On Tuesday of this week, my husband and I will have been married years. 8 years!! It’s crazy to me. Almost as crazy as Paula Deen, but maybe not quite that crazy. I am getting nostalgic so am hoping you’ll walk down memory lane with me.
Here is a picture of me and my husband, John, on our wedding day.
I know, you’re probably wondering why I call him John when his name is so clearly something like Jagdish. Or Rajiv, or something.
But no, John is his real name. He just looks like he is Indian (another story, another day). I think it has to do with the fact that he is half Italian and half Puerto-Rican. Somehow, it made him look like a hybrid of Ponch and Amitabh.
Anyway, here is another picture of me and John on our wedding day.
Look at how we laughed. Ah. So innocent. This marriage business is fun! I hope the cake tastes good. These were the thoughts I kind of think I was having. Gosh, we should do this more often!!
So, if you haven’t guessed from the pictures yet, John and I had two weddings. On the same day.
We like to call ourselves over achievers.
In the picture below, I know you’re probably thinking that I look like I am going to cry. And I am. I remember crying because I was thinking, “Am I really going to marry a man who has never heard me toot?”
You’ll be happy to know that I did. And it’s been almost eight years and he still hasn’t heard a thing. (Now that the kids are around, it’s especially easy to blame one of them).
Anyway – so it’s obviously a lot of work to plan two weddings in one day. But we had such amazing friends and family around that it definitely helped.
You can see how happy John’s friends and family were to finally see him embrace his inner Jagdish in this picture. He looked so much like Aladdin that I think everyone was expecting his carpet to roll in. Instead he got a Rolls Royce. Even better.
I thought that I had done a really good job of planning everything. 300 guests. 3 different catering companies. A multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious wedding.
And for the most part, I think I did an okay job. All except for one part.
Here are our bridal parties.
The Bridesmaids and Junior Bridesmaids:
So I thought I had done a really good job of partnering up our parties. I thought I was doing it based on height. In looking back though, it strikes me as odd how much I liked things to match. Tell me if you notice anything.
John’s sister, Lisa, and her husband, Tom. Makes sense that we would put them together.
I really didn’t mean to be such a racist asshole when figuring out this kind of stuff, but I definitely notice it now when I look back at the pictures. I guess my own advice to brides to maybe not try to be quite as “matchy” as I was. Mix it up a little. Trust me, you’ll look like less of a jerk when you look back at your wedding pictures eight years later.
Anyway. 8 years.
They haven’t been all roses, but they have been some of the most memorable years of my life.
Thanks for sticking with me, John, despite my hideous wedding party matching skills.
“The timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness. And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.”
- Khalil Gibran, “The Prophet”
“Last morning, I peed my pants.”
“Last morning, I got a boo boo, Mommy.”
“Remember? Last morning, Shaila hit me.”
These are all things my three year old son, Nico, can say on a given morning. You would think that “last morning” might mean yesterday, or the day before yesterday morning. But no. Last morning can really be any morning that happened in the past. Heck, it might even be an afternoon or an evening.
We have a lot of stories about “last morning” going on in this house. “Last morning” basically is a sum of all our yesterdays; it’s where the accidents of our past took place and where we lay our mistakes to rest.
I look at my own past, kind of how Nico does. A lot of memories of yesterdays seem to jumble up together. I don’t often remember the order in which all the memories take place but they sometimes stumble upon each other when I look back at them, forming a mosaic of “last morning” type of scenes.
Last morning I had a baby named Shaila. (Granted that morning was almost six years ago now. Just stick with me on this one).
Last morning, I suffered through terrible post-partum depression, which lingered on when I had my second child, Nico, two years later.
Last morning, I started to question the marriage that John and I built together.
Last morning, the questioning grew stronger.
Last morning, John and I wondered if we were quite right for each other.
Last morning, John and I separated.
Last morning, I went and bought a house.
Last morning, John and I realized that we wanted to work on our life together.
Last morning, I had to “return” the house, just two weeks before going to closing.
Last morning, I lost some people I really cared about. Only a few of those lost actually were to death.
Last morning, I cried. Shit. I cried a lot of mornings.
Last morning, I laughed. Some mornings it was easier than others.
Last morning, I drank too much wine. In my defense, it was really in the last evenings.
Last mornings were hard.
Last mornings are now just a series of my yesterdays.
