MicroblogMondays: Disrespect

My in-laws’ visit to the States is nearing the end.  Eleven more days before they depart.  It has been relatively calm compared to their last visit two years ago, as Bob has listened to me and tried not to react to his mother’s constant pestering and endless complaints of various things that he has not done right in life.  Trust me that it has been very hard to do and he has been restraining his tongue the best he can.  I am very proud of him for being respectful to his parents even though they yell at him a lot.  His mom really knows how to push his button.  The two of them are still displeased that he went against their wishes to marry me, and think that even if he didn’t marry me, he’d still have these same babies with another woman.  I don’t know how that’d work in their minds, but whatever. He just doesn’t fight back as much anymore.  It isn’t worth it.  I don’t understand most of the things they talk about in Tamil anyways.

Today I want to talk about disrespect.  Bob has these relatives who live about 45 minute away.  We had already visited them a couple of weeks prior, but my mother-in-law wanted to invite them over for Saturday lunch because the relative mentioned how she would love to eat this one dish made by my mother-in-law. Since my in-laws only have two weekends left, Bob told her not to invite these relatives over because entertaining someone over the weekend takes a lot of work and energy.  We would still need to take them to Indian grocery store 40 minutes away, and my mother-in-law also wanted to go visit Cos.tco and a dollar store.  The timing just doesn’t always work if we pack so much in as my in-laws only eat at home and won’t visit a restaurant.  .  Having these relatives that we had already visited over for lunch just added to the pressure of timing.  But alas, she did invite them despite Bob’s opposition.  On Saturday, prior to the relatives’ visit, my mother-in-law told me that these relatives were bringing their own paper plates.  She explained that they had paper plates left from their son’s birthday party.  Since we have babies, they didn’t want to burden us more by making us wash more dishes.  Well, the true and unspoken reason was totally different.  These relatives, in particular the wife, are strict Hindu Brahmin who only trust vegetarian food prepared at home.  They wanted to avoid using our plates fearing that these plates have touched meat before.  But I felt disrespected by this behavior.  They were coming to eat the food that was prepared at our home but they didn’t have the decency to use our plates and utensils.  I had never seen such behavior and was quite appalled by it.  These relatives showed up with paper plates and disposable utensils.  Even the mother-in-law of the wife was scolding her for bringing her own plates rather than using the host’s plates.  The daughter-in-law was defending herself saying that she had learned it from her grandmother and couldn’t help it.  I remained courteous throughout the whole visit but I did feel a little insulted and disrespected watching them whip out and eat off of their own paper plates.

And then, the same night, my mother-in-law asked Bob why I would call her “pathi” and my father-in-law “thatha”.  Here is the back story.  My in-laws had never told me how to address them.  I asked Bob many times, and all he said was to not to address them.  To me, this is really weird.  American people call their in-laws by name, or simply mom and dad.  In my culture, there is a title for every person so I’d call my mother-in-law “lai-lai” and my father-in-law “lo-yeh” if they were Chinese.  But no, I don’t have a way of addressing my in-laws.  When they visited two years ago, I couldn’t call them anything because I didn’t know how, but it made me feel like a very impolite person.  My MIL would refer to my FIL to me as “uncle”.  She still does it this time.  She would say, “Let me talk to uncle”.  This makes me cringe every single time because he is NOT my uncle.  But I don’t say anything and just let her be.  This time during their visit, I follow the babies and call them “pathi” and “thatha” like what the babies will in the future.  This ability to address them makes life so much easier as I would call to their room and say “pathi or thatha, please come help.”  I don’t see anything wrong with it as it’s pretty natural to follow your children and call their grandparents grandpa or grandma.  I didn’t think anything of it until last night.  She said to Bob, “I am not everybody’s grandma”.  So she takes offense of me calling her “pathi”.

This upsets me so much.  I feel very disrespected as the mother of my children.  She is essentially saying that I am not part of her family.  My children call them grandpa and grandma in their language but I am not welcome to call them the same.  And I am not welcome to call them whatever daughters-in-law would call their father- and mother-in-law in their culture.  I am left with the titles for others: auntie and uncle.  They are not my auntie and uncle.  I find this whole notion ridiculous and degrading.  After seven years of marriage, they still seem to have a hard time accepting the fact that I am their daughter-in-law.  She finds me calling her grandma offensive but she doesn’t find her relatives bringing their own plates to eat her food an offense.

