To 3 or not to 3

This is a picture of me as a baby.  The person holding me is my uncle.

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I don’t know why I look so angry.  My husband says I still make that sour face.  A lot.

Here’s another.

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I’m with my mom in this one.  Apparently I didn’t move a lot as a kid.  Some things never change.

Excuse the quality of the pics.  They’re pretty old.

No, I’m not old.  Just the pics are.

My neighbor from across the street recently had her fifth child.  She gets out of the house so infrequently that I found out she had been pregnant two weeks after she brought the baby home from the hospital.

She’s a little on the religious side.  She likes to tell me that children are a blessing, birth control is a no no, and that we should have as many kids as God decides to give us.

Okay, Michelle Duggar.  You do that.  I’m going to hop on the first train back to the real world, where we have  something called a condom.

As my boys get older, the question of So are you going to have any more? becomes inevitable.  I’ve heard it quite a few times already.  Everyone seems to think that we need a daughter.

My sister once asked me Wouldn’t you love to have a girl? to which I replied Not as much as I’d love to have a life.

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If you listen closely, I’ll tell you a secret.  Ready?  Okay, here we go.

Kids.  Are.  A LOT.  Of work.

Above is the picture of my eldest at around three months old.  Isn’t he such a doll?

But behind those chubby cheeks and fat wrists lies a natural inclination to be hyper.  And naughty.

Here is Child 2 at 1.5 months of age.

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His story is the most famous post on this blog.

He’s the opposite of his brother.  He loves to eat and to sleep.  He also did this thing as a newborn where he would pull a fistful of his own hair and then scream at the top of his lungs.  That was cute but I really hoped it didn’t reflect on his level of intelligence.

When you put the two of them together, you get 4 ounces of getting along, 3 ounces of fighting, and 1 ounce of He’s so stupid and annoying and I wish he was like Mini!

Mini is my brother’s deceased pet cat.  He was also my kids’ first experience with the concepts of death and dying.  I was hoping for some maturity and understanding from them when we mentioned Mini’s passing, but all they got out of it was that he had gone away and was never coming back and hey, that’s a good idea, let’s send my annoying brother there, too.

My kids are my world.  They might drive me crazy, but they also make me laugh.

Like when my four year old comes up to me, points to my breasts, and asks Which one makes ice cream?

I’m guessing that’s some sort of reference to breast milk but I was laughing too hard to inquire.

As much as I love my kids, I’m not crazy about the idea of giving them more siblings.  My experience with raising infants hasn’t been the greatest.  It was challenging, to say the least.

While all the other new parents sailed smoothly, we hit iceberg after iceberg.

Smash.  Acid reflux.

Crash.  Inability to nurse.

Wham.  Being blessed with the one baby in the world that didn’t seem to require any sleep whatsoever.  His idea of nap time was an extra long blink.

The biggest problem of them all was my kids’ inability to put on weight.  They would gain ounces, not pounds.   Both were big babies at birth and in utero, thanks to my doing a really good job at the eating for two part, but my husband was a rail thin child and genetics eventually took over in full force.

Difficulty in gaining weight is a problem I never had.  I can look at food and gain weight.  Even embryonic me must’ve been on the heavier side.

Not my boys.  They both eat like crazy and not one bit of it turns into baby fat.  They have the metabolism of an Olympic gold medalist.

While it’s great for them as kids, as babies it was a nightmare.  Infancy is the one and only time where fat equals cute.  Kid one was diagnosed with failure to thrive and kid two with the audacity to completely fall of the charts.

I know now that children of Indian descent are naturally more petite.  But as a new parent, any minor deviation from normal was the end of the world.  And that’s what it felt like.

It’s tough to look back at their baby pictures and not remember a time when I felt like a total failure at the whole mothering thing.

An especially low point was when a cold ass bitch commented So are you feeding your kids at all or are you eating their food as well?

Apparently she meant it as a joke.  I meant it as a joke, too, when I told her her husband’s tits were bigger than hers.

I’m in no hurry to flunk the test for the third time and neither is my husband.  Sure, number 3 might be the charm, but higher powers seem to be agreeing with us on two being the magic number.  Meaning my ob-gyn and my cardiologist.  The only way I will be allowed to deliver any future child is through cesarean surgery and the pills I pop for my tachycardia are harmful to a growing fetus.

Let’s see.  Stop taking potentially life saving medicine and be carved up like a Christmas turkey, or shut down the baby making factory and be a good mom to the kids I already have?

If anything I’d say God was telling me to keep my uterus to myself.  Okay, God, I get your message.  Sheesh. Now stop sending me those nightmares where I’m giving birth to the Antichrist.

