Monday, September 1, 2014

The 5 Love Languages

I recently discovered this craze called "The 5 Love Languages" which I saw on an episode of Oprah. (Confession: my Sunday mornings are spent in front of the TV having a spiritual experience watching OWN's Super Soul Sundays. Don't judge me!) The theory is about how each individual has different love languages and how they express their love their partner. As I get older, I realize that you can't love every person the same. Some people appreciate support through words, and others prefer actions. Some people like receiving gifts, and others do not. Some people are touchy-feely and others are not.

I thought it sounded really interesting so I decided to look it up online and take its Love Languages quiz. I was curious to know both husband-ji's and myself. I was completely surprised by both of our results. We answered the questions in a fast, subconscious way so we didn't have time to think about it.

I kind of already know that I am high maintenance, but seriously - I am soooooo much more high maintenance than I thought! I just require so many bloody words of affirmation! Husband-ji is always trying to get me gifts because he thinks that women like material things - which certainly I do not. Whenever he gives me a material gift I literally think of clutter. Little did he know that he is dealing with an emotionally high maintenance wife, not a financial one! Poor husband-ji....the man of few words!

Husband-ji, being such a typical Indian man - wants predominantly acts of service and quality time, and only very few words of affirmation. So that basically means I need to pamper him whilst always being by his side - and silent. The ideal Indian wife...ha!!!!

I was definitely surprised that husband-ji requires a good amount of quality time, since he told me last month that he doesn't require any alone time with me! I guess he does appreciate our date nights, after all! And I was also surprised that diva husband-ji (who has 80+ pairs of shoes) doesn't like to get pampered by gifts. Basically, instead of gifts - I should cook him something (looks like I was spot-on with his birthday this year!)

Another thing I was surprised at is anti-PDA husband-ji is a way bigger pervert than me. Seriously. His physical touch category is TWO points higher than mine! I have been joking him for the past week and calling him a "secret pervert" at every chance I get! But in reality, for him - it probably means he requires an extra back scratch or a hair oil massage!

After nearly 9 years of being together with your spouse - you think you know them like the back of your hand. But taking this quiz really surprised me! Perhaps going forward, we can really speak the same love language.

I think this quiz is especially helpful when you are married because you are in it for the long haul. It is helpful to know in what ways your spouse wants to feel supported or loved, and it is helpful to know your own needs in a relationship as well.


Dear readers, have you taken the Love Languages quiz? Were you surprised by the results in yourself or your partner?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Art of Discipline & other parental clashes

Since Maya has turned two, we have had to deal with natural behavioral problems like tantrums and pushing limits, which are typical to her "terrible twos" age. At times, it is hard to handle, but it's not really a big deal as it is just how kids grow up. The thing that I have been struggling with is that husband-ji and I are on completely different pages in terms of discipline. And the hard part is that we both think we are right and the other is wrong!

Discipline is one of those few things that I think we should be on the same page about. I feel we need to be consistent, and like a team - because Maya already knows that when I say "no" to something, she can go to her Daddy! Of course, other things like feeding and playing - we can be on different pages about and it doesn't matter. Husband-ji will play with her differently than I do, and that's a good thing. It's an individual thing. 

Previously, another thing we needed to be on the same page about is sleep - what time she should go to bed. That one we really struggled with last year, because husband-ji did not want to let her settle herself, which made the entire house (including my MIL) get no sleep for 2 months during a sleep regression. In that instance, husband-ji had to follow my lead and let her cry it out for a few days until she was able to sleep soundly for 12 hours at night. As a mother, I know my child's cries. I know if she is fake crying or real crying. Husband-ji does not yet know this, although he is getting there...

In that instance, he followed my lead and he trusted my mother's intuition. Yet in terms of discipline, he feels he knows better (and I still KNOW I know better!). Similar to the sleep situation, we are clashing a bit. I think it has a lot to do with differences we have as individuals, as mother/father, and as well as some cultural differences.

