Will you let your kids date? It depends.

During our recent family trip, we started talking about whether my husband and I would let our children date. My kids are 6 and 9 so truth be told, I haven’t really thought about this just yet. But as I started to articulate my feelings on this, I realized that my answer, while seemingly a cop out, is really my stance on most issues pertaining to my children. It depends.

As a first-generation American, I watched my parents struggle with these decisions. I saw how they wrestled with these Western notions of love, dating, drinking, earning money and independence at a young age. And I remember thinking at the time that when I became a parent that I would do things differently. I wouldn’t make a production about my kids going to prom with dates, or going out on a date. I would be the mom who would be able to navigate American culture more deftly and flexibly. I would be the American mom who didn’t have the same boundaries as my Indian immigrant parents or the same needs to showcase perfection to the Indian community. In other words, I would be the cool Indian-American mom.

Starting to talk about my feelings about my own children dating, I was surprised by my answer. Mostly, because I had assumed that different meant opposite - that I would unequivocally do things radically different from my parents. What my younger self didn’t appreciate is that all of these issues are extremely complicated and not black and white. There is so much gray area and the gray area seems to expand when you throw in immigration, South Asian culture and preservation of said culture, applicability to the second generation coupled with normal teenage issues of puberty, feelings of inclusion/exclusion, and peer pressures that have been around since time immemorial.

But now as a parent, I am not sure how different I will be from my parents. I appreciate and understand where my parents were coming from when they came up with their rules. Dating could be a distraction from their teenage life- period. However, where I think I will differ from my parents will be in our approach. While the ends may be the same, the means of getting there will be radically different in that we will try our best to communicate with our children. We will make every attempt to keep channels of communication open so that they can talk to us about their feelings, anxieties, concerns, and frustrations. And we can do the same with them. Hopefully with this two-way street of dialogue, we will continue to build the foundations of trust and respect so that, when we finally make that decision of whether they are allowed to date, it won’t come as a surprise, to them or to us.

What are your thoughts?

Our favorite family pastime

Last night, my children, husband and I cuddled on our sofa and watched old videos. My kids are 6 and 9 so it’s not that they are SO old, but this has become a favorite family pastime of ours. We all have our favorites, and for different reasons. The kids delight in seeing themselves when they were younger and my husband and I love seeing how much the kids have grown and how far we have come as a family.

While nostalgia fills the air, this tradition of ours also reminds us just how precious life is and what really matters. This is especially true as we have lost my husband’s mother last year. The first few times we engaged in this pastime, we had to skip over those videos that featured my mother-in-law. The pain was too raw and the feelings were a bit too much and too soon for my husband. There is one particular video that has us in stitches every single time we watch it, and in that video, my mother-in-law features prominently. Last night, while I gave my husband a gentle squeeze, we watched this video in its entirety. We laughed and rejoiced at the memory, at her memory, and were ever-grateful that we had captured such a precious moment on film.

And I needed this reminder. I find this pastime especially helpful during emotional or difficult times. When I’m caught up in the trivial, seeing my children delight in their younger selves grounds me and centers me in a way that few other things can. Experiencing our past together as a family is especially rewarding and reminds me of who I was as a person and who I am now. I especially love hearing my daughter squeal “look what she is doing!” about her younger self and my son basking in the love and adoration that can be felt from the plethora of videos we took of him before his little sister came along. For each of us, we are reminded of some very important and fundamental truths of ourselves and it is these reminders that will help sustain this tradition for years to come.

What pastimes have you developed as a family? Are there any rituals that you perform that center and ground you? Please share!


Last night, as I looked across the dining table, both kids doubled over in fits of laughter, I couldn’t help but relish the moment. Normally I would have been less than enthused that we were wasting time. We were behind schedule; dinner was later which would mean that baths would be delayed with bedtime pushed deeper into the night. But the laughter was that infectious one, the kind that overtakes your whole body, and one that, despite your mind trying to take over, just brings the biggest smile to your face. We laughed and rejoiced. And I couldn’t help but join them.

What was so funny you may ask? I told the kids how finally I was going to meet the first-grade student that I had been tutoring for the past year in his classroom. I was excited to put a face with a name and voice that I had talked to every Friday morning for months now. I told them how we were hosting a year-end celebration with his class and that I was bringing snacks. Then I said, “you know, because I’m his tutor.” The kids lost it then. What they heard was that I was a “toot-er”. Or as my son explained, one who “toots”.

As I sat there watching them in their happiness, laughing along with them, and recounting it later with them while putting them to bed, I couldn’t help but think that this is what life is about. Life doesn’t get much better than this. I was thankful that I was present enough to not only accept this moment for what it was, but also, to enjoy it with my two favorite little humans.

A Rat Race That Cannot Be Won

“I’m ready to lean OUT.”

Sarah Buckley Friedberg

A Facebook rant by a Needham, MA mother of three ends with this: “I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to lean OUT.” Since writing her viral post, Sarah Buckley Friedberg garnered over 79,000 likes, 18,000 comments and 72,000 shares. She certainly has hit a cord, mostly among similarly situated, privileged (I’d argue, predominantly white) women and mothers.

