Why don’t YOU go back to your country?

Each year I look forward to seeing the face of the new spelling bee champion. This year was no exception. Generally speaking, that face is not of German, French, Hungarian, or Italian-origin. No, the face each year of the National Spelling Bee Champion is generally Indian-American or Asian. I always wonder why and how that is that Asians can spell words of Latin, Greek, French, German and Italian origin better than the children of the immigrants from those countries.

Growing up in this country as a first generation American, I often faced a barrage of put-downs and often, people would assume that I would have an accent.  My family and I were teased as if we all had the stereotypical accent of Apu from the 7-11.  Not to down slurpees, but come on!  Sometimes, after I would talk with someone, that person would say to me, “wow, you do not have an accent at all.” They looked astonished and confused. To which I would think to myself, why would someone presuppose that I would have an accent? Oh, yeah, my skin is brown but I speak better English than you and you are white. These are the thoughts that would cross my mind. I remember people talking loud to my parents as if they were deaf, rather than from another country with an accent. It was annoying to watch and even more frustrating to hear. In some parts of America, immigrants still face these types of situations.  After all, everyone should speak “perfect” English, right?  I can tell you with 100% certainty that here in America, most Americans don’t even speak perfect English, and let’s not even go into southern accents.

Now, I watch year after year as children of immigrant parents, first generation (most of them) continue to win spelling bees and other renown competitions, and I am confident that Indian-Americans will continue to make their mark in American society through other means as well. We live in a different America than the one I grew up in. More and more, people are aware of different cultures and religions around them and yet there are still ignorant people out there who still judge people by the color of their skin or their national origin. I am confident that in the new America, these people are the minorities.  We are minorities no more.  I guess the point is that it’s time to re-evaluate what “national origin” really means anymore, because this is OUR country.

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Could’ve would’ve should’ve

I have been in touch with a lot of my friends from years past lately. In fact, with the click of a mouse these days you can be in touch with just about everyone. As I communicate with former neighbors, childhood best friends, and people that I used to not be so crazy about, I cannot help but wonder how my life would have been had I taken a different path. I recently was in touch with a mutual friend of my ex-boyfriend and we reminisced about the “good ole days.” I started thinking to myself, what about the past attracts us to want to find out how people are doing. My curiousity certainly got me to thinking how much life would have been different if I had married my first boyfriend or even my college sweetheart. How strange! Would I have gone to law school or joined the military? Could I have done all the things I did if I were saddled with kids at an early age? Would life had been better?

I know countless people who wonder this and after being in touch with the past so much recently (with the help of facebook, and technology), I have come face to face with my present and the promise of a great future. It is ironic because while it is truly fun to look back and laugh at silly pics we took in high school and college- the funny hair, the funny clothes, and all the silly styles – it is even more fun to look back and know where I am is truly where I am meant to be. The past, while fun to look back on and laugh is just that – the past. I think that people wonder why and what if and lose sight of what is truly important: The present. Sure, if I had did things differently, I would not be here and things would so different- so very different but unlike Nicolas Cage in THE FAMILY MAN, I prefer to not find out because I am very content with my life and all my accomplishments- especially my family.

So, as we move boxes from the basement to the garage for remodeling, I am content with my memories from high school and college remaining in those boxes. I am content with communicating with good ole friends from the past and reminiscing but I am excited that we can talk about how far we have come and what we have accomplished. I feel lucky to be able to catch up with old friends and find out how everyone did since and even more grateful for how well their lives have turned out and how my path has been so blessed as well. As I hear stories about the past, I am more and more content with the present and that everything happened for this moment -for now. After all, as we look back, we tend to glamorize the past more than it really was. And to help keep things perspective, it is important to remember that if we were meant to be in the could have, should have or would have, we would have chosen that and been there now instead of where we are. There is a reason why we chose a different path or were thrust by the powers to be to where we are now. The past is fun but the present is even better…

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Dropping the "F" bomb

Before I became a mom, the “F” word meant many things to me but none of the “F” word variations included the word “Formula”. It was more tramautic when I was a first time mom and I was first threatened with the use of the “F” word at the hospital. I was desperate to breast feed my baby and was scared of formula, bottles, or any variations there of. After all, my baby could have gotten addicted and then, I would not be able to fulfill my role as a mother and a provider of milk. What nonsense! If you attend a La Leche League meeting, use of the word “formula” may result in many opinions consuming hours of your time. Of course, I find that women on both sides are quite judgmental. Mothers in general, instead of supporting each other, end up really harming each other through judgment. Formula versus breast feeding, working versus staying at home, and the usual competitive moms too, saying things like, “my child was born potty trained or has been sleeping since he was born and has not woke up since.” Things like that just make the mom who is in sheer and utter hell feel horrible. But now, back to the “F” word….

