Stay at home grandparents – A thing of the past?

They say it takes a village to raise a family – and it truly does. But these days things are different. Gone are the days of everyone contributing to the ongoings of a household day in and day out. Typically, the more westernized daughter-in-law’s and sons were the breadwinners of the home. And their completely eastern parents stayed home and did the child rearing. The eldely filled their days with changing diapers, stroller walks, and fitting in their radio listening time in between.

But now everything’s changed. We’re meant to make a life and a living, all while our parents are doing the very same, just with completely different agendas. So how does one check all the boxes necessary without losing ones head? You call in the reinforcements. You seek help by any means necessary. There’s a reason the recent trend of hiring domestic caregivers or enrolling your young in preschool much earlier than most of us joined has sky rocketed in popularity.

But still there’s something missing. There’s something that just ultimately connected all us 80’s South Asian second-gen kids with our roots by the way our bibi swooped her chunni around her neck, and managed to fill the house with the scent of “thurka” at the same time every evening. We’re missing that magical touch of our own true culture.

Our parents have now completely assimilated into the Canadian way of life. The “bibi-era” is long gone – and we have no one but ourselves to blame. We forced our parents to drop their accents and their baggy salwaars. We cringed when our Caucasian friends came over and we heard the cutting board and haldi can come out the drawer. We didn’t want ANYTHING to do with our strong roots then, so why complain of their absence now?

Each way of life has its benefits. With more breadwinners, comes less stress on the youngins to be the sole source of income for the household – but they also have to think twice about child rearing. Another thing not going in our favour is just how much knowledge is now out there about parenting.

When we were babies and slightly beyond our parents just kind of played it by ear and we ended up pretty alright. Nowadays, new parents are being held to such a standard that we drive ourselves nuts, even when our kids aren’t, that we aren’t doing it right. We’re constantly trying to perfect our parenting skills only to cause more stress and less fulfillment in our new roles.

Maybe we need to take a page from our good ol’ bibis book and just take it one stroller walk, Sikhism story, or radio talk show at a time – and just go with it.

All in all both ways of life – with grandparents of home and with grandparents out the house has its pros and cons. Each family just had to figure out what works for them. Accept help when it’s offered, and seek help even when it’s not. Because the days of having young with strong demands, and raising them in today’s day and age is something challenging but brilliant – if only you aspire to this role in the best way you know how.

Don’t Get Lost in the Sauce

Whenever I go on vacation I come back refreshed and ready to take on the world in a whole different light. The Hawaiian way of life is something to be emulated, something we can all learn from. The people of Hawaii (both native and immigrant) know how to really rejoice in the beauty of simply being alive. Everyone’s step is a little bit lighter and smile a little bit brighter. Maybe it’s the year round sunshine. Maybe it’s the cultural and deep familial connection amongst the community.

But it’s something we can all stand to learn from, it’s something we all need to adopt into our own way of life.

I know it’s not easy – and of course when things are generally more mellow and go with the flow you’re going to be more relaxed and happier. And I know it can be easy to lose yourself when your day to day means you have so many various demands.

Especially when being a woman, a woman of colour – can sometimes mean you have to be a jack of all trades. It’s expected for you to cook, clean, tend to the children, engage in extra-curricular activities (for both you and the kids), and have a career as well – all while keeping your family and husband’s family happy.

Some people do it all, and make it look easy too. But if you’re like me, (and the majority) – then sometimes it can just become all too much and you have to know when and where to dial back.

First and foremost, learn what bits of yourself you’re willing to give, and what pieces to keep to yourself. If your life situation is that of having high familial obligations (you’re a wife, mother, daughter, and daughter-in-law) then by definition you are more what they need to be, and less of what you need to be for yourself. But you can still hold on to what makes you you and check all the boxes of what’s required of you.

Take time out of each day to just meditate. To dwell on where you’re at in life, and where you want to be. If it doesn’t add up, if you’re not happy with things – then begin to make small, subtle changes that’ll take you the direction you want to go.

For example, if you feel you’re constantly devoting most of you time to making others happy, begin allocating certain times throughout the day to do what makes YOU happy. Read, write, take a bath, or just be still, but just BE in the way that makes YOU happy, not anyone else.

