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

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.

The Strength of a Mother

My mother’s always worn a black trench coat
They were a vast contrast to her creamy white skin
Which was a source of both pride and dissapointment
Proud that she looked like one of them, dissappointed that she resembled none of us
But her heart and soul belongs to her own
Replacing aspirations with obligations
To secure a house into a home
Giving each of the pieces of her heart a place to belong
Selfless service seldom met with gratitude
Her teachings pour into every aspect of my attitude
Thank you mother for all you give from within
Because I know there’s scarcely anything left
From which you can pull, when times get hard and your patience wears thin
The eternal and everlasting
Love of a strong poised Indian woman
The shield of her coat
Keeping in the warmth
Closing out the cold
Providing the sanctuary, required even as you yourself grow old

The Balancing Act

As you all know I recently released my South Asian Fiction Adventure novel titled Chasing Kismet.

Along with many messages of congratulations and praise, also came a few offhand snide remarks along the lines of, “oh WOW I can’t believe this is actually good!” Or “did you seriously write this all yourself?”

-__-

Over the last few years I have developed a thicker skin than my insecure young adult self had (dang, when did I leave the YA zone)? And I’ve learned to take the negative with a grain of salt just as I don’t allow the rave reviews and soaring sales get to my head. Because no one falls quicker than a person whose head gets too big to carry, or someone who just can’t phase out the haters.

None of that is what I really want to talk about here, though. What I really want to explain is that there was no magical shortcut way for me to have produced this book and have something to forever be proud of.

Really – what it took was a big ol’ balancing act of keeping all my priorities and responsibilities straight. It wasn’t easy “keeping all my ducks in a row.” And that’s why they weren’t most of the time. Usually, when you take on too much – certain things suffer while other aspects of your life flourish. The secret to keeping it all together is learning what to put on the back burner and when to switch it up before you totally eff up the “lesser of your pressing priorities.”

For me, what I have to balance is my professional obligation to my husband’s family business, my role as a mother, my personal writing goals, and taking care of myself too.

Now I won’t lie – if I’m kicking ass at one or two of the things mentioned above, I’m usually sucking badly at the rest of it (typically my personal health and appearance takes the biggest hit).

But I still consider it a win if my son’s happy and fed, and if I manage to stay on top of my office work on a weekly basis.

But if you step back from this all- and really think about it, it’s quite funny that men never really have to struggle to find a balance between personal and professional aspirations. Usually, they’re one in the same and quite in sync with one another. For some reason only women have to conjure up some serious inner strength and mental stamina to pull off this seemingly impossible balance act called – having a family AND a career.

The ultimate responsibility of child rearing DOES always fall upon a mother, so any hopes, dreams, and aspirations outside of that role, usually fall by the wayside unless you try your ass off to make sh*t happen.

If you want something badly enough, you’ll find a way to make it all work. I knew from a very young age, pretty much at the age of 11, when I read my first real novel “The Underground Railroad to Canada” that I wanted to have my name embossed onto a glossy cover one day too. The immortal lasting effect of literature was something that just mesmerized me. As did my passion for wanting to create social change, or atleast sparking the mind of the individual who would do so.

So there you have it, a dream was born – one to be a real, actual, “big time” author.

Of course it took longer for me than most to publish this book and I have by no means “made it” in the world of literature. Not to
mention that having a child does throw your whole existence for a loop, and of course I faced countless instances of fret and worry about how I would be viewed as a married woman writing fiction about taboo subjects in my culture – but once you release your own demons, there’s nothing holding you back.

All that’s left is to put your pen to the paper, or in my case fingers to the screen, and let your heart bleed out your truest desires until your dreams become reality.

Purchase Chasing Kismet here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1540886131

Like my page on FB: www.facebook.com/amritaliterature 

Follow me on Instagram: www.instagram.com/amritaliterature 

 

Backyard Bullies

Oftentimes, it’s easy to think of bullying as being something which originates from an individual much different from the target. Unfortunately so, there is a common phenomenon currently occurring for bullies to be targeting individuals who are “one of their own.”

