Tag Archives: relationships

To let: a healthy womb

Two recent cases on surrogate adoptions have had me thinking the last couple of days.

I’ve learned from the experiences of two very close friends that motherhood is almost like a rebirth for a woman.

It’s more than just a physical rollercoaster ride – it’s an emotional voyage that springs new life.

For the better part of a year, a woman nurtures a new being within her womb – thinking about, speaking to, and bonding with this unseen fusion of sperm and egg … her child. Her flesh and blood. Her own creation.

For nine months, she waits in anticipation for that one moment when she will be able to see her baby, feel the infant’s breath, touch those little fingers – make that connection come alive in a very real sense. That one precious moment that surpasses everything else she has experienced thus far.

And then she has to give it away. To immediately render all that she’s experienced for three-quarters of a year, a memory. To give “her” child to someone else.

Of course, it’s an arrangement she entered knowing full well the implications of the transaction. But did she really know? For a first-time mom, could she have anticipated the emotions she would go through? Could she have guessed what it would really mean to separate herself from her newborn?

I have no maternal inclinations except for the general fact that I like kids — the kind who go back to their parents after two hours of play time. Despite that objective stance, I cannot entertain the thought of giving away “my” child to somebody else.

Difficult doesn’t even begin to describe the emotional toll something like this would take.

Yet some people would rather take this route than consider adoption. As much as it commodifies children.

Most people deep down would rather pass on their genes than adopt as they simply don’t know the background of children they adopt. Plus there are so many tests you have to go through, to prove you are a decent parent, it is enough to put anyone off adoption or fostering. Going for surrogacy suddenly appears appealing in comparison…..

Naomi Canton, Expat on the Edge

To me, it just seems a lot to ask for — just for the sake of passing down your genes. Or for the sake of “convenience.”

Whether she does it for money or as a gesture of love for a relative or friend, I don’t think any woman can be ever thanked adequately for first nurturing a life and then disowning it.

Thoughts?

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True love

Love to some is like a cloud

To some as strong as steel

For some a way of living

For some a way to feel

Some say love is holding on

And some say let it go

While some say love is everything

Some say they don’t know…

Love — the one emotion that all of us experience at some point in our lives. An emotion which defies definition. An overwhelming all-encompassing joy that comes saddled with its share of sadness.

I remember having countless crushes while in school. Our neighbour’s son, my best friend’s brother, a cousin’s friend, our judo teacher … I fancied them for the colour of their eyes, their swagger, or just the way they combed their hair. Harmless “puppy loves” as ephemeral as soap bubbles.

I’d always heard that you won’t even know what hit you when you find the love of your life — the one person you want to spend time with day after day after day. And it was true.

It came at a time when I was mature enough to take on the responsibilities of a relationship which demands a lot of give and not so much of take. Love was the edifice I built on the foundation of friendship. It took time to blossom. It took a lot of understanding, loads of communication, and plenty of patience to become what it is today. 

Most importantly, love to us meant a meeting of minds. Still does.

It was notches above infatuations and what my mom likes to call “the pleasures of the flesh.”

Our parents’ generation was fed lavishly with ideals. Theirs was an era of constraints, restraints, respect, admiration, and oodles of romance. An age where the distance between the sexes somehow managed to help preserve the sanctity of an amorous relationship.

Our generation, with its openness and fading lines of proximity, jumped on to the bandwagon of love with a little more haste and defiance of “traditions.”

The next generation, I fear, is going further downhill — not quite able to distinguish between physical attraction and mental compatibility. Love seems synonymous with both. Exclusively, even.

I am amazed when I hear stories of school kids bragging about the number of physical relationships they have had. I am horrified to learn that girls barely seventeen have already been in and out of five to six “hook ups.” What about the emotional baggage these kids will carry with them?

The mindset of our “always-plugged-in” generation is all too evident in their tweets and Facebook status updates — publicly handling their personal life.

I see more and more focus on physical beauty, less and less regard for intellect. Closeness gets more importance than intimacy. There is more of passion and less of emotion. More of frivolous comradeship, less of true companionship. There is more acquiring and less sharing.

More of me, less of us.

