Archive for the ‘family expectations’ Category

Another post about Ramadan — from a Christian in an interfaith family

August 13, 2012

I wrote a lengthy Post about ramadan, but I think DH accidentally deleted it. So now I have to do it all again. That’s frustrating. But, here we go and know that it will probably be twice as long as the original post.
Honestly, my thoughts and plans, rather fantasy, about celebrating Ramadan was very different than reality. I imagined that my husband and I would listen to Quranic messages together. He would get more generous and more understanding and closer to God as Ramadan progressed And I would take the messages that were most like the Biblical messages and remember to apply them. After all, we could all use some reminding of our fundamentals…. and I must admit, my prayer life could be better. Muslims pray five times a day and I probably could increase my prayer life which is always a good idea. There’s nothing saying a Christian can’t pray five times a day. I would pray my prayers when my husband prayed his prayers. At the end of Ramadan I would cook something special. We would have a meaningful holiday and pass this tradition down to our LO(Smile). We would Celebrate Ramadan in our own special way. We would have wonderful Eid traditions that we handed down to our little baby. Everything would be full of meaning and reflection and family connections. That however is not how it is happening.
I seem to be on the peripheral of Ramadan. We don’t share messages together we rarely talk about any message that is given. And I admit that I am readily willing to listen to any scholarly message in English about the Quran or Ramadan. But I want to do it together. I want to listen and discuss. My husband does not like discussing. I suppose my approach might be a bit American in nature it’s kind of like the Bible study approach. But I thought it would have some value.
There’re many reasons I am on the fringes of Ramadan but I’m going to name one here right now. I don’t go to the mosque much. So, I take my responsibility for that one. I should insist on going to the Mosque with DH, if I want a full meaningful experience. This Ramadan my husband has gone to two specific mosques. one mosque is very diverse. This is the mosque that has the aggressive headscarf policewomen. yes I felt as if they were policing my headscarf which by the way never wanted to obey my commands. However we have went one other time to this mosque and I didn’t find the women nearly as aggressive. The only time my headscarf was pulled into submission by some African women who were sitting next to me, was when a man came into the women’s quarters. — twice… but I am ok with that because I saw it as a way to protect my respectability — or something similar. . the other mosque that my husband goes to periodically especially when I don’t go, is an exclusive Desi mosque, AKA “the men’s Mosque.” Of course, women are not exactly forbidden to come but they are certainly not welcomed and there is no place for them to pray. “After all,” DH reminds me, ” it is not mandatory for women to come at all.” What disturbs me most is that my wonderful husband is okay with this logic. he does not see a problem if women want to go to the mosque, He says, ” they can go to at least seven other ones around the city…” … I think there’s more mosques springing up all of the time, now … the Exclusive Desi one was not even listed on the Google Search. . In any case, DH has no problem with the fact that it is all men. And, they have (according to DH) some awesome food. Which probably means that, women are at home, cooking for the men to go to a mosque that they are not even welcome to attend. And… … DH has no problem with this. He won’t even offer an objection, and this is America(the land of opposition and objections), not Pakistan.
obviously and unfortunately, he doesn’t see us celebrating Ramadan together. My participation is not mandatory. and it seems to make no difference to him whether I go to the Mosque or not. now of course it will make a difference with the baby so for that reason he might want me to go but not for my specific support.
So, I ask him to put the question to his mother: Would she attend “Mosque,” if one gave her a space to pray? his mother and father live in Pindi. This is not a village, but mosques still don’t openly welcome women. His mother said that she would certainly go, if there was a place for her to pray. Her daughter, R, (DH’s youngest sister) goes to the mosque in Lahore with her new husband. His mother asked if I would go with her and I gave her a definite “yes.” I understand that attending a mosque is manditory and this is seen as a gift to the women since they have household duties and/or children to care for. But, there are many women who have neither of these responsibilities. Besides, by “not” giving women a space to pray at a mosque (we haven’t even gotten to the equal space argument) aren’t we saying that women’s spirituality is less important than men’s? furthermore, I wonder if this “men’s mosque,” is so conservative about women’s participation, what else are they conservative on? and: why was it even built? Apparently, it was only built two years ago, yet there were many other mosques quite close in proximity already in full swing.
It strikes me that one of the reasons my husband says it’s not a big deal for women to attend the mosque, is because he says women tend to socialize more than they should. He says they are loud and they tend to want to socialize instead of listening to the message. But I have to point out, it wasn’t two days ago that he was saying to me how wonderful it was that he was making some contacts at the mosque. Hello, socialization. It’s just done in a different way. I also pointed out that if they have a imam right in front of them or have the speaker right in front of them, they probably would be more likely to be more quiet.
And there’s a considerable amount of women who are frustrated with those loud social women and who does want to hear the message. I know because when I was at the mosque there were quite a few African women and American women who voiced their stern opposition to those loud talkers.
I talk about “sex discrimination,” which I am sorry to say doesn’t even seem to touch DH. The men are quite friendly, the prayers and messages are dynamic and the food is awesome!
Anyway, we did go to the diverse mosque, once. And actually it was a nice gathering. Now of course I couldn’t follow those prayers. No I don’t speak Arabic but it wasn’t just that. Every time I thought the prayer was over because there was a little interlude where people began to discuss and talk then , it would start back again. I didn’t know whether the prayer had ended or just … … took a little break — for some unknown reason. And yes my obstinant headscarf never tends to stay in place. I wonder if there is an elastic version of this headscarf that just encompasses the entire head like a showercap. Ok, that doesn’t sound very attractive, but it would get the job done. Maybe that would be better for me. It doesn’t help that my little guy loves to yank the headscarves off of myself and any other woman in close proximity. Yes, that is exactly what we got when we went to the mosque. He decided that he would be a bit more social than usual and yank women’s headscarves off their heads. This did not amuse the African woman sitting next to me. I think it was the fact that she was dressed in a very colorful outfit and headscarf and he was fascinated by it. Yet they weren’t amused. They were however enamored by my baby because he was so good we ended up staying until 1230 at night. Know that it certainly did mess up my sleeping schedule for the next two days. But my baby was not cranky at all. He wanted to get down and blow bubbles and crawl around on the floor which by the way I restricted his movement because I didn’t want him wondering off without me. Also we know that he has a fascination with people’s iPhones and there were a few women who plugged in their iPhones to be charged while they were praying. I was somehow surprised that women brought their iPhone chargers and plugged in their iPhones while they were playing. OK, I admit that I was a little bit India’s that I hadn’t thought of it myself. I thought somehow it would have been a bit disrespectful to do so. I don’t know why. I just did.
My little guy was very social. Much more social than I thought he would be. He seemed to be quite comfortable there. I think one of the reasons is because everybody was sitting on the floor. He likes people sitting on the floor. and, most women didn’t try to get him to come to them. they just waited until he was comfortable. he likes people sitting on the floor because They are his height and somehow they seem more personable down there. If they’re standing or sitting in a chair they just don’t seem to be as inviting for him.
I think the women like me more if I have a baby. Strangely enough it was unlike our Pakistani picnic experience. I didn’t really know what to expect when I went to the mosque. One woman actually remembered me and sat down and talk to me all night.
Now here is one of my dilemmas. I was called sister. I have no problem with this. I am, after all, a person of the book, Which means that I believe in the Bible so I am actually a believer in one of the three Abrahamic faiths. So maybe sister is not out of the realm of possibilities for me. However I don’t want them to think that I am Muslim and feel betrayed when they find out I am not. I don’t want to act as if I’m something I’m not. But I don’t want to brandish the big C on my chest and every time someone says something I retort ” did you know I’m a Christian?” I don’t want to make a big deal about it. But there isn’t anything that distinguishes me as a Christian from them as Muslims. I wear my headscarf. I don’t fast because I’m nursing. I sit in a chair instead of getting down on the floor to pray but that could be for a number of reasons. Maybe it doesn’t even matter. I just don’t want the women to think that I have somehow fooled them. That would be counterproductive to what I’m trying to do which is to Forge good relationships between them and myself.
Another thing I did like about Our Mosque experience was the five minute English message that talked about being gentle and kind with your children especially since school is starting and while we certainly want our children to succeed, we also don’t want to make it so difficult that they feel the stress. I thought it was a very good message. And I found out that they’re having a celebration for the children. No my baby will not be able to enjoy the celebration yet. But I think my husband is getting excited just thinking about the time when he will be able to. And I’m glad they’re doing a celebration for eat. And of course we realize that many children won’t get to celebrate Christmas and Easter and that our baby is special in that he will celebrate all the holidays. The be plenty of time to spoil him with gifts and other things. Not that I necessarily want to spoil him but you know what happens. I also remind myself that there are probably a number of children who do celebrate at least Christmas because many families are interfaith now. many times there is a brother or a sister or a cousin or a mother and father who are still Christian after the Muslim converts. Therefore it is likely that they could celebrate Christmas. Maybe. And any case I wanted to give money for the eve celebration. And my husband reflected on how he could be more patient with our baby.
We were invited over to a doctor’s house after E was over to enjoy their hospitality. They also have a son who is about fifteen days older than our baby. Of course I’m certain that there is going to be comparisons made… Etc. But it will be nice to meet another couple. With a baby at the same age. And his wife is from the US, as well. I don’t know if she’s Muslim or not. But I do know she’s from the US.
any case, one thing I have learned this Ramadan, is that if I wanted to be special I have to make it so. My husband is not inclined to make Ramadan a family affair. It just was never done. His mother was just fine with not going to the mosque and hearing the messages. It just was not an option for his mother, so her role was to cook. If I want Ramadan to mean more than just cooking, I need to seek out those meanings for myself. I’m also fully aware that there will come a time, when my baby will not be experiencing Ramadan in the way that I am experiencing Ramadan. He will be with the men and I will be again on my own to experience Ramadan by myself. But hopefully by then I will have lots of women friends.
To top it off, I invited my daughter to the eve celebration. Now I invited her because there’re many Christians to go to eat celebrations. We have an interchurch and interfaith organizations to go to eat celebrations. Not only do they learn about Islam or Ramadan, but, many christians celebrate with Muslim friends. So I didn’t think it was out of the question to invite my daughter, after all her little brother will be experiencing his first eat. However she forcefully declined. She was almost apald that I would invite her to a mosque. Now I understand the fundamentalist Christians who feel very adamant about not stepping foot in the mosque. But this woman in her Christianity will go to a gay karaoke bar, tattoo parlor and redneck tailgating concerts; but, she has a problem with a Muslim place of worship??? So, she is totally comfortable with obssessive drinking, dressing in drag, all types of drama on the stage; but she is not comfortable with a different form of prayer?
Anyway, I am very much disappointed by her close mindedness.
This year it is me and my baby. We will make Ramadan and eid the best we can. And, I’ll have to start early to try to make the next Eid even better for LO.