These instigators may not be aware that they’re demeaning someone who is absolutely no different than themselves, and just how detrimentally damaging their behaviour may be.

Call it a defence mechanism, ignorance, or a result of a poor upbringing. But whatever it is – it’s causing newly immigrated South Asian children to feel ostracized and inferior to their peers.

Time and time again, the concept of those dubbed as “dippers” or “freshies” is always used as a manner to classify the “acceptable Indians” from the ones who are deemed unworthy of inclusion.

To make matters even worse, these taunts and blatant in school emotional antagonism is nearly always instigated by South Asian second generation immigrant children, toward first generation South Asian children.

It’s no surprise that this tendency is all too frequent in our schools, since the mass media portrays all Indians in such a unfavourable manner. The smell of curry and thick accents are synonymous with dark brown skin and hair. This drives western born offspring to become vehemently defensive of their own identities – causing them to wish to differentiate themselves from this portrayal of Indians.

It’s essential for our youth to understand that a kid may dress or speak a little differently from them as a result of the environment they’ve grown up in, or because they truly did just immigrate to Canada from India. It is crucial to engraving the notion that it is never acceptable to make these vulnerable individuals feel inferior simply because of who appear to be.

Certain aspects which are a part newly immigrated or less acculturated children’s lives, and are only a small part of their social self becomes pitted against them. This crumpled the odds of them having a well structured social life. It also sets the tone of their life trajectory.

It’s time to stop this phenomenon and educate your children about how excruciatingly hurtful such things can be for someone who may already be well aware of the subtle differences in their persona. Perhaps your child isn’t the instigator – but it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure kindness is at the forefront of their offsprings behaviour each and every day in and out of a school setting –regardless of if they think they’re “too good” to be classified with the kids who are actually in fact just like them.

Believe it or not, when you dig beneath the surface, typically we all wish for the same things in life (more or less). Less assimilated individuals are just children (and maybe even some grown-ups) who want the same thing the “more westernized” groups of society desire – acceptance.

Remind your children (and yourselves) that there’s no need to shift the spotlight onto an easier target in order to protect ones own self from being attacked. Rather, enlighten them on the importance of challenging commonly accepted stereotypes and demeaning portrayal of East Indians rather than support them by partaking in the quest to alienate those who don’t fit in with “the majority.”

Being a minority doesn’t have to mean to be on constant guard, it just means we have to be one step ahead the masses and not allow anyone bash those whom we share our roots with.

Keeping Up

It’s easy to become like a hamster in a wheel. A burned out hamster. One clinging on for dear life hoping not to get flung off that wheel and squashed by it. 

Sometimes trying to be all and do it all as a parent can leave you feeling like this. No matter how hard you try or how much you give – it’s just.. simply…not.. ENOUGH.

But you keep pushing through and you cling on to the rays of hope that you’re doing just fine. Despite the sighs and side glances of those surrounding you. 

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in these 15 months and some odd days of motherhood it’s that you just have to let go of expectations. 

Forget about caring what people think of you. Heck forget about what YOU think about you. Just do your best and know that it’s enough. Know that YOU are enough. 

If your kids happy, healthy, and fed – you’re doing just fine. 

So don’t allow your mommy light to burn out. And when the wheel starts spinning just a little too fast to keep up, step off and take a breather. 

Because you’ll always be able to hop back on and hold on for dear life with a clearer and better mind set when need be. 

Sorry for the lack of posts. Life’s been kicking my butt lately. Been struggling to stay physically and mentally up to it all. I tend to set standards way too high for myself and am most definitely my toughest critic. 

But I’m slowly learning that sometimes to be more means to give less. 

Any way, hope this was relatable to at least some of you. I know a lot of moms feel this pressure to be wonder-mom just like I do. But sometimes you just have to put yourself first! 
 
Have a wonderful weekend everyone! ?