Boys, Boys, Boys!!!!!!!!

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

Boys. Sigh. My favorite topic between the ages of 13 and 29…even now that I am thirty (cough) something, I still feel like I could write a 10 volume novel on my thoughts on boys. I spent most of my youth trying to decode the male species, only to realize later (Oprah calls them “Ah ha” moments) that it was my own craziness that complicated them in the first place. 

 As a veteran of adolescence and my twentysomething years, my first instinct is to save all you single women the trouble, the hassle, the craziness of boys. But I know it’s futile.

 I want to tell you that you don’t need boys to make you happy or to feel complete. But that’s not completely the truth, is it? After all, two of the biggest things in life— marriage and children seem to require one primary ingredient…BOYS! 

 Sigh. You know the saying. Can’t live with them. Can’t live without them.

 So we might as well talk about them. Lord knows, we don’t have anything else productive to do…and who are we kidding, talking about boys is fun!…Sometimes.

 Boys. Let’s see…(and yes, I know I’m stereotyping here, but bear with me…) You have the Nice Guy. The Too Nice Guy So I Can’t Date You Guy. The Rebel. The Momma’s Boy. The Friend without Benefits. The Friend with Benefits. The I Don’t Know How You Got into My Life but Okay, You’re Here, Now What? Guy. The Rebound Guy. The <fill in your own blank> guy, and (drum roll, please) one of the all-time favorites…or maybe it was just my friends who seemed to like him…The Unavailable Guy.

 Awww, yes. The Unavabilable Guy. You know him. The guy you meet, you think is cute, you think he thinks you’re cute. He gets your number, you wait by the phone anxiously waiting for his call only to wonder a few days later if 1) he lost your number 2) he got eaten by a bear 3) he is nursing his sick mother back to health and that’s why he hasn’t called you. or even more realistically 4) he is secretly part of the CIA and was called oversees in a secret, covert mission that is being overseen by the President himself. No wonder he hasn’t called…he is too busy saving the world from terrorists!

Ah, yes, Unavailable Guy. You wait for him. You make excuses for him. You finally realize that maybe, just maybe he’s not interested in you and that’s why he’s not calling. You promise to put him out of your mind…you go on with your life, and the suddenly WHAM! He calls. Turns out he WAS nursing his sick mom back to health! See, you were right all along.

You go out with Unavailable Guy. Unavailable Guy seems even cuter than when you first met him. (Doesn’t everything look more appealing when you know you can’t have it?) You have a great time at dinner and at the movies. He drops you off safely at home, promising to call you…

And he does. Two months later.

Unavailable Guy. Ah yes. So complicated. So mysterious. So…enough already!

I spent years counseling my friends as they dated Unavailable Guy. Like my friends, I, too, made excuses. Oh, I could tell by the way he accidentally touched your arm at a 20 degree angle, that he’s really into you…   And oh, his mom must have had another bad cold, but I’m sure after she’s better, he’ll call you again. As their best friend, I was in denial of the one truth that stood out like a blaring neon sign…Unavailable Guy was….unavailable…


 And then somewhere in my twenties, I finally saw that episode of Sex and The City. The one that opened my eyes. You know the “He’s Just Not That Into You” episode where the girls are all out for dinner and Miranda is going on and on about this guy she went out with who seems a little distant and is making excuses not to spend time with her. Carrie and Charlotte immediately make excuses like “Oh, it’s probably work…he’s probably just stressed out and will call you when it gets better.” In the background, you see Carrie’s date, shaking his head and stating the obvious: “He’s just not that into you…”  Carrie is horrified and immediately makes excuses for his response, but Charlotte appears to have an “Ah ha” moment when she realizes the truth was staring her in the face all along. Rather than feeling disappointed, she actually looks relieved. It gives new meaning to the phrase that the truth shall set you free. Miranda quips, “If someone had told me that years ago, I could have saved myself years of therapy.”