The past few years have been hard for me. Hard meaning things hurt, I hurt, I have been through things I didn’t expect and I have felt a sucker punch or two (or three) that I wasn’t quite prepared to handle, last morning. Heck, I don’t know if I am prepared to handle them THIS morning. I know I feel things hard. Even before I started writing this blog, I always seemed to accessorize my most often mismatched outfits with my heart positioned right on my sleeve, where everyone could see it.
Maybe even poke at it a little.
“Kiran’s… sensitive,” is how my closest friends might describe it. The friends who have been there for me on my last mornings and continue to be there for me might describe it as something else outside of my own hearing. If they are honest, the words “impulsive,” “constantly searching,” and “dreamer” might be a part of their description as well. I know they love me, but I think I confuse them. I think we handle our last mornings differently. I would say they do a better job than me.
They would probably agree.
The last mornings of my recent past where I started to juggle a full time job with motherhood, marriage with my own independence, family with my need to still be my own person were tough. I imagine that they are for a lot of mothers and fathers like myself who have felt their last mornings implode on themselves. I also know that there are many who handle it all with much more grace and wisdom than I have been able to manage, across all my last mornings.
My last morning were not always joyous and no, they didn’t always fit into a nice little package that I yearn to re-open on rainy days.
I feel like they belong in my past, where they will stay.
Still. Regardless of the challenge I might have felt in the most recent years of my life, there were so many gifts I got last morning.
Last morning, I had a beautiful daughter named Shaila.
Last morning, I was blessed with an amazing son named Nico.
Last morning, I rediscovered my marriage.
Last morning, I realized how lucky I am to have many of the people in my life who have chosen to stick around.
Last morning, I realized how lucky I am to have my parents, and John’s parents, alive and a part of our lives.
Last mornings, while challenging, were also really quite amazing.
And I need to remind myself of that. Whether it’s Nico tattling about his sister when he talks about his last mornings or whether its me, trying to make sense of a few years full of last mornings I once had trouble navigating. Last mornings pave the way for a new today. And maybe an even more amazing tomorrow.
The ladies at our dentist office love my husband, John. I think it has something to do with how friendly and smiley he is. Maybe it’s because he never gets cavities. Whatever it is, they are seriously crushing on him.
I have thought this was cute. It doesn’t really bother me. When John missed his appointment a few weeks ago because of some last minute work travel, he forgot to call the office to cancel. I had an appointment two days later and as soon as I walked in, the receptionist looked up from her desk and jumped up to greet me.
“Oh my God! Is John okay? We are so worried about him!”
I could feel the eyes of the other patients in the waiting room looking me up and down. What had happened to this John person? I could almost see them asking. (They had not yet updated the fliers, so his celebrity was not yet on the rise in Northern Virginia). I was so confused as I hadn’t realized he had missed the appointment and I also didn’t realize his teeth were that bad that the office staff would be so concerned.
At this point, one of the hygienists ran out from the back and said, “Oh, what happened? This is so unlike him!”
As opposed to so like him? Based on what?
And so I apologized for John (thanks, John) and had to spend the rest of my cleaning listening to how great my husband is, and how funny he is, and oh wow, he must just love our kids soooo much.
Seriously. They got this from his teeth?
“He seems like such a great husband. And he’s Italian! I love Italian food!”
“Es, ee ith ithalian, buth thigh I the thun that thoes the thooking” I also tried to explain that he is half Puerto Rican, but it was hard to get out with that suction thing making a ruckus and my mouth wide open.
“Oh bless his heart! I bet he cooks for you all the time!”
“Thar thou thucking thidding mhee?” I tried to say, except she told me to spit.
I don’t know what John talks about when he is in the office. And I don’t know he can get a word in edgewise during his cleanings because he is a bad flosser, so they must have to use the time he is there to really get in there.
So all I remember thinking was “How the hell did you get this from his teeth?”
As I left the office that day, the receptionist yelled after me from her desk, “Tell John to keep his next appointment! We don’t want him to break our hearts again!”
So then the next day, John goes to the office for his appointment and comes back home all happy and beaming like Ponch from CHIPS with a story to tell me. Most people would probably get reprimanded for missing an appointment and get smacked with a “no-show” fee at most places.
But not John. And not Dr. Han’s office.
Instead, they asked him to become one of the “faces” of their office and be on their website and all over their office walls. They want to hire a photographer and have a photo session so he can flash his pearly whites so his fan club can swoon all over his pictures every day.
“Now we can look at you every day!” they told him.
You could tell he was trying to be humble about it, except of course the part where he wasn’t trying to be humble at all.
“Isn’t it funny how you used to model and I’m the one who gets asked to be in the pictures?”
