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Entries in family (23)


Out of Town

Tariq is out of town for work again.

In an uncharacteristically passive aggressive move, I preemptively blogged on Aiming Low about Tariq's bathroom habits in an attempt to exact vengeance for being left ALL alone for four WHOLE days.

I found Chex Mix in my sneakers yesterday morning AFTER I put them on, and we also had another Sprite incident last night.  N.'s telling me I'm not "acting like her mother these days because I say 'no' too much."

My children are (1) evil geniuses and, most upsetting, (2) outnumber me.

It's a good thing I pray a lot.

Call the National Guard if you don't hear from me in a few days.  These kids don't play around.


Have you listened to the Hey! That's My Hummus podcast, yet?  We talked about American civic ignorance, blood money and the gay kiss on Glee.


Happy Anniversary

Ten Anniversary is tin Tin is for ten years.

Sn.  That’s the periodic table symbol for tin.

Tin, as it happens, is the traditional metal for one’s ten year anniversary.

A lot of people might not know that tin doesn’t occur naturally.  Tin has to be extracted from another compound that occurs in nature.

Tin is malleable, flexible, binding, and protective.

Tin is not glamorous.  It’s not as awe inspiring as, say, diamonds

But, tin requires work.

Tin doesn’t just happen.  And, that makes tin something special.

Ten years.

All of them happy.  All of them hard work.

In ten years, I have learned one thing: we are not perfect.

But I think we're just perfect for each other.

And So, I've Become My Mother

We're still very different, my mother and me.

And yet.

I often find myself saying or thinking things that I heard her say while I was growing up.

Things that once made me roll my eyes, things I prayed that I would never say once I got... you know, old.

I hear my kid whine about how she wants yet another piece of candy, and I catch myself saying, "When I was your age, your grandmother only let me have candy on Halloween."  Which, by the way, is completely untrue.  I was allowed to have candy whenever there was candy around, it's just that there was never any candy around.

Or, my favorite, "Eat your <insert offending food here>, there are children all over the world who don't have even this much to eat in a day."

Oh, God.  Yes, I have become my mother.

Pragmatic.  Principled.  Unwavering.  Stubborn.  Slightly, yet understandably, arrogant.

Okay, the arrogant part has pretty much always been there.

As a kid, her words existed as obstacles to my utter and total happiness.   Each trite platitude seemed to endure as one in a series of attempts to make me feel bad about what I was doing, what I wanted or how I was behaving.

Maybe that's partly true, but... I don't know, maybe it's not.  Maybe she was just doing her best with the tools she had at her disposal.

I have realized that intention may not always be communicated precisely in the day to day of mothering.... or wife-ing... or friend-ing... or simply be-ing.

I remember this line in the movie version of The Joy Luck Club where a mother tells her daughter about how she brought a live swan from China only to have it taken away at immigration when she was entering the United States.  She kept a single feather from that swan for the purpose of handing it to her daughter and telling her one day, "This feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions."

Mothers and fathers hand swan feathers to their children all the time, I think.  We just forget to add the lyrical Chinese-y saying that keeps us from looking like jerks while we're doing it.

For example, excuse me while I engage in an inexcusable level of self justification, but that line about kids starving in Africa/China/India/AMERICA?  That's completely true.

I'm not trying to make my child feel bad for not eating, I'm trying to give her some perspective, you know?

Of course, she doesn't see it that way.  She may never see it that way.  She may only see it that way as she utters the same trite phrase to her own children as they turn their noses up at whatever she's decided to feed them one evening.

This is my hope that she, to quote my mother, "one day, has children who are exactly like her."  She should be so lucky.  Don't tell her I said that.

Perhaps, becoming some version of your mother (or father) is an intrinsic part of adulthood.

It seems to me that given that the average American woman's life span is around eighty, my life is just five years short of being half over.  And that is barring any unforeseen acts of God.  Just as a completely unrelated side note, if I were a Puritan living in the seventeen hundred and somethings, I would actually be dead... like, two years ago.  Maybe even before that, because they would have thought I was a witch with accursed far eastern magic or something.  I know that doesn't have anything to do with this post, but I just found that so interesting.  Anyway.

My point is, I think, that there are worse things than turning into your parents, or, more specifically, assuming the characteristics we associate with "thinking like an adult."

Every kid needs an anchor, a rock upon which they can build their perspective of how the world works, and, of course, a person upon which to heap the blame during future therapy sessions. It's my belief that the people who love you often require just as much "getting over" as the people who have hurt you intentionally.

I've made peace with the idea that one day my kids are going to grow up and think, "I can't believe she did that to us."

