Mothering.with.peace

Finding courage and clarity through motherhood

Courage, shame, and India’s Daughter

My voice is the sharpest tool I have in my shed, and perhaps my only tool. I don’t know how to let inner conflicts go without a dialogue or without an expression of my voice through the written word. And, as an INDIAN FEMALE, it’s also the most dangerous tool I have. I know that because I recognize the danger and fear associated with what I am about to share.

India’s daughter is a significant documentary because it is a clean reflection of dirty values. A female was raped, had her intestines pulled out, and her voice lives through this documentary. And India has banned it. And this is not a government or a structural phenomenon. It is a personal and a cultural phenomenon and the roots run really really deep. India is ashamed so the voices of truth must be silence. This isn’t new for India or for families of Indian roots. Or for my family.

I was watching the documentary and some old experiences were brought to the surface as the documentary also held a reflection up to me of my silenced voice. Many relatives in my family far and near believe that my marriage and child with a White man is the reason my parents don’t talk to me. That is not the truth. The truth is that I have never told the truth or shared any of my experiences as an Indian daughter. I didn’t want people to talk about the shame. My voice is connected to my parents’ shame. I’ve also reached a point in which I recognize that the truth is far less shameful than people’s assumptions of me as a “whore”. Trust me, I’ve had family say that to me. The truth is that I stopped going home a year before I even met my husband to be.

A lot of events led up to the breaking point in which I knew it wasn’t safe to go home anymore. It was really in high school that I started to plan my escape mentally because I knew that if I stayed, I would be suffocated by the traditional approach to my father’s way of being. My father is a hard working man who built an empire for his family with only $80 dollars that he brought to USA when him and my mother immigrated here. And as hard working as he is, he is a 1000 times more traditional.

I remember one New Year’s Eve in which I had spent the night with my cousin getting dressed up. I was to meet them at the Gurudwara (House of Worship) later around midnight to ring in the New Year. That is what we did as a family just like many other Sikh families across the world. Usually the attire is casual but for special occasions such as weddings or the New Year, people dress up and wear more fancy traditional clothing and jewelry and etc. I was wearing a purple Salwar kameez and had put on make-up and I was a typical 16 year old in my head. It hadn’t even been 2 minutes into the New Year and my father was yelling at me publicly about how dare I wear make up. He told me if I wanted to look like a prostitute, he can arrange a spot in a brothel in India for me.

We didn’t speak to each other for days following the incident. I finally apologized for wearing make-up. He never apologized that he talked about his daughter as a prostitute. When I apologized, I silently agreed to the assumption that my actions were fit for the life of a brothel. I was 16.

This is just one moment in which I started to feel more and more like a female who had very little choices. I wasn’t allowed to go to Barnes and Noble to study alone without my brother because “what would people say if they saw a girl sitting at a cafe alone?”. Or I also couldn’t go hang out in Princeton with my girlfriends because “decent girls don’t do that”, my parents would say. “What if someone we know sees you out?” I was totally confused because I had many friends who are Indian and their parents didn’t think like mine did. It was a different type of mentality I was unable to explain to my friends and slowly, I lost a lot of them. I was isolated and battled depression. I was really sad about being a female.

And you know, as I write this, I am thinking about all the people who will read it and feel sorry for parents because this blog brings them shame. After my daughter was born, my mother’s good friend called me and said that if I delete my blog, my father is willing to talk to me. I was still in the hospital, after a c-section, with my baby in the NICU, and my parents were more concerned about silencing me rather than the health of their granddaughter. I refused to delete this blog because I refuse to delete my voice or my experiences. If you are reading this and you are wondering about the shame this will cause my family, then I feel sorry for you. And it also makes me feel sorry for the future of India because your thoughts about shame are shared by the world’s largest democracy. If you are wondering, “well, why do you have to do all of this talking stuff. Let others do it”. This thought is why we have the present state of India. Waiting for others to do what is necessary.

I never fully hold my parents’ responsible for our present state of disconnect. My last words to my father were volatile and not appropriate. And if I was their son rather than their daughter, my words would show strength, power, and ownership. Because I am their daughter, there is no place for words like mine. It’s very easy to disown a daughter but it’s sacrifice to lose a son.

And all of this is actually shameful.