Maybe I’m old school, but to me it seems like the essence of relationships has been forgotten.

There’s much more to being someone’s beau than gifting them red roses and Hallmark cards. What about gifting our time, our company, our support, our friendship…? What about setting priorities where our loved one comes first?

What about giving ourselves, and the ones we love, time and space to build a strong foundation? What about working towards meaningful and lasting friendships?

What about honouring our commitments? What about channeling our energies and emotions towards building lifelong bonds rather than wasting them on seasonal relationships?

Love is so much more than a fleeting song and a glass of wine. It doesn’t always lie on satin sheets. It isn’t found in diamonds and perfumes and flowers.

It’s about respect, companionship, understanding, appreciation. It’s about being yourself and loving the other person for who they are. It’s about making it through thick and thin.

Relationships take work. Love makes it easy.

I believe that true love happens once in a lifetime.

Don’t let frivolous flings tire you out so much that when true love comes your way you aren’t able to receive it with open arms.

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Mirror, mirror on the wall

Sitting in the waiting area of my dentist’s office, I reached for Time magazine with the cover image of an aeroplane and the title “Fear of Flying.”

Right beside it was Redbook with a smiling Julia-Louis Dreyfus looking “hotter at 49 than 29.” What caught my attention was this message shouting out in bold all-caps: “Is your face older than you are?”

Under routine circumstances, I would have glanced, smirked, shook my head, and carried on with reading an in-depth analysis of the missed signs of terrorism on flight 253, but this headline was distinctly odd.

It had, attached to it in a slightly smaller font, a page number!

I’ve scanned through covers of similar magazines while waiting for my turn at the grocery store register and don’t remember having seen page numbers associated with catchy headlines. I figured the publishers were trying to pull in readers and making them at least flip through the whole magazine before they got to the one piece that lured them in. But this was different. They were making it easy for their target audience to cut to the chase. Hmm.

Intrigued, I swapped magazines and immediately flipped to page 49. What I saw was a slew of product placements.

Let me correct that: a slew of very expensive products. Aah! That explained the bait.

Products that would boost your eyelashes, plump your cheeks and lips, give you voluminous hair, make your large pores go away … products that promised a feel-good makeover … products that reminded you of how old you really were.

As if that is a bad thing!

The ensuing conversation with my oral hygienist was rather enlightening. All I did was mention the feature in the magazine and say, “I find it rather odd the amount of time and money women are supposed to spend looking good …”

And this followed.

“I spend half an hour cleansing and moisturizing my skin, clipping and polishing nails, massaging oil into my scalp … making sure I take as complete care as I can of my body before going to bed every night. I fight the signs of aging … at least I try,” she shared. “My husband on the other hand, changes into his pajamas and plops right under the covers.”

I couldn’t speak much with her fiddling around in my mouth except utter a couple “umm hmms.”

As she dug into my gum line, she wondered aloud, “Why do women get old and men get dignified?”

I smiled faintly.

“Maybe I should just go to bed after brushing my teeth like my husband does,” she declared. “Maybe it shouldn’t matter to me that my hair’s turning gray and my skin is sagging.”

She was on a roll. She reminisced about her grandmother going “naturally white,” while her mom and her generation try to cover up the grays with streaks and highlights. She talked about the business of marketing to women’s vanities. “Men are vain, too, but not to this extent,” she opined.

Men usually don’t care as much about appearances — the ones who pluck their eyebrows, get facials, and expensive haircuts are mocked (or — as some right-wing generalists would call them — gay), but women, no matter which culture they come from, strive doggedly to be well-groomed.

As my dental hygienist said, “Men are supposed to be intelligent. Women should just stay pretty.”

We scoffed in unison.

What was left unsaid is probably what will stay with her. It certainly struck a chord with me.

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A record of our life, our times, our vanity

Spicy Saturday Pick

What does blogging do for you?

Is it a forum for tips?

A place where you reflect and have conversations with yourself?

A safe haven; an escape?

A commentary on social, political, economic issues of our times?

A minute-by-minute record of your personal life? A journal that was meant to be personal, but really isn’t?

Do you have one eye on the traffic stats and the other on the number of comments you received?