 As I watched that episode, a lightbulb went off in my head. I got it! I really got it. So that’s why so and so never called?! Wow. So simple. And yet so true. I had spent the better half of my youth talking about boys, trying to decode them, trying to understand them. I could have saved myself years of pointless conversations!

 I immediately called a couple of my girlfriends to share my newfound wisdom. They “ah ha-ed” right along with me, and together we giggled over our silliness over the years. Yes, it was pointless trying to dissect men and their behavior, we decided. If they weren’t calling, if they weren’t setting up dates with us, then they were obviously not into us. They were unavailable, and that was it. There was nothing to dissect or understand. A comfortable, relieved silence hung over the phone as we each let those words of wisdom sink in…we felt wise, empowered…free…but soon that silence stretched until it became downright uncomfortable and awkward….and in minutes, we were grappling with something much, much more perturbing: If we didn’t have boys to talk about and dissect to death, what was there to talk about????  What could we jointly bond together with over a pint of ice cream while on a couch? Or over some glasses of pink cosmopolitans?

Boys. Can’t live with them. Can’t live without talking about them.

Childless Mothers-Part II

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

To read Part I of Childless Mothers, click here.

So yesterday I encouraged you to find your worth, your value as a woman and as an individual in God, and to remember that you were created for Him above all other roles in your life. All that sounds wonderful, but when you’re struggling and deeply hurt, it all sounds like religious psycho-babble, doesn’t it?  I get it. No, really I do. I waited. No, not for kids, but for marriage…and not just for marriage, but for my first relationship. Growing up in America and not having a boyfriend is an aberration…and believe me, I felt like an aberration. By the time I was in my mid-20s, the same parents who had forbidden me to date throughout high school and college were suddenly burdened by my single status. My dad looked at me like I had an expiration date stamped on my forehead.  He made me feel as if I had failed him as a daughter and my only hope to be in his good graces again would be to be married. And ASAP! Soon enough I began to feel tormented at the sight of couples, who were only a reminder of my failure, both as a daughter and as a normal human being. They seemed to be everywhere. In grocery lines. At the movie theater. At the mall. At Starbucks.  And don’t even get me started when I had to attend weddings with my parents. While my parents acted like they were attending a funeral, I would often feel like someone was pouring hydrogen peroxide onto an open wound I had. Over and over again.

So I get it. I know how it feels when you feel like everyone is passing you by…when you have to deal with the sympathetic, curious looks from not-so-tactful relatives who also have the ability to ask downright obnoxious questions. When you, too, are left with wondering where God is and if He cares, and sometimes in those desperate moments, whether He even really exists.

You’ve prayed. You’ve waited. Now what?

The answer is simple. Wait. I know, I know. You’ve BEEN waiting. But don’t wait with pessimism and whining. When, Lord, when? Why, Lord, why? Why meeeeeeeee, Lord, why meeeeeeeeeeee?

Wait with excitement! Wait with anticipation! The Bible promises that God will keep His promise to you. I can’t guarantee that God’s plan is for you to have a child. But if that is His will for your life, you can be rest assured that it WILL happen.

How do I know? Because Sarah, wife of Abraham, waited. A long time. 

Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. 12So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?”

13Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ 14Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Genesis 18: 11-14

And just as God promised, it did happen:

The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. 2She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. 3And Abraham named their son Isaac. 4Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. 5Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born.

6And Sarah declared, “God has brought me laughter.a All who hear about this will laugh with me. 7Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!” Genesis 21: 1-7

I think God waited to give Sarah and Abraham a son so there would be no doubt in either one of their minds that their child was nothing less than a fulfillment of God’s promise. He worked OUTSIDE her own biological timetable to make good on His promise to her. I think He did that to strengthen her faith, but now it also strengthens OUR faith. Because the same God who blessed Sarah is the same God who can bless you. Age is not a problem for our God.