“Yeah, it’s hysterical.” I said, not really laughing but still finding it odd that his teeth have some special “something” that mine will never have.
The “IT” factor. For teeth.
He was so excited. John’s best friend has modeled as a side job for years and we see him on TV in commercials and in magazines all the time. I could see John already putting his portfolio together and thinking about how many commercials there might be where he could play a call center rep from Mumbai. But then I had to remind him that while he has the loveliest smile in real life, anytime a camera is pointed at him, he becomes Chandler Bing and clams up.
And of course he remembered that is a bit of a problem but I think he is going to try and wing it. I mean, you don’t want to lose an opportunity to have your teeth displayed all over the office and website of your local dentist.
Once in a lifetime opportunity, John. You MUST take it. Carpe the hell out of this one.
I will let you guys know how it goes!
And so now you know about how John’s promising modeling career started. I haven’t quit my job just yet, but if he keeps smiling like that, I’m hoping he can even land a Bollywood gig or do stunt work for Wilmer Valderama.
I was sitting on the couch, ignoring the kids while they ran around, jumping on top of John. John is not feeling 100% after traveling for business this week, so I looked up to ask him if he was alright. I don’t know how he responded, but he wasn’t puking or anything, so I’m guessing he said, “Couldn’t be Better!” with a thumbs or something.
Nico stuck something on my head and I told him, “That’s nice,” because that’s usually what I do when he asks me something and I am too busy doing something SUPER important (i.e. anything other THAN something super important) to respond.
Plus I think teaching him about positive reinforcement is really healthy. Of course, this backfired the time he was holding the knife and I was on my iPhone and said “That’s nice!” and now he thinks that playing with knives is a good thing.
Still, it’s better than guns, I say.
Anyway, I went out a little while later to check on the kids who rolled out the door to play with John, again, who is not showing signs of dehydration, so I’m thinking he’s just being a wuss on the whole “not feeling good” thing. And then, WTF? John started laughing at me. I would say “That’s not nice!” except I figure if he’s laughing, that’s a good thing, because it’s better than him being on the can all day or something and REALLY being sick.
I came back inside and caught my reflection in the window.
So, I don’t do reviews or anything on this site, because well, nobody really asks me to. Also because I would probably just say “That’s nice!” and you all know how much that means at this point.
“Nico! Put away the knives!!”
God, I never realized how much he looks like an Indian/Italian/Puerto-Rican version of Chuckie when he’s armed like that.
Anyway, I felt like I NEEDED to review this. This plush “Minnie Mouse” headband is wrapped in a velvet headband so soft, you forget it’s even there. The sparkly, glittery bow is perfect for making your eyes “pop.”
On top of that, people who have Disney fetishes can easily incorporate this into their repertoire.
No, John. Not you. Aren’t you feeling sick? Sheesh.
I got it with my daughter’s Halloween costume, but it goes with a lot of different outfits. And ladies, it doesn’t slip off your head or pinch you behind the ears. Plus if you have a daughter, you can always let her “borrow” it. Just make her give it back.
There’s only room for one diva in the house and Shaila ain’t gonna be it.
Not when I’ve got this on anyway.
I usually end my post with, Namaste. But that just feels wrong today.
I often ask myself questions that have no easy answers. This week, one of those questions was, “Why do people keep googling “spicy kabob” and ending up on my website?”
Now, I get that the word “Masala” is in my blog name. Masala means “spice” in Hindi, so I totally get why people might say, “Hey I am going to go to this Indian cooking site and learn how to make samosas!”
But those people must be disappointed when they come here and find no recipes for chicken tikka or palak paneer. I am sorry. And I can’t help that the top search queries to get to this site include “aloo tikki” and “gulab jamuns.”
This ain’t no cooking blog, yo.
On the other end of the spectrum are people who apparently think that “Masala Chica” is a porn site. I am sorry for any misunderstanding or misrepresentation there. To the person who stumbled upon this site by typing in “ganges river village fuck hard stories,” I am sorry to let you down. I hope my posts on how I haven’t walked the same or had the same level of bladder control since popping two kids out of my hoo hoo really turn you on.
Actually, no. I don’t. I just puked in my mouth a little thinking about you.
But going back to the first point, about this NOT being a cooking blog. I wanted to share something with you. Something I am less than proud of. Because everyone makes mistakes in their lives. Even porny food bloggers like me.
FACT: I am really passionate about Indian food. Like, more passionate about it than I am about “Les Mis.”