Fair and Lovely

I heard a story from a friend that both saddened and frustrated me.  This friend has a cousin who is in her early twenties, which in Indian Pakistani culture is considered just the right age range for courtship and marriage.  As soon as a girl nears twenty, the pings, similar to the beeps of a dying battery in a smoke alarm, start going off in her parents brain.  Apparently the dreaded age is thirty.  If you’re past that and you are a female of southeast Asian descent, shame on you for not settling!

Of course I’m exaggerating.  Not the shame and settling part but the stereotyping part.  Not all Indian Pakistani families treat their daughters like heifers competing for first prize at the state fair, the prize being a husband.  An education and a career is what is prioritized, especially here in the good old USA.  However, I don’t have to tell you what kind of treatment women receive in terms of education, marriage, and procreation in parts of India, Pakistan, and other developing countries.  You can grab a newspaper from those countries and read it for yourself.  Sometimes that stone age mentality finds its way into society here as well.

The cousin of this friend has an aunt.  This woman has been living and working in this country for the past thirty odd years, but apparently back in the old country, she was the village idiot.  This aunt raved on and on about a neighbor of hers who she thought would be perfect for her niece.  The only problem was that he was twice divorced.  What’s the problem, the aunt asked.  You know ——- won’t find anyone better.  She isn’t thin or light skinned.  Mind you, this was all said directly to the girl’s mother.  I’m sure you’re thinking the mom must have gone ape shit, right?  Unfortunately, no, and I’ll tell you why.

There are some backward ideas floating around in Indian/Pakistani culture, similar in annoyance to the common cold.  There’s no cure for them, they’re annoying as hell when you’ve been afflicted, but they usually won’t kill you.  Only a small minority thinks this way, but it’s that minority that ruins it for the rest of us.  Backward idea numero uno is the obsession with light skin. Light colored skin is prized.  Now, light skin is beautiful.  My sister is light-skinned and she’s gorgeous.  But we’re talking light skinned, as in Dracula just fed off you light.  You need to look like a fresh bulb.  The paler, the better.  Don’t ask me why.  I have no idea, especially since majority of Indians are of the darker, wheatish hue.  Some people say it’s an inferiority complex left over from British colonial rule.  I believe them.  Oprah once did a segment on her show where she talked about how India is the number one country in the use of skin bleach.  I’d have written a complaint to her on behalf of my people if I didn’t have slightly used tubes of Fair and Lovely sitting in my dresser drawer, remnants of my “I want to fit in” phase.

Another lovely gem of this thought process is that if you’re fat, you are ugly.  No ifs or buts.  An aunty once told me, “Girls only look good if they are slim”, which confused the eff out of me because she herself was fat as hell.  And slim doesn’t mean slim/curvy.  No, slim means flat chested, skeletal, and with cheekbones that would make Maleficent jealous.  So unless you’re a  fluorescent toothpick, it sucks to be you.  Don’t believe me?  Attend an Indo Pakistani party, especially one where lots of middle age ladies that are looking for brides for their sons are invited.  If you’re pale, I guarantee you’ll have a fan following within the hour.

So the mother of the cousin of the friend said nothing.  She just sighed and said her daughter would never consider a suitor who’s been divorced, twice.  She did that because she herself believed that her daughter, a lovely, round faced, wide eyed, sweet girl, isn’t attractive because she isn’t light skinned or thin.  Which makes no sense because her daughter has plenty of male attention.  Lots of guys find her exotic looking and she’s been asked out often.  She’s aware her mother has had this conversation, but she’s shrugged it off to a way of thinking that’s stupid and illogical, yet something that had been ingrained into her mother and aunt at a young age by their mother and so on.  They’d been through it and it’s hard to change someone’s way of thinking.  Besides, she told me, she’d never marry someone her mother picked out for her, anyway.

Of course, not all Indians and Pakistanis think like this.  As a matter of fact, things are actually getting better in India.  There are now lots of desi  (slang for Indo/Pak, I can use it, I am one of them) actresses and models who are refusing to bleach their skin and take pride in having a tan.  There are “dark is beautiful” campaigns all over the Indian media.  It’s a slow process, overturning centuries of backward thinking, but I’m glad there has been a start.

If you’re wondering if I’ve been through the revolving door that is Indian Pakistani style match making a few times myself, then duh!  You’re right.  Where else would I get my writing material from if not life itself?  I don’t know any desi girl who hasn’t, light or dark.  It’s just the system itself.  It’s barbaric.  But I’m happy to say it was only a few spins before I found myself a sweet guy who couldn’t care less what I weighed or whether or not he’d save on his electricity bill if my skin color wasn’t the right wattage.  My husband says the thing he liked about me the most is that I was easy to talk to.  Now if it were only that convenient for everyone.