While I am not saying you have to wait until you are 90-something years old to be a mom like Sarah did, don’t we all have those “If it doesn’t happen by X date/time, it’s over” deadlines erected in our heads?  I recall turning 29 and thinking if I hadn’t met someone by now, then I would most likely still be single at 30, which was my personal “now or never” deadline. And sure enough, I turned 30 and remained single as ever. And wouldn’t you know it, three months later, I was introduced to the man who would become my husband.

So don’t give God a deadline. It doesn’t work. In fact, more often than not, it backfires. Badly. And when it doesn’t happen according to our timetable, we only get more discouraged and disappointed, thinking God has forsaken us.

As I mentioned yesterday, there were several women, in addition to Sarah, whom God blessed with children, even after they suffered from years of infertility:

  • Rebekah, the wife of Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah. The Scriptures tell us in Genesis 25:21 that Isaac pleaded to the Lord for his wife who was barren. It was 20 years after their marriage that the Lord blessed Isaac and Rebekah with twin sons, Jacob and Esau.
  • Rachel, wife of Jacob. Jacob married sisters Rachel and Leah. Leah had six sons and a daughter, but the the scripture tell us that the Lord had closed Rachel’s womb. Rachel tried everything she could think of to have children. Once in anguish, she cried out to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die” (Genesis 30:1). Jacob in anger replied, “Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?” The Lord eventually did open her womb, and she bore two sons, Joseph and Benjamin.
  • Samson’s mother. The Scriptures do not tell us the name of Samson’s mother, but she was childless until an angel appeared to the wife of Manoah promising a male child, a Nazarite, who would judge the children of Israel (Judges 13).
  • Hannah, wife to Elkanah. Elkanah  had two wives. His favorite wife, Hannah, was barren. Peninnah, the other wife, taunted Hannah since she had no children. Hannah pleaded with God to give her a son, promising to give him back to the Lord’s work. God answered her prayer with the birth of Samuel, the last and greatest judge of Israel. (1 Samuel 1).
  • The Shunammite woman. 2 Kings 4:8-17 relates the account of the Shunammite woman, whom the Bible calls the great woman. She was great in faith, wisdom, and silence. She opened her home to the prophet Elisha and made him his own little private chamber, a favorite place of retreat for him. Elisha wanted to repay the woman for her hospitality, but she made it clear that she was not seeking honor, recognition, or favors from him. Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, told Elisha that the woman was barren and her husband was old. Elisha’s promise that she would have a son when spring came around again was fulfilled.
  • Elisabeth, cousin to Mary, mother of Jesus. The Bible also describes Elisabeth as well-stricken in years and barren. She and her husband Zachariah had long already given up hope of ever bearing a child, when an angel appeared to Zachariah promising a son. That son was John the Baptist, the forerunner and greatest prophet who prepared the way for Jesus (Luke 1).

 God opened up all of the wombs of these previously barren woman. In two instances, the women were clearly beyond child bearing years, yet they bore sons of promise. We may not understand the ways of God, but I want to encourage you to continue believing and hoping. The same God who performed those miracles long ago can also perform miracles in your life today. Believe!

The Storm

Steadfast in the Storm

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

As I approached the airport gate with my daughter, I was well aware of the admiring looks and grins I received from my fellow travellers who were staring intently at my daughter. She was perched on my hip with her arms wrapped around my torso, hugging me like a koala bear and looking as cute as a koala bear. Awww, isn’t she adorable! Look at the full head of black hair!

Moments later they laughed as she wiggled out of my arms and began dashing around the waiting area. Awww, look at that ball of energy! Isn’t she so much fun! 

But very soon those looks of admiration turned to sympathy as I chased after my daughter as she darted to and fro through the waiting area, maneuvering quickly and expertly around the feet of other passengers.  Aww, poor Mom…wouldn’t want to be her…

And just twenty minutes later, those admiring/sympathetic glances turned to looks of trepidation and fear as I and my little ball of energy walked down the aisle of the plane, making our way towards our seats. Eyes averted as soon as they saw me, almost afraid to make eye contact. Every time I paused to readjust my purse, diaper bag, or my daughter, I could visibly see passengers stiffen or cringe as they feared I would be taking the empty seat next to them. Seconds later, their shoulders relaxed and they smiled in relief as I continued making my way down the aisle.