FACT: I used to get so angry when people would tell me they did not like Indian food. Like, Nazi angry about it. I once wrote a post called, “When Good Indian Food Happens to Bad People,” in which I accused people who do not like Indian food of also not liking Gandhi.
And that’s not fair because what did Gandhi ever do to them? I asked.
FACT: I used to take it as a personal affront when someone would say they did not like Indian food. Because of how closely I associate Indian food to my memories, my family and my life, I would feel like my culture and my identity were being criticized.
I realize now how extreme my reaction was. I no longer want to throw samosas or pakoras at people’s heads just because they don’t like chicken curry. Besides, those are not hard enough to really cause any kind of real damage. I would need to find something harder.
I have done some self-examination. Not a breast self-examination, though I need to get on that too. What I mean is, I have looked inward, trying to understand where this anger, this resentment, came from.
And one incident in particular came to mind. Will you pull up a chair and let me tell you a story? Here’s a drink.
Oh you wanted ice?
Well, you’re not fucking getting any. Just drink.
Why I am Besties with Samosas.
Ok. So when I was growing up my parents had an Indian grocery store. Papa worked as an engineer and Ma ran the store every day. They worked hard to run it, with Papa working at the store on nights and weekends. They worked seven days a week. Long, hard hours.
One of the things Ma would do every morning was get up to make samosas. It was like the Dunkin’ Donuts, commercial. “Time to make the samosas.” She would get out of bed and start the endless process of making a new batch almost every day.
She charged 50 cents a samosa. Those samosas got me through college. I sometimes try to do the math and estimate how many samosas she has already made in her lifetime, but I can’t. I do know that every minute Ma and Papa worked was to make a better life for our family, both here and in India.
Ma’s samosas, though they were painstakingly made, were one of the only things she did which didn’t feel like an act of labor, but an act of love.
Nobody Puts Ma’s Samosas in the Corner. Nobody.
Ok, maybe once they did.
I was going to visit my non-Indian boyfriend’s family a few years after graduating from college. Ma got up early that morning and made a fresh batch of samosas which we took to his mother’s house. As we sat down at the table, I pulled the just heated samosas out of the oven and put them on the table. I was excited to see everybody’s reaction to trying something new.
Something that I loved so much.
I looked up at my boyfriend’s older brother and asked him if he would like one.
“No, thank you. I don’t eat that.”
“You don’t eat what?” I asked, walking right into it. dumb, Dumb, DUMB. He stopped unfolding his napkin and looked me in the eyes and responded,
“I. DON’T. EAT. THAT. SHIT.”
The sphincter says what?
The words had barely left his mouth before I picked up a samosa and threw it at his smug, pompous face. Before he could finish wiping the crust and potatoes out of his eyes, I threw another one. There was no sign left of that jerky smile as my right arm moved on auto-pilot and threw another. And another. And…
Ok. I’m lying. I didn’t throw anything. Though I really, really wish I had.
Instead I just sat there, feeling like someone had punched me in the gut. I tried not to cry, but now that you know that that I cry during movie previews you can assume that I did NOT do the best job.
Not ONE PERSON at the table touched my mother’s samosas.
I just remember looking at that plate and knowing that his message was about more than the food.
Why I no Longer Feel that Throwing Samosas is the Answer
I am not going to win people over to Indian food by getting upset, telling them that they do not like Gandhi or the Dalai Lama. I am not going to get people to like Indian food by asking them to stop using the example of “the ONE time they tried it” to judge the cuisine of a massive country, with dozens of different regional styles of cooking. I am not going to win anyone over by throwing samosas.
Violence is not the answer. Just remember though. Before any of you start talking about samosa control, just remember, samosas do NOT kill people.
People kill people.
Usually with guns.
As for me, there are a lot of things I need to evaluate in my life. Perhaps a career in porn-food blogging?
Today, if you tell me you don’t like Indian food, I promise I will still like you.
Unless you are the guy who googled “ganges river village fuck hard stories.” YOU? I don’t think I will ever like, no matter how many samosas you eat. Fucking perv.
Do you like Indian food? What’s your favorite food that you associate with your childhood, culture, upbringing? Have you ever tried to throw it at someone? Hmm?
Love you whether you can handle spice or not!
Not quite sure yet. What I do know is that if you “follow” Masala Chica through the wordpress.com “Follow” functionality, the nifty button that I used to look at with nary a glance and you still want to follow? Well – if you want to continue to follow the blog – can you manually add http://masalachica.com to your reader or subscribe through the feeds.
