Let me start this blog with a big “thank-you” to each of you who sent us well wishes on our pregnancy. We found out we will be having a girl, news that thrilled “M.” Throughout the pregnancy, he has told me it would be a girl. In fact, he was so confident in his prediction that he refused to pick out a boy’s name. Originally, he said he wanted the baby’s sex to be a surprise but as excitement built once I knew, he caved in and wanted to know.
We’ve had quite a number of people who asked if he was disappointed we were having a girl thanks in part to the idea that all Indians prefer male children. While that may be true in some parts of India, it’s not true for Kerala. It’s a matriarchal society and as my sister-in-law said “girls are special.” At first I was slightly annoyed that people would ask such a brazen question but then I began to look at it from a different angle. I realized that part of me felt relief that they asked as opposed to continuing to carry around incorrect assumptions about what was “normal” in Indian culture and what was not. How else are people supposed to learn? The whole purpose of my starting this blog was to give a glimpse of what life is really like for mixed culture relationships like ours. We don’t subscribe to be anything but happy. Isn’t that what this is all about?
Generally, in Keralan culture babies are named only after the baby arrives and there is a baby naming ceremony. I guess you long time blog readers know that we don’t do anything the typical way. We’ve already got a name picked out for her (some blog readers know it) but for the rest of you, we’ll keep it a surprise.
In the coming months I’m sure you’ll probably be hearing from me first-hand about parenting issues in a multi-cultural relationship. Some of the things “M” said he didn’t have a preference on, he suddenly does. Something tells me this little girl is going to have him wrapped around her fingers. Since this is his first baby, I think he’s in an “ignorance is bliss” phase right now. He has no idea what he’s in for in the way of less sleep, crabby babies, toddler tantrums, poopy diapers etc. It’s kind of cute but having already been a parent of a newborn before, it’s also scary. After seeing his reaction to another Indian student winning the National Spelling Bee, I have a feeling he’s going to be a bit of a tiger dad (eek!) I’ll keep you all posted.
On another note, I’m excited to say we had our first Blindian Love meet-up last month. Five of the members made their way down to the Deep South to help “M” and I celebrate our baby’s impending birth. We originally were supposed to have a traditional Keralan ceremony, however, things fell through and Amma (“M”’s mother) could not come after the auspicious date was already chosen. We realized if she came on the auspicious date, then she wouldn’t be here to spend time with the baby. God always has a way of working things out and instead we had a “Blindian” celebration with soul food, Indian music, Henna tattoos, a sari tying contest and baby charades. Big thanks to Rashida, Maria, Renee, Jilliane, and Stephanie for traveling so far and surrounding us with so much love and support. “M” and I can never thank you enough.
On another note, the Facebook group is growing by leaps and bounds. We now have over 100 members in Blindian Love and about 40 or so members on the couple’s side. Couples in committed and serious long-term relationships are eligible to join Blindian Love Couples after posting for a while in the general group. We’re a no drama zone that has conversations on everything from religion to eating with hands and everything in between. If you haven’t had an opportunity to stop by the Facebook group, I would encourage you to do so. I’ve met some of the most awesome people through it.
In the meantime, I wish you all the best on your journeys lovelies.
She’s Almost Here!! August 8, 2012
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.
An Ode to a Special Father June 18, 2011
Five years ago my children were spending their first lengthy amount of time with their new stepdad- M. We had temporarily put our lives on hold to move to India in order for me to work on a media project and to spent time in M’s country. We were deciding whether the States or India would be the best place for us to establish our newly formed family.
Ultimately, we decided to settle back here in the deep south of the U.S. but I wouldn’t trade those months in India for anything in the world. Not only did I learn so much about my honey’s beautiful culture but my children forged an unbreakable bond with the man they now affectionately call “papa.”
After all of these years, I can finally openly admit I was secretly “auditioning” the ready-made family thing with M. My dear sweet hubby had been a bachelor for 38 years when we married. He was accustomed to doing what he wanted, how he wanted and when he wanted with no regards to anyone else. Suddenly, he meets this woman who’s divorced with not one but TWO kids and his world is turned topsy turvy. I don’t think I could have handled such dramatic changes as gracefully and as lovingly as M. has.
I’ve never heard him complain. Not when his pockets went from supporting a family of one to a family of four virtually overnight. …not when we’ve had to cancel or change plans because of a sick child or childcare issues…and not when the kids have us both strung out to the max. M has walked two miles in monsoon rains to get medication for our son and he’s been one of their biggest cheerleaders. He’s always said from the beginning that he’s not trying to replace their biological father, he just wants them to know whatever they need–he’s always here for them.
In return, the children have showered him with love. They light up when he walks in a room and I have no problem admitting he’s the “good cop” and I’m the “bad cop.” He spoils them and gives them all the things mommy won’
Watching this kind of love on a daily basis has made me look more closely at the relationships between fathers and their children. There is a big difference between being a father and being a daddy. Anyone can donate biological fluid to the mission of procreation. It’s yet another thing to spend sleepless nights, frustrating homework sessions and rollercoaster days with a child. M is a Daddy.
My kids are blessed. They have two dads. One biological and one brought to them as a result of love. Both dads love and nurture the needs of the twins in beautiful ways but this is my thank you to M for being such an incredible father. I know it hasn’t been easy but you’ve made it look like a piece of cake. I love you M and Happy Father’s Day from me, P and G.
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!!