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Family matters

May 1, 2012

what makes a family bond tight? How do you keep that familial bond from loosening or breaking altogether?
Often DH will tell me that “his family is much more close than mine.” My children (the adult ones, obviously) don’t call me nearly as much as he calls his parents. He reports that they don’t give me the same level of “respect” that he gives his parents. Of course, he’ll never put his parents into an old folks home. He sends his family money from time to time out of gratitude. And, when an elder speaks, children obey…. well, kind of…. and this is where the rub comes in.

for all of DH’s “strong familial bonds,” his family knows very little about our “real life.” His family doesn’t know when we have an argument and what we fight about. His family doesn’t know when/if we have any financial problems. His family doesn’t know when we are frustrated by transportation, social issues, etc. If he feels belittled or disrespected by his family, he can’t approach the subject with them. Any disagreeable circumstance: an illness, a bad decision, encounters with a scammer, feelings of anger at someone in the family, a possible crisis, etc are all left out of their daily conversations. Now, of course, I can’t be for sure, I don’t speak Urdu enough or fluently enough to understand all that they are saying. But, I do believe DH when he says that he just doesn’t tell his family because …. (get this) “My mother would worry and get sick from all of the worry.” What? really????
In contrast, I talk to my mother about three times a week (and that is a serious upgrade from what it use to be). We don’t talk nearly as long as DH does to his own parents — “what are they talking about????? — who knows). But, I can tell my mother:
“Although it seems strange to us, I still shaved LO’s head.”
“yes, we argue about the lack of housework that he does.”
“OK, dh is a better saver than I am.”
“Last night we went to a Pakistani picnic and…..”
“No, DH has not changed another diaper yet.”
“Once I was careless and the baby fell and hit his head.”
“We’re discussing birth control, but don’t be surprised if Baby Boy has a brother or sister.”
“We had to pay taxes this year and the amount was ….”
“I love my daughter, but I worry about her spending so much time with that All-guy band.”
You get the picture. These are conversations that DH will not have with his family. So, I ask: how close are they really? It seems that they are “faking a strong family bond.” I have told DH, I want to know what my children are doing, even if I don’t agree with it. I’ll tell my son that I don’t agree with his loyalty to the military…. or my daughter for living together before marriage, or Mr. Basketball for sluffing off his classes and expecting to get a good grade by whatever means necessary … or the Drum Diddler (last son) for engaging in the consumption of illegal substances. I want to know the “real person,” not who they pretend to be for my benefit. I might not like their choices, but I at least know the truth. My mother asks my opinion: “Am I being selfish because I don’t want to bring one of my grandchildren along???” Now, I don’t use a “we are just friends” tone with my mother. I don’t chide her or berate her. But, I have a much more free conversation with her than DH does with his mother….. and I was just under the assumption that if he and his mother talked every day — sometimes for an hour or two — they must be bonded as mother and son. He must be able to share with her lots of things about his life and so on. …. … not true.
I think that our son will have the best of both worlds. We, … … or I, won’t shy away from him when discussions of social justice, sex, drugs, etc need to be had. Yet, we will raise him with enough respect not to use foul language when talking to us and never to think about putting us in a nursing home.
Still, just because a family talks on the phone two or three times a day does not automatically mean that they are actually “close.” There is so much more to discuss on this subject: levels of observing familial duties, familial roles, patterns of manipulation within families,and many more.

