Sugar and spice, that’s what I’m made of

I’ve been doing a lot of baking lately and the results have been yummilicious, which is surprising because I always thought I wasn’t good at making desserts. But just like running and working with technology, I was wrong about my own capabilities. I’ve become more than a passable webmaster, manually switching web hosts for this blog with minimal issues and pat myself on the back success. And I not only ran a 5K last year, but kept up running since then and intend to continue. As for sweet treats, I was always better at eating and appreciating them than actually making them. Or so I thought!

If you look at my list of recipes I love on the left side of the screen, you’ll notice that a lot of them are desserts. One trick I’ve learned about sweets is that the best ones actually have a dash or so of salt in them to make the sweet flavor even sweeter. The more sugar is in a dish, the more salt is required to bring that flavor out. I find that so interesting, and it’s an obvious metaphor for life. The best parts can’t be as good without that bit of salt to really contrast them. So maybe I seem positive and upbeat and completely in control, and for the most part I am, but there are moments of self-doubt or times when my heart just wants to sulk and the loneliness hits.

In those moments, I close my eyes and take a deep breath and find flashes of memories, still pictures of the life I once had, flashing on the back of my eyelids, taunting me and haunting me and giving that sulky heart more to drown in. The heart becomes an independent being, separate from the rational, organized, STRONG part of me. And I miss him. Not the him he either became or I refused to believe he was all those years, but the him I thought I had married. The him I loved. And okay, rational Sheba says, he isn’t that guy anymore even if he ever really was, so get over it. But the heart replies, I don’t care, I don’t want to remember anything but the feeling of dancing with his arms holding me as I just let go and didn’t care who was watching. I want to remember the feeling of sexiness that came from HIS eyes watching me dance and HIS hands holding mine and HIS fingers leading me through a crowd. And rational, didn’t know I had it in me, strong Sheba responds, Ah, but now you’re sexy in YOUR eyes. Isn’t that what the past two years have been about? The end of that journey is that now, YOU LOVE YOU.

Becoming a mother was the biggest turn around of my life.

And after all that borderline schizophrenic, emotional tug of war saltiness, I feel relieved and renewed. Life is sweeter. Also, having an outstanding support system is the ingredient that gives the dish of my life a great little kick. Thank you my family and friends, especially Melysa S. and Zahara for about the thousandth time!

When I used to make dessert before my separation, I tended to psych myself out in advance, thinking, “Oh, the rest of the meal will be delicious so maybe I should just BUY dessert so I don’t ruin the whole thing.” I told myself I was in over my head, and lo and behold, I found myself overwhelmed, covered in flour and baking soda and sweating sugar streaks down my neck and staring into a bowl of custard that wouldn’t set or a tray of deformed, or liquidy, or burnt cake and fighting the urge to throw down my spatula and eat my way out of the sweet mess and into bed sobbing. So maybe I was a little overdramatic? It was traumatic, people, especially when my hormones kicked in once a month and again during pregnancy!

Anyway, I set myself up for those major fails with my negative thinking. But one huge difference since I became a mother, got separated, and filed for divorce is my sense of accomplishment and my belief in myself. I know if I think I can do something, I do it. And with all of the eye rolls and sighs and logical, oh so annoying arguments that start with “But Mom-my-y,” I need that core of determination and self-assured certainty to get through the day. And seriously, I’m not even raising a teenager right now! She’s TWO and a half, what the heck is going to happen in ten years?! And how many syllables will the word mommy have in it by then…

So maybe the sweet masala of my life includes a teaspoon of salty tears, a few drops of bitterness and bile. It takes those things to make the end result better. It’s the same theory as that a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down. Something about that combination in life makes the whole thing easier to swallow. And so I CAN run. And I CAN create and control a blog. And I can walk a 5K along the boardwalk pushing a stroller into the wind with a combined baby-stroller-diaper bag stuffed with extra everythings-weight of about 60 pounds. Because I said I would, I did it and felt amazing even after a bout of extreme loneliness the night before. I’ve got my cake and I’m eating it, too! And it tastes soooo good loves, so so good. :~D


Every woman matters

I’m a woman of action. Some people like to get outraged by everything, vowing to bring change. Or they claim to help and act like they’re caught up in a revolutionary wave that should engulf us all. They ask for money and make promises and pretend they care and speak to that deep, inner voice of humanity that we have. Until the next great cause catches their eye…or they get busy enjoying their own lives, which is all they really cared about anyway.

