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! 💕

A Mother’s Love

To have a child is to get another chance at loving yourself
They’re the summary of all the things you never knew you could be
They’re the part of you that you never even knew you had
You suddenly have this all encompassing strength and resilence to keep pushing forward
Things get pushed into the corners of the right perspective
Everything that used to matter doesn’t anymore
It’s a new reality, a new life
A second chance at it all
A time to get it right and even if you don’t
They’ll still always be right by your side
Looking up at you & reaching out,
Into the depths of the most giving parts of your soul

Privileged

The next time you’re out and about on a sunny day take a look around your neighbourhood. You’ll probably see some kids playing on the corner. Cars driving a tad too fast for being that close to the kids. And last but not least you’ll most likely see some middle-aged to senior citizens doing some sort of work outside.

Be it yard work, washing the car, or you may even spot a Bibi (Indian grandma) in rubber boots up to her knees pressure washing the exterior of her house.

The other day I was gone for a walk with my son in our quaint Surrey neighborhood and I swear every second to third house had something going on outside. There were people who didn’t choose to spend the day inside watching television but rather contribute to taking pride in the place they live.

It made me genuinely happy to see. That the elders of our community feel the need to contribute to their households in some form or another. If it can’t be financially, at least they are doing their part in the general up-keeping of their homes.

It’s not only fantastic but also reflective of the fact that they come from a generation of extremely hardworkers. Anyone from the “baby-boom years” or earlier, just seem to have their priorities in line (for the most part).

They’re savers, they’re movers, they’re do-ers. They don’t sit waiting for hand-me-outs like people of my generation (sorry, not sorry).

What is it about some of us “youngins” that seems like we have zero drive or motivation?

We need to learn a thing or two from the tenets on which our elders operate.

But I can’t help but feel like our parents and grandparents may actually have a hand in causing us to be – well simply put, lazy.

We are a generation of individuals who have the keys to range-rovers handed to us upon request, have our tuitions (if we don’t choose to take over the good ol’ family business) paid for us, and who have food, clothes, and shelter provided to us without our parents expecting ANYTHING in return.

Now I am not saying we should be paying rent as soon as we turn of legal age (well, maybe that’s not such a bad idea) but I am just saying that we should have the desire to contribute to our households in some form or another.

So parents, if you’re reading this – I get that you want to give your kids a better life than the one you had, but don’t be enablers of a passive way of life.

Give your pre-teens a paper route, it won’t be the talk of the town that oh my goodness perhaps you guys aren’t as well-off as you propose yourselves to be if your precious little ones have to find a job. Have a daily chore list that gets shared by EVERYONE in the home. Mom’s shouldn’t be breaking their backs trying to be a one man show when they have fully capable grown children who could be doing their own laundry or emptying the dishwasher once in a while.

And for anyone younger reading this, appreciate the fact that your grandparents and parents aren’t lazy asses allowing everything to fall to shit. They could easily live selfish and easier lives and leave the hard stuff to you or someone else, but they don’t. They cook, they clean, they manage, they take responsibilities – maybe it’s time you did too.

Anyway – sorry for sounding preachy, just had to sound off about another thing that grinds my gears sometimes. In summary – get off your asses and do something.

What’s in a name?

A whole lot actually. Today at one of my sons weekly baby gatherings a newbie fresh faced mom to a cute little baby boy walked in. He looked maybe about six months or so and she didn’t look one bit tired. “Ugh.” I thought to myself. “One of those.”

Anyway, when I asked her what her son’s name was (the usual mom small talk way to break the ice) she replied “Lucas.” I expected her to ask what my sons name was but instead she said “Mohammed, right?”

She must’ve heard me or one of the other moms calling him Mahaan. But in her memory bank of ethnic names only likened it to sounding like Mohammed. So that’s what she turned it into.

There’s nothing wrong with making a mistake. But there is something wrong with not bothering to correct oneself when I said “No, it’s Mahaan.”

Oh okay “Mohaam. Close enough.”