The raw truth: to stay or not to stay

October 10, 2011

pregnancy, disability and culture

September 15, 2011

Before you read this next post, know that all is fine with baby. My Ultrasounds have went well and things seem to be going smoothly.
However, this does bring up a subject that I have written many draft posts about and have to consolidate them into one thought provoking post. As if I just can’t get off of these three topics: it is about pregnancy, babies and disability.
During this pregnancy, we have been confronted several times with the possibility of having a disabled child. First, let me say that my blindness is not hereditary (although who would know unless they asked) and DH’s blindness comes from a recessive gene that both parents must carry. [Which means that his two sighted parents both carried the gene that caused their blindness: but I am not blaming, just making a point]. But, everyone wondered what we would do if the child was blind. Or, worse: what if the child had Downs Syndrome?
[Sidenote: t the BBC presented a documentary called “the education of….” (sorry can’t remember his name) which is about a man who has Downs Syndrom and who is going to college. i have conflicting views on this, but it is an interesting documentary, if you are so inclined].
Anyway, After all, I am an older parent and the likelyhood of a child with a disability increases with the parent’s age (specifically the mother’s).
DH and I talked about it several times. Neither of us even considered abortion. What I did not ask him was: “Would you have considered abortion if I was younger and the possibility of me having non-disabled children was likely?” I didn’t think of it then, but it is kind a “what if,” question and he really couldn’t answer it because it would never happen. Already he does not like playing the “What if,” game, especially when there is no way that it will happen. He said that if the child was disabled, he would definitely want to raise it here in the USA.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I would certainly go through the stages that every parent must go through when they are faced with a child that has more challenges than most. I would probably deny, grieve, accept and finally advocate. I don’t know how long i would be in each stage and know that it is certainly an individual experience.
But, When I talked about having the child and then meeting the family for SIL’s wedding, DH felt quite uncomfortable. Although he would want to show off a non-disabled child, he would have a problem feeling the same type of pride toward his disabled child. (my thoughts) He says that it is not a pride issue. He just would not want to deal with everyone’s comments and pity. He also says that other children are not very nice to disabled children. So, I guess you have lots of people who are either afraid of disabilities and/or say stupid things. And, you have unrelenting children whose parents don’t teach them how to behave. Yet, this does not match with the stories about his and his sister’s childhood.
Hearing stories from DH, I find out that he was quite the mischief maker. When they were little, DH and his sister, who is also blind, loved telephones and radios. OK, it was probably more of DH than his sister’s love; but his sister was dragged in by association. DH would not hesitate to scope out a neighbor’s or relative’s house looking for a telephone to call his friends. “permission” and “telephone charges” were not words in his vocabulary. He talks about exploring everyone’s rooftops and jumping/swinging from one house to the next. Before (and even after) he knew about blind cricket, he and his cousins would modify the game so that he could also play. He was fascinated with the light and bright colors surrounding fireworks and on several occasions despite his mother’s protests, burned holes in his clothes because he was not careful while playing with them. Often, he would go out with his cousins or neighborhood friends to the market and with his father to the Mosque. DH felt that many times, his father was more strict on him than on his younger brother. As a result, Dh feels that he is much more disciplined and mature than his brother. His sister, the one who is blind, is the first born. There are family legends about how proud his father was to have a baby girl: so much so that he carried her “everywhere he went.” Their father was not satisfied with the Government run blind schools and continued to search for better educational opportunities for his blind children. And, of course, the two children that received the opportunity to study in America happened to be the two blind children. Yes, there are discrepancies in how his father treats his sighted children, verses how he treats his blind children. Yes, they, his parents, were worried that we would surely pass “blindness” to our child and wondered how we might tackle the challenges of parenthood. And, yes, I agree that society is not very welcoming. But, all in all, his family seemed to rise to the challenge of having blind children. His family did not hide them away in a room or an institution. Yes, there was the many “faqirs,” “healers,” that people would suggest to Abu so that they could heal DH and his sister. yes, blind beggars are not uncommon in Pakistan. I think that there were some family members who blamed the mother for their blindness. (don’t quote me on that one, I am not sure). And, certainly, there is an overwhelming focus on the medicalization of the disability instead of more of an acceptance/independence approach. But, honestly, I see it here, in America, also.
Interesting fact: when I was a child, I was stopped many times on the street and without warning, people (Pastors or preachers or all types of religious folk) would place their hands on my head and/or face and begin to pray for me. They were sure that God would heal me, right then! When a healing was not forthcoming, they either took one of two approaches. 1. Encouraged me to continue to pray for my sight because it would happen in God’s time. Or 2. Chastised myself or a member of my family for having little faith. (what a way to bring souls to God)! Interestingly enough, DH reports that there are times when people have stopped him on the street and asked “HIM” to pray for “THEM” because prayers from a blind person are suppose to be more effective. And Lest we think that America is superior in the disability department, a friend of mine reports that a pastor of a church that she (still miraculously) attends has told her on more than one occasion that she will not regain her sight until she stops sinning and becomes serious about her faith.
Alright, honestly, I admit that many (especially those in smaller villages) Pakistani parents are probably ashamed of their disabled children. Many don’t know about Braille and/or how to teach their blind children. There are not as many services for blind (or other disabled) individuals. There are not that many employment opportunities for blind or disabled people. Remember, Dh still wants to start that Braille library: so obviously, Braille material is not as easy to obtain. Yet, hope still abounds. And, it seems that the challenges center around the lack of information more than anything else. And, honestly, maybe DH wold just have to go through those stages listed above and “right after birth” is just too soon for him to be in the “acceptance” stage. But, we will not really know unless it actually happens.
But, i still ask:
1. Would you/ Did you get any genetic tests to identify an unborn child’s disability? If so, would you have terminated the pregnancy? Do you and your DH have different views on the subject?
2. What are your family’s views about people with disabilities? Is there a hierarchy between physical and mental? Do they differ from your DH’s family’s views?
3. Would you be hesitant to bring your disabled child to your DH’s country?
4. Has your or your DH’s views on disability changed over time? How?

Eid mubarak! — and other thoughts about the mosque — all rolled up into one.