I have been very easygoing with my-laws.  I can overlook the mess that my mother-in-law makes in the kitchen throughout the day in the last 5 weeks, the incident when she left the stove on without realizing it, or the incident when she carelessly tried to hold both babies at the same time by pulling on Bunny’s one arm.  There have been many things that required getting used to while living with my in-laws but I choose to look on the bright side.  However, this time I feel so disrespected that I can’t get over it easily.  The whole day yesterday I was upset and did not want to talk to my mother-in-law.  I was courteous and answered questions but I didn’t make small talk.  I didn’t address her and my father-in-law all day as I was at a loss as to what to call them.  I find calling them uncle and auntie ridiculous, so I am better off not calling them anything if grandma and grandpa are off the table.  Bob will eventually speak with her about my displeasure and asking her what exactly she would like me to call her and her husband (other than auntie and uncle).  I am still having a hard time looking at her without feeling angry.

I hope that the conversation that Bob will have with my mother-in-law will resolve this issue. I hope she understands that in order to be my children’s grandparents she’ll have to make an effort to accept me as her daughter-in-law.  If they want to have a relationship with my children, they will have to treat me with respect.  Letting me call them with the right titles would be a good first step.

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MicroblogMondays: Sitting Up

So… I have been waiting for the babies to sit up for a peculiar reason: their 6-month professional photo shoot.  I have always loved 6-month-old babies.  They are so smiley and so much fun.  I have always wanted to document this stage.  However, my photographer said that it might be good to wait until they could sit for at least 10 to 15 seconds unassisted so that there would be more interesting photos than them lying down doing nothing.  Ever since then (when they were about 5 months), I have been waiting for Bunny and Okra to sit.  No such luck for a while.  They would roll.  They would scoot.  They would push themselves up.  But nope.  No sitting up.  I tried to practice with them but they’d often topple over.  Then they turned 6 months.  Still no sitting.  Then 7 months.  Still no sitting.  My sweet 6-month-old phase is moving behind us and my babies were nowhere close to sitting.  Came 8 months.  Suddenly I saw signs of life in the sitting department.  First Bunny started to sit for longer than 3 seconds.  Then Okra’s turn. One day suddenly they both sat for longer than 15 seconds! Hurray! There is light at the end of the tunnel!  But Bunny and Okra are now so mobile and move around so much, I hope that the photo shoot won’t be us trying to catch them from rolling and scooting away from the camera.

Here they are on our new play mat:

MicroblogMondays: Mother’s Day This Year

Mother’s Day this year was vastly different from all the previous years’.  We participated in the child-parent dedication at church that takes place on Mother’s Day every year.  Rather than watching others longingly in the past few years, we got to stand on stage with our babies and receive blessings from our congregation.  I love that every year our pastor not only acknowledges the mothers in the congregation, but also those who have lost their mothers as well as those who want to be a mom but for various reasons aren’t one on this day.  My baby boy was so handsome.  He was sporting a bowtie, suspenders, and a nice blue plaid shirt.  My baby girl was lovely in her floral dress.  This year I feel so loved by everyone around me.  I didn’t wash a single baby bottle today as my husband and mother-in-law picked up the duty.  I got to have some down time by myself doing a little grocery shopping and trying on dresses at our local strip mall.  My friend Jo came to the baby dedication and brought with her chicken wonton in a takeout container completed with a piece of napkin and a fork in a paper bag.  She basically armed herself with “contraband” food that was not allowed in the house.  Since Chinese people often go to a dim sum restaurant on Mother’s Day, she felt that chicken wonton was the closest thing she could give me as obviously we weren’t going to have dim sum any time soon.  She is such a thoughtful friend and we are so thankful to have her as the godmother for our children.  It was also lovely to receive messages throughout the day from friends wishing me a happy first Mother’s Day with our babies.  One friend who wished me a happy Mother’s Day told me something that upset her.  She has been trying for a baby for a number of years.  A friend of hers who has also struggled to get pregnant chose to write her today, out of all the days, to announce her pregnancy.  This announcement made my friend very upset because it triggered all sorts of emotions for her today.  She was doing quite well up until that point.  You see, her friend wanted to make a FB announcement today but wanted her let my friend know ahead of time.  This friend could have told my friend the day or a couple of days prior to Mother’s Day.  But no, she chose Mother’s Day to do that just because of poor planning on her part.  Even she herself said in the email “I realized this probably isn’t the best day to tell you”.  Then she should have done it earlier!  I was upset along with my friend.  The amnesia that some people have is ridiculous as they so quickly forget how emotional triggering it could be for someone who has been longing for a child to hear pregnancy announcement on Mother’s Day.  I just wish that people have more awareness and are more mindful of the effect of their actions on others.  I hope that my friend gets to experience being a mother on Mother’s Day in the near future.

