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.
Black + Indian=Blindian June 1, 2010
Today, I read a post from an Indian American woman involved in a relationship with an AA male for the last five years. They are contemplating making another step forward and she is torn between love and family wishes and values.
Based on the little bit that the OP posted, I could tell this was a subject to which she has given a great deal of thought. One of the things she mentioned in her post that grabbed me most was this line “It’s difficult when I have been ingrained in a culture that believes marriage is about two families coming together over similar values, lifestyles, and histories and that love is unstable and unreliable, something that will not be able to hold us together”
Her words really made my mental wheels turn and I know I may get a great deal of slack for what I’m about to say but at least be open enough to know the thought process behind my words. I think there is something to be said for arranged marriages. There are lower divorce rates and overall, arranged marriages seem to be more stable. Of course there are exceptions to this as there are in any generalization.
When we date are we not looking for people who share the same values and lifestyle as us? Yes, we want to have that euphoric feeling of love but speaking from experience, that feeling will only take us so far when it comes to enduring the ups and downs of relationships. That’s not to say that love is not important and does not have its place but I believe it is important to have shared values and lifestyles. Do I think that you can be in love and have the things we desire as far as values, lifestyles and histories go? Absolutely! However, I also see the argument behind arranged marriages- IF all parties involved are okay with it. It’s totally different if someone is forced into a relationship because it’s what is expected of them. I hope that everyone reading this understands that I believe in love. Love brought me and my husband together but so did shared values. However, I also can see the argument behind arranged marriages. That being said, I only agree with arranged relationships if everyone involved is on board with the process. I’m a sucker for love and I believe there is a place to create new traditions and histories together but I also believe in respecting the ones that got us to where we are as long as they are not disrespectful or hurtful to others. Therein lies part of the problem with why arranged marriages are looked upon so negatively. When parents or relatives that are arranging the relationships are so ingrained in their way of approaching marriages, that they overlook the feelings and wishes of the person they are arranging, it becomes hurtful. I believe the intentions of arranged marriages and the idea behind them were good at some point but when people impose those their ways upon someone else, that’s a problem.
Since I’ve started this blog, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many people who are thrilled to find couples that mirror themselves. I’ve also met so many people who are struggling to find answers to being in a Blindian relationship. For those people I say this, as I said to the OP. You already know that no one can make the decision that’s best for you other than you. I happen to believe that’s the healthiest attitude anyone can have when it comes to making major decisions.
Believe it or not, you are not alone . In the last four years that M and I have been together I have met at least four other black/Indian couples who actually got married but kept it secret for years. It’s such a sad way to live for them. There are always the questions and thoughts of ” ‘why can’t you tell your family or friends about me? I’m a good person, they’ll like me just give them the opportunity to meet me and you’ll see'”…or “‘ I don’t like being anyone’s secret.'” The thoughts of why and how they’ve allowed themselves to be in such a difficult place go on and on. It’s inevitable that people on the outside pass judgment about relationships like this all the time (and for the record they are not exclusive to Black/Indian relationships). That judgement in itself can add a whole boatload of issues but I digress.
At the end of the day, people make decisions that shape their lives and the futures of not only themselves but of future generations as well. This life is too short to make decisions based on how others feel you should live your life if it’s not something you’re completely 100% on board with. Make the decisions that you know in the end will bring you peace. I’m looking forward to hearing your comments on this issue. Until the next blog..
Indians and “They” April 20, 2010
I’ve noticed something lately and I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it. It’s Indians and the word “they.” I’ve noticed that this is used quite often when they are referring to other Indians. From what I have noticed, it’s usually used to talk condescendingly or negatively about fellow Indians. It’s as if the person who is speaking isn’t included in the group they are referring to.
M does it, my Hindi teacher does it, and several of my Indian friends do it. For some reason, this has been blatantly obvious to me as of late. However, I’ve also noticed that by contrast, the people saying “they” don’t use it when referring to the positive things about the same group of people. That’s when they say “we.” For example, I had this conversation with M the other day where he was talking about how he felt Indians were obsessed with money. During the conversation he would routinely say things like “they will do anything to save a dollar.” A little while later he was saying what hard workers Asians are. During this conversation he would consitently say “we” and he ended it by saying “we will put in 16 hour days, without thinking twice.”
Am I the only person who has noticed this? I have my own thoughts about why “they” and “we” are used but I am interested in other opinions. I understand the desire to distance one’s self from things that are perceived as negative and embracing the things that are seen as positive but I’ve not seen this behavior on this level before or at least it’s never been so bad that I’ve noticed it before. I’m looking forward to hearing your opinions. Until the next blog…
India Trip Report March 27, 2010
Well, we finally have another trip to India under our belts. Out of all of the trips we’ve taken, I have to say that this one was by far one of the strangest in terms of things being out of whack for us.