I think that it's a good thing to say "no" to your child - you have to set limits and boundaries. They cannot have everything they want. They cannot have every toy that's in a store. They cannot have cakes at all times of the day and especially at night. They cannot go to bed at any time they please. We have to set healthy limits for them - because they don't know their limits. If I don't start our bedtime routine wind-down (stories, bath, massage) then my daughter probably won't decide she's tired for two days - she is just soooo high energy! And we are not staying up with her - hell no!

My daughter has been doing this funny little act where if you tell her "no", she screams and cries. She only does it for a few minutes if you let her be and let her soothe herself. If you try to soothe her - she will take you as a willing audience, and it will go on for hours like some Bollywood movie with no intermission (on LSD!!!)

My technique of handling her is: I will firmly say no and why, she will have her outburst, and I will go on with my day until she settles down, and then we will talk about it. I want her to self-soothe, because I know that in those high-pitched moments - there is nothing I can do. And just like adults - children have emotions that pass through them. It's okay to feel sad or angry, and then the emotion passes and it's fine.

Husband-ji is handling her a completely different way. As soon as she has a shout/cry, he is running to her as if she is a helpless newborn infant and he is getting mad at me for "ignoring her", saying "BUT SHE IS JUST A CHILD!!!" The tantrum will go on for hours as he coddles her. 

I think this difference in our methods happen for two reasons - one is that I don't look at her as a little baby anymore. She is a big girl, who is doing lots of big girl things like speaking sentences and using the toilet. Husband-ji feels she is still a newborn baby. It makes me wonder if he will always look at her like his newborn baby...?

Another reason, I believe is cultural. Both husband-ji and my inlaws immediately rush to her if they think something's wrong. This is because they all used to live in a joint family - there are just so many people to help pitch in. creates an environment where children become very dependent and babied - for life. After a certain age, it can become detrimental. We live abroad now, where I can't rush to her every need - where I have nobody to watch her and no maid. Where we have very few parent friends. It's a different world here - a more independent world - for better or for worse.

It is quite odd though with the discipline, because he is quite strict with her in other ways. For example, he is very strict when she is doing her artwork. He doesn't want her to wreck her crayons. I have to tell husband-ji that "the crayons are like 1 rupee - relax!" I want her to feel free when she draws and when she reads. I don't want to be strict with her in those moments.

So, it is quite interesting to see how things play out as parents in this journey together. Over the past decade, we have gone from being friends, to dating, to engaged, to married, and now we are parents handling toddler tantrums!

I feel that we should be on the same page about discipline (rather, he should be on MY page! LOL) or is it okay to not be? Or should we find a middle ground? The answer: I don't even know! (which is basically the answer to every parenting-related question!)


Dear readers, have you ever been through a similar situation? How do you deal with differences in discipline? Or differences in parenting?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

How to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi

For foreigners who are coming into Indian families for the first time, the plethora of festivals and how to celebrate them can be overwhelming. Tomorrow, Ganesh Chaturthi will be celebrated and it kicks off an entire Fall season of festivals, followed by Navaratri, Durga pooja, Diwali, Dussehra, among others (depending on your family). Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated grandly in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.

Ganesh Chaturthi is my favorite personal festival, because I can celebrate it within the privacy of my home and quietly, peacefully celebrating my own spirituality. Ganesh is also my favorite Hindu God and the one I feel most connected to. Ganesh is the God who removes obstacles and also enhances intelligence - it is a big festival for students of all walks of life. The image of Ganesh is said to absorb all negativity in the household.

Poojas are easy to perform by yourself - you do not need a priest or even a born Hindu to be there along with you. All you need to do is pray in your own way. Remember that faith and devotion is more important than how the rituals are performed. The only thing you need to be mindful of is to take a bath before presenting yourself to the God.

The first thing about celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi at home is that you need a clay Ganesh idol to place in your home, on some kind of raised platform. The Ganesh idol should always face West, with it's back to the East.