I started this blog talking about my voice. I share this story in fear that my brother will read it and again be upset with me. For I have caused enough trouble already. My willingness to share and talk and stand up for myself has landed me in much trouble. And I continue to speak and share because I have the privilege to do so. I know it’s the right thing to do and I know it is the only thing that can bring true change. When females from Indian families can truly challenge the silence our society asks of us, we can challenge the view of ourselves in Indian Society. When mothers, fathers, and brothers can let go of the idea of shame, we will see real unity in our culture. There is no honor in responding with SHAME. I refuse to live in shame and thus silence myself. Letting go of shame takes courage. And courage isn’t the absence of fear. Courage is being afraid and still have the inspiration to take a stand. Writing this blog took courage. It’s time for Indian females and families to choose courage more often than shame.

I hope this message is shared, forwarded, so that the ban on India’s Daughter can be reversed.

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100 Days of Meditation and Real Food

I woke up 3 days ago and realized it was time to do something different with how I spend my moments. I have always been a creature of habit and somewhere along taking care of a newborn, moving from place to place 5 times in 2 years, and maintaining a career, taking care of my spiritual health took a back seat. I transitioned to meditating frequently to watching lots of TV with my husband at the end of the day. I went from being mindful to seeking mind-numbing moments. I am in the process of yearning an inner awakening and re-balancing of my chakras. I definitely feel out of balance from the inside out.

So, just like running, you just have to do it and practice. And I know that tomorrow is always going to be the best day to meditate because it’s hard to start a new habit today. And 3 days ago, I challenged myself. I challenged myself to meditate for the next 100 days and to also add to that challenge, I am not eating any food that has more than 4 ingredients on its label. My mind and body are seeking transformation and something has to change. And with this challenge, I am hoping to create new habits for me.

The best part about meditating is that I get to do it with my husband. On day 2, my husband sat down with me to meditate and he was craving the moment the second day. Now we are on this journey together. Instead of watching TV when our little one goes to bed, we meditate, have real conversations, and connect without disruptions from television people. We are committed to only watching TV on the weekends. (Thanks to DVR)

Why do all of this? The answer is simply to be a better version of ourselves. When I realized that I needed distractions to have moments to relax, I knew something was not aligned within myself. This is going to be a difficult process but the entire goal to practice mindfulness. My husband and I are not devout or religious but I believe that families who meditate together, stay together. And I want my daughter to grow up practicing mindfulness. Kids copy actions, not attitudes. We have to practice what we want to preach.

Today is Day 4. Today is a good day.

Creating Myself

When I was in College, my best friend gifted me a journal and in the front it said, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. It’s about creating yourself”. Six years later, in the middle of raising a toddler, I finally understand the practical wisdom in that quote.

I spent so many of my college years with my peers to find myself in the world. Who am I? What am I here for? What is my purpose? We were not in action because we were in the search so deep. The search to find ourselves. I focused so much on searching for myself and because of that, I wasn’t living. I wasn’t really alive. I was waiting for a reason to feel alive and I thought after I really found myself, I could start living. My friends were in the same stage. And I see many 20-somethings in this very phase.

The search for me ended when I had a baby and as she is about to turn 2, I want to share how I transitioned from finding out who I am to creating who I am. When I got pregnant, people created us. My husband and I were put into different perspectives and narratives. Some things we heard and felt were: “You are only 24, how will you do this?” and “Do you feel like your life is over?” and “What about your career?”. People created an image of us but I am going to continue the blog to talk about me. I felt people draining my identity and creating it for me. So, life then wasn’t about finding myself. I wanted to create myself, on my own terms, and stand solid in my creative being

I am an athlete. I was training for the half-marathon before I got pregnant and after my baby, I gave life to the athlete in myself again. And I ran the first of many more marathons to run! I am a student. And I won’t stop until I have my phD and I create myself as an expert in my field. I am a writer and I will create myself as an author and finally finish my book. I am a mother and I will forever be devoted to to my child now and children in the future. I will continue to create myself as a mother. I am also a romantic and I will continue to strive for passion and create the marriage I know to be full of adventure. I am also a dancer and I will create a source of dancing for myself and my daughter. I am a teacher and I will continue to teach for a living. I get to choose what to create and add to my being as a whole. And the recognition of this choice makes me feel alive. It makes me want to be in action.