MicroblogMondays: Exhaustion

I don’t think I had ever missed my Monday 6:15am self-imposed MicroblogMondays scheduled publishing time until today.  It’s interesting though.  Even when the twins were little and we were majorly sleep deprived, I never missed it once.  But as my friend Jo said, Life happens.

Recently I have been exhausted.  This is a different type of physical exhaustion than during the twins’ early days.  Back then, their needs were different: fussiness, constant feedings, endless diaper changes etc.  BUT, they were not mobile.  Well, they aren’t exactly mobile at the present time either.  They are just very active and roll around constantly, especially during diaper change time and while changing their clothes.  I know that many babies are like that.  But when everything is done twice, it is very exhausting.  Their first instinct is to roll and reach behind them to grab whatever that is there.  Giving them a toy or two can occupy them for two seconds, then back they go to roll behind them.  When I change them on the floor or in bed, it’s the same.  They are so strong now.  It’s so hard to hold them down.  Every single time changing them is like a battle.  I wasn’t as tired prior to my in-laws’ arrival because my mom would share half of the duties with me.  So I only had to deal with one twin at each diaper change or night routine as my mom would do the other one.  Now that my mom is not around, I don’t have the kind of help I used to have.  My father-in-law helps with feeding Okra his bottle and solids, but he does not do other chores for the kids.  He plays with the kids, but hands them over when there are other needs.  I daily dread the 7pm night routine during the week because Bob would still be riding on the bus to come home.  My mother-in-law would be in the kitchen cooking, so the night routine duties would fall on my shoulders: changing diapers, changing clothes, wiping face, administering medicine, and making bottles.  Just the sheer physical effort it takes to change diapers and clothes would make me exhausted.

Yesterday I was extremely tired after a full week of baby duties and driving 45 minutes to visit Indian relatives.  I was so exhausted that I didn’t even have the energy to get the blog post started after putting the babies down.  I figured I would take a shower and make myself feel better before pondering about a short blog post.  I barely stepped out of the shower when I heard Okra’s cry.  Then Bunny’s.  Darn… This always happens when I don’t have extra energy and just want to lie in bed.  Something was bugging Okra, and his cry woke up Bunny.  Bob tried to console him but he was inconsolable.  Bunny seemed to have calmed.  When Okra began to calm down, Bunny started crying again.  So we gave them both a bottle and did the night routine of reading and singing a second time so they’d be fooled into going back to sleep again.  To our relief, they seemed to have bought into it and went back to sleep.  Phew.  So we went back to whatever we were doing, and not even 15 minutes later, Okra started crying again.  Fearing that he’d wake up his sister, we took him away, consoled him, and put him back in his crib drowsy.  That worked.  At that point, I was too exhausted to even remember that there was supposed to be a blog post that needed to be written.  We closed our eyes and fell asleep.  Not even half an hour later, Okra screamed again.  This time it took 20 minutes to calm him down.  I gave up and let him sleep in our room.  And he woke up fussy and whiny at 5:45am. These are kids who usually sleep through the night so this is highly unusual.  Something was surely bugging him.  We just didn’t know what.

I am still fortunate though.  My mother-in-law takes care of cooking and my father-in-law takes care of playing.  I do get to take a breather and to recuperate from my exhaustion.  For that I am grateful.  Now can you imagine when the twins start crawling and walking how we adults would all feel???  I can tell you that we are not far from that point…..