What is it about her post that resonates with so many people? I’m exhausted reading the post, let alone being a working mother of two trying to achieve all that she talks about. Society’s expectation that we must be put together, skinny and fit, well-rested, well-adjusted, well-groomed, ambitious, financially contributing members of our families coupled with raising kids who are well-fed, well-balanced and well-rounded (be proficient in at least one sport, instrument and other activity), curious, high-achieving explorers is simply impossible and unfair. It is an unspoken truth that the same is not, and will never be, expected of the opposite sex.

I love this part of Ms. Buckley’s post:

"Recycle. Be Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the birthday planner, the poop doula (seriously when will this end), the finder of lost things, the moderator of fights. Be fun. Be firm. Read books. Have dance parties."

I’ve written a lot about this but my solution to these ridiculous, untenable societal expectations is to ignore them as much as possible. Of course, I’m susceptible to them as much as the next woman is but the more we try to achieve these unrealistic, soul-crushing, goals, the more will be expected of us. It’s a rat race that cannot be won.

One of the reasons I started Messy Bliss a few years ago was to encourage us to question these notions, to embrace the messy imperfections and to find joy and happiness in all of it. Let’s cultivate a counterculture of being who we are, strong women who strengthen, support and promote one another and delight in and celebrate each other’s messiness unapologetically. The more that we can do that, the less these expectations will matter to us all and the less pressure we will all feel. So let’s do more of the leaning out and just being instead.

Who were you BC (Before Children)? (Plus some Montreal recs)

Happy Self

Happy Self

Last Thursday was my son's last of school. We packed up my son and daughter that evening and sent them with my parents to CT to begin their summer holidays. Kishore and I are without our children for a whole week! That's seven days that we have completely to ourselves and we are milking every minute of it. Along with most parents I know, we are usually in the throes of logistics from making lunches to worrying about dinner, from making sure the kids are properly clothed and sunscreened to ensuring that the children are trying a diversity of activities, let alone being responsible for the children's emotional and moral well-being. Simply put, it's exhausting. So we bid goodbye to our beloved children, put on our shoes, went for a walk through the neighborhood and grabbed a drink at the Charles Hotel. We continued our respite with an escape to Montreal for the weekend, rekindling our connection with each other as well as rediscovering parts of ourselves.

We arrived in Montreal on Friday afternoon and began our love affair with all things Montreal. This was our fourth time in Montreal but the last two had been with the kids. It's amazing how quickly we were able to maneuver through the city, how much we were able to see and do and how different of an experience it was for us. We stayed at a modern, boutique hotel on the edge of Old Montreal called Hotel Gault. From the high ceilings to the well-appointed rooms, we began our rendezvous in style.

Around the corner from our hotel was one of the best restaurants I have ever been to- olive+gourmando. What a treat! We literally ate there every day of our trip. From the presentation of the food to the use of local ingredients, it was pure heaven. We indulged our taste buds with fresh breads, tartines with homemade ricotta, seasonal fruits and vegetables, egg and cheese sandwiches with sriracha sauce!... I could go on and on and my descriptions are not doing justice to the quality and taste of the food (see the picture below). On Friday night, we were directed to Lov- a vegetarian restaurant. This place was chic and hip (the crowd was too!) and unlike any vegetarian restaurant I have ever been to. What was nice was that the fare was not just fake meats presented in conventional ways. From quinoa fritters (using jack fruit as a main ingredient!) to sriracha fries to sweet potato gnocchi we thoroughly enjoyed our vegetarian meal.

On Saturday morning, we deliciously slept in until 10AM! That never happens with our children. We rented bikes through Montreal's bike-share program called BIXI and biked around the islands, culminating in a visit to the Biosphère. Montreal has done an exquisite job of creating bike paths around the canals and the islands; there were many locals who were also riding on these paths. It made seeing the city fun and exciting. We had crepes for a late-lunch and then meandered through the streets of Old Montreal. After a short rest at the

Hotel Gault

Hotel Gault

Sunday was another great day of fun. After another brunch at olive+gourmando (yes, it really is that good), we went on bike ride up Lachine Canal. After eating a quick lunch, we left Montreal to make it to Gillette Stadium to see one of our favorite bands play, U2, and their Joshua Tree Tour. We remarked at how facile movement can be sans children including a 6 hour road trip. While we thoroughly indulged over the weekend, we did miss our children and spoke of them, and to them, often. We remarked on what we would like to show the kids upon our next visit to Montreal and took videos of the U2 concert in hopes of cultivating another generation of fans.

This much-needed respite enabled me to not only connect with Kishore but also to reclaim parts of myself that existed BC. I was reminded that I love traveling and discovering new places. I love meeting new people and experiencing new things. I love good food and conversation with wine as an accompaniment, of course. I love comfortable walking shoes. I love window shopping, crowds and people-watching. I love dressing effortlessly chic. In unearthing these parts of myself that have been buried by Pokémon, caution, stuffed animals and responsibility, I felt happy, light, and liberated. I felt alive.

I vowed after this trip to bridge more of my BC-self with my AC (After Children)-self. I vowed to let the kids see more of this side of me- the woman who loves discovering and exploring new things, who enjoys finding herself amid the different, who is light and carefree, who loves to explore on foot or bike, who wants to just be. My hope is that exposing my children to this side of me will also help influence them to be and seek who they are, encourage discovery and exploration and foster a love of traveling similar to Kishore and me.

Who were you BC? Have you been able to bridge your BC-self with your AC-self? How?

PS- Thanks to my parents for watching the kids! We are so fortunate to have you in our lives.


Sushi Momo.

Amazing vegetarian sushi