I am my own creation. I never really found myself before because nothing had been created. Now, I am asked, “How do you find the time to do it all?” I smile, and politely respond, “I just do.” And what I really want to say in that moment is, “I am so alive and I want do it all. I want to feel all the life I can create.” It’s the most cliche response and still, its how I feel. So I never really say it. I don’t have the capacity to describe this feeling in its worth.

As my daughter turns 2 next month, I have immense gratitude for her arrival in my life. I am not sure how long I would have continued to search for myself. I finally understand the wisdom of creation. Life is the process of creation. Love is the process of creation. It’s the best mindset I can have as I raise my family. I want my daughter to see me go through many creations and inspire her to create who she is. She is her own art. And I, too, am my own art.

Running to Remember. Running for Babies!

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When a specific cause or purpose touches home, it is purely human to pursue it with passion, fire, and strength. And it is even more human to seek others connected to the same cause that fires up the self within you.

Within us, (my husband and I) a fire was lit a little over a year ago and we continue the walk of life with that spark. You see, our 14 month old daughter was a low-birth baby and we have been privileged to see her thrive from a 3.5 lb baby girl to a 16 lb toddler. We are been privileged to feel that fire within our hearts transform into passion rather than despair. We are absolutely privileged to access that fire in our hearts and use it to run the 5k for March of Dimes.

When Sage was born, we didn’t prepare for our two and half weeks in NICU. Frankly, there is no way to prepare to give birth to a baby that has been a part of your body for 40 weeks and then one day go home empty handed. There are no words to describe the depth of emptiness that surrounded us for those two and half weeks. When we brought our baby home, we remember the babies that were there before her and would stay for weeks and months more. Everyday we visited Sage, we walked past other babies who had been there for months and some of their parents were not privileged enough to come every day to visit. And the community of March of Dimes was there for all the babies.

March of Dimes is a huge organization and when people used to ask me to support the cause and donate or run, I didn’t know what I was really supporting. Now I know a little bit more from a personal experience and I am inspired to share that with you. When Sage was born, we did not have any preemie clothes and did not have time to buy them as I had a C-section. NICU had closets of donated preemie clothes from March of Dimes. We had access to breast pumping supplies, preemie diapers, cardiologists and geneticists, and all sorts of technology that aided in Sage’s speedy process of going home. There are babies who stay there for months and March of Dimes is a source of support for families who during that time may not even know they need that support.

When our hearts broke during that time, we knew that whenever we mended internally, we would have a purpose. A purpose to connect to other brave families. A purpose to revisit that emptiness so we feel the present moment of our full hearts. And to share our full hearts with a bigger community. We want to see other families lit up by that fire and passion and be surrounded by their stories and intentions on April 27, 2014.

On April 27, my husband and I will run the 5k for us. Our intention in running is to remind ourselves of our own strength and the strength of a 3.5 lb baby who fought. Our intention is to run with a sense of victory. When I run, I still feel my scar heat up and I experience bursts of pain behind my abdomen and I want to own that feeling. I want to run those 3 miles with pride and cross the finish line with my husband and see our baby waiting for us. Some people run to forget. We will run to remember.

And will continue to run to remember and tell Sage of her strength in the first few weeks of her life. And she will never remember it clearly but it is a part of her and a part of us. We must not forget that victories that shape who we are. We must carry that strength and move forward inspired by it. And we must continue to change and transform our world.

Waiting on Platform 1/4

Wow, a quarter century has passed by like a train passes by. You see the first part of the train zooming in with full force, and then you slowly get used to the rhythm of the train passing by. At times, the train even starts to feel like its slowing down and you can start to count the carts of the train. You notice the bumpiness. You notice how the carts are connected. And before you have the chance to blink, you are seeing the train’s back riding away in that same speed it came in. It doesn’t immediately disappear. It slowly gets smaller and smaller and let’s you get used to idea that it no longer exists. And then you blink and see what’s in front of you with 20/20 vision. And you take a deep breath, smile with an open heart, because you are ready to board the next train.

I feel so connected to turning 25 because for the first time I feel balanced. I feel like I should be 25. I don’t feel any older or younger than I am. I feel more like myself than I ever have before. I realize that’s a vague statement and what I’m really trying to say is that I feel like I can channel all my energy and focus on what matters to me. I actually know what matters to me. I am excited to be on this next train and I am happy to be on this journey in which I feel like my life just started, I feel free, I feel love, and I feel joy.

