New Year, Old Me

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I’m not big on New Year resolutions because I feel that change should come with experience and reflection, and not the arrival of a new date. Life should be lived in moments, and not years. I believe one should really dig deep into their core and find out what makes them unhappy or incomplete and fix it with patience instead of a due date. With all that said, I’m considering making an exception to that perspective this year!
A lot happened in my life in 2014 . On an emotional level, I think it was a turning point for me. I strongly felt every emotion in the book last year, all for valid reasons. Joy, loneliness, pride, sadness, love, fear, you name it. But among all these feelings I think I have been missing self-satisfaction.
Sometimes I feel that I might lose myself in the craziness that is my life nowadays. Naturally, we all change when we become parents. I think it’s impossible not to. But my fear for several months has been that living away from my support system will eventually lead to me becoming an introverted zombie. I worry that being home all day, all night with the never ending duties of motherhood will create a habit of self-neglect and perpetuate the low self-image that developed when I was pregnant.
Let me elaborate. During my second pregnancy there were weeks where I felt like I was flirting with prenatal depression, which in turn created a fear that I may be at risk for postpartum depression. All this only made me feel disappointed in my unusual lack of strength. And then I questioned if this was the beginning of a new person. A person who doubts herself, internalizes feelings, and has low self esteem.
Looking back, I know that I was a hormonal hot mess and I’m happy to report that the deeper feelings of sadness and low self-image are gone (largely thanks to my fantastic husband). But every now and then I catch myself feeling dissatisfied with the way I look, my lifestyle, and doubting that managing my kids will get easier.
Thus I’ve decided to join the New Year’s Resolution bandwagon and make a promise to myself. Instead of adopting the “new year, new me” motto, I’m going for “new year, old me“. I’m going to do everything I can to reconnect with the person I was pre-motherhood. I liked that person! She was funny and goal-oriented. She was a huge proponent of “me time”. Nothing life threw her way was a burden, just momentary challenges. So this is what I resolve to do in 2015: achieve mental and emotional peace by cutting myself slack. Maybe I’ll find myself a hobby, read a bestseller, or paint my nails more often. I’ll start with the small things for now and eventually, I’ll work towards conquering a mountain or two.

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The Darkest of Days

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How blessed am I by the favour of the Almighty to be woken up at 4am today by my healthy and hungry 7-month old for her routine feeding. And how blessed is she to have the warmth of a crib, in the warmth of a safe home, and to be in the arms of her mother without having to even cry for milk. It was a peaceful and typical few minutes as I nursed her back to sleep, scrolling through my newsfeed to see what the morning had in store for me today. And I was punched in my core with a tragic status that a cousin in Pakistan had posted minutes earlier. Children? School? Shooting? Taliban? None of this made sense then and probably will never make sense to any of us sane people.
My heart breaks for the young lives that were senselessly lost, and my heart aches for the surviving victims that heard, saw, smelled and were touched by the barbarism that infested the Army Public School in Peshawar this morning. But most of all, my heart bleeds for the parents.
When we become parents, from the moment we learn of the pregnancy, we start to form an idea of how the future will look. How it will all change, how it will be busier, and how it will shine. A child becomes the center of his mother’s universe as soon as he forms his temporary abode in the womb. Every kick, every flutter, every hiccup that the pregnant mother feels is loaded with hope, dreams, and prayer. She daydreams about his face. She wonders about his smile and his smell. A mother and a father may giggle at the thought of this little being they created, curiously crawling into unfriendly corners, or laughing at the sight of water pouring out of a faucet. A father will plan to take his child out for walks in the park. He will think about all the lessons he will have to teach this young person and how he will help with homework. Parents will worry over things as common as coughs and stumbles and celebrate milestones such as sports victories and passing grades. They’ll share their plans for their child’s long-term future: “I want him to be an engineer.” Or, “I want her to have a fairytale wedding.” And the most popular sentiment of all, “I want him to have everything I didn’t have.”
These are the thoughts and feelings that unite all parents, of all children, all over the world. But the mothers and fathers of the 132 children we lost in Peshawar today won’t be able to see their visions for their children become a reality. Those dreams were massacred today. Among those children could have been scientists, leaders, humanitarians, and so SO much more. All we know now is that these parents will have a void in their hearts and in their homes that will never ever be filled. The dreams they once had for their beloved children have now vanished in the wake of this tragic nightmare.
So tonight I reflect on my own dreams for my little ones and I adjust them to keep up with the time and world we live in. I fluff up and colour my dreams like bright cotton candy to contrast the darkness of this world. Yes, I want them to have the kind of education, lifestyle and faith that brings them success and contentment. But for the sake of my children’s well-being, I also dream of a radical, positive change in the world. A world that is free of violence and intolerance. I dream that differing beliefs do not divide, but illuminate this world.