I decided at this point I could either tear into her lecturing her about diversity, the dangers of grouping all us “brown folk” together, and how it’s just plain rude to not bothering listening properly when someone is telling you you’re mispronouncing their child’s name. Or that I could just let it go and carry on singing about mary and her little lamb. I chose the latter.

I remember the three week long period in which Mahaan was nameless. I didn’t take the task of naming such a perfect little being lightly.

I wanted it to represent a strong, confident, and proud individual. I also knew I wanted his name to be representative of his roots. This was extremely important to me. I wasn’t going to be naming my Indo-Canadian child Xander or Michael.

So during this time of debate over his name (which got narrowed down by my in-laws to having to had begin with the letter M due to a temple proceeding which happened the day we brought him home from the hospital) a lot of people said but why do you want such a traditional name?

We live in Canada. He’s going to be raised with English as his first language. Plus, how the heck is anyone going to correctly pronounce the name Mahaan?

To that I responded well, although this is where he’s born and raised, what gives him the colour of his skin, hair, and eyelashes is the land from which we originate. It’s important for him to carry a piece of that. And I think it’s a character building trait to be able to clearly and confidently correct your name if someone doesn’t quite get it right.

When I was growing up during roll-call the teacher on call would almost ALWAYS without fail drop the last “a” on my name. They had heard of Amrit before, but not Amrita. So that “A” became invisible to them and there you have it I wasn’t Amrita anymore.

I wasn’t significant enough to have my name correctly pronounced.

I wasn’t as proud of my cultural background as I am now so instead of correcting them I internally chastised my parents for not making me a Amy or Amber.

I recall vowing to change my name to one of those two as soon as I was of legal age.

I’m glad I grew out of this scared conformative way of thinking.

No shade to those who do go with more western sounding names with their eastern children (I’ve met both a wee little Punjabi Xander and Michael in recent days). But this just wasn’t going to fly for me, and neither is anyone not bothering to say my son’s name in the proper manner.

So what are your thoughts? Am I too conservative with my views? Need I change with the times and have a easily pronounced name that blends in beautifully with all the other kids who will be able to say the name correct but surely pause for a moment as to why they don’t LOOK like they match their name.

Trust me, no matter how hard we try or how deep the desire to assimilate. There will always be a line in the sand. There will always be a majority and a minority. So why not just own the label and turn it into something to be proud of?

Mom Life: Onward & Upward

There’s certain life events which are definitively life altering. You think of your life as two ends of a spectrum on either side of this event. For many mothers – this point of revolution is the day they became a parent.

Life before baby was fairly uncomplicated. I worked for my family business, was a fairly decent wife, daughter-in-law, and daughter. And generally just kept to myself basking in the simple joys of an occasional movie night or take-out meal.

Then came the on a loop blurred together few months of motherhood involving diaper changes, feeds, difficult to induce burps, and gummy smiles to keep you chuggin’ along.

Sure I complain about all the challenges supporting a wee little life brings, but you know what I have come to realize now that I’ve come up for some air at the one year mark. That parenthood is pretty dang awesome.

The positive changes of becoming a parent are something that no one really talks about. Aside from the obvious – having an unconditional eternal promise of love straight from the depths of your soul directly into a mini-me version of yourself. There’s also the fact that if you’re the ‘type-a’ personality type like myself – you’re not going to take your new role as a mother lightly.

Meaning in every aspect, at every moment, you will devote your absolute entire being to becoming the best in every form relevant to your child.

I quickly learned that in order to be a good mom I needed a few key factors to fall into place. They weren’t easy to come by but my oh my are they essential to keeping your marbles and being able to utilize them in the best way possible.

For starters, you need some decent amount of chunked together sleep. Not an hour here, and hour there, while blearily fumbling for the soother in the middle of the night then failing to get it into your child’s mouth hoping for just five more minutes of solitude. No, I mean actual quality disturbance free sleep. Here’s where the benefit of living with extended family comes in (yes there’s perks too).

When my body was still healing and I was recovering from the throes of childbirth I used to hand off my child for some one on one (or two on one) grandparent time in the wee hours of the morning and shove my face back into my pillow and sleep like I had never slept before.