They say you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Hells, yeah. I miss you guys. Come back! I got this snazzy new site – seriously pimped it out hardcore – and nobody is showing up. It’s like having a party and sitting around and eating all the cake by yourself because nobody came. Then you go home and drink more because you feel fat which makes you feel fatter.
Nothing good comes of it except swollen ankles and a hangover in the morning.
Sad visual, right? Yeah, no shit.
Don’t make me have fat ankles. That’s just cruel.
Remember. YOU can change the world. Or just give me an ego boost. Which one is easier?
That’s what I thought.
Have a great weekend, peeps.
The other day, my daughter wrote me this note.
I don’t know what it means, EXACTLY, but knowing her, I think it’s supposed to be about how much fun we have when we sing together. The feeling she has in her heart when her family is happy. Now I don’t want to put words in her mouth, so I will just leave it at that. I can’t be 100% certain of what goes through her cute little head, what she sees with her serious brown eyes, all the expressions that she sometimes hides from me under the mop of her curly brown hair.
Sometimes I can guess. But I will never truly know.
A while ago, I wrote a post about some difficult times that John and I have gone through. We are working through all of that, and sometimes I think we are doing really, really well. And other days, we are doing um… “not” so well. But, that’s what marriage can be like. Some days you look at the person and think something sweet like, “I am so GLAD I married my best friend.” You might even catch his eye as you’re driving and reach out to hold his hand and feel so giddy, realizing at the same time how lucky you are to have married someone who loves Neil Diamond as much as you do. And doesn‘t think it’s weird.
Those? Those are the moments that diamond commercials are made for.
The next day you look at this same person you have promised to spend forever and ever with and you want to pull your hair out.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s probably good that John and I both have a lot of hair. Yes. Thank God for that.
As Nico can attest to below.
So going back to Shaila’s note, I wonder how many times she looks at her family and doesn’t feel like singing. Where her heart doesn’t feel so good. And I wonder how many times the tension between John and me has caused that not so good feeling. That really scared feeling you get when you’re a kid and you see the two people who are anchors for your little boat, uprooted or unable to stabilize you the way you need. At least, that’s what I think it must feel like when you look up at your parents from that vantage point and see them argue.
Actually, that’s what I remember it to be like.
We are not yellers. Or screamers. When we fight you can usually see it in the firm set of our jaws. The slight clenching of the teeth. Or the way we look at each other. Kind of cold. Steely. We both like to have the last word. Seriously, we can both be real assholes sometimes. Sometimes we will find ourselves in an argument that escalates. And before we know it, we are taking tiny little swipes at each other, knowing exactly what to say to drive the other one BONKERS.
But we make up. And when we argue, John and I both know that we will both retreat before hurting each other. And I think we feel safe with that.
But how safe do my kids feel?
While I am obviously super proud of my five year old rock-star/poet (she’s gonna be a gangsta, bitches!) for her clear writing talents, I am also a little sad because I realize that those moments she is talking about? Well, sometimes I kind of chase them away for her without realizing it. Caught up in my own stuff, our stuff, stupid stuff.
So I am not making a New Year’s Resolution. That’s crap because I have NEVER, EVER, EVER kept a resolution. But I will make a December resolution. To try to argue less. Anywhere, even behind closed doors. Because when you are a kid, a highly sensitive one to boot, you can still feel the tension behind the door. Your ears still strain to catch the tone of the voice. Your kids still know.
I will not let the stress of the holidays get in the way. Oh hell, now I am sweating. Ok, I will try with that one. Try hard.
I will sing and dance a little more with my kids. That one I can do.
I think it’s about time we whip out some “Forever in Blue Jeans.”
BEST SONG. EVER. Right, John?
Do you ever forget where you are and argue in front of your kids? Or argue until you feel like you have the last word?
Are you someone who never lets their guard down like that? In which case, how the HELL do you do it?
If you came to this post thinking it is a review for the Britney Spears movie which goes by the same name as this post, you probably shouldn’t read this. And you should get Netflix or something.
When you are married or with a person for a long time, it’s possible to ignore certain faults. Certain weaknesses. We tiptoe around them initially, maybe laugh at them together when the time is right, roll our eyes later.
Ok – maybe we don’t ignore them.
We tolerate them.
For example, John tries not to notice when I wear my pajamas all day. This doesn’t happen every day. Just the majority of days. I work from home a lot and it’s just convenient. Sometimes, before he comes home from work, I will run up and take my shower and change into jeans and a new shirt. But I think he knows.
He would call it “laziness.” I prefer to call it “being laid back.”
