Thursday, September 18, 2014

The trouble with Girls' Halloween costumes...

Now that it is Fall season, my next project is getting Maya's Halloween costume ordered and delivered (Yes, I do everything ahead of time!). Even though Maya is only 2, because of her height, she is fitting into size 4 girls' clothes right now. Hence, the problem....

Halloween costumes for kids usually fit into three categories - infant (under 18 months), toddler (18 months to 3 years), and girls size (4 years +). I was appalled at the Halloween costume selection for little girls. It was all either extremely sexualized or princesses!!!!

What ever happened to kids just being kids? 

And don't get me started on the selection for adult women - it is all "sexy policewoman" and "sexy teacher", as if we are all strippers for hire! Because clearly, our main goal in life should be "sexy"...gimme a break!!! Although I knew adult women costumes were like this, I was shocked to see that it starts from the little girls' costumes as well. It is really gross.

My main concern is that she should be fully covered because the weather is going to be very cold and we will be going trick or treating, door to door. So I want her in a warm costume, so she won't catch a cold. And I don't want a bulky jacket to cover her costume.

Evidently, even characters like Minnie Mouse have the shortest skirts. And I don't even know any of the other characters because we don't watch the Disney channel. And I'm really not big on princess culture because I don't like the sense of royal entitlement or the fact that the main goals of these princesses in the stories is to keep a man. It just rubs me the wrong way. Maybe Cinderella doesn't want or need to be rescued! (DUH!!)

The rest of the selection looks very pageant-y. I can't stand it!!! The boys' selection however, has so many animal costumes. Why can't they have animal costumes for girls too? Why are neutral animal costumes considered to be only for boys? Why can't a girl be a dinosaur or a lion? I don't want my daughter to have to choose between a princess costume or a sexualized pageant costume!!!

Growing up, Halloween was a special holiday for me. My grandparents lived at the University Lands and there were tons of kids in the area. Since my parents worked in Fashion, they always made my costumes. I was a cat, a tomato, an angel, a bunny, and my favorite was a wicked witch. I loved the magical witches from Hocus Pocus and Roald Dahl's The Witches. Back in the day, I don't remember the selection of girls' costumes to be so god-awful. None of my friends growing up wore stuff like that, nor were things like that sold in stores. Looks like I may have to make her costume or get it made, in upcoming years, which means even more preparation!

(Me circa 1990, angel costume)

Luckily, after days of searching, I was able to find two possible costumes online - a lion or a ladybug - which were age appropriate and weather appropriate. And Maya picked the lion costume!

Stay tuned....!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

On honesty...

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Some of the comments that I keep coming through again and again are people commenting about me not being silent "airing my dirty laundry". Last week, I was berated in person, and online (by two separate individuals) for talking too much about how overwhelmed I am with motherhood and generally living my life like an open book. It's kind of shocking when you realize that honesty and the right to tell one's own story is......not allowed. That it makes some people uncomfortable...that it makes some people irritable that I don't fit into a nice little box (read: coffin).

What, like I'm supposed to shut up and act like it's easy? 
Like I'm supposed to act like a robot and do it all with a smile on my face? 
Or act like it's effortless, just to make OTHER PEOPLE comfortable?

Being private is one thing. Purposely painting one's life as sunshine n' rainbows, with a deliberate detraction of anything remotely negative - well, that's dishonest. Life has it's ups and downs - who are we to lie about it? How does lying about our triumphs and struggles help us? Being dishonest about struggles doesn't help us and it doesn't help anyone else. It doesn't help others who are going through the same struggles and are wondering how they are going to make it through in their darkest nights. Being dishonest alienates us from others and further isolates us. It puts us in a constant state of denial, which benefits no one. Being dishonest dehumanizes us.

As a woman, I'm expected by society to do a hundred times the work of a man, without breaking a sweat, complaining or commenting on it. I'm supposed to function like a robotic doll with a permanent smile on her face, just to put everyone at ease. When a woman stays quiet about her life out of fear of what other people think, a part of her dies inside. I have been there. I have not been any use to the world when I was hiding in an emotional cave.

Yes, I gave birth to a child that I love dearly and more than I could have ever imagined, but this shit is hard. A lot of it doesn't come naturally. It doesn't come without effort. Yes, I married my soul-mate, but we fight and make-up just like every other married couple. And often, too. Our marriage is not perfect. I'm not perfect. It takes me roughly 1-3 hours to look presentable and it takes a LOT of effort. Our family is not perfect. Our home certainly is not perfect (mental note: must clean up those bread crumbs on the counter).

(Img via)

Why should I be afraid to talk about it? Why should I be afraid to speak? Why should every word coming out of my mouth be carefully crafted to perfection? 

Maybe, just maybe...other people should know. Motherhood is complex and it's not some big secret. Women are complex and have emotions and that's not some big secret either...and that doesn't make us crazy. It makes us human. 

(Img via)

Some call it "airing dirty laundry". I call it brave...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A (negative) domino effect

Sometimes in life it feels as though everything goes wrong at once, one thing after another, like a domino effect - catastrophe. Last week was one of those weeks for me, and I'm still processing all of it and trying to come out of my depression about it.