I live, however, by the value that they will also follow up with, "But she did what she thought was best because she loved us."  I think, as a parent... or, actually, a human being in general, that's the most anyone can realistically hope for.

So, yeah.  I have no problem being my mother.

Because my mother is a good person.

Because my mother raised good people.

There are worse things I could be, I think.  Actually, come to think of it, I can't think of very many better things to be.

I just had to say that one more time, because, wow, surreal.

Also, what do you mean you didn't like this post?!

Don't you know there are slackers in China who don't even have access to blogs?!

Now, settle down and finish your peas.

And do not forget to be a doctor when you grow up.

Nola Lily

City of music and magic
Longing to hear her song
Whispering in my ears
Song of songs, singing Nola Lily.

Adorning our lives,
Our hearts, our hopes,
Shimmering in our souls,
Jewel of jewels, darling Nola Lily

Welcoming this life
Carry our light with you
Glowing in my heart
Light of lights, precious Nola Lily.

Flower of New Orleans
Soft, sweet newness,
Springing upon us,
Dearest of dears, our Nola Lily.


This past week, MBTD and my dear friend, Traci, who happens to be married to him welcomed a beautiful baby into this world.

May she grow to be wise, strong and good.

May the world and its people praise the day she came to them.

May she always know that she is loved and cherished.

May we, her family, always remain worthy of her love and respect.

Insh'Allah, Ameen.


Welcome to American

The notion exists that, in some way, every person who leaves their nation to settle in the United States is running away from something bad and towards something good.

Frankly, nothing could be further from the truth for a great deal of the immigrants that I know.  The truth is that in this nation there are many foreign born individuals who were neither tired nor hungry when they arrived on our shores.

The leaving of one’s homeland is a concept that is more than familiar to me.  I’ve often referred to my family as jet setter bedouins of the modern era.  In my head, of course.

Nearly sixty years ago, both of my grandfathers left their ancestral homes in India and crossed a man made border and became Pakistanis.  Twenty years after that, their children left Pakistan and magically became Americans.

I am a woman who is quite aware of the artificial aspects of the construct we call “nationality.”.

Still, nearly two weeks ago when we received a letter from INS instructing my husband to report to his oath ceremony I reacted with a considerable amount of glee.  “Daddy is going to be an American,” I cried to our daughter, “Isn’t that wonderful? Congratulations Daddy, isn’t this exciting?!”

My husband smiled an odd smile, not the kind of smile that I expected.  It was not the usual smile, the one that can brighten any room or get us free tickets to Disney while we’re standing at the gates with our wallet out (yes, that happened, twice).

It was... a sad smile.

The kind of smile that you force onto your face when you know that you are leaving something precious and meaningful behind.  The kind of smile that you must put on your face, so that others are unaware of the pain that lives behind it.

You see, like so many immigrants in this country, my husband has nothing to run from.

If he lived in India, his life would be beautiful and amazing.  He would fit in all the time.  He wouldn’t have to bend his mind around the most simple cultural nuances that we take for granted here.  He would never have to mow a lawn, do the dishes, or clean the pool.  Because, back home, they have people for that.

In all ways, his life would most likely have been easier in India.

These things didn’t occur to me until I saw that sad smile on his face.

That smile told me that being the native born American child of immigrants is not the same thing as being a naturalized American.

We, the children, are the beneficiaries.  We do not feel the pain as acutely of turning over the old passport for the new one.  We do not feel the sensations in our hearts that make us feel that we are somehow betraying who we are and those we have left behind.

I have no words for my husband on this day that will quiet those thoughts.  They may very well be true, I don’t know.

I do know this, though.

I can recognize that he did not decide to become American because India is a bad place or that the people were bad there.

I can recognize that opening one door means closing another, and that it is alright and completely understandable to feel ambivalent and even a little sad about that.

I can recognize that he, like my parents, did this for me and for his children.

I can recognize that as our children get older and he tells them that he became an American for them, they will grow up, as I did, with a deep feeling of importance and a sense of destiny because of his actions today.

I can recognize the incredible strength it takes to forgo one set of emotional attachments for another.

I can recognize the wisdom that we live in a world where international alliances are precarious at best, and the borders and hearts of every nation become less welcoming with every year that passes.  At the very least, having matching passports would offer us the perceived comfort of knowing that we will always be together.

I can recognize that like my parents, more than the word, “Congratulations” from me on this slightly bittersweet day, he needs to hear the words “Thank you.”

Thank you, Tariq, for becoming an American today for our family.

May this day open the doors before you to all sorts of joys, prosperity and goodness that will quiet the sad feeling that there may be some that are slowly closing behind you.