I smiled as I noted their reactions. I couldn’t blame them. After all, they had just watched my daughter exert energy that could dumbfound and amaze the most skilled of scientists. But they didn’t know what I knew…that my mom, my mother-in-law, my sister, and I had all prayed…we had prayed fervently in the weeks before my trip.  Praying for a safe journey, but equally, that my 1 ½ year old would be calm and well-behaved as we travelled alone, just her and me. But I wasn’t naïve. I knew the only way she’d be calm and well behaved would be if she were asleep. Fast asleep.

As I took my seat, I smiled as reassuredly as I could to the unlucky passengers who were seated next to us who were doing their best not to look as if they had just been served a death sentence.   

Even as our flight departed, I prayed, hands folded ever so reverently, that my sweet daughter would get sleepy…very, very sleepy…and very, very quickly… My prayer had been answered on my departing flight of this trip, but then again,  I had booked the flight to be at 6am, so that had obviously helped.  But this flight, this returning flight home, was the one I had really been worried about it since it neither coincided with her nap time or her sleep schedule. As I completed my prayer, I glanced down at my daughter, whose face was turned towards mine as she observed me ever so quietly and curiously as I had prayed. She then smiled at me ever so sweetly.  I smiled back. Yes, my prayer was already being answered. She was calm and docile and seemed ready to fall asleep once we had taken off and the cabin lights had been dimmed. Little did I know she was actually giving me a look of sympathy for what she was about to do. It wasn’t the calm I had been hoping for…but rather, it was the calm before the storm.

The first thirty minutes was challenging. As soon as we had taken off, she started. Started what you ask? Started. Everything.

She tried to do anything and everything her little body could do in the few inches of space she could work with. She began by climbing…climbing what you ask? Me. She climbed on me, around me, like I were Mount Everest. She poked, prodded, pummeled me…she jabbed, jostled, and jutted me. You name it, she did it.

 I took those first thirty minutes as a necessary evil. She’s just tiring herself out, I assured myself. She’ll fall asleep…any second. After all, I had prayed, I reminded myself and look upward at God for another quick reminder.  I plastered a smile on my face as I awaited the sleep I had so fervently prayed for to overtake her.

An hour later, she was still wide awake, and if possible, even more energetic. Being confined to such a small area seemed to be the equivalent of harnessing nuclear power. I glanced upwards and said another quick but sincere prayer: Ahem, Lord…sorry to bother you, Lord.  But it’s been 1½ hours now. You see, um, my flight is half-way over now, and Ava is still awake. Wide awake. Please help. Please.

So I waited. And I waited. And while I waited, I felt like dynamite had exploded in my lap. 

She wanted her  bottle. She didn’t want her bottle, she wanted to throw her bottle. At the passenger seated next  to us. At the passenger seated in front of us. At the window. At me.

She wanted to stand. She wanted to sit. She wanted to bounce. She wanted to do all three. At the same time.  Soon enough my arms felt like the uneven bars and my legs felt like a trampoline at a gymnastics competition while she hung, swung, twirled, and twisted.

She wanted the window shade up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down. Followed by a fascination with the tray table…which she, too, wanted down. Then up. Then down. Up. Down. Then further down.

She wanted her book. She wanted her doll. She wanted her ball. She wanted to throw her ball. At me. At the passenger seated in front of me.

Through it all, I juggled her expertly with my two hands, somehow keeping her entertained while preventing her from injuring herself or anyone seated next to us. The woman seated in front of us, I’m proud to report, left with all of her hair intact despite Ava’s multiple attempts to grab it.

