I’m feeling some trepidation about writing what I’m about to write but I’m sure I’m not the only one who has to deal with this and maybe we need to talk about it.
To make a long story short, my mother really wants me to have a boy.
Scratch that. I should say, my entire family of the older generation really wants me to have a boy. Like really, really badly. To make my point about how earnestly they want a boy, let me repeat a conversation I had with my aunt a few days ago. I’m currently visiting family in Calgary and asked my aunt when she’d be coming to Ontario to visit me. “When you have a boy,” was her reply. So naturally, I asked her what about if I have a girl? Her response was something similar to, “Don’t dare utter such nonsense and curse your tongue.” It wasn’t said in English so I can’t provide an exact translation but it was along those lines. And the thing is, she really meant it. When my daughter was born, another aunt congratulated me by saying, “Well, it’s only your first and you’ll have a boy next time.” Ummm…thanks, I think???
I guess you can say I’m used to hearing these sorts of comments and hadn’t given it much thought until I recently saw an article in the Globe and Mail about “gender disappointment” felt by parents. I can’t relate to that but I can’t help but think about my own experience in dealing with family members. It appears from my own personal experience that it’s pervasive across the South Asian culture. This has been the case for generations and from what I understand, this preference historically evolved due to the large dowries required for a daughter’s weddings, limited education or employment opportunities for women, and the fact that sons were the ones who inherited ancestral land while carrying on the family name. It seems that because of these sorts of limitations, daughters were often born into this world more as a burden than a blessing. Bear in mind, I’m not speaking about religion but rather the culture I’m born into. It’s important to note that the two are very different in their regard of gender.
At the same time, it does appear that attitudes are gradually shifting as the world continuously changes and the rights of women are improving all around the world, including India. I know as a Canadian, I have never once been made to feel like a burden to my parents, regardless of what cultural preferences they may have. While I am grateful to grow up in a place and time where my gender does not limit what I hope to accomplish with my life, I know that is not the case for millions of women around the world. Perhaps because of that, a preference for sons can still be found in my culture—a relic from days past that is hard to shake.
Another case in point. When boys are born into a family, sweets are widely distributed to friends and family by the grandparents. No sweets were distributed when my daughter was born. I’m not saying my daughter isn’t loved – she is spoiled and coddled and cherished by her grandparents. However, culture dictates that sweets are only distributed when boys are born and going against that means being the talk of the proverbial town. Not something to be taken lightly, that’s for sure. And definitely not for the faint of heart. In fact, one family member did it over two decades ago and people still attribute his unlucky breaks to that instance. It’s almost funny in the fact that it’s so incredibly ridiculous.
And the really strange thing is, I don’t find myself as angry as I feel I should be. I feel I should be incensed. I feel like I should be hooting and hollering about the injustice and discrimination and just plain meanness of it all. But I just can’t do it. I know my mom loves her girls as much as she loves her son. Not to mention that her granddaughters have become her life. In all honesty, I can’t help but feel some sympathy for her. I know how hard it was for her—my brother was born twelve years after me and I know she constantly felt judgment by others for her inability to mother a son. I remember myself having to constantly hear about her ‘poor, son-less self.’ I think it’s that fear of the same for her daughters that has her hoping for the Y chromosome so badly. It is because I know this that instead of anger, I can only feel sadness.
I can’t help but feel some sadness that my mom will never really understand when I say I wanted a girl when I was pregnant with my first child. She will never really understand when I say I want another girl now that I’m pregnant again because I want my daughter to have a sister. She still feels the weight of the culture to have a grandson and can’t understand why I can honestly say that I feel none to have a son. I just don’t care. Maybe it’s because I can see it for the nonsense that it is in today’s day and age.
Regardless, it’s not something that I can blame her for either. Her experiences have shaped her just as mine have shaped me. What I really am is grateful—grateful that no matter what, she raised me to cherish the very thing she fears. I love my culture but I will not let it control how I feel about my children. And no matter what, my daughter will always know that—irrespective of what culture may dictate.
This month meant another four-hour flight for my toddler. In her two years of life, she has been on more than two dozen flights and two long-ass road trips. That’s a lot of travelling with a toddler and if you’re wondering, I still get anxious before each and every trip. Every single time.
Fortunately though, I’ve gotten quite good at travelling with my daughter and have the ultimate toddler travel checklist I swear by. It has ensured hassle-free trips, even when I’m pregnant and bitchy. Kidding, I’m never bitchy of course.
Anyways, so here’s the travelling checklist that should (ahem, I make no promises with small devilish children involved) make your travel easier if not exactly easy. It’s broken up into sections I eloquently named The Disaster Zone section, The Mommy Needs a Break section, and the God-Forsaken Anything Goes section.
The Disaster Zone section:
The Mommy Needs a Break section:
The God-Forsaken Anything Goes section:
So there it is. That’s my ultimate toddler travel checklist. I hope it helps and if you have any of your own must-haves, please fill me in! I need all the help I can get.
If you read my last post about miscarriage, you’ll know that it was much more personal than I typically feel comfortable sharing. I’m just a naturally private person. For whatever reason, I find it really hard to share my very personal experiences with anyone but those I’m closest to. But after I wrote the post, the most fascinating thing happened. I realized that I had a lot more wonderful people in my life than I was even remotely aware of. I had friends that I haven’t spoken to in ages message me to say they were thinking of me. I had near strangers write me to say they were praying for me. I mean, I barely have time to pray for myself and these kind strangers were going to offer their time to pray on my behalf? That’s incredibly touching and it made me appreciate just how truly blessed I am.
So in the light of these feel-good feelings, I’m doing something a little different from my usual whining and griping and complaining. I’m taking a minute to reflect on everything that I’m grateful for in my life. Okay, fine—maybe not everything and maybe just a few things that come to mind right now. Everything would be tedious to write and not to mention, read.
My family. My adorable daughter who is my life. My husband who puts up with my special type of crazy. My mom and dad who always try to fix everything, even those things that don’t need fixing but they deem unacceptable. My siblings who I wouldn’t be able to function without, who else would tell me all my faults and wrongdoings?
My friends. The ones who I can count on and who take the time to write, call, email, text, bbm, whatever. Especially the ones who make me laugh with our code nicknames and shared disdain of the world. Even the ones who haven’t been there because it makes me appreciate the good ones even more.
Decaffeinated lattes from Starbucks that taste like the real deal. Now that’s advanced science at its best.
The Playbook tablet. A lifesaver when I need a few minutes of calm away from the tornado that is my daughter. Thank you, Blackberry. I owe you one but that still doesn’t mean I’m buying shares any time soon. Just saying.
Bio-Oil. Stretch-mark free and I’m giving it all the credit. I suppose the fact that my mom has no stretch marks is also on my side but that’s beside the point.
Pretty shoes. A mummy still wants to feel good when she’s gaining more weight than she thought humanly possible and I’ve found that pretty shoes are the easiest way to do that. On that note, I cannot wait to start wearing boots for fall. Love, love, love.
Google. How else am I supposed to know which size fruit my baby is without Google? It would be near impossible. That’s critical and necessary information to have. FYI, my baby’s now the size of a large mango.
Chocolate. This one is self-explanatory. And if you don’t know why, then we can’t be friends anyway.
So that’s my list of gratitude for today. I have to say that it feels good to write it down. I’m pretty sure this is what contentment feels like. Yep, I definitely know that’s a smile on my face.
Maybe you have a list of gratitude too? I'd love to hear it!