He doesn’t complain about it though. Too much.
He overlooks my moodiness. To most people, on the exterior I look like a sweet, nice person. Soft-spoken, perhaps. But inside? Inside I feel like a raging pitbull, you know, with drool running down its face, some days. He won’t know what days those are though because of my deceptive sweetness and them BAM! he sets me off.
He calls it an “aggressive temper.” I have termed it as being “overly passionate.”
Sometimes with good reason. Sometimes not. Just kinda depends.
Things that were endearing when we first met don’t seem as cute or as gosh, I dunno – quirky – anymore. They just seem weird. Actually, they might even piss us off a lot.
Like, John has this habit of calling me right around 5:30 every night and saying, “What are you thinking about dinner?”
The conversation goes like this.
John: So what are we doing for dinner?
Me: I don’t know. What are we doing for dinner?
John: I asked first.
Me: No hablo Ingles.
I mean, why does the simple fact that I don’t have a penis put me in charge of dinner? We both work. We both have late calls.
But I do it. I make dinner. Whether its because I am better at it or because I have a vagina, I can’t be sure.
He leaves his sports bar wrappers around the house. I leave open cans of Diet Pepsi everywhere, with just a teeny bit left inside. He refuses to complete a task. I refuse to stop nagging him about completing a task.
But the thing is, just like I now recognize those “cute” things as “annoyances”, there are some things I never thought to notice at all.
Like how always takes out the trash. How he always brings in the mail. How he always gets my phone and charges it at night. How he is so much better at being a jackass with the kids than I am. How he handles the bills. Stuff like that.
When I think about it this way, perhaps I am not bringing much to the table actually.
My friend Anne Marie said it best.
“You know, every morning I come down the stairs and there is a dirty pan on the stove. It’s never cleaned. Without fail, it’s there every single day. And I hate it.”
I nodded my head. Right on girlfriend. But then she added something.
“But I think to myself, what if that pan wasn’t there? What if I came down and it was missing? That he wasn’t there? That would be something so much worse for me. So I deal with the pan. Because the absence of that pan is something I couldn’t face.”
I thought about what Anne Marie said a lot the past few days. Not necessarily about cleaning pans. John hates to clean those too. But what it would mean to not have those “quirks” of his that I complain about around.
When you end a relationship with someone – whether it’s your spouse, a family member, a friend – you might feel a certain sense of freedom. Freedom from the weight of those weaknesses that you feel have hurt you, have confined you, have annoyed the shit out of you. But with that freedom comes loss too. A loss you may not realize or appreciate until it’s too late.
That is not to say that goodbyes are not necessary at times. That it’s ok to throw away some pans. Not at anyone, of course. Because that’s being a little TOO “overly passionate.”
Maybe it just means we should be just a little easier on each other. And that’s something I think that needs to be there if we are going to make this work.
P.S. John, if you read this, I will stop wearing my pajamas if I can buy more yoga pants and sweatshirts. They call it activewear. Go figure. I will try to do more than sit at my computer in them.
Look at that picture. What a happy family, right? All smiling and dressed in coordinated denim for this little photo shoot. Might even want to make you gag a little.
But the picture is one dimensional and it doesn’t tell you our story. So let me tell you just a teeny part of ours.
Before we had kids, John and I had a lot of time for each other. We both had challenging careers. Confession: I think I always say I have a challenging career, even at times when it isn’t all that bad for the simple reason that it makes me feel important. We would go to the gym together, we’d be current on episodes of our favorite shows, we’d watch movies and go on dinner dates with friends.
When Shaila, (Baby #1), made her appearance in this world, I remember the joy and most of the fuzzy memories from the hospital where I was absolutely fine with taking my fair share of painkillers.
But I remember as we were dressing her to get her ready to take her home, this crushing, panicked realization of “I’m not ready.”
Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy Shit.
It wasn’t just that John had forgotten to read the instructions on the car seat as we were trying to adjust it to fit her little 6 lb body. And I still fully blame John for that because it was the one task I gave him while I was incubating our child for 10 months.
As we fumbled with the child seat, realizing that the outfit we brought from home was way too big for her (A one month outfit is way bigger than the NB – or newborn outfit), we looked at each other and I think it was the first time we admitted to ourselves.
“We have no effing clue, do we?”
We somehow managed to get her home without breaking her, but it was close. She cried the whole way home and I kept trying to put the pacifier in her mouth while John clenched the steering wheel in his hands.
“Why is she crying?” he asked. Yeah, just like that I’m the Baby Whisperer because I have a uterus.