August 30, 2011

There are many complex variables to worship. Of course, worship should be a time when you do, say or sing to get closer to God/Allah. But, there is a communal part to worship and somehow, (and I think that most people have this expectation or hope) you also want to develop relationships with those who share your spiritual beliefs and are worshipping along side of you. I’ll admit, I was never one for “collective prayer,” it seemed so conscribed. Yet, I do understand the sense of communal oneness in such an act.
I wonder, did I fool myself or is it a myth somewhere: the thought that Muslims are, somehow, quite close knit in their communities and relationships – almost as close as those Amish. (smile) We have attended two different mosques on a regular basis. I wish that I could tell you that I was openly greeted and embraced. I can’t. Now, I need to admit here that I always feel a bit timid and shy and vulnerable when going to the mosque. Sure, you wonderfully assertive people will tell me to get over it and stop being so emotional. Quit whining, you will say. Bla bla bla: it has went through my mind several times. But, it is really a combination of a few things which makes me feel vulnerable.
1. It is still taking me some time to get use to this male/female segregation worship. It is not that I don’t enjoy the company of women. I am “sisterhood,” all the way! It is that I feel that my guide is leaving me at a crucial moment. In churches, I can take his hand, lean over and whisper something in his ear, ask “Tum Theek ho” to gage his comfort level. All this is missing at the mosque. When we have Muslim taxi drivers, they drop me off at the “women’s entrance,” and DH at the Men’s entrance. So, I have to enter alone.
2. All mosques are a bit different and it is hard as a blind person to understand what is expected of me. Where do my shoes actually go? (If I have not taken them off yet, it is not because I am unaware of the rule, it is just that I am not sure where the shoes are being put); I think that the headscarf knows that I am not Muslim, thus, resists my efforts to keep it on; how conservative is the dress of other women in this mosque; during Ramadan, some people are strict about only eating dates and drinking water between the call to prayer and the actual prayer and some include fruit and snacks; someone has to help me with the food because I don’t know “what” is there or “where” it is (consequently, someone always has to serve me which makes me feel a bit uncomfortable);
3. I am not Muslim. I don’t want the sisters to think that I am “playing Muslim” when I am not. Yet, I don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb and/or disrespect anyone in the process. There are some discussions – some acts – that I am precluded from because of my religious affiliation. Yet, I am never quite sure where the line is. And, I wonder, does my Non-muslim-ness make it more difficult for sisters to bond with me? This is not an ethnographic study and I am not an observationist – or at least, I don’t want to be or to be seen that way. There is a certain objectivity that an observationist gives to the experience and I would rather be more participatory than that. Yet, obviously, there is a line to my participation.
4. I have a guide dog. I don’t take him to the mosque, but if the same friends take us places or want to expand our relationship, they have to be comfortable with the dog — — which many are not. Actually, we rarely get that far. But, I know that many are not comfortable with my dog and this causes all of us some discomfort. There is a limit to how much I can leave him at home and honestly, if I leave him at home too much, it kind of defeats the purpose of having one. However, when we have to depend on rides, I have to put their comfort first.
My hope was that we could knit together a community of brothers and sisters (both from the church and the mosque), as well as some work colleagues — maybe — to be like close family. What church, you ask. And, I must agree, because I have not made much headway there, either. While I admit that the mosque is a bit more accepting than most churches that I have attended, there still feels like a disconnect. Sure, men at the mosque are more willing (than men at a church) to drive us to and from the mosque. They do seem to be “more helpful.” But, I was not just looking for “help” I was looking for a community to belong to – a community of interaction and the sharing of ideas and ultimately ourselves.
[side note: I think that is also what my daughter is looking for and one of the reasons (certainly not the only one, because he seems to be a much better guy than the others), that she wants to marry her ex-morman boyfriend who has tons of sibs and cousins]. The “Ex” is on the “mormon” part, not on the “boyfriend” part.
Anyway, at first, We began attending a very small mosque. The Imam would drive us to and from the mosque. Sometimes, I would talk to his wife. I thought that we wre developing a relationship with the couple. The man went off to study Arabic for three months in DC. I called the wife a couple of times to see if she needed anything. I got no response. The imam did not even call us when he returned. We had expressed excitement about his trip and were generally interested in his progress & experiences. Since we were one of the main families who would worship (and I use that term loosely in my case) at the mosque where he gave lectures, I kind of expected a closer relationship with the members. The second mosque is quite a bit larger. The one thing that I do like about this mosque is that there are lots of different nationalities present. We know men from Somalia, Gambia, Senegal, Lebanon, Pakistan, India and some American born&raised Muslims. The men of the mosque are willing to pick up DH and I and return us to our homes. Our Gambian friend has a Christian wife, but she never comes to the Mosque. There is one bright spot. One Auntie, Shaaesta, does sit and talk with me. I realize that she could very well sit and pray/talk with the other Aunties. But, this pashton woman will sit and talk with me every time I see her at the Mosque. Sure, sometimes, she can be opinionated and she usually worries that I will fall down and/or trip over something on the floor. I wonder how much more intense this preoccupation with my falling will become when I have the baby and need to carry him around. ? Yet, she is kind and when we sit and talk, she really listens to what I have to say. I have not seen her outside the Mosque, however. It is a promising start. And, I must understand that *one* person can make a difference.
Now, DH is celebrating Eid with our Gambian friend and his Christian wife. That is where he was invited. And, I am stuck here at work. Dh has many more personal days than I do. When he works over, he gets comp time and he has been working at the company longer. Besides, whenever we have doctor appointments, I have to take off 30mins before my work day ends. He does not because his work starts 30mins before mine does and ends 30mins before mine does. So, He had the time to take off and still get paid. I don’t. and, frankly, I am a bit emotional about not getting to celebrate Eid with him. So, I’ll stop here with the future hope that next year, we all will celebrate Eid together.

Precautions and preparation: traveling with an infant to Pakistan!

August 19, 2011

As I was browsing through my emails, I received a mail from my SIL. I am amazed and certainly touched. You see, we were suppose to go to Pakistan in November. With the baby coming, we have postponed our trip. My SIL was also suppose to get married in November and … … you guessed it, she postponed her wedding until we could be there. Who would do that? Who would just decide (after some arrangements had been made) to postpone the wedding until your brother, his new wife and the baby could come? I don’t think that people in my family would. I am truly in awe that she would postpone her day and want to share the commotion with us and the new baby.
Needless to say, I have to get a visa quickly. I have a passport, but must start applying for my visa. If the birth and things go well, (remember ED is December 14—15), we are thinking about going at the end of February. I wanted to wait until the 3month mark, until about march 15th, But, I don’t want his sister to have to wait that long for the wedding. But, I don’t want to compromise baby’s health and that is more important. So, I do have some questions for you who have traveled to Pakistan with an infant. Of course, I am looking on the CDC website. And, yes, I know that there is a forum in Gorigirl related to this topic, but I lost my password! So here goes:
1. Does the infant have to have a passport and visa?
2. Do I have to wait 3months for the first round of infant vaccinations and what about malaria?
3. Are there certain things that I should take for emergencies? The website mentions “ORS,.” Should I bring some, even if I am nursing? Is pedialite the same thing? What else for my “firstaid kit?”
4. DH’s family often drinks bottled water. The website says that sometimes it is safe and sometimes not. Has anyone had experience with bottled water in Pakistan?
5. Like I said earlier, I will be nursing. If I eat something that causes me to have diareah, is it likely that the baby will also have diareah?
6. What if the baby does have to go to the hospital? Should I get travelers insurance? Has anyone had to take their child to the hospital? What are the differences between a Pakistani hospital and an American one? I know that DH’s uncle is a doctor. But, still, there are differences, I am sure.
7. DH says that car seats are quite uncommon in Pakistan. Now, it would just be easier for me not to take one on the plane and I had planned to hold my baby in a carrier/wrap. Sometimes, less stuff is just better. But, that would mean that I would not have a car seat to put in DH’s father’s car on the drive from Islamabad to Rawal Pindi. I am not even sure that it will fit. But, I have visions of my baby crashing through the windshield. Nourotic, maybe! How did you handle it?
Thanks for any help.
I know that this is months away, but I want to know in advance what is involved. And, if we should wait until the 3month mark, I want to at least know this for sure and get things set. So, if we say that we are traveling March 18th then I want to make a sincere effort to do so. And, I know that I am going to be nervous and worried about the baby, the closer it gets to the travel date; so being prepared is the best course. Then, my “WHAT Ifs “ will be all taken care of. My biggest worry is that the baby will get sick and everyone else will minimize the worry: “children get sick all of the time, not a big deal.” And it is a big deal to me!!!! You know? when Dh came to the USA, (like many of his friends — no matter at what age they came) he had no problem adjusting to food, water, etc. So, he thinks that it will be the same for our baby. But, i think that this is a good reason to go when I am exclusively nursing. Maybe no one will try to feed the baby scrumptious food, which we would unsuccessfully decline and maybe a problem occur afterwords. and, I do admit that I do *want* to taste all of the street food, in all of its delicious glory. i just know that what might be good on the tongue, might not be good in the stomach. And, maybe there are other things that I have not even thought about. Please share your experiences of traveling with an infant. DH does live in RawalPindi (use to be Lahore) so not in a village. But, he his family is not super rich/wealthy either. Actually, I don’t know their money situation – who discusses money, anyway? But, I know; they are not in poverty. They have one American Style bathroom. They have a small brick house with marble floors. His father has a business. They have someone to help with laundry, but no other servants; DH’s mother cooks/cleans/does everything. And, they probably will be spending large amounts on Sil’s wedding. But, I am not sure how much precaution to take. And, I am not trying to offend DH with another conversation. I tread lightly because I understand that loyalty is quite prevalent when talking about family and country. I am not trying to degrade Pakistan or say that his family does not know how to take care of children or that they are unsafe. But, we all know that there are different values, sometimes. Heck, there are different values within my own family. I just feel more able to express my opinion with my own family. Of course, it helps that there are no language/cultural barriers. Actually, DH did say that if we go during the wedding time, there will be too many people wanting to touch and pick up the baby. That is just too many germs. I suggested “hand sanitizer,” (the alcohol free kind of course). He laughed! (point taken) DH is more specific about contact with animals than I am. I am more fervent about car seats than he. I want to be respectful. But, I think that I will be seen as a hypochondriac on some issues, you know? And, maybe on others, I will be seen as “too lax.” Like with the hair cutting thing.
Suggestions?