Another 1 ½ hours later, as the plane began to make its initial descent, I was able to distract and entrance Ava with the millions of twinkling lights that shone from houses and light fixtures from miles below. For the first time, she was quiet and calm. She gripped my arm as she looked through the window and then back at me, smiled, and then returned to staring.  I, too, joined, her, enjoying the sweet calmness of the moment while staring mindlessly at the night sky.

Twenty minutes later, after the plane landed with a gentle thud on the landing strip, I noted Ava was still unusually very quiet. I wondered what she was staring at now that we had landed, knowing she was no longer transfixed by the sight of those millions of lights in the night sky. When I finally glanced down, her head was cocked to the side, nestling gently against my chest.  Her thick eyelashes resting like tiny feathers against her cheeks as she slept the sleep of the innocent .

Now??? I thought to myself. She falls asleep now?! I glanced up to see the smiling face of the passenger seated next to me as she looked at Ava and then at me. “Now that wasn’t too bad!”

I threw her an incredulous look and then turned my gaze upwardly as I asked, “What happened God? Didn’t we have a deal?”  But as I did, He immediately reminded me of the inexplicable, uncharacteristic amount of patience I displayed as I handled her like an expert juggler the last few hours. The last few hours, which, honestly, went by much faster than any three hours I had ever spent on a plane. I was tired but not exhausted. I felt expended but not overwhelmed. I smiled. I got it, God. Sometimes I realized, He calms the storm…but more often, I realized, He calms me.

He Calms Me by The McKameys

Troubled waters came my way; the angry storm grew near
I prayed for God to speak the words to make it disappear
It seemed the waves would not obey the master’s call for peace
But then the Lord spoke to my soul; reminded me He had control
And said this time His words were meant for me

Sometimes He calms the storm; sometimes He calms me
Sometimes the storm still rages on but I feel the sweetest peace
It’s such a joy to know that my Lord knows just what I need
Sometimes He calms the storm; sometimes He calms me

Circumstance may overtake and bring me to my knees
But when I feel I cannot cope with this life’s troubled seas
I call on him whose voice can still much greater storms than these
His words bring peace into my soul when He says child I’m in control
And with one touch He calms the storm in me


The Truth About “Happily Ever Afters”

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By Bindu Adai-Mathew

Once Upon a Time…most of the stories I read as a child opened with those famous four words. As a kid, I loved fairy tales. I loved the adventurous stories, like Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, but I’ll admit somewhat sheepishly that I especially had a soft spot for the princess storylines…especially the sweet sappy Disney versions of Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast. Unlike JMathis, the idea of being treated like a princess was very appealing to me. Very, very appealing.

Once I was in high school, my love of fairy tales transformed into the medieval bodice-ripping romance novels of yore, and in college, my love of the princess-themed fairy tale romance further evolved into the “Romeo and Juliet” storylines of Indian/ Bollywood movies that I became obsessed with.  And most recently, while I no longer believe in fairy tales, romance novels, or Bollywood-like romances, I, along with 2 other billion viewers, woke up in the wee hours of the morning (okay, I admit, it was closer to 6am) to watch a modern-day fairy tale. Middleclass commoner Kate, er I mean, Catherine, Middleton meets and marries a real life Prince William Charming of Windsor, complete with the requisite blond hair and crown.

The carriage. The royal guards in uniform. The medieval church. The hats. All that Pomp and Circumstance.

Sigh. For a few moments, I was once again transformed into the wide-eyed eight year old who watched Princess Diana’s wedding in awe, believing that Cinderella stories really did happen.

But years later, I, along with the whole world, would later learn that Diana’s life was no different from ours. In fact, in comparison to most of ours, it was probably emotionally much worse. Despite all that fame, privilege, and royalty, she experienced pain, loneliness, eating disorders, affairs, suicide attempts, divorce, and sadly, an untimely death. Unlike the fairy tales, she got her “once upon a time,” but she never got to fully experience a “happily ever after” here on earth.