Second, be aware of what makes you tick. A series of events or actions that irritate you or cause frustration on the daily will eventually add up and contribute to the essence of your vibe. You put out what you receive and vice versa. So if there’s things that bother you in your life – change them. Don’t let them take over the forefront of your mind; and turn you into this scary angry moMster.

For me, messiness grinds my gears. I literally can’t breathe in a dirty house. If the jackets, shoes, and bags aren’t tucked away – my muscles tense, my eyebrow furrows, and I just can’t hear my own thoughts or breathe easy.

So what do I do? I clean. I get up everyday and tidy up and put things in their place because I find when my mind races, my hands move just as quick – and to begin my day with the accomplishment of cleaning and setting things right – helps me feel like I CAN control my environment and how I allow it to make me feel.

Third – go easy on yourself and keep perspective. I used to have this knee jerk reaction of getting way too wrapped up in the fine print. I focused so much on the here and now that I forgot that life is forever changing. And if you don’t stop to take a step back and examine things from a different perspective you’ll never actually get anywhere.

Sometimes I get frustrated with the smallest thing, my daughter didn’t finish her bottle – well you know what she’ll drink more the next time around. My son watched way too much tv today – it’s okay we’ll have a park date tomorrow. My husband has to cancel or reschedule our plans – that’ll just make our time spent together all that much more meaningful.

There’s always a way to look at things in a more positive light – if you just allow yourself to draw back from the details, you’ll be able to see the big picture in all its glory.

Life’s short. Put yourself, your kids, and what makes you happy first. Leave your doubts and worries behind. Feel the moment but don’t let it consume you. And last but not least – don’t let the opinion of others dictate how you see yourself. Any time is the perfect time to change things up – all you have to do is decide when enough is enough and that you won’t be a victim of your circumstances anymore. Let go of what’s holding you back and get where you want to be because there’s no better time than right now to actually start living.

Perhaps then we can bring that Maui sun into our life even on the rainiest of days.

Mom Life Times Two

Lately I haven’t been able to bring myself to write much of anything. Aside from my daily log of baby poops, feeds, nap and wake up times – I just didn’t feel like opening myself up and pouring out what was going on in my head.

I even stopped working on my novel because I was too darn wrapped up in feeling sorry for myself. But I think I just needed a knock in the head, or rather my toddler to chuck one of his gazillion toys at me to snap out of my mombie woes.

So yeah, I’m still in the thick of it. The crazy sleepless, physically and mentally exhausting time that is the first year of a child’s life hasn’t even begun to soften up.

Although, I do feel my head has finally come above water now that the newborn phase is over. My daughter was most definitely a colicky baby and the poor girl’s digestive problems were causing her to screech and cry at an ear piercing volume for the majority of the day and, unfortunately, the night as well.

But as each week passed, things began morphing and settling into a slightly calmer but still demanding pace. As I have spent the last few days engaging in a lot of self talk I’ve realized I’m being an absolute ungrateful pansy.

Instead of complaining about the difficulty and exhaustion of life with a 4 month old and an almost 3 year old I need to embrace this new role as a mom times two.

I spend every waking moment googling how to get my daughter to sleep through the night when my toddler son doesn’t even do that every night yet. It’s time to just suck it up and roll with the punches. It’s time to dust off, shake out these self-pitying thoughts and accept that for now, life revolves around these kids. Day and night. Whether it’s 4PM or 4AM, they need me. Because I’m their everything right now, and you know what they’re mine too.

This doesn’t mean I should completely revoke my right to b*tch about having to get up for the umpteenth time to try to settle my baby or snap when my son makes a face at the third dish I present to him. It’s okay to vent, and it’s also okay to take a breather and accept help. After all, you can’t pour from an empty pot. But what you can do is take a step back, and realize that all these moments that seem torturously difficult are the ones so many yearn for. And I’m so very blessed to have the family I do and to have the honour of being these two crazy little munchkins mommy.

Writing may have taken a back seat, for now, but I also think it’s time to replenish my expressive side by combining the two most important things in my world right now – the need to connect, and the need to care for my children. So from now on (as many have requested) the Amrita Literature page will be known as a mommy blog 🙂 …

Stay tuned to hear about what I have learned so far from two very different kiddos, and what products have helped me tend to their vastly different needs.