Being a mother has changed my perspective of birthdays. I don’t remember the years of my life that were most crucial so it’s about feeling grateful for everyone’s well wishes along the way. I feel all the hands that have held me up and today. I am thinking about my mother who had a 10 lb baby naturally, in India. I’m thinking about her strength and I wonder if she is thinking about that moment today. I am thinking about how today is about me feeling thankful for my grandparents who raised me in India. While my parents were working hard to make a life in the States, my grandparents devoted their life to love me, to teach me, and to guide me. I will forever be connected to them and my journey in India.

And the journey to the States had its own significance. I think back to being 7 years old and terrified of being on an airplane alone to come to the States. I promised myself I wouldn’t cry and that I would be strong. And the air hostess took me in to see the pilot and make me smile because I ended up crying.  I remember seeing my parents and 5 year old brother for the first time. My brother gave a stuffed bunny and shared his star-bursts with me. I felt relieved.  I remember my first Halloween in 1996 and I didn’t know what it was. It was my birthday and I thought everyone dressed up for me. I still like to think that. 🙂

From India, to NY to NJ, to PA, to OH to KY, and then back to PA, the first quarter has been an adventure in which I have learned that at the end of the day, life is good if let it be good. I’ve learned that unconditional love is an action more than a feeling. I’ve learned that being strong is great and being vulnerable is even stronger. I’ve learned conversation is the key to healing. I’ve learned that words matter we must speak with a tongue that is respectful to all of humanity. I’ve learned that one is never too old to celebrate birthdays. I hope that when my daughter turns 25, she will be able to say that life is good and really mean it. I am so excited for the next train ride with my husband and daughter.

*Train horn* Until the next chapter…

Curiosity would have saved the cat.

“Curiosity killed the cat”. Most of us have either heard that phrase or have been responded to with that phrase during a conversation or an activity. And for generations, the phrase has been passed on from the elders to the children to distract them from experimenting and asking questions. From the very start, we are encouraging children to be afraid to ask questions. The phrase instills fear towards curiosity because its associated with death. How do we know “curiosity” killed it? The thing is we don’t really know what killed the cat in the first place because we are still blaming “curiosity”.  What if the cat never died and just ran away?

I’d like for you to entertain the following idea  for the purpose of this blog. Just for a moment, I ask you to be open to my suggestion and if it ends up planting a seed in your heart, then you too can carry the message with you: Curiosity would have saved the cat. Ignorance killed the cat.

And ignorance is killing inspiration as well.  We have succeeded in creating a generation that does not ask questions beyond what we are taught and what is spoon-fed to us by the media. We keep taking everything in and most of what we ingest in our daily news is overwhelming. There’s a bomb blast there. Someone got raped and committed suicide here. Someone was wrongly convicted and was killed by our government there. There was a school shooting here. There was a hate crime there. And the list just goes on and on. And we keep going on and on.

So when do we pause to ask the important questions? Do we know that we are allowed to ask questions and be curious about the people around us?  In what way do you feel inspired to seek more than what is told to you? Too often am I reading news about hate crimes against Sikh men because they wear a turban. If a hate crime isn’t wrong enough, its a hate crime against the wrong religion. Ignorance has led many people to believe that everyone who wears a turban is a terrorist. Curiosity would allow them to seek answers about turbans, Sikhs,and Muslims. A culture open to curiosity belongs to people who are not afraid of asking questions about the unfamiliar.

If you know more about something,  then that something is not unfamiliar anymore. The barrier between the familiar and unfamiliar is knowledge. Curiosity inspires knowledge and knowledge is power. It’s the kind of power that has the potential to plant more seeds for a necessary change. And our society needs to change in the way that we respond. We need a generation that is more alive and passionate than ever. We need a generation that will read the news and then ask questions to seek more answers. We need a generation of people who feel alive because of their curiosity and their passion for other people. Because that’s the type of generation that will do more than just post tweets and Facebook updates. A curious, inspired group of people will motivate actions rather than just reactions.