“I don’t know. It’s ok. We’ll get home and she will be fine,” trying not to panic. John was freaking the shit out of me.
Things got better when we got home. Family helped. We got into some kind of routine after our families all left. And we started to get the whole parenting thing down.
But despite all the books I had read, I just didn’t know what it would be like. What the exhaustion would feel like. That I would struggle with breast feeding both of my children, trying so hard that I was often in tears. That I gave up and turned to formula and always felt like complete crap when asked, “And how is the breast feeding going?” and I would mumble something non-sensical, hoping they wouldn’t ask me to repeat myself, feeling like I had the most inept boobs in the world.
Another shortcoming to add to my list.
But somehow we made it through it. We officially felt like parents. We even were good at it some days. Not all, definitely NOT all. Sometimes we were more like taking guesses and crossing our fingers (and toes) that we were not causing irreparable harm to Shaila. We may have done some damage, we still question it, but again, we are hoping she came through relatively unscathed.
Crossing our fingers again.
Nico (Baby #2) came and it was harder this time. I didn’t bounce back into work with the same fervor that I had the first time and it took me longer to adjust. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but I was going through Postpartum Depression in a bad way, and the shiny veneer of my normally happy self was wearing thin.
So now we get back to the point of this post. Somewhere along the way, John and I stopped prioritizing each other. We kept up with the demands of work, parenting and maintaining a home, but when it came to our marriage, we did little to nurture it or each other.
After the kids went to bed, John would fall in front of the television and get lost in whatever sports event was on, while I would be in my own world, sipping on a glass of wine and writing or producing songs.
And the distance between us grew. The time we spent with each other dwindled.
We had officially stopped giving a shit.
I write this now because for quite some time this year, John and I were thinking about giving up. About calling it quits and starting over. We were very close to making a decision that would have changed our family forever.
But as the time grew closer for the actual split, I started to break down. Like, really breakdown. I would cry incessantly. If John walked by, I would burst into tears and leave the room. I would hold my children and think about having to tell them about this and cry some more.
It’s amazing I didn’t drown in those tears. I did drown my sorrows in a lot of wine though. Too much.
It took the realization that whatever our differences were and whatever our grievances are with each other, that our love and respect and concern for each other far outweighs that.
And that was a pretty amazing revelation for me.
And with that realization came the understanding for both of us that we wanted to fight for this. A little harder than we had.
Today is the day I would have been closing on the new house I bought. Some women shop at Target when they are sad. Some women splurge on a new pair of shoes from Nordstrom when they have the blues.
Not me. I bought a house. A shiny, new one.
Once John and I realized that we wanted to work on this and to “really” work on it and not just say we are working on it, it became clear that I needed to return the house. I asked John if we could keep it because I really liked all the features I had picked out, but he said that would not be a good idea.
NOTE: You lose a little more money when you “return” a house than say when you return a pair of shoes. I would strongly advise against it.
It’s a little scary trying again. It’s scary because you know there is the chance that you will fall into old habits. That the constant demands of all the other stuff, especially the really noisy stuff like the kids, can still stand in your way.
But you can’t do anything about all that. That’s still going to be there. And short of slipping some hard liquor into our kids’ sippy cups, in the hopes that they will pass out, the kids are still going to be loud.
This post is personal. I get that. I am not writing it for cathartic release or for some kind of exhibitionism of my family. I write because I know that I am not alone in this. And that others like me have sat on that scary precipice just like I did. And no matter what decision you make, you will find your way.
On Sunday night I had dinner with some of my closest friends. They are the kind of friends I don’t talk to everyday or see all the time but when we do see each other, we can talk about anything and everything. I think for the most part, we do a really good job of being there for each other. Not being too “judgey.” And when you have been friends for as long as we have and know as much as we do about each other, it’s easy to be “judgey.” But to our credit, we work on focusing on each other, giving of ourselves what we can.
Minimal judgement. Refreshing, right?
And I love them a lot, not because of how amazing they each individually are, but also because of the way they love me, forgiving me for my many faults. One of which is that I am really, really bad about returning their calls.
We all have strengths and weaknesses in this world and luckily for me, they are not counting the latter. It’s always good to have a few friends like that in your corner.
We decided to meet up for our monthly get together, which we decided we were all in desperate need of. Or, let me take that back. Maybe I am the only one feeling that desperate about it, but I know that I definitely need it. That I need the solidarity of their strength in my life.
