Having a Family: Commitment or Sacrifice

– By Anonymous

Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights – Pauline R Kezer

In reflecting on my life in the last 5 years, I see myself as a different person than I had envisioned. I knew children would change me and change my lifestyle, but not in the way it has. 5 years ago, I drew my energy from being around others, from being in social situations, and from conversations with my family of friends. I swore that this wouldn’t change by having children. Fast forward to now and I re-energize by having moments of quiet time those late hours when I’m awake because my 4-year-old is having nightmares, those wee early morning hours when not a soul is yet awake in my house, or those minutes when my office door is closed and no one comes knocking. When did I change from being an extrovert to an introvert?

Recently, it has been brought to my attention that I’ve been hiding in a cave of sorts. Whether it was a conscious or unconscious decision to limit my interactions with others is unclear; what is clear is that I’ve made some lifestyle changes and am re-evaluating and prioritizing those important things in my life.

I talked to several people during this enlightening time and have come to the conclusion that some people perceive the time spent with young children and limiting “mommy time” – time away from the children – as a sacrifice: a sacrifice of the self. Others perceive this time as a commitment. I count myself in the camp of those who consider it a commitment. Growing up, I saw my cousins allow their parents raise their children, giving more of themselves to their social lives and career ambitions. I never wanted to be the parent who relied so heavily on grandparents. I firmly believe that my children should know me as their mom. I am also an ambitious career woman (which also adds guilt because I spend so much time away from my kids) so when I am home with my family, everything else gets shut off. No text messages, no phone calls, no tv. I am committed to being “mommy” which means I get to have dance parties with my kids before bed, read stories, and enjoys tickles and giggles. Please don’t misunderstand. There are also moments of frustration but I’m committed to helping my children work through tantrums, fights, and experiencing such intense emotions.

Did I forget to mention my role as wife? I also have a firm belief that without a solid foundation, whether that is as a single parent or as a two parent household, parenting can go south real quick. So when the kids are asleep or entertaining themselves, I work on making that foundation as solid as possible (in addition to completing chores such as dishes, general cleaning and laundry).

So commitment or sacrifice? I suppose that is in how one perceives the various roles a woman plays when she becomes a mother (or the roles a man plays when he becomes a father) and also depends on how one chooses to prioritize the different aspects and responsibilities in his or her life.

I have changed and I am committed to my family. I’m not here to judge those who choose a different way, I’m just asking to not be judged for choosing my way.

Someone I Love

In my last post, I talked about passion versus validation. Now I want to talk about something related but in a different way.

When I was dating, I figured out something: 1) I could either be the person that I thought the other person would be attracted to or 2) I could become the person that I would have found attractive. I know that, growing up, we focus a lot on what makes us cool and popular. We want to be wanted by the person we are attracted to (and maybe even the people we aren’t attracted to). We like the things that we think others will want us to like and we do the things that everyone else does. But is this really us? Do we respect ourselves? If we were on the opposite side, would we want to date the person we are?

This is something that even relates to my life today as a wife and mother. Stepping into that role really messes with your self-esteem in some ways. I mean, doesn’t long-term get boring? Especially after you’ve had a kid? Now, you’re tired and have gained weight and don’t have the same social life going anymore. How can you get your significant other to even notice you?

My insecurity levels have definitely gone up after having a kid. I feel like my husband has continued to move forward career wise and can do a lot more things than I can at the moment. Being stagnant hasn’t been the best place for me. The feeling was worse right before and after I had my baby. A few months after the pregnancy, it started getting better. But I still felt really dependent and kept wondering if he was still even attracted to me or if he still loved me.

I hate that feeling! I don’t like questioning how he feels about me and I really despise myself for thinking negatively. I realized that the problem wasn’t him. The problem was myself. I haven’t been attracted to myself. Not necessarily looks-wise only but also my personality. If I was someone else, I would never look twice because I’m emitting qualities that I am not crazy about.

So I’m going back to my dating mantra. Become the person you would be attracted to. Do things that make me feel good about myself. If I ever question how someone else feels about me, I know to tell myself that I’m being the best person I can be because I really do like who I am.

The only person that is responsible for making me feel good is myself. And I deserve to be with someone that really loves me. I’m lucky that I also have my husband and family and friends but the only person that is required to love me all the time is me. So that’s what I’m going to do.

Be someone I love.

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.

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.

Are They Really Happy?

So I was watching this wedding video the other day and as I watched, I noticed that not at any point did the bride and groom look at each other and smile or interact. The first time they even looked like they were married to each other was during their slow dance at the reception. And then it ended. 

What’s the deal, man? Is it possible that a couple is so shy that they just don’t interact at all? Is it just me or does it seem somewhat off to you that the couple doesn’t even acknowledge each other’s presence on what is considered to be one of the more important days of their lives? Where do you even see that there is love present in this relationship? 

When I say this, I honestly mean the little moments. The one where the first time the bride comes into the room, the groom smiles or his eyes light up. The one where you can see one of them talking to the other about whatever is going on in their day. The one where you can see some inside joke or thought pass between them. 

Are we supposed to act distant and proper when we’re getting married? Because if that’s the case, I totally messed it up. 

It always makes me wonder if the couple was more interested in becoming an official couple rather than spending their lives with someone they really love. I don’t want to judge a couple that I don’t really know. I know it’s possible that this is their dynamic. Maybe it’s what makes them happy. I see couples that don’t spend that much time together in general. I wouldn’t think that was a happy relationship on both ends but then again, I want more than to just be a wife in name and in duty. 

I guess it’s all a matter of perspective. 

If anyone can explain this situation to me, I’d like to learn and understand why certain couples look like they’d rather be anywhere but with each other. Or that they are indifferent to being next to their significant other. Because I still don’t understand it. 

Looking forward to your thoughts. 

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. 

I’m Over Being Called a Ball and Chain

A couple of days ago, I walked into a golf shop with my husband. The salesperson he had previously consulted decided to tell me in the first few minutes that we met that my husband was really good at golf and I should let him get out to play more. 

Excuse me? I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that, as the wife, I was responsible for holding him back from doing something he loved. In our relationship, we support each other in our passions rather than hold the other person back. So where does this guy get off telling me to let him play golf more? Why would he make that assumption? And even if he doesn’t believe what he said and was just teasing, it’s still completely insulting. 

This has been going on for ages. You hear one spouse teasing or joking that they have to ask the other spouse for permission to go do something fun. When did relationships become about permission? I thought you entered a 50/50 partnership, not adopted a new parent.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be considerate of your significant other. Yes, there is more joint decision making as a couple. You have to respect each other’s time and plan things together. Fact of life. But blaming (even jokingly) the other person is seriously not cool. 

We’ve grown up with the term “ball and chain”, traditionally referring to the wife. Maybe at one point, it was accurate. But in this day and age, most of us do what we want and we are supported while doing it. So why does this phrase still come up? If someone (husband or wife) is holding you back, then it’s probably best you discuss it with that person. Teasing that person in public or behind their back is disrespectful and really just immature. 

Another idea in connection to this is when people tell you your life is going to end when you get married. If you really think that, don’t get married. And I know people say this as a joke and to be funny but it’s not. The last thing I want to hear is someone teasing my husband that his life ended because he married me. Am I really that bad? Or is marriage? 

I’m over hearing these “jokes”. They aren’t funny. They really are insulting to the idea of marriage. Marriage should be a thing of beauty and love and friendship. So for those of you still referring to your spouse as a ball and chain or marriage as a life-ending event, take it somewhere else because I don’t want to hear it anymore. 

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.