And what makes that change important for me? I want my daughter to be a part of a generation that wants to continue to talk and ask more questions until the important issues are resolved. Personally, I’m not done talking about the Steubenville rape case because I’m not done asking questions about it. How did we resolve it? We embarrassed the victim further and then we forgot about her as the defendants are getting the chance to be public about their unjust convictions.  And there’s just an unsettling feeling deep in my core about that entire story because they were children turned monsters. How did the parents respond? I want to be talking more about what inspired that night to occur and how do we raise children who act with humility rather than humiliation for one another?

We, as parents and teachers need to encourage children to be curious and to live a life that explores their minds openly. When we shut down their curiosity, we are restricting their openness. They learn to hide and restrict their thoughts. And as parents, we don’t get to learn what seeds they are planting for themselves. We have the chance to plant positive seeds when we are a part of their learning and answering their questions.

If the cat had asked questions and had been curious, the cat would have had the knowledge to make a better judgement call to stay away from whatever killed it. I don’t believe curiosity killed the cat. The seed I’m trying to plant in your heart is one that encourages curiosity, experimentation, and questions, so that others are inspired to seek knowledge too. So the next time a child or a friend asks you a question, try to answer it to the best of your ability. Or, ask what inspired their question. And let a conversation unfold.

Since 9/11, 12 Things I’ve Learned as a Sikh American

The tragedy that America faced 12 years ago and the onward movement of it has been a powerful sensation for all types of Americans. The onward movement really is the healing of a deep wound that we are still trying to understand. Each community has had it’s own journey and I write this entry holding the other stories in my heart.  And, I can only write about what I have learned in my community as a Sikh American.

Many of you at this time may be wondering what is a Sikh American. Sikhism is the 5th largest organized religion in the world. Sikhism is a spiritual religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region of India by Guru Nanak.  A Sikh (the word means a “disciple”) is one who follows the commandments written by the ten Gurus to lead a life of truth, purity, and an openness for all humanity.

As a Sikh American, here are 12 things I have learned about being a Sikh, an American, and myself since 9/11, 12 years ago.

1) Unfortunately, a community needs to be shaken up to recognize the potential it has to come together and yield the power of its people. So many lives were lost and so many lives “woke” up to help, heal, and honor our home.

2) The people that follow a certain religion are still people. When a person is injured and faces a loss, that person calls upon God. Any God. They do not care if a Muslim or a Christian saves him or her. That person whose body is hurt and needs help is reminded that he or she is a person of the world and we all are capable of being hurt in the same way. Whether we follow the same religion or not, we have the same biological system that keeps us alive.

3) There is nothing in the world that guarantees security. Not even living in the “powerhouse” of the world.

4) There isn’t a one kind of American. But there is one type of American who gets to “feel” American. My dad who is a Sikh and my Sikh brothers (and sisters) who wear a turban continue to prove their patriotism everyday because they look different. And yes, the shooting in the Wisconsin Gurudwara happened a year ago. And yes, the Sikh community still believes in America and will continue to be productive members of the community.

5) Organized religion makes me cringe.  Even Sikhism. Because when politics and religion intertwine, the beauty of the religion is lost. I’ve seen Sikh communities divided over the Houses of Worship because of politics. Sikhism is beautiful. So is Christianity. So is Islam. So is Hinduism and Judaism. I am just afraid of people fighting in the name of religion.

6) My daughter is going to be raised as a Sikh American. And she will have Christian and Judaism influences. She will not pick sides or a team. And I am learning that there is no space for that upbringing in the American school systems. And I don’t know how to proceed just yet.

7) America is young. There is a lot of potential youth energy waiting to be unleashed. It needs to be unleashed. And I am learning that it will be an energy guided by love and acceptance.

8) War sucks. And you will say, “sometimes it’s necessary”. And I have learned that I truly do believe that most of the time it is not necessary. I have learned that I believe in the power of humans to do the right thing and war never feels right to me.

9) As an American, if you wake up and you know that you can get a cup of coffee or tea, you are leading a good life. Coffee is a luxury. Waking up is a luxury. I have seen homeless communities in three different cities in the US so far, and it really is a luxury to be able to buy a cup of coffee. In our country, the “powerhouse” of the world, homelessness is a problem. And I will encourage my daughter to help our community first before she is inspired to go overseas to help, if she so desires.  Let’s take care of our home too.