One of my friends offered to drive me to the restaurant where we were all meeting up, centrally located for all of us. Before she knocked on the door, my husband and kids looked at me as I was grabbing my purse.
“Are you changing?” John asked, not being mean, but probably to help me. My 3 year old seemed oddly unimpressed by my appearance and my 5 year old, who usually shouts out, “Oh, Mommy, you look sooooo adorable,” was also painfully quiet.
“No,” I thought, wondering what was wrong with the jeggings I had worn all day and my favorite top, a polyester-ish purple sweater I bought from Express in 1998. To finish off the look, I had thrown on shoes that would have made any of my friends who are nurses proud – a clunky pair of orthopedic support shoes.
My hair was not perfect but then, it wasn’t the worst it had ever been either. I wasn’t wearing make-up, but these days, that seems like a step I rarely bother to take.
Look, this is how I see it. My friends have seen me at my best and also at my worst. They have seen me with mascara running down my face and have held the Kleenex for me on more than a few occasions. I have been there for some of them through some of their least glamorous moments and have never stopped thinking of them as amazing and beautiful.
So I was banking on the fact that everybody might overlook the bags under my eyes and the less than stellar outfit, the lack of mascara and my comfy shoes.
And I think they did.
We all are at crazy junctures in our lives. Times that life seems impossible, not just hard, and we are just trying to get through it, with our sanity intact. Our conversations now are so different from the conversations the five of us would have had 10 years ago hanging out at a bar in Arlington or a club in DC. That world is long gone. It left when we all decided to grow up.
And we are adults, but some days I feel like a bad grown up. A very, very bad one. An imposter, even. Like I have totally lost sight of what it was that I was supposed to be at this stage in my life. Professionally. Personally.
I have to admit something to you. This is really something I don’t tell anybody. In fact, I rarely admit it to myself, but for some reason, I want to come clean on this. In High School, I was voted “Most Likely to Succeed.” I look back at the picture of me in my yearbook where I am smiling, believing with the utmost confidence that yes, I would have “success.” I don’t even think knew what success meant for me then. And lately I realize that I don’t know what it means to me now. I feel like there are dreams I have given up on, passions that have fallen out of my grasp.
And that hurts me. Sometimes, a lot.
I confided to my friends that night, feeling pretty ashamed, that there are times where I miss those carefree days when we lived in Arlington. The time before marriage, the time before the move to the suburbs.
The time before kids.
Let me be clear. I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to be single. I love my husband and my children. In fact, I felt like I was betraying my family in saying this. I feel like I am betraying my family in admitting this now. But the point isn’t that I don’t want to be a mother or a wife. Not at all.
I just wish that I had more time to live – and sometimes I want to be selfish and have life mean more than making the next work deadline, asking my kids for the twentieth time not to call each other poopy head at the table (which they both find enormously funny) and not rushing to get dinner ready. And realizing that some days the day has gone by and it’s now 10 PM, and there I have it. There’s my time to do what I want.
Which would be great if I wasn’t so freaking exhausted already.
And I know that there are only 24 hours in a day so that means something has to give, right? But from where? I struggle with it every day, feeling like I am on borrowed time anytime I do something for myself. And so for now, some of my dreams are sidelined. Maybe one day things will get easier and I will have time to see them through.
I expected my friends to look at me with some derision in their eyes, but their empathy for me was obvious. Like they got it. And it was ok. It was ok to miss a time when I could sleep peacefully at night without waking up to my three year old’s butt in my face. It was ok to miss a time when I didn’t have a 5 year old throwing her hands up in the air breaking my heart just a little when she says, “Mommy, you are so mean. You don’t give me anything.”
Because if her 5 year old self thinks I am giving her nothing, while I think I am giving her my everything, I kind of wonder where the disconnect is. And then of course I remember that she is only 5 and that makes me feel better till I think about what she will be saying when she is 15.
I notice a common theme when I talk to my friends about what I feel. I think guilt comes up a lot. Feeling guilty that I am not the parent of the year. The wife of the year. Employee of the year. This is hard for someone who used to rock whatever I did. I didn’t settle for mediocrity. I wanted to be exceptional.
And my friends pick up on my guilt and they assure me that I shouldn’t and that I am doing my damn hardest and that I am better than I give myself credit for. All the things I didn’t know I needed to hear, but so desperately did.
I hope one day that I find the balance that I need. That I find a way to pursue the things that I want for me, just me, while still being everything I need to be to everyone else.
And in the meantime, I am glad I have my friends to help me find my footing, even if it’s on orthopedic shoes, when I need it most. And for that I am grateful.