO. Fear Of Missing Out.

All my life, I’ve felt (and still continue to feel) like if I don’t attend every social event out there that I’m going to be missing out on something. It’s gotten worse with Facebook because then you know what you’ve been invited to or what events you’re missing out on. You see pictures of these events and it looks like everyone had such a great time and you are nowhere to be found anywhere. I’ve run myself into the ground to make sure that I’m able to be at every event there is. There was a time in my life that I would volunteer for every dance performance, go to every party, be at school, be at work. Needless to say, the only way I realize that I had to stop overextending myself is when my body shut down on me. That’s when I realized that my health was more important than being everywhere and took more time in taking care of myself.

Why do we do this to ourselves? The world isn’t going to stop if we don’t attend everything. I think part of it is (at least for myself) that I feel like people will forget I exist. That comes from a fear of not being important enough that people will remember me. If I always put myself in front of others, then they can’t forget me, right?

It’s an insecurity about who I am. This fear can extend not just my friends, but my family and my husband. It shows the lack of confidence I have in myself to know that I am important to someone. I have to say yes to everything so that these people always see me. And the only way to change it is to really start finding some confidence in who I am as a person. It’s knowing that no one is truly that easily forgettable. It’s knowing that if someone loves you, that no matter what you miss out on, you will get another chance.

I think this fear of missing out also applies to the fact that if I don’t attend something, will I regret it forever? Will it change something in my life that I can never get back again? The truth is probably not. I have missed events before and yet, my life continues on the path that it does. What didn’t happen can never happen, if that makes sense.

Now, my kid comes first. I will miss out on a lot of things. Events like parties at clubs, bars, movies aren’t things that I can go to at this time. I have to just hope that I matter enough to people that they will still try to spend time with me when we can.

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.