Thanks for sticking by in my absence,

I hope you’re all having a wonderful start to your new year!

– Amrita Lit

How To Survive the First 3 Months of Motherhood

How To Survive the First 3 Months of Motherhood

The secret 4th trimester

During the first month of my firstborns life – I thought my life was completely over. Don’t get me wrong. I was utterly obsessed with him and felt like I had a renewed purpose. But I felt that was my only purpose. To be a mom. I lost myself – I lost the will to be an individual. I wanted to solely be a life source for him. But what I eventually came to realize – is that in order to provide growth to another life – one must continue to grow themselves.

In those desperate weeks of trying to get him to gain weight and literally surviving off of an hour or two of broken sleep – I was gifted a book called “The Happiest Baby” by Harvey Klein. The book revolves around the tenet that baby’s are born three months early. It is with this belief that Klein tries to explain the necessity to enforce “the fourth trimester.” Meaning, for the first three months of your child’s life you must attempt to recreate a womb-like environment. This means, whenever they fuss – implement the magical 4 s’s – swinging, shushing, sucking, and swaddling. By mimicking the womb like environment you may be able to create … The Happiest Baby.

I tried and tested Mr. Klein’s theory and let me tell you it most definitely works. But, it also sets you up to continue these four behaviours well into the child’s first year of life. Hence the reason I rocked my son to sleep until he was about two – not easy fitting a abnormally long boy onto your 5’3 body three times a day, everyday, on a rocking chair.

BUT- here’s the clincher, the newborn phase is all about survival. You must be able to survive in order to care for your offspring. And caring for your offspring is all about just getting through the day, and then the seemingly endless night.

You love them with every fibre of your being, but motherhood is also a desperately lonely and sometimes trying task. It can seem absolutely impossible to soothe your baby at times. It can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. Torturous almost – sleep deprivation can literally kill you after all.

BUT – to get through those first months, here’s he secret to survive – you just do what you got to do. You survive through any means necessary no matter what anyone else has to say about it. You must do what’s best for your child and for yourself – to save your sanity.

But here’s a few more tips I have discovered to be helpful in addition to the 4 S’s.

1. Trial and Error

2. Self-Care 

3. Setting Goals

4. Perspective 

Trial and Error

Baby’s can’t communicate. So unfortunately, all you can do is guess what’s wrong when the baby isn’t the happiest. You try feeding, burping, diaper change, or putting them to sleep. Those four things are their basic necessities. Usually, if they’re bothered- you can settle them by addressing one of those issues. So just keep guessing and trying until you succeed. Until the next hour that is … lol.

Self-Care

I’m not going to sugar coat it. I let myself go with my son. I looked like complete garbage for about six months. And then I looked like I belonged in the recycling for the other six months. I only began to care about my health and appearance after he was a year old. Then I joined a yoga class and suddenly I got my groove back. I grew my hair out once again (never do a drastic physical change when pregnant – you WILL regret it) and I pulled out my makeup bag after allowing it to collect dust for the better part of the year.
This time around, with my daughter, first I get her and my son dressed – after feeds of course. Then I get myself ready – I’m not contouring and curling my hair everyday, but I do apply a tinted moisturizer, draw in my brows, and change out of pjs – which is a big win considering I don’t put much effort into my appearance if my moods not right. But that’s just the thing, even getting ready can improve your postpartum mood.

So don’t stop caring for yourself! Another mini tip is to splurge on some extra hair or skin care products at the end of your pregnancy so you can feel pampered during the few moments you get to apply them in the first few weeks of baby’s life. It seems silly but when even taking a shower becomes a luxury you will appreciate a rich creamy moisturizer on your face at the end of the day.

