The Good Indian Girl

As an Indian girl, I’ve been taught by society to always be “perfect”. We are required to fit a whole host of stereotypes. We are supposed to know how to cook, clean, raise children, and even hold down a job now. On top of it, no matter how modern we are, we are supposed to hold our heads down when it comes to speaking with our elders or voicing our own opinions. Sharing your thoughts or having a different point of view makes us the not so good Indian girl.

But seriously, how long can we do this for? I can’t. This past weekend, at the wedding I was attending, I ran into a man who decided to say that the groom was on his last night of freedom. And me being me decided to reply “freedom from what?” I didn’t understand that statement. The groom was just as lucky as the bride in entering this marriage. If he thought that he was losing his freedom, he should not be getting married. It wasn’t the most thoughtful statement to make and I wanted to let that man know that it was unacceptable.

Should I have just let him say whatever we wanted even if it was insulting to the whole institution of marriage? Should I have just kept quiet while he put down the bride in the sense that she was taking away the groom’s freedom?

Lately, I’ve been dealing with a barrage of opinions on how I am raising my kid. Now, her doctor has said that she is in perfect health. So, the opinions are just that….opinions. There is nothing wrong with my kid.. But regardless, I continuously hear these opinions over and over again. As a stay-at-home mom, that means that the people who share these opinions believe I am failing at my job.

So am I supposed to be the “good Indian girl” and not say anything back? Am I supposed to just keep my head down and let people insult me? Am I never supposed to stand up for myself as a parent?

It’s time that people realize that this stereotype needs to change. And those of us who adhere to this stereotype needs to start standing up for ourselves. If we keep trying to fit the mold, how can we expect anyone else to change their view of us?

I am tired of being the good Indian girl. I just want to be real.

Are You Ambitious Too?

Ambition. It’s something that isn’t inherently in all of us. Well, at least, not in the same way. Some of us are ambitious about our careers, some of us are ambitious about our hobbies, some of us are ambitious about something else entirely. So how do it work when two people aren’t ambitious about the same thing?

Being a first generation raised in America Indian, most of us are taught to be ambitious about our careers. After all, most of our parents came over here and worked extremely hard so that we would get the opportunities to achieve whatever we wanted. So, of course, we should be taking advantage of that and do the best we can to take their successes a step further. Most of the people I have been raised with all have that same mindset.

Here’s the interesting part for me: not EVERYONE believes that as well. There are a few people I do know who haven’t achieved as much as they are capable of. I don’t know why they haven’t. I don’t know if it’s a lack of ambition or if there are other reasons. I don’t know if it’s something that’s inherited or if it’s just a personality thing.

I’ll be honest. I do judge people based on what is perceived as a lack of ambition. I can’t understand it because most of the people I know do have some sort of drive. And when I say ambition, I don’t just mean education-wise. It could be ambition in that person’s career or the way they raise their kids or their hobbies. I see interests that don’t just involve being social but to better themselves and the people around them in some way. But if I meet someone who doesn’t seem to want to do anything, I have a hard time understanding that person. I don’t think that too many people like this do exist though. Most people do have interests and want to accomplish something in life.

I think what’s important to understand is that two people won’t necessarily have the same ambitions. My husband knows I like to be involved in a lot of things. In the past, I have simultaneously worked, gone to school, and been involved in dance. But now, as a stay at home mom, that isn’t all possible. When we talked yesterday, he apologized to me for not being able to pursue my ambitions. The thing is that I can’t have the same goals when my role in life has changed. But what I can do is change my goals. While he follows his ambition to grow his career and business, I am following mine to raise my daughter and to develop other parts of my life (such as this blog) so that I feel fulfilled. And we both support each other. In the end, both of us should be able to positively influence my daughter’s life because she can see that even though we don’t necessarily share the same ambitions, we both will work hard to achieve something regardless of what it is. As long as we can figure out what we want to accomplish together as a couple and as parents, we can figure out how to get there with the other as support.

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.