As I watched Catherine and William’s wedding, though, I was struck that while I was absolutely smitten by the grandeur of the occasion, I no longer needed to believe or even hope that they would live some type of fairy tale type of existence. And somehow, for the first time, I felt that while we (all 2 billion of us) were struck very much by this “once upon a time” experience, we all collectively seemed more interested that they truly also have a chance to experience a “happily ever after.”

As I think of my own daughter and what “life lessons” I want to pass on to her, I realize whether she’s a tomboy like JMathis or a Disney princess daydreamer like me, I want her to know that her own love story can be as unique as she is. I want her to know that she won’t turn into a spinster maid with warts on her nose when the clock strikes twelve on her 30th birthday (as I feared).  I want her to know that if she does fall for a frog, accept he’s a frog…and if she falls for a snake, accept he’s a snake and move on rather than wasting her time, hoping to change him into her version of Prince Charming (as many of my friends have learned the hard way). Because in the end, he’ll still be a snake and she’ll just end up with a bunch of snake bites. I also want her to know that happily ever afters are not always blissfully happy. There are good days, bad days, and many in between blah days. And it’s okay.

But most of all, I want her to know that unlike the fairy tales or Bollywood movies that end with a wedding, the real story is in the happily ever after.  Unlike those fairy tales, the happily ever after is not the end of the story…on the contrary, it is only the beginning.

Sex, Lies, and Motherhood Part II

To read Part I of this blog, please click here.

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

This was it. This was why they had been created. So contrary to what Playboy magazine may try to convince us, women’s breasts were more than just merely decorative. They actually had a purpose (although I had to admit, I could have given Pamela Anderson some competition). So once I came to the accept the fact that my breasts had a true functional role in life other than just to fill out a blouse or create lustful thoughts in my husband, I had to also accept that for the next one year, my breasts were not my own. I was a cow. A cow in its truest, rawest functional sense. One that could produce disease-fighting, health-promoting, immunity-boosting benefits for my newly born spawn. I could be depressed about it or I could try to see myself empowered. I am a woman. I had created this little life. Or more accurately, God had created life through me. I looked at myself in the mirror, placed my hands squarely on my childbearing hips, stuck out my sore breasts in pride, sucked in my stomach (or as far in as it would go in) and repeated as confidently as I could…

I am woman. Hear me moo.

But nursing, or in my case, trying to nurse was not my only motherhood challenge.

Motherhood, I found, was also the end of life as I knew it. And I think for me that was the hardest part. I enjoyed my life. It wasn’t an exciting life. I wasn’t out at nightclubs or at the beach. I wasn’t at parties or bars. Granted, I probably wasted much of my time doing absolutely nothing useful or productive for mankind. I’ll be the first to admit that I probably spent most of my pre-motherhood time languidly lounging on the couch (in a flowing white gauzy robe nonetheless) while staring mindlessly for hours at the television, watching whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.  But it was my time. Mine to decide what I wanted to do and mine to do decide when I wanted to do it. Now “my time” is confined to the four walls of my bathroom, the one place where I can close the doors, have some privacy, have some quality quiet time and find solace.  For 10 minutes.

Motherhood was also the end of another favorite pastime of mine. Sleep. Good old fashioned “put your head on the pillow and don’t open your eyes till morning” sleep. I’m talking the real decadent kind of sleep. The sleep ‘til really, really late in the morning. At least until 9:30am! Now my beauty sleep gets constantly interrupted with my daughter waking up for milk periodically through the night. And by periodically, I mean, at the minimum, three to four times.

Oh, wait, you wonder. How old is your daughter? A year and a half. And she’s still waking up for milk in the night? I thought that stopped at 3 months. Yeah, I reply with a tight-lipped grimace. So did I. Apparently I got the one child out of a 100 that can’t seem to stop wanting milk at night.