2 August, 2011 15:21

August 2, 2011

So, it occurs to me that We do actually ride paratransit with quite a few Characters," in their own right. And, yes, for all of you non-pc people, it is like riding "the short bus." But, as an adult, with other disabled adults who are all not able to drive for a variety of reasons, yet must get to work and other various places. But, I am just too old — and obviously, disabled myself, thus, hardlycare what people think of my associations, etc. A perk of age is that we tend to get less embarrassed by the trivial things — or at least, some of us.

Maybe it is because I am pregnant, myself and emotions are high. Maybe it is because i realize that after December, DH and I won’t be riding paratransit together. Or, who knows, but this has started me thinking about paratransit.

Some drivers want to be very personable and really try to get to know their riders. Some drivers have been driving paratransit for **years and remember the ones who ride often. some drivers are quite talkative and like a good discussion with their morning drive. Sometimes, it is the normal rants; such as the pros and cons of progress&technology, an evaluation of the most recent changes to paratransit (which is never good), the disappearance of manners or the least expensive place for a specific activity. No, I don’t get all “BBC/npr” about things and we generally stay away from religion, politics and hot topics. Once, DH and I had an argument and in a rare moment, DH engaged the driver and riders on the bus to see what they thought. I still disagreed, but the driver, a very animated woman (and you don’t need to see to know this) gave a very impassioned sermon for DH’s cause. I wasn’t offended. From this alone, I correctly guessed her religion as pentacostal! (smile) It was an old argument and DH was just surveying the people to see if they thought he did the right thing — which, kind of means, that he he might have been reconsidering the whole issue. It was an issue of ethics / right and wrong. And, I had to smile at the woman’s obvious ferver for the topic.

There are drivers who arrive 30minutes early and expect us to be willing and ready to ride early. There are drivers who won’t let us eat on the bus, even if they pick us up earlier than our pick up time and we have to ride the bus for 90minutes+. There are drivers who drop us off at the wrong house. There are drivers who don’t want to listen when we try to give them directions. There are drivers who talk to us like we are children. There are drivers who don’t talk at all. There are drivers with loud annoying cell phones. There are drivers who get off the bus at every pickup, so they can smoke a cigarette. So much for getting to work on time! There are drivers who take no care when driving over speed bumps and pot holes. Sometimes, I worry if Paratransit is going to send me into an early labor.

There is a worker at DH’s building, who works in production. He also often rides the same bus as we do. He had to go to the bank. It was close to closing time, so I let him go to the bank first. It was my call, because we were slated to be dropped off first. I was so nauseous, it was not funny. But, I know that paratransit would have dropped him at the bank, whether the bank was closed or open. Then, he would have had to wait for another ride. And, to top things off, it was raining outside. DH protested, but I was trying to be empathetic to a 70-yo man’s needs to go to the bank. So, he gets dropped off at the bank… just in time… … .. and what did he do???? Stand outside and smoke a cigarette! I went home, vomited and the next time I saw him, I really let him have it. Needless to say, now, he is super nice to me. But, DH always says: “Hi W., Are you going to the bank today?” (smile) Oh, and the next time paratransit took him to the bank, he actually went in.

There are times when people talk so loud on their cell phones that I almost wonder if they want to engage us in their very private affairs. I even have to elbow DH several times because he does the same thing when talking to his family/friends in Urdu. People are even more agrivated because he can talk very loudly … … the entire 90minutes to work, yet, they “don’t” get the added benefit of knowing his business. (smile) In his defense, due to the time difference, our mornings at about 7:00 is a good time for both he and his family.

The company that DH and I work for employs quite a few blind people. Now, I must admit that most of the blind people are in the lower positions and the higher you climb up the ladder, the more sighted the employees are. I think that there is even a distinguished difference between totally blind and partially sighted or low vision. Nonetheless, we do have a significant amount of employees who are blind.

[side note: there are four departments in my building. In the customer service department, there are two out of five people – one totally blind – who are employed. In the Accounting department, there are two partially sighted people and five totally sighted employees. In the Call Center, there are five employees: one is totally blind, three are partially sighted and the supervisor is sighted. In the sales department, there are two totally blind persons out of the seven employees. There are people in the warehouse and housekeeping who are sighted. The building is expanding and we will probably have more and more of the factory workers over here. All of the blind workers in our building, except the factory workers, are college graduates.]

The factory jobs consist of glove packaging, auto parts packaging, medical kit assembly and packaging, a document solution/printing shop, And a sign shop. We also provide brailling for signage and documents. Most of this work is done in the building DH works in; which also houses their “rehab department.” DH works in the rehabilitation department, where he teaches computer skills to newly blind individuals. That specific department is staffed mostly by blind individuals. Anyway, some of those employees also have other disabilities. This company use to be a “sheltered workshop,” but now it has expanded and no longer pays workers by the piece. In any case, they employ many different workers and although they do have quotas, there are some workers who are just not capable of making them. They still make the same amount of money, etc. I believe they make $8 an hour. But, they have the same amount of benefits that management has.

[another side note: the top two workers in production, as it relates to output, are from Africa: Eritria and Sudan, respectively. And, just to further enlighten those who believe in Stereotypes, the very top worker, is Aweti, a *woman. She has held this title for more than a year and doesn’t plan on relinquishing it anytime soon].

I try to be respectful and kind to all of the riders, regardless of how much they annoy me. There is the woman who uses her loudest baby voice to ask me the same questions about my dog, every time I see her. I think that she secretly likes (although argues with incessantly with) the guy who boldly and tactlessly tries to bed almost every woman he meets. There is the narcoleptic who remembers every number under the sun (of course, when she is awake and alert). She can also remember the exact date and time that someone stole her pencil in the first grade. Her and her best friend like having the same conversations and trips down memory lane on a very consistent basis. Repetition makes the heart grow fonder. There’s the diabetic woman who, after seeing my yellow lab guide under my seat, went into a full blown speech on the benefits of making the Pit Bull an endangered species by means that Hitler would certainly be proud of. I Thanked God that my Ghetto fabulous pregnant seat mate, who owns a cute and cuddley harmless pitbull was a bit more serene than usual on that particular day. There is one guy, C. who is kind of an autistic genius. I don’t know if he is autistic: (that diagnosis gets thrown around about as much as ADD), but he does have some mental limitations. Yet, he knows greetings in many many different languages. He always says “asalam–o– laykum,” to DH. He is always asking about Hebrew language. He knows greetings and words in German, Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew, Spanish, French, Zulu, Tagrinia, Sudanese and now, Urdu. He is not good with pronunciation; he sounds like his dentures are constantly slipping – although, he doesn’t wear dentures. but he makes up for it with his memory. I have met C. a few times because the company sponsors a local “ToastMasters” group that I have attended. He has taken on roles such as grammarian and Toastmaster. He is the Sergeant of Arms and does remember all of the rules. He can be annoying. Like when he insists on being the ToastMaster’s timer. He does not know how to operate a stopwatch and can’t write in print or Braille. Consequently, his duties as “timer,” consists of repeating the times that the actual timer loudly whispers in his ear. This annoys me because, honestly, if he doesn’t operate the stopwatch, and if he doesn’t write down the specific times of each speech, then, really, he is not the timer. Nevertheless, I was just impressed with his memory and interest in DH’s language.

