Raising Hope, Hell and Two Beautiful Babies October 25, 2011
When falling madly in love, we imagine quiet dinners, adventurous outings, white picket fences and 2.5 kids. When we are thinking about those 2.5 kids and the dog named Rover, we rarely think about the realities of co-parenting. Sure, we may talk about what religion we will raise the children to be or how we would like them to be educated but how often do we talk about who’s going to be “good cop” and who’s going to be “bad cop?”
In my house I’m the bad cop. Much to my dismay, M spoils the kids rotten. He’s always saying “but they’re kids. This is the time they can eat whatever they want to” or “Honey why are you making them go to bed?” (uhm maybe because it’s MIDNIGHT?!)
M doesn’t grasp the fact that raising children here is so very different. No they can’t roam the streets alone like you see so many children in India doing…there are pervs on the streets. No they can’t eat big gigantic bowls of Fruit Loops for breakfast, lunch and then gum for dinner. They need to fill up on fruits and veggies and NO- Law and Order, First 48 and Criminal Intent are not appropriate viewing choices for ten-year-olds.
The foods here are filled with preservatives and considering our children are already genetically pre-disposed for obesity, it’s all the more reason they eat fruits and veggies and chill on the sugar. While I’m trying to make sure they choose healthy snacks, M is bringing gummy worms, candy bars and ice cream home. I’m telling them to go to bed and he’s letting them stay up after I go to sleep then they are dragging during the day. I limit t.v. time to two hours each day during the summer and weekends only during the school year. You get the picture. He’s like the cool uncle and I’m the overbearing auntie.
This may sound cute but really after a while, it’s a royal pain in the ass. It’s a constant discussion and even though I sit and explain to M how differently parenting has to be here in order to raise successful children, I can tell he just doesn’t get it. Fortunately, mama’s rules always end up winning out in the end but it’s not always easy. When I was cautiously observing how M. would be with children, I thought these shows of love and affection was so special. I wasn’t thinking how they would be if they were it was every day behavior.
Five years in, we’re making small steps of progress. I’ve finally gotten M to stop contradicting me in front of the kids. He’ll give me little looks but most importantly, we wait until after the kids are out of the room to make most decisions so we can present a united front. That’s not to say that M. doesn’t cave in to our daughter’s “papa pleasssssseee” or our son’s male bonding rallies because he does. It just means he’s more aware that kids these days don’t come in packages that you water, feed and bam…successful adult.
Culturally, there are things M can’t fathom having to deal with as a parent. Whether I like it or not, the kids’ bodies are changing and I would much rather have them hear from me or M about those changes than from other children or out on the street. No, those conversations weren’t easy but whether I like it or not, our children are exposed to so many things from friends and peers. I’d much rather they have the proper info than to be misinformed. M can’t believe parents have to have these types of conversations with children at all. Trust me, I wish I didn’t have to but life is life and being unrealistic won’t get me anywhere.
I may rail against M’s parenting decisions sometimes but I have to admit I have learned a few things about gaining new perspective.The fact of the matter is that there is no handbook to proper parenting and what may work for one parent, may very well not work for the other. M and I are carving out a new parental path here. IMHO, there just needs to be balance and consistency. Until the next blog lovelies.
A Taste of Home March 30, 2011
When M and I met, I was the type of girl who always ate the same things over and over again. It was rare for me to venture out from my preconceived notions of what constituted great flavors. Then I moved to India and despite the suitcase full of food I brought over to satisfy the kids’ palate, it wasn’t going to be enough. I had no other choice but to expand my taste buds (and cooking skills) along with my mindset toward the culture. I’m glad I did.
The heady, full-bodied spices of Indian food beckoned me into a world of taste I’d never experienced before. I finally fully understood what the phrase, “A taste of home,” really meant. I knew M’s taste of home (fish curries, biriyani, etc) was drastically different than my taste of home (fried chicken, dressing, etc) and one was no more important or tastier than the other. They were just different…like we are. But just as we make the differences in our personalities work within our marriage, we do the same thing with our meals. At least two to three times a week, I cook something “Indian.” The rest of the week is filled with a blend of Americana, Mexican, and Italian foods. . If I must say so myself, I’m becoming quite the Indian cook thanks to a variety of recipes and lots of experimentation.
My time in India gave me an appreciation for foods I had not had in years. When I was growing up, my grandmother would always get fresh vegetables from the local farmer. I learned to shell peas and shuck corn under my grandmother’s watchful eye. I watched her carefully cook and can these foods. My grandmother’s way of cooking with love stayed with me and as a result, I love to cook…I always have, but somewhere along the line canned goods and boxed meals became the norm. For a busy working mom, they were quick meals with decent tastes. Only during special occasions or holidays did I find myself dedicating the time and love to cooking a meal. Then I moved to India where sound of the vegetable walla calling out each morning became the norm. If you want a canned good there, you really have to seek it out. I was in awe of the fresh veggies I saw neatly lined up in bright bursts of color. I wondered why we didn’t see more of this in the U.S.
Then it hit me. We Americans have a very different attitude toward food than Indians do. We gorge on food and it becomes the focus of holidays, occasions etc. We’ll take any excuse to eat and we want it fast. While Indians celebrate, they don’t always celebrate with feasts of so much food that they can barely wobble out. Instead, they focus on a few dishes filled with lots of flavor. While, M. enjoys eating as much as the next man, he’s always commented on how we always have so much food at different events. He says he will never understand America’s obsession with food- the very thing that’s supposed to nourish our bodies –not help ravage it.
I came home with a new attitude toward tastes, cooking and food in general. My spice cabinet and drawer are lined with the likes of cumin, turmeric, tamarind, fennel and more exotic blends. Now, like my grandmother, I cook from scratch with the freshest ingredients possible. I have earned my mustard seed burn stripes to prove my dedication to perfecting my curries. I take my time cooking and savoring my meals. My reward has been a 20lb weight loss and a husband who jokingly says his AA wife shouldn’t be able to cook Indian food as well as an Indian woman. Until the next blog!!