10) It’s really easy to escape from the world news and recent revolutions and rely on America being the “winning team”.  We really don’t “need” to care. Or at least it feels that way. Because as Americans people like me feel safe under our government. Because as Americans, we are well accustomed to being safe from the world, even after 9/11/2001. So as a whole, we are comfortable. And we escape into the world of Kim Kardashian, the NFL, the Bachelor, and ect. You and I have learned to feel safe in a way that the rest of world envies.

11) The American Dream still exists. I’m living it right now. And the chase still exists as well. And many are chasing it.

12) America will always be my home. Whenever I have traveled abroad, even to India, I start counting the days to return home. With the good, with the not so good, this is my family’s home. I don’t know how to be more patriotic than that.

As we remember 9/11/2001, let’s remember this is our home. All kinds of Americans share this home. This is a home for a Sikh. This is a home for a Muslim. This is a home for the Catholic or Hindu next door. When we say “never forget”, let’s never forget how ugly violence is. There is no need to shoot someone because he wears a turban. I challenge you to go up that person, ask about his turban. Get to know who lives in your home.

Get your vision checked for these “blurred lines”

So this song comes on the radio (Blurred Lines) and the next thing you know my husband and I start moving our heads, and slowly the beat is transferred into our shoulders and we get very peppy. The beat is catchy and makes us want to break out in dance. A few seconds into the song, I hear the following and I want to slap anyone who is still enjoying the song. I feel insane because I want to listen to this song and the beat is great to work out to. And then I feel violated at the same time. There are many songs that make me feel this way and this is the first song that I cannot find myself getting immune to. And maybe it has a lot to do with listening to this song as a mother. I am sure I could write this blog with my heart at peace but I really need to share the questions that I react with as I listen to the song. I am listening to it right now so I can genuinely respond to the lyrics. (And my husband is trying to escape to the other room so he can have a little dance party)

Ok now he was close, tried to domesticate you WHAT? He tried to domesticate me? What does that process even look like?
But you’re an animal, baby it’s in your nature I am animal? What’s in my nature? How do you know it’s in my nature?
Just let me liberate you What do you see yourself liberating me from? How do you know I need liberation? Please, enlighten me with this liberation piece. Because I feel so trapped and I am sure liberation sounds wonderful.

And that’s why I’m gon’ take a good girl, Let’s stop to respond to this idea of taking a “good girl”
I know you want it And as a female, I’m absolutely frustrated with how well a male knows what I want. I must REALLY want this?
I know you want it No, I’m pretty sure I do not want it.
I know you want it Ok, so you are saying it three times. That really gives you credibility for knowing how much I want it. 
You’re a good girl I am impressed you were able to tell that I am good girl…based on what?

What do feelings come (?) from  I don’t even know how to respond to this sentence. (I’m glad you came?)
You the hottest b*tch in this place But I thought I was a good girl? And now I am b*tch? Please make up your mind?

And then after some more words, the lyrics just repeat about how much I want it. So, I went to youtube to see how the artist may have portrayed this feeling of being domesticated and a female “wanting it”. The music video includes the three male artists wearing full suits. And the entire video has the same three females strutting about naked (in the unrated version). The females have bright red lipstick on and their mouths are closed during the entire video. They only open their mouths when they are sucking on their thumb or saying “meow” in response to being domesticated. I am domesticated in the sense that I am raising a family and I work hard on our family and marriage. Domestication does not look like this music video. The females are just hopping about like felines with makeup on. The expressions on their faces are plain and neutral as if they will do anything. The eyes of the girls’ convey obedience. And I feel sick!

What I am really trying to question here is our social culture and the ways in which our culture portrays relationships, masculinity, and femininity. I am a wife and a mother and in no way do I want to hear that I was “domesticated”. If I could show you the amount of strength and wholeness it takes to be in my shoes as a female, this song would sound sick to you as well. And in no way does my husband try to liberate me, domesticate me, or speak for me. We are raising a daughter in a culture in which this song is popular and well-liked by the average 20-something. There are pre-teens singing this song and downloading it on their iPods and it really scares me. It scares me to be a mom to a daughter because I am not yet sure how I am going to teach her to question what’s around her rather than accept it. And I am more afraid to have a son because then I have to raise a man in this culture who sees females as daughters, sisters, and mothers rather than sluts, whores, and MILFS.