Concluding, have you ever felt like you are surrounded by characters from a compilation of books? Well, that is just our lives.

updating: OUR secret expansion! “mayray oomeed bachchi laRki hai !

May 26, 2011

I know that it has been about two to three months since I have written *anything. There is a reason for this and it is not because I have been too busy to write. Although, I have been quite tired lately!
Both, myself and my family is expanding and – yes, exactly in the way one might predict considering a marriage has not taken place too long ago. Now, I know that, we probably should have waited. But, the truth is that the longer I wait, the more likely either myself or the baby would have some type of complication. So, Yes, within the first year of marriage: He moved to a new city, We both found jobs and I have become pregnant.
WOOH. That is a lot and we still aren’t factoring in the first-year-married types of adjustments.
And, I still have to admit that it is amazing how a community of bloggers can unknowingly blog about something that is quite pertinent to another blogger. I am talking about the Gori Wife’s post concerning pregnancy and Pakistanis.
Check it out:

I just could not understand DH’s reluctance to talk about such issues. I talk about it all the time. Yes, I have been pregnant before, but there have been many changes in the world of babies and pregnancy in … … over 18 years. And, DH knows “NOTHING” about babies and pregnancy so I thought that he might be curious to know every little detail. I was wrong. OK, so I get the point that “pregnancy” confirms that indeed the couple have been engaging in … … “coupling.” But, Pakistanis have no problem celebrating marriages and … … if pregnancy confirms that you “have” been having relations, then a marriage is saying: WOOHOO, “I will be soon!!!” Both of our cultures certainly do spend lots of time thinking about sex, just in different ways. For example: when someone tells me that they are pregnant, the last thing I think of is their bedroom habits. That is just a given – in most circumstances – now, let’s move on to the real exciting stuff – the pregnancy! So, while I admit that we, Americans, seem to use sex to sell anything and seem to be quite sexually liberal; Pakistanis seem to be so afraid of eluding to it that they make the subject a sweet taboo. Some societies seem to be so bent on eradicating such topics from public discourse that they are actually thinking about it at least as much as the sexually liberal societies and seem to find it in places where we don’t even think to look. I think that Azadeh Moaveni’s first book and even “Sensoring an Iranian LoveStory,” a novel by Sharier Mandanipur does an adequate job at highlighting some of these issues. … sorry for the soapbox.
I think since I was so offended that Dh did not want to know a single thing about his own child, he has relented a bit and does find the conversation mildly interesting – as long as I get to the point and don’t drag it out. I am not saying that he ignores my pregnancy entirely. He doesn’t want me lifting and worries about my nausea and stress and he is concerned about my food intake. He will ask: “So how big is the baby now?” “Can you feel it inside you?” “How much of the brain is developed?” “when will it start kicking?” “I wish that I could feel/hear it moving around.” “I think you are getting bigger already!” (I can still fit quite nicely into my clothes: it must be his imagination – thank you very much). But, he almost left the house (never to return) when I mentioned videoing the birth. OK, granted, it seems that we argue at least once a day – (where is that concern about my stress?). But, I just went too far with that video suggestion! I tried to explain that my private parts would not be shown. He says, “who wants to see a bloody baby? Why would you want to video tape you being in so much pain?” …. … Still, it is definitely beyond his comprehension and comfort level. We will have to stick to photos and maybe an audio recording of the baby’s first cry. – Aren’t I compromising???? (SMILE)
In any case, he has agreed to be in the birthing room with me, as well as a friend/doula and my daughter … … oh, and a midwife, of course.
DH did tell one of his friends in Pakistan and the friend said absolutely “NOTHING.” I was amazed that he didn’t even say a profunctory “Congratulations,” after all, this was suppose to be a very close friend and even American acquaintances say: “Congratulations,” or something similar. Then, there was that one time when DH told a coworker that we both knew. They were both running/walking the mini marathon and she had a horribly painful cramp. His excuse: “that is all I could think of to get her mind off the pain!” He even said it worked for about five minutes. (smile) But, this damages his firm stance and logic behind such a stance.
His stance — ? First, DH says that he doesn’t think that I should broadcast it because others would be jealous. I don’t think that he was as upset at his sister when she told her work colleagues. But, I’ll let that one go, even if I shouldn’t. “GRRRR!”
I have one friend who just lost a baby. We were quite close growing up and although my marriage caused some rifts between us, we have since mended our relationship and are working on remaining close while respecting our differences. Her and her husband have four and she wanted another. DH thought that I should not tell her. But, I tried to explain that true friends aren’t “jealous of each other.” We never were like that. I am just not the jealous kind when it comes to what others have that I don’t and she has been the same way. In fact, twice she has brought over things that I might need to curb the nausea and calls all of the time to get a baby update. She has wanted a baby for so long: her youngest is nine-yo, that she is a baby encyclopedia! But, Dh was worried that she would be jealous and send bad thoughts our way. I say that Bad thoughts can’t hurt us or the baby. He worries lots about what people will think and making them feel bad and what consequences their bad feelings might have for us. I say, We are not responsible for other people’s feelings. And, if they were true friends, they would be happy for us. But, this logic sometimes falls on deaf ears.I don’t know what he is thinking. I will admit that several times during the last 2-3 months, I have seriously wished that I had the authority to prescribe psychotropic meds for his paranoia. (smile) But, I need to admit, he probably has had the same desire since I seem to be quite grumpy!
There are so many things that I could blog about: new baby carriers and how to see which is right for me, my food preferences and intake, Pakistani baby traditions, new and necessary baby stuff (like a nursing blanket that goes around your neck for optimum discretion), tips on baby learning language when I only have an elementary grasp, how it seems that DH’s hormones fluxuate as much as mine do, family issues (both mine and his), finding lories/lullabies from Pakistan and other places to play/sing for the baby, new developments like water births and progesterone shots, postponed trip to Pakistan and when would be the best time to go with a baby, baby names and cord banks. There are also other blog posts that I have written, but have not submitted because, somehow, in each one of them I find a way to work in some part of the pregnancy and DH did not want me to tell many people until … … at least after twelve weeks.
… … Not that he looks at this blog, but just in case.
We have a Dr. APT tomorrow. He, his sister (who will be visiting) my daughter and I will go. Hopefully, we will hear the heartbeat!!! And, it is actually “officially” at the 12week mark. So, there you go. This is an update!