Isn’t your blog like a monologue that you stage for your audience? Craving recognition, applause, critique, and fame?

Watching  “Private Lives,” an episode in the long-running Fox series “House”  got me wondering about the purpose of blogging.

The show is based on an eccentric genius of a doctor with no interpersonal skills but plenty of diagnostic ones. This particular episode focused on a patient whose life revolved around blogging. Thinking about having kids? She’d blog about it. Had an argument over dinner with the boyfriend? It’s going on the blog. Seeking comfort? Yep, you got it! Read the blog.

Here’s a snippet from her life:

She: So-and-so said you’d react this way.

He: Who is this so-and-so?

She: It’s one of my followers.

He: You blogged about this?

She: Of course I did!

He: I don’t want you writing about me or us. You take it down right now.

She: No I’m not. You’re part of my life and that’s what I blog about. I blog about my life.

He: You like bringing strangers into our life? To weigh in on things they don’t even know about?

She: They give me perspective.

She was so obsessed with blogging that when the doctors asked her to choose between a pig’s heart valve or a plastic one, she turned to her boyfriend and said, “Can you please pass me the laptop?”

Here was a woman seeking advice from people halfway across the globe instead of taking a moment to think about this life-altering decision for herself or conferring with her significant other.

When she was being prepped for the operation, she asked her boyfriend if he’d still be there when she woke up. He kept quiet and she wistfully said, “I wish you’d blog. At least then I’d know what you were thinking.”

I know this was an extreme portrayal, but it brought to fore an important point. How far removed are we from the people we live with, work with, interact with? And how close are we getting to those physically a world away?

The internet is a great thing — it’s brought so many people together, but at the same time is it increasing the gulf between those who live under the same roof? Have we become slaves to technology? And so much so, that before we open our mouth to talk to someone standing next to us, we look for a keyboard?

For those of us who blog, does every real-life conversation become fodder for the next post? Are we always thinking about what would resonate with the readers? Is this an attempt on our parts to record our lives and our times, or is it just a reflection of our vanity? An endeavor to feed our ego? To rally the troops in favor of our ideas? To find like-minded people?

I see my blog as a medium to spur conversations — not necessarily with me, or with people in your lives, but with yourself.

I put my thoughts in words, so that my words can spark some thoughts in your mind.

So, yes, as much as I say I write for myself, I am inadvertently writing for an audience.

And while stats and comments don’t matter per se, it’s encouraging to have a readership to validate this undertaking.

But I tread these waters carefully. Not treating my partner or friends as characters in this “play.” Not getting swallowed into virtual existence. Not treating this space as a personal diary that will serve medical practitioners with valuable information some day.

This is not where I “live” my life.

What about you?

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A marriage of lies

I watched about 10 minutes of the Tiger Woods apology this morning. Seeing this iconic figure say to the world “I failed you,” was moving. He’s not the first man in time to have strayed from his values, his family, his wife. Many before him have faltered. Have cheated. Have lied.

Many continue to do so. And will.

There’s something about the sanctity of marriage that is so binding for these folks — men or women — who give in to temptation. Affairs offer an escape from the humdrum of the lifelong agreement they signed. Those who cheat want the best of both worlds. Some do it for companionship. Some to rescue their self-esteem. Most do it for sex. To relive the rush, the excitement, the spirit of adventure that has long died in their routine matrimonial lives.

Woods said he didn’t think that the normal rules of marriage applied to him. “I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy the temptations around me,” he explained. “I felt I was entitled.” And his money and fame made it even easier to slip.

The media crucified him — he was after all the guy who had changed the game of golf. From a pastime for rich, old men to an international sensation. His name had become synonymous with the greens. Everywhere. He was Tiger Woods. How could he let that get to his head?

Through his transgressions he showed them — us — that he was just a man. An ordinary human being with failings. Weak. Selfish. Irresponsible. Vain.

But sorry.

For now, at least.

It’s hard to believe that someone who’s repeatedly made the same mistake would mend his ways. As much as society and media pressure him into walking the line, it’s his character that will need to stand the test of time. His will. His mind. His heart. He will need to be true to himself. And to his partner.

At the end of the day, it’s not about the media, the society, the family, the sponsors, or the fans. It’s about two people who made a promise to each other.