Goals

This one is crucial. Always, and I repeat ALWAYS have something to look forward to. You cannot get through the first year without setting both big and small goals. The small ones should first and foremost be to survive the first two days, then two weeks, and then two months. It’s a suggestion someone mentioned in passing and I didn’t get it at first – but deep into our first month I get it. You can’t think big picture at first. You just got to get through the first 48 and take it one step at a time after that. Your body is a wreck, hormones out of whack, and without the right support system and mentality you will crumble. Short term goals help you keep perspective for he long term. Which is why you must also set long term goals. For me, I decided in the first few days of my daughters life that I would come stay with my parents once baby was 2 weeks old for about 2 weeks. Envisioning the extra space, help, and change of environment kept me going. It helped me look forward to better days. Set goals for the first month then every few months. Don’t be afraid to take on new projects which keep your brain going. After all, I did write a work of fiction during the first year of my sons life and now I’ve started the new project of journal blogging (mostly on Instagram). There’s no rule that says maternity leave means leaving all aspiration behind. If you keep perspective, you can survive and you can do it all.

It is with the teachings of that wonderful book I read, and these small lessons I have stumbled upon during many moments of desperation that I have been able to keep going, and doing my best while doing so.

Motherhood is a challenge. Don’t let anyone make you think you’re being melodramatic or weak. Just do what you need to do, and accept all the help you can along the way. Your mind, body, spirit, and offspring will thank you for implementing these teachings – trust me 🙂

Life with Two Kids! 

Hi! guess whose back…

A very sleep deprived, loopy version of me! So this is going to be short but I just felt like I had to get some of my thoughts and feelings out there. Life with two kids is like being on that tilt-a-whirl ride where you feel like you just about get your footing and bearings right and then it spins you around once again.

It’s definitely been a balancing act, but I’m blessed enough to have help and it just makes me feel that much more in awe of all the women who do it without any.

I spent the morning browsing through my literature page on Instagram. Clicking through readings, interviews, and other book related appearances. I kind of can’t believe this summer consisted of so much excitement regarding my novel. I feel like all the courage and confidence I had came from my daughter (who I was carrying at the time) because now I can’t imagine being that candid and brave.

I’m so glad I have no regrets regarding book promotion during the summer even though it was exhausting doing so while being pregnant. There were plenty of times I just wanted to throw in the towel and call in fat and pregnant but I just kept going because I didn’t want to look back with any remorse.

I wanted to feel like I did myself and the book justice since I knew once baby was here I wouldn’t have any time to devote to that project.
I look forward to picking back up where I left off but in the meantime it’s all about legos, monster trucks, and baby snuggles in between.

Thanks for sticking by –

I’ll be back in full effect soon enough. ❤️

A Community of Bullies

In recent years, the Indian community has begun to realize the delicate vulnerability of the childhood stage of one’s life. It’s when our self-esteem, mentality, and personalities are rapidly developing. The important thing to note, is that the utmost influential factor of the development of each of these traits – is a parent’s influence.

Ever notice how it a staple of our community to speak without thinking? This becomes especially true when an adult is addressing a child. Verbal abuse isn’t even considered abuse – it’s just the manner in which most Indian parents “parent.” Children who are misbehaving are degraded in the most aggressive and demeaning manner. It’s common for parents to call their offspring unpleasant names, comment on their physical appearance on the daily, and equate misbehaviour with poor character. If their children aren’t shaping up “on paper,” they’re told they’re terrible human beings.

Forget worrying about what this does to their self-assurance and identity formation. There’s much too strong of a emphasis on how a child or teen appears in the public eye. It doesn’t matter what’s going on behind closed doors or in the inner workings of a child’s psyche. All that matters is that the parents appear to be raising a stand-up kid.

Just from personal anecdote I can describe exactly when and where my self-esteem plummeted. I was born as a very fair and “cute” baby. I stayed that way until about 5-years-old. Then I began school, my nutrition took a hit, and most importantly, I began to play outdoors for longer periods of time. Unfortunately, as my pigment changed (due to increased sun exposure) – so did my self-esteem. But not because I looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw, it’s because the adults around me didn’t like what they saw anymore. Their attitude toward me was tangibly different. I just didn’t know what I had done to cause the change.

They would turn to my mom and say, “she used to be so cute, what happened?”  I would hang my head in shame wondering what I had done wrong to go from being celebrated as one of the lucky “white ones” to receiving pity for now crossing over to “the dark side.” 