Tsk, tsk, tsk, you murmur to me with a shaking of you head. You must stop that bad habit right away. You should just let her cry through the night. Yeah, I reply with a tight-lipped grimace. I should. But apparently I married the one husband out of a 100 who values sleep less than letting his sweet baby girl cry for more than 5 seconds at any given time.

Yes, motherhood was definitely the end of many things for me. Some of which (mindless tv…reading…sleeping…sigh) I really miss. And I’m still reading the same book I bought just days before I went into labor. I’m proud to admit that I am making progress. I have now hit chapter three. At this rate, it looks like I’m at a good pace to finish it up just as we drive Ava off to college.

So why do we do it? Or more importantly, why did I do it?  After all, I knew, didn’t I? I knew. Or at least I thought I did.  The twelve years younger sister aka Little Sis—the very person who was the major reason I was so reluctant to take motherhood on so quickly after marriage. In reality, as much work as I remember my baby sister being, it’s nothing compared to being the actual parent…but today she remains the very reason I know that no matter how much work, how exhausted I feel, how frustrated I feel, how much I have to give up (albeit even unwillingly)…in the end, motherhood is all worth it.

I know that just like that little sibling I so desperately wanted who also came so many years later than I wanted…I now cannot imagine my life without my little sister, just as I now cannot imagine my life without my daughter. Both are blood. Through thick and thin. Through stupid fights and misunderstandings, we have ties that bind us. And although Little Sis is 12 years younger, there are some advantages to that, I’ve come to realize. We have a deal. I changed her diapers, and one day she’ll change mine.

I figure between her and Ava, I’m covered. For life.

Sex, Lies, and Motherhood

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

The light, fresh smell of baby powder in the pastel-colored nusery…the sound of a sweet melodic lullaby playing while rocking my baby to sleep in a rocking chair while she gurgles and cooes…days spent gazing in wonder at my most perfect gift from God…

 (now imagine the sound of a record being scratched!)

 Yep, I was NOT one of those women! And I mean that with all respect! I was not one of those women who had sweet, ideal, but let’s face it, basically delusions in my head about what having and raising a baby would be like!  People like my friends who every time they saw a baby would respond “Oooh, I want one!” while I would just smile tremblingly and fearfully and shake my head while responding with “Yeah, they’re cute now, but they’re a lot of work!  A lot.” 

 I knew the truth. After all, I had a sister who was 12 years younger than me. A sister who made her sudden appearance just as I was about to enter wonderful puberty and adolescence. A sister who appeared just as I quit caring that I no longer had a built-in playmate at home…after spending years, 11 years in fact, begging for a younger sibling, my parents indulged me (or so they say…).

 No, I definitely knew the truth. The truth that babies don’t just coo and gurgle all day. That they cry. A lot. For no reason. Or for no reason that you can determine after trying everything under the sun from changing diapers to feeding them. I knew that every time you left with a baby, it was like going on an overseas trip. You had to think of every scenario and pack for every thing. Diapers. Wipes. Changing pad. Diaper Rash cream. Bottle. Spare bottle. Spare formula. Water for the formula. Pacifier. Clothes. Spare clothes. And sometimes even another set of spare clothes. Whew!  As they get older, it gets more complicated. In addition to everything I just mentioned, you also had to pack snacks and toys, and if they’re sick….oh, boy…the list can go on and on…

 No, I definitely knew that babies, as cute and as beautiful as they are…they are a lot of work. A lot. And I warned my friends who didn’t have the benefit of my experience. But did they listen to me? Of course not! Most of them still wanted one! And after they got married…a year or two later, they would each call me with the “wonderful news.” Can you believe that? After everything I told them! And then they would call me and tell me how hard it was. I, being the good friend, I am would listen patiently and encourage them that they could do it while in my head I would be thinking, “Tsk, tsk tsk, didn’t I warn you?”

 No, I knew.

 So eventually, I, too, went on to get married. (sigh). Evenings spent making dinner together and cleaning up together…then hours spent cuddled on the couch while watching a chick flick. Having hot romance novel kind of sex. Every day.