family expectations: the objective view

April 1, 2011

everyone talks about the added stress put on women when they meet their southAsian in-laws. This is a challenging issue and I am not trying to minimize any experience of any woman. In fact, as I plan my trip to Pakistan, I know that it is quite possible that I will be in the throws (all emotions included) of a similar situation. Yet, I am trying to be objective!
I do need to point out that there are certain pressures on the southAsian men that they might not otherwise have, had they married a southAsian woman and lived in their native country.
1. Financial responsibility. DH’s brother was married about two months after we got married. His family’s wealth is his own. N’s bride, N2, came to live within a family structure of a mil and fil and N’s younger sister. And, this, they admit, is a small family according to the members who could be present. In any case, N2 has yet to make a meal by herself, do a load of laundry or take note of the family finances. N, himself has never read his electric bill, haggled with AT&T over phone charges, searched for the best bargain for a specific product, contemplated the financial consequences of a purchase, reconciled receipts with his bank statement, filled out “head of household tax forms,” analyzed Health and life insurance plans, or comprehended and absorbed the specific tax deductions that are taken from the paycheck every two weeks. These activities and the worries that seem to accompany him has eluded N and is certainly not a part of his marriage experience. Yet, DH and I have to take on these responsibilities. These tasks are not optional and failure to take them seriously will have swift and heavy consequences. In addition, he has to deal with landlords, immigration, immigration lawyers and other government entities, filling out more forms in one week than he has ever had to do for his entire life.
2. DH must go to work everyday and he must be prompt. He also must arrange transportation. OK, now, of course, the transportation arranging part is not his responsibility alone. But, N’s work schedule is fluid and much more forgiving. Some of this is because N works for his father, so the work environment can be much more relaxed. N does not have to worry about time schedules or work policies.
3. There are certain cultural norms concerning expressions of LOVE and maintaining the relationship. This might not be cultural, but then again, who knows. I ask DH one day: “Did your Father ever bring your Mother flowers?” “did they ever want “date night” or some time for themselves?” “What about Valentine’s Day?” To DH and many of his friends and family, marriage maintenance is ridiculous. Sure, husbands should bring a gift to the wife upon return of their travels. But, in many cases, they didn’t date before the marriage, why would they do such things after? Furthermore, these “couples quizzes,” and “relationship checklists,” are just “Bukwas,” – “nonsense.” Early in our relationship, I wanted to subject DH to any “couples quiz,” that I could find and compare our answers. After twice indulging me (and he felt that he was being quite compliant) , DH put his foot down and committed never to do another. I guess, there is no “newlywed game” for us, although I would find it quite fun. In a strange turn of events, “preparing for our immigration interview” is working quite nicely as a stand-in for a “Couple’s quiz.” It does seem that the public wants to know all about your relationship and they want to evaluate it against their preconceived notions of what they feel a relationship should be.
4. In addition to DH’s work, my family (and I) expect him to pitch in with the housework. I admit that my family (like most Americans) sometimes scrutinize men’s (particularly SouthAsian men’s) actions to make sure that they are treating their women with respect and giving their 50% to the relationship. To some women, Not including myself in this statement, equity and equality are synonomous terms. Sometimes Americans (even Americans who are not close to our family) feel the need to sternly advise dh to cook, clean and sometimes (give her everything she wants). They are already under the assumption that he does not do these things and he is berated for what they assume he does not do. Is their any parcel of truth in their assumption? Sure. But, that is for he and I to work out. Before I started work, my mother would routinely ask me three questions.
A. Is he still working? My sister, the successful nurse who is going back to get her Masters Degree (even though she is pulling down a serious chunk of change, already) has four children from the ages 6-12 and a husband who finds working at home much more appealing than putting his degree to use; And my younger blue collar working sister who finds working a necessity (yet, is finally attending a technical college to get an office job) and who has four children from ages 16-3 and a husband who won’t remain employed for more than three months at a time; both must be the breadwinners of their family. Both husbands have the same first name and both husbands also inhail illegal substances which seems to enhance their laziness. My sisters are more alike then either of them want to admit, but I keep silent on this one. My mother was, herself, employed for most of her life either as a factory worker or a truck driver. For the most part, she doesn’t respect those who are able to work, but choose not to do so… … especially when they have a family to support.
B. Who’s doing the cooking and cleaning? Before I started working, my mother would constantly remind me that it was my duty to have everything in tiptop shape for Dh because he was working. Now that I, also, have a job,, she asks: “Is he cooking?” “Is he cleaning?” “What is HE doing to help?” My mother likes to be the boss, so she almost orders me to “make him cook and clean.” Actually, DH is helping out. I am certainly not giving him any excuses. But, since he is male, it does feel foreign for him to “consistently” do housework. I say “consistently,” because his father will cook and clean “occasionally.” But, certainly not on a regular basis. And, since he is blind, he feels like he isn’t sure what is involved in such tasks and these tasks just seem daunting. Admittedly, none of his blind male friends (especially Pakistani blind males – even if they do live in London) do any type of housework at all. Yet, he is learning to do more and more around the house. The key is that “we” work together. And, we both benefit when the housework is finished quickly. But, I do recognize that DH has pressure that his other blind friends don’t even experience. Our marriage and situation provokes DH to be responsible in ways that his Pakistani counterparts (brother or friends) are oblivious to and if they do understand such responsibilities, it will be much later in their marriage.
C. Are you pregnant? …. … different topic entirely, but while both of our mothers might request this particular piece of information on an equally frequent basis, their desired responses to this specific question are polar opposites. As of the last conversation, my mother has been quite content (almost gitty) with my routinely accurate response. It has only been six months, hardly enough time for DH’s mother to claim “patience” as a long standing virtue. Yet, it could happen.

I’m not asking you to ride the pity wagon for DH. I am just reminding everyone that when two different cultures come together, there are bound to be adjustments made from both individuals. Furthermore, family members who are firmly planted in either culture have expectations that feel strange to the spouse and in some cases seem harsh or frivolace.

The ultimate sacrifice

January 10, 2011

In most relationships, sacrifice is inevitable.
To be successful at your job, , (beyond the normal employment duties) one might have to sacrifice their values, their beliefs, their integrity, or their location. To be a good mother, one must sacrifice their time, their energy and finances.
Sometimes we don’t want to sacrifice. Or, We want to dole out our sacrificed commodity. And, “what” is really considered a sacrifice? often, The thought of sacrificing is much more appealing than the reality of such an action. After all, we do tend to romanticize the situations that surround “sacrifice.” Usually when we imagine such sacrifices; the results are often favorable. Therefore, there is a silver lining to the sacrifice which makes the sacrifice worth the effort. And, there is a notion that there is a direct link between the size of the sacrifice and the desired accomplishment. “The only question to ask yourself is, how much are you willing to sacrifice to achieve this success?” —
Larry Flynt. “Dreams do come true, if we only wish hard enough, You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it,” — James M. Barrie And, romantically speaking, even when the sacrifice does not yield the desired results, the one who has sacrificed is deemed a martyr for —- Love … or freedom … or truth … or something. In this way, the efforts that have made up the whole of the sacrifice have been, in some way, redeeming.