It’s easy to say that “we” do not make the music. Someone else wrote these lyrics and made this song because “they” knew “we” would listen to it and it would be playing in all the bars and clubs. I put “they” and “we” in quotations because I am talking about a general idea and I myself do not know the absolute truths and specifics. All I know is that the words in this song do not sit well with me. I feel guilty when I want to get up dance. As a female, I feel ashamed that someone out there knew I would want to dance and workout to this song. And so there are people out there profiting off putting females down in this way. And really, males are being put down too. There is nothing manly about this song. As a male, this song is saying that “you know what a female wants” and “you are liberating her”. We can talk about what it means to be a man, but in my world, this is not it.

I’m going to end this blog with a story from last week. Last week, my husband and I ended up at a bar for the first time in over a year. (We both did not drink when I was pregnant so we had date nights at Chucke e Cheese instead). And yes, we danced to this song and consciously decided to just let go instead of being trapped in the words. We had a great time dancing and we had an even better time observing. I saw females exposed in their dresses and doing their mating dance in a circle. And every now and then a male would come and try to penetrate the circle. The process of his success depended on how authoritative he was. I saw men who were unable to get into that circle. And then I saw men who didn’t take “no” for an answer. Or maybe they didn’t get the hint when the girl was moving away as he moved closer. Some males just kept going forward until the girl gave in and they were in a grinding session for a few songs. This went on all night and the only change I noticed was how easily females eventually started giving in, even to the men who had been “refused” earlier.  I saw lyrics of this song come to life at the bar. Females turn into silent felines (like in the song) and men get to have their way. I wonder if the females got dressed up and worked hard for that to take place. So does that that justify the song when the singer says, “I know you want it”.

Personally, I do not want it. Neither does my daughter. Question to think about: What does a gender neutral culture look like?

All our homes for Sage

Home is where the heart feels loved, safe, and wanted. There is no place like home. I would like to add that there is no better feeling than knowing how many different places feel like home.

Last week, I woke up with with clarity followed by an instinctual response that we had to leave our home in KY for a few days and travel to see family. We have a five month old daughter who people know through facebook and she has never been held by anyone except her mom and dad, until now. When I told my husband we had to go to Philadelphia, he responded with “You sound like you just took some drugs. Lets calm down.” I felt high from the thought of my dear friends and family holding my daughter and giving her their energy in person, through touch and words. I was tired of facebook updates. I cannot describe what I go through when I say, “Would you like to hold my daughter?” I am still working on finding the right words that are attached to that moment. That moment feels powerful and I know there is more to that moment. I have yet tap into the other sensations that come along with it.

We started our travels into Philadelphia, where my husband’s family lives. Sage got to see her dadi ji (grandmom), bhua (aunt) and all her other aunts and uncles in person. She met her baby cousin who is 3 months younger to her and they got to interact in their baby language. Sage has done extremely well meeting so many people and I believe it comes from all the genuine love and warmth she feels. We spent our one year anniversary in my hometown of Princeton-Plainsboro. Walking around Princeton and seeing how everything is as it was before brought in a peaceful wind to my heart. Everything remained yet nothing was the same because I was walking around town with my daughter. The concept of relativity really felt solid.

Then we journeyed on to Penn State. I have to share some history that will allow for you to really connect to my recent trip there. I love State College. It was the first place I felt I could be safe as who I am as a person. Penn State was my escape from a lot of difficult family times and slowly it became my reality instead of an escape. I can proudly say I have only been to TWO football games and I never experienced what people would say is the Penn State culture. I am not sure how to relate to the football culture and I found my own culture and niche there. When I say I am proud to be from State College, I say it with a deep appreciation for the people of the town. (If anyone ever wants to have a conversation about Penn State and the greatness of the campus, influence, and the people, I would like to be in that conversation).

When my husband and I walked past the Corner Room with Sage and up the hill past Willard Building, to Pond Lab, I was overwhelmed by the smell. The smell is healing. The mountains, the fresh air, the vastness of the beauty is healing. At first we thought we would feel weird coming back with our baby but we did not feel that all. I truly understood the following quote yesterday: “We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are”. I saw the campus as I was now and it is still a place I call home.

There is much more I need to say about specific visits in this trip and I feel they deserve an entry on their own. All in all, wherever we have gone, I have been able to look at Sage, into her eyes, and tell her, “Here’s another home”.