Just those two consecutive hours of sleep were all I needed in order to feel like an actual human being again.

Then once I started getting my footing as a parent and moving about at a normal pace and fashion wasn’t so daunting – I realized I needed to feel good about myself again.

So began my trek to “shed the baby weight.” I yoga-ed, I ran, I dieted, and the results came.

It wasn’t easy, and it still isn’t, but the emotional and physical improvements are enough to keep me going on this path of self-improvement.

A year is all it took for me to realize that my child has truly brought out the best in me. Aspects of myself that I didn’t even know existed are now what brings me the self-confidence and happiness to keep going and keep smiling while I am at it.

Everyone speaks of the sleepless nights and how they miss their freedom – but let’s not forget that having a kid is a huge increase of responsbility which brings about SO MUCH good in your life.

Having my son has pushed me out of my comfort zone (that started with the very first pre-natal doctor’s visit). There are very few situations in which I feel shy or anxious anymore. Before just simple exchanges at the grocery store would send my stomach into knots. Now I sincerely don’t give a shit what people think or say about me.

I wake up earlier that I ever thought I would just to get a head start to my day. I spend extra time cleaning, getting ready, eating healthy before the sun even rises sometimes just to start off on the right foot.

All these little changes are what add up to really mean something in the grand scheme of things. By changing my habits for the better, I am not only happier with my own self, but I am setting the best example for my son as well.

I never thought a tiny person would have such a huge influence on my life. But he’s the reason I do what I do and I will continue to improve myself just for his well-being! Because that’s what it means to truly love your offspring, putting them above yourself, regardless of the circumstances, and no matter how challenging it may seem at the time.

For the mom who wants to give up

There’s no quitting motherhood. It’s the one commitment we make that there’s just no getting out of. But this doesn’t mean that some days we really just don’t feel up to the job.

I’ve been there many a times in just my short shy of one year span of parenthood.

I’ve sobbed, screamed, cursed, and felt hopeless at my ability to care for my son.

In between the third and fourth attempt within the same ungodly hour of the night to soothe him back to sleep by bouncing and moving about the room with half open eyes I have truly just felt at my lowest point sometimes.

I have felt completely ill equipped and doomed to be able to last through the extremely demanding task of caring for my little guy.

It is during these extremely trying times of wanting to just give up that I realize not only that I CAN do this. That I AM doing it.

I am raising him to the best of my ability. I am giving him my all. Every fibre of my being is devoted to keeping him happy, healthy, and mentally and physically growing in the right direction.

It doesn’t matter if it brings me to the brink of losing my sanity. You know why? Because just when I feel like I can’t take anymore, he will draw me back in.

He will reach out and touch my cheek ever so gently instead of smacking, biting, or pinching me when I least expect it.

He will gaze up at me with half closed sleepy eyes and I’ll see the twinge of a smile.

He’ll crawl to that corner of the room with all the cords tucked away and mischievously grin at me knowing I am going to come scoop him up just as soon as he reaches it.

He is my strength, he keeps me going, he’s what makes it all worth it.

And no, every day isn’t beautiful. I’m not the best mother in the world. I have made plenty of mistakes that I look back upon and cringe, and I am sure I will still make a couple dozen more. But what matters is that I’ll never give up on him, because he’s what’s given purpose to my life.

So for all the mom’s out there who feel like they just can’t bear another meltdown, another slightly forced feeding, or explosive blow out of a three day overdue poop, you’re doing it, and you’re doing it well.

GIve yourself more credit. Everyone around you will point out all the things you’ve done wrong. It’s just a reflection of their own insecurities with their parenting past. Just tune out the voices telling you can’t do it, and listen to the voice telling you you’re doing a perfectly fine job and to just keep going.

You’ll both make it and you’ll both look back at the days of diapers and dummies remembering only the sleepy smiles and tender touches.

It’s a short fleeting time in your life. There’s no need or expectation to try to enjoy every moment, but at least hold on to the moments that make it all worth it. <3