First thing in the morning, before sunrise, in the Brahmamuhurta time (start anywhere between 3:30-5:30am) meditate in front of Ganesh and invoke the God with some incense. You can read the stories where Ganesh is featured. You can play Ganesh mantras, or recite the 108 Ganesh salutations, or read the Ganesh Upanishads. If you are reciting mantras, you can start by chanting Prana Pratishta, which breathes life into the idol. After that, you can chant mantras like "Om Gan Ganapathaye".

(Ganesh mantra)

After that, you can offer him some coconut, sweets (modakam), medicinal leaves, grass, and red flowers. You can adorn his forehead with a vertical red line. Then, you can show him the aarti (light from candle or diya) along with a ringing of bells.

After that, you can say some personal prayers by ask him to remove any obstacles and to bring you wisdom and knowledge. If you are studying, you can also offer him your books to bless.

In the days afterwards, you would do the submerging on the 1st or 3rd day (but it should not be done on a Friday or Tuesday). You would submerge the idol into a bowl of water, along with some coins and flowers - the significance of this is to purify and eliminate negative energies. The clay idol would dissolve into the water as it would dissolve any negativity.

!! गणपति बाप्पा मोरया !
!! मंगल मूर्ति मोरया !!


Dear readers, do you celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi? 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Parental Immigration: the long wait...

The hardest part about being in an intercultural marriage (especially being married to an Indian) is dealing with all the immigration woes. The first struggle of the relationship is getting the couple together - living in one place. Some couples are even separated for years due to immigration. Luckily, we didn't have that problem - but now we are having that problem with my inlaws.

Because my inlaws are elder and they would be dependents on us when they get here, it is not a priority for the Canadian government to process their application quickly. We applied to sponsor them to come and live in Canada way back in 2010 - and just now we have received a notification from the Canadian side that they are ready to process our file. FOUR YEARS LATER!!!

They have given us 90 days to provide all sorts of complicated documents including: police certificates, marriage certificates, birth records, extended family information, etc. For a Westerner, these may not be difficult to obtain - but for Indian citizens it is. For example, my husband's birth certificate has no name on it, and it just says that a woman gave birth to a live baby on a certain day. No full names are mentioned. The only specifics are that they were both Brahmins! Another thing we need is thatha's birth date and death date, as well as thatha's wife's. Well, nobody in the family knows when thatha's actual birth date was, because he was born in a small village in Tamil Nadu. And the same for thatha's wife. In the olden days - there was a lack of official documentation for everything - for example, my inlaws recently got their marriage certificate this year. In India, astrological birth charts are not a problem, but official documentation sure is!

But the real problem is getting a police certificate from Yemen - where my FIL lived for 4 years. He has no contacts there anymore - all of his colleagues left because it got too dangerous. To obtain a police certificate for Yemen, you must apply in person or get someone else to apply as a representative. Which is simply not possible, since we live on the opposite side of the world now and know nobody there. Luckily, we got a last minute if only they follow through!

So, after we submit all this documentation and the Canadian government approves it, they send it to India. The current processing time for India is 5 years, where it will probably sit on someone's desk and collect dust. There is no way we can speed up the application - we just have to wait. And as our immigration lawyer says, "Just wait...and stay healthy"...

It really is not fair to have two governments (both Canada and India) who are completely disinterested in bringing families together. I look at the other wait times for other countries (for Hong Kong parents it only takes 12 months!) and it just seems too long by comparison. Even war-torn countries in Africa and the Middle East have less wait times than India! I guess I should be grateful that this option to bring my inlaws into the country is even available in the first place - but when I see Hong Kong's swift processing, it makes me feel like "What makes them better than us? Or more deserving to be here?" I guess it is not so much about that, but they are clearly more efficient!!!

It was a bit strange going to the immigration lawyer's office - 4 years after we started the application process. So much has happened - we moved three times, we got married, had a baby (who is now a toddler), and husband-ji has become eligible for Canadian citizenship which we have applied for. By the time my inlaws get their approval, my daughter will be 8 years old, which seems like a lifetime away...

So until then, all we can do is wait...and stay healthy...

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