As a second timer, I realize the “F” word is actually more of an insult sometimes than a threat. I have tons of formula stocked up at home because I will be supplementing at some point – after I return to work in another month, I know there will be days where I will have to supplement but for the most part, so far, we have done well in not using much formula at all. I say that using the “F” bomb is an insult because my mother has been living with us for about 3.5 months now and did not successfully breastfeed my brother or I. So, her only experience is with formula. She recalls it very well almost daily. It was worse the first time around but has tamed a little more now. Now, she basically tells me that what I eat affects the infant. She is right. She basically tells me that breast milk is easily digested than formula- she is right. She believes giving the child a bottle versus the breast actually helps them sleep longer- she is wrong! In fact, it has been tested in our own home with both kids over and over and formula or breast milk, bottle or breast, no kid has slept decently yet. She said to me, formula is heavier and so when it hits the stomach, the baby feels full and can sleep through the night. What? Needless to say, I am tired about hearing about the “F” bomb from women who did not have experience breast feeding. I understand they can only speak from experience but science and research indicate otherwise.

Before I was a mom, the “F” bomb was something else– now, it is formula versus breastfeeding. To all moms out there, breastfeeding does not affect your child’s amount of sleep at night. Sure, things pass to them from your milk so it is important to eat well and eat right. Hydration is important too but if you decide to have one beer, or eat jalapeno’s your baby will not be harmed. Whether you stay at home or work, you are a great mom and whether you can or cannot breastfeed, your child will turn out just fine. Making other moms feel bad about the choices they make does not make you or your kid better, in fact, in the long run, it just makes other wanna drop the true “F” bomb on you.

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I need some sleep!

After reading several books on sleep training, nap training, and the like, I have finally decided to take the plunge and hire a sleep consultant. We were lucky enough to get a reference to a sleep consultant living right here amidts our town and so we have decided to hire her and see what she can possibly do to help. I am trying to keep an open mind but am convinced that my 2-year old is beyond training- I am convinced that my husband and I will be walking zombies for the rest of our adult lives – well, until I jump off a ledge or the kids go off to college that is.

Today, I finally got to speak with the lady we will be hiring to help us train our child to sleep – sure, the onus is on us and that lady will not be sleeping in our home experiencing our triumphs and set backs but she will be there available by phone and email. In any case, I hope the plan she develops for us works. If it does not, I may lose all hope together and decide to go ahead and jump off the tallest building in Denver- what is that building anyway? Does anyone know?

The consultant talked with me about some background information -ages, family lifestyle (i.e. do we work, stay at home, etc.), do we have a schedule for our toddler? Do we co-sleep or prefer the crib and separate bedroom? She is using all of this to hopefully help create a good plan for us. Fortunately, for us, our daughter is already getting used to her own room and sleeps there – she just needs one of us with her. Fortunately, for 28 days out of the month, our toddler is taking good afternoon naps unless we interrupt them of course. In any case, these are all good things I learned but now we work on sleep independence for her.

The consultant informed me that she does not work with infants younger than 4-5 months but that the same principles we learn for our toddler will apply to our infant in another few months and we could try it on our own. She also informed me that she has had no repeat customers. I am not sure that is good info or bad. My thoughts are people are too embarrassed or too broke to call her back 🙂 But in either case, there is no money back guarantee on good sleep. We will see what happens but in any case, I feel good that I am trying to take steps to get some sanity and sleep back and possibly some quiet times with my husband. Is it possible that we will have our bed back someday? I sure hope so… til then, I will soldier on the best I can and join the ranks of other walking zombies (A.K.A. parents).

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Part of being a mom

Today, we left our 11-week old with a home care provider so that both could start getting used to each other. What an ordeal! While I know I need to do this now to get everyone ready, it is just so difficult as a nursing mother of a tiny baby to just leave her in someone else’s care. What is worse is that no one knows her like I do. At least that is how I feel. Even when I went on an overnight to a city one and a half hours away, I felt unnerved because I firmly believed my husband and mother (who has lived with us for 3 months) cannot take care of her as well as I can. That may be a control-freak type attitude but nonetheless, to leave her with someone else made me very nervous today. It was even more nerve wracking when this lady called me and told me she was crying. Oh my poor baby!

Here are some of the questions that have crossed my mind every minute since we dropped her off, “how is she doing? Is she crying? Will the provider stick with the 90-minute sleep program I have followed for 2 weeks now? Will the provider know which cry is which- cry for food or cry due to discomfort or cry because she just needs assistance to fall asleep? What is my lil one doing now? Will the provider place her head up so she spits up only a little? Did she get burped after she was fed? What about the milk- did she warm up the breast milk properly? Does my baby realize where she is? Does she miss me?”

It has been a LONG afternoon and even an otherwise pleasant nap was an ordeal – needless to say, I did not nap. On a positive note, this little separation anxiety has made me appreciate my little one even more and feel closer to her. I realize how much she means to me and while we have not bonded as much as my 2-year old and I have, I realize now that she needs me so much more than the 2-year old and is so much more helpless. She cannot tell me in words what is going on like my 2-year old can. She cannot communicate effectively so I have to be more in tune with her cries. In sum, I miss her terribly and while I have come to appreciate her more, I am sad to know that the weaning has begun… not breastfeeding weaning per se but rather, the natural weaning that occurs in life when children slowly separate from their parents, and one day, leave for pre-school, then elementary, then high school, and college and get married… and yes, possibly even move further away. That realization has left me wondering if I am truly ready to “let go” of my babies. I guess, in the natural order of things, this is all part of being a parent.

Of course, the heart of a mother… well, the heart of the mother will always be tender and belong to her children. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms out there. Whatever the outcome, you have done the best you can!

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