Daddy will paint your nails

I am sitting with my cup of coffee, enjoying the overcast through my window, and watching Sage go to town on her activity gym. And we are trying to do this very quietly. For Father’s Day, I couldn’t think of a more considerate gift than to let Daddy sleep in until his body wants to wake up. Because even on the weekends, Daddy will wake up to help me feed Sage and give me company. That’s the type of father he is and much more.

So,  I was feeding Sage, and I took a few minutes to look into her eyes to convey a message. When she looks into my eyes, I feel like she can read every thought I have, so I gave it a try. I told her that today we are celebrating her father and that she is extremely lucky to have a father who loves her and her mother unconditionally. And she just bashfully smiled. The kind of smile that starts in one corner of her mouth and slowly catches up to the rest of her cheeks. And then I told her what makes her lucky are the following things I know she can expect from Daddy as she is growing up;

1) Daddy will be there. Daddy will show up no matter how big or little the event is. He showed up from work to every little doctor’s appointment and kept track of her growth inside me the entire time. He is the kind of father that probably won’t spend hours doing research on a topic because he is probably not going to know what to look for. And he is the father who wants to hear all about that research and anything I have to say and he will remember what we talk about (or parts of it). The important part is that he genuienly will always be interested. Daddy will show up to her dance recitals, to play dates, or just for a tea party date with her. Daddy will never leave her wondering where he went.

2) Daddy will cuddle and make you feel loved. Sage, your daddy loves to cuddle and he is man enough to show it and own it. Daddy will suffocate you with his smelly pits when he never lets you because he wants to cuddle. He wants to feel loved by you and he will always make you feel loved. He is the type of husband and father who values his emotions and knows emotions are worth expressing, not hiding. He is not going to try to make you tough and strong for the world. He is going to make you feel loved and warm for the world so that you can pass on your compassion and kindness to others. You will be 21 yeas old, and when you come home, hes going to want to lay down in my lap and hold you in his arms, and he is never going to grow out of that. And I hope you don’t either.

3) Daddy will paint your nails. And then he will let you paint his nails. And there is not more to it. He is silly. He loves playing games. He is so lost in our little world, he does not care what it may look like or sound like. If it makes you happy, Daddy will do it. (Just don’t ask him at 9 AM on the weekend.) If you go through a cape-wearing phase, he will do it with you. And he will ask mommy to do it too. You have the kind of father who is fearless. (Not the kind of fearless that he will go hold a snake, but the kind of fearless that he will support you and go against the world with you if you need)

4) Daddy won’t call you beautiful all the time. It’s because he expects you to know it and will focus more on what you do vs what you look like. I know this from experience. Weeks will go by between daddy commenting on how I look, but not a second goes by between moments that I feel loved. Daddy has shown love through actions, not words. I know he thinks I am beautiful. I know he thinks you are absolutely beautiful. And he doesn’t focus on that. He doesn’t find it important to make you feel your worth through your looks. He will always affirm you based on who you are and what you do and how that makes me feel. (And remember, to him, we are the most beautiful people.)

5) Daddy will believe in your dreams. Daddy is our biggest cheerleader. He will always have faith in you as long as you faith in yourself. Daddy supports my dreams with all this might and reminds me to work on them. He will do the same for you. He wants you to have goals and work toward them. He will support you along the way as long you continue to support yourself. He will not give up on. He will always listen to you, empathize with your setbacks, and tell you to keep going. Daddy looks at you right now and feels that you can accomplish anything as long as it will make you happy. He will not support your laziness. He will ask you to be the best version of yourself. And he will love that version of yourself.

6) Daddy will always love mommy. Daddy will show you throughout the years how a real man loves his wife and will inspire you to find a partner like him. Daddy will always love mommy. He will not ever let you feel that mommy is hurt. He will take care of me always and you are going to grow up having high standards for love and for your future life partner. You are going to look for someone who respects you and doesn’t belittle you. You are going to look for someone who helps around when he is asked or confronted. You are going to look for someone who only has eyes for you and a a heart that just beats for you. Because that’s the example your daddy is going to be. The greatest gift he will give you is showing you how a person loves his/her partner.

Sage, when Daddy wakes up, we are going to smile at him, hug him, (give him a poopy diaper to change), and celebrate his fatherhood. Happy father’s day to my husband. Cheers to the many more to come.

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