I acknowledge that I am just one person, with limited time and resources, and a baby that rightfully takes precedence. I do have my writing, though, and I can use this medium to let you all know about the things I care about and what can be done about it. And I know you people rock. So you’re not going to just sit there and read about a need and then just click on. You’re going to rally, like you always do, for what you believe in. My job is to give you the chance to believe in what matters to me.

This weekend I’m going to be walking 3.1 miles with Zahara along the Jones Beach boardwalk. Our morning at the beach is more than just a random inclination to exercise or a craving for some salty sea air. It’s a fundraising event for women, the Katz Women’s Hospitals and the Katz Institute for Women’s Health to be exact. Two Katz hospitals, a part of the North Shore-LIJ Health system in New York, are currently dedicated to women’s health, with a full range of obstetrical and gynecological services and top-notch technology and amenities. In plain English, they’re giving women the experience they deserve during hospital visits and stays, pregnancy, labor, and childbirth. And that’s a cause worth marching for.

If you haven’t been reading my blog until now you probably don’t know this, but I had a sudden miscarriage before having Zahara. We had decided to have a child and God blessed us immediately. The miscarriage was only eight weeks into the pregnancy, but since I had realized I was pregnant right away it was plenty of time to have imagined motherhood and to grieve for the loss. It was also hard because there was no indication that anything was wrong, and then no reason why the pregnancy had ended. I didn’t even find out until my first sonogram, a regularly scheduled appointment, which showed that there was no heartbeat.

It took me a year after that just to mentally and emotionally be ready to try to have a baby again, because it felt like that joy had been ripped away so needlessly and unexpectedly the first time. And then I was finally ready to try again and it was another year of hoping and getting only disappointment as the tear in my heart got deeper and longer. Then finally, two days before my 27th birthday I found out that my prayers had finally been answered and this amazing child was going to be joining me in my life, thank God! After my first experience, I was honestly terrified and ecstatic all at the same time. Every single symptom and pain had me rushing to Google and WebMD and trying not to hyperventilate or sob. Thankfully, I had a fantastic doctor in Puerto Rico for the first 5 months and another fantastic one in Boston for the rest of the pregnancy to deal with both my pregnancy and my panic.

First day as a mother

Zahara was born in Boston’s Tufts Hospital with a capable group of professionals surrounding her. And I had a whole life-saving team of doctors, nurses, and technicians myself to literally save my life when I had to go back to the hospital just days after the delivery in order to undergo emergency surgery.

My experiences are not rare, and women have been through much much worse. But what my journey into motherhood showed me is that it is a journey dependent on some strange mix of the abilities of the medical professionals, the spirit of the woman herself, and fate or God or circumstance, whatever you believe in. Some things are beyond our control, some things science has an answer for. If walking a little while and asking you all to join me (or donate) can possibly give women the slightest advantage in that awe-worthy and difficult time, then I’m going to slather on the sunscreen, pack up the baby outing survival kit, and walk until my legs give out.

So Zahara and I are registered to walk on Sunday, May 20th, to try and raise funds for every woman, because even if I am just one person, one busy mother, I can take my kid and join this event and make a small difference for other mothers and other children. Zahara and I are going to be there. Are you?

If you’d like to help but you can’t be at the event, click here and enter my name (Sheba Parveez) to search for my donation page and give what you can. Let’s show the world what real humanity looks like and tell ’em that every woman matters.