Yep, I was one of those women! Unfortunately, while I had no delusions about children, I definitely had many, many delusions about marriage and what that would be like. But that’s another blog.

 So after I got married and survived the first year of marriage, I started getting hounded by my parents, by my relatives about having kids. The first year it started happening, I would get exasperated and exclaim, “We just got married! Why are you always rushing me! I at least want to be married two years before I can think of kids!” 

 Then the second year came and left, and then I would smile and say, “We’re just not ready yet. Two years went by so fast…I just want to enjoy marriage.” 

 Then the third year came, and my twelve years younger sister started asking me about kids, and I would look at her incredulously and ask, “Do you have any idea how much work you were as a baby and a kid? Oh, you don’t, huh? Well I DO!  YOU are the reason I am waiting until my last egg can be fertilized before I can consider having a kid!” 

 Then my fourth year came and went, and while my parents remained silent and just give me their saddest, most forlorn puppy dog eyes, my relatives would not hold back: When are you going to have a kid? What are you waiting for? You’re getting old…who is going to take care of you when you’re old? I would look downcast and shrug my shoulders and say, “It’s not up to me…it’s up to God.” And then they would look uncomfortably at each other and then sympathetically at me and gently pat me on the shoulder, “Don’t worry, Bindu-mol…it will happen. We’ll pray for you.” 

 Hey, don’t judge me. It’s not my fault that they jumped to the conclusion that I was trying but nothing was happening! I did what I had to do to get them off my back! After all, I knew! Besides, for all of their well-meaning intentions, where would they be for those 3 am feedings? Yeah. Exactly. See…I knew.

 But the fifth year came…and finally I had to ask myself…why aren’t I having kids? Sure, it’ll be a lot of work. But heck, my parents did it. My friends are doing it. I can do it. It’ll be a lot of work, but at least I will not be surprised that it’ll be a lot of work. I will be prepared. After all, I know.

 So on October 14, 2009, beautiful Ava Marianna Mathew was born into the world! The first two nights, it was something unlike anything I had imagined! To my surprise, motherhood was just like the storybooks. The fresh, light smell of baby powder…the baby soft skin that I couldn’t stop touching. The unbelievable feeling of wonder every time I looked at this tiny, tiny baby whom I had talked to endlessly while she had been in my stomach for 9 months. It was perfect.

I found myself energetically getting up when she cried in the middle of the night. I found myself not feeling tired although I had just given birth hours before. I was amazed. This wasn’t as bad as I thought!  I had been wrong about motherhood!

My mom arrived my last day at the hospital, just in time to help us transition to home. She watched Ava at nights, so I could catch up on sleep. She bathed Ava. She completely took care of Ava.

So what was I doing, you ask?  Well, thank you for asking. I nursed. Or at least I tried to. I tried to nurse a crying baby who didn’t want my over-sized breasts. My oversized Triple XXX boobs that should have easily been overflowing with milk and honey. Ava would suckle for two seconds and didn’t get what she wanted and then screamed. Loudly. Very loudly. So I gave up trying to directly nurse her and went for the breast pump. I secluded myself in my master bedroom, attached these suction cups to my sore boobs and awkwardly waited for the tiniest drop of milk. And waited. And waited. I would glance around the room, looking for something to focus on while trying to ignore that awkward, uncomfortable tug of the suction cup around my nipple. Until I caught my reflection in my dresser mirror. My hair was a tangled mess, sticking out in every frizzy way possible. I was sitting in my pjs, still looking 5 months pregnant (which is only cute when you really are five months pregnant), with these futuristic gadgets attached to my boobs. I not only felt like a cow. I not only looked like a cow.  I was a cow. Not one of those metaphorical, low-self-esteem feelings of cow-dom. But an official, true-to-life cow. Being milked for every bit of nutrition that my body could officially produce. A cow. A real, real cow.

To be continued…