The Indian community places an unhealthy amount of emphasis on a child’s appearance. Don’t believe me? Just put on a few pounds and notice how many people will comment on your changing waistline. However, if you were to ace a test or master a new hobby, typically no one would bat an eye. The negative is always pinpointed and positives are swept under the rug.

Something needs to change in the way we communicate and raise our kids. How can we stop them from being schoolyard bullies when that type of behaviour is engrained in the very way they are raised? In fact, it is how they’re raised – through verbal threats, taunts, and expressions.

Be careful of how you speak to your kids and allow others to speak to them. Nothing grinds my gears more than when someone comments on my son’s weight, or other physical attributes – it makes me want to go ahead and pick apart all the things wrong with that person’s face.

Imagine throwing it right back at them – I used to be that vocal – but now I think I’ll teach my son to do the fending for himself. After all, it’s rather character defining to be able to learn of the way you can “woo” an easily swayed community or be shunned simply by the manner in which you respond to their adult bullying.

Sajjan’s Fall From Grace

This morning I woke up to a video of the Canadian defense minister Mr. Harjit Sajjan. At first, it’s unclear what is going on in the video. Through bleary, half shut eyes I tried to make out what was going on in the video. I thought, oh dear, was he caught engaging in some promiscuous act? My heart sank, thinking, what has this man done to be caught on social media – what is this act that will cause him to fall from grace? Then I saw him flicking something out the window, “okay” I thought to myself – is he smoking? That would most definitely be something a lot of people would get “up in arms” about considering he is a “Sikh” man – because all Sikhs are otherwise oh so commendable.

And then I suddenly burst out laughing, when I realized that the horrendous act the individual recording the video felt he needed to whip out his cell phone and launch a verbal attack on the minister for was ….

Eating cherries. The minister was sitting in some suburban area of Osoyoos, BC, enjoying some fresh British Columbian cherries – and flicking the pits out the window.

Okay, I get it – it’s a act of blatant disregard for whoever’s property they were landing upon, and it just didn’t look all that professional. But for heck’s sakes – I can’t help but wonder why we as a community get our sh*ts and g*ggles from watching others in vulnerable positions.

The man making the video is pretty much high off this discovery as he excitedly and aggressively attacks the minister. Ever take a walk down 128 street in Surrey, BC – you know what you’re going to see? You’ll see individuals spitting, picking their noses, belching, sometimes inebriated, sometimes arguing with one another – and generally acting in a socially unacceptable manner. Don’t believe me? Just read this article I wrote about “Surrey’s misbehaving elderly.”

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. The man wasn’t caught doing something horrendously out of character. He made the innocent mistake of disposing of fruit in a way I am 100% certain all apnay have done at some point in time, justifying doing so by saying it’s biodegradable. And yes – he’s a minister, so he has to behave with a certain air of professionalism. But while he’s in his car? By himself? I suppose he didn’t think so many Indians were out to get him. Just desperately waiting for a slip up in order to “oust” him as this hypocritical monster.

Look at the big picture – you finally have a representation of your culture and heritage in the public eye. No, not in movies, not in television, in the Canadian parliament. So what in the world is wrong with your judgement that you want to attack the man like piranhas? Why not leave that to people of other cultures, some of whom I am sure despise seeing a man with a turban and a beard at such a high standing. But who needs to wait for them to bash the man’s reputation? We have internal internet bullies and inverse racism to do the job.

Pat yourselves on the back Indo-Canadians, you sure should be proud of your dire desire to dethrone this man from making those of us with some perspective proud.

The Lit Life | Ep. 04

Here is the latest episode for The Lit Life Podcast. If you enjoy listening to “against the grain” viewpoints and care about issues like racism, stereotypes, and hypocrisy in the Indo-Canadian culture — then have a listen!

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New Podcast Every Thursday!

The Lit Life | Ep. 02

On this episode of The Lit Life I discuss lazy Walmart auntiya, what it means to be called a “sh*tskin,” and what my personal goals for the next little bit are and what I hope yours will be.

Click here to listen: http://youtu.be/KuwG8TjpHYs

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The Lit Life | Ep. 01

In this Episode: Learn about who Amrita Lit is, what the novel Chasing Kismet is all about, and what you’re in store for if you subscribe to this podcast! It’s time to get L I T in a whole different way people…

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