Some people wrote him off when the news of his affairs first broke. But it seems he’s getting a second chance.

I hope he makes the best of it because he certainly won’t get a third.

Interesting tidbit: Only 35 percent of marriages in America survive an affair. See infidelity statistics on Truth About Deception and AdulteryTips.

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I appreciate you

I appreciate your honesty.

I appreciate your quiet support and your vocal critiques.

I appreciate your non-conformity.

I appreciate your silent love.

I appreciate your determination.

I appreciate your patience.

I appreciate your forgiveness.

I appreciate your sharing your life with me.

I found myself telling my husband all of these things in front of strangers a couple of weeks ago. It was part of a structured exercise to take two minutes to put in words what you appreciated about the people in the room. It was hard to “appreciate” the folks we had met just an hour ago. But it was even harder to open up and appreciate my significant other in public.

It’s difficult to verbally acknowledge all that a person means to you. We have been together nine years but I don’t remember any time where we took two minutes to spell out what we really appreciated about one another. We say “I love you” to encompass all those feelings of appreciation. We give each other greeting cards on special occasions. We write poems. Letters. E-mails. But there’s something so different about looking a person in their eye and telling them you appreciate something specific about them. And even though it may seem so, there was nothing artificial about it.

For those two minutes, I could speak from my heart. For those two minutes, he was the center of my world. It was about enjoying him. Acknowledging the little and big ways he makes a difference by being who he is. Admiring, applauding, respecting, celebrating him. It was about forgetting everything else and focusing on the goodness in this human being I call my best friend.

I had goosebumps all over when he got his two minutes to appreciate me. I hadn’t heard him say those things out loud … ever. It made me tear up because even though I “knew” what I meant to him, it was nice to hear it. And it was a humbling experience.

I felt blessed. I felt grateful. I felt loved.

It taught me that I don’t have to wait for a special occasion to come around to express my gratitude. It reminded me of the wonderful person he is in his ordinary ways on an ordinary day. It gave me pause.

Gestures are great, but saying the actual words sometimes means so much more. Try it sometime.

Also posted on Writers Rising.

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Love and Valentine

Everywhere I look today, from the “$1 = 1 kiss” signs on the sidewalk by some ladies raising money for a local charity, to the $9.99 talking teddy bear decking the aisles in Walgreens, love is unmistakably in the air.

Not many know the history of St. Valentine’s martyrdom, yet millions of people around the world engage in celebrations in his name. Growing up, I never knew of Valentine’s Day … it was only when I was in high school — aah that sweet, tender age of 16 — that Archies Cards started promoting this love-fest. Boys went down on their knees “proposing” to their sweethearts across school and college campuses. Girls came home carrying pink soft toys and a blush.

Outraged by the widespread exhibition of such a private emotion, extremists beat up teenagers to “preserve our culture.” This merited national headlines and the following year, Valentine’s Day celebrations picked up more steam. Now we could choose from musical cards to mugs to personalized photo frames embellished with hearts. And then Hallmark entered the fray…

Years later I would get a call from my mom in Iowa City — you didn’t send me a Valentine’s Day card this year! “Huh?” Apparently, the romantic aspect had been extended to parents, grandparents, nephews and nieces, even pets! There was a Valentine card and gift for everyone. Chocolates made especially for the occasion. Pre-fixed menus. Champagne. Oh, I forgot the dozen long-stemmed premium red roses. At a premium, of course.

From a simple note a guy wrote in jail for his beloved, to a no-expenses barred extravaganza. How did we get here? And why?

Why do we let the expression of our emotions become a business? Why can’t we celebrate the one we love by saying thank you? By simple gestures … a peck on the cheek, a shared cold drink, an evening spent talking … and listening.

Why do we have to limit it to one day in the year? A day dedicated to a Saint we know nothing about…

Why do we try to catch that fleeting feeling that happens in that fleeting moment and lock it up just ‘coz the world says it has to be on February 14?

Why can’t we be spontaneous? What stops us from buying red roses, going out for dinner, taking a walk, cherishing our love … on a whim?

Love is no prisoner to a date.

Why are you bound to 2/14, then?

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