26 Do’s and Don’ts of Putting My Baby to Sleep

1. Do turn the lights off.
2. Do shut the door.
3. Do have an open mind.
4. Don’t have your hopes high.
5. Don’t sit on the rocking chair.
6. If you do sit, try rocking the chair.
7. But usually, don’t rock the chair.
8. Don’t just stand.
9. Don’t sway.
10. Don’t bounce.
11. Don’t jog in place.
12. Don’t do lunges.
13. Don’t pace back and forth.
14. Don’t dance.
15. Don’t sing.
16. Don’t shush.
17. Don’t hum.
18. Don’t hold upright.
19. Don’t cradle.
20. Don’t cuddle too close.
21. Do hold tight when she arches her back.
22. Don’t use the “cry it out” method, it’s evil. Or,
23. Do use the “cry it out” method because it’s genius.
24. Don’t be noisy by chatting.
25. Don’t be pathetic by begging.
26. Do try all of the above just in case one of them works.

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Life & Cookies

imageNot having a smartphone at my disposal has frankly been a breath of fresh air these last fourteen days. My husband kept calling me a social media addict and I persistently begged to differ. But I see now that although the word “addict” is strong, I was dependent. I have been super homesick for a couple of months and maybe digging my nose into my phone was helping me pass my days and block out the noise of tantrums and Elmo. Ever since I lost my phone though, I have vowed to grow up and smell the coffee. Or in my case, the tea. This past week+, I’ve brought the soothing warmth of herbal tea into my life. It’s been a refreshing change to my diet. I decided to stop being stubborn and old fashioned and embraced our dishwasher. It has been LIFE CHANGING. Here I am now, no phone and no dishes in the sink. Lots more time to REST. I’ve also played and danced and laughed A LOT with my toddler and he’s been much better behaved. I’m wondering now if there is a correlation between my occupation with my phone and his bratty demeanor. Lots of food for thought there. Speaking of food, I’ve brought baking back into my life. Baking and I have a love-hate relationship. I go on these spurts where I try, I fail, I write off. But with rest comes patience and for me, ambition. So I baked an apple cinnamon loaf. Messed up a bit but my husband liked it so I went on and tried something else. Cookies.

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I had a pile of regular (without nuts) M&Ms – who eats those?? – from a sizable box of Halloween chocolates we got for free with our groceries one day. So I decided to Pinterest some baking ideas and found this awesome and easy recipe from How Sweet It Is. You can check out the recipe directly on the website, but I wanted to share a few adjustments I made/would make.

First, the recipe includes baking soda. I don’t have baking soda at home (the one in my refrigerator is not suited for baking), so I used 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder. I read somewhere that you can use 2-3 times more baking powder to substitute the baking soda. It worked out just fine for me!

Next, this recipe’s originality was that it tells you to roll each portion of cookie dough into a ball and then tear it apart. The halves are then pressed together “back to back”. What I missed was the part where you have to squish them together. SQUISHING IS IMPORTANT. I didn’t do that and so the top halves of some cookies toppled and then melded together in the oven, looking like a pair of Siamese cookies. I think the tearing and squishing technique ensures a fluffy cookie with a chewy center. Yum.

Finally, I left the cookies in the oven 3-4 minutes longer than instructed and they were to my liking, but that’s up to you. Just don’t over bake! The cookies turned out soft, rich, and deeelicious.

On a side note, I only baked half the cookie dough at first. I froze the rest by rolling it into a big ball and tightly wrapping it with cling wrap. When I wanted to bake the rest (4 days later), I put the dough in the fridge a day ahead to let it thaw. It was just as moist before baking and just as chewy after baking!

Hubby's shot.
Hubby’s shot. Not bad.
My shot.
My shot. Pinterest schminterest.

Needless to say, these cookies were a huge hit at home. But a surprising thought has dawned on me as I write this post: baking this time around has been metaphorical to my moving to BC. Exciting and full of expectation at the start. Then a wave of discovery, enjoyment, and satisfaction. Now giving me an unsettling feeling in my stomach. Too much butter, too much sugar, and too far away from everything that makes me feel whole and healthy.