I went to the British Asian Festival last week which was presented by Rifco Arts and Watford Palace Theatre. I’m a huge fan of Rifco’s – they are a British Asian Theatre Company that “develops and creates vibrant, accessible and high quality theatre which reflects and celebrates the contemporary British Asian experience”. Basically they put on some brilliant shows which combine a bit of the Brit and Asian to appeal to all.
I have to admit I’ve never been to an arts festival before so was not really sure what to expect. There were a few famous faces but I resisted the urge to run up to them and ask for a selfie. (Although I did take one picture of my friend with a celeb in the background!).
It was a really well organised event with exhibitions of artwork and photography and live music. I even bought my first ever piece of artwork for my front room – I’m hoping it will be something of a talking piece opposite the obligatory baby and graduation pictures. If you’ve never been to anything like this before, I can only describe it as something you would see the Desi Rascals (RIP) attending.
I suppose I would describe it as a bit “arty” for the uninitiated like me. I pondered the artwork for as long as I could but then wasn’t really sure what to do next so just put my hand on my chin and nodded my head a bit while looking around.
I do have to say it was a great experience seeing so many British Asians getting together to celebrate their contribution to the arts and getting the community involved. I would definitely want to attend more events like this and support talented people. I think it’s really important to recognise that British Asians are making contributions to all parts of British life and that we spread the word about the culture and diversity we all bring.
This week was the celebration of Lohri, the harvest festival of Punjab. However in the UK, people tend to celebrate it a bit differently. It’s a great excuse for a party where family and friends get together to celebrate the recent birth of a baby boy.
Now being the mother of 2 daughters and one of 3 sisters, Lohri has never been a big deal in my family. I was talking to my husband about how in this day and age, boys are still treated more favourably than girls. He was quick to point out that we had a party when each of our girls was born to celebrate. I responded equally as quick to point out that his nephews had the same party when they were born and then a second celebration in the name of lohri.
It’s a shame that these old cultural biases still exist and some young boys are being brought up to believe that they are superior to girls. I can only hope that by the time my daughters have grown up, this old fashioned nonsense will have died out.
My biggest and most important challenge this year is to engage with my kids. And by that I mean give them 100% of my attention when we are spending ‘quality’ time together. I work full time and they are both at full time school (infants) and so we only really get a couple of hours together each week day and I really want to make that time count.
I’m ashamed to say that often when my kids are talking to me I can’t help but be distracted in my mind. There always seems to be something else that I am thinking about when I really want to be concentrating on what they are telling me about their day ahead or their day just gone.
They aren’t even important thoughts but mundane things like what am I going to watch on TV tonight when they’ve gone to bed, what’s on my to do list today, how long has it been since I checked my phone… The dreaded phone. The smartphone. An amazing invention but an unwanted intruder on modern family life.
If I’m honest most of the time I’m just reading articles, scrolling through instagram or just browsing old photos but the truth is I’m not really listening to what my kids are saying or watching what they’re doing. I should be paying more attention but something else always seems to be more important.
The obsession with my phone needs to stop and I need to clear my mind of it’s distractions and really give my kids the time and attention they deserve. They shouldn’t be competing with my mind junk or my phone, they deserve better. They deserve a mom who is 100% focused on them.
So this year I resolve to really engage with my kids. Listen to them. Put my phone away. And clear my mind of all the nonsense that occupies it daily. It won’t be easy. Old habits die hard. But my kids really need to be heard by me and need to feel that they are not a nuscience (which I’m probably guilty of making them feel like).
I don’t want them growing up having to constantly compete for my attention. I want them to feel like they are the only people in my whole world when they are with me and what they are telling me is the most important thing in the world to me in that exact moment.
“When we look back, it’s the little things in life that matter. It’s always the little things.”
So I turned 35 last year and life had been pretty easy going up until then, husbands, kids, job… But something just hit me during the summer that I wasn’t really happy with my lot. After 6 months of soul searching, I decided to take control and make some changes.
First, starting with the husband. We have been married for 10 years and after the kids came along, life just seemed to be a constant struggle where we were like passing ships in each others lives. Everything seemed to be a great big rush, from getting out of the house in the mornings to putting the kids to bed and collapsing exhausted in front of the TV.
Just before Christmas I decided we needed to sit down and have a ‘serious’ chat about the future and I laid it out on the line. The kids were sent for a sleepover at nans (thank heavens for nans and sleepovers) and while he thought he was going out with the lads, what he actually got was an ultimatum: Shape up or ship out. I had finally had enough of his going out with his mates, getting home late and feeling like we were housemates instead of a couple.
Like a typical man, he played dumb as if he had no idea what I was talking about and tried to persuade me we had the perfect marriage. However I wore him down the only way I wife can- by pulling out my credit card and threatening to treat myself to some expensive goodies online if he didn’t start taking me seriously. That always gets his attention.
It took a few weeks for the message to sink in that I was serious about ending things. Some people seem to think that once you have kids, you’ll stay together forever regardless of the state of the relationship. And to be fair, this is what we had done for years. But once he accepted that I was right (which he always does in the end), he has finally started to give me some attention. It’s a two way street so I have also been making an effort to tone down the nagging too (as much as I can, it is in a woman’s DNA).
To give us time to work on our relationship, we have made the ultimate sacrifice to ban mindless TV watching every evening. That has probably been the biggest struggle as I am still laughing at those ‘Friends’ episodes from 10 years ago like I am watching them for the first time but it has been worth it. We have actually started having conversations. We are both talking to each other and listening to each other and life doesn’t seem as stressful anymore. Lets just hope we make it out of the honeymoon period.
“Be with someone who always wants to know how your day was.”
Happy New Year and welcome to my blog about life, parenting and enjoying the journey of life in the spirit of YOLO (you only live once).
Enough of chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, it’s time to start enjoying the colours of the rainbow. So what if you get a little bit wet in the rain? I’ve spent too long chasing the next goal to appreciate the blessings I have right now.
So I’ve already decided that 2016 is going to be ridiculously amazing and I’d like to invite you along for the ride…
“This is the new year, the new you. You can pass through another year, coasting on cruise control. Or you can step out of your comfort zone, trying things you have never done before, and make 2016 as the year that you elevate from where you are and soar high. Make it happen!”