Husband-ji was facing his biggest season in work and was extremely stressed out. You know what that means. One spouse feels the brunt of all the other spouse's stress. I was trying to be as supportive as possible, but I can't pretend that I'm not dealing with my own stresses. So, we were arguing, and generally not getting along. Instead of being the supportive marital team that I idealize, we were constantly at odds. Husband-ji had to leave for his bi-annual work trip right in the middle of our marital issues, which acted as a barrier between us getting a chance to communicate deeply, with both of us busy with work. I was left hanging, wondering if he would be coming back and making the effort to work on the marriage WITH me. I am in this marriage for life, so I had the fear of "what if he doesn't want to work on it? And where will that leave me? And us?" For me, my marriage is the most important thing to me in the world - more than my daughter, more than family, more than work. So whenever husband-ji and I are not getting along, it makes me severely distressed.

So, he went on this work trip. And the next domino effect was that my daughter got sick with a cold. Huge ordeal, as other parents know. My poor baby was crying that her nose was stuffed and coughing, had a fever, and generally very clingy because she wasn't feeling well. She was up most nights crying that she couldn't breathe and there was not much I could do, besides the usual remedies and hugging her gently. Of course, she has been sick so many times that I should be used to it now, but I'm not. Huge ordeal. And I couldn't really take her out that much because she was sick, so we were stuck in the hot house, running out of groceries.

Because husband-ji was away and Maya was sick, I fell off the wagon with my daily routine of self-care. I didn't have time to wake up early and exercise since there were so many sleepless nights, and I also was getting overtired and feared of getting sick myself. 

Then, I got hit by pesky internet trolls all weekend. They decided that they wanted to remind me that I was a "daft cow" and a "fat slob" and a bad mother for putting Maya in preschool next year. Not to mention the other ones calling me "a bad DIL". Thanks trolls, like I needed that...

The worst part of everything was that I got into a fight with an elder from the Indian side who I had been previously getting close to. (Note: "getting into a fight" with an Indian elder is basically them screaming at you and not being able to get in a word edgewise). It really broke my heart and it was like the final dagger in my back to complete my bad week. It left me feeling confused, baffled, and feeling like I'd been through an emotional tornado. Not to mention, since there is obviously a clear elder hierarchy, I will not be getting an apology since I am lower on the food chain. I'm just the Firangi Bahu that "takes things the wrong way" and can't just tolerate-tolerate-tolerate. And I have to somehow live with that and come to terms with that, pretend like it never happened and jaisa desh vaisa bhes, and I don't even know how...with all the cultural things, it's not your average rodeo...

Towards the end of the week, I switched my phone off, because I just couldn't deal with one more hurt. I didn't want to answer the phone, my door, or even go outside and see anybody because I literally couldn't deal with one more thing. So I just stayed home with my daughter and read her books and colored with her, and tried to feel emotionally safe in her company. 

Now the week is over and I am so glad to put it behind me. My daughter is almost better and husband-ji returned, and has been more supportive and gentle with me than when he left. My dad was also very supportive and I leaned on him a lot. I am back on my daily routine of self care, and on the mend...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

(Almost) back to school

After Labour Day there has been the hustle and bustle around town with excited schoolkids and their backpacks, the weather changing and leaves turning yellow and falling to the ground.

I am planning to put Maya in preschool after the New Year so I have been busy looking at preschools in our area. I thought I found the one that she was going to go to, but something instinctual told me to seek out another one. Lo and behold...I kept looking and I found the perfect school for her! And she was accepted and will start in February!

I was amazed at this little school with doting teachers, a perfect classroom, an involved and caring headmistress and a beautiful little vegetable garden. They even have a miniature sized toilet! It was a wonderfully quaint school that looked just like they do in the movies. They will be teaching her the ABCs and teaching her how to take her shoes off and put them in her cubby. They will be taking the kids on field trips and doing lots of fun things with them.

And the first thing I felt was a sense of elated anxiety. I was so happy that I found the right place and I know she will love it...but I felt anxious for me....of me separating from her for part of the day. 

There is a gradual entry over 2 weeks so the children can get adjusted to the classroom and I'm just supposed to drop her there to minimize distraction. For example, the first day she will only go for 20 minutes or so, while I wait outside. I got anxiety just thinking about it - of leaving my daughter. Even though it's the perfect place - I started to realize that it's time for her to do things without me. I thought of all the field trips they would do and my disappointment that I wouldn't be able to go with her and watch her expressions as she learns. When am I going to cut MY umbilical cord?

Over the past two years, I have been so attached to my daughter. I have been by her side at every moment or just a stone's throw away. In times of extreme fatigue, it has been to my detriment. And now I have to send her to school because she's so ready for socialization and to learn. Somehow, I think it will be harder for me than for her...

It also really made me wonder about what I'll do with my extra time when she starts. I'll have half of my day completely free - now what the heck am I going to do? I haven't had this much freedom in three years! I want to spend my time doing something worthwhile, not just waiting for her to finish school. I have a bunch of ideas and I'm really excited to finally get the chance to work on my own career. It'll be a piece of cake compared to being a full-time "Supermom"!

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