I should have known things would be different when we got to the airport at 5:45 for our 6:15 flight. I can’t tell you what threw us behind because I honestly don’t know but fortunately we were able to make the flight with few problems. The trip was longer than usual because Continental has changed up the route that we generally took. It was an uncomfortable flight and when we finally landed in Delhi we discovered that my cell phone and a couple of bottles of medication were missing. We knew it was on the flight we had just gotten off of and we immediately went to the Continental office but they claimed nothing had been found.
Fast forward from the CRAZIEST taxi ride I’ve ever had and we land at the B and B which starts 8 days of M griping about everything he possibly can. “The soap is too small-what is this sample soap?!”, “The water is too cold.” “They want us to pay 40 ruppees for this?! Are they crazy?” blah blah blah.
I finally had an utter meltdown on him about the 6th day in because I couldn’t take the constant whining anymore. He was coming across as a spoiled Americanized brat. Sure, I had my own complaints but it was only about the traffic and the way the drivers were insanely navigating through the streets. At one point during a particularly rocky rickshaw ride, it suddenly occurred to me just how much God protects us on a daily basis. Here I was riding in an aluminum can with no seatbelts in traffic where no one obeyed traffic laws, where everyone was racing to cut the next person off and it occured to me that I could die in this situation. For some reason in India, I become much more of a risk taker because I know certain things are related to culture and there’s very little I can change.
One of the best parts of our trip was my meeting with my in-laws. For you long time blog readers you may remember me saying there was one sister of M”s whose husband openly told me they were against our marriage from the very beginning but he never told me why even though I asked repeatedly. I only met the sister and her husband once after our marriage and it was three years ago. Since then, whenever we visit India, I have refused to visit because I wanted an answer about why they were against our marriage. I don’t do fakeness and the last thing I was going to do is meet with someone who didn’t care for something that is such a major part of my life.
Anyway, since the last time I refused to meet with them, they pulled the kid card on me, meaning they kept telling me through M how disappointed their kids were because they had not met their American auntie. When I have learned about M’s family is that they don’t believe in apologies the way I do. Rather than apologize and say ‘we’d like to meet with you’, it was easier for them to use their children as a catalyst for another meeting. I’m okay with that because I understand. I honestly believe they didn’t think M and I would last for as long as we have. Much of it has to do with M’s past as a wild child. They didn’t think he was ready for such a huge committment. I have since found out that the other reason is because I was a divorcee with two children, taking their precious never married brother. ROLL EYES.
Anyway, I digress. We met with a great number of conditions on my end. I confess I was nervous for a number of reasons. I shouldn’t have been. The visit was awesome. I could tell M’s sister was a bit nervous too but evenutally we all warmed up to one another. The kids are absolutely adorable and I immediately took to my niece Manya. They are both bright loving children.
M”s sister tried to stuff me with food. She even fried chicken for the first time because she thought I would like it. I later asked Manoj if it had anything to do with the stereotype that black people love fried chicken and he was mortified. He said “no way! If she knew there was a stereotype she would never have prepared it.” At one point when I was in the kitchen helping his sister, she said to me, “I like you, you’re all about family.”
The night before we left, M and I took them all out for ice cream. The brother in law and I talked business, politics and family. He told me, ‘ Even though we only met twice now, we’re close.’ That meant alot to me. When we were parting from one another, everyone welled up a little bit. Manya and I blew kisses at one another and I gave all of them big hugs which they aren’t accustomed to. I explained to them that I’m a hugger and do that to show them I love them. The kids just lit up at that. Manoj’s sister and I exchanged a few whispers with one another and off we went.
We took lots of pictures of the trip and I even recorded a rickshaw ride. This brings me to my next piece of gut wrenching, sickening news. I lost my camera on the trip home. The last place I remember defintely having it was in the Houston airport where I was trying to convince Manoj to take a picture in front of the big cowboy boots they have near the tram. He refused so I took a picture of the boots themselves. We were on concourse B and stopped at the McDonalds which according to my investigation since, may have been where I left it. I’ve called both the airports, talked to lost and found at Continental and even called the McDonalds where an employee working that day remembered seeing a small black bag that was left behind which she says she moved to the counter where they leave things passengers leave behind in case they return. She says she remembered a man picking up the bag. I have no way of knowing if it was mine or not. I can only hope and pray that the report I made both via phone and through Continental’s lost and found form online will lead me to the return of the camera. I’ve let everyone know they can keep the camera, I only want the sd card. I’m even offering a reward for it. I was looking forward to sending the pictures to Manoj’s mom because they would bring her so much joy. Right now the only tangible memory I have from the trip is a newspaper I bought back home with me. So sad.
I’m tentatively planning another trip to India in the next three months and this time we’re taking the kids with us.
I think I’ve written enough for this post. I hope everyone is well. Until the next blog….