In opposition to these romantic notions, counseling books everywhere (typically those that either have a very feminist bent or those exemplifying “reality therapy”) have dispelled the notion that a sacrifice is neither admirable or noble. Usually, these books talk about the sacrifices that women make and not the ones that men make. In fact, most literature says that “women sacrifice too much” and “men sacrifice too little,” – at least as far as relationships are concerned. “Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice! That’s the condition of the female. Women have been conditioned to sacrifice for centuries,”
Betty Dodson. Much of this literature debunks any honorable attitudes surrounding the act of sacrifice. After all, they claim, women have been sacrificing for men way too many times and, let’s face it, the men are neiter reciprocating the action nor are they greatful for such sacrifices (the customary words seem to fall short of conveying real feeling). There is also a notion that has cropped up in the last twenty or so years that we should get something for our sacrifice. And, women are told not to sacrifice too much for their children for these same reasons. There is an added reason for the children, however, it is simply because we want to set a good example. We want to show our daughters that they don’t have to sacrifice and should not do so for a man (especially) or their children. I Too, have fallen into the trap of warning my family members about “the act of sacrifice.” I am always telling my daughter that she should not sacrifice her interests – those things that she enjoys doing (Music, volleyball, basketball, exercising, and baking), for her relationship. This would make her less of “Dominika” and more of “Someone’s Girlfriend.” and, I do believe that I am right to caution her. It does seem that people go to extremes: either giving an unhealthy sacrifice or not sacrificing at all. Of course, there has to be a balance, but many times, I wonder if we are teaching selfishness and fostering an unhealthy attitude of entitlement in relationships.

Yet, when it comes to a job, people are encouraged to “be adventurous” “embrace the unknown.” Sacrificing for a job is (in most cases) seen as a good move. To Americans, sacrificing for money is appropriate, but sacrificing for family is not. I wonder if it is because money is valued much more than a husband or family. After all, marriage is not valued as it once was. People seem to give up too easily. Or, at the least, the partnership seems to be unbalanced. And, since your children will always be your children; regardless of how much or how little you sacrifice, most people see no point in doing so.
[climbing down from soap box to return to original topic]. {hmm, if I could only insert an image of a person falling from a very high ledge—smile}.

I have noticed that sometimes Desi men and women have to sacrifice their family bonds for their relationship. Sometimes, women give up their high paying promising careers (ones that they might have taken years to build) to stay home with the children. Do we ever look at the naked reality of Sacrifice? When we unearth sacrifice, do we ever actually consider the possibility that we might encounter a raw wound that might grow into a festering sore, if we are not diligent about its care?

I think of my friend, Susie.
http://www.susieofarabia@blogspot.com
[I read many interesting blogs and she is up for an award] she has moved to Saudi Arabia with her husband. Even when her son went back to the states to go to High School, (although she visits him I think about once a year) she has made her home in KSA. her husband does encourage her to go and visit her son and even stay as much as possible until he exits high school. But, when deciding to embark on such a trip, She probably received the same sort of advice that I give to my own daughter.
I know that there are lots of American women who have married men of foreign origin and have had to move to a land where they did not speak the language and found culture and customs unlike their own. I am not trivializing your experiences. I chose Susie because there were many factors that could have inhibited her sacrifice. Susie was not young when she moved. Sure, she was adventurous. But, she was not young. I imagine that she had laid down relationship and comfortable roots somewhere. I know that she had an older daughter that she left behind. This comes at a time in her life when she (or most women even close to her age – myself included) would value security and familiarity; over adventure, new beginnings and discovering new lands with new possibilities.
It is not just the friend and familial connections; although, this is no small sacrifice because she has gone to a place where it is very difficult to forge new connections due to linguistic and cultural barriers beyond her control. She has sacrificed some of her freedom. She has sacrificed her routines, her comfort food, [should we start a comfort food campaign for you Susie??], her interests, her comfort zone and her profession. I don’t know if she feels that her self confidence has been compromised. I don’t know how it would feel to only rely on your husband for those comforts that are typically given by a multitude of family and friends. And, I don’t know if her husband is willing or able to attempt to be her emotional and social lifeline. In short, there are many questions that could be asked of Susie. Did she weigh all of the positives and negatives before deciding to make the sacrifice? Or did she instinctively make the sacrifice out of duty or affection? How much of herself has she sacrificed for her marriage? what is the outcome from that sacrifice? And, Is the beneficiary of such a sacrifice appreciative or even fully aware of the scope of such a sacrifice? I have not asked her if she regrets her sacrifice or if she resents her husband? I have only wondered how many times she must “wander,” down the lane of “what if.” (with some shame, I must admit that) I probably would make that familiar trek all too often. [mental note: I am embarrassed to admit that I am so rigidly connected to *what* I want and not able to be flexible enough to trust in the fact that, if I allow it too, my sacrifice can yield great and unexpected joys].
Rather than delving into Susie’s particular situation, we can use Susie’s circumstances as a springboard to analyze our own questions about sacrifice and how it relates to our lives and relationships. When thinking about our own sacrifices, Here are some questions that we might want to ask ourselves. [Hey, feel free to add to the list].

1. Is there a difference between a gift and a sacrifice? and What have/ are you willing to sacrifice for your marriage or relationship? (money, time, health, energy, friends, freedom, family, interests, career, intellect, pride, ego, faith, …)? And, how much of these things are you willing to sacrifice?

2. What are you *not* willing to sacrifice and why? What fears are behind your unwillingness? Are they founded or unfounded? Do you only feel comfortable sacrificing when you can control the outcome? Has your spouse or family needed/wanted you to sacrifice something that you are unwilling to give up? Was it an appropriate or inappropriate request? Why?

3. What are the obvious and unintended consequences of sacrificing such things? Or, should we even analyze the negative aspect of our sacrificing? By making such an analysis, does it somehow ruin the heart behind the sacrifice?

4. Do you expect to get something for your sacrifice, if so, what? Even in relationships, we sometimes hope that our sacrifice might yield peace, happiness, gratitude, a more loving spouse, etc. Should we have this expectation?

5. When is a sacrifice unhealthy or “not ok?” And, can you make that decision for others?

6. Should you only make a sacrifice if you can do it willingly and/or if you believe that you will arbor no resentment regardless of the outcome? And, should you make the sacrifice only if you can do it cheerfully? “The sacrifice which causes sorrow to the doer of the sacrifice is no sacrifice. Real sacrifice lightens the mind of the doer and gives him a sense of peace and joy: The Buddha gave up the pleasures of life because they had become painful to him,” — Mahatma Gandhi. “Love is not a feeling of happiness. Love is a willingness to sacrifice,” —
Michael Novak

7. Can a sacrifice be conditional? Should a sacrifice be doled out and contracted like a business agreement? And, if so, What types of conditions would you impose … … and what happens if the condition has been breached. Sometimes the breach can leave the sacrifice feeling hollow. What happens then? Do you make a new agreement concerning the sacrifice? Does it make it a sacrifice if there are conditions attached?

8. Should you always talk about the sacrifice with the one you are sacrificing for so they understand the breadth and depth of your choice? In effect, should the one you are sacrificing for always be aware of and know the gravity of the sacrifice?

9. Is a sacrifice really a sacrifice if you continue to evaluate the results of such a sacrifice to determine whether it was worth it or not?

10. Can you retract a sacrifice? If so, what are the conditions surrounding sacrificial retractions? ?

No, Imran and I are not moving to Pakistan and no, he has not overtly or covertly asked me to sacrifice anything important. Hmmm, it occurs to me that I just assumed that you would suspect from this post that I was being asked to sacrifice instead of the possibility that I am asking Imran to sacrifice. In any case, we have and are not going through such a trauma. Yet, in evaluating myself, I realize that I can be quite rigid and like the idea that “I certainly would sacrifice my routine and/or comfort level and/or dreams/thoughts about the way things should go,” much more than the reality of such a sacrifice. I also realize that Imran, in most situations, is much more open and flexible to such possibilities. I am a bit hesitant to say that I “HOPE TO WORK ON THIS,” because, the only way to truly develop a skill or habit or characteristic is to practice it often. I am much more inclined to analyze and discuss than to “practice.” (smile)