Light the Night

Do you have childhood best friends? Like the type that you grew up with and is your  family even though you’re not actually related?

I grew up with a whole group of people like this thanks to our parents knowing each other since college and settling down in the same area.

One person, in particular, I had literally known since birth. His dad and my dad actually grew up in the same small town in India together so they had known each other their whole lives as well. He played the role of my brother in my wedding and I MC’d at his wedding. Needless to say, we had been through a lot of our ups and downs together.

One day, we found out he had lymphoma. He was in his 20s, just about to head into dental school. I remember that we had found out that he had felt something off in his lymph nodes and were waiting for the biopsy results. I remember coming out of the gym and getting a voicemail from my sister telling me the results were in. I remember calling her back and her telling me that it wasn’t good. I remember going home, changing, and heading straight to his house.

It was scary. It was something that we never thought about in our 20s.

He started chemo. It definitely took a toll. I wasn’t there for the every day but I do have one particular memory of him, I, and a third friend we had grown up with going to an Angels game together during this time. He was tired and he said he always had a metallic taste in his mouth. It honestly really sucked. But the mentality that we always had is that there was no other option and that he had to beat it.

And one day, he did. After that, he started organizing our family and friends together every year for a Light the Night walk. We are Team Unbreakable.

At Light The Night, it is our aim to bring light to the darkness of cancer through research and cures. Light The Night is a series of fundraising campaigns benefiting The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) funding of research to find blood cancer cures. We bring hope instead of despair by working to ensure access to treatments for all blood cancer patients. We bring communities together to celebrate those who are fighting the disease and to honor those we have lost.

This year will be our 11th year walking together. It’s so amazing how something that was so hard has become such an inspiration. We hope this year, you’ll join us and donate to our team as well. We want to do everything we can in order to raise money to defeat cancer.

I hope you can find a way to help us out with our goal.

The Boy Who Wears Bows

We are in a new time in our lives. When I was growing up, the ideas of what boys wear and what girls wear were pretty established.

Now, if you were growing up like me, it was okay to be a tomboy. You could wear boys’ clothing and play sports and video games and it was no big deal. But if you were a boy, the same gender neutrality wasn’t the case.

I have a son and a daughter. My son is the baby so he follows his sister everywhere. She is a tomboy in princess’s clothing. She wears dresses, does her hair, and puts on a necklace and then goes to climb mountains and play baseball. There is no separation of what is acceptable for her to do or wear from any other child.

My son likes to do the same thing his sister does plus a few things she didn’t do. He loves cars and trains and trucks in a way she was never into. And he will participate in all of it with a bow on his head. He sees his sister wear bows and asks for them as well. Because we have never established something was a “girl thing” or a “boy thing”, we put the bow on and let him rock it.

It definitely raises interest especially in our South Asian circles. We have heard “that’s for girls” a few times. But really is it? Or is it just something that we have established as a “girl thing” in society? If boys were given a fair chance to express themselves, would they themselves have immersed in the bow culture?

The next question that arises is what happens when my son wants to wear something else his sister wears. What about princess dresses or necklaces or bangles?

What do we do when we have let the kids live in a gender neutral zone where they can be free to do or wear whatever they want? Is it better to follow society’s gender norms at least for now so we can protect our son from the chance of being bullied until he can understand how to protect himself? Would we follow the same rules of parental protection as we would with climbing structures and riding bikes? Would we do whatever we could to protect them in the real world until the real world catches up with the way we think?

As parents, what is the correct path? I don’t know if there is one. I think we are in a new territory where children have the freedom to become who they really are, who they are truly comfortable with. I want to be able to be there for my children for whatever choices they make. I want to be there for them to fall back on and to be their shield when they need it. My parents did that for me when I was breaking society’s norms and I don’t want to be any less for my kids.

It may turn out that our son doesn’t care for “girl things” as he gets older. It may turn out that he loves them.

It may turn out that he may go on to drive